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Composition & Songwriting Faculty

Mary Jane Alm

Mary Jane Alm has toured internationally, been featured on national network TV and performed on stage for some of America’s largest corporations. Today, she continues a busy gig schedule with both her own band and with a show band called Synergy, which tours the corporate client world. Mary Jane’s first album, Prisoner of the Heart, was recorded in Minneapolis. Two more albums, Blue Earth and Too True, were recorded in Nashville and in various studios in the Twin Cities, including Paisley Park. Her latest album, Me and The Wild Blue, was produced and mixed by Grammy Award winner, Steve Hodge.


  • Minnesota State University, Mankato

Client Highlights:

  • Coca-Cola
  • General Mills
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • McDonald’s
  • Pillsbury
  • Sears

Performed With or Opened For:

  • Charlie Daniels
  • David Byrne of the Talking Heads
  • Jimmy Webb
  • Marie Osmond
  • Michael Johnson
  • The Judds
  • Willie Nelson

Worked Locally With:

  • The Rupert’s Orchestra
  • Women Who Cook

Honors & Awards

  • One of only seven women inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame
  • 15 Minnesota Music Awards, including “Best Female Vocalist” and “Artist of the Year” and “Best Country Song”
  • Twice inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame as a solo artist and a member of City Mouse
  • Grammy-nominated, Emmy Award winner and Parents’ Choice Award winner for one of her five albums with the Music Workshop for Kids
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Brian Casey

Brian Casey

Brian Casey is an award winning multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, and producer. He is currently a creative director and senior composer at In The Groove Music, a Minneapolis-based commercial and television music house where he has composed for over twelve years writing original music for dozens of national campaigns and brands including ESPN, BMW, Coca-Cola, Enterprise Car Rental, and Health Partners. The recipient of a 2012 ASCAP Film and TV Music award for the theme to Discovery’s Alaska: The Last Frontier, his music has been heard on hundreds of television shows over the past decade. A graduate of the University of St. Thomas where he studied vocal and guitar performance and composition on his way to a BA is Music Business, he has augmented his busy composing career as an adjunct faculty in the music department at St. Thomas prior to arriving at McNally Smith. In addition to his commercial work, Brian has worked on records with artists such as Glorious Monster, Man is Doomed, Blue Blazer, Becky Shaheen, and most recently released his own experimental material under the moniker Brian Casey the Destroyer in 2015.

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Daniel Coe

Daniel Coe

Daniel Coe has composed music that has had many placements on major networks and cable channels around the world, including Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, NASCAR - Daytona 500, WWE, Axe Cop, Kroll Show, and The 2014 Winter Olympics. He has composed scores for various films, including Who Shot Mamba? (2009), and documentaries, including Genius On Hold (2013) and Gardeners of Eden (2014), contributed sweetening and production to numerous recording artists, including Aerosmith, Yoko Ono, The New York Dolls, David Johansen, and many others. He frequently collaborates with record producer Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Aerosmith).

He has also orchestrated films and a Golden Globe-winning television drama (Flesh and Bone, Dave Porter), prepared music for films such as Pete’s Dragon, Star Trek Beyond, Dr. Strange and Sully, varied Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers and video games such as Halo Wars 2 and Star Wars: Battlefront. He also navigated current musical and technological demands of the film and TV industry assisting film composers Marcelo Zarvos (Too Big To Fail, You Don’t Know Jack, Brooklyn’s Finest) Angelo Badalamenti (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks) and Ted Masur (Bad Milo).

Daniel studied music education at Ithaca College, graduating with honors, and then earned an MM in music composition at the University of Florida.

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Hans Erickson

Hans Erickson has worked as a commercial composer, music producer, band leader, songwriter and audio post engineer for the past 16 years. He has performed nationally and his music has appeared nationally and internationally in commercials, films and television shows. Hans graduated from Berklee College of Music in Music Production and Engineering with a minor in Songwriting. He began his career working for Hest and Kramer music (Minneapolis) where he wrote and produced music for commercial clients such as Target, Best Buy, and Toyota. He went on to front two bands, Hanzsolo and Hanz Erik and the Hims, which toured regionally and garnered heavy college radio play.

In 2007 Hans moved to New York City and continued performing at some of city’s premier singer-songwriter clubs such as The Living Room, The Cake Shop and The Rockwood Music Hall. He also began his own commercial music and audio post company, completing work for multiple networks (ABC, Nickelodeon, The History Channel, CNBC). Upon returning to his native Minneapolis in 2015, Hans continues writing and producing music professionally, as well as working in audio post production.

