Meet Our InstructorsInstructors of East Valley School of Music have many years of training and experience and share the love of teaching, but they have different areas of expertise. All teachers offer a well-rounded curriculum and a complete musical education for their students. Here is a complete listing of all our instructors.
Tabitha Kaminski, NCTM – PianoTabitha Kaminski was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. She has been classically trained in piano since the age of 9. During her beginner years, Tabitha studied piano and theory with pedagogue Mary Lou Edgecomb, and later transferred to her sister, concert pianist and music director, Annette Masterson, to study piano performance. In high school, Tabitha had the honor of studying under Dr. Gary Fisher at The Eastman School of Music and at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. During this time, she performed and competed extensively throughout Western NY, gave concerts at local churches and retirement homes, and was a special guest on Tri-State Christian Television’s live show “Celebrate,” where she performed an original composition. When Tabitha began teaching at the young age of 15, she immediately fell in love with it as a career. After moving to Arizona to attend college, she continued giving piano lessons in students’ homes throughout the Phoenix metro area. During this time, she met her future husband, Mike Kaminski, who was a keyboardist in a local Christian rock band. After 2 years of college-level training in classical piano performance, she took some time off from school to get married and focus on teaching fulltime. A year later, Tabitha and Mike founded KaminsKEYS Piano Studio (now called East Valley School of Music) and quickly grew the business from 20 students to 60 students in less than 2 years. During this time, they also became actively involved in the East Valley Music Teachers Association, participating and chairing various local events throughout the year. In the fall of 2008, Tabitha became a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) through the Music Teachers National Association. During the past years, Tabitha has been privileged to study under the tutelage of Dr. Judy Lively, Dr. Andrea Fennig, Dr. Walter Cosand, Professor Ashley Bradford, and Professor Ruth Yandell. She recently finished her Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance at Grand Canyon University under the instruction of Dr. Julie Harvey, and graduated in the spring of 2013. Click here for Tabitha’s full resume.
Mike Kaminski – PianoMike Kaminski is a native Arizonan who began playing piano when he was 10 years old. When he was first learning to improvise at 13, he knew he wanted to play piano the rest of his life. From 1998 to 2006, Mike spent many weeks improvising on the piano in churches and playing keyboards with his former band, Rezound. Mike has traveled around the country and even as far as India performing with Rezound. In addition to improvising and performing, he continued taking classical lessons up through college at ASU. He later decided to pursue a degree in accounting through the W.P. Carey business school at ASU. Mike graduated with honors in 2006. Also in 2006, Mike founded KaminsKEYS Piano Studio (now called East Valley School of Music) with his wife, Tabitha, where he spends much of his time heading EVSM and teaching with his wife. He wrote two books in 2007, the KaminsKEYS Book of Chords and the KaminsKEYS Book of Scales. In addition to teaching, Mike is the President of the East Valley Music Teachers’ Association and is currently offering his services at SonicPhish recording studio, where he stays up-to-date recording keyboards and composing songs for studio clients. The studio is operated by Ken Mary, a world-class drummer and first-class producer and sound engineer. Click here for Mike’s full resume.
Curtis Sebren – Woodwinds Clarinet, Flute, SaxophoneCurtis Sebren received his Bachelors of Music in performance from the University of Central Arkansas in 2010 and his Masters degree in clarinet performance from Arizona State University in 2013. He is currently working on a doctorate in clarinet performance at Arizona State University and is on the teaching assistants for the clarinet studio. He has studied with and performed in master classes for Robert Spring, Joshua Gardner, Kelly Johnson, Nophachai Cholthitchanta, William O. Smith, Eric Mandat, Deborah Bish, Alcides Rodrigues, Eddy Vanoosthuyse, Frank Kowalski, and many others. As an active performer, Curtis has performed in several countries, including solo and chamber performances in Shanghai and Belgium. He also performs with ensembles around the valley including the Arizona Pro Arte ensemble and the Arizona Contemporary Music Ensemble. In the past, he has performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Conway Symphony Orchestra, and the Pin Bluff Symphony Orchestra, as well as several other orchestras and ensembles in Arkansas and Arizona. In 2012, he presented a solo recital tour in Arkansas, including a performance in the Under the Dome concert series in Conway, Arkansas. In addition, he recorded supplemental recordings with Bruce Pearson for the Bb clarinet, and alto clarinet editions of Traditions of Excellence, Book 3 in 2014. In addition to teaching at East Valley School of Music, Curtis also helps teach undergraduate music majors at Arizona State University and the clarinet portion of the Woodwind Methods course as part of his teaching assistantship. He is passionate about helping students of all ages discover their potential on their chosen musical instrument. Though his main instrument is clarinet, he also has experience playing and teaching flute and saxophone. Click here for Curtis’ full resume.
