School of Fine Arts Faculty
Tammy Benson / Piano Instructor
Tammy Benson is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music at Ridgedale School of Fine Arts, Chattanooga, Tennessee. She has a degree in Piano Performance from the University of West Florida, and more than 45 years of teaching experience.
Tammy is a member of the National Federation of Music Teachers, the National Music Teachers Association, and the American College of Musicians. She serves as an adjudicator for various auditions, festivals, and competitions and has served as pianist in several churches as well as accompanist for various choirs and theatrical productions over the years.
Most of all, Tammy loves the Lord, teaching, and her students—it is an honor to her to share the gift of music.
Read more about Tammy Benson: https://twbpiano.wordpress.com
Anna Gibbons / Violin Instructor
Violinist, Anna Gibbons, enjoys approaching music from as many angles as possible. From improvisatory-based performances, to playing in professional orchestras, to coaching student chamber music groups, to teaching a student’s very first lesson, she is passionate about it all.
Ms. Gibbons studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music (in Cleveland, Ohio) for both their pre-college Young Artist Program and for their undergraduate program. While at CIM, she had the privilege of studying with Joel Smirnoff (the conservatory’s President and former Juilliard String Quartet’s first violinist) and with Ivan Zenaty (who is also the Soloist in Residence with the Prague Symphony). She also earned a minor in vocal performance after studying with Dr. Mary Schiller, Chair of CIM’s Opera Department.
In addition to performing with the Cleveland Institute’s Symphony Orchestra, she also performed in several professional orchestras throughout the Northeast Ohio and Eastern Pennsylvania area, including the Erie Philharmonic, the Sandusky Symphony Orchestra, and the Lakeland Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Gibbons had the honor of being awarded Teaching Fellowships at both the Interlochen Arts Camp (in Interlochen, Michigan), and at Stringendo School for Strings (in West Palm Beach, Florida).
It is Anna’s goal to use music as a fun tool to teach important life skills which we all need as we go through life: concentration, perseverance, courage, and the realization that we are God’s children, whom He desires to cover in love. With these goals in mind, “let us make a joyful noise unto the LORD!”
Angela Harper / Piano Instructor
Angela Harper has been a church pianist since the age of 13. At that time she also started teaching beginning piano to a few students which continued and grew throughout high school.
Graduating from university with a B.S. degree in elementary education, Angela had various opportunities to study music theory, hymn improvisation, and gained a deeper appreciation for classical piano playing.
For 37 years, Angela served as a missionary in Australia with her husband. During those years she taught private piano, led choirs, and organized music for worship along with serving as church pianist in the three churches they started in Queensland.
With varied experience of teaching in the States and another culture, Angela enjoys the challenge of motivating students to use and develop their gifts for God in whatever area He directs them.
“I love the opportunity to encourage students to make beautiful music as to the Lord.”
Christine Hassevoort / Voice Instructor
Christine Hassevoort has a master’s degree in Vocal Performance. She has performed several operatic roles for the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Artisti Affamatti, as well as other companies (Siebel in Faust, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte, Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro, Second Lady in The Magic Flute, Lola in Gallantry, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, Sandman and Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel, and others). She has been a soloist for numerous oratorio perfomances and recitals across the Southeast, including University of the South, Berry College, Bryan College, North Greenville University, and others (Brahms’ Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Creation, Mozart’s Requiem, and others).
Christine has taught voice at Covenant College, Bryan College, Lee University, and Chattanooga State Community College and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
Christine believes that “all of our abilities, including musical talents, are gifts from God, and that everything we do should bring Him honor and glory.”
Abigail Hinchman / Piano Instructor
Abigail Hinchman is a Chattanooga native, currently in her senior year at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, working towards a degree in Piano Performance, Bachelor of Music.
She has been teaching for 3 years, and began a studio at Ridgedale’s School of Fine Arts during the summer of 2015. Most of her students are beginner to early intermediate level.
“My desire is to be attentive to my students’ purposes and goals in their musical pursuits, while offering any support and encouragement through Christ’s love.”
Viktoria Lindsay / Piano Instructor
Viktoria Lindsay holds a National Certification in Piano. She received her Bachelor of Art Degree in Music from the Moscow State University of Culture in Russia. She taught Piano, Choir, Music Theory and Music History in Riga School-College, Latvia for 9 years.
