Making Waves...

Claire Dunnington


"The first year I went to TOPS Piano Camp, I stayed for a week. The following year, I stayed for two weeks. By the time I was seventeen I was spending a month or more in Florida (visiting from Ohio, where I lived) to attend and later work at TOPS, so entirely had it dazzled me. It was my first experience hearing and playing with other musicians my age, and the only place I've ever learned and performed some of the wonderful four-hand piano music that solo musicians don't usually get to play. Beyond the musical education and experience, TOPS was also an immensely formative social experience for me, and I am still in touch and friends with many of the people I met there."

Claire graduated from Columbia University with a MFA in nonfiction writing in 2010. She is currently working in New York as a private tutor.

Matt Skantz


"I attended TOPS from 1999 to 2002 and went on to work as a counselor for two years after that. The environment was consistently encouraging and inspirational, with small class sizes, frequent lessons and performances, and abundant personal attention. The most important factor in my choosing to return each year was the passionate, interesting people who taught, performed, and led discussions. TOPS teachers clearly love what they do and convey their enthusiasm about   a breadth of musical topics to students. Many of the music theory and history concepts I first learned at TOPS served as foundations for my college music degree. The opportunity to study piano with a variety of teachers was also a significant factor in my musical development. My TOPS teachers were all very well qualified and introduced me to unique musical perspectives. Even a week of studying a familiar piece of music with an unfamiliar teacher can influence a student in lasting ways. TOPS was one of the most significant musical experiences of my high school years and was a strong factor in my decision to continue my musical studies more seriously. I would recommend it to any young student interested in deepening their musical understanding and abilities in a friendly environment."

Matt graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a MS in Business Analytics in 2012.

Pat Ward


"My name is Pat Ward. I attended TOPS piano camp when I was in grade school and I work in the music business to this day. TOPS is a fantastic program, and really teaches a strong foundational knowledge of music.  I loved the TOPS atmosphere and the fact that I got to meet so many other people my own age learning the same instrument. Being able to interact with other kids was absolutely crucial to my musical development. I went to FAU as a commercial music technology major where I had been a TOPS camper years before. During my final year at FAU and onward into the summer I toured Europe and much of the USA playing bass for a professional blues band. For the past year I have been playing electric and upright bass in musical theatre shows, sound designing live theatre, engineering albums and singles, and working at FAU as an AV technician  for the Lifelong Learning Society where I was also hired to design and implement acoustic  treatment and other audio improvements to the Barry & Florence Friedberg Auditorium. I owe so much of how I think about and approach music to the fantastic program TOPS offers. This fall I will be returning to academia as a graduate assistant to pursue my masters degree in music technology at Georgia Southern University. I wake up every morning thankful for the superb education I got at TOPS!”