About Us

Our History

2010 Beginning Band

In the year 2000, a small group of homeschooling parents joined together for the purpose of adding a music component to their childrens’ plans of study.  These parents and their families, now a cooperative, teamed up with Mr. Donald “Doby” Dobrosky and Ms. Katherine Johnson, both notable area musicians and educators in their own right, to form the organization we know today as National Homeschool Music Ensembles, NHME.  Starting with only a handful of students comprising a single wind-ensemble, NHME has grown into as many as 5 satellite locations; has added more ensembles like choir, string orchestra, and percussion ensemble; and has become an unconventional yet innovative, educational model.  We successfully exported that model, our way of doing things, and our ideals across the country into several organizations with similar goals in mind.  NHME is a founding member of the Michigan Home School Music Network, MHSMN.  Along with the twelve other MHSMN music programs, NHME provides an instructional experience that’s become the envy of educators statewide and that’s drawn the attention of university directors looking to augment their bands and orchestras.  This musical endeavor has seen over 400 students pass through its ranks in the past twenty years with many of these NHME alumni becoming leaders and professionals in their chosen fields.  In 2016 with the invaluable support provided by Mr. Jack Barrett, NHME secured the acquisition of our operational home-base in Tecumseh, the former Tecumseh Grange.  At NHMEs beginning, Mr. Barrett, the last Master of Grange #166, suggested holding music classes at the under-utilized Grange Halls in Southeast Michigan.  Later, Jack’s suggestion and advice cemented NHME’s place within the community with the purchase of the hall.  As we start a strong new year and an exciting new season at NHME, we look forward to continuing and growing our commitment to training tomorrow’s leaders today through music.

Our Experiences

NHME stands for excellence and strives to be the finest music instruction program in southeast Michigan.  We are proud to serve the homeschool community in Lenawee, Washtenaw, and Monroe counties with a high quality and comprehensive music program.  To that end, we find opportunities to participate with and play along with other College, University, and professional area ensembles.  In 2015, NHME partnered with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra for a side-by-side concert performance (Click the picture on the left to read all about it).  As a result, A2SO’s director, Mr. Arie Lipsky, has become a proponent of NHME and a respected guest-conductor.  Other guest-conductors have included Dr. John Pasquale, Director University of Michigan Marching and Athletic Bands, Mr. Wes King, Professor at University of Memphis and former Director of Bands Siena Heights University, and Mr. Jim Rice, Adjunct Professor of Saxophone at Siena Heights and Director for the Adrian City Band and the TCA Big Band.  Our joint workshops with the ensembles of higher educational instituitons have included almost all of them in the local area: Eastern, Western, Central, Wayne State, Grand Valley, Toledo, Bowling Green, Concordia, Akron, Albion, Hillsdale, Spring Arbor, Siena Heights and more.  NHME always keeps a lookout for positive musical experiences to enrich and benefit our students!  To that end, NHME has teamed up with The Lyceum Learning Institute (Adrian, Monroe, Plymouth) to offer partnership music classes in band and strings for public-school-at-home enrolled students.  Contact Michelle Mason, the Lyceum's Director, for more information on joining NHME through the partnership.

Some Testimonials

Michael Brian Alden Brandon Hannah at WMU

These kids can come play with us anytime!   

Scott Boema - Director of Bands WMU 

What you're doing here is nothing short of amazing [...] This group plays as well or better than any group in the area.    

Wes King - Director of Bands SHU

It was a pleasure to get a chance to meet and work with such a fine group of musicians [...] Their attitude and work ethic was a pleasure to experience.  I can only imagine the impact of these students on your program!  It must be a real treat to have these wonderful young people in your band. 

Sam McIlhagga - Director of Bands Albion College

Read an open letter from a mother of five homeschooled children, peruse an endorsement from a homeschool mom in Ypsilanti, and find out what our students say about NHME!

Donations represent one of only two income sources for NHME, the second source being student tuition.  NHME strives to keep a fee structure that is affordable to all of our homeschooling families.  Under its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit charter, NHME does not charge admission to concerts which are presented as a service to our communities.  NHME, therefore, looks to grants and donations to continue our misison.  We are opposed to asking our students to sell merchandise to aid the group.  We feel such efforts detract from our musical educational efforts.  There are several ways to help: look for our donation drums at concerts, appearances, and at the local fairs; shop at Busch's grocery with your MyWay card attached to NHME and participate in their 5% cashback for education program; when shopping online, consider designated NHME as your charity of choice at AmazonSmile; and lastly, donations-in-kind of tangibles like music supplies and old, unused music instruments are heartily and gratefully accepted!  Is there a vintage instrument of some kind or another hiding tucked away in a dusty closet somewhere?  Does the attic hold a largely forgotten but venerable old instrument from yesteryear just waiting to be picked up and played again?  Got a horn that hasn't been played since elementary school?  Perhaps there is an instrument that belonged to a great-grandparent hiding under the bed?  They could all be given new life in the hands of an appreciative and eager young musician who will grow with it and mature into one of tomorrow's leaders.  Just can't bear to part with that ol' favorite instrument of yours?  That's ok—bring it to class and come join us! 
Best Music Lessons

Our Founder

Donald Dobrosky

Donald S. "Doby" Dobrosky, Sr., founder, CEO emeritus, director, and board advisor, holds a B.A. in economics from Lake Forest College and a second B.A. in music from Skidmore College.  Mr. Dobrosky performed with the Nutley Symphony, Montclair Symphony, Skaneateless Summer Band, and even with his own dance band at local clubs and venues.  A Naval Reserve bandsman, he directed the Naval Air Technical Training Center Band in Memphis.  Doby served as a percussion specialist with Lenawee Schools, as staff percussionist for the Croswell Opera House, as principal with the Lenawee Pops Orchestra, and as founder of the Tecumseh Pops Orchestra.  He also directed the pit orchestra at the Tecumseh Center for the Arts, conducted the Saline Players, appeared with the Ann Arbor Light Opera, and performed with the Dexter Community Band.

