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Meet The Teachers

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Matthew Bennett

String Sprouts Lead Teacher, Violin

Matthew began his orchestral career at the age of 18 with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra. Since then, Matthew has enjoyed performing in many orchestras in Europeand the US. His most recent appointments were with the Omaha Symphony, Richmond Symphony, New Generation Orchestra in Italy, and Der Animato Stiftung in Switzerland.

Although Matthew is deeply passionate about orchestral playing, there are many ways to enjoy classical music. In 2008, Matthew won the Oral Roberts University 20th Century Music Competition with Joan Tower's Platinum Spirals. Winning that competition sparked Matthew's interest in discovering and performing New Music. Soon after, Matthew premiered works for violin and piano by the Los Angeles based composer, Joshua Peterson and in 2012, Matthew worked closely

Joshua Peterson and in 2012, Matthew worked closely with Grammy-winning composer, Michael Colina and premiered Stairway to a Midnight Café in New York City. In promoting New Music, Matthew has performed with Black House Collective as well as the avant-garde performance ensemble Helerud.

Currently, Matthew is the first violinist of the Fountain City String Quartet which performs Candlelight Concerts each month in Kansas City, Omaha, Lincoln, and Wichita. The quartet performs concert worthy arrangements of pop music as well as standard classics broadening the audience base for classical music. Performing chamber music recitals has provided the opportunity for Matthew to perform in some exciting places like Morse Concert Hall at the Juilliard School, Mannes School of Music, Heartland Chamber Music Festival, Art in the Loop, and the Lied Center of Kansas for DukeTIP.

Victor Diaz

String Sprouts Lead Teacher, Violin

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Victor began his musical training in Bogotá, Colombia at the National Colombia Conservatory and he completed his undergraduate studies with professor Benny Kim at UMKC. He believes that completing his graduate studies with Professor Ben Sayevich at Park ICM is a great honor.

He was a winner of The Young Performer Competition from the Colombian Republic Bank. He has traveled and played around the globe with the sponsorship of organizations such as the Colombian Youth Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Americas, and Sphinx Organization. Victor has been part of educational programs such as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra Academy, Allegro Vivo Festival in Austria, and the National Alliance of Audition Support training program. he has been part of orchestras such as Bogota Symphony Foundation, Topeka Symphony, Wichita Symphony, Saint Joseph Symphony. 


Currently, he is a teaching artist at String Sprouts KC and a private instructor in the KC metro area. Victor believes in the great positive impact of music on people’s lives. He is constantly attending training from the Suzuki Association of the Americas and other Teaching Artists institutes so he keeps refining his teaching philosophy for a more meaningful impact on his students.

Clara Lee

String Sprouts Lead Teacher, Violin

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Clara Lee is a violinist, educator, and activist who strives to make classical music accessible to people from all walks of life. 

Born in Hong Kong, Clara began to play the violin at 4 with Professor Bao-zhi Yang of the Central Conservatory of Music, China.  Early on she received a strict regiment best described as a combination of the Suzuki method and conservatory level training from some of the best Chinese violin educators in the country at the time.  This includes Yao-ji Lin, Chai Liang, and Dr. Yip Wai Hong.  At 12 Clara won both the violin concerto and intermediate duet divisions of the 57th Hong Kong Schools Music Festival before a panel of international jury.  Two years later she was awarded a fellowship diploma from Trinity College London.  She gave public performances throughout her teenage years in Hong Kong, Chang Sha, Gui Lin, and Taiwan.  She was appointed concertmaster of Diocesan Girls' School Orchestra during high school. 

In 2012 Clara began studying with renowned professor Michael Ma, Curtis graduate and head of strings at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA).  She is the recipient of merit-based Maria Fan Howard Arts Scholarship.  During that time she gave two public recitals at HKAPA, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree. 

In 2015 Clara was invited to Kent/Blossom Festival in Ohio. She played with The Cleveland Orchestra that summer.  There she met Professor Benny Kim, who offered her a full ride to pursue a Master of Music degree at The University of Missouri - Kansas City (UMKC).  A year later Clara moved to Kansas City.  During this time she won auditions to become permanent members at the Topeka Symphony and Wichita Symphony.  


During her time at UMKC Clara served as first violinist of The UMKC graduate string quartet.  Together with her fellow musicians she went to Kansas City's local school districts to conduct masterclasses, workshops, and performances.  Today, Clara continues the mission of making classical music accessible as a teacher for String Sprouts KC to bring instruments and teachers into low-income neighborhoods of Kansas City metro. 

Ian Mitchell

String Sprouts Lead Teacher, Violin

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Ian Mitchell graduated from The University of Central Missouri with a bachelor in music performance and is currently pursuing a masters in Music Theory at the University of Missouri at Kansas City Conservatory. 


During his time at the University of Central Missouri Ian served as the concertmaster for the UCM Orchestra, played in the UCM Jazz-Rock Combo Ensemble, and was the American String Teacher's Association Chapter president.


Ian was a clinician for the violin section of Marshall High School, and gave private lessons through a community program in Sedalia.

Ian has performed with the Sedalia Symphony Orchestra, The Barn Players Community Theatre, ASTA Ensemble, and many private events.

Jordon Proctor

String Sprouts Lead Teacher, Cello


Born in Gardner, Kansas in 2001 into a family of musicians, Jordan Proctor was always surrounded by the warm embrace of music. As a result of her upbringing, Jordan began to play the cello at the age of 10, and her passion for the instrument only grew from then on. Jordan began to take private lessons from her first teacher, Maria Lopeman, at the age of 11 and continued to study under her until she began to attend Park University. Jordan has since been studying under the International Center for Music’s cello professor, Daniel Veis.

Jordan was a proud member of the Kansas City Youth Symphony from 2015-2019, where she had the opportunity to travel to Austria to perform alongside her peers in the summer of 2018.

It was on this trip that she discovered how music had the ability to transcend languages and bring people together. This revelation ultimately led Jordan to recognize that she wanted to bring others happiness through her music.


In 2018, she was selected to be a member of the Kansas All-State State Orchestra, where she got to perform with students all across the state of Kansas. Jordan won first prize in the string division of the 2019 Shooting Stars Scholarship Competition held by The Arts Council of Johnson County.

Assistant Sprouts faculty


Michael Frank

Gunnar Henning

Alice Palese

Roshelle Pekarek

Sprouts are mentored by Lead and Assistant teachers as well as Kansas City  Symphony musicians who perform quarterly at the Sprouting Up concerts, all creating a caring and supportive community.

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