Cheri earned her B.A. in piano, 1979, from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she was steeped in Bach and Chopin. Her Masters work at Emory University in Atlanta further deepened her knowledge of classical performance practice and music history. Regarding contemporary styles, Cheri was involved in UW-EC’s jazz program, and subsequently refined her improvisational skills with jazz pianists Laura Caviani of Minneapolis and Sean Turner of McNally-Smith College in St. Paul. Today she is an active jazz performer in the Twin Cities, She performs with the 12-piece funk dance band, Emerson Avenue (www.emersonaveband.com) as well as the Swing Sisterhood Big Band. She is longtime arranger/keyboardist for her own five-piece combo Wild Honey and the Locusts (www.wildhoneyandthelocusts.com).
Cheri has received statewide air-play performing Bach on Minnesota Public Radio. At the other end of the spectrum, her gospel-jazz performing group Wild Honey and the Locusts, has been featured on KBEM Jazz 88 FM’s program, “Jazz and the Spirit,” as well as KARE-11 Television’s morning program, “Minnesota Showcase.
Master Certified with the Minnesota Music Teachers Association (MMTA), she helped write the groundbreaking MMTA Popular Styles Syllabus. She is a recipient of the Maureen Conway Award for Inspiring Teaching, from the Keys 4/4 Kids non-profit in St. Paul.
Cheri began as a music instructor in the 1970s. Before establishing the Sykes Piano Studio in 2009, she was a private instructor for Schmitt Music.