Faculty of 20 experienced teachers committed to student success

photo Justine Seeley-Piano, Studio Founder & Director

Justine Seeley began studying piano at age 7, when she started playing her mother's classical music with no musical training.  At age 13, she was accepted into the University of Evansville's Music Dept., where she studied with professors Sandra Botkin and Dr. Eulalie Wilson.  Justine presented her first solo recital on the UE campus at age 14, and continued to perform in solo recitals and as a hired accompanist throughout high school.  Justine was a City of Evansville Youth Arts Award recipient, MTNA district competition winner, and Top Talent recipient from the American College of Musicians' Auditions.  At age 15, she was awarded a scholarship to attend Indiana University's intensive summer piano academy where she studied with internationally acclaimed artists and teachers.   Justine was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Evansville's music department, where she studied with with  Dr. Gregory Davis and worked as an accompanist for the department until graduating in 1993 with a BA degree.   After re-locating to Alabama, Justine resumed her studies with renowned classical pianist, Dr. Margery Whatley, performing frequently as a soloist and collaborating with other area musicians. 

Justine has taught private and class piano for 25 years as well as developmental music classes for toddlers, pre school ages and to children with autism and spectrum disorders.  Justine opened Colors Fine Arts Center in 1997 and incorporated the business in 2000.   She is a member of the Music Teacher's National Association, the Alabama Music Teacher’s Association, the Huntsville Music Teacher’s Association and is the Area Chairman of the National Guild of Piano Teachers.   She is the studio director and currently teaches over 30 students per week.  Justine lives in the Madison area with her husband, two daughters and numerous family pets.

photo Melanie Payne, Piano & Voice

Melanie is a singer, pianist, organist, and conductor – serving Huntsville and greater North Alabama for over 25 years.  She has taught piano and voice for 23 years, both in the private and group setting.  Currently, Melanie is the organist/bell choir director at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Southeast Huntsville. She sings in the choral ensemble, Avé (Alabama Vocal Ensemble), under the direction of Katherine Heim. Also, Melanie has sung soprano in the Early Music choral ensemble – Huntsville Collegium Musicum. She has performed several recitals, singing Classical and Musical theatre favorites. She has sung the roles of “Mother” in UAH’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors, “Sister Berthe” in Theatre Huntsville/Huntsville High’s production of The Sound of Music, and “Mistress of Novices” in Ars Nova’s Suor Angelica. Melanie was musical director and voice coach with Huntsville High for 12 years – conducting orchestra in the musicals as well. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Music and English from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. While a student at UAH, Melanie earned 1st Place in her division at Alabama state NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) competition. She also won the Albert Lane HCC voice scholarship prize and the Sarah Hall piano award. Melanie continues to study voice with Gary Sims and organ with Dr. Jeff McLelland in Birmingham.

photo Lydia Gregory, Violin and Piano

Lydia Gregory is a working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  She studies violin under the direction of Lisa Wiggins and studies piano under Dr. Melody Ng.  Lydia began her music studies at age five with piano, and began studying violin at age nine. She was a violinist for the Huntsville Youth Orchestra for 10 years from elementary through high school. Lydia is the current executive assistant for the HYO for the 2017-18 year.  She is also an HSO intern for the Tennessee Valley Music Festival where she teaches string sectionals.  Lydia teaches private lessons to violin students, and is an active performer in the Huntsville area.  She is frequently called up to perform for local musical theatre productions, church services, weddings and other area events.

photo Wendy McGee, Piano & Guitar
  • Professional performer and teacher since 1990
  • Bachelors degree in saxophone performance
  • Masters degree in piano pedagogy
  • Former graduate teaching assistant, Wichita State University
  • Former music faculty, Oakwood University
  • Developed class piano program for music majors at Oakwood University
  • Member of the Music Teachers National Association, Alabama Music Teachers Association, Huntsville Music Teachers Association, and the National Federation of Music Clubs
  • President of the Huntsville Music Teachers Association (2008-2012)
  • Speaker and adjudicator for local music associations, festivals, and auditions
  • Students frequently score superior ratings at festivals and auditions
  • Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM)
photo Juliana Johnson - Piano (17 yrs. w/studio)

Juliana has taught class piano, private piano, and Musikgarten classes at Colors Fine Arts Center since the Fall of 2000.   A native of Singapore and the daughter of a piano teacher, Juliana started playing the piano at the age of four and began formal piano lessons at age five. Besides her mother, Juliana’s piano teachers include Mr. Chua Ka Pin and Ms. Lim Bee Suan. She also studied with Czech Republic pianist Martina Maixnerova. During her high school years, Juliana participated in several master classes with international acclaimed pianists. She has accomplished advanced certificates of pianoforte and theory from the Associated Board of Royal School of Music and Licentiate of Trinity College of Music, London. Juliana graduated magna cum laude and achieved a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Music Education with a proficiency in piano and a minor in voice. She is a certified and experienced Yamaha Music Education System instructor and Musikgarten teacher.  Juliana is a member of The National Guild of Piano Teachers and has been teaching piano for over 20 years. 

