Board of Directors


Irene Cohen

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Irene is a semi retired physician and has lived in The Netherlands, Israel and Canada. She learned to play music at an early age and started to play the flute when she was 18. She joined the New Horizons Band at the Western University in London, ON.  Since then  she has added piccolo and tenor sax to her repertoire. The Western NHB travels to Europe every 2 years which has enhanced Irene's enjoyment of playing. Many of her good friends belong to the New Horizons organization. 


Roy Ernst’s vision to develop this program has been invaluable and she is proud and thankful to know Roy and to be a member of this amazing organization and to serve as President on the NHIMA Board of Directors.

Vice President, Technology Committee, Shared Music Library, Events Committee

Dan Kapp

My Business

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Dan Kapp – Vice President, Tech Committee, Shared Music Library, Camp Committee, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dan Kapp holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Performance graduate of York University in Toronto, Ontario. He also holds a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University and has studied at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at University of Toronto. He brings 30+ years of professional teaching, conducting and leadership experience to NHIMA.

Dan is an accomplished Musical Director and has been involved in countless performances in bands, orchestras, musical theatres and choirs. He has been guest conductor at band festivals in Canada, Turkey, USA, and Latin America. Dan has also conducted at a number of New Horizons Band Camps including Chautauqua, Maine, Montreal, and Grand Rapids.

In “retirement”, Dan passionately over-saw the implementation and development of the New Horizons Band of Toronto program for its first 8 years as it grew from one band of 17 members to 10 band classes with 250+ members, and, at some point, directed classes at every level. He now serves as Director Emeritus to NHBT and will be teachng and conducting this coming year.

Secretary, Communications Committee, Membership Committee

Michael Plaut

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Mike earned his doctorate in psychology at the University of Rochester in 1969 and spent most of his career on the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, retiring in 2008.  Mike played both clarinet and oboe from fifth grade through high school. Although he has had a lifelong appreciation of music, he did not play an instrument (other than recorder) for 48 years until he resumed studies of the clarinet in 2007, shortly before his retirement. He has continued private lessons since that time. After moving to North Carolina in 2008, he joined the OLLI New Horizons Band at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, serving as chair of its steering committee for three years. He also played in a chamber group at UNCW. In 2013, Mike and his wife Judy moved to Oak Hammock at the University of Florida, a retirement community affiliated with the university. He has played in the Gainesville Community Band since that time and served as its president for two years. He also founded the Oak Hammock Chamber Players, which is affiliated with the New Horizons program.

Director, Development/Business Memberships

Amanda Lynn Schlegel

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Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Amanda Schlegel is Assistant Professor of instrumental music education at The University of South Carolina. Before coming to USC, Amanda was Associate Professor and Chair of Music Education at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. Amanda taught middle and high school band and orchestra in the public schools of western Pennsylvania. In addition to band and orchestra, Amanda also taught secondary vocal music, elementary general music, drama, theory, and directed several musical theater productions.  

Amanda holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Grove City College, a Master of Music from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. At USC, Amanda teaches middle school band methods, high school band methods, psychology of music, supervises student teachers, supervises masters theses and doctoral dissertations, and directs the Congaree New Horizons Band.

Her research interests surround music perception and cognition as a function of instrumental music teacher/conductor effectiveness, music teacher education, and affective and emotional responses to music. Her scholarly work has been published in the Journal of Research in Music Education, Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, Psychology of Music, and International Journal of Music Education. She is a member of NAfME, College Music Society, Society for Music Perception and Cognition (SPMC), Society for Music Teacher Education (SMTE), Society for Research in Music Education (SRME), and National Band Association. She has served as chair of the NAfME Perception and Cognition and Affective Response Special Research Interest Groups.

Director, PD Events Directors and Instructors

Katherine Levy

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I am a career music educator, born in Lakeland, Florida. My music teaching experience spans all ages (early childhood – New Horizons) in school and community settings in five U.S. states. I grew up in a Kentucky household with parents who were both teachers and singers, and my father was my first band teacher. I earned Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in music education from the University of Iowa, and a Bachelor’s degree in music education from Northwestern University, where I studied horn. My first New Horizons experiences were teaching horn and brass ensemble under the mentorship of Don Coffman and the Iowa City (IA) New Horizons Band’s first band members. After finishing graduate course work in Iowa, I moved with my family to Maryland, where I founded and conducted the Hagerstown (MD) New Horizons Band. Currently I am a professor and head of music education at the State University of New York at Fredonia, and the music director of the New Horizons Band of Western New York. I love New Horizons camps, and I have conducted ensembles at camps in Chautauqua (NY), Brock University (St. Catharines, ON), and Unicoi (GA). I also love kayaking, walking, and birdwatching, and I am passionate about inspiring people to teach well and to make music, Music, MUSIC!

Director, 30th Anniversary Committee

Edie Shillitoe

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Community music making is a great passion of mine! Having taught orchestra for more than 30 years in San Francisco, Houston, and Upstate New York at every level, I have devoted all of my adult life to teaching stringed instruments. Upon retirement, my focus is now on community music and adult instrumental music education, a pursuit that is perfectly championed in the New Horizons International Music Association.
I founded the Salt City New Horizons Orchestra in the Syracuse area in 2015, a group that has grown to sixty-five adults of all ages making music every Thursday evening. All celebrate true friendship each week as we tackle new music and enjoy performing many genres of music in the community. I currently live in Fayetteville, New York, where I reside with my husband, Ed (who is a fine violinist and microbiologist….and now a bassist with the Salt City NHO). We have three daughters, 6 grandsons and a granddaughter! I am very active in the American String Teachers Association, where I am a former president of the New York chapter. I am happy to be part of the NHIMA board and support this organization which completely mirrors my own teaching philosophy.

