12 Week Sessions


INDIVIDUAL and GROUP Classes Available

Strings are the backbone of the orchestra. Students can learn the violin, viola, cello, or bass. Learning strings can help students develop into great soloists and improve their school orchestral experience.




BA, Music

St. Ambrose University, Davenport, IA


Robbie Gearhart is a musician and composer whose work extends over multiple genres including classical, jazz, pop, rock, and musical theatre.

Mr. Gearhart graduated from St. Ambrose University with a degree in music education in 2018. He has experience working with students ranging from early childhood to adults. His approach to teaching is characterized by his ability to diagnose problem areas in students’ playing and apply appropriate solutions through comprehensible language and performance demonstration. In addition to private instruction, Mr. Gearhart plays bass in the jam band Glass Leaf Co.




BA, Music

Clarke University, Dubuque, IA


Justice Heinold, a Dubuque native, is a recent graduate of Clarke University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music performance. Ms. Heinold is passionate about spreading the love of music to others within her community. She has been an active contributor to both choral and orchestral ensembles, including Clarke’s Collegiate Singers, Melos, and Clarke’s String Orchestra.

In addition to performing in multiple ensembles at Clarke University, Heinold also performs in community productions and private events such as weddings and community musicals.


Lydia Pakala


Jotham Polashek


BM, Music

University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA


Jotham Polashek is the orchestra director at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Dubuque, Iowa. A violinist and violist, he has played with the Central Iowa Symphony, the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra, and the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony. He enjoys working with diverse students of all ages and stages of progress to set up and build on a solid foundation of playing.

Composition instructor

TracEy Rush


BA, Music Composition

University of Northern Iowa


Tracey Rush is the founder of Northeast Iowa School of Music.

Her compositions have been performed all over the country and in several foreign countries. Her original composition Angels in the Snow has been performed by several orchestras and choirs, including the Pittsburgh Symphony, Lucas Richman, conductor, and the Naples Philharmonic, Erich Kunzel, conductor.

The musical-comedy review Mothering Heights, which Rush co-wrote with Des Moines playwright Rebecca Christian, is published by Dramatic Publishing. Her song cycle for treble choir, The Butterfly Garden, with texts by elementary students, won the 1999 Francis J. Pyle Commission Award, sponsored by the Iowa Composers Forum.

In 2008, Rush conducted one of her compositions at Carnegie Hall.

Ms. Rush also teaches violin and viola at Northeast Iowa School of Music




M.A.Ed., Music

Arcadia University, Glenside, PA

BA, Music

Eastern Mennonite University, Shenandoah Valley, VA


Kara started violin when she was six years old; she very much enjoys playing and teaching music. She has a B.A. in Music Education from Eastern Mennonite University and a Masters of Education, with a concentration in Music from Arcadia University.

Kara has taught private violin lessons and high school and middle school orchestra professionally since 2008, including in Philadelphia, PA, and Newton, KS. She currently teaches violin and viola at the Northeast Iowa School of Music in Dubuque. Kara has been a member of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra since 2021. She has also performed with the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony, and Hutchison Symphony. She looks forward to directing the String Ensemble and Youth Philharmonia of the Dubuque Symphony Youth Ensembles starting Fall 2022. Kara lives in Dubuque with her husband and daughter.

String Instructor



BA, Music

Wartburg College, Waverly, IA


Brianna Tieskotter is a music teacher in the Dubuque School System and is known for following the Golden Rules for Ensemble Playing:

  1. Everyone should play the same piece.

  2. Stop at every repeat sign and discuss in detail whether to take the repeat or not. The audience will love this a lot!

  3. If you play a wrong note, give a nasty look to one of your partners.

  4. Keep your fingering chart handy. You can always catch up with the others.

  5. Carefully tune your instrument before playing. That way, you can play out of tune all night with a clear conscience.

  6. Take your time turning pages.

  7. The right note at the wrong time is a wrong note (and vice-versa).

  8. If everyone gets lost except you, follow those who get lost.

  9. Strive to get the maximum NPS (note per second). That way, you gain the admiration of the incompetent.

  10. Markings for slurs, dynamics, and ornaments should not be observed. They are only there to embellish the score.

  11. If a passage is difficult, slow down. If it’s easy, speed it up. Everything will work itself out in the end.

  12. If you are completely lost, stop everyone and say, “I think we should tune.”

  13. Happy are those who have not perfect pitch, for the kingdom of music is theirs.

  14. If the ensemble must stop because of you, explain in detail why you got lost. Everyone will be very interested.

  15. A true interpretation is realized when no one note of the original remains.

  16. When everyone else has finished playing, you should not play any notes you have left.

  17. A wrong note played timidly is a wrong note. A wrong note played with authority is an interpretation.