Our Instructors

Erik Christianson, Director of Bands


Erik Barsness, Percussion

Ben Bussey, Low Brass

Alexandra Berndt, Bassoon


William Eisenberg, French Horn

Carol Gilkey, Flute

Joshua Cameron, Trumpet

Steve Truran, Trumpet, Jazz Band, Marching Band


Susan Miranda, Oboe

Owen Tucker, Clarinet

Aaron Hedenstrom, Saxophone


Erik Christianson, Director of Bands

Erik Christianson


Erik has been the Director of Bands at Sibley High School since the summer of 2020. Erik teaches Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Jazz Band, Marching Band, and Pep Band. He also administers the Private Lesson Program at Henry Sibley High School. Erik is an active supporter of the Sibley Band Boosters, Sibley Winter Guard, and Sibley Winter Drumline.

Erik grew up in Greendale, a suburb of Milwaukee, and received a bachelors of music education from UW-Eau Claire and masters of education from UW-La Crosse. He has a wide range of experiences as both an educator and professional musician. He taught beginning, middle school, and high school band in Minnesota and Wisconsin and took students to marching, concert, and jazz events locally as well as New Orleans and Disney World. As a professional musician, Erik has recorded with local bands and played professionally in pit orchestras, at casinos, and on cruise ships. His other interests include hiking, biking, and camping with his two young children.

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Erik Barsness, Percussion Instructor

Erik Barsness



Erik Barsness grew up in the Twin Cities, in Minnesota and started playing percussion when he was 11. He received his Bachelors Degree in percussion performance from the University of Minnesota in 2001 where his teacher was Fernando Meza.

From August 2002 until June 2005 Erik lived in Stockholm, Sweden studying at the Royal College of Music in Sweden. He graduated with his Masters Degree in percussion from the Royal College of Music and received a Fulbright Scholarship in 2002 for these studies. His main teachers in Sweden were Anders Loguin of the percussion ensembles Kroumata and Glorious Percussion, Daniel Kåse, principal percussionist with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Roland Johansson, former principal timpanist with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic.

Erik has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Russia as a soloist and as a member of various ensembles. European countries he has performed in included Sweden, Finland, Åland, Estonia, Latvia and Germany. In the United States, he has performed at several Festivals Dancing in Your Head at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Eye and Ear Festival at the Franconia Sculpture Park, the Walleye Art Gallery in Chicago, IL, and Sprauge Hall at Yale University.

Erik is co-director and percussionist with Ensemble 61, a Saint Paul-based contemporary music group and performs frequently with the Minnesota Percussion Trio, CRASH and Janus Percussion. He has been a guest percussionist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and has performed with the contemporary music ensemble Zeitgeist, Nautilus Music Theater, and Ten Thousand Things Theater.

Erik has received several awards from the American Composers Forum, the Jerome Foundation and was a Fulbright Scholar. Erik maintains an active private studio in the Twin Cities.

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Ben Bussey is a musician, educator, and arranger based in Minneapolis, MN. His work on trombone, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, and sousaphone cover a wide range of music genres and reflect a keen interest in education at all levels of the music business. His current projects include Brass & BodyWorks, the Twin Cities Jazz Composers Workshop, and the Above Average Tuba Quartet. He also appears regularly with some of Minnesota’s best known artists, like McNasty Brass Band, Davina and the Vagabonds, and The New Standards stage band. He is Professor of Low Brass at Concordia University St Paul and serves on the faculty of the MacPhail Center for Music as a low brass instructor, staff arranger, and ensemble clinician.

Ben is an active guest artist, coach, and adjudicator for music programs throughout the region, and is a leader in the area of online instruction. His wide range of teaching and performing experiences provide a unique lens for students as they develop their skills as musicians and self-educators.

A Minneapolis native, Ben holds degrees from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities (BMus Music Ed, 2008) and McNally Smith (MM Trombone, 2015, R.I.P.). His teachers in performing, arranging, conducting, and improvisation include Scott Agster, Pete Whitman, Adi Yeshaya, John Tranter, Tom Ashworth, Dave Werden, and Jerry Luckhardt. Ben and his bride Katie are avid baseball fans and coffee enthusiasts, and enjoy traveling the world seeking out both.