Director, 30th Anniversary Committee

Edlamae (Eddi) Thompson Baird

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I'm a forever flute and piccolo player, starting in 5th grade with public school music in a small  farming community in Oregon.  I played through high school and college, then only occasionally until my 3 children began Suzuki violin instruction.  I joked once with our founder, Roy Ernst, that I could sing then first six levels, on pitch, with the fingerings as my words.  I rejoined the band world 18 years ago with New Horizons.  I now play in a flute choir and 2 additional bands in my community.  Retirement from a rewarding career as a foreign language instructor followed by a joyous stint at the Washington State Legislature allows me time to quilt and craft.  I share a booth with my husband at the Olympia Farmers' Market as a craft vendor. On both the local board for South Puget Sound New Horizons Band and on the NHIMA board, I am deeply committed to creating community and connections in a caring environment, especially in this difficult time of isolation.  We are challenged to keep personal contacts and the joy of music alive.

Director, Events Committee, Membership Committee

Carol Neubert

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Four years after my husband and I retired, the New Horizons Band of Northern New York was formed and it changed the entire direction of our retirement years. I had never played a band instrument, and even though I could read music I didn’t have a clue about how to put my rented clarinet together. Daily practicing and gathering twice a week with a whole new set of friends in the band became an important part of our lives. We moved six years ago and are now members of the Pioneer Valley New Horizons Band in Northampton, Massachusetts. Having joined the NHIMA Board at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have felt honored and humbled to be a part of a group that has worked so hard to not only move NHIMA forward during such a difficult time, but has spent countless hours finding ways to keep amateur musicians and their directors/instructors connected and excited about all aspects of music. My personal goal on the Board is to find ways to help others have the wonderfully enriching musical experience I have had through New Horizons groups.

Director, 30th Anniversary Committee, Membership Committee

Susan Whitinger

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Music was a very important part of my growing up years.  I began playing the flute at the age of 9 and added piccolo at 11.  I played in public school band and orchestra through high school, district and state bands and orchestras, the Kansas City Youth Symphony, a community band during the summer months and Tempo Summer Festival.   After graduating from Southwestern Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in art education and elementary certification from Nova Southeastern University, I taught art in elementary and middle school, 5th grade Language Arts and 3rd and 4th grade gifted math and science.  I earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University and as a principal, I  supported school music performances through community outreach programs,  patriotic musical programs and holiday music performances. After retirement, I began playing my flute with the Tampa New Horizons Band.  The excitement of playing with the band, the flute ensemble, the camaraderie we enjoyed with members and the performances that followed, cemented my commitment to music and NHIMA.   I initiated the first board for the Tampa New Horizons Band and as board president, our board has accomplished writing the Tampa New Horizons Band Guidelines handbook, created the Sing and Strum ensemble for voice and ukulele, increased our music library and introduced the Tampa New Horizon’s band shirts.  During the pandemic, I played on zoom with the Congaree New Horizons Band and the Flute Loops, flute choir, at the University of South Carolina.    I will be forever grateful to Dr. Ernst for his compassion, dedication, perseverance, and creation of this organization that has such a profound influence bringing music to enrich so many lives.       

Founder of the New Horizons Program, Advisor, Nominating Committee

Roy Ernst

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Roy Ernst is a professor emeritus of the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, where he taught for 25 years and chaired the music education department for 12 years. In 1991, Dr. Ernst started the first New Horizons Band at Eastman for the purpose of creating a model program emphasizing entry and re-entry points to music-making for senior adults. Later, he became the founding director of the New Horizons Music Project, funded by the National Association of Music Merchants and the National Association of Band Instrument Manufacturers. In that capacity, he used the New Horizons Band as a model to assist in starting more than 100 similar programs in the United States and Canada.

Publications by Dr. Ernst include books and articles on conducting, flute performance, and music education. He is the founding director of The Aesthetic Education Institute in Rochester, New York. He conducts frequently at New Horizons Institutes-national and international events for New Horizons band and orchestra members.

Before moving to Eastman in 1975, he taught flute, conducted the wind ensemble, and was a member of the music education faculty at Georgia State University. In 1984, he was a visiting professor at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, Australia.

Recognitions and honors to Dr. Ernst include the President’s Arts Achievement Award from his alma mater, Wayne State University; an Outstanding Educator Award from the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; The Richard Snook Award from the Monroe County Music Educators; an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, in recognition of his work in adult education; and recognition as one of the Grand Masters of Music Education by the Music Educators National Conference, the 85,000 member professional association for music educators.

Dr. Ernst began his career in Michigan, where he taught instrumental music in elementary and secondary schools. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Wayne State University and a Ph.D. from The University of Michigan. Dr. Ernst lives in Tarpon Springs, Florida with his wife Pat, who is a food journalist. They travel frequently to visit family and attend New Horizons events.