2024 Winter Conference Clinicians


Jacob Augsten is a Teaching Fellow and doctoral student of choral conducting at the University of North Texas where he has the privilege this year of teaching Fundamentals of Conducting and the UNT chorale, as well as serving as the Conducting Associate for UNT’s University Singers. Augsten is the Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church of Denton and is also the Assistant Conductor of the Dallas Symphony Chorus. Prior to his time at UNT, Augsten taught public school choir in the metro-Atlanta area for three years. Augsten holds the Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Georgia State University and the Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Clayton State University.


Terry Berrier, now retired from 35 years of teaching choir, is an active adjudicator, accompanist, consultant, and clinician.  Mrs. Berrier directed the choir program for five years at Wylie East High School, and prior to that, served fourteen years as the Associate Choir Director at Lake Highlands HS, where she also taught AP Music Theory.  She served as TMEA Region III secretary, Region III Vocal Division Chair, and has twice served as a Texas All State Choir Section Leader.  Additionally, Mrs. Berrier served two-year terms each as TCDA Secretary, and as the All State Women’s Choir Organizer.  In 2007, she was a recipient of the UIL Sponsor Excellence Award, and was named a top ten Richardson ISD STAR teacher for 2010.  She and her husband, JJ, have eight grandchildren, and live in Richardson.

 Joshua R. Brown serves as Assistant Professor of Music, Director of Choral Studies, and Chair of Ensembles at Dallas Baptist University, where he conducts choral ensembles and teaches courses in choral music and conducting. Dr. Brown has recently served as Assistant Professor of Music, Director of Choral Activities, and Chair of Music Education at Ouachita Baptist University. The Ouachita choral ensembles enjoy a long tradition of excellence; singers from OBU have recently performed at Holidays at the Capitol, Carnegie Hall, and the Arkansas All-State Conference. Dr. Brown has been invited to present at conferences in Arkansas, Wyoming, Idaho, and Texas. Additionally, he currently serves as Executive Director of Voces Pacis – a semi-professional choral organization in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex.

Brown holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Choral Conducting with a related field in Vocal Pedagogy from the University of North Texas, a Master's Degree in Choral Conducting from Baylor University, and a Bachelor of Church Music degree from Dallas Baptist University. He has studied conducting with Dr. Jeffery Ames, Dr. Anton Armstrong, Dr. Donald Bailey, Professor Stephen Heyde, Dr. Allen Hightower, Dr. Stephen Holcomb, and Dr. Eric Wilson, and voice with Dr. Susan Wyatt.

Jesse Cannon II, Director of Visual & Performing Arts in Fort Worth ISD, is a distinguished music educator with extensive experience and notable achievements. he has earned a Bachelor of Music Education from Dallas Baptist University and a Masters in Music Education from Mississippi State University, specializing in Choral Conducting.

He currently serves as the President-Elect for TMEA, and has held significant leadership roles at the local, state, and national levels.

Dr. Sue Cruse teaches private Classical, Jazz and Contemporary Voice and Piano in Plano, TX, and directs the Cruse Control Vocal Ensemble. She also works with students in composition and arranging.

Dr. Cruse has 50 plus years of choral music experience at all educational levels in Clear Creek, Plano and Richardson ISDs, San Jacinto, Houston, Collin, and Dallas Colleges, The University of Houston, and Texas A&M Kingsville. She has also maintained church choir directing positions in Texas, and solo performing throughout the United States and Scotland, having recorded two solo albums.

Dr. Cruse serves as a clinician and festival educator, and has conducted All State and Region Honor Choirs, presenting workshops in Texas, New York, Florida, California, Washington, Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Choirs under her direction have performed by invitation for TMEA, TCDA, ACDA, SWACDA, NEACDA, and IAJE. She has served as the Vocal Jazz Chair for the Texas Unit of IAJE, SWACDA, and ACDA.

A native of Dallas, Sue Cruse holds the Bachelor of Music, Master of Music Education, and Doctor of Musical Arts Degrees from the University of Houston and Western Michigan University.

