Teachers & Staff

      Mary Flanagan 



Mary Flanagan has a Bachelor of Music degree from Minnesota State University where she studied with acclaimed violinist Lydia Miller and violist Tyler Sieh. Mary is a child of the Suzuki method, starting at the age of five. She has had excellent instruction from numerous teachers, most notably Paula Anderson of the New Ulm Suzuki School. In middle and high school Mary won positions in the Mid Level Honors Orchestra for three consecutive years and to the MN All-State Honors Orchestra.


At age 17 Mary won a position with the Mankato Symphony Orchestra, where you can still see her playing first violin. Mary also began teaching at age 17 and has experience teaching players of all ages. She is a licensed Suzuki violin teacher, having received training in Wisconsin and Michigan with well known Suzuki trainers. She loves being a teacher because she agrees with Dr. Suzuki that any person can learn and because she believes that playing and teaching help her be the best version of herself!


Patti Tryhus



   Kathleen Goedtke




Patti Tryhus has been teaching violin and viola at the Mankato School of Music since 1979 and served as Director from 1988-2017. After studying violin for four years with Marilyn Bos at MSU, she received training in the Suzuki method at the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point Wisconsin and attended numerous workshops and conferences over the years. She observes that “the best Suzuki teachers follow Dr. Suzuki’s lead in setting a high standard for tone while having fun with the children.


Patti has fiddled and sang for many years in a band with her husband Steve and played violin for nearly 25 years in the Mankato Symphony Orchestra. She still performs with Steve for various occasions. They raised two musical sons, Peder and John, and Patti remembers, “In our family it all started with singing and listening to good music. That was the easy part, the mother tongue method. The difficult part was setting aside enough time to be patient and feel creative with our home practice. I know it’s not easy. But watching other parents through the years, I see evidence that with persistence and love, much can be accomplished!”

Kathleen  graduated Cum Laude from Concordia College in Moorhead with a Bachelors of Arts in Music Education and has over 30 years teaching experience in both Suzuki and traditional piano lessons and plays regularly on the side.


Her students have won numerous awards and she has Suzuki training through the first 4 Suzuki books from various highly acclaimed Suzuki piano instructors. When she isn’t teaching her many students, Kathleen is a stay-at-home Mom and educator to her 3 children at home. Kathleen is the proud mother of 8 children whom she has homeschooled over the years while maintaining an active teaching studio. She knows how to work with kids!


Noah Wilson


Noah began studying piano in 7th grade through Scheitel’s Music in Mankato, then with Beth Winterfeldt through high school, and currently with the concert pianist, Dr. Elizabeth Karelse, in college. He currently attends Normandale as a piano performance major and plans to transfer to the University of Minnesota. Although he is a classical performance major, he is also the pianist for the Jazz ensemble and combo at his school, and has performed a diverse range of genres and styles. Those in the community may have seen him perform with one of the musical theatre companies in the area as he is a frequent collaborator with Merely Players, Mankato Playhouse, and State Street Theatre Company, often serving as both a player and directing and conducting the entire orchestra.

His work has earned high praise from critics and reviewers as well as directors and employers. Noah also serves as the interim worship director at Messiah Lutheran Church from late fall to spring. Outside of his work on piano, he also played percussion in high school and went on to play in the concert band in college. As a high schooler, he won best in site 2 years in a row for his mallet solos at the Gustavus Solo and Ensemble competition. He is excited to start this journey of teaching a new generation of musicians with the Mankato School of Music and hopes to share both his passion and knowledge with new students!

Brent bio pic.jpg

Brent Ekstrom



Brent is from Bemidji Minnesota and is a third-year instrumental Music Education major at MSU Mankato. He started playing cello in fifth grade and trumpet in sixth and his passion for music has only grown since then. Though those are his two primary instruments, he is capable of teaching all beginner strings and brass. He taught lessons at Headwaters Music and Arts since 2018 for trumpet, cello, and piano. He is in a plethora of bands at MSU, and is versed in a wide range of musical styles. In his free time he likes to read, play video games, fish, workout, and play with his cat, Ani. He is very excited to connect with the Mankato School of Music students and witness their ‘ah-ha’ moments.