Learn more at http://www.tromboneben.com

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Ben Bussey, Trombone Instructor


Alexandra Berndt, Bassoon Instructor




Dr. Alexandra Berndt is an active performer and teacher based in the Twin Cities. She joined the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra in 2016 and joined the Chione Quintet in 2018. She has served as substitute bassoon with the Boston Pops Orchestra, Oratorio Society of Minnesota, Sioux City Symphony Orchestra, Bangor Symphony Orchestra, and the New World Symphony. In addition to maintaining a large private studio, she also serves as the adjunct bassoon professor at Gustavus Adolphus College and St. Cloud State University.

She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Bassoon Performance with a Secondary Emphasis in Music Theory from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. She received her Master of Music in Bassoon Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA. While in Boston, Berndt was a member of the Vento Chiaro Wind Quintet. She received her Bachelor of Music in Bassoon Performance summa cum laude and with Program Honors in Woodwinds from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. A 2010 Tanglewood Music Center Fellow, Berndt also attended the summer music festivals at the Brevard Music Center and the Banff Music Centre. Her primary teachers include John Miller, Richard Ranti, Suzanne Nelsen, Christopher Millard, Lewis Kirk, and David Seidel.

In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, cycling, wakeboarding, gardening, and traveling. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and their tuxedo cat.

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Joshua Cameron, trumpet, has been teaching lessons to students of various ages and ability levels for nearly 15 years. He currently holds Administrative and Faculty positions at the MacPhail Center for Music and was previously on faculty at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee. As an active freelance musician in the Twin Cities, he is comfortable in a wide range of musical styles and plays regularly with local Soul/Funk group High & Mighty. He also frequently plays in local community orchestras and brass ensembles for a variety of concerts and occasions and as a soloist, was selected to perform God Bless America at Target Field during the 2014 Minnesota Twins season.

Previously, Josh had been the principal trumpet of the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra, and was on substitute lists for the Wisconsin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Festival City Symphony, and the LaCrosse Symphony Orchestra, as well as various non-professional orchestras in southeastern Wisconsin. He had played with the Esprit de Brass brass quintet, local jazz, R&B, blues, and Latin/salsa bands, and was hired for various studio work in the Milwaukee area. Josh has toured and performed internationally several times with various academic and professional ensembles.

Josh earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Performance from St.Olaf College in 2005 and his Master of Music degree in Performance from the University of Minnesota in 2007.

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Joshua Cameron, Trumpet Instructor





Will Eisenberg is a horn player from Minnetonka, Minnesota. He is the current 3rd horn of Orchestra Iowa and a frequent substitute member of the Minnesota Orchestra horn section. He is a founding member of the Minnesota Horn Quartet, and a member of Renegade Ensemble. He received a Bachelor’s in Horn Performance under Roland Pandolfi at Oberlin Conservatory and a Master’s in Horn Performance working with William Purvis at the Yale School of Music. Will has performed extensively at home and abroad, including concerts in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Italy, China, and Singapore. He has performed with groups including the Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Miami City Ballet, and others. Solo performance venues have included Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis, and the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C.

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William Eisenberg, French Horn Instructor


Carol Gilkey, Flute Instructor



Carol Gilkey is an active flute instructor in the Twin Cities and an adjunct flute instructor at Inver Hills and Normandale Community Colleges. She enjoys teaching flute to anyone who wants to learn at any level. Her students have won positions in All State, Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, Minnesota Youth Symphonies, and various honor bands. Her students have won or placed in Schubert Club, Thursday Musical, Upper Midwest Flute Association – Laudie Porter, and Young Peoples Symphony Concert Association competitions. She is the first director of flute choirs in the Twin Cities, arranges and publishes flute choir music and flute technique books. She has taught in the public school on Long Island, NY, DOD schools and U of Maryland in Okinawa, and MacPhail. She has presented several times at the National Flute Convention. She is the former principal flute of the Rochester Symphony. Flute performance degrees earned include a MM from Manhattan School of Music and BM from DePauw University. Flute lessons are designed to create flutists that can play independently at their level of interest for a lifetime of enjoyment.
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Susan Miranda, Oboe Instructor





Susan Miranda is a seasoned oboist. She graduated high school from Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan. Susan has attended college for Music Performance at the University of South Dakota and Augustana College.

She has participated in numerous master classes involving John Mack, Daniel Stolper, Linda Strommen, Nicholas Daniel and Daniel Ross. Her performance resume includes various countries across Europe with the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp Symphonic Band; Dakota Wind Ensemble in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Sioux City Symphony Orchestra, Sioux City, Iowa, and principal oboist of the Huron Symphony Orchestra, Huron, South Dakota. She is currently playing principal oboe in the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra and freelancing throughout the Twin Cities.