Natalie Cummings, DMA, is a voice teacher and performer based in the Austin area. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan University and Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Equally interested in solo and choral performance and pedagogy, she was recently awarded the Joan Frey Boytim Award for Independent Teachers from the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and served as a section leader for the 2021 TMEA All State Treble choir. She is the Independent Studio Teacher Liaison for the Texoma region of NATS as well as serving on their High School Vocal Fellowship committee. Her research interests include the alignment of solo and choral pedagogy, voice science, and issues of gender and race in vocal pedagogy and she has presented her research on these topics to the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), and the Texas Choral Directors Association (TCDA). She serves as Lecturer of Voice at Texas State University and on the award-winning Vandegrift High School Choir voice teaching faculty and maintains a robust and vibrant private studio of brilliant, successful, talented singers.

Dr. Tod Fish is the associate director of choral activities at Stephen F. Austin State University. Fish taught in the Texas public schools in the Seguin, Round Rock, and Lubbock Independent School Districts. Dr. Fish is in his 11th year at his Alma Mater, SFA. Dr. Fish has a passion for mental health in the field of choral directors, and has focussed his research on methods to help modern choral directors to focus on work/life balance.


Gabi Guest is in her 8th year of teaching and her 5th year as the Choir Director at Dieterich Middle School in Midlothian ISD, where she attended school and graduated from. Prior to teaching at Dieterich, she taught for 3 years in Early & Fort Worth ISDs. She received her Bachelors of Music in Voice, with a minor in Theatre from Howard Payne University, and she is currently pursuing a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from Texas Tech University.

Gabi opened her campus in Fall of 2020, where she also acts as the girl's head soccer coach, and has previously taught guitar & student council. She currently serves as the TMEA Region 5 Vocal Middle School/Junior High Chair-Elect and the TMEA Region 5 TCDA Representative. She also acts as the Alto Section Leader at University United Methodist Church in Fort Worth.

When she is not singing or teaching, Gabi loves to spend time playing video games, birding, and completing word searches at home with her husband Jake, 2 cats, and 40+ houseplants.

Kateri Lavacek currently teaches at Forestwood Middle School in Flower Mound, TX.  She has her Bachelor's in Music Education from Indiana University and her Master's in Choral Conducting from the University of North Texas. In her 17-year career, she has taught early childhood through college.  Kateri serves as a mentor teacher, accompanist, and clinician throughout the DFW metroplex.

Casey LeVie is in her third year as an associate choral director at Central HighSchool in Keller ISD. Ms. LeVie graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Music Education in Choral Music where she studied under Dr. Lynne Gackle and Dr. Michele Henry. Ms. LeVie began her teaching career as the assistant choral director at Duncanville High School where she was a collaborative pianist for their 2021 ACDA A Cappella Men’s Choir Performance and their 2020 TMEA General Session Performance, “It Starts with Music.” Ms. LeVie has directed beginning and intermediate treble choirs, intermediate Tenor/Bass Choirs, and both small and large group treble and mixed show choirs.

Linsley Liburd II is in his 7th year of teaching and 6th year serving as the Head Choir Director at DeWitt Perry Middle School. He has had the privilege of teaching in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD since Spring of 2017. Prior to DeWitt Perry, he served as assistant choir director at Blalack Middle School. Additionally, he served as Co-Director of the CFBISD Elementary Honor Choir from 2019-2021. Choirs under his direction consistently receive top ratings at UIL Evaluations and Dallas/Fort Worth Area Choral Festivals.

Currently, Linsley has the honor of serving as Middle/Junior High School Vocal Coordinator for TMEA Region 31. He is currently completing his fourth year as an officer for the Region 31MS/JH Vocal Division. Linsley received his Master of Education in Administration from Texas Wesleyan University and his Bachelors of Music Education from The University of Texas at Arlington. His professional affiliations include: Texas Music Educators Association and Texas Choral Directors Association.

Linsley lives in Carrollton, TX with his beautiful wife Sarah Liburd, and their daughter Isabella who provide inspiration for him daily.

Linsley’s goal is to create lifelong musicians. He is honored to be able to work toward this everyday!