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Jay Fuchs

Jay Fuchs

Department Head, Music Theory

Dr. Jay Fuchs is a prominent music educator and a popular entertainer, music director, singer, piano player, composer, author and bandleader. Dr. Jay holds a Ph.D. and M.A. degree in Music Theory and Composition from the University of Minnesota (studied composition with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Dominick Argento), along with a B.A. degree in Vocal Performance from Minnesota State University in Moorhead, MN.

Jay is very active as an entertainer, performing over 100 gigs each year. He founded and directed the popular Twin Cities’ band Metro Jam. Jay and his dynamic partner Erin Schwab, entertain audiences all over the world. Jay is also a “first call” music director for many productions in the Twin Cities, including major awards shows, theater productions and corporate events.

Dr. Jay is a popular author of music education materials. His series Doctor Jay’s Music Lessons are used at a number of colleges across the country (including McNally Smith College of Music) as well as with individuals learning music on their own.

Jay is a veteran music educator. He began teaching at McNally Smith College of Music in 1991.

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Jeff Harrington

Jeff Harrington toured the Midwest with various pop/rock groups before settling down as a staff writer for CBS (Los Angeles), Warner Bros (Nashville), and Wrensong (Nashville/St.Paul). He has written hits for various artists including Petula Clark, Leif Garret, Susan Anton, Heart and many others in the country, pop, and children’s music fields. Harrington's movie and television credits include Follow That Bird (Sesame Street), The Dukes of Hazard, Capitol (Daytime TV), Lonely Lady and Longshot. Alongside Reyn Guyer, he has also produced family entertainment projects and musicals for Reyn Guyer Creative group.

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Tim Helisek

Tim Helisek has composed music and sound effects for TV including Survivor, CBS News, VH1's Behind the Music, The Mentalist, NCIS: Los Angeles and feature films Welcome to Me and Garage Dwellers.  He was the orchestrator and copyist for Garry Schyman on the video games BioShock and Destroy All Humans.  Tim has worked alongside William Goldstein, arranged for Dionne Warwick and has been music copyist for several of John Rodby’s modern classical works.  When he is not working with music for media, he is writing music that pushes the boundaries of 21st-century orchestral music through algorithmic composition and microtonality.

Through his label, Helisek Music Publishing, Tim has released three solo piano albums containing classical works including Beethoven, Chopin, Philip Glass and John Cage.  Another two albums include original compositions of avant-garde electronic music in the 21st-century classical style.  He has also released over 250 ringtones and 40 children’s music albums.

In 2008, Tim graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Commercial and Media Writing from California State University Northridge.  He obtained an Associate of Applied Science degree in Guitar Performance from McNally Smith College of Music in 2004.  Tim has been teaching since 1999 and is the author of a book for educational guitar, ‘Reading Studies for the Beginning Guitarist.’

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Mark Henderson

Mark Henderson

Mark Henderson is a graduate of North Texas State University where he performed with the famous 1:00 Lab Band, which toured the U.S.S.R. on a State Department tour in 1976.

Since 1978, Mark has been a musician in the Twin Cities, working as a freelancer and as the resident woodwind player at the Chanhassen Dinner Theaters from 1988 to 1993. He performs regularly at the Guthrie and Children’s Theaters and is an affiliate member of the Minnesota Orchestra. He was also an original member of the Jazz MN Big Band.

Mark completed a Masters Degree in Saxophone Performance at the University of Minnesota in 1995, and was a member of the University’s Faculty Jazz Quintet. He taught privately at MacPhail Center from 1980 to 1989 and has worked as a jazz clinician for festivals from Alaska to Germany.

Since 1996, Mark has been composing music and sound design, as well as engineering for television and radio commercials. In 2003, Mark and his wife Mary started a new company, Dirty Dog Productions, which is producing ad music, as well as corporate video and DVD’s for small business clients in addition to many orchestrations and arranging endeavors. In 2006, Mark arranged all the live orchestrations for the Robert Robinson Christmas Tour, featuring a 12-person orchestra and a 100-member choir.

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Joe Horton

Joseph Horton

“Blair eschews typical hip-hop self-aggrandizement in favor of an honest, plain-spoken rapping style that owes more to contemporary literature and a healthy regimen of NPR than it does to the posturing of his musical forebears.” – City Pages

Before choosing the stage name Eric Blair, it's no surprise that Twin Cities-based emcee and fiction writer Joe Horton turned to one of his favorite writers for inspiration. Eric Blair is the given name of the author better known to the world as George Orwell. Horton's lyrics reflect the explorative tone of Orwell's work, following an often shaded and winding path through the trappings of social, emotional and intellectual conformity.

Early in his career, Horton wrote and performed spoken-word pieces at coffee shops in his native Milwaukee. While studying Psychology at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Horton began transitioning to songs, longer poems and short stories.

After moving to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Horton began seriously writing prose and enrolled in the MFA program at Hamline University. He is currently working on an experimental novella entitled "Gods of Mischief." Horton is also currently working with the Loft Literary Center as a Youth Mentor.

