Wayne State University

Alumni Spotlight: Natalie Frakes

Natalie Frakes graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. She studied violin under Dr. Laura Roelofs and music education with Dr. Wendy Matthews. Soon after student teaching in the Berkley Public Schools with Maestro John Robertson, she became Interim Director of the Berkley orchestra program. She took the Berkley High School Symphony Orchestra to the MSBOA’s 2015 District Band and Orchestra Festival where they earned straight A+’s. Natalie is now Director of Orchestras at Oxford High School where she conducts the high school’s three orchestras, teaches elementary strings, and oversees the Oxford Suzuki Strings program.


Natalie has served as a string instructor and conductor for many positions including Wayne State’s String Project@Wayne, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Youth Ensembles, Detroit’s Urban Stringz, and the Dearborn Youth Symphony. She was also a teaching artist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s El Sistema-inspired OrchKids program. In July 2015, she traveled to Costa Rica to teach with their El Sistema program, Sistema de Nacional Educación Musical (SiNEM). Natalie’s commitment to music education was acknowledged when she was represented Wayne State as a 2014 “Teacher of Promise” by the Network of Michigan Educators.

“While I was at Wayne State, I had seemingly endless opportunities learning from, working with, and performing with Detroit’s best musicians and educators. The experiences I had teaching for String Project@Wayne and the WSU Homeschool Music Project, and all of the performance opportunities I received, truly prepared me for the real world. I couldn’t have been luckier with the time I spent at Wayne State!”

In addition to teaching, Natalie performs frequently with multiple bands in the Metro Detroit area including NUCLASSICA, Nouveauté, and the Pistons House Band. She continues working the gigging circuit with friends in their group Midtown Strings.