Meet Our Teachers


Sarah Evanovich

Director/Cello Instructor

Sarah Jackson Evanovich is the Director of the Suzuki Academy of Columbia and the cello instructor at the Midlands Arts Conservatory in Columbia, SC, where she was one of two founding music educators.  Sarah holds a Master of Music degree from Roosevelt University where she studied performance and pedagogy with Dr. Tanya Carey, and a Bachelor of Music in performance from the University of South Carolina, where she studied with Dr. Robert Jesselson.  Mrs. Evanovich has registered Suzuki teacher training through the Suzuki Association of the Americas for all ten book levels.


Sarah's prior teaching positions include the Hyde Park Suzuki Institute and the MAGIC program in Chicago, as well as the USC String Project in Columbia. She is the immediate past-President of the Suzuki Association of South Carolina, and previously served on the board as Treasurer and Vice President.

In addition to teaching, Sarah enjoys performing with the string quartet that she formed with her three sisters and also with her husband, pianist/organist Joshua Evanovich. She was an associate member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and played in the Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra, the South Carolina Philharmonic, and the Aiken Symphony. In 2009, her quartet from Roosevelt University traveled to Quito, Ecuador to take part in the Mes Cultural Franz Liszt. Sarah has participated in summer festivals including the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Killington Music Festival, Hot Springs Music Festival in Arkansas and the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts.

JulieAnne Bennett is currently an active violin performer and teacher in the Southeast. A native of South Carolina, she began her musical studies at the age of six attending the Ashley River Creative Arts Suzuki Strings Program. She received her Bachelor of Music from the University of South Carolina, studying violin performance with Dr. William Terwilliger. She continued her postgraduate studies at UofSC, studying with Dr. Ari Streisfeld and Dr. Samara Humbert-Hughes and earning a master’s degree in violin and viola pedagogy in the spring of 2019. During her graduate studies, she received the honor of holding a position in the Graduate String Quartet and serving as associate concertmaster of the UofSC Symphony during the 2018-2019 orchestra season.

JulieAnne has studied at various music festivals, including the Rocky Ridge Music Camp in Estes Park, Colorado, and the Vianden Summer Music Festival in Luxembourg. She performed in master classes for esteemed  violinists such as Rob Moose (yMusic and Bon Iver), Daniel Chong (Parker Quartet), and Vadim Gluzman. She has also appeared with the Aiken Civic Orchestra as their guest concertmaster, where she performed the Mozart Concerto No. 5 in the summer of 2017. Currently, JulieAnne performs with professional orchestras throughout the Southeast.

Teaching has been JulieAnne’s primary passion since beginning her first private studio in 2016. She has received training in the Suzuki Method, completing courses for Every Child Can!, Unit 1 (Greensboro), and Unit 2 (Atlanta). She received instruction in Paul Rolland Pedagogy at a summer institute hosted in Fairfax, Virginia, in 2015. Her master’s degree in violin and viola pedagogy also provided extensive training in a multitude of different string pedagogies and practical applications of these methodologies. JulieAnne plans to continue pursuing educational opportunities to become a more educated and creative strings teacher, and she has made it her goal to grow as an instructor in order to nurture the unique musician in every student that walks through the door.

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JulieAnne Bennett

Violin Instructor

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Emma Brown

Violin/Viola Instructor

Administrative Assistant

Emma Brown is a violist and violinist originally from northern Vermont. She started her musical training in the Suzuki method on the violin at the age of seven and discovered her love for the viola in high school. She received her Bachelor of Music Education from Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY in 2016. Prior to moving to South Carolina in 2018 she served as the Assistant Director and master teacher for the SOAR (Strings Off and Running) program at St. Mary’s School in Cortland, NY in addition to teaching private violin and viola lessons and performing with the Catskill Symphony Orchestra and Clinton Symphony Orchestra. 


Emma was the first violist to receive a Master of Music degree in Violin and Viola Pedagogy from the University of South Carolina in 2020. While at UofSC she studied viola with Dr. Daniel Sweaney and Suzuki Pedagogy with Dr. Samara Humbert-Hughes and plans to continue with her Suzuki training on violin and viola. Emma also served as the Assistant Director of the University of South Carolina String Project under the direction of Dr. Gail V. Barnes. In addition to her position at SAC she also teaches a beginner strings class at Saxe Gotha Elementary School in Lexington and frequently performs as a freelance violist and violinist in the Columbia area. 


