Suzuki Strings of Columbus, Mississippi

Suzuki Method Violin and Cello: Beginners to Advanced Ensemble


Ms. Diane Ford, director, violin, & cello

dianefordDiane Ford, violinist, grew up in Dallas, Texas, attended Ole Miss and graduated from MUW in 1979. In Dallas, Diane studied with Roxelyn Rhymer and Arlington Judefind playing with the HIghland Park Orchestra and participating in regional competitions and performances.  Ford has worked with violin teachers Mihoko HIrata, a child prodigy of Dr. Suzuki, and Rhonda Cole during Suzuki teacher workshops and has participated in  Suzuki Teacher Training for Books 1 – 4 of the Suzuki Repertoire in Memphis and Fort Worth, Texas.

Ford has played in the Columbus- MUW Symphony and currently plays with the Starkville-MSU Symphony Orchestra and  for weddings and special events. Ford, the Director of the Columbus, MS Suzuki String Program, also Conducts the Suzuki String Orchestra and Advanced Ensemble and has been teaching private violin lessons in Columbus for 30 years.  Her violin students have performed with symphonies, won competitions, and are teaching in public schools.

On June 23, 2017 she directed the Columbus Suzuki Strings Advanced Ensemble in the Viennese Masters Orchestra Invitational Concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City., 662-425-6861

Laura Sandifer, violin

IMG_2039Laura Sandifer, violinist, holds a bachelor’s degree in music education. She maintains a vibrant private studio and also teaches with the Columbus Suzuki Strings program. In addition to her role as teacher, Laura is a performing member of the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the Meridian Symphony Orchestra, and the Starkville-MSU Symphony Orchestra. She can be contacted by email at or by phone at 662 436 2950.

Leah Newton, violin

IMG_1401Leah Newton, violinist, graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. She has been playing violin for 19 years and served as concertmaster for the MSU Philharmonia for 3 years, while also performing with the MSU-Starkville Symphony. In addition to teaching for Columbus Suzuki Strings, Leah has also performed with the Tuscaloosa Symphony, and frequently plays for weddings, services, and events.

Patti Gildea, cello


Ms. Trudy Gildea, founder


Our founder, Ms. Trudy Gildea, grew up in Bronxville, New York and began playing the violin at age ten. She was concertmaster of her high school orchestra and studied private violin at the Juilliard School. Over her 87 years, Ms. Trudy has played in orchestras at the Universities of Florida and Auburn, Louisiana State University, and the Mississippi State College for Women. Since 1969, she has been a charter member of the Starkville-Mississippi State University Symphony Orchestra. She is also a past director of the Coumbus Arts Council.



8 thoughts on “Teachers

  1. Do you have any recommendations for great suzuki violin teachers in Jackson/Ridgeland/Madison area for a 5 year old just starting out?

  2. I’m afraid I don’t know the teachers in the Jackson area, though you might search for one at the Suzuki Association of America or you might start by calling universities: Millsaps and Belhaven both have strings programs. They may not take young students, but they might know who does.

  3. Do you know anyone who teaches Mandolin in the Columbus, MS area? Thanks!

  4. New to Columbus Ms area. Have a first string violinist 14 yr old who is very upset that schools here don’t have orchestra and am looking for a tutor for her, and not online but in person. Could you suggest anyone interested in teaching a perfectionist?

    • Yes. We have teachers and can put your daughter in touch with someone (also have contacts with advanced teachers, depending on her level of play) and she could take part in our youth orchestra after school. Contact Diane Ford via the Teacher page.

  5. I have a 13 year old interested in Viola lessons in person and not online. She is basically a beginner because she has had only 6 months of lessons 2 years ago and since we have movef to Mississippi 2 years ago she has not played since.

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