teacher and student violinistMISSION STATEMENT

The mission of the PAL Program is to provide private string instruction to underserved students and to promote leadership and service. The program is designed to increase access to string instruction and to empower students as agents of change in their community.


Dr. Rebecca B. MacLeod, UNCG


Heather Lofdahl, PhD Student


Stephanie Ezerman, GSO Symphony
Nathan Southwick, DMA student


Matthew Wilson, MM student


GSO Symphony Members
UNCG Graduate Students
UNCG Undergraduate Students


Students grades 6-12


Fifth grade students mentored by the Peer Mentors under the supervision of UNCG university students.

This program is supported by the University of North Carolina Greensboro, the Greensboro Symphony, and the GCS Lyceum Program.


October 8 @ 8:00 PM


October 29 @ 8:00 PM

Fall Recital

Saturday, November 20, 2021
7:00 PM
UNCG Organ Hall


Congratulations to the following students for winning their auditions into the Greensboro Youth Symphony:

  • Ryan Blancas
  • Angie Valdez

Program Director

Rebecca MacleodDr. Rebecca MacLeod is Professor of Music Education at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where she directs the string education program and conducts the UNCG Sinfonia. She is the author of Teaching Strings in Today’s Classroom and is published widely in national and international journals. She is the recipient of the NC Board of Governor’s Teaching Excellence Award, the UNCG School of Music, Theatre and Dance Outstanding Teaching Award, the American String Teacher Association National Researcher Award, and the UNCG Junior Research Excellence Award. A passionate advocate for increasing access to string education to all students, Dr. MacLeod directs two community partnership programs that provide string instruction to underserved students: the Lillian Rauch Beginning Strings Program and the Peck Alumni Leadership Program. Students of these programs have performed for Dr. Maya Angelou, Dr. Gloria Ladsen-Billings, and the Sphinx Virtuosi.

Program Coordinators

lofdohlHeather Lofdahl is a string teacher, conductor, and violist who is pursuing a PhD in Music Education at The University of North Carolina Greensboro. Ms. Lofdahl is the Music Director of the Greensboro Symphony Youth Orchestra. She also has a private violin and viola studio at The Music Academy of North Carolina, where she was awarded the Mary Elizabeth King Brown Teaching Excellence Award in 2014. Prior to moving to Greensboro, Ms. Lofdahl taught orchestra in Cobb County (GA). She has also taught elementary through university orchestra students in Illinois and North Carolina. She serves on the faculty of the Florida State University String Orchestra Camp every summer. Ms. Lofdahl holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music Education and Viola Performance from Augustana College and Master of Music degrees in Music Education and Viola Performance from The University of North Carolina Greensboro. She is an active guest conductor, clinician, and violist throughout the United States.

Private Lesson Specialists

Ezerman headshotDr. Stephanie Ezerman, violin, has appeared in concert across the United States and Canada as soloist and chamber musician. She has performed with the Houston Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Memphis Symphony, New World Symphony, Pine Mountain Music Festival and Spoleto Festival USA. She is currently Principal Second Violin with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra. As a registered Suzuki teacher, Ezerman co-founded and directed the Suzuki Talent Education of the Lubbock Region (STELR) from 2001-2008, and taught Suzuki in the Schools at Greensboro Day School from 2013-2021. She currently runs a private studio of young violinists in Greensboro, NC. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Violin Performance from the University of Minnesota, where she was a student of Sally O’Reilly. Her Master’s Degree and Doctorate of Musical Arts are from Texas Tech University where she was teaching assistant to John Gilbert.

Nathan Southwick headshotNathan Southwick, is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, where he has been named a Minerva Scholar and teaching assistant, Nathan Southwick is a vibrant and active violinist and musician. As a soloist, Mr. Southwick has appeared with the Utah State University Symphony, New American Philharmonic, on tour with the USU Chamber Singers throughout northern Italy, as well as multiple composer “projects” including the Mozart Project in Boulder, Colorado and the Vivaldi Project in Lubbock, Texas. An avid chamber musician, he performed with the Elysian Quartet, the Graduate String Quartet at Texas Tech University, totaling over 70 outreach concerts during his tenure with the ensemble, as well as the first violinist of the Permian Basin String Quartet’s 2018-2019 season. He is currently first violin of the UNCG Graduate Quartet. As a symphonic violinist, Mr. Southwick has held leadership roles in Utah State University Symphony, University of Colorado-Boulder Symphony, Texas Tech Orchestra, University of North Carolina-Greensboro Symphony, Utah Festival Opera Orchestra, as well as the Lubbock and Midland Symphonies. He currently performs with the Greensboro, Fayetteville, and Western Piedmont Symphonies. In addition to performing, he is an active educator, having taught in the College of Continuing Education at the University of Colorado, as well as currently teaching violin, viola, and string methods at Campbell University and Gardner-Webb University. After graduating Magna Cum Laude under the instruction of Rebecca McFaul from Utah State, Mr. Southwick was head teaching assistant to Charles Wetherbee at the University of Colorado-Boulder (MM-Violin Pedagogy), and again head teaching assistant to Annie Chalex Boyle at Texas Tech University (MM-Violin Performance).