Kristen Harris

Violin Coordinator/Instructor

Kristen Harris, a Suzuki student herself, received her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Oregon, where she studied violin with Fritz Gearhart, and earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of South Carolina, where she studied with Dr. William Terwilliger and taught at the USC String Project under the direction of Dr. Gail Barnes. Kristen has been teaching Suzuki violin method since 2007, has taught private lessons and group classes in the Suzuki Academy of Columbia program since 2011, and also taught grades 6-8 orchestra in the public schools. Her students regularly participate in regional and all-state youth orchestras and have won prestigious fiddle competitions such as the South Carolina State Fiddling Championship, Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention, and Mount Airy Bluegrass and Old-Time Fiddlers Convention. A multi-instrumentalist, Kristen is an active musician in the Southeast and performs and records regularly as a solo artist and with musical groups of various genres ranging from classical, old time, swing, and country, to bluegrass and rock, and has toured across the United States and in the United Kingdom. She is a member of the local gypsy jazz group Flat Out Strangers and the Americana group Boomtown Trio, and was the 2013 and 2019 South Carolina State Fiddle Champion. Kristen was the Jasper Magazine 2019 Artist of the Year, and was featured in the Summer 2020 Edition of Fiddler Magazine. 

Steve Sloan is the guitar instructor for Suzuki Strings at USC and an adjunct professor of music at the University of South Carolina Aiken. He won first prize in the 2007 James Stroud Classical Guitar Competitions and was a third-prize winner in the 2010 Rosario Guitar Competition. Sloan has been heard in a variety of venues across the United States including Presbyterian College (SC), Nashville Public Library (TN), Oberlin Conservatory (OH), and others. In addition to his solo activities, Sloan performs duos with his saxophonist wife, Mandy, and has served as a faculty member for the annual Southern Guitar Festival and Competition. Mr. Sloan has been teaching guitar since 2004. 


Steve received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Akron’s School of Music studying under Stephen Aron and earned his Master of Music Degree from the University of South Carolina where he held a graduate teaching assistantship under Professor Christopher Berg.

Steve Sloan

Guitar Coordinator/Instructor


Karin Dawson - van Veen was born in Delft, The Netherlands and studied cello at the Music Pedagogy Academy of Leeuwarden and the Conservatory of Groningen. Karin studied cello with Maarten Mostert, Elias Arizcuren, Jeroen den Herder and Jiri Prchal. She took masterclasses from Anner Bijlsma, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Milos Sadlo, and Christopher Bunting. During her studies, she was also a member of the National Youth Orchestra of The Netherlands where she performed in concert tours in Spain and Scotland.

She graduated with a degree in Cello Pedagogy, and was a co-founder of De Speeldoos (which is Dutch for The Music Box) where she gained 12 years experience as a cello and ensemble teacher. She has experience teaching children of all ages, as well as high school students and adults.

She moved with her husband and two children to South Carolina in 2010 due partially to her dedication to her children’s education. The director of the unique school they came to South Carolina for is equally enthusiastic about the educational benefits of classical string instruments.

Her exposure to the Suzuki method was very limited until she was pleasantly surprised at how well her son responded to and learned from the method. She signed her daughter up for Suzuki lessons as well, and became very enthusiastic about it after seeing the positive results it generated. She started taking Suzuki teacher training in 2015 and holds certifications in the Suzuki Cello Method in Books 1-4 with plans for more certifications whenever time permits. Music using the Suzuki method is a large part of her now home-schooled children’s education (cello and violin/viola).


Karin Dawson-van Veen

Cello Instructor

Adam Rafferty is a professional cellist with 28 years of playing experience. He began studying at the age of four in the Suzuki method. He received his Bachelors of Arts in public relations at the University of Kentucky with a minor in cello performance. He is currently a student at USC getting a second bachelor's degree in Music Education.

After performing and recording an album with Woodstock performer, Arlo Guthrie, Adam began venturing into styles such as bluegrass, jazz, rock, and folk. He has performed and worked with some of the biggest names in electric strings including Tracy Silverman of the Turtle Island String Quartet, Bert Ligon, and Mark Wood, founding violinist of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Adam works with hundreds of middle and high school students every summer at the Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp. Adam discovered a love for sharing his knowledge of music with children and received Suzuki teacher training from Tanya Carey and is currently pursuing more training. Adam's teaching philosophy is “It is with great joy that I teach children to love, understand, and perform music.”


Adam Rafferty

Cello Instructor


Jessica Rafferty

Violin Instructor

Parent Education Coordinator

Jessica received her bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance from Shenandoah Conservatory. Upon graduation from Shenandoah, she was invited by Joanne Bath to study Suzuki Pedagogy at East Carolina University. Jessica completed her training and is registered in Every Child Can! through Suzuki book 10. She continues her training as a life long learner. Jessica lived in Charlotte, NC from 2011-2016 where she taught at the Community School for the Arts and the Charlotte Academy of Music. She currently lives in Columbia, SC with her husband Adam and their son. She is the Parent Education Coordinator and Violin instructor at the Suzuki Academy of Columbia. She has been teaching with the program since 2015.

She performs frequently with the Union Symphony, Aiken Symphony, and the SC Philharmonic as a sub. Outside of classical violin, Jessica has a passion for the Electric Violin. She has worked with Mark Wood, assisting with Electrify Your Strings program and is on staff at the Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Festival. She is very passionate about violinists being true musicians and having the ability to play all styles of music. Her goal is to create a love and passion for music in a positive and nurturing environment, all while having fun! She hopes to be an inspiration to her students and be with them along their own personal musical journey.