She has been teaching Piano and Music Theory classes at Ridgedale School of Fine Arts since 2000.
Viktoria is the co-chair of the Federation of Music Clubs Festival, the High School Audition chair for the Chattanooga Music Teachers Association, and an active member of the American College of Musicians. She serves as an adjudicator for various auditions, festivals, and competitions.
As teacher Viktoria tries to instill a love of learning in her students, to be well-rounded musicians who have good technique, good reading and memorization skills, and are excited about the piano.
“I believe every child comes to our world with a Gift of Music from God. As a teacher, I see my role as helping the student to develop this gift and share with others for God’s Glory.”
Read more about Viktoria Lindsay: https://sites.google.com/site/viktorialindsaypiano/
Brooke Safford / Piano Instructor
Brooke Safford has been a part of the Ridgedale School of Fine Arts since July 2012. She has an Associates of Arts degree from Chattanooga State Community College and has been teaching piano since August 2009. Brooke is a member of the National Federation of Music Teachers, the National Music Teachers Association, and the American College of Musicians.
Brooke has always had a love for music and for children, and that love drives her to teach her students to excel in every area of their music. She is deeply committed to a high standard and excellent quality of music education.
If you would like more information about Brooke Safford please visit pianobybrooke.weebly.com
Brooke Safford is also the Center Director and Teacher of Music Together Chattanooga. Music Together is an internationally recognized music and movement program for children from birth through 5 years and the grownups who love them. Classes meet once a week for 45 minutes to sing, dance, and experience music in a live, interactive environment that is research-based and family-centered. Music Together classes have been described as “one of the best classes out there to introduce music to children.” Attend a free demonstration class and find out why everybody loves Music Together! For more information visit mtchattanooga.weebly.com
Mike Shannon / Guitar Instructor
Mike Shannon began his music training at the age of 8, taking piano lessons for 7 years. He began playing guitar at age 15, 48 years ago.
Mike is one of the guitarists in the worship band at Ooltewah Baptist Church and has been teaching guitar since July of 2014, concentrating on beginning basic guitar and finger style.
One of Mike’s favorite quotes is, “Music soothes the soul, and when you can play it, it’s even better.”
Angie Smith / Piano Instructor
Angie Smith has B.S. in Music from Carson Newman College, with emphasis on piano and accompanying and a Masters in Church Music from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
Angie has been on staff at Carson Newman College, California Baptist University and Golden Gate Seminary teaching accompanying, applied piano and theory. She has been a church pianist since the age of 16 and a piano instructor at Ridgedale for the past 10 years.
Angie is a member of National Federation of Music Clubs, President and Festival co-chair of our Chattanooga NFMC branch. She is also a member of Chattanooga Music Teachers where she serves as chairman of Jr High auditions.
“Music is a very personal expression of one’s own self. As a teacher, I love getting to know my students, what motivates them, and their unique reasons for learning to play. Musicality, proper technique, and developing good practice habits are priorities in my teaching. My goal is to give them the tools they need to express themselves through music, developing the next generation of musicians.”
Brianna Smith / Piano Instructor
A native born Chattanoogan, Brianna Smith has been involved with music her whole life. Over the years, her experiences in music have included Kindermusic, choir, hand bells, band (flute), and of course, piano lessons.
During her senior year of high school, she discovered Simply Music Inc., and was intrigued. She had taken traditional lessons for several years, but fell in love with the Simply Music program and started teacher training with them after high school.
With Simply Music, students learn a variety of styles, including blues, jazz, classical, gospel, and more. Check out www.simplymusicpiano.com to learn more about this amazing piano method.
After becoming a Certified Simply Music Piano Teacher, she taught a few years and then enrolled in Chattanooga State to further her music education. She graduated in 2015 with an Associate of Fine Arts in Music. Currently, she is pursuing a BA in Music from UTC. She is also a member of both Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) and National Association for Music Education (NAME).
Brianna enjoys using her talent to play piano for friends and family, as well as at church.
“I believe that God is the Creator of all things, including music, and it should therefore be used to praise and glorify Him. It is my goal that each student will become a skilled musician who is able to use his/her talents and abilities to worship the Lord, and to give pleasure to both themselves and those around them.”