Micah Ramchandani – Violin/Viola/CelloFrom Conway, Arkansas, Micah Ramchandani is a violinist and pianist currently finishing his doctorate of musical arts in violin performance at Arizona State University. He started the piano at the age of six, and the violin at the age of twelve. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education with an emphasis on strings education, and a master’s degree in violin performance from Arizona State University, where he studied with his current teacher, Dr. Katherine McLin. A frequent performer, he has much orchestral experience from his Arkansas years to his Arizona years, having been a member of Conway Symphony, Arkansas Symphony, Pine Bluff Symphony, West Valley Symphony, Symphony of the Southwest, and Musica Nova orchestras. In addition to these, he has performed four times with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, two concerts with the East China Normal University orchestra, sixteen concerts with the Round Top Festival Orchestra, and has served as a guest concertmaster for a few various orchestras in the valley and in Arkansas. Micah is also a soloist, and has performed solo with a couple of orchestras, including the Harding University Symphony Orchestra where he played the Bach Double Concerto. With several solo recitals given, he has covered a wide range of the violin repertoire from Baroque standards to very modern repertoire, and is currently specializing in modern repertoire such as the latest works by Krzysztof Penderecki. Besides performing, he has been teaching for almost ten years, and has found much reward in inspiring students to love and play music. Click here for Micah’s full resume.
Bill Clay – GuitarBill Clay is an active music teacher, composer, and guitarist. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Music Composition from Arizona State University and a Masters Degree in Music Composition from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance in Kansas City, Missouri. He has also studied guitar at the postgraduate level with Douglas Niedt at the UMKC. Bill has been teaching for over ten years. He has also performed his own compositions and presented original musicological research and analysis on popular music around the country. His composition Music Box is published in the SCI Journal of Music Scores, and Bill’s original research will be featured in two articles in ABC-CLIO’s exciting upcoming publication, The 100 Greatest Rock Bands. Bill currently teaches general music at ASU Preparatory Academy’s Polytechnic Middle School STEM Academy and music appreciation at ASU Preparatory’s Polytechnic High School. Click here for Bill’s full resume.
Simone Mancuso – PercussionSimone Mancuso, percussionst and conductor, was born and raised in Italy. He has been internationally recognized for his interpretations of contemporary classical pieces with prizes including the Kranichstein-Stipendienpreise from the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt in 2002 and the First Pirize from Stockhausen Stiftung f ü r Music in 2005, which was awarded to Mancuso directly by Karlheinz Stockhausen. In 2007, Karlheinz Stockhausen selected him as a recommended performer of his works. His career as a soloist has taken him throughout Japan, Russia, Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States. He has performed in such prestigious venues and festivals as the Kennedy Center, Blues Alley, Strathmore Hall, the Martha Argerich Project, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, ISCM World New Music Days, Internationale Ferienkurse f ü r Neue Music Darmstadt, RAI Radio Tre, Teatro Nacional of Brazil, and the Moscow Conservatory, among others. As a soloist, he has appeared with the Basel Sinfonietta, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, SONUS Ensemble, and Orchestra da Camera Ungherese under the baton of Alexander Rabinovitch-Barakovsky, Johannes Kalitzke, Giorgio Bernasconi, Denise Fedeli, and Diego Fasolis. He has collaborated with composers including Karlheinz Stockhausen, Salvatore Sciarrino, Klaus Huber, Chaya, Czernowin, Edoardo Soto-Milan, Rudolf Kelterborn, Adriana H ö lsky, Giovanni Damiani and Glenn Hackbarth among others. In a chamber music setting, he has performed and recorded with celebrated pianists such as Martha Argerich, Gabriele Baldocci and Giorgia Tomassi. Mancuso’s critically acclaimed, internationally released