Our Teachers

All of our teachers are accomplished musicians who bring their love and passion for both music and children into their classes, creating a fun and quality music time for all!

photo Michele Venegas

Joyful Sounds owner, director and teacher, Michele Venegas taught Music Together® for several years in Michigan, Vancouver, B.C., and Florida before opening the Joyful Sounds Music Studio in Grand Rapids.  She taught Suzuki Violin for many years, teaching hundreds of children through private and group lessons as well as fiddle workshops, including one at the internationally renowned Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.  Although no longer teaching private violin, she continues to play and has great fun performing with the regional Celtic/World-Beat group An Dro. Michele did several units of Suzuki violin training at the University of Wisconsin, Steven's Point.  She received her Music Together training in Princeton, New Jersey with Music Together co-authors Kenneth Guilmartin and Lili Levinowitz, PhD. in August, 2000, and she achieved her Music Together Certification Level 1 in August, 2014.  Michele finds it pure joy working with families with young children and loves to get them excited about making music!

     
photo Sonja Noykos

Sonja Noykos has truly loved teaching Music Together since she was trained in 2010.  She has taught at Joyful Sounds since 2014, having previously taught and directed Music Together in Raleigh, NC.  Sonja and her husband Matthew are the music directors at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and Matt co-owns Grand Rapids Violins.  So yes, Sonja is part of a musical family!  Sonja also grew up in a musical family, and besides singing at home, she sang in many choirs and learned to play piano and flute.  As she got older she became more serious about being a flutist and received her Bachelor’s of Music in Flute Performance in 2005 from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music.  Sonja has placed in or won many local and national flute competitions.  Although currently not playing her flute as much or teaching flute lessons due to a busy life with two young children, she hopes to play her flute more again in the future!  It is her love for music and children that makes teaching Music Together a natural fit for Sonja.

     
photo Josh Dunigan

Over the past fifteen years, Joshua Dunigan has used his love of world music to teach and perform Afro-Cuban and Latin percussion with adult classes and public school students. As the percussionist for Latin-Rock band Cabildo and Afrobeat band AfroZuma, Josh places traditional Cuban, Brazilian, and Andean rhythms in a contemporary setting for live shows in Grand Rapids. Josh has also been an instructor at The Cook Arts Center in Grand Rapids for the past 10 years. He uses a curriculum with emphasis placed on understanding the fundamentals of rhythm, practicing proper playing technique, and having fun with world music in an ensemble. As an instructor for Artists Creating Together (ACT), Josh works with cognitively disabled students using world percussion instruments to learn communication, expression, group play and the science of sound. Through ACT,  Josh directs The Action Drummers an inclusive group of cognitively disabled musicians. The goal of this group is to perform at community events to promote the work of ACT and disabled people in the community. At the fantastic Arts In Motion Studio, Josh teaches private lessons and provides small group activities for students of all abilities. Working every day to ensure equal arts opportunities for all, Josh teaches afterschool at all Grand Rapids Boys and Girls Clubs locations.

     
photo Abby Whitenight Brooks

Abby Whitenight Brooks is thrilled to be teaching at Joyful Sounds!  She is excited to play musically with the children in her classes, as well as to offer parents a framework of musical activities to do at home.  Abby has taught elementary music in Hudsonville Public Schools for ten years and is currently the assistant director for the high school musical.  Abby has also taught dance in Chicago Public Schools.  Abby has undergraduate degrees in music and dance education from Hope College, and has a Master of Music Education degree from Michigan State University.  While completing her master’s degree, Abby completed both the early childhood and level one certification courses in Music Learning Theory with Edwin Gordon and Cindy Taggart.  Abby completed her Music Together training in Kalamazoo, June 2016.