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Executive Director,

Band Instructor

Born and raised in central South Dakota, Mallory discovered at an early age her passion for music and music education. Mallory attended Black Hills State University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Music Education, with an emphasis in instrumental music. While attending BHSU, Mallory majored in flute while also performing in the BHSU Jazz Band on Alto Saxophone, the BHSU Choir, and the Community Orchestra on String Bass. During her time at BHSU, she co-directed the BHSU Pep Band, as well as assisting to organize events such as the Northern Hills Honors Band. 


Before graduation, Mallory accepted the all school band director position in Newcastle, Wyoming, where she taught for 2 1/2 years. After leaving the Newcastle school system, Mallory moved to Moscow, Idaho, where she began work on her Masters of Music Education Degree from Boston University. While her focus was developing music curriculum for rural music programs, Mallory worked closely with rural and urban school districts and communities across the country. 


In time, Mallory and her family moved back to South Dakota. Being back in her hometown, Mallory took a job at Pierre Music where she not only taught lessons but helped design and build a beginning summer band program for 5th grade students.

In Rapid City, Mallory, along with her husband and three children, loves to spend time outdoors, hiking, kayaking and fishing. She also enjoys making music, practicing reading, writing and speaking Scottish Gaelic, having dancing parties with her family, and praising God's love.

At Black Hills Studios of the Arts, Mallory works with students who specialize in band instruments, directs all of the band Music Education Outreach Programs, as well as handles the office and duties of the Executive Director. 


Black Hills Studios of the Arts is extremely close to her heart and she is incredibly anxious to continue to grow and expand programming!

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Executive Assistant,

Orchestra Instructor

Lena was born and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota. She attended school at Garfield elementary, where her love of music bloomed. Lena started orchestra in the fourth grade, a time when her mother didn't think she would follow through with it, just as many other mother's have thought when their child starts an extracurricular activity. However, Lena continued, her love of the violin and orchestra only blossomed.

After graduating high school, Lena continued her education in El Reno, Oklahoma, where she studied music education at Redlands Community College. During her time there, Lena met her husband, Eric, who was then serving in the Navy at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City. A few months later they were married, and in November of 2011 their first son, Dean, was born. 

When Lena's husband was discharged from the Navy, they moved back to Rapid City. Lena found work with her parent's company but also wanted to continue her music career, so she opened a private studio in her home. 

After working out of her home for a year, she found a position as the Orchestra Director and closed her private studio. Many years later she is still married to her husband Eric, and now has another son, Reid, to play with older brother Dean. 

At Black Hills Studios of the Arts, Lena is the Executive Assistant, but also maintains her love of teaching as the Orchestra Director and a General Music Instructor in the Music Education Outreach Programs.

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Piano Instructor

Carolyn has been teaching piano students of all ages for more than 30 years. Her experience includes teaching private lessons in her home starting in high school, teaching for Nancy Theilen School of Piano for 9 years and teaching at Batchelder's School Piano and Organ for 19 years.

As a child growing up in Janesville, Wisconsin, Carolyn trained with a private teacher affiliated with Sherwood Music School of Chicago. Her lessons began at age 8 and continued through high school. She earned her teaching certificate upon completion of the course of study.

During high school, Carolyn was the church pianist all four years for her church in Janseville.

Graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education led Carolyn to teach fourth and fifth grades in Madison, Wisconsin, for 5 years before marrying and moving to Norway with her husband, Terje. Three years were spent in Norway before moving back to the Chicago area where her husband pursued his career as a geotechnical engineer. The family was temporarily transferred to Tehran, Iran, for 7 months where they adopted a daughter, Maria. After returning to Illinois, a son, John, was added to the family.

After moving to Rapid City in 1987, Carolyn was employed by Rapid City Area Schools as a substitute teacher and worked there for more than 30 years.

Carolyn is a member of South Canyon Lutheran Church, Sons of Norway (where she occasionally teaches Norwegian language) and the Black Hills Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution. She is interested in her family's genealogy and has compiled a large collection of photos and stories. Her children, grandchildren, gardening inside and outside, traveling and of course, playing the piano are her other interests.

