Meet our Clinic Team
Director of String Music Education
David F. Eccles is a native of Norfolk, Virginia and the son of a music educator. He currently serves as Director of String Music Education and Orchestral Activities at VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois. He has held string education positions in Virginia and Florida. An active conductor and cellist, Eccles has held conducting and music director positions with the Florida State University Summer Music Camps, Tallahassee Symphony Youth Orchestra, Southwest Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, Greater Miami Youth Symphony, Jubilate Youth Orchestra, and Brevard Symphony Youth Orchestra. He has served as a guest conductor for various state, county, regional, and community orchestras. Mr. Eccles is also a clinician for the Hal Leonard Corporation.
Mr. Eccles is completing his doctoral studies at Florida State University. He holds a Master of Music Degree in Music Education from University of Miami (Florida) and Bachelor of Music and Media from Norfolk State University. His principal teachers include Elizabeth Eccles, Laurien Laufman, Ross Harbaugh, and Dr. Michael Allen. His most influential lessons have come from scores of energetic students and thoughtful colleagues who continue to be a constant source of inspiration.
David is a member of MENC, Phi Mu Alpha, Phi Kappa Lambda, and serves as President-Elect of the Illinois Chapter of American String Teachers Association. He also serves on the board of the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra.
Applied Saxophone, Jazz Studies
Mr. Kidonakis joined the faculty of VanderCook in the Fall of 2009. He earned his bachelor of music education from Northern Illinois University, studying saxophone with distinguished research professor Steve Duke. Mr. Kidonakis performed and recorded with the NIU Wind Ensemble under the direction of Stephen Squires, and toured the United States and Europe with the world-renown NIU Jazz Ensemble and legends such as Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Heath, Ed Thigpen, Frank Foster, and Wynton Marsalis under the direction of Ronald Carter. Mr. Kidonakis maintains an active performance schedule with numerous local musicians and has worked with recording artists such as The Drifters, Gene "Duke of Earl" Chandler, and The Cryan' Shames, including a guest appearance with The Redwalls on NBC's Tonight Show With Jay Leno. He taught band for five years in Downers Grove Grade School District 58, and is the composer for the Paideia Projects, a series of video documentaries on the contributions of Ancient Greece to Western civilization. Mr. Kidonakis earned a Master of Music Education from VanderCook College of Music in 2009, and a Master of Wind and Percussion Performance and Literature from Northwestern University in 2012, studying saxophone with and serving as a teaching assistant for Dr. Frederick L. Hemke.
Adjunct Faculty, Marching Band Methods
Mr. Lambert joined the faculty of Marian Catholic High School in 2001. Prior to coming to Marian, he was the graduate assistant in saxophone performance at the University of Massachusetts under the instruction of internationally known artist, Mr. Lynn Klock. Mr. Lambert also had the opportunity to guest conduct the University of Massachusetts Wind Ensemble and study conducting under Mr. Malcomb Rowell. He received his Masters of Music in saxophone performance from the University of Massachusetts and his B.S. Ed in music education from Western Carolina University.
Mr. Lambert is a leadership clinician for high school musicians and athletes, teaching clinics for drum majors and other student leaders throughout the Southeast. He has also written a workbook for high school drum majors entitled From the Podium. In 2005, Mr. Lambert became director and designer for the leadership program at Marian Catholic involving every student. The program involves self-leadership, small group leadership, and large project management. The Leadership Program at Marian Catholic is now housed in the school’s new Leadership Center at Marian Catholic. Along with being in demand for student leadership instruction, Mr. Lambert has also had the pleasure of working with several marching and concert programs across the country as a consultant. Mr. Lambert’s professional affiliations include MENC, IMEA and Phi Mu Alpha. He now lives in Steger, IL with his wife, Alysia, and two daughters.
Undergraduate Dean, Assistant Director of Bands
Ms. Stacey L. Larson is the Undergraduate Dean and Assistant Director of Bands at VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, IL. At VanderCook, she teaches a variety of music education courses, conducting courses and ensembles at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Prior to her appointment at VanderCook in 2004, Ms. Larson had a successful twelve-year career in both private and public education. Her past positions include Blackhawk Middle School, Bensenville, IL, St. Viator H.S., Arlington Heights, IL, a staff member of the highly acclaimed Lake Park H.S. marching band and the twelve year conductor / creative director of the Bensenville Young Musicians Mentor Band.
Originally from Itasca, IL, Ms. Larson received her bachelor of music education degree from Millikin University in Decatur, IL and her master of music education from VanderCook College of Music. So far in her career, she has acted as a guest conductor and clinician for over 400 bands from fifteen states and several bands from Canada. Ms. Larson has presented workshops and / or conducted at Music Educator’s Association Conferences and Festivals in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and Texas. She was the recipient of the Illinois Grade School Music Association 2002 Barbara Buehlman Young Conductor Award and the 2004 Chicagoland Outstanding Music Educator Award.
President, Director of Bands
Charles T. Menghini is the President, Professor of Music and Director of Bands at VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois. Prior to his appointment as President in August of 2004, Charlie served as Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Bands. He began his teaching at VanderCook College in 1994 and his teaching has included conducting, organization and administration, curriculum and supervision, brass methods and rehearsal techniques classes.