recordings can be heart on Deutsche Grammophon, Stradivarius, Col Legno, Curva Minore, Suisse Grammont Portrait, and Chelandia. His solo CD La Parala al Legno features the world premiere recording of Il Legno e la Parola for solo marimba by Salvatore Sciarrino. His second solo CD is entirely dedicated to John Cage and features the world premiere recording of Variations VIII . He is the founding member of the Swiss-based Lugano Percussion Group, the jazz/classical crossover duo Mancuso-Suzda Project, and the Sonus Duo with renowned saxophonist Timothy McAllister. Since 2009 he has collaborated with the Phoenix-based ensemble, Crossing 32nd Street. As a conductor, he recently toured with his New York based trio Ensemble Nomade where he conducted Stravinsky Histoire du Sol dat at the Martha Argerich Festivals in Japan and Switzerland. For this project Ensemble Nomade was paired with the members of the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Saito Kinen Orchestra, Tokyo University (Japan) and the Swiss Radio Orchestra. Currently, Mancuso lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where he is an Adjunct Professor of Percussion, Director of the Arizona Contemporary Music Festival at Arizona State Unversity. He holds a Conservatory Diploma in Percussion from the Conservatorio A. Scontrino in Trapani, Italy, where he studied with Professor Fulvia Ricevuto. He also received the Solisten Diplom from the University School of Music of Lugano, Switzerland where he studied with Professor Mircea Ardeleanu. The Solisten Diplom is only given four times per year, and Mancuso was the first percussionist ever to receive this recognition. Click here for Simone’s full resume.
Cheyne Fehser – GuitarCheyne Fehser is a performer and educator with over a decade of professional experience. Most recently he taught music ensemble courses at Arizona State University as a Faculty Associate. He is currently working on his doctoral degree in classical guitar performance at Arizona State University, where he also graduated Summa Cum Laude with a M.M. and B.M. in classical guitar performance. Cheyne has given multiple performances throughout the valley at venues such as Tempe Center for the Arts and the Musical Instrument Museum. Additionally, he has performed in master classes with David Russell, Scott Tennant, Pavel Steidl, Carlos Bonell, the Santa Fe Guitar Quartet, Dale Kavanagh, Raphaella Smits, and Roland Dyens. Throughout his studies Cheyne has been the recipient of multiple awards and scholarships including the ASU Special Talent Award and the Richard and Babette Burns Guitar Scholarship. While Cheyne has a passion for classical music he also has a love for many other genres and enjoys playing Gypsy Jazz, Funk, Blues, and even Rock. Cheyne’s philosophy for teaching is to challenge students while making difficult and intimidating concepts fun Click here for Cheyne’s full resume.
Holly Johnson – Little Pianist InstructorHolly Johnson has over a decade of experience in musical studies such as technique, artistry, theory and performance. She also has experience in writing her own original compositions. Her musical training has been with both Mike and Tabitha Kaminski. Under their instruction she discovered a passion to be a teacher herself and she has been teaching at EVSM since 2015. Holly is currently attending college pursuing a degree in music education. She adores working with children and sharing the gift of music with them and their families. She introduces each of her students to technique, early theory concepts and performance skills. Her teaching techniques involve a variety of musical games and activities. Games enforce note recognition, rhythmic patterns and elements of theory. Such games are engaging and educational while being fun and rewarding for the students. Holly’s goal is to give each of her students a firm foundation in all the basic areas of piano. It gives her great joy to see a child grow and progress as a young musician.
Aida Olarte – Piano
Aida Olarte, a native of Colombia, is a doctoral student in Collaborative Piano at Arizona State University with Russell Ryan. Aida earned her Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from Duquesne University in the piano class of Natasha Snitkovsky, as well as a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Duquesne University, where she was one of the piano faculty at the City Music Center.
