UMC Instructors

UMC’s educators are university trained musicians who are dedicated to teaching.
UMC only partners with confident and accomplished professionals who believe in making a difference in people’s lives through the gift of music!

Susan Forsythe

Main instruments taught at UMC: Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello.

Education and Studies: Susan is a highly trained violinist who studied at the University of Minnesota under Shirley Santoro. She also spent three years working with Oliver Steiner  (Juilliard, Eastman Music School) in Atlanta, GA. Susan studied pedagogy under Jonathan Strasser, School of Performing Arts Orchestra, School of Music and Arts Orchestra, and the Manhattan Youth Symphony. Susan trained in Suzuki with Pauline Barryman and Eleanor Stanliss.

Additional Experience: Susan’s teaching background includes String Art – Birmingham, Alabama; Community Music School – University of Alabama; Atlanta Music School – Atlanta Georgia; Rock Valley College – Rockford, IL; The Music Academy – Rockford, IL.

Susan’s performance experience includes symphony, string quartet, classical and contemporary church music. She has performed with countless live bands including world class acts like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Michael Card.

Susan’s depth of experience makes her a reliable player and an excellent coach for both individual lessons and ensemble experiences. She said, “The excellence of all the great musicians I’ve had the privilege to play with has rubbed off on me and I would love to share with you what I know to help meet your music needs. How can I help you?”

Michael Allen

Main instruments taught at UMC: Drums

Military service: U.S. Army (8 years), and toured with the Army Band and SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) International Band

Education: Michael attended the Armed Forces School of Music where he focused on big band drumming. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education – Instrumental Music K-12 from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire where he majored in percussion with a special emphasis on classical marimba.

Additional Experience: Michael was born in Eau Claire, WI, and began teaching private drum lessons in 1976! During his military career, Michael was initially stationed at Fort Sill, OK, with the 77th Army Band. In early 1986, he received an invitation to join the newly-formed Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) International Band (stationed near Mons, Belgium), where he served alongside musicians from several NATO member nations, as well as a core group of U.S. Army musicians. In Michael’s five years with the SHAPE International Band, he toured throughout central & Northern Europe, performing in public-relations concerts, as well as troop morale support.

Michael’s knowledge of musical styles ranges from symphonic, to big-band jazz, to rock, to country. After leaving the Army in 1991, he began a career in computer-aided drafting (CAD), retiring from Skyline Displays in 2020.

Michael is extremely happy to be a part of the instructional staff at Universal Music Center, finally returning to his chosen career as a music teacher. And we are thrilled to have him share his depth of experience and knowledge!

Joe Diethelm

Main instruments taught at UMC: Acoustic, Electric, and Bass Guitar

Education: Joe attended Moorhead State University, graduating with a degree in Music with a focus on Trumpet and Music Education. Additionally, he holds a Bachelor of Elective Studies in Visual Arts from St. Cloud State University.

Additional Experience: Joe began teaching music in his 10th grade year of high school! He has been a music educator for over 50 years and has worked with over 600 students. Joe’s musical knowledge and experience includes solo and band guitarist, composition, conducting, trumpet and French horn orchestra and wind ensemble, and bell choir. His musical style experience covers jazz, rock, funk, country, and church praise band. Joe also has teaching experience with the dobro, ukulele, accordion, banjo, harmonica, and music theory.

Joe has opened for noted musicians Carole King, John Kay (Steppenwolf), The Ohio Players, and The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, and among a myriad of venues, he has played both rooms at First Avenue and The Cabooze in Minneapolis.

Joe’s teaching style is outgoing and humble. “I am excited to share my musical experiences, and often I am the student of my students! I am 100% open to teaching students to their musical preferences.”

Jeff Kelly

Main instruments taught at UMC: Guitar and Songwriting

Education: Jeff graduated with a Bachelors of Science in civil engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY and currently attends Minnesota State College Southeast’s second year Guitar Building and Repair program.

Additional Experience: Jeff is an experienced educator who has spent well over a decade performing music throughout the country in solo, duo, and full band outfits. Having provided musical support for such acts as Ben Folds, Lera Lynn, Gaelic Storm, Jason Wilber (guitarist of John Prine), Joe Pug and many others. Jeff brings a wealth of experience in musical performance, songwriting, and presentation.

“The ability to play music has opened so many doors for me, introduced me to so many like-minded creators, and has simply given me some of the greatest joys in my life. Music should be fun, and I intend to keep that at the heart of every lesson.”

Jason Kelch

Main instruments taught at UMC: Guitar

Education: Jason holds an Instructor Certification achieved in the U.S. Military

Additional Experience: Jason has been playing guitar for over 35 years, with experience in various styles. He has toured across the United States in several bands, and as a member of the U.S. Military. Jason formally worked as a Government Military Logistics Contractor and classroom instructor.