Paul Whitley

Paul Whitley - Piano (Faculty)

Paul Whitley received his Doctor of Music degree from Northwestern University, where he was a student of Alan Chow.  He also holds degrees from Wheaton Conservatory and New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied piano with Dr. William Phemister and Gabriel Chodos respectively. Dr. Whitley is currently Assistant Professor of Music at John Brown University, and he also enjoys teaching private piano lessons in JBU's Community Arts Academy.  He has been soloist with several orchestras and ensembles (including Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, NU Saxophone Ensemble, Wheaton College Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra), and has won various competitions (including the Thaivu-Isaac Competition, the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation of Chicago Competition, and Illinois State MTNA Piano Competition.) Before coming to Arkansas, Dr. Whitley held teaching positions at Wheaton Conservatory of Music and Northwestern College in Iowa.



Ryan Ransdell - Piano (Faculty)

Ryan Ransdell graduated from John Brown University in 2007 with degrees in music and mathematics. He has been teaching and tutoring students since high school, and enjoys enabling others to understand abstract ideas and to find joy in any area of study. He loves order, logic, problem solving, people, and music. He has catalogued several music libraries and has edited a teaching method for young piano students. Since graduating from JBU, Ryan has collaborated with numerous ensembles and soloists, and has taught students of all ages and abilities throughout Northwest Arkansas. He has completed three semesters of graduate work in piano performance and musicology at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, where he taught group piano and undergraduate piano lessons and accompanied various university choirs. Ryan currently serves as a staff accompanist at JBU, organist at First Presbyterian Church in Rogers, and teaches piano students through the JBU Community Arts Academy in Siloam Springs and Arkansas Musicworks in Bentonville.


Amy Hearting – Percussion (Faculty Instructor)

Amy Hearting is the Percussion Professor at John Brown University.  Amy earned her Bachelor of Music from Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS and Masters in Music Performance from the University of Kansas.  Amy is also a member of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, and a substitute musician for the Arkansas Symphony and Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA). She has studied with Kevin Bobo, Leigh Howard Stevens, Chris McLaurin, Joe Petrasek, and Dean Kranzler.


Annette Funk – Piano, Musikgarten Instructor, Program Coordinator

Annette Funk joined the John Brown University Music Department as staff accompanist and adjunct faculty in 2009.  Previously, she received a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a master’s degree in Piano Performance.  During the past 30 years, Mrs. Funk has been active as a college piano and pedagogy instructor, elementary piano class teacher, private piano teacher, freelance accompanist, and church musician.  Annette has recently been certified with the nationally-acclaimed early childhood music program, Musikgarten.  Recent studies have shown that, from a very early age, music lessons can have a profound long-term effect on the holistic development of children—social, emotional, intellectual, physical, and musical.  Annette is excited to share the joy of music with families of young children in the Siloam Springs area.


Sam Moergen – Guitar (Young Professional)

Sam began playing electric guitar at the age of thirteen, both in the middle school jazz ensemble and busking on the streets of St. Louis, Misssouri. He graduated from Belmont University with a degree in Music Business, and has twelve years of experience volunteering and working with numerous Church Worship Teams both as a musician and music director. He is currently the Director of Operations for Willtech Enterprises, a local Audio Video and Lighting Technology integrator. On a typical day you can find Sam settling in at a local coffee shop, spending time with friends, or enjoying the outdoors with his wife, Kristie and their puppy, Rilke. 

Dana Ahnen--Violin and Piano (Young Professional)

Dana Ahnen received her bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky.  Violin was her major instrument of study and she taught orchestra during her student teaching.  She has seven years’ experience teaching general music, choir and music appreciation in the public schools.  Three of those years she also taught 5th-12th grade band classes.  Dana has also been active as a private piano and violin instructor, church pianist and choir accompanist.  She enjoys working with students to develop their skills and talents and their love of music.



Ethan Stafford--Drums/Percussion (Undergraduate Student)

TaraJane House – Piano (Undergraduate Student)

TaraJane began taking college-level private piano lessons as a junior in high-school. Along with winning piano competitions and awards (James Herrin and Federation) in high school, she also served as a chapel pianist and a substitute church-pianist. Since then, she has been studying piano and music under Dr. Whitley at John Brown University as a music minor. TaraJane loves working with children and helping them learn to love piano as much as she does.  She plans to go to graduate school to become an occupational therapist to work with special-needs children, but hopes to continue to pursue and teach piano whenever possible.

Job Smoot – Piano (Undergraduate Student)

Job Smoot came to John Brown University from Maryland.  He is a junior at JBU, majoring in Music with an emphasis in Piano Performance.  Before coming to JBU, Job won the Southern Maryland Regional Piano Competition, and had the opportunity to open for the concert pianist, Brian Ganz. Job enjoys listening to and playing all styles of music, and has been teaching piano since high school.  Besides studying at JBU, Job is also accompanist for the First United Methodist Church in Siloam Springs.

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