Sierra Strings is a violin studio based in Sonora, California. Sierra Strings provides private lessons and group classes for violin and fiddle students of all ages and ability levels. We believe in providing students with a strong technical foundation, so they can creatively learn and explore the world of music. We heavily emphasize music theory, music history and critical listening skills because we strive to provide students with a complete music education. The studio is currently full with an extensive waiting list. No new students are being added to the waiting list at this time. New students are subject to an audition, interview, and trial period to ensure that the student and teacher are a positive fit.
Makena Benz has performed in many different places across the globe, including the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, as well as throughout the western coast of the United States. A mountain girl at heart, Makena calls Twain Harte home, where she can ski, bike, hike and explore the beautiful Sierra Nevada with her family and her adventure pups, Summit & Sadie.
Makena has performed many solo, orchestral and chamber music concerts with her alma maters, University of the Pacific and the Bob Cole Conservatory of CSU Long Beach. She held violin positions with the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Chamber Orchestra, as well as the American Youth Symphony. She holds a contract with the Reno Philharmonic, and enjoys performing with a variety of orchestras throughout California.
Makena is extremely passionate about teaching and advocating for the arts. Throughout undergrad, she was an instructor for Harmony Stockton, an El Sistema inspired music program, and taught a successful string orchestra at Kohl Elementary School in Stockton. She has also taught at the Santa Monica Conservatory of Music, and served as the director and lead teacher for El Segundo Seaside Strings, an after school strings program for more than 75 students. She has enjoyed teaching for Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s Summer Music Institute in Idaho. She has also enjoyed creating her violin studios in both Stockton and Long Beach.
Since childhood, she dreamed of returning to the Sierra Nevada mountains to open a music school. Makena opened Sierra Strings, in Downtown Sonora, in the summer of 2019. She currently has upwards of 60 students enrolled.
Makena studied with Dr. Moni Simeonov at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, where she completed her Masters of Music in violin performance. Ms. Clark completed her Bachelors of Music in violin performance at University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Igor Veligan. Her former teachers have included Dr. Ann Miller, Mr. Brook Moes, Dr. Warren van Bronkorst, and Maestro Eugene Stoia.