                             Michelle Sedivy


Michelle Sedivy is honored to be the vocal coach for the Mankato School of Music. Michelle began taking vocal lessons from college professors as a high school sophomore and continued taking private lessons through college. Michelle has sung in both auditioned and non-auditioned choirs. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Vocal Music from Mankato State University as well as extensive post-secondary training in the mechanics of singing. Michelle directed a church choir in Mankato and has been giving private voice lessons for over thirteen years. She believes that the entire body is part of the singing experience, which is why she uses both imagery and physical activities to help connect you to the language of singing. Michelle specializes in teaching the fundamental mechanics of singing. She has experience teaching both kids and adults.  She is eager to be a part of your musical journey!

Profile Picture 1.jpg
Sarah Houle


Sarah Houle is a low brass player and instructor based out of Mankato.  She has a Bachelor of Music in Euphonium and Trombone Performance from Minnesota State University, Mankato. 

Her first and primary instrument is the euphonium, but throughout her musical career, she has picked up trombone, tuba and trumpet, as secondary instruments.

Since 2003, she has taught euphonium, trombone, tuba and trumpet to many area students through the Music Mart.  She enjoys working with each student and tailoring the experience to meet individual needs.  Sarah is able to work with students of any level, from beginner through college.

Sarah performs with several local groups including the Mankato Symphony Orchestra, Mankato Area Community Band, Minnesota River Valley Wind Ensemble, Powerhouse, the Schell’s Hobo Band, Captain Gravitone and the String Theory Orchestra, Machiko, Cabaret La Ruse, and has performed in pit orchestras for over 30 musical productions, including a four-month national tour.  She has a very extensive and diverse musical background and encourages students to explore different musical genres with their instruments.

Sarah is also a talented composer and brass arranger.  In 2017, she was awarded her first McKnight Artist Grant through Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council to put on a concert entirely of her original music.  She is currently in the process of setting up a website presence for Euphonious Music, which will be an online compilation of her body of work as part of another Artist Development Grant through Prairie Lakes that she received in 2020. 

She also works as a band instrument repair technician at the Music Mart and serves on the Mankato Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors and on the Mankato Area Community Band Board as Vice President.

Luke Smith


Luke Smith is a songwriter from Faribault, Minnesota. He started playing guitar at the age of 13, and has been writing songs ever since.  He writes pop and folk music on his guitar, and EDM and hip-hop on his computer.  In 2017 he was nominated for “Best Solo Performer” by Southern Minn Scene.  Luke shares his thoughts on songwriting and the music industry in his blog, Alternative Student.    

Anne Goedtke



Anne began studying cello at age 7 and took lessons from Faith Farr in St. Paul, local legend Sharon Rodgers and Tanya Remenikova at the University of Minnesota. Growing up she won positions in the MN Middle Level Honors Orchestra three years and MN All-State Orchestra for three years. At age 16 she auditioned and was accepted into the Mankato Symphony. She attended college at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities for Music Therapy learning how to use music and the power of music in therapeutics to help improve the quality of life for all individuals, particularly those in hospice and kids with special needs. In college Anne perfected the guitar, using it in her theraputic work.

While in college she served as principal cellist for the UofM symphony orchestra. Post college she has worked as a music therapist using cello and guitar in the Twin Cities metro area hospitals. In 2016 Anne won the MN State Fair Talent Show grand prize on the Grandstand playing “Julio” on her cello. She is excited to return to the Mankato area and join our staff at the Mankato School of Music using her love of music in an educational setting passing on the gift of music to the next generation. 

When not teaching, performing or jamming Anne has toured with Christian bands, writes her own guitar music and is in the process of recording her work. 

Headshot (2).jpg

Emily Parkins

Program Coordinator

Emily Parkins is a graduate from the Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Music Industry Program.  She graduated summa cum laude with a BS degree in Music Industry, business emphasis, with a Marketing Minor.  As a musician herself, Emily teaches piano and harp lessons and loves having the opportunity to help students experience and understand the joy of music.  However, Emily also enjoys working on the administrative side of music education as well.  She has numerous experiences in administrative support roles including helping to oversee administration for state-wide training events through the Civil Air Patrol.  She also believes that it’s crucial to support and develop our music teachers to create an overarching positive and enriching environment for our students to learn in.  

When Emily isn’t working or teaching, she loves spending time outdoors by either going on walks, hikes, or bike rides with her husband, Cole.  If she isn’t spending her free time outside, she’s probably inside curled up with a cup of coffee and reading a good book.

If you are interested in learning more about teaching with our program, please reach out to Mary or Emily at musicmankato@gmail.com!

We are always looking for skilled teachers to expand our offerings & become part of our music family!



“Every student grows; everything depends on the teacher.”   
~Dr. Shinichi Suzuki