Eileen’s first instrument was the accordion which she started at the age of six. She began New York State Accordion competitions the following year and won multiple awards every year she participated. At the age of 12 Eileen began competing in United States National Competitions and again won multiple awards each of the 5 years she participated, placing 3rd of all 16 year olds. Three years of Canadian/US accordion competition saw her voted Outstanding Bassetti Artist in Open Competition. In the same time period she began her studies in flute, saxophone and piano. Eileen realized music was what she needed to do; to feel a sense of community and belonging, to share her love of music with others, to distinguish herself and to feed her sense of worth.
Eileen graduated with honors from Nazareth College of Rochester, New York bachelor’s degree program in Music Education, K-12 and was voted outstanding musician by the music faculty and staff in 1986. Eileen majored in flute with a minor in piano and saxophone. The education program allowed her the opportunity to also learn and teach clarinet, oboe, trumpet, trombone, French horn and tuba. Eileen taught music in public and private schools, working with inner city and small town students as well as children with multiple handicaps. Eileen was a member of the folk band The Wilderness Family which produced a CD to much US and UK acclaim. She performed with the group on accordion, flute and fife at numerous festivals and shows throughout upstate New York for three years. At the age of 24, Eileen took over the teaching responsibilities of the accordion studio that she had been a member of for 18 years and lead the students to successful competitions for two years until her move to Phoenix. During her time as director of the accordion studio, Eileen completed her Master’s Degree in Deaf Education, K-12 in an innovative joint program through the University of Rochester and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Eileen was immediately offered the position of music teacher at Phoenix Day School for the Deaf where she created and implemented a music curriculum for students ages 3-21. She produced numerous programs and shows including an instrumental band. In the fall of 1992 Eileen incorporated Taiko drumming in an after school program, lead by Esther Vandecar, founder and director of Fushicho Daiko. Eileen assisted Esther in teaching this dynamic art form to students ages 8-15 through her interpreting skills in sign language and expertise in music education. Esther and Eileen worked together at the school until the Spring of 1994, when Eileen went on maternity leave.
Eileen joined Fushicho Daiko/Phoenix Drummers in October, 1994 five months after the birth of her first child. Eileen missed the joy and catharsis of drumming and the sense of community and belonging. Her studies with Esther Vandecar progressed until she became one of it’s core performers. The professional group Fushicho Daiko was accepted as Roster Artists on the Arizona Commission on the Arts in 1997, just as the dojo began to flourish with student groups. Eileen continues to perform with Fushicho Daiko in school residencies, assemblies, festivals and tours throughout Arizona and the Southwest as well as in Japan. As an individual artist, Eileen auditioned and was accepted on the Arizona Commission on the Arts Roster as an individual artist in 2001. Eileen performs and teaches Taiko as well as the Japanese fue bamboo wind instrument. Beginning in 2001, Eileen incorporated her Taiko program in numerous after school, summer school, juvenile correctional facilities, foster care, special needs and library programs throughout the Phoenix area and Arizona. In 2003, Eileen began teaching students in the Fushicho Daiko dojo/studio. At that year’s annual Phoenix Matsuri, A Festival of Japan, Esther and Eileen collaborated to create the All Arizona Taiko Team, incorporating all the students of the dojo. The Team has grown at one time to a size of 50 performers, incorporating musicians from Tucson, New Mexico and visiting guest artists from Japan. Eileen became Executive and Artistic Director of Fushicho Daiko and it’s teaching dojo/studio in May 2011 upon Esther Vandecar’s retirement.
Six trips to Japan have afforded Eileen with the opportunity to study Taiko in Hiroshima, Takamatsu, Matsuyama, Sado Island (Kodo’s 25th Anniversary Earth Celebration), Hachijo-jima/Island and Fukui as well as perform in Matsuyama, Nomura, Takamatsu (Shikoku), Yame (Kyushu), Hachijo-jima and Nagoya, Japan. She has also taught and performed Taiko in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Lijiang, China. She has participated in numerous master classes held by leading Taiko experts from throughout the United States and Japan as well as with internationally known Korean group SamulNori on the Korean Changgo drum.
In her over 40 years as a musician, Eileen has performed in Taiko ensembles in Arizona and Japan with as many as 80 musicians at one time, accordion ensembles with over 50 musicians from around the United States, band ensembles on flute and saxophone, flute choir, saxophone quartets, vocal choir, orchestra and folk bands. Eileen is a member of The Pangean Orchestra, a ground breaking ensemble made up of musician and music repertoire from around the globe, incorporating her expertise on Taiko, fue and accordion. She has accompanied the Grammy winning Phoenix Boy’s Choir with Fushicho Daiko and performed Taiko with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. Eileen continually strives to expand her knowledge and understanding of music, and to share it’s significance and importance in creating understanding and acceptance among the many people and cultures of the world.