The Violins for Kids Team


Hal WellerHal Weller: FAYM Founder/Trustee
Harold (Hal) Weller is the Founding Music Director and Conductor Laureate of the Las Vegas Philharmonic. Weller retired in June 2007 completing a distinguished forty-five year career as music director of orchestras in Ohio, Virginia, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. Weller is also the Founding Music Director of the Ashland (OH) Symphony and the Old Dominion (VA) Symphony as well as Conductor Laureate of the Flagstaff (AZ) Symphony.  In December 2007 Hal established the Foundation to Assist Young Musicians (FAYM) to support early music education for underserved youngsters as well as scholarship and career advancement opportunities for gifted young musicians.

Arturo Ochoa, former principal of Sunrise Acres ES, is the volunteer coordinator for FAYM's "Violins for Kids" project. Art is an incredible renaissance man who over the last three years has volunteered hundreds of hours, given generously of his personal resources, and continued his commitment to the community to which he is so dedicated. THANK YOU, ART! Without you, this program would not exist!

Art Ochoa: “Violins for Kids” Co-Founder
Arturo (Art) Ochoa is a retired school principal who Co-Founded &  volunteered as Program Coordinator for the first five years (2009-2014) of FAYM’s “Violins for Kids” project.  Art is a true renaissance man who is responsible for initiating a Suzuki Violin Program in 1999 while principal at Sunrise Acres ES in Las Vegas.  The program blossomed for four years but was discontinued when Art moved as principal to another school.

Following his retirement from the Clark County School District, Art met with Hal Weller, resurrected the violins from Sunrise Acres and, under FAYM’s banner, began the “Violins for Kids” program.  Under his guidance, the program grew from 11 students to its current enrollment of 150.  Two-week Summer Camp programs were instituted for each of the past five summers in which Art has taken a leading role.  Art is very active in the “Violins for Kids” program and now serves as President of the FAYM Board of Directors.

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Juan Soto: “Violins for Kids” Volunteer                                                                                                                                 Juan Soto grew up in Guatemala, Central America. He got a Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in accounting in Guatemala in 1983; in 1984 he received a scholarship which allowed him to attend Pan-American University in the City of Edinburg, Texas to continue his education in Business Administration.

Mr. Soto moved to California in 1989, and since 1991 he studied and learned from Robert Cauer, the necessary techniques for instrument repair and restoration. He routinely works on some of the most valuable and famous instruments in the world, including the works of Stradivari, Guarneri, Tourte, and Sartory. Many world-class soloist and players from major orchestras entrust their priceless instruments and bows to his talents.

In 2009 he started a part-time repairs and restoration business in Las Vegas since April 2014 he moved permanently to Las Vegas offering a full-service shop: Sales, Rentals, Repairs, and Restorations of all stringed instruments.


Tim ThomasTimothy Thomas:  FAYM Program Coordinator & String Orchestra Director
Timothy Thomas is a graduate of Boise State University. During his time in Boise, he performed with the University Symphony, Vocal Jazz, and Jazz Improvisation ensembles. He also won auditions and played for several years in the Boise Philharmonic, Boise Baroque Orchestra, Oregon East Symphony, and Grande Ronde Symphony. Before graduating he received his first conducting job with the Telford Adult Orchestra. After graduating in May of 2007 he moved to Las Vegas, NV to take an orchestra position at Burkholder Middle School.

The entire enrollment started with 45 students and upon leaving in 2013 was over 280 students accumulating 11 superior ratings. They also played for the mayor, were featured on PBS, and covered by local TV news. Mr. Thomas was lured to Basic High School and now in his fourth year has grown his program to include five different ensembles including a symphony orchestra due to adding 75 additional string players.

In Las Vegas, Mr. Thomas has coached and helped direct the Las Vegas Youth Orchestras, Middle School, and High School Honor Orchestras, coached Nevada All-State Symphony, and an appointed mentor for first-year teachers. Mr. Thomas still loves to perform and takes his bass playing very seriously. He is Principal Bass for the Henderson Symphony Orchestra, performs with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Nevada Ballet, and his string quartet Strings on Occasion. He has also returned to the Pacific Northwest on several official visits to direct the Boise Junior High Fall Clinics, the Oregon East Symphony Summer Camp, and perform for various concerts.


Isadora Trinkle:  “Violins for Kids” Instructor

Isadora Trinkle is a graduate of UNLV with a Bachelor’s in Music Performance and of ASU with a Master’s in the same having played viola and piano for 20 years. She has worked with the Powder River Symphony, the Conway Symphony Orchestra, the Wyoming Symphony, and is currently a substitute for the Las Vegas Philharmonic and in CCSD as a substitute teacher. She is also working with Portable Masterpieces on a project to play in opera houses throughout the state of Nevada and beginning work on a doctoral degree in Music Education.



Elizabeth McFadden, “Violins for Kids” Instructor
Elizabeth started playing violin when she was six years old.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education degree from BYU-I in 2007.  She has had to opportunity to perform in many large and small ensembles but loves teaching music most of all.  She is currently the orchestra teacher at Legacy High School and also enjoys being a teacher with FAYM.


Candace Chun: “Violins for Kids” Instructor
Candace is the current director of bands and and performing arts department chair at Valley High School, where she has worked for the past eleven years in the music program. Candace began at Valley teaching strings. Her students have consistently received high rankings in competitions and performances. Candace is currently pursuing her masters at UNLV and received her bachelor’s degree in music education from Loyola University New Orleans. Candace has been playing violin, viola, cello, bass, piano, and ukulele for 20 years.  


Arturo Hernandez:  “Violins for Kids” Instructor                                                                                                              Arturo is a composer, arranger, and violinist living in the Las Vegas area. After studying with world-class instructors and performers, including Taras Krysa and Wei-Wei Le, Arturo founded and now manages and performs with the Vegas-based string quartet, and experimental group, Ides Quartet. Arturo also writes and sells musical arrangements for chamber groups and other performers worldwide.


 Katharine Smith: “Violins for Kids” Instructor
Is a classically trained cellist and pianist born in Las Vegas. While she began her musical studies on the piano, her passion for the cello took over as she grew up. Her love for orchestral performance has brought her opportunities to perform in venues all over the world, from China to France and Austria. In 2012, she received the first prize in the Las Vegas Youth Orchestra concerto competition and soloed with a full orchestra at the Smith Center. Under the instruction of Dr. Andrew Smith, she graduated in 2016 from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a bachelor’s in cello performance. She currently enjoys working in Las Vegas as a cello and piano instructor, and a performer for shows & special events throughout the city.


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