117 E Vance St. Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina

www.joyfulsoundsacademy.com | Tel 919.552.8219

© 2020 by Joyful Sounds Academy of Music & Art

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Our Instructors

We credit our over 30 years in business due to our selection of degreed experienced caring teachers, exemplary customer service and being an active member in the community.

Diana Thomas

Piano & Organ

Diana is the owner of Joyful Sounds Academy and has a B.A. degree Magna Cum Laude in Music from Campbell University and has taught piano and organ to students of all ages and levels for over 30 years. 


She serves as a church musician and accompanist for area musicians and groups. 


As past President of Raleigh Piano Teachers Association (RPTA) and active member, she is also a member of Music Teachers National Association, North Carolina Music Teachers Association, American College of Musicians, and American Guild of Organists.


She encourages students to share their music in local ways such as group classes, school, church, and community events.  Her desire is to teach students to achieve their goals in learning to enjoy and make beautiful music. 

Julie Frederick


As a flutist of 38 years, Julie has a Bachelor of Music degree from Syracuse University and a Masters in Music from the New England Conservatory. 


She has taught flute and piccolo for 23 years in the Boston area and since 1988 in the Cary area.  Julie has vast experience performing in the orchestra, band, chamber music, and solo concerts. 


Currently, she free-lances regularly with Florian Music.  She is an active member of the Raleigh Area Flute Association and is a member of the National Flute Association Performance opportunities will be available throughout the year including performance classes and a studio recital in May.  Students are encouraged to participate in local contests and music ensembles.  Julie’s greatest joy is teaching and sharing the magic of music with her students, which is a treasure that will last them a lifetime.

Jacob Groff

Piano, Composition and Theory

Jacob received his Bachelor of Music in Composition from the University of Oregon and his Masters in Music Composition from Westminster Choir College of Rider University. 


Mr. Groff taught piano in Northern New Jersey for six years, where he was proud to have a student perform one of his solo piano works in recital.  Mr. Groff is sought after for his vocal, choral, and chamber writing and his works have been performed in venues across the country.  In the summer of 2007, he released his first professional recording of songs for voice, flute, and piano.  He won the 2088 “Children’s Aid Society Chorus” Competition in New York City.  Mr. Groff is published through Santa Barbara Music. 


Mr. Groff specializes in teaching beginner and intermediate level piano students and all levels of Theory and Composition.  He encourages all students to take advantage of performance opportunities that are available throughout the year.

Mary Jo Tenison-Willis

Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Oboe

Mary Jo Tenison-Willis is a retired educator with 35 years experience! 


She received her Bachelors is Music Education from the University of Central Arkansas Master of Music Education & Performance.


She has taught as Band Director for Zebulon Magnet School in North Carolina and at Heights Junior High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was Dept. Head at Maumelle Middle School in Arkansas. And she was an Instructor at Christ Lutheran School in Arkansas and Adjunct Instructor of Flute Education at the University of Arkansas.

She has been the Youth Orchestra Program Coordinator for Arkansas Symphony and performed with the Symphony as well as other groups during her career.

William Simkiss

Guitar (Acoustic/Electric) , Bass , Mandolin,  Banjo, Dulcimer (Hammered & Mountain), Voice, Piano, Baritone, Tuba, Trumpet, Beginning Percussion

William Simkiss has taught for over 30 years, and has a wide range of performance, touring and recording experience in many varied styles. 


With a B.A. in Music Education from Malone College, Canton, Ohio, and a Master’s from Fuller, he plays 28 instruments as well as being a vocal soloist.  He teaches Guitar, Piano, Voice, Bass Guitar, Mandolin, Octave Mandolin, Hammered and Mountain Dulcimer, Banjo, Trumpet, Baritone, Tuba and Beginning Percussion.  He coaches individuals in Songwriting and Musical Groups in Performance Technique.  He also teaches Musicianship, Sight Reading and Music Theory for any instrument.

Sarah Bowen


Sarah Bowen is a freelance violin performer and teacher in the Triangle area. Sarah grew up in a music-filled home in Seattle, WA, and holds a Bachelor's of Music in Violin Performance and Creative Writing from the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University.

She has taught with Northwestern University's Music Academy for pre-college students, and as a non-profit P.A.L.S instructor at Aspen Music Festival and School. 


A orchestral enthusiastic, Sarah held a two-year position with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the training orchestra of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with numerous orchestras in the Triangle and the Midwest.

Sarah believes that learning an instrument should be a fun, empowering, and transformative experience. She encourages students to practice music they love alongside fundamental exercises for violin technique. 


Mary Beth Hansley

Visual Art

Mary Beth Hansley attended the Kansas City Art Institute. While there she worked as a VISTA volunteer as an art therapist for women in crisis. She finished her art degree at Meredith College where she also received my K-12 certification.

She is now a retired WCPSS art teacher. She works from home in her Fine Art and Craft Studio. 

A bit of trivia.... when she was a student teaching at Lincoln Heights Elementary School, she piloted the Joyful Sounds Art program.

Art Lessons offered will be drawing and painting all media as well as the new fluid art craze. 

Ardene Shafer


Ardene Shafer earned a degree in music education from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Arts degree from Concordia University in River Forest, IL.


She has taught music programs in public schools in Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, and Maryland for nearly 30 years. In addition to her public school teaching experience, she has taught in private schools in Illinois and North Carolina. She has also taught dozens of private students in various states in which she has lived during the past 30 years. She is currently working for the Wake Forest Community Youth Orchestra to teach students in Zebulon and Rolesville.

She has held memberships in small orchestras in Illinois, Maryland and North Carolina and was a founding member of the Prince George’s Quartet in Maryland. During the summer months in North Carolina. Ms. Shafer has been a member of the Masterworks Reading Orchestra in Durham, NC.


Ms. Shafer is retired from public school teaching but continues to be active with private students, the Wake Forest Youth Orchestra, and private teaching in Fuquay-Varina. She also performs with small groups in the area and has previously been a member of the Chapel Hill Philharmonia, the Meredith Sinfonia and the Lee County Community Orchestra.