Ajay R Patel – Director

Ajay R. Patel has been a music educator in Arizona since 2001. He has been a teacher in the Tempe and Chandler school districts, currently teaching at Desert Ridge High School in the Gilbert District. Mr. Patel earned his Bachelor of Music Education from Arizona State University (ASU), and a Master of Music in Cello Performance from Arizona State University (ASU).

Mr. Patel is an active member of organizations that support Arizona music education. He has served positions for the Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors Association (ABODA) as Southwest Region Orchestra Chair, and Southwest Region Governor. He is also a current member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and the American String Teachers Association (ASTA). Mr. Patel had the honor of conducting the 2017 North Central Region Orchestra.

Mr. Patel served as the Symphony Orchestra conductor for the East Valley Youth Symphony since it’s inaugural year in 2006. He also established the Chandler Academy for the Performing Arts (CAPA) in 2009, a three week summer music program for orchestra, band, choir and theatre serving the students of the Chandler Unified School District and the local southeast valley community.

An accomplished cellist, Mr. Patel has performed with many of the local community and professional orchestras in Arizona. He has served as a substitute section cellist for the Arizona Opera, Guest Principal cellist for the Chandler Symphony Orchestra,  and  the Assistant Principal Cellist of the Arizona Pro Arte Orchestra. He has also performed with the Symphony of the Southwest, Musica Nova Orchestra. In the winter of 2011, Mr. Patel was the principal cellist of the American Festival Orchestra under the direction of Lawrence Golan. The American Festival Orchestra toured 14 cities in China over a span of two weeks as part of an international cultural exchange.

Mr. Patel also serves as a conductor for the Scottsdale Philharmonic, as well as sharing the seat of Principal Cello.

Mr. Patel has studied cello with Takayori Atsumi, and Thomas Landschoot at Arizona State University. His conducting studies have been guided by Dr. Timothy Russell and Dr. Gary Hill at Arizona State University.

Mr. Patel lives in Gilbert with his wife Rochel, and his children Olivia and Alexander.


* Taught orchestra and band for 38 years in Laurel, MD, Prescott, Tempe, and Scottsdale, AZ * Awarded Teacher of the Year Award for the State of Arizona 1992 * Author of “Teaching Mariachi for Beginners” * Conducted Regional and All State Orchestras in Arizona * B.A. In violin performance from San Francisco State College M.M. In Music Education and Violin Performance from Catholic University of America Post graduate courses and national music conferences for continued education * private teacher of piano, violin, and viola- 50 years * violin Instructor at Columbia Union College, Yavapai College, and Mesa C.C. * Performance Experience: Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Opera House Orchestra Extra first violin with National Symphony Orchestra; also with Phoenix Symphony Orchestra Currently first violin section with Scottsdale Philharmonic Orchestra Also freelance musician in Phoenix area for over 30 years

Rebecca Nichols  – VIOLIN COACH

Rebecca Nichols first fell in love with the violin after seeing Itzhak Perlman on Sesame Street when she was four years old. Playing ever since, she earned her Music degree from Arizona State University. She went on to teach orchestra for six years in the public schools before staying home with her three children. She currently enjoys teaching private students, coaching small ensembles, and freelancing. In her free time she can be found hiking, doing yoga, or building science projects with her kids. enjoys teaching private students, coaching small ensembles, and freelancing. In her free time she can be found hiking, doing yoga, or building science projects with her kids.


Growing up in Arizona, VanessaBisaha graduated from NorthernArizona University with a bachelorsdegree in music education. Aftergraduation she taught orchestra inMesa Public Schools and thenChandler Unified School District.Currently, Vanessa teaches at herprivate violin/viola studio and is anactive freelance musician in the valley.When not teaching or practicing orperforming on her viola Vanessa israising her 3 children with herhusband.


Internationally recognized teacher and double-bassist Daniel Stotz was born and raised in Oregon, and now lives in Phoenix. He studied with Gary Karr, Daniel Swaim and Catalin Rotaru, developing equal facility in orchestral and solo performance. Stotz earned his Doctorate of Musical Arts and master’s degrees from Arizona State University, and received an additional performance degree from the University of Oregon.

Since his debut performance with Karr at 17, Stotz has performed extensively with ensembles and festivals including Oregon Mozart Players, the Eugene Symphony, the Corvallis-OSU (Oregon State University) Symphony, Oregon Festival of American Music, The Phoenix Symphony, Yaquina Bay Symphony and the Bolshoi Ballet. He currently serves as principal double bass for Arizona’s West Valley Symphony and Arizona Broadway Theatre while actively teaching and acting as a clinician.

Stotz is also a composer, arranger and author of a revised, critically acclaimed edition of Joseph Prunner’s Progressive Studies for the Double Bass in two volumes, published by MMHC Music Publications. He presented his work on Prunner’s method and exercises at the International Society of Bassists (ISB) 2015 Convention.