Dr. Jay Smith, DMA
Jay Smith began playing the guitar at the age of 9. He grew up playing in local rock and pop bands, while studying jazz and classical music privately. Jay began his college education on a music scholarship to the University of Wisconsin. There he completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Guitar Performance. He also completed a Bachelor degree in Music Education. As a result, Jay is certified to teach instrumental music in grades K-12.
In 1995, Jay relocated to Denton, TX to attend the highly regarded School of Music at the University of North Texas. In 1998 he completed a Master of Music degree at UNT, focusing on Guitar Performance as well as Musicology.
In 2006, Jay became Dr. Jay when he graduated with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree (DMA) in Guitar Performance and Musicology from the University of North Texas. Jay’s doctoral dissertation consisted of an analysis and performance guide for Mexican composer Manuel Ponce’s Guitar Sonata III.
Jay has extensive experience as a private lesson instructor as well as a director of various music ensembles. Jay began teaching professionally during his senior year in high school and has continued full time ever since. In addition to teaching independently and at Music Starz Studios, Jay has also taught at the university level. He spent 5 years teaching at the University of North Texas, where he gave private lessons and directed the UNT Classical Guitar Ensemble. Jay also served on the faculty of the Community Music Program while at UNT.
With more than 20 years teaching experience, Jay brings a diverse and varied musical background to Music Starz Studios. Growing up playing rock, blues, jazz & classical music, Jay learned from an early age to be musically well-rounded. This versatility plays an important role in his approach to teaching the guitar.
In addition to teaching, Jay has also stayed active as a performer. He has played in numerous solo and ensemble settings throughout the D/FW area with Serenata Strings, a live music company owned and operated by Jay and his wife, Karen. Jay has also performed with The Tulsa Opera, playing the guitar solo on their production of the Barber of Seville and with the Milwaukee symphony as a concerto soloist. In a jazz setting, Jay has performed on guitar and bass with such artists as Frank Mantooth and Neil Harmon.
Karen Lim-Smith, MM, MJ
Karen Lim-Smith started playing the piano by ear at 2. Five years later, she went on to win her first piano competition. At 8, she had also picked up the violin. At 12, she was the youngest member to tour with the Penang Symphony Orchestra to Adelaide and Melbourne for the Adelaide Music Festival. That same year, she was the youngest musician selected to represent her country Malaysia with the ASEAN Symphony Orchestra in Thailand.
At age 14, she went on to win her first major violin competition. Not only did she win the coveted first prize at the Mozart National String Competition, but also a free round-trip to Amsterdam to study with Theo Olof, the former concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
At 17 years of age, she won her first full scholarship abroad to study with Alice Waten at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. After graduating with a Diploma in Music with Distinction, she followed Waten to Australia, where she won another full scholarship to undertake her Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance at the Canberra School of Music, which is affiliated with the Australian National University. Three years later, she moved to Sydney to complete her Bachelor of Music degree with Honors at the Australian Institute of Music.
While a student at the Canberra School of music, she was selected as the only Malaysian delegate to participate with the World Youth Orchestra. The orchestra toured the Philippines, South Korea, and Malaysia as well as Denmark and Germany.
She graduated in 2003 with a Master of Journalism degree from the University of North Texas (UNT). Still a student then, Lim-Smith studied the violin with Igor Borodin. Over the years, she has also studied with Amadeus Heutling (member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra), Emanuel Borok (former concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra) and Susan Demetris (former concertmaster of the Dallas Opera).
Lim-Smith is a very active performer and teacher. Lim-Smith has toured with Andrea Bocelli and Diana Ross and the Supremes throughout the United States. She also appears frequently with The Dallas Opera Orchestra and The Tulsa Opera Orchestra during the operatic seasons. She also performs on baroque instruments with the Fort Worth Early Music and the Orchestra of New Spain.
She strives for versatility in her playing as well as in her students’ playing. While a student at UNT, she picked up jazz violin, and was a founding member of UNT’s Swing Strings. She has also appeared with UNT’s Repertory Jazz Ensemble in a series of performances commemorating the indefatigable Duke Ellington.