photo Chris McDonald-Guitar, Ukulele (6 yrs. w/studio)

Chris McDonald is a classical, rock and jazz musician who specializes in electric and acoustic guitar.  He also plays banjo, ukulele, violin and piano.  Chris is a graduate of the University of Alabama in Huntsville where he studied classical guitar and earned a B.A. in Music.   A Huntsville native, Chris is very active in the local music scene.  He performs regularly in pit orchestras for musical theater productions.  Chris leads music every Sunday at the First Christian Church in Huntsville.  He also works for the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra as Assistant Librarian, 3rd grade violin class instructor, and guitarist. 

photo Robin Stewart, Piano, Voice and Songwriting

Robin's piano experiences as a student of piano and piano instructor are extensive.  She began playing and studying piano as a student at age 5 with instruction from several gifted teachers, including Ginger Beazley. Robin has a degree in Elementary Education from UAH, and has considerable experience in piano theory, composition, and songwriting.  She has served as church pianist for several churches for the last 30 years.  Her many accomplishments include participation in student evaluations at the elementary and pre-college level, as well as past membership in the Music Teachers National Association.  She has a passion for teaching and helping others appreciate the love of music.  As a songwriter, Robin has written and collaborated with artists in the Nashville and Huntsville areas. 

photo Donna Moore, Piano (3 yrs. with studio)

Donna was born and raised in Huntsville and began piano lessons at the age of 8 with Mrs. Joan Wear. She continued her studies on piano and organ with Elizabeth Bridges at the age of 11 until graduation from high school. She attended Judson College in Marion, AL, a private women’s college, graduating with a BA in Piano Performance with a minor in organ and business. She studied piano with Wade Peeples, and organ with Mary Louise Kapp. While at Judson, she was a member of Delta Omicron Music Fraternity. Returning to Huntsville after college, she began her teaching career as Director of Music Education at Traylor Music Company, a local Baldwin piano dealer. She later moved to AB Stephens Music and became Director of The Yamaha Music School where she was also a certified Yamaha Music Education instructor, teaching group lessons for young children beginning at the age of 4. She moved on to private teaching while raising her 2 children, and has continued that in various locations throughout Huntsville. She served as church pianist for many years and has been teaching piano to all ages for over 20 years.

photo Bess Desta, Piano and Voice (8 yrs. with studio)

Bess Jernigan Desta received her bachelor’s degree in Music Education with an emphasis in choral music from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. While at UAH, she studied in the piano studio of Dr. Sarkis Baltaian and the voice studio of Karen Young. She also served as the assistant conductor of the UAH Choirs under the direction of Dr. Erin Colwitz. After graduating, Bess was the Choral Director at Grissom High School for 4 years where she directed Women’s Choir, Men’s Choir, Concert Choir and Vocal Jazz Ensemble, “The VoiceCrossers”. While at Grissom she also served as the Music Director and Orchestra Conductor for the musicals. During this time she also spent time preparing her students to be in local honor choirs, AVA All State Choirs, performance festivals, musical theatre auditions and college auditions. Her students also won district and state titles, along with receiving music scholarships in college. Currently, Bess is the Director of Music Ministries at Central Evangelical Presbyterian Church in downtown Huntsville. She is the founder and Director of the Huntsville Community Chorus (HCC) Vocal Jazz Ensemble and the accompanist and Assistant Director of the HCC Youth Chorale. In the past several years, Bess has music directed HCCA’s The Music Man and Into the Woods, along with Grissom Musical Theatre’s Shrek the Musical, Disney’s Tarzan the Stage Musical, The Wizard of Oz, and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Along with Bess’s involvement in the schools, churches and community, Bess has taught private voice and piano lessons for the past 14 years. Bess has a strong passion for music education and feels that any student can benefit from private lessons. Bess lives in the Monrovia area with her and husband, James and puppy dog, Zoë.

photo Gabe Larose, Guitar & Bass (20 yrs. w/studio)

