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Dylana Jenson has a unique story. As a child prodigy growing up in the 1970s, her training and artistry is deeply indebted to the master violinists of the mid-twentieth century. She also draws inspiration from the Suzuki method, Alexander technique, holistic healing, knowledge of literature and science, and a very rich cross-cultural upbringing. Dylana’s teaching embodies so much more than just the violin and she has instilled in all of her students that music is a vehicle for social change.

General Information      

Dylana Jenson's String Academy of Grand Rapids holds a unique position in West Michigan. Open to children ages 3-18 who wish to study the violin and cello through a curriculum that includes individual, group lessons, Masterclasses and performance opportunities. Instruction is based upon the methods and philosophies of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki and Dylana Jenson. Beginners participate weekly in both individual and group lessons. Parents and others support and encourage their students in individual and group lessons and daily practice.

The experience and expertise of our outstanding faculty results in students playing with technical ease and musical sensitivity. The first years are vital because they set the stage for everything that follows. Whether a child develops into a professional musician or an amateur, the skills they learn and the joy and love for music will be with them forever.

Starting with our inspiring Suzuki violin teachers, Cassandra Kroondyk and Annette Henry, to Dylana Jenson, we can take your child from Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to the Tchaikovsky violin concerto. Our master teacher, Dylana Jenson, oversees training and begins to work with students as they develop.

Cello faculty Jill Warne and Alicia Gregorian Sawyers welcome students of all ages and abilities; from the youngest preschooler to the advanced senior.  Both studios offer an atmosphere of excitement and creativity in every cello lesson.


2015-2016 String Academy of GR Handbook. (to be updated for 2016-2017)


30 minute lesson, Winter Semester, 14 lessons, $420
45 minute lesson, Winter Semester, 14 lessons, $630
Group lessons, Winter Semester, $130

New and returning families - register first below, pay teacher directly with cash or check. Group lesson payments can be made in cash or check made out to: Dylana Jenson

Dylana Jenson, Artistic Director
String Academy of Grand Rapids
G. R. E. A. A. T.
600 Burton SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507


Violin Groups:
Tuesdays:  4:30-5:15 pm Boccherini Group (late Bk. 1 to Bk. 4) Ms Annette
                   5:15-6:00 pm Paganini Masterclass (by teacher recommendation) Ms Dylana & Cassandra                                 


Thursdays: 4:30-5:15 pm Little Stars (Pre-Twinkle) Ms Cassandra
                    5:15-6:00 pm Mozart Players (Folk Songs to late Bk. 1) Ms Annette                                                    

Cello Groups: 
Thursdays: 4:30-5:15 Bk. 1    

                   5:15-6:00 Advanced

                   6:00-6:45 Bk. 2




December 9, Friday, 6pm, Sawyers and Warne Studio, Chapel

December 15, Thursday, 6pm, Jenson Studio Recital, Chapel















Dylana Jenson, Artistic Director

David Lockington, President

Cassandra Kroondyk, Violin Instructor

Annette Henry, Violin Instructor

Jill Collier Warne, Cello Instructor

Alicia Gregorian Sawyers, Cello Instructor

Contact: Dylana Jenson, Artistic Director


Location: G.R.E.A.A.T.

600 Burton SE 

Grand Rapids, MI 49507


Faculty Bios

Cassandra Kroondyk received her undergraduate music degree from Indiana State University and her Suzuki violin training from the Chicago Suzuki Institute, with Michelle Higa George. Cassandra's violin experience includes 30 years of performance in orchestras in Indiana and Michigan, and 40 years of studio teaching, the last 25 years of which have incorporated the Suzuki method. She has taught violin at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Suzuki Camp for the last 14 years. Mrs. Kroondyk is one of the founding teachers of Suzuki Strings of Grand Rapids Community College where she taught since 1991 to 2014. Currently she teaches at the String Academy of Grand Rapids.

Violinist Annette Henry, is an active performer, teacher and conductor.  Ms. Henry graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. Her principal teachers include Jean Manning, Ella Villa, and Dylana Jenson.

