Suzuki & Pre-College Guitar

UWM pre college & suzuki guitar

Dates: Ongoing

The Pre-College Division Guitar Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee offers thorough and comprehensive guitar and music instruction for children and teens of all skill levels aged 5-18. The program, its lessons and performance opportunities, provide a solid foundation in classical guitar, equipping students with the basic skills required to be versatile in any style.

As a part of the Pre-College Division of UWM’s Peck School of the Arts, we are able to offer our students unique access to university resources and a close relationship with UWM’s own highly regarded Guitar Program. Suzuki and Pre-College students enjoy complete participation in the Guitar Program’s events, including master classes with distinguished visiting artists and concerts.

We offer two programs to match your child’s age, level of playing, and educational needs. Beginning students have two options: they may enroll in Guitar Fundamentals, a small weekly group class designed as an introduction to the guitar and the study of music, or they may enroll in our Suzuki Guitar Program, the only one of its kind in Wisconsin. We offer Pre-College Instruction for students aged 11 and up. An enriched college preparatory program is provided for older guitar students who anticipate pursuing a career in music.

Students learn through a combination of weekly individual lessons and group classes and periodic solo and ensemble recitals. Individual lessons are scheduled during the week. Group classes, held on Saturdays, are organized by level of playing, age, and sight-reading skills. Ensemble playing is a very significant aspect of these classes, allowing students to learn important lifelong skills such as teamwork and cooperation.

Please join us for one of our Saturday Guitar Discovery Days to learn more about our program and the world of the guitar.

Suzuki Guitar

Students may enter the Suzuki Guitar program beginning at age 5. The Suzuki “Talent Education” method is based on the principle that all children can learn multiple skills in the same natural way that they learn to speak their native language. Just as children learn to speak before they read, Suzuki students learn to listen and produce sounds on their instruments before reading music. Reading music comes only after basic technical skills have been mastered.

Suzuki students progress through a developmentally sequenced repertoire. It is essential that students maintain and reinforce their repertoire through continuous review, just as children retain all the first words in their language vocabulary. They do this by practicing and by listening to a variety of music daily, including recordings of their current repertoire. This process builds musicianship as well as memory, technique, aural skills, stamina, and confidence.

Parental involvement is essential for the success and development of youngsters in the Suzuki program. Parents are present at weekly private lessons and group classes, taking an active part in the learning process. The parent becomes the teacher at home, supervising daily practice and listening sessions.

Pre-College Instruction

This program is designed to provide appropriate guitar instruction to children aged 11-18 of all skill levels. The emphasis is on the development of technique, musicianship, and strong sight reading skills. Our goal is to equip the guitarist with the necessary tools he or she needs to perform in a variety of situations, both solo and ensemble.

For students anticipating pursuing a career in music, we offer an accelerated college preparatory program. The program offers high caliber instruction, performance opportunities, and artistic mentoring in one comprehensive curriculum. College prep students will participate fully in the activities of UWM’s Guitar Program as they become acquainted with major pedagogical schools and expand their knowledge of the instrument repertoire. Students interested in participating in the college preparatory program should contact Ms. Chekan to arrange an audition.


Irina Yanovskaya

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yanovska@uwm.eduZelazo 230B


BM & MM, Classical Guitar, Conducting and Music Education, Kiev State University of Art and Music, Ukraine
Certification in Classical Guitar, Austin Suzuki Institute, TX


Classical guitarist Irina Yanovskaya has gained extensive experience over the last 25 years teaching guitar. After receiving her Masters in Music with emphasis in Pedagogy and Guitar Performance in her native Ukraine, Irina began teaching guitar in prominent music schools in Kiev. Since moving to Milwaukee in 1996, she taught private lessons to children of all ages. She is a certified Suzuki instructor, registered with Suzuki Association of Americas. Irina continues to be an active performer. Her passion and love for classical guitar along with refined teaching skills ensures a positive learning experience for her students.

Lecturer, Suzuki Guitar

Elina Chekan

profile photo
echekan@uwm.eduZelazo 230B


DMA, Guitar Performance, Northwestern University
MM, Yale University School of Music;
MEd, Belarus National Academy of Music, Minsk, Belarus


Elina (Ella) Chekan is currently teaching classical guitar at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she also directs the Suzuki and Pre-College Guitar Program.

A native of Minsk, Belarus, Ella began studying guitar at the age of 13 with Valeriy Gromov. She graduated from Minsk Music College in 1994, and the Belarus Academy of Music in 1999 under Eugene Gridiushko with a degree in Classical Guitar Performance, Orchestral Conducting, and Guitar Pedagogy.

