First Chair Fiddlers was first started in 2002, by Rachel Gaither, who is the owner and head instructor for the studio. Rachel plays and teaches a variety of instruments, and also runs our entrepreneurial teacher mentoring program.
We offer opportunities to perform throughout the year, including two recitals and a summertime open mic where students have the opportunity to perform their own compositions and to showcase other talents, as well as their work with our studio.
First Chair Fiddlers offers not only violin, viola, ukulele, mandolin, cello, banjo, and guitar lessons and singing lessons, but also mentoring in songwriting and lesson teaching, where our qualified mentees learn the basics of teaching or how to create music using music theory and their own personal strengths. We have lessons available any time after 11 am, including Lunch Time Lessons, where we can come to you, wherever you are, on your lunch hour for a 30-minute lesson once a week! Day and afternoon times available, as well as evenings on weekdays.
Lessons and recitals are held out of our four locations listed below, but many times a teacher is available to travel to you, as well! For more information, or to schedule a trial lesson, please call us at 816.305.5320, or you can email us through our Contact page.
About Our Teachers
Rachel Gaither, Head Instructor
Violin, Mandolin, Viola, Cello, Voice, Guitar, Piano, Instructor Mentoring
A teacher since 2001, Rachel grew up locally, in the music programs of the Lees Summit school district, and has been singing in choirs and vocal ensembles from a young age. She began playing violin in 1990, began teaching herself guitar and songwriting in 1996, and played cello with the Lee’s Summit High School Concert Orchestra. While earning her Bachelor’s in Violin Performance, Rachel studied voice, including 4 years of piano music and theory, singing lessons, chamber choir, and vocal pedagogy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Over the years, she has performed in a wide variety of venues—from Carnegie Hall to dive bars and from festivals to house concerts, and has performed on tours of the East Coast, Ireland, and Scotland. She has performed as a singer, violinist, and songwriter with groups from country bands to rock, from classical ensembles to studio recording work, and has sung and played violin as a proud member of the Kansas City-grown Celtic group, Tullamore, since 2005. Second only to her love of performing, coaching and teaching are Rachel’s passions.
Kimi Yokoyama is a singer, choral conductor and teacher. Kimi believes that we all have music, art, and dance within us! Known as the Assistant Conductor with the Northland Community Choir, Kimi is also currently on staff at Community Christian Church; she got her start in children's choir at her home church in Delaware, and has been a church musician ever since. Having studied with numerous outstanding instructors in voice, piano, and conducting, Kimi has played the piano since elementary school, and has Vocal Performance and Art History degrees from the University of Delaware. As a performer, Kimi has sung with the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia and the Paul Hill Chorale in Washington, D.C.; she has also performed in operas and operettas in Delaware, the D.C. Metro, and the Kansas City Metro, including the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the Civic Opera of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Metro Opera.
With her nurturing teaching style and sweet and patient personality, Kimi is the teacher to see! Call us today to reserve a spot in her studio.
Acoustic Guitar, Banjo
A trained guitarist, Sarah has been playing the guitar for over 23 years, picking up banjo along the way. As a musician, she has performed and recorded with a wide number of groups in the KC area since 1999. You may have seen or heard her with such groups as Dirty Mae, Kasey Rausch, the Rural Grit Hour, The After Party, the Columns, The Wilders, My Brothers and Sisters, and many, many more. Her sound stylings include bluegrass, country, rock, singer-songwriter, and jazz and early blues influences.
Her musical talent and experience is not to be reckoned with, but Sarah also has facilitation training in experiential education, from the ages of 12 up to the corporate level, and her sense of service led her to her past work as a camp songleader and instructor for the Summer Family Camp in the Sequoia National Park. She loves working with people, and her strengths as a teacher are her compassion, patience, and positive attitude. We are very excited to have her in our studio, and she is excited to work with you! If you are looking for banjo lessons or guitar lessons, you have just found your gal! Give us a call today to ensure your spot in her limited studio...
Acoustic Guitar, Songwriting Mentor, Lyricist
A guitarist and songwriter since the 1990’s, Chel loves to capture stories and portraits of personality in her songwriting. Growing up with her family’s love of music inspired her to take on playing guitar—and she hasn’t looked back since. She most recently lived in New York City, writing and performing for 8 years in the singer-songwriter circuit there. Chel’s strengths as a teacher are her love of people and her ability to translate thoughts and ideas into words and instruction. She is a sharp and witty writer and lyricist, and continues to hone her craft in her profession as a freelance writer; she also performs as a musician, songwriter, and singer around KC in songwriter circles, open mics, and jam sessions.
Whether you are looking to learn how to play the acoustic guitar, or send a special sentimental and personalized song gift to that special someone, or even just put some words to music, Chel is the teacher you’ve been looking for! She also offers songwriting mentoring via online courses, which is an exciting addition for First Chair Fiddlers—we are thrilled to have Chel with us!
Chel is currently willing to travel to different parts of KC to teach and mentor, so give us a call today to reserve guitar lessons in your home with her! She looks forward to working with you…
Ukulele, Electric Guitar, Band Starting Mentor
An experienced and trained guitarist, she has been playing guitar since 1996, and has been working with ukulele since 2008. While living in Nashville, TN, she earned her degree in music business from Belmont University. In 2010, she moved to Kansas City and continued her passion for music here. She formed her original and popular 8-piece band, Claire and the Crowded Stage, where she sings and fronts the band on electric guitar and ukulele. She also performs in her side project with ukulele and mandolin called Quirk and Ruckus. She has toured the east coast as a soloist, and she has performed with a number of well-known groups in Kansas City, including Appropriate Grammar, Hidden Pictures, and the Katie Guillen Trio.
As a prolific songwriter, she has written or co-written over 100 songs, recorded two albums, is currently working on a third, and has contributed to at least 5 other albums for various local groups.
As a teacher, Claire loves kids (and people in general!). She has a gift for encouragement, patience, and creativity in teaching. Her wide experience as a performer in the music industry makes her an excellent mentor for aspiring group or band members. If you want to know how to start a band, Claire is the right pick for you!
Claire's studio is filling up quickly, so give us a call today to reserve your lesson time with her! She looks forward to working with you…
First Chair Fiddlers offers music lessons for much of the Greater Kansas City Area from our four locations: Independence, MO, near Noland and 39th St.; Kansas City (The Plaza), MO, at Roanoke and 48th; Overland Park, KS, at 103rd and Antioch; and Shawnee, KS, out of Blues to Bach Music Studio (violin, viola, and singing lessons available only at this location). From these four locations, we are able to serve not only the communities where we are located, but also the surrounding towns, as well. From our Independence location, we serve students from Raytown, MO; Grain Valley, MO; Lees Summit, MO; and Blue Springs, MO. From the Plaza, we serve not only Kansas City, MO, but also Kansas City, KS, and Mission, KS. From Overland Park and Shawnee, we are able to serve much of Johnson County, including de Soto, Edwardsville, Bonner Springs, Prairie Village, Lenexa, Merriam, and Mission, KS; as well as Grandview, MO, and Olathe, KS.
For more information on our studio or tuition, or to schedule a trial lesson, please call us at 816-305-5320, or you can email us through our Contact page.