Gabe Larose began teaching guitar lessons almost nineteen years ago while working at a local music store. His first endeavor as an instructor was for a group guitar class, but he picked up many private students shortly thereafter. His own music education started around age twelve with piano lessons, inspired by his desire to accompany himself singing. After almost four years of piano, at age sixteen, Gabe transferred his efforts to the guitar. He learned to play acoustic style first, as recommended, and followed up with the electric guitar many months later.  Gabe holds an Associate Degree in Music Education at Calhoun Community College, with a focus on classical guitar.  Gabe also has a Bachelor’s in Classical Guitar Performance and a K-12 Teacher’s Certificate in Music. 
            Gabe teaches a variety of styles on guitar, including: rock, pop, blues, folk, and classical. He strives to tailor lessons around each student’s individual musical interest, meanwhile exposing them to a broad understanding of music such as sight reading, playing by ear, music theory, improvising, and performing live. He will take students as young as eight or nine, but generally produces more results working with students ten or older, and highly recommends some piano knowledge before beginning guitar.  Gabe has been teaching at Colors Fine Arts Center for 20 years. 

photo Audrey Conklin, Clarinet

Audrey Conklin is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University where she earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Clarinet Performance. While at Penn State, Audrey played in the Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Clarinet Choir, and other chamber music ensembles. In these groups, she played both clarinet and bass clarinet. Additionally, she served as Clarinet Section Leader in the Marching Blue Band.  At Penn State, Audrey studied clarinet and completed coursework in clarinet pedagogy with Dr. Anthony Costa.  Since moving to Huntsville in 2016, Audrey has enjoyed exploring the area and playing in various ensembles throughout North Alabama. Audrey is looking forward to teaching at Colors Fine Arts Center and sharing her love of music and clarinet with her students. 

photo DeNelle Stotser-Piano & Voice (20 yrs. w/studio)

DeNelle began her piano studies at the age of 6 at Frank School of Music in Nashville, TN.  Leon Frank, concert pianist, was her teacher for 10 years.  At the school, DeNelle also studied voice, dance and drama.  She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University and has continued her education and performance since then.  Married to a career Army Officer, DeNelle has performed, directed and accompanied many church and secular choirs and choruses throughout the world.  She has also taught high school and worked extensively in musical theatre. 

After moving to Huntsville, DeNelle became very involved in the musical scene, serving as Minister of Music, church accompanist, soloist, piano and voice teacher, vocal coach and accompanist, composer and recording artist.  She is an active member of the Huntsville Music Study Club.  She has taught piano and voice at Color Fine Arts since it opened in 1997.

DeNelle's passion is teaching students the enjoyment and benefit of musical studies.  When she has time, she enjoys painting and composing music.  DeNelle has two daughters and four grandchildren.  

photo Susan Sadler, Violin

Susan doesn’t remember learning to play the violin as her father taught her at home before she could read.  She just always played.  Growing up in that atmosphere she was concert mistress of the Portland All City Orchestra at age 12 and played with her father’s adult quartet whenever the second violinist was absent.  Then came a dry musical time when Susan married and traveled with her husband and three daughters in the Air Force.  They spent 3 years in Japan, 2 years in the Philippines before ending up in Illinois for their last tour.

Music returned to Susan’s life as her children grew up and out of the nest.  She played hand bells with Heritage Ringers of Huntsville for 20+ years and served as worship leader for Grace Lutheran Church and School.  While serving at Grace, Susan established a youth hand bell and chime choir as well as a youth praise team which led the school chapel services weekly.  She studied the violin under Jeff Dortch and began playing in various venues around Huntsville.  One of her loves is the Celtic band she started (Celtic Blessings). 

Currently Susan is teaching violin through the Huntsville Symphony, both with the 3rd grade program as well as private lessons.  She also has been assisting with the Horizon adult string group for the past four years.  She plays a five string electric violin with the praise band at Essential Church.   Susan has a deep love for teaching music to others no matter what age.  She feels that music brings a magic to ones environment as well as a deep focus and love for the finest things in life. 

photo Sara McFaddin - Voice & Piano (13 yrs. w/studio)

Sara McFaddin has been teaching at Colors Fine Arts Center since 2005. She studied music at Auburn University and at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  She holds a degree in Music Vocal Performance with secondary studies in Music Education, Vocal Pedagogy, Piano and Organ.  Along with teaching voice and early childhood music classes at Colors, Sara also teaches general music at several local pre-schools and for United Cerebral Palsy's Sensory Camps.  Sara is also the Children's Choir Director at Central Presbyterian Church in Huntsville.

Along with teaching, Sara is an avid performer and has appeared in several operas and musicals including: Oklahoma, Godspell, Carousel, Bye, Bye Birdie, The Music Man, Carmen, Le Nozze di Figaro, Romeo et Juliette, The Old Maid and the Thief, and Amahl and the Night Visitors.  Sara is a frequent concert soloist and has performed as soprano soloist for several choral works, such as Handel's Messiah, Mozart's Requiem, Mozart's Mass in C Minor, and Orff's Carmina Burana.