Mary Jane Phillips taught middle school choral music in Texas for 29 years before retiring from the classroom in 2018. Her choirs received consistent UIL Sweepstakes awards and superior awards at festivals. She currently serves as a choral consultant for Dallas and Frisco ISD's and as a clinician, adjudicator, private voice teacher and author. Ms. Phillips graduated cum laude from Texas Christian University with a Bachelors’ Degree in Music Education. She has served as a UIL Contest Chairperson, TMEA JH/MS Region Secretary and TMEA JH/MS Region Chairperson. She has served the Texas Choral Directors’ Association as the chairperson of the Scholarship, Hospitality, Ways and Means and Ballot committees and is also a past Secretary/Treasurer of TCDA. She presents workshops on the male and female adolescent changing voice, recruiting, literature selection, UIL planning and preparation, beginning the school year and sight reading pedagogy and games for school districts, colleges and professional organizations across the United States. She has authored or co-authored three sightreading books. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas. Her precious 21 year old daughter, Zoe, is musical theatre major at Wichita State University.

Nathan Ratliff has served as the Associate Director of Choral Activities since joining the Hebron High School faculty in January of 2014. He received a Bachelor of Music degree in both Percussion and Piano Performance from the University of Oklahoma and obtained a Master of Music in Percussion Performance from the University of North Texas. Upon completing his degrees, he taught private percussion lessons in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, along with teaching and arranging for several high school band front ensembles.

Mr. Ratliff has been an accompanist in high demand for many years performing with local middle school and high school choirs as well as numerous band students for solo contests. In 2013, he served as the accompanist for the Texas All-State Men’s Choir, and in 2015 he accompanied the Hebron A Cappella Choir in their first TMEA appearance. Mr. Ratliff has performed as a recital accompanist at the University of North Texas, Texas Christian University, and Texas A&M University-Commerce. Just this past year, he began accompanying the Chamber Chorus of the Turtle Creek Chorale. 

Mr. Ratliff maintains memberships in the Texas Music Educators Association and the Texas Choral Directors Association.

Christopher Rhodes, Director of Choral Studies at Heritage HS in Frisco, TX, earned his Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree at UCLA with Donald Neuen. He began teaching high school choir in 1997. Choirs under his direction have won Best in Class and Grand Champion Awards, as well as consistent Sweepstakes in the UIL Concert and Sight Reading Evaluation. Mr. Rhodes has built his reputation upon building collaborative teams, innovative program structure, student engagement, and student accountability. Wherever he goes, he is known for his direct communication style and truth-telling.


Thomas Rinn currently serves as the Assistant Professor for Choral Music Education at Texas State University. He completed his PhD in Music Education at the University of North Texas, holds a Master of Music Education from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Music, from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He has twenty years of public-school teaching experience as a high school choral director. Choirs under Rinn's direction have been honored with invitations to perform for the Texas Music Educators Association and for the Southwest American Choral Directors Association. Rinn's research interests include music teacher education, social media in music education, music teacher retention, and strategies for effective music instruction. He has presented at conferences nationwide and has recent publications in Update: Applications of Research in Music Education and the Journal of Research in Music Education. Rinn is a frequent choral clinician, guest conductor, adjudicator, and presenter of teacher training. Dr. Rinn has served as President of the Texas Choral Directors Association, High School Vice-President for the Texas Choral Directors Association, a TMEA Region Vocal Chair, and currently serves as Chair of the State UIL Vocal Sight-Reading.

Eric Robertson is a 12 year veteran teacher who has taught in Carrollton Farmers Branch, Arlington, Allen, Garland and now Forney ISD. He has been a clinician and presenter throughout his time in teaching with TMEA Region 3 where he serves as the Region Chair  and also Mesquite ISD. Mr. Robertson has taken an invited ensemble to perform at TMEA in 2015. He is eager and excited to share this time with you.

Zachary Steele holds a Master of Music Education from Texas Tech University and a Bachelor of Music Education from Tarleton State University. Mr. Steele is in his eighth year as a music educator and his sixth at Keller High School. Ensembles under his direction have earned consistent sweepstakes ratings at UIL Concert/Sight Reading and the Keller show choirs have earned honors and awards at various competitions. In addition to being active as a performer, clinician, adjudicator, and composer, Steele currently serves as the TMEA Region 30 Vocal Division Chair as well as the High School Choir Area Lead for Keller ISD.

Mr. Steele resides in Fort Worth with his wife, Macie (a fellow music educator), and his two daughters, Millie and Ella. He is passionate about mentoring young musicians, inspiring a positive and engaging classroom culture, and embracing life's joys with family and friends!