In the year 2000 Ella entered Yale University where she received the Louis and Anne Rosoff award and graduated with a degree in Classical Guitar Performance with professor Ben Verdery.

Combining active performance and teaching careers, Ella has appeared as a soloist, and chamber musician throughout the United States and abroad.

Some of this year's appearances include Chamber Music Milwaukee Series, Brussels Royal Museum of Musical Instrument in Belgium, Tucson Classical Guitar Society, Mannes College Guitar Festival in New York.

In her teaching Ella believes in the individualized approach to every student with tailored instruction based on student needs. Mrs. Chekan has extensive knowledge of guitar pedagogy and repertoire, and has experienced first hand different guitar schools of thought. Ella is also a certified Suzuki instructor registered with the Suzuki Association of Americas. All this experience allows her to find unique approaches and repertoire for each of her students, giving them a solid foundation in technique and musicianship at an early stage.

Along with conducting Ella has arranged a wide variety of music for solo and chamber music. Since 2005, Ella is on the faculty at "Usdan Center for the Performing Arts" in Long Island, NY. In addition to teaching and performing at USDAN, she conducts the guitar orchestra with up to sixty performers.

In her quest for present-day student repertoire, Ella comissioned composer Jorge Morel to write a series of student repertoire solo and ensemble pieces that is published by Mel Bay. In her believe that young players are our future, Ella is working with musicians and composers encouraging them to write appealing and musically interesting pieces for the young generation of guitarists.

Renowned Argentinean Composer Jorge Morel dedicated to Ms. Chekan his composition "Campañas" published by Mell Bay in "The Magnificent Guitar of Jorge Morel".

Ella Chekan performs on a John Price guitar and uses Savarez strings.

Lecturer, Classical Guitar

Director, Suzuki Guitar



Students learn through a combination of weekly individual and group classes and periodic solo and ensemble recitals. Individual lessons are scheduled during the week.

Registration is for a full semester and enrollment is ongoing. Fees are based on length of private lesson and include a non-refundable $40 deposit. Tuition includes 15 individual lessons at specified length and 10 group classes weekly. Tuition does not cover the cost of music or books, although some instructional materials will be provided.

Guitar Fundamentals: $250 (without private lessons)
30 minute lesson & group class weekly: $595
45 minute lesson & group class weekly: $775
60 minute lesson & group class weekly: $955

Fees pro-rated for late registration. Financial aid available by contacting

Registration Form

UWM suzuki pre-college guitar

No student will be admitted to individual lessons or group classes prior to payment. Fees must be paid in their entirety by the first private lesson unless you have registered for the two-payment plan. Tuition will be pro-rated for late enrollees.

Withdrawals & Refunds
Registration is for the entire semester. If a student withdraws before the third individual lesson and has already paid in full, he/she will receive a 75% refund of the tuition, minus the non-refundable deposit. Refunds for those on the payment plan will be pro-rated. Notice of intent to withdraw must be submitted in writing prior to the third lesson. Refunds may take 4-6 weeks to process. No other refunds will be made.

Make-up Lessons
Lesson cancellation and make-up policies are designed to be fair to both teacher and student. Students who are late for a lesson or class cannot be guaranteed their lesson time for that day. Faculty will wait for a student for one-third of the scheduled lesson duration; students are asked to do the same. If the instructor cancels a lesson or class, a make-up will be offered at a mutually convenient time. We regret that instruction missed because of an official closing cannot be made up. The Guitar Program will not offer classes when UWM is closed due to weather conditions. There are no make-ups for missed group classes. Cancellations by students due to illness may be made up under the following conditions: No more than one make-up for a private lesson is allowed per term. Students must give a 24-hour notice of cancellation by calling Irina Yanovskaya (414) 810-6317 or e-mailing

For the safety of all of our students, we ask that you escort your children directly to their lesson and pick them up promptly at the end. Please do not allow children to wander unsupervised through the building. It is not the responsibility of the faculty or the staff to supervise children outside of their lesson time. Please address questions about the appropriate program, level, and length of lesson for your child to: Irina Yanovskaya (414) 810-6317 or e-mailing

Locations & Parking

Classes, Lessons & Discovery Days
Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, Room 230B Guitar, 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd. on the UWM campus.

Concerts and Recitals
UWM Peck School of the Arts Recital Hall, 2400 E. Kenwood Blvd. on the UWM campus. For more information, contact the Box Office at (414) 229-4308.

Meter parking is available in the lot behind the Zelazo Center after 3PM on weekdays and all day Saturday. You may also use the parking structure in the UWM Union, directly across Kenwood Boulevard. Parking is free on Sundays.

Visit for parking and campus building information.