Ann Montzka Smelser began playing violin at the age of 3 with the help of her mother and father, Marilyn and Arthur Montzka. Later she studied under Kazuko Numanami and Sarah Hersh at the Oberlin College Suzuki Program and later with Rebecca Sandrok and Pierre Menard in Illinois.
In between receiving her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Master of Music degree in Performance and Pedagogy at Northern Illinois University, Ann studied with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki at the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan.
After college, Ann toured extensively with the Ruggieri String Quartet and performed with many orchestras and chamber ensembles. Ann is currently principal 2nd violinist with Camerata Chicago and concertmaster of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
In 2003 Ann received the Hester Byron Excellence in Teaching Award and in 2013 was inducted into the Sycamore Music Booster’s Hall of Fame receiving the Legacy Award and in 2019 was inducted into the DeKalb Music Booster’s Hall of Fame receiving the MUSE award.
Ann is a lifetime member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and has been invited to present at several SAA conferences. She has served as coordinator of the Suzuki Youth Orchestras of the Americas in 2006 and 2008 and coordinator for violin at the 2014 and 2016 National Suzuki Conferences held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Ann became a Registered Suzuki Teacher Trainer in 2005 and currently teaches Suzuki Pedagogy at both Northwestern University and Northern Illinois University. She teaches about 40 private students and is director of the CSA Suzuki Strings Program at NIU. Ann also teaches at Music Institute of Chicago. She enjoys working with Suzuki families and teachers at institutes and workshops throughout the United States as well as Singapore, Lima, Peru, Costa Rica, and Mexico City.
Ann lives in DeKalb with her husband, Linc. They are proud parents of daughter, Genevieve, and son, Benjamin, who are currently pursuing music careers as well.