Group Instruction Specialist

Matthew Wilson, MM student, is a violinist and violist from South Carolina, currently pursuing a master of music degree from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. He attended the South Carolina Governor’s School of the Arts and Humanities before earning a bachelor of music education degree from Appalachian State University. Mr. Wilson taught in the North Carolina public schools as an orchestra, choir, and AP Music Theory teacher. During this time, he received several honors, such as the Winston-Salem/ Forsyth County’s Orchestra Director of the year. In 2018, Mr. Wilson received his National Board Certification in Orchestra: Early Adolescence to Adulthood. Mr. Wilson has been a guest conductor of several All-County Orchestra Clinics across North Carolina. He also served as co-conductor of the Youth Orchestra of Charlotte’s Sinfonia Strings Ensemble. He has been active in the North Carolina Music Educators Association as well as the American String Teachers Association, where he currently serves on the Student Advisory Committee for the national chapter.

Private Lesson Instructors

GSO Symphony Members
UNCG Graduate Students
UNCG Undergraduate Students

Program Teachers

Gabe Figuracion headshotGabe Figuracion is a current sophomore Instrumental Music Education major at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Mr. Figuracion is originally from Winston-Salem and began studying the viola in seventh grade. In addition to orchestral music, he has participated in band and marching band throughout high school and loves to learn new instruments. Mr. Figuracion is currently teaching violin for the Peck Alumni Leadership Program.

Hanna Fishastion headshotHanna Fishastion is currently a sophomore at the University of North Carolina Greensboro where she is pursuing a degree in Instrumental Music Education. She is originally from High Point and grew up in Guilford County, where she started learning the cello in sixth grade. Throughout high school, she played in events such as All County Orchestra, Western Regional All-State Orchestra, and the North Carolina All-State Honors Orchestra. Ms. Fishastion knew she wanted to pursue Music Education after attending UNCG Summer Music Camp, where she fell in love with UNCG’s School of Music. Later in high school, she began private lessons with Dr. Alex Ezerman, who she is continuing to study with at UNCG. Currently, Ms. Fishastion teaches cello with the Peck Alumni Leadership program and plays in the UNCG Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Mint String Quartet.

claire haneberg headshotClaire Haneberg is a music education major from Cleveland, Ohio. Her primary instrument is viola, which she began playing in the 6th grade school orchestra. She started violin lessons when she was a freshman in high school. Before coming to UNCG, she played in the North Olmsted High School Orchestra, Northern Ohio Youth Orchestras, and the Youth String Camerata. She is currently studying with Dr. Scott Rawls, and past teachers include Christine Kilbane and Eric Wong. Her favorite part about teaching in the PAL program is getting to play music with all of the students!

Laurel Meitrodt headshotLaurel Meitrodt is an undergraduate music education major at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She is from Wilmington and began studying the violin in the sixth grade. She took lessons with Lisa Garrison through high school and has played with both the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Meitrodt will be teaching violin in the Peck Alumni Leadership Program.

damien miles headshotDamien Miles is currently a junior Instrumental Music Education major at UNCG. He is originally from Roxboro, North Carolina. Damien began playing music in the 7th grade as a percussionist in the school band. Afterwards, he taught himself the bass guitar and upright bass and has played in a variety of musical settings. At UNCG, he is a member of the Miles Davis Jazz Studies program as well as the Music Education program and has been working with the Peck Alumni Leadership program for a little over a year.

james nguyen headshotJames Nguyen is a second year undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. He is pursuing two Bachelor degrees in Music Education and Violin Performance and is currently studying under Fabian Lopez. From Owings Mills, Maryland, he performed in All-County Orchestra, a pit orchestra at his local high school, the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra, and had opportunities to perform alongside the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Nguyen’s passion for teaching music came from his high school music director Allen Kessell, who gave opportunities for him to instruct the class. Mr. Nguyen currently plays in the University Symphony Orchestra at UNCG.

andrew ralston headshotAndrew Ralston is a violinist and music education major at UNC Greensboro. He plays in the University Sinfonia and is second violin in the Mint String Quartet, a Greensboro-based string quartet comprised of fellow UNCG students. Andrew also co-founded and played in the Luciola String Quartet and the Viva String Quartet, earning the nickname, “The Johnny Appleseed of Quartets.” He has played in the Bay Youth Symphony orchestra, Beaufort Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra in the Philharmonia group. Mr. Ralston has studied with Pavel Ilyashov, Dr. Sascha Mandl, Fred Devyatkin, and Ami Rabinowitz, and now studies in Dr. Fabián López’ violin studio.

kyra totillo headshotKyra Totillo is an undergraduate viola student at the University of North Carolina Greensboro where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Music Education. She attended Northwest School of the Arts for her middle and high school education, where she majored in orchestra under the direction of Erica Hefner. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, she performed in all-county, regional, state orchestras, and various chamber ensembles. Ms. Totillo’s teaching experience began with leadership in an orchestra setting and led into directing a full classroom by the end of her senior year. Currently, she performs in the University Symphony Orchestra and the Mint String Quartet. Ms. Totillo is the active Vice President of the American String Teachers Association Collegiate Chapter at UNCG and teaches both violin and viola in the Peck Alumni Leadership Program.

See what we do

Fall 2016 PAL Program Recital

Interactions Between the Peck Alumni Leaders and Fourth and Fifth Grade Students, April 2015

Maya Angelou Performance (September, 2013)


The Peck Alumni Leadership Program is run through private donors. We are constantly seeking additional funding. If you are interested in contributing to the program, please contact Dr. Rebecca MacLeod, [email protected]. A little money can go a long way.

$25.00 Will purchase books, rosin, and new strings.
$50.00 Can supply a student with a new bow.
$100.00 Funds a partner lesson for a semester.
$250.00 Purchases a violin for a student to use.
$300.00 Funds private lessons for one student for a semester!
$600.00 Funds a student’s lessons for the year!

No contribution is too small. We also accept donations of instruments and other supplies.