Our Teachers

We are a small group of teachers with a wide range of skills and experiences. We love what we do, and we do it with passion.

Dr. Lisa Elliott

Director of Music Education

An eclectic musician and teacher, GAME’s Director, Dr. Lisa Elliott, performs and teaches voice in a wide variety of musical styles. From singing jazz standards on the Vegas Strip to coloratura soprano performances with Opera Las Vegas, Lisa’s students benefit from her variety of skills and interests. 

Dr. Elliott directs the GAME Children’s Choir and teaches all GAME voice classes and private voice students. Additionally, she teaches voice at UNLV as well as in her private studio. 

Understanding the vocal mechanism and producing sound with proper technique is the foundation of ALL singing styles, and this is what you learn in Lisa’s studio. 

She is also the Music Director at Grace Presbyterian Church Las Vegas, directing the music for the weekly services and also the Grace Concert Choir and orchestra in major works, most recently the Dubois Seven Last Words of Christ, the Fauré Requiem, the Rutter Requiem, and the Mozart Vesperae Solennes de Confessore.

Jill Usry Taylor

Music Educator

Jill Usry Taylor teaches our Ukulele workshops and accompanies the GAME Children’s Choir. A proficient music educator and church music director, she has performed throughout the Midwest and South as a vocal soloist, piano collaborator, and choral conductor.  She has sung under the baton of many noted conductors, including Sir Neville Mariner, Eduardo Mata, and Margaret Hillis.

Jill holds Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Education and Music Therapy from the University of Georgia; Master of Music degrees in Vocal Performance and Choral Conducting from Drake University; and an Education Specialist degree from Georgia Southwestern University.

Having recently retired, Jill spends a lot of time these days as “JuJu,” as she is adorably called by her three young grandsons.

Tom Wright

Music Educator

Tom Wright, principal trumpet for the Las Vegas Philharmonic, is GAME’s brass instructor. He teaches trumpet as well as French horn, trombone, baritone, and tuba.

Tom’s music career has spanned some 40+ years where he has performed in both the commercial and classical genres.  Tom was a member of the Tropicana Hotel House Orchestra under the baton of Joe Castro. He has played for artists such as Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Paul Anka, Andrea Bocelli, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr., Don Rickles, Dudley Moore, Marie Osmond, Jack Jones, Phyllis Diller, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, The Temptations, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, and most recently, Hugh Jackman and Weird Al Yankovic. 

Tom is a founding member of the Las Vegas Philharmonic where he holds the principal trumpet chair.  He also performs regularly with the Nevada Pops, Opera Las Vegas, Nevada Ballet Theatre, and Broadway shows at The Smith Center.  Tom has also been a featured soloist with the Desert Chorale.  Tom was a designated sub for the long-running Phantom of The Opera show at the Venetian Resort and played in the house orchestra for Steve Wynn’s Show-Stoppers.

Tom was born and raised in Northern California where he attended California State University, Hayward.   

Miguel F. Rodriguez

Music Educator

Miguel began his music career in Miami, FL where he graduated from the University of Miami, BM,MM in Jazz Performance, Arranging and Composition.

He was an active recording and performing musician in South Florida in the vibrant Latin, Pop and Jazz scene there, performing with The Naples Pops Orchestra, The Florida Philharmonic, The Miami Philharmonic, and backing acts such as Tony Bennet, Bernadette Peters, The Temptations, Lou Rawls, El Puma, and Roberto Carlos. He was an adjunct professor of saxophone at Florida International University and Miami-Dade Community College. Miguel co-led a theater orchestra in Mallorca Spain throughout the 90s and was an active player in the thriving after-hours music scene there.

Miguel currently resides in Las Vegas and enjoys much success as a freelance woodwind instrumentalist most notably with Vegas The Show, Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns, Dave Perrico, Lon Bronson, The Producers, Spamalot, The Lion King, and The Las Vegas Philharmonic.

Kathleen Platt

Music Educator

Kathleen Platt, an Orff and Kodaly-inspired Music educator, teaches GAME’s Ukulele workshops. She opened and currently teaches K-5 Music at Divich Elementary School in the Clark County School District. Throughout the year, Kathleen offers several before-school activities: Choir for grades 4-5, Beginning Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello, and Beginning Guitar classes. Students have many opportunities throughout the year to perform for their peers, parents, and friends using many Orff-inspired techniques and current songs.

Kathleen also enjoys participating in the Grace Presbyterian Choir, Cello Society in St. George, Las Vegas Master Singer’s, SNMAS, and teaching piano lessons after school in student’s homes. Kathleen spends her leisure time in Maui and Colorado with her family and four grandchildren, She also enjoys traveling and spending time with friends.  

Dr. Marci Nuoffer

Music Educator

Dr. Nuoffer is one of GAME’s handbell teachers. She has been playing handbells for over 30 years and conducting for about 25 years. She began playing bells at Faith Lutheran Middle School in Las Vegas, and she has now come full-circle as she is Faith Lutheran High School’s Handbell Director and Theology department chair. Marci played and conducted at Concordia College in Irvine, CA during her undergraduate program, and she has continued conducting in every church and school she has worked with since. She currently directs five bell choirs: two adult ensembles, one high school group, and two middle school ensembles. Dr. Nuoffer has a B.A. in music education and an M.Ed. and Ed.D. in educational administration.

Marci enjoys singing in the Las Vegas Reformation Chorale and the Myron Heaton Chorale. She also spends leisure time with family and reads fiction novels.