Sara currently performs with the Huntsville Master Chorale, and is frequently asked to adjudicate and teach music related clinics in the Madison County area.  She is also a member of several professional organizations such as, MENC, AVA, MTNA, ACDA and NATS. 

photo Lindsey Stephenson, Piano (6 yrs. w/studio)

Lindsey has loved music her entire life.  Growing up in a house full of musicians, her piano lessons began at the age of five as a fulfillment of a family expectation (rather than as a choice), but the longer she worked at it, the more her passion grew for it.  She benefitted from the wisdom, guidance and commitment of instructors like Dr. Betty Sue Shepherd and Dr. Gloria Chien, and by the time she graduated college from Lee University in 2008 with a music degree, she knew that she would always invest time and energy in playing the piano and teaching others about music.  Lindsey enjoys working with individuals ranging from preschool to college-aged.  She uses her experience in teaching and in counseling (she has a Master's in Education in Marriage and Family Counseling) to meet students where they are and tailors her teaching to the student's specific learning style, including students with learning disabilities and Autism-spectrum disorders.  Lindsey is from Birmingham, but lives and works in Huntsville.

photo Jamie Clay-Piano, Band Instr. (5 yrs. w/studio)

Jamie began piano lessons at the age of six and started playing clarinet in the fifth grade. A couple of years later she began learning the saxophone and came to appreciate all band instruments. Jamie had the good fortune during her senior year of high school to teach beginning band under her band director’s supervision.  Attending Sewanee Music Camps in the summer gave Jamie an appreciation for orchestral music as well. She entered college as Music Education major with the goal of becoming a high school band director. While in high school she was an auditioned member of the Honor Band at Tennessee Tech University and a member of the Tennessee All-State East band for two years in high school. A Tennessee native Jamie received both academic and music scholarships to Tennessee Tech, where she studied clarinet under Mr. Dan Hearn and conducting under Dr. James Wattenbarger. Jamie participated in marching and concert bands for three years before changing her major. Jamie finished her music degree at UAH in 1997. She still studies voice and woodwinds and truly believes that performers and teachers need to continue to grow themselves.

Jamie has sung in church and school choirs since the age of 12, is a former member and Past-President of the Huntsville Community Chorus, and participated in several summer musicals  Jamie played in the Clarion Winds clarinet ensemble and sang with Huntsville Opera Theatre for several years. Jamie was also a member of the First Baptist Church choir in Huntsville and played in the FBC orchestra before becoming the choir director at Grace Presbyterian Church in Madison where she has been since 2003.   Jamie loves all types of music -- classical, jazz, opera, musical theatre.  Jamie is recently retired from UAH and is now pursuing her two passions -- music, and helping students discover their talents.  In her spare time, Jamie is an avid runner, and enjoys all sports, and loves being a mom to her furry kids.

photo Newt Johnson- Piano & Bass (14 yrs. w/studio)

Newt Johnson has been teaching at Colors since 2004.  He holds a degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in Jazz Piano Performance with secondary studies in classical piano, bass, and voice.  While at UAH, Newt studied with renowned classical pianist Dr. Margery Whatley, Van Cliburn semifinalist Ron Roberts, jazz instructor Keith Taylor, and local legend Jim Cavender.

Newt is a regularly-performing musician in several local bands, including Rolling Jazz Revue, Trio El Camino, the LaRose Band, Discoasis, and Mambo Gris Gris.  He spent a year as a touring member of the Skip Heller Trio and appears on the recordings Live at Ortlieb's Jazz Haus, Along the Anchorline, and San Fernando Valley.  The Rolling Jazz Revue, a modern jazz project which Newt co-founded, has recorded two albums for Startlingly Fresh Records:  Halloween on Union Avenue and Elephants in the Crosswalk. 

In addition to these activities, Newt often serves as music director and often as a musician for special events and local theatre groups including, but not limited to, Butler Theatre, Lee Lyric Theatre, Renaissance Theatre, and Independent Musical Productions.

photo Hunter Lavish, Guitar (6 yrs. w/studio)

Hunter is a freshman at UAHuntsville dual-majoring in Music and Engineering.  He is a member of the UAH Concert Choir, Chamber Choir and Jazz Ensemble.  Hunter studies in the guitar studio of Phil  Weaver at UAH, in the voice studio of Karen Young at UAH and under Vocal Coach Jessica Ford in Nashville.  He began piano lessons at age 6, taking from Dr. Frank Contreras and Newt Johnson, began taking guitar lessons at age 10 from Gabe Larose, and later began voice lessons with Sara McFaddin and Ryan Pest -- all at Colors Fine Arts Center.  Hunter studied AP Music Theory at Bob Jones High School and is continuing his theory studies at UAHuntsville.  Hunter is passionate about songwriting and began performing his original compositions at age 14.  He has since then been an active performer locally as well as at venues in Nashville.  Hunter is very excited to work with students at Colors Fine Arts Ctr, to develop and inspire their musical abilities in guitar, voice and songwriting.