Lim-Smith has also performed as a soloist at the 2008 National Association of Composers USA (NACUSA) National Concert at the Eisemann Center in Dallas / Richardson, TX.
In February 2009, Lim-Smith presented the world premiere performance of “Wayang” for solo violin, composed by Wieslaw V. Rentowski at the NACUSA Texas Conference at the Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.
In February 2010, Lim-Smith presented the world premiere performance of “Appassionato” for violin and piano composed by Rentowski at the NACUSA Texas Conference at the University of San Marcos, Texas.
In 2012, Lim-Smith presented works by Rentowski and Stephen Ip at the NACUSA – Texas Chapter concert at the Richardson Public Library.
On October 3, 2013, Lim-Smith presented Rentowski’s “Wayang” at the Louisiana Tech University.
On October 27, 2013, Lim-Smith presented the world premiere performance of Rentowski’s “Colla Parte” for solo violin and chamber orchestra with the DeSoto Chamber Orchestra.
On Sept. 14, 2014, Lim-Smith presented the following works for the NACUSA – Texas Chapter concert at the Richardson Public Library:
Rentowski’s “Solaire” for solo violin
Ross Griffey’s “Dancing Shadows” for solo violin
Deon Nielson Price’s “Stile Antico” for solo violin
Bryce Cannell’s “Refractions” for string quartet
Michael Lee’s “Farewell” for string quartet
Crimson Rose’s “Bouquet” for string quartet
Deon Nielson Price’s “Allegra Barbara” for string quartet
She has been teaching professionally for the past 20 years. She has served in the violin faculty at the Canberra Youth Orchestra Society in Australia and the Community Music Program at UNT. She has also taught young students for the Australian Institute of Music.
Her violin students were members of the:
Texas All-State Orchestras
All-Region 2, All-Region 20 and All-Region 24 Middle and High School Orchestras
Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra
Greater Fort Worth Youth Orchestra
Lone Star Youth Orchestra
Her students have won:
Gold medals at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest (TSSEC)
Lim-Smith is a member of the:
Texas Music Educators Association
Arlington Music Teachers Association
Carrollton Music Teachers Association
Music Teachers National Association
The Smiths released six CD’s featuring the violin and guitar. In 2012, they released a Jazz Christmas CD called “Joyful” to benefit the orphans in the care of Buckner International and Shoes For Orphan Souls.
In 2013, the Smiths launched Hits On Ten. Hits On Ten features both of them on violin and guitar. The launching of Hits On Ten coincides with the release of their 2nd CD entitled “Love’s In The Air: Volume 1.”
Lim-Smith is affiliated with the following associations:
Strathmore’s Who’s Who Worldwide
Oxford Who’s Who Worldwide
Continental Who’s Who of National Business Leaders
National Association of Professional Women
The International Women’s Leadership Association
National Association of Distinguished Professionals
In 2017, Lim-Smith is member of Women of Excellence.
In 2017, Lim-Smith was awarded Pinnacle Professional Member by Continental Who’s Who of National Business Leaders.
In 2017, Lim-Smith was awarded Top Tier of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Recognition by Oxford Who’s Who Worldwide.
In 2017, Lim-Smith was awarded the Professional Of The Year in Music Education/Entertainment/Music by Strathmore’s Who’s Who Worldwide.
In 2016, Lim-Smith was awarded the Professional Of The Year in Music Education/Entertainment/Music by Strathmore’s Who’s Who Worldwide.
In 2015, Lim-Smith was awarded the Professional Of The Year in Music Education/Entertainment/Music by Strathmore’s Who’s Who Worldwide.
In 2015, Lim-Smith was awarded Inspirational Woman Of The Year by the Women’s Radio Network.
In 2015, Lim-Smith was awarded the Woman Of Outstanding Leadership by The International Women’s Leadership Association.
In 2015, Lim-Smith was featured in the Women of Distinction Magazine Fall 2015 by the National Association of Distinguished Professionals.
In 2014, Lim-Smith was awarded the VIP Woman Of The Year by the National Association of Professional Women.
Lim-Smith is an Honored Member of the Continental Who’s Who of National Business Leaders.