Meet The Board!
Magdalena O’Brien is thrilled to serve as the President of CTAOSA for the 2022-2024 term, and is extra excited to be leading this great organization into its fiftieth year! Inspired by her Elementary Music Methods professor at Western Connecticut State University, Dr. Wesley Ball, she has been an active member in the organization since she began teaching in 2012.Since then, she has been a member-at-large, media secretary, and Vice-President. Magda completed Orff Level 1 training at the Hartt School of Music, studying with Meg Tietz, Ashley Woodside-Brown, and Julie Blakeslee. The Orff-Schulwerk has deeply influenced her teaching, and every unit she has designed for her students has been touched by some element of the workshops and conferences she has attended. She was initially attracted to the Orff approach because of its focus on creation, improvisation, movement, and its ability to reach the whole child. Much of Magda’s research for her Master’s Degree in Multiple Intelligences (University of St. Joseph) focused on this. This philosophy also inspired her to receive her Smithsonian Folkways World Music Pedagogy Certification at the University of Hartford.
Magda currently teaches K-3 general music in Rocky Hill. She resides in South Windsor with her husband (also a music teacher!), son, and cat. When she is not working, she enjoys musical theatre, Irish step dancing, ballroom dancing, reading, crafting, and playing make-believe with her son.
Anna Cairnduff has been the vocal general music teacher in East Hartford at O’Connell Elementary School for twenty years. She also taught at Norris Elementary School in East Hartford for ten years. Mrs. Cairnduff has a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Central Conn. State University and a Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory in Boston. She has her Orff Level I from CCSU and her Kodaly Level I from the University of Hartford. Mrs. Cairnduff serves on the Executive Boards of the Connecticut Chapter of American Orff-Schulwerk Association, East Hartford Summer Youth Festival and the New England Chamber Choir. She was named O’Connell School’s Teacher of the Year in 2007.
Nicole Ferrall has been teaching general music to students in grades Pre-K through 5 in Southington, CT for the past five years and is currently in her tenth year of teaching music. She graduated from UConn in 2009 with a B.A./B.S. in Music Education and is currently working towards getting her Masters in Music Education from CCSU. She has been a member of CTAOSA for the past two years and recently presented at the Chapter Share session. Nicole resides in Middletown with her husband, three children, and two cats. She enjoys spending time with family, singing in an all-female a cappella group, and traveling.
Giselle Ziegler has been a PK-6 music educator at Webb Elementary in Wethersfield for the past ten years and has been a CTAOSA member throughout this time. She is certified in World Music Pedagogy and attended JaSeSoi Ry's World Music Village in Finland for Orff training. Giselle holds a B.S. & an M.S. from CCSU and a sixth year degree from UConn. She looks forward to contributing as a CTAOSA board member!
Alice Unschuld is an Orff inspired music teacher presently working with infants through 8th grade at the Hudson Country Montessori School, Danbury, CT. Alice taught music in the public schools in Bridgeport and Naugatuck for 14 years. She is a professional singer and is the choir director at Sts. Peter and Paul Orhtodox Mission in Bethel, CT.
A Kindermusik teacher for children from birth to age 7, she was inspired by Orff Schulwerk when studying with Viv Murray Caputo. She has recently completed Level II Orff training with Patrick Ware at Hofstra University, NY.
Alice holds a BA from Aaron Copland School of Music, CUNY at Queens College, and MA from CUNY at Hunter College, NY.
She seeks to inspire a love of music through creativity and movement in her students, her friends, loved ones, and as she is often reminded, anyone else who comes in her path.
When she is not teaching or making music, Alice enjoys kayaking, gardening, cooking and spending time with her husband, 3 children and baby granddaughter, Janie Jean.
Matilda Giampietro, Ph.D. is Music Director, Teacher, Choral Director and Specialists Coordinator at Washington Montessori School, New Preston CT. She holds Orff Schulwerk Levels I and II certification. She has written Montessori Music & Movement Teacher Training syllabi for courses in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hanoi, and Washington Montessori. She taught the music course at CMTE for 15 years. Matilda performs as a soprano with Wykeham Consort and made 4 albums. She serves on the CTAOSA board.
Emily McMinn has been a member of CTAOSA for the past 17 years and has assumed various roles as vice president, president and media secretary. She has completed Orff Levels I and II. Mrs. McMinn received her B.S. and M.S. in Music Education from Western Connecticut State University. For the past 8 years, Mrs. McMinn has taught general music to students in grades K - 5 in Stonington, CT. She is currently in her 18th year of teaching. When she is not in the classroom, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter in Norwich, CT.
Member at Large
Colleen Casey-Nelson is rooted in a curiosity for learning and sharing music from a global perspective. Her teaching arc ranges from elementary through graduate levels. A Montessori Music Guide, Colleen teaches grades 1-9 at the Montessori School of Greater Hartford. As an adjunct professor at Central Connecticut State University, Colleen teaches courses in World Music, Arts Integrations, and Music Education. Presentations span regional and national conferences, including AOSA, OAKE, and NAfME.
Member at Large
Dr. Rachel Gibson is a Professor of Music at Westfield State University in Massachusetts, coordinator of music education, and an active local, national, and international clinician. Her book ¡Canta Conmigo! Songs and Singing Games from Guatemala and Nicaragua (Oxford University Press, 2021) is a comprehensive teaching resource that includes songs and singing games she learned while living in Central America. As a Fulbright Global Scholar (2021), she taught and researched at Universidad de Málaga in Spain and travelled throughout the country learning children’s songs from local musicians. Dr. Gibson is president of Kodály Educators of Southern New England (KESNE), member-at-large for Connecticut American Orff-Schulwerk Association (CTAOSA), serves on the Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE) National Board of Directors, and on summer faculty at the University of Montevallo Kodály Institute in Alabama (UMKI). Prior to her current position, she taught K-6 general and choral music for 15 years in New York, Connecticut, and Washington State and maintained a piano studio where she taught lessons to children and adults.
Member at Large
Colleen Sprague Bretthauer
Colleen Sprague Bretthauer is a PreK-2nd grade general music teacher at Colchester Elementary School, Colchester, CT. Formerly she taught Music and Movement in Early
Childhood at Capital Community College, Hartford, CT and was a Certification Level I
teacher in Music Together. She began her career directing vocal groups at Rivier
University and as a high school choral director at Enfield and Fermi High Schools,
Enfield, CT, followed by K-5 general music in Glastonbury Public Schools. In addition to this, she spent 15 years as Coordinator of the Summer Music Institute at Central Connecticut State University. She holds a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire, Post-B.A. Certification in Music Education and a M.S. from Central Connecticut State University. She has presented to classroom and general music teachers since 2003 including the Vermont and Connecticut Music Educators Association(s), two International Conferences for the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association, Stamford Public Schools, Head Start of Manchester, Colchester and Meridan, CT, and St. Joseph University’s Math and Science Symposium (Music, Math and Movement, Oh My!/Singin’ and Swingin’ Into Science). Through music integration she connects to classroom transitions, developing creative ways to integrate math, science, reading, music and movement for the elementary classroom teacher. Her philosophy is “teach all children all subjects through joyful, developmentally appropriate practices.”
Emily is a general music and chorus teacher at Har-Bur Middle School in Region 10 Schools, Burlington, CT. She graduated from Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH with a Bachelor's degree in Music Education and a minor in Spanish. On weekends, she serves as the music director and organist at the Congregational Church of Burlington, CT. She enjoys cooking, being outdoors, and playing gigs on saxophone, flute, clarinet, guitar and piano.