Susan has been teaching young oboists since she was in high school. Susan currently holds a private studio in addition to holding positions at Modern Day Music and Forte Fine Arts Academy. She has a great passion for music and carries that through to her students.

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Owen Tucker has been studying and performing the clarinet for over two decades. He has performed with numerous ensembles over the past twenty years, including concert bands, big-band jazz, symphony orchestras, pit orchestras, jazz combos, concert quintets, religious service ensembles, funk bands, and more. Owen is a graduate of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and Northwestern University in Chicago, where he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music performance. Since returning from Chicago, Owen has been teaching in the Twin Cities area for the past ten years, in various capacities, including private lessons at Henry-Sibley HS, Rosemount HS, and Maple Grove HS, as well as after-school jazz band, marching band, and section coachings at all three schools.

Owen believes in a regular and determined approach to improving at the clarinet and music in general, whether your goals are to qualify for contests, prepare for local honor-band or extra-curricular auditions, work toward a college music experience, or simply getting a little better and having more fun playing your instrument. Studying privately is one of the best ways to get more individualized attention and work through all the diverse and exciting aspects of music.

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Owen Tucker

Riley Helgeson, Trumpet Instructor

Riley at the Dakota



Riley Helgeson is a freelance trumpet player and composer based in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN.

Helgeson has toured North America and Europe with Sonny Knight and the Lakers, Friendly Fires (UK), and his own project, McNasty Brass Band. He has also performed on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” with Minneapolis-based McNasty Brass Band. His performances have been broadcast on MPR, The Current, and “The Lowertown Line” at Twin Cities PBS.

He has had the honor to perform with PJ Morton(Maroon 5), Stokely(Mint Condition), Fred Wesley(James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic) and John “Jabo” Starks(Bobby Bland, James Brown).

Other notable performances include shows at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts (MN), Fitzgerald Theater (MN), the Armory (MN), First Avenue (MN), the Fonda Theater (Los Angeles), The Fillmore (San Francisco), Monterey Jazz Festival (CA), Rochester Jazz Festival (NY), Saratoga Springs Jazz Festival (NY), Twin Cities Jazz Festival (MN), Winnipeg Jazz Festival (MB), and Pori Jazz Festival (Finland).

Riley is an active member of Twin Cities Jazz Composers’ Workshop and plays lead trumpet for Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra. He serves on the jazz faculty of Shell Lake Arts Center, WI, and maintains a private trumpet studio in the Twin Cities, MN.

Helgeson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Trumpet Performance from University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Learn more at www.rileyhelgeson.com

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Aaron Hedenstrom, Saxophone Instructor




Saxophonist and composer Aaron Hedenstrom has been composing, arranging, and performing music professionally for over a decade. Aaron has performed across the United States as a jazz saxophonist, clinician, and composer.

Aaron has received many awards for his compositions and arrangements, including the Herb Alpert ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, the Detroit Jazz Festival Composition Contest, Downbeat Awards, the Jazz Education Network Student Composer Showcase, and the BMI Foundation Future Jazz Master scholarship. Aaron has written numerous big band works, string arrangements, small group pieces, and chamber works. Some of his collaborations have included vibraphonist Stefon Harris, saxophonist Bob Reynolds, the University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band, vocalist Marlene Verplanck, singer/actor Don Most, and acclaimed indie artist S. Carey. Aaron has done MIDI production work for Happy Days actor/musician Don Most for an upcoming performance series. In addition, Aaron has recorded and performed with his own big band, the Aaron Hedenstrom Orchestra.

As a saxophone performing artist, Aaron has received numerous Downbeat Awards, including the 2013 Downbeat Award for “Best Graduate Jazz Soloist.” He has been featured as a guest artist by universities such as Wichita State University and Eastern Washington University. Aaron has performed at top-tier jazz venues nationwide including the Dakota Jazz Club, Snug Harbor, the Next Generation Jazz Festival, Scat Jazz Lounge, and others. Aaron performed with the University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band for two years and travelled the country with the band.

Aaron has released two small group CDs as a leader, including two on Shifting Paradigm Records (A Moment of Clarity and The Living Sessions) and one self-released big band CD (A Symphonic Jazz Hip-Hop Experience).

For more information and full list of accomplishments, please view Aaron’s Curriculum Vitae and hear his work at http://www.aaronhedenstrommusic.com.

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