Music Faculty Bios

Natella Askerova, Piano

Natella Askerova was born and raised in Baku, Azerbaijan. At the age of seven, she began her musical education at a specialized school of music. After graduating from the school, she continued her study of music at the Baku College of Music, where she received a degree in piano pedagogy and collaboration. In 1971, Nat went on to study at the Azerbaijan State Conservatory, where she completed her post-graduate degree in piano performance, pedagogy, and collaboration. While studying at the conservatory, she began performing as a soloist with the Azerbaijan State Symphony and chamber orchestras. For over twenty years, she has been performing as a soloist, directing dozens of musicals in Ashtabula, Lake, and Geauga counties, and providing accompaniment for a number of singing groups, including the Madison Chorale, Ashtabula County Choral Society singers, and various school choirs and giving private lessons for students from age 4 to seniors. She is currently serving as the director of music at the First Congregational Church in Ashtabula. Nat frequently provides accompaniment for professional guest instrumentalists and guest vocalists, plays for area high school students at the solo and ensemble events, and plays the piano for various special events and services. She also loves sharing her knowledge of her native language—Russian—and giving individual or group lessons.

Dave Black, Percussion

Dave has been performing since he was twelve years old. He was a student in the Willoughby-Eastlake School District and performed in the school music program from elementary school through high school. He studied music education at Ohio University in Athens, then joined the Navy and played in Navy Bands in San Diego and San Francisco. He has been performing and teaching actively in Northeast Ohio for eight years.

Austin Blair, Voice

Austin Blair is a graduate of Edinboro University where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education with a double concentration in Vocal/Piano Performance under the instruction of Dr. Anne Ortega, Mr. Eugene Perry, Dr. Meghan deWald, and Dr. Elizabeth Etter. Currently, he is the elementary music teacher at Huron and Ontario Primary Schools in Ashtabula, OH. Austin played piano and worked in the pit section with the EUP Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Marching Band, and performed regularly as a soloist for the department’s Student Recital Series and Music Major for a Day recitals. He taught beginning to advanced vocal technique for two years through the Edinboro University Community Music School. In 2015, Austin helped create and organize the first LMBA Band Festival in Edinboro in thirty years, and has also organized multiple concerts and American Music Recitals for Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity. He has directed and acted at Arlene’s Broadway on Buffalo in Conneaut, OH.

James Fuller, Brass

A native of Ashtabula, Jim attended Kent State University’s Hugh Glauser School of Music and Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music. Jim studied voice locally with Jim Onion, trumpet with local musicians Oliver Kaura and Ward Hamm, and French horn with William Slocum, assistant principal of the Cleveland Orchestra. Jim has been playing in local bands since the 6th grade, including “Soul Expression,” “Ovations,” “Time Bandits,” and “Northeasterly Winds.” He was the principle hornist for the Ashtabula Area Orchestra and is currently a member of the very popular “King Pins,” which specialize in tunes from the 50’s and 60’s, and is one of the original and still active members of the “Blues Project,” a well-known local blues band. Jim is the brass coach for Ashtabula’s Braden Junior High and for Lakeside High School Marching Band. In addition, he teaches steel drum, piano, and band for After School Discovery.  He spends his Sunday mornings playing music for several local churches.

His students at the arts center routinely rise to the top of their section, and many of them have participated in the Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony, with several receiving college scholarships.

Kimberly Godfrey, Voice

Kimberly Godfrey received her Bachelor of Music in musical theater from the nationally-renowned musical theater program at Baldwin-Wallace University’s Conservatory of Music. Kimberly studied musical theater under director Victoria Bussert and studied voice under Joan Ellison. She has been musically directing children’s choirs, orchestras, and musicals along with choreographing musicals and award-winning show choirs since the age of seventeen. Since 2008 Kimberly has served as an adjudicator for high school choirs and show choirs across northeastern Ohio. She has performed as an actress and soloist in musicals and concerts from Southern Ohio to New York City. She is the current director of theater and music at the Ashtabula Arts Center and directs its Arts Center Singers, Starlight Singers, and The Showoffs. Kimberly’s recent students that she has mentored are being accepted into the top musical theater schools in the country, such as Boston Conservatory of Music, Syracuse University, and Baldwin-Wallace University.

Carol Linsenmeier, Strings

A life-long love of playing string instruments has led Carol to share the joy of making music with her students for 40 years. Carol has earned a Bachelor of Music Education from The College of Wooster, a Master of Music Education from The University of Georgia, and a Ph.D. in special education research from Kent State University and received her Suzuki teacher training from Ithaca College Suzuki Institute. During her career, Carol has performed as a member of many community orchestras, chamber ensembles, pit orchestras, and a traditional bluegrass band. She is an accomplished American and Celtic fiddler. Carol has been listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, and Who’s Who in American Women.

Lyn Rocco, Piano

Lyn holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Indiana University School of Music, Bloomington, Indiana, where she holds degrees in keyboard, pipe organ, and choral conducting. She has been a piano and organ instructor for 35 years along with being the organist and choir director for Ashtabula’s First Presbyterian Church since 1972. She is a member of the American Guild of Organists – Cleveland Chapter. Lyn is the former accompanist for the Ashtabula County “Messiah” Chorus, Men of Praise, and keyboardist of Ashtabula Area Orchestra.

Geoffrey Wands, Woodwinds

Geoffrey Wands has been teaching and teacaing anden giving performing on the various members of the clarinet and saxophone family for over 25 years and his students have won many honors and awards (e.g. attended Interlochen, members of the PMEA State Band, Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony, Erie District Jazz Band, OMEA Solo and Ensemble Contest participants, Erie Junior Philharmonic Concerto Competition winners). A native of Tonawanda, New York, he moved to Florida when he was 13 and graduated with honors from Fort Myers High School. As a teenage clarinetist he was a member of the Southwest Florida Symphony (for four seasons), the Florida All-State Marching Band, and attended the Sewanee Summer Music Festival. In his 20’s he earned an Associate’s (Edison), a Bachelor’s (Central Florida), and a Master of Music degree (Illinois State). For six seasons he was the principal clarinetist with the now defunct Erie Chamber Orchestra and has played in several other symphonies as a freelance clarinetist or saxophonist (e.g. Akron, Canton, Erie, Wheeling, Youngstown). Since 2014 he has been the award-winning saxophonist in The Groove and has been a jazz saxophonist in several different big bands. While attending the International Worship Institute in Dallas, Texas he was a featured saxophonist.