Also, She was the music director for Hebron Presbyterian Church (Clinton, PA) for about five years. Aida was the choir director as well as the pianist for the church.
In 2016, she received a full fellowship award to pursue an Advanced Music Studies Certificate for the Collaborative Piano Program at Carnegie Mellon University. Additionally, she was selected to be one of the Resident Artist Pianist, for the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh Summer festival.
She earned an Associate in Arts from Miami Dade College (Miami, FL). She has served as an accompanist for the Percussion Ensemble at Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA), Symphony Orchestra at Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA), Wind Symphony at Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA), Coro Latino Americano (Pittsburgh, PA), Undercroft Opera (Pittsburgh, PA) and went on tour with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra (USA).
In 2013, she was a finalist in the 2014 Women’s Advisory Board Competition.
She is also a member of the National Music Honor Society Pi Kappa Lambda.
Aida was a soloist of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Cundinamarca (Bogotá, Colombia) and in 2015 with Orquesta Filarmónica de Cali (Cali, Colombia). She has also participated in master classes coached by outstanding pianists such as Barbara Nissman, Eugene Alcalay, Christopher Guzman, David Allen Wehr, Mark Zeltser, Jae Hwang.
Aida is passionate about helping students develop enthusiasm for playing piano, teaching them to respect their teachers and peers, and cultivating a genuine and long lasting love for music. She has learned that compassion, communication, and encouragement are just as essential to imparting musical knowledge as technical skill.Click here for Aida’s full resume.
Jameson Staley – PianoJameson Staley has been playing piano for twelve years and teaching music in public schools for seven years in Tennessee and Arizona. He received his dual Bachelor of Music degree in Music and Education and Commercial Music with an emphasis in Composition and Arranging from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where his primary instrument was voice. He currently teaches four choral ensembles as well as beginning and intermediate guitar at Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona. Before moving to Arizona, Jameson taught middle and high school choir, music theory, and general music, incorporating piano and guitar into his curriculum. Additionally, Jameson has served as music director or pit orchestra conductor for high school productions of Les Miserables, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, and Footloose. He holds membership in the National Association for Music Education and the Arizona Music Educators Association. Growing up in home with two parents who played piano in church and an older brother who played guitar, Jameson developed a passion for music very early. While building his aural skills by improvising vocal harmonies in church and learning favorite rock songs on guitar and bass by ear, he also learned to read music and was introduced to music theory through participation in school music ensembles and classes. In high school, Jameson played bass guitar and was lead singer of a rock band, where he gained experience writing songs and experimenting with the various elements of music. In college, he further developed these skills through the study of composition and arranging. During his time at Belmont University, Jameson wrote arrangements and transcriptions that were performed by various ensembles including choirs, the vocal jazz ensemble, the symphony orchestra, and the contemporary a cappella group. After college, Jameson spent several years singing with the Nashville Chamber Singers, a respected ensemble that includes many current and former music educators and performs everything from Renaissance music to contemporary choral compositions. As a teacher and performer, some of Jameson’s greatest interests are music theory and aural skills. He loves transcribing music by ear and reharmonizing familiar melodies with new and interesting chord progressions. He strongly believes that an understanding of music theory and aural skills will help each student better understand and appreciate the music they study and, as a result, perform it more musically. Jameson’s musical interests include everything from classical to jazz, rock, and gospel. He strongly believes that students should study and perform a wide variety of music from various styles and time periods to reap the musical benefits that each unique form of expression offers. Click here for Jameson’s full resume.
