Lois Bradley Akins is the founder of the Suzuki Strings of Augusta, a fixture of the music world in Augusta. She moved to Augusta after graduating with a Music Education degree from Georgia College in Milledgevillle. She and Dollean Daymude, her roommate, accompanist, and best friend, became immersed in the music world in Augusta, soon meeting someone in the Augusta Symphony with whom she played for the next 20 years.
Lois met Bill Akins at church her first year in Augusta, and they were married that following summer. Lois taught choral music in the schools for a little over 6 years. Carol Lapp, her Symphony car pool friend, said that she wanted her daughter to take, but that she wanted her to teach her daughter by the Suzuki Method. After attending her first teacher training the following summer, there was no other way for Lois Akins to teach violin.
Lois continued to go every summer for more teacher training. She wanted to be a better teacher and a better player. Soon it was Lois who was asked to teach at workshops from N. & S. Carolina to Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia. She taught at the South Carolina Suzuki Summer Institute for around 20 years. She was very well known because of the SSA workshop every year. With top notch clinicians coming in and a well run schedule, Augusta became the place to go for a “great Suzuki weekend”. Since SSA was established, it grew from around 25 students to its current size of 150+ members. Lois has 3 children, 2 of them, Gwen Jenkins and Kim Chavous, grew up and also teach with Suzuki Strings of Augusta. When Lois isn’t teaching she enjoys line dancing and spending time with her grandchildren.
Kim Chavous began her music education at the age of 3. She grew up as a member of Suzuki Strings of Augusta where she thrived under the direction of her mother, Lois Akins. She began her formal education at Columbus State University where she majored in Violin Performance. She changed her major to Music Education and completed her Bachelors Degree at Augusta University. She has been teaching with Suzuki Strings of Augusta for 18 years. Kim is also the music teacher at Brookwood Elementary, where she has taught for the last 10 years. She has continued her education and has a Masters Degree in Teaching and Learning. Kim’s musical roles include teaching private and group lessons, leading concerts, directing plays, directing choruses, organizing productions, teaching general music, and directing a ukulele club. In addition to her musical activities, she is a happily married mother of 3 children who all share her love of music. If she is not at a musical function, she is with her family- cooking, watching lacrosse, watching baton twirling, or painting.
Adam DePriest is a conductor and violinist from Aiken, SC holding BM and MM degrees from the University of South Carolina where he studied violin under William Terwilliger and Neil Casey, double bass under Craig Butterfield, and conducting under Donald Portnoy. Mr. DePriest teaches in Columbia and Aiken, SC as well as in Augusta, GA where he specializes as a Suzuki teacher for the Suzuki Strings of Augusta (SSA) and he directs extracurricular Suzuki violin programs at Heritage Academy, Augusta Preparatory Day School, and Episcopal Day School. As an active violinist, Mr. DePriest regularly performs with his brothers as the DePriest Trio and performs with the SC Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra Augusta. He is also an adjunct faculty member for the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at USC-Aiken and is the founder and director of the Aiken Civic Orchestra.
Rochelle Garman has taught violin, viola and cello lessons with Suzuki Strings of Augusta since 2010. While studying the cello, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Bowling Green State University, where she performed in the orchestra under the direction of Robert Spano, the current music director of the Atlanta Symphony. She has also studied violin with Eloy Fominaya and Dr. Angela Morgan. From 1991 through 2001 she taught and directed orchestras in the Richmond County School System’s String Orchestra program and also taught private lessons.
Her performance activities on Cello include solo appearances with the Columbia County Choral Society, Wesley United Methodist Church, Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church, chamber music performances with the Corelli String Quartet and Westside Trio, and orchestral playing with the South Carolina Philharmonic and the Midland/Odessa (Texas) Symphony. From 2008 to 2015 she was on the faculty with the Summer Music Camp (Strings) at Georgia Regents University (currently Augusta University). From 2009 to 2016 Rochelle worked in the Baby Room and the 4 year-old room at Trinity-on-the-Hill’s Mother’s Day Out Program. Currently she is teaching General Music at Hains Elementary School (Pre-K-5th grade). She is married with two children, both of whom are students with Suzuki Strings of Augusta (viola, cello). Her husband Dr. Barry Garman, a professional double bassist and string educator, often assists the Suzuki program.
Gwen Jenkins has taught with Suzuki Strings of Augusta for almost twenty years, serving the group for the last seven as the executive director. She began her teaching career at Georgia Southern University after growing up in Suzuki Strings of Augusta and continuing her education at the University of Georgia. She has also taught pre-school music and helped to grow a successful Suzuki program at Heritage Academy in Augusta. She is the homeschooling mother of five children, the oldest three who are also members of Suzuki Strings.
Joan Johnson began studying the violin in the fourth grade with a traditional teacher. She was very fortunate to have a school district with a strong music program. A full orchestra was offered throughout her junior and senior high school years. She was also able to participate in the All City Orchestra on Saturday mornings, the All Southern California Orchestra,as well as the All Western MENC Orchestra. Music camp in the mountains was a very special part of her summers for six years. Joan then attended The University of California at Long Beach and graduated with a B.S. in Business Education with a Minor in Music. After moving to Augusta Georgia she became a member of The Augusta Symphony for over ten years. She became involved with the Suzuki Method through friends in the symphony. She have been teaching with The Suzuki Strings of Augusta since Lois Akins began the group in the seventies. She have attended institutes and workshops and has enjoyed watching her children learn as well.
Joanne Stanford comes from a long line of musicians, starting with her grandfather who was percussionist with the Ringling Bros. Circus and had a dance band. She took private piano and violin lessons through high school, where she was involved in many music clubs and orchestras. Before attending KU where she received her BME, she toured Europe with the All-Am. Orch., USA. Upon graduation she taught classroom music, until her husband, Clarke, was transferred by DuPont to Delaware. There she taught classroom music and strings. When Clarke transferred to SRS, Joanne joined the Augusta Symphony, where she met Lois Aikens. Joanne began her association with SSA as accompanist, when her first daughter Alison started taking lessons at age two over forty years ago. Her second daughter Andrea started lessons when she was five. Joanne started teaching with SSA shortly after, when Donna Vandiver moved thirty years ago. Joanne designs the workshop T shirts and was instrumental in getting SSA to perform at Disney World for the first time. She was a member of SOA for over thirty years where she started the youth competition. She continues to play for area churches, especially at Christmas and is beginning her thirty-third year at Mead Hall in Aiken as a classroom music teacher and director of the violin program.