Amy Smith

Music Educator

Ms. Smith is GAME’s piano teacher, and well as the organist and pianist at Green Valley Presbyterian Church, and the President of the Las Vegas Music Teachers Association.  Having studied the piano and organ at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Amy is eternally grateful for the tutelage she received from her professors, who guided her on the pathway to teaching and performing.  She is currently in her 30th year of teaching and running her own studio, where she teaches students of all levels, all ages, and all abilities. 

Amy’s performance career has led her to take advantage of opportunities both locally and nationally, including New York, Washington D.C, and California to name a few.  In addition to instrumental performances, she has had the privilege to be rehearsal conductor for the Nevada Opera Theater, and choir director at Christ Lutheran Church. 

Her show credits include Off-Strip’s production of “Sweeney Todd! The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” Super Summer Theater’s concert production of “Oklahoma!”, and Five Star Production’s production of Tom Jones’ “The Fantasticks.”   

Amy is also an active member of the American Guild of Organists as well as a personal chef.  In 2018, Mrs. Smith took on her biggest role: Mom.  Recently, she started writing her first children’s book, “The Little Boy Who Had No Fur,” which she hopes will be published by 2022.

Dr. Jessica Hawthorne

Music Educator

Originally from the smallest city in NY State, Dr. Jessica Hawthorne is a versatile musician you can find performing regularly in classical, jazz, and commercial settings on tenor and alto trombone.

She received her BM in Trombone Performance from the Eastman School of Music, as well as her MM and DMA from the Frost School of Music. At Frost, she was the Teaching Assistant to the trombone studio for five years, as well as a Fellow and Assistant Coordinator for the Henry Mancini Institute.

Currently, she performs as a trombonist on the production shows Vegas! The Show and Zombie Burlesque at Planet Hollywood as well as in several big bands. In Miami, she has performed with the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, Palm Beach Symphony, Florida Grand Opera, and Boca Raton’s Symphonia. She has had the pleasure of performing with talented musicians such as Adele, Steve Miller, Barry Manilow, and Joseph Alessi. Most recently, she has recorded on the Grammy award-winning album, “American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom” with the John Daversa Big Band. 

Aside from performing, Jessica is passionate about education and outreach. She has been the Adjunct Instructor of Trombone at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida as well as a trombone and brass instructor at Miami Music Project, Coral Gables’ Community Arts Program (CAP), and the Greater Miami Youth Symphony. Now located in Las Vegas, she instructs musicians in CCSD and maintains a private studio.

Jillian Johnson

Music Educator

Violinist Jillian Johnson is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy (IAA) and received her B.M. in Violin Performance from the University of Texas at Austin with Brian Lewis and the Miró Quartet under full scholarship. At UT, she has performed in the Symphony Orchestra, Lab Orchestra, CLUTCH (Collective Labors of the UT Composition Hub), Austin New Music Co-Op, and Density512. Jillian has performed in venues including the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, and the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. She has taught group classes, private lessons, and sectionals for the UT String Project, Austin Harmony Youth Chamber Orchestra, and the Las Vegas Young Artists Orchestra. She received her Violin Unit 1 Suzuki Training at the Los Angeles Suzuki Institute in 2017 with Ann Montzka-Smelser, and Violin Unit 2 with Dr. Scott. She has performed in masterclasses for Rachel Barton Pine, Giora Schmidt, Phillipe Quint, Oleh Krysa, Philip Setzer, and others. Jillian has enjoyed chamber music collaborations with contemporary ensemble eighth blackbird, Condoleezza Rice, and Chloé Trevor. A fan of modern compositions, Jillian served as concertmaster for the premiere of “The Three Musketeers” by Michael Thurber on From The Top Live with Christopher O’Riley and the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial. She has recently engaged in solo performances with the Las Vegas Young Artists Academy Orchestra and the Nevada School of the Arts Chamber Orchestra. Over the summer, Jillian has attended the Interlochen Arts Camp, Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Center Stage Strings, The Orford Music Academy, and the Starling-Delay Symposium at Juilliard. As an orchestral musician, Jillian has performed as a sub with the Canton Symphony (OH), Henderson Symphony Orchestra (NV), and as a section violinist in the Victoria Symphony (TX). When she’s not performing or teaching, Jillian enjoys reading, painting, and cooking. Jillian currently studies with James Buswell of the Boston area.

Sandra Youmans

Music Educator

Ms. Youmans is one of GAME’s talented and experienced handbell teachers. As a classroom teacher for over 40 years, she enjoys working with children of all ages – pre-school through college level.

Sandra is currently an adjunct professor of music at the College of Southern Nevada, and Choir Director at First Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

Sandra has a Master’s degree in Music and has taught a variety of classes including voice, piano, handbells, music theory, music history, sight-singing, and choral singing. She works with beginning through advanced students and loves sharing her own experiences as a performer and director.

Ms. Youmans believes that every day is a chance for a student to learn and grow in ways that will prepare them for their future.  Music is a rewarding subject to study for all ages and brings personal joy.

Chandler Sison

Music Educator

From the island of Oahu, Chandler Sison graduated from Moanalua High School and received his Bachelor’s of Music Education from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada. 
Chandler is a current Clark County School District employee with experience in teaching band, orchestra, piano, and is now teaching elementary music. He has performed with musicians of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, substitutes in the Las Vegas Philharmonic, and is currently the principal trombonist of the Desert Winds, a contemporary wind ensemble.
In addition to playing in numerous conventions around the strip, Chandler has played with the Las Vegas Little Theatre, Sin City Opera, and Lady Antebellum.
Chandler loves to read, write, hike, and play trombone with others. 

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