About Us

A non-profit organization based in Pontiac, Michigan.



Accent Pontiac: Strengthening Pontiac's youth and community through equitable access to intensive and consistent music making.


All children in Pontiac will achieve their full potential through equal access to quality music learning.



In 2014, Kirk in the Hills launched a capital campaign, raising funds to be used, in part, for outreach in the Kirk’s neighboring community of Pontiac, Michigan. Soon after, a committee was formed to decide how the funds would be used, ultimately deciding on an El Sistema-inspired music program. The Kirk has a long history of musical excellence as well as a dedication to supporting the Pontiac community. Accent Pontiac was the perfect fit.

In April 2016, Dan Trahey, founder and Artistic Director of OrchKids, joined the team as a consultant, guiding Accent Pontiac through its initial stages and helping to secure Walt Whitman Elementary School as our partner. Tina Rowan was hired as the founding Artistic/Program Director in September 2016, and Accent Pontiac began its soft launch phase. Accent Pontiac’s pilot program launched on January 10, 2017, and served approximately 85 students at Whitman. In September 2017, Accent Pontiac launched its second year of programming and currently serves approximately 125 students at Whitman.

In the upcoming years, Accent Pontiac hopes to refine and expand the amount of its musical programming, the number of students served, the number of partner schools and the variety of instruments offered to Pontiac students.


Meet the Staff


Tina Rowan

Tina Rowan is the founding Artistic/Program Director for Accent Pontiac, and has been in this role since September 2016. Previously, Rowan was the founding music teacher at Pride Academy in East Orange, New Jersey, where she started a world drumming program.

She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she received degrees in Violin Performance, Organizational Studies and Performing Arts Management. While at the University of Michigan, Rowan co-founded the Mentors for the Ypsilanti Youth Orchestra, a student organization partnering with the Ypsilanti Youth Orchestra that provides mentorship to orchestra members. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Rowan is excited to be back living and working in her home state.

Dan Trahey

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Dan Trahey is a musician, composer, educator, social entrepreneur and architect for dozens of "social change through music" programs in the United States, South America and Europe. He was instrumental in the creation of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program, where he currently serves as Artistic Director. Trahey also founded the El Sistema-inspired program Tuned-In at the Peabody Conservatory, where he teaches creative composition and community engagement.

As a tuba player with the Archipelago Project, he promotes cross-genre performances and has performed for hundreds of thousands of children, specifically targeting impoverished areas with little access to live performance. Trahey received a master's of Music from Yale, and a bachelor's of Music Education from Johns Hopkins University. Trahey is a sought-after consultant for programs desiring to use music as a vehicle for social change. In addition to founding two El Sistema programs in Baltimore, he has helped structure, nurture and grow many programs in cities around the world. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Trahey’s latest project is Accent Pontiac.

Tia Harvey


Tia Harvey is the Bucket Band Teacher at Accent Pontiac and has been in this role since January 2017. She is a percussionist and educator in Michigan and is pursuing a doctoral degree from Michigan State University where she studies with world-renowned percussionist Gwendolyn Dease. As a percussionist, Harvey is building a career as a chamber musician, music educator and music activist. She is passionate about bringing music to non-traditional venues and commissioning new works as well as instilling an appreciation of music and empowering the next generation through music education.

In addition to Accent Pontiac, Harvey is a percussion instructor at the MSU Community Music School, East Lansing, and MSU Community Music School, Detroit. She is a Teaching Assistant at Michigan State University, and holds degrees from Michigan State University and the University of Central Florida. Harvey currently resides in Ferndale, Michigan, with her partner, Erik, and cat, Elliott, who has a mustache.

Wendy K. Matthews

Wendy K. Matthews is the lead brass teacher at Accent Pontiac as well as Assistant Professor of Music Education at Wayne State University. Prior to joining the faculty at Wayne State, Dr. Matthews led the music department at Northern Virginia Community College as Assistant Dean and directed the Alexandria Campus Band, Orchestra and Chamber Winds.

She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses, and conducted ensembles at Georgetown University, University of Maryland, College Park, and George Mason University. Dr. Matthews also taught elementary and secondary school instrumental music in Virginia and Maryland. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, a Master of Music degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Education degree with a concentration in educational psychology and instrumental conducting from George Mason University.

Sherri Johnson

Sherri Johnson has been with Accent Pontiac since January 2017 and currently serves as the Program Assistant. She has been working with children of all ages for 22 years, her favorite being Montessori teaching. Her first experience with children was at her local church as a Sunday School teacher. Then, she learned how important it is to volunteer her time in the schools, leading her to the Montessori school, a joyful position. Receiving her Nursing Certificate allowed Johnson to help the elderly for many years. As of 2017, her desire grew more and more to go back to helping children, leading her to Accent Pontiac. Children are our future.

Ryan Mercier

Ryan Mercier has been with Accent Pontiac since January 2017 and currently serves as the Private Lessons Teacher. He has a bachelor's degree in Music Technology from Wayne State University, and is currently enrolled in a Post-Bachelor's Teaching Certificate Program at Wayne State University. He plays trumpet, guitar and sings, and he likes playing sports, watching local teams and watching kids grow in ways they didn't even think were possible.