Book Excerpt

Co-Founder & Director, Choir

Katherine Johnson

Ms. Katherine O. Johnson, co-founder, director, and board advisor, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Swathmore College and a Bachelor's degree in Music from University of Michigan majoring in choral education and piano.  She also studied theatre at Cornell for two years. Kathe teaches piano privately, performs on organ, plays ‘cello, and strums bluegrass guitar.  She has worked extensively with area theatre groups, jazz ensembles, and even a rock band.  Ms. Johnson currently sings with the Willis Patterson Our Own Thing Chorale.

Ensemble Director

Donna V. Smith

Ms. Donna V. Smith is a third-generation, professional musician involved in violin and viola performance since the age of six. As a young child, she participated in her first orchestra at Interlochen Arts Academy. Ms. Smith credits her mother as her first music teacher starting Donna on piano as a preschooler. Donna’s mom earned a Masters in Music at University of Michigan. When studying music and orchestral conducting at U of M under Ms. Elizabeth A. H. Green (published author and today’s foremost authority on modern conducting), Donna discovered she had the same conducting instructor as her mother! Ms. Smith earned a Bachelor’s Degree in music education from Eastern Michigan University and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from George Fox University in Oregon. She enjoys playing, performing, and teaching violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, lute, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, trumpet, horn, trombone, saxophone, and even bassoon! Ms. Smith founded the Lakewood String Quartet, coached Malaika Strings in Nairobi, Kenya, and competed in the National Old Time Fiddlers Contest in Weizer, Idaho. As a result of her unique experiences and training in both music and psychology, Ms. Smith brings a practical, person-based approach to interacting with and instructing musicians of all skill levels and those of special ability. Her youngest student began at age three and was able to play complete songs using a bow by age four. Donna is also trained in the Suzuki Method for strings. This spring, she will be performing in New York at Carnegie Hall.

Ensemble Director

Evelyn Frandle
Miss Evelyn Frandle, a homeschool graduate herself, started music instruction at three years old. Growing up, she studied orchestral performance with the Harvest Orchestra homeschool ensemble, the Toledo Youth Symphony, and the Sienna Heights Youth Orchestra. While in high school and by personal invitation, she performed with Mark O’ Connor and Doc Severinsen at the farewell concert for Mr. Chelsea Tipton, the former conductor of the Toledo Symphony. In 2011, she gained acceptance into the Hillsdale College music program. During her undergraduate time, studying violin and viola under Valerie Palmieri, Dana Duncan, and Dr. Melissa Gerber Knecht, Evelyn earned her spot as principal violist with the Hillsdale College Symphony. Music education remained a large part of her volunteer efforts in college, and she frequently taught private lessons as well as music theory at the Hillsdale Preparatory School. Evelyn continued efforts to improve teaching techniques by studying the Suzuki method at the PhoenixPhest Institute in Ann Arbor. She graduated from Hillsdale magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music. Miss Frandle continues to develop her studio and performs regularly with groups such as the Mason Symphony Orchestra. Connecting music to the community remains one of her missions, and Evelyn frequently fundraises for organizations by performing. We are very happy to have Evelyn working with us in the homeschool community with an orchestra much like her very first! Miss Frandle is incredibly proud of her students’ achievements over these past years. Her students approach orchestra rehearsal with eagerness, dedication, and consistent professionalism. “It is wonderful to have students that love learning and exploring music together!” Evelyn hopes she has encouraged their wonder of music as they have done for her.

So what exactly is NHME?

Doby & Kathe

Although we use terminology familiar to educational establishments and structure our service similar to academic environments, NHME is not strictly a school, private or otherwise. Grades, report cards, or transcripts are not recorded or given, and credit may or may not be awarded by other institutions for participating in NHME's programs. NHME is not in it for profit-making either, even though we strive to be business-like and professional in all of our operations. We're also not a collection of tutoring services, although our directors and instructors individually may be qualified to tutor. While neither a professional association promulgating standards nor an academy establishing set pedagogy, NHME's methodology nonetheless has become a model for other organizations across the nation. We do things other educators say can't be done, and we accomplish what competing groups say is unattainable. Indeed, our students achieve competent, early-college skill sets and proficiency levels after only a few years. Many of our former musicians now perform professionally. NHME is a collection of civically inclined and musically-minded volunteers. We provide an opportunity for pupils outside of traditional public or private school settings to play, perform, and grow in a musical ensemble setting—an avenue of artistic expression and intellectual study not normally available to this underserved body of students. NHME enlists the area's top professionals in creating the best possible learning experience. Our leaders engage our students with expert guidance and thoughtful mentorship. NHME accomplishes its mission at a cost comparatively lower than other groups or methods. Our ensembles present performances and concerts admission free to the public as a service to our communities. NHME is, therefore, a certified non-profit, tax-exempt, licensed corporate entity with recognized charitable status. NHME draws funding solely from donations, grants, and member contributions. We're parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and guardians just like you looking for ways to help our children grow into the best possible future versions of themselves. We believe we're training tomorrow's leaders today through music. We strive to provide the highest quality, musical-ensemble experiences at a price point affordable to our homeschooling families. Our motto: Excellence! First learned in music and later incorporated into habits, Excellence then becomes not just an act, but an approach to life's pursuits guaranteeing success in any endeavor or enterprise.

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