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Piano Instructor

Marilyn is our only remote piano instructor at Black Hills Studios of the Arts. Teaching out of her home and online, Marilyn is a South Dakota native, who spent her childhood in eastern South Dakota. She graduated from Doland High School then went to Northern University, Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska, and Huron University. Her major was elementary education. After college, Marilyn taught in South Dakota public schools. Later she moved to Rapid City where she did substitute teaching, private tutoring and also taught general music in a private school. It was at this time Marilyn started a piano studio in her home. She as much experience in teaching piano to all ages.

Music, both vocal and piano have been a part of her life since childhood.

When not teaching she is busy with her family consisting of two sons, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

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Voice and Piano Instructor

Ali has spent most of her life learning about and making music. Born into a musical family, she is the 8th generation to pursue an education in music and teach. She began studying piano at 5 years old, and began studying flute at 10 years old. She was a regular participant in school, church, and community music throughout her childhood. Her training as a vocalist also began in childhood through participating in church choir, as well as through her father, who was also a music teacher.

After finishing high school, Ali went on to pursue and obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in music, with an emphasis on vocal and choral music, and a minor in behavioral science from Dakota Wesleyan University. After college, she taught private lessons in flute, piano, and voice for a time, before taking some time off to focus on raising her 5 children. Through the years, she has directed several children's choirs, played flute in many ensembles, and has spent time volunteering musically in the community. Currently, she participates in church choir, Dakota Choral Union, sings and plays flute for Joyful Noise, and directs two children's choirs for the Black Hills Homeschool Coop. She also performs regularly as a vocal soloist through the Black Hills region, and occasionally as an accompanist.

Ali enjoys teaching students of all ages. She is particularly interested in making sure all students have a solid foundation in music theory, whether they are voice, piano, or flute students, along with proper singing and playing techniques. She enjoys tailoring music lessons to each individual students' needs and talents. Most of all, she loves teaching music, and cannot imagine life any other way!

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Guitar Instructor

Jim teaches guitar, electric and upright bass, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and ukulele at the Black Hills Studios of the Arts.

Like many students, Jim started his formal music education in the fourth grade playing violin as well as participating in school choral groups. In high school, Jim fell in love with the guitar and started private guitar lessons and he was in the high school drama society appearing in the high school production of Oliver as the character "Bill Sykes."

Jim is a graduate of the University of Connecticut where he received his B.A. However, he continued formal music studies taking string pedagogy classes at the University of Connecticut as well as private lessons in classical guitar and upright bass at the Hart College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut.

While at the University of Connecticut, Jim worked as a guitar teacher at the local music store and played in local bands. And after graduation he moved to Colorado and spent the next ten years playing music in road bands traveling throughout the southwest learning from some great musicians. After leaving the "road" life, he joined the faculty at the University of Colorado at Denver as an adjunct instructor in their music business program teaching classes in music business and music publishing.

After a stint of living in Hot Springs, South Dakota, where his wife ran a bookstore, Jim, his wife and their golden retrievers then moved to Rapid City where Jim answered an ad seeking a guitar teacher and he was hired on.

Jim is particularly pleased to be teaching music again. Jim has performed locally, but it is teaching that he enjoys the most. Jim's students range in ages from 6 to 83 and he teaches a variety of styles including classical, pop, rock, folk and bluegrass. Most important, Jim's goal is to help each individual student develop his or her potential and experience the pure joy of making music. To this end, Jim is continually designing individual lessons and group experiences.

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Front Desk Reception

Lydia is our receptionist here at Black Hills Studios of the Arts. She is a recent high school graduate and also a former student of the studios. She was born and raised in Rapid City, into a music loving family that loves to sing and play piano. She has been playing piano since the third grade and took lessons from her grandma. She started taking cello lessons from the studios her junior year in high school.

Lydia also has a background in art. She has always loved art and was inspired by her aunt, who is an art teacher. Lydia loves to paint and draw. She recently furthered her art education by taking art classes at Northern State University. She likes learning about different techniques and how to improve her skills.

You can find Lydia behind the desk from 2-5 every week day, where she will be happy to answer any questions!

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