Charlie brought with his appointment to VanderCook 18 years of successful high school band experience in Missouri and Kansas. Bands under his direction received consistent Division I ratings in regional, state and national music festivals, performed at various state music educator conventions and performed in the Tournament of Roses Parade, Orange Bowl Parade, Bands of America International Festival and the XV Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Originally from Iron Mountain, Michigan, Menghini attended Northern Michigan University and the University of Missouri – Columbia where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education. He also holds a Master degree in Education from the University of Missouri – Kansas City and a Doctorate of Arts in Wind Conducting from the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music where he studied with Gary Hill. In addition to Hill, Menghini recognizes Tim Lautzenheiser and Gary Green as being most-influential teachers in his growth and development.
Charles Menghini has written for professional journals and magazines including the “Instrumentalist” where he serves as a member of the Board of Advisors. He is also co-author of the Essential Elements 2000 Band Method, published by the Hal Leonard Corporation.
Ross Heise, Choir
Adjunct Faculty, Choral Clinician
Ross K. Heise is currently serving as the Director of Music at Wheaton Bible Church. He held the position of choral music instructor at Glenbard East High School, Lombard, IL. from January 1982 until his recent retirement in June 2009. He is a resident of Lombard, Illinois, and graduate of Glenbard West High School. He received a Bachelor's degree in Music Education from Wheaton College in 1975, and a Master of Music degree from DePaul University in 1988, where his thesis was on the subject of music literacy. Mr. Heise has extensive experience as a string bassist, church orchestra and choir director, guest clinician, and festival conductor throughout the Chicago area. He has served as guest conductor for the Montreal Music Conference in 1999. Mr. Heise served as Program Chair for the 2002 ACDA Central Division Convention in Chicago. He has presented at Elmhurst College, Wheaton College, the ISMTA, and at several Illinois Music Education Association conventions on the topics of recruiting and sight singing and has served as District VII 1989-90 Choral Chair for the IMEA.
Mr. Heise received the Mary Hoffman Award of Excellence for Teaching Music, at the 2009 IMEA All State Festival. Mr. Heise has been nominated to numerous editions of Who's Who Among America's Teachers. His choirs have performed at Northern Illinois University, University of Illinois, the 1992 American Choral Directors Association Regional Convention in Chicago, 1996 American Choral Directors Association Illinois State Convention in Bloomington, 1995-2009 Chicago Symphony Orchestra Holiday Benefit Concerts pre-concert music, the Regional Association of Anglican Musicians Convention, Chicago Fourth Presbyterian Church Advent Concert Series, CBS and WGN television. The Glenbard East Concert Choir has toured Europe having performed at Westminster Abbey and Köln, Durham, Chartres, Reims, Speyer, St. Paul's, Ely, Lincoln, and Il Duomo Cathedrals.
Mr. Heise is an active member of ACDA, IEA, NEA, IMEA, and MENC.
Director of Choral Music Education
Robert L. Sinclair has served VanderCook College of Music as Director of Choral Activities since 2001. His educational background includes three years at Luther College where he sang in the Nordic Choir under the direction of Weston Noble. After transferring to Sam Houston State University, he completed his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Music degrees with B. R. Henson. In December of 2000, Sinclair completed a Ph. D. in Curriculum and Instruction (Music Education) at the University of Missouri-Columbia where he worked with Drs. David Rayl and Wendy Sims.
Dr. Sinclair has ten years of public school teaching experience and continues to work as an active choral clinician and adjudicator for junior high and high school students from across the nation and abroad including honor choirs in Japan and the Bahamas. Sinclair has presented sessions to the Music Educators Association in Texas, Illinois, and Ohio, the Illinois Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), as well as the Southwestern Division and Southern Division of ACDA. In January of 2010, he served as guest conductor for the Illinois All State Choir in Peoria.
He is an active member of ACDA, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity, Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honors Fraternity, and the Music Educators National Convention. He served ACDA as the Program Chair for the 2006 Divisional Convention.
Justin Kvedaras, Staff
Director of Outreach, Ensembles Office Coordinator
Justin Kvedaras is the Director of Outreach and Ensembles Coordinator at VanderCook College of Music. Before starting at VanderCook, Justin taught music for a number of years. In his current role, Justin directs several large festivals and clinics for Chicago area middle and high school music students. In addition, he assists in managing the needs of the various VanderCook musical ensembles and directs the day to day logistics of the college.
Justin holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Iowa.
During clinic season, Justin organizes students to work the clinics and also makes sure that set-up and instrument needs are met.
Amy Lenting, Staff
Director of Admissions & Retention, Clinic Coordinator
After completing her bachelors degree at VanderCook in 2004, Amy Lenting was brought on board to assist in the Financial Aid and Undergraduate Dean's offices. Fast forward to today and Amy now serves as our Director of Admissions and Retention. The 2014-2015 school year will be her eleventh year working at the College.
During clinic season Amy also serves as our clinic coordinator. As the first contact for groups looking to book clinics, it is Amy's job to communicate with directors and tour companies regarding date, room and clinician availability as well as to take care of invoicing and billing.
Send Amy an email or call (312) 788-1120 to inquire about bringing your group to VanderCook.