The Florida Music Institute

The 2019 FLorida Music Institute is based in the beautiful city of St. Petersburg, Florida. FMI is a non-profit organization existing to provide music education and development to children and adults.

We bring together a fantastic team to provide you an amazing experience of growth and enjoyment.


Jennifer Diedrich, Violin/Viola

In 2012, the Suzuki Association of the Americas approved a Florida Suzuki Summer Institute and it was held on the campus of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. Jennifer became the director and 2019 will mark the eighth year of hosting this institute. Jennifer is the director of Suzuki Strings of St Petersburg, which was founded in 2002. Ms. Diedrich has 40 years of experience in violin performance and instruction. It became clear that there was a great need to offer an institute experience to families in Florida. It is an honor to host Florida's Suzuki Institute. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she earned a degree in Human Development while also competing as an intercollegiate tennis player. Growing up in DeKalb, Illinois, Jennifer studied violin and viola with Arthur Montzka as well as the Vemeer Quartet at Northern Illinois University.

Ms. Diedrich joined the Tampa Bay Symphony in 1995 and has served as the director of the Young Artist Competition while also serving on the board. She has also served as a member of the music committee at the Museum of Fine Arts in St Petersburg. In 2006, Ms. Diedrich joined the education staff at the Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute ( in teaching early childhood music. Ms. Diedrich has attended the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point (WI), the Colorado Institute, and the Ithaca College Institute (NY). She has trained in Suzuki Pedagogy with Catherine McGlasson, Nancy Lokken, Ronda Cole and Carrie Reuning-Hummel.

Ms Diedrich has a never-ending passion to help children (and people) reach their potential while focusing on the development of the whole person. Lives are enhanced in an environment rich in music. Living in St. Petersburg, Florida since 1992, Jennifer has also witnessed the beautiful revitalization of the St. Petersburg with a vibrant arts community.  Music, culinary and visual art, as well as sight-seeing are abundant here.  Come for the music and stay to enjoy the beauty!

Rolando Freitag, Violin/Viola is a registered Violin Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas and currently serves on the SAA’s Board of Directors. He has extensive experience working with students of all ages and ability levels, and has taught lessons, workshops and teacher training courses throughout the Americas.

Mr. Freitag earned his M.M. in Violin Performance from Penn State  University, and his B.M. in Violin Performance from Shenandoah  Conservatory. In addition, he holds the Certificate of Achievement from  the Suzuki Association of the Americas, an award given to teachers who  demonstrate outstanding commitment to excellence in their teaching.

At the Orlando Suzuki Music School he offers Suzuki Teacher Training courses as well as individual and group lessons. Mr. Freitag is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish,  an avid scuba diver, a US Sailing Instructor Trainer, and a US Coast  Guard Licensed Captain.


Jennifer Burton, Violin, has been teaching Suzuki violin lessons since 1977 and currently is on the faculty at the Aber Suzuki Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She taught at the Suzuki Institute of Dallas from 1993 to 2006 and had a private studio in Dallas and Stevens Point from 2006-2010. She began her career at the American Suzuki Talent Education Center at UW-Stevens Point where she taught for 17 years. Jenny received her Masters Degree with Margery Aber at UW-Stevens Point.

Jenny has been a violin clinician at 200 workshops and summer Suzuki camps across the United States. She served 3-year term on the national board of the Suzuki Association of the Americas from 1996-1999 and served as the editor of the State, Provincial and Local Association Committee for 4 years. Ms. Burton was President of the North Texas Suzuki Association and currently is the President of the Suzuki Association of Wisconsin. She was awarded the Outstanding Violin Teacher Award at the Colorado Suzuki Institute in 2001 and was given the Distinguished Service Award by the NTSA in 2005. Her book, Sharpen Your Tools: A practice companion for Suzuki parents and teachers, is distributed worldwide by Alfred Publishing Company.