Horton is best known as the emcee for alternative hip-hop trio No Bird Sing, whose debut LP (self-titled) received local and national attention for its unique approach to the genre.

Horton has performed with acts such as Saul Williams, P.O.S., Peter Wolf Crier, Heiruspecs, Derrick Brown, Kill the Vultures and Lookbook.

Discography: Careless Talk (2008, Hyder Ali), No Bird Sing (2009, No Bird Sing)

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Gary Rue

Gary has been writing music for a wide variety of applications since his early teens.  Recording credits include LOST IN THE SHUFFLE performed by Helen Reddy on the European release of her greatest hits compilation, and EVERYONE, recorded by Nick Lowe on his Columbia Records release THE ROSE OF ENGLAND (the song found its way to Nick via pop idol Elvis Costello, a fan of Rue's band, RUE NOUVEAU).

Mr. Rue has over 70 theater musicals to his credit, among these, PAINTING IT RED by Steven Dietz (author of the Pulitzer Prize nominee LAST OF THE BOYS), which enjoyed wide exposure nationally, including a very successful 6 week run at BERKELEY REPERTORY THEATER’s Second Stage in Berkeley, California.  Gary is also composer-in-residence at SteppingStone Theatre of St Paul. One of these commission, THE STINKY CHEESE MAN recently completed a national tour (including a series of performances in Shanghai, China) with the Dallas Children’s Theatre.

Gary had also served since 1986 as conductor and arranger in North America for ‘60’s pop star Gene Pitney (“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “Town Without Pity”) and his 15 piece orchestra until Mr. Pitney’s death in 2006.

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David Singley

David Singley is a professional guitarist who has shared the stage with such jazz luminaries as Bob Brookmeyer, George Shearing, James Moody, Bob Mintzer, Phil Woods, Ernestine Anderson, Paquito d'Rivera, Bob Florence, Tal Farlow, and Buddy DeFranco.  His work as a professional guitarist has also taken him across North America appearing with Perry Como, Debbie Gibson, Gene Pitney, Mary Wells, Debbie Reynolds, Shari Lewis & Lambchop, and many others.  He has worked in the orchestra pit of many a touring Broadway musical including, most notably, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Donny Osmond, The Lion King, Chicago, and Sweet Charity.  He has also performed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, and has appeared on National Public Radio's A Prairie Home Companion.  His playing has graced countless commercial jingles, and he has appeared on over a dozen jazz recordings produced in the Twin Cities, including his debut recording as a leader, How My Heart Sings.  David is also a published composer and arranger with pieces for Jazz Ensemble available in the catalogs of the Neil A. Kjos Music Co., Increase Music, and

David Singley also holds the position of Lecturer of Music at Carleton College in Northfield, MN where he teaches Jazz Guitar and Jazz Improvisation and also directs the Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combos. When he’s not making music, David is also an avid long-distance runner.

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Sean Turner

Sean Turner

Department Head, Keyboard | Interim Department Head, Composition & Songwriting

Sean Turner’s compositions and orchestrations have been utilized by Sony, Oprah Winfrey, Lifetime Network, Discovery Channel, American Express, Target, Chicken Soup For The Soul, and he has been a featured artist for Getty Images among many others. He has authored two instructional texts and written and produced three albums — one of which received a “Parent’s Choice Award” for children’s music.

Turner began his professional music career performing as a vocal soloist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera soprano Lucy Shelton in the world premier of twentieth century composer George Crumb’s “Ancient Voices of Children.” He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance from Arizona State University and was awarded a Jazz Study Grant from the National Endowment For The Arts to study in New York with JoAnne Brackeen.

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Adi Yeshaya

Adi Yeshaya

Arranging Courses Program Director

Israeli-born composer, arranger and pianist Adi Yeshaya is internationally renowned for his arranging and orchestration work. His recording credentials include some of the world’s top artists, such as Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, Burt Bacharach and Roberta Flack. He has also arranged music for live performances by Whitney Houston, Donny Osmond, Michael Bolton, Jack McDuff, Doc Severinsen, The Minnesota Orchestra and The Milwaukee Symphony. In the Twin Cities music scene, Yeshaya is active as a jazz pianist and arranger and has produced many recording projects, including releases by Debbie Duncan, Bruce Henry, Prudence Johnson, Irv Williams, Beth Yeshaya, Cookie Coleman, Lifescapes, as well as the Adi Yeshaya Big Band.

Yeshaya has a special passion for music education. His 20 years experience in teaching include four years as an associate professor of contemporary writing and production at Berklee College of Music in Boston, three years of instruction at The University Of Minnesota School Of Music and thirteen years at McNally Smith.

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