Since graduation, Ms. Henry has worked with beginning and advanced orchestras and students in grades K-12. She taught 4th and 5th grade orchestras in Dubuque, Iowa and Grand Haven, Michigan. Her ensemble experience also includes leading sectionals and conducting clinics with Lakeshore and White Pines schools where she assisted with Concert and Symphony Orchestras.

Ms. Henry is a member of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) and the Suzuki Association of Americas.

Jill Collier Warne is a dynamic workshop leader, cellist, and teacher. With a belief that all people thrive on creativity, Jill is devoted to exploring artistry and expression through music. Her practice has enabled her to create and perform diverse music in prisons, inner-city schools, rural communities, and abroad, gaining recognition from organizations such as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Georgia State University, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. As a graduate of the University of Michigan and Cleveland Institute of Music, Jill studied cello performance, pursued Suzuki teacher training, and then continued on to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London where she received a master’s in music leadership. Currently, Jill enjoys performing with songwriter Cameron Blake, directing Creative Connections, an organization she began in 2009 as a platform for creative workshops, teaching cello students in West Michigan and teaching at Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute of Music where she has developed two courses in creative leadership.

Cellist, Alicia Gregorian Sawyers resides in Grand Rapids, MI and performs with several orchestras throughout the area and around the state, including the Grand Rapids Symphony.  She is the Principal cellist for the West Michigan Symphony. As an orchestral musician, she has had the pleasure to work with many great conductors, including Joseph Silverstein and Hugh Wolf.  A dedicated teacher, Mrs. Sawyers currently has over 20 private students, teaching both Suzuki and traditional methods.  She has taught at summer festivals including New England Music Camp and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.   Mrs. Sawyers received her Masters Degree from New England Conservatory in 2008, studying with Natasha Brofsky.  She received her BM in 2006 from Michigan State University, where she studied with Suren Bagratuni.   A diverse musician, Mrs. Sawyers has performed with famous artists ranging from Itzhak Perlman to Kanye West.  She has appeared in concert at Jordan Hall, Sanders Theater, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall for the Mostly Mozart Festival.  Mrs. Sawyers has spent her summers at various music festivals including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, The Meadowmount School of Music and The Perlman Music Program.  A passionate chamber musician, she has had the opportunity to work with renowned musicians such as Paul Katz, Roger Tapping and members of the Borromeo  and Juilliard String Quartets. She has been a guest performer at several chamber music festivals around Michigan and the Four Seasons Chamber Festival in North Carolina.  


"Ms. Dylana Jenson is like two wonderful people wrapped into one. She is the amazing protégé, an artist who has mastered THE repertoire and is able to play it with intense passion. Then there’s the other part of her, the skilled teacher. She is a well-trained teacher, knowing about the anatomy of the body and the workings of the mind to aid in proper violin technique and practicing methods. The amazing and wonderful thing about Dylana Jenson is her incredible skill as a teacher and as a performer. The most valuable lesson that Ms. Jenson taught me is to practice in positivity, go back to what feels comfortable and what is played correctly and build on that. The two largest problems I had were with pain while practicing, and the lack of determination to practice. Ms. Dylana Jenson changed my technique, removing the shoulder rest, changing the chin rest and changing my bow hold into a more natural position. These changes changed my tone for the better and it enabled me to practice longer. She also gave very clear reasons for the changes that she wanted me to make. I would not have traded the semester I had with Ms. Dylana Jenson for any other teacher." 

-L. Brown, student  

"As a teacher of technique, Dylana’s insights have been the most helpful. Her ability to articulate and demonstrate how the body is supposed to feel when learning a new technique is uncanny. This is no small feat when so many teachers’ inability to ‘see inside the body’ lead their students down a road of constant physical injury. Dylana is committed to finding the most relaxed playing position for her students because playing the violin is meant to be an enjoyable and lifelong journey.'"

-Cameron Warne, violin

M.M. Peabody Institute of Music