Ms. Burton enjoys walking, biking, bird watching, cats, collecting shells and papermaking. She is an owner of the Green Bay Packers and has been a member of the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra for 20 years. While in Dallas, she was the Concert Mistress of the Cathedral of Hope Orchestra, which performed at conferences in Toronto and Houston. She plays on occasion at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Stevens Point and is passionate about bringing her students to nursing homes and art festivals. 

Lisa Deakins, Violin/Fiddle is a registered Suzuki violin teacher living in Charleston, South Carolina.  She is a versatile musician who enjoys performing and teaching across the United States and whose music has taken her to renowned stages including the Grand Ole Opry, the Crook & Chase television show, and Song of the Mountains.   Lisa's love for music began at the age of four when she started Suzuki violin lessons in Burlington, NC.  She continued her music education at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she received a Bachelor of Music degree in 
Lisa DeakinsCommercial Music Performance.  Lisa also holds a Master of Music degree in Suzuki Violin Pedagogy and Music Education from East Carolina University.   
        Lisa has worked professionally as a fiddle player and background vocalist for country music artists Pam Tillis and Grand Ole Opry legend Whisperin’ Bill Anderson.  She has also performed with Charlie Daniels, Bobby Osborne, Chris Young, The Daughters of Bluegrass, and many more.  Lisa has produced three professional  fiddle recordings and  can also be heard on the Daughters of Bluegrass CD titled “Bluegrass Bouquet,” for which she received an International Bluegrass Music Association Award for “Recorded Event of the Year.” 
         Lisa is the owner of  “ Deakins Suzuki Strings, ”  where she enjoys teaching children of all ages at her home studio in Mount Pleasant.    Her students study various fiddling styles as well as classical playing, and Lisa has compiled and arranged a music book for Suzuki students called “Fiddlin' Favorites,”  which is sold nationwide and licensed by the International Suzuki Association.   When Lisa is not teaching, you can find her performing in bluegrass, country, and classical ensembles throughout the southeast or strolling the streets of downtown Charleston with her husband, Derek.  

Derek Deakins, Violin/Fiddle
 is a fiddler, violinist, guitarist, and orchestra conductor originally from Kingsport, Tennessee. His musical journey began with Suzuki violin lessons at the age of five and has taken him all around the world as a professional musician, including venues like Madison Square Garden and the Grand Ole Opry.      
     Derek holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Instrumental Music Education from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.  Derek has performed with major recording artists such as The Osborne Brothers, Miranda Lambert, and Blake Shelton, and his television appearances include Grand Ole Opry Live, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, The Jimmy Kimmell Show, and Late Night with Craig Ferguson.  Derek has also recorded and produced four professional albums.
     Recently, Derek has enjoyed working as Director of Orchestras at Wando High School in Mt Pleasant, South Carolina, where he also pioneered the guitar and Advanced Placement Music Theory programs.  Derek is trained in the Suzuki method and is a 2017 quarterfinalist for the Grammy Music Educator of the Year Award.  He has co-authored a music book called Fiddlin' Favorites Volume 2 for Suzuki violin students and performs throughout the southeast with Gravel Road Acoustic Trio and other bluegrass and country music groups.  
     Additionally, Derek is honored to be a musician and teaching artist on staff at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. He lives in Charleston, SC with his wife, Lisa, and their son.

James HutchinsJames Hutchins, Violin lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wonderful and gorgeous wife and his fabulous and entertaining son. He grew up in the Suzuki Method, has been a Suzuki teacher for over 25 years and is a proud Suzuki dad. James is a registered teacher trainer who has taught at workshops, institutes and classes around the world, including South Korea, Iceland, Peru, Lithuania, Singapore, Malaysia, Bermuda, the Bahamas and throughout the States. This past summer, James was a guest Clinician at the 67th Suzuki Method Summer School in Matsumoto, Japan. His studio has performed for former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton at the White House, at the National Zoo, the U.S. Capitol,the Maryland State Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Aquarium and on the Millennium Stage and with the National Symphony at The Kennedy Center. They have also played the National Anthem for the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Wizards and Nationals. James also had the honor of performing for Dr. and Mrs. Suzuki at their home in Japan.