Rosa LoGiudice – PianoRosa LoGiudice is a doctoral student in Collaborative Piano at Arizona State University studying with Dr. Andrew Campbell. Rosa earned her Master of Music in Collaborative Piano in June 2015 at University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied with Robert Koenig and Natasha Kislenko. Previously, Rosa attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Portland State University, and Hunter College in New York City, where she earned a dual Bachelor and Master of Arts degree in Piano Performance in January 2003. While living in New York, Rosa studied piano with Dorothy Taubman and John Bloomfield. Rosa has over 20 years of teaching experience. She began teaching in Maui, Hawaii, in 1994-1996 at the Maui Music Conservatory where she assisted and taught with Ruth Murata-Eisen for group keyboard classes in the Yamaha method. Rosa also gave private lessons and her students performed in recitals presented by the conservatory twice per year. Rosa also taught the Suzuki and traditional piano methods at Andy’s Family Music Center in Livingston, New Jersey from 1999-2002 while earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at Hunter College. She taught varying ages and levels, and her students participated in twice yearly recitals. Rosa received Suzuki teacher training for all seven levels. Rosa moved to Thousand Oaks, California in 2003. She established her own private teaching studio which she maintained the entire time she lived in southern California, from 2003-2016. She taught all ages and levels from four years old to high school seniors. Her students participated in her studio recitals twice a year, in the Southern California Junior Bach festival where they received honors, and in the state sponsored Certificate of Merit program for theory and performance evaluations. Her students were awarded honors every year they participated in this program. In addition to teaching Rosa is also an experienced performer as a collaborative pianist. She accompanied singers and instrumentalists for her undergraduate career and performed with chamber music groups. While pursuing her teaching career in southern California from 2003-2016 Rosa frequently performed with singers, instrumentalists, and in chamber groups in concerts with the Santa Barbara Music Club. She also performed at least once a year at the Glendale Noon Concert Series, where she is a founding member with her frequent violin performing partner Jacqueline Suzuki. Rosa was staff pianist and assistant director for the choral department at Newbury Park High School from 2005-2013. She rehearsed and performed with all the choirs, led rehearsals when the teacher was absent, and was substitute teacher for music theory and music appreciation classes at the high school. She also coached singers individually on classical and musical theater solos for the school concerts. Rosa was awarded a teaching assistantship in accompanying at UC Santa Barbara from 2013-2015 while earning her master’s degree. She accompanied vocal and instrumental students in their lessons and recitals, and played for the university choirs. She was an orchestral pianist with the wind ensemble and chamber orchestra. Rosa is committed to teaching and helping students find their own passion for music. Her goal is to inspire her students to discover the joy of performing both as soloists and with other musicians. Click here for Rosa’s full resume.
Ellen Sassano – PianoEllen Sassano, granted Nationally Certified Teacher of Music status by Music Teachers National Association, began piano lessons at age 6 when her first teacher declared: “She’s a natural!” In high school she was chosen to participate in the National Musicians’ League competitions at Carnegie Hall in New York City. As a music major, she obtained her B.S. in Music Education, piano concentration, with certification for grades K-12, from Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. After marriage to her college sweetheart, she continued her passion for the piano by opening a private piano studio in Connecticut where she accompanied numerous adult and children’s community choral groups in classical, popular, and sacred repertoire. Furthering her piano proficiency, she studied under Burton Hathaway of Fairfield, Connecticut. Upon moving to Arizona, she transferred her MTNA membership to East Valley Music Teachers Association, serving as treasurer, president, Certification Chair, and Music Showcase Chair. She also served as state Certification Chair. Ellen was the 2007 national recipient of the Piano Technician’s Guild Certified Teacher of the Year, which provided the opportunity to further her piano technique and knowledge of repertoire with Frances Kaspar, MA, NCT of Mesa, Arizona and she is now permanently certified by MTNA. Over the years Ellen has publically performed at many community and church events on the piano and organ as featured soloist, duettist, and accompanist and is a long-time member of her adult church choir and directed the children’s choir for 10 years. Ellen’s husband passed away in 2014 after a cancer diagnosis and currently shares her Chandler home with two very spoiled cats, Mozart and Treble. Ellen first began teaching at East Valley School of Music in January 2012. Click here for Ellen’s full resume.
Nick Medlock – GuitarNick Medlock has had a love of music since his first rainbow xylophone at the age of 3. When his parents got a piano in his house at age 6, he couldn’t stop playing it. Both of his parents were naturally gifted in music, and, as a child, Nick took every opportunity to make as much music as he could on many different instruments. His first paying performance came when his middle school jazz band director hired him on trombone to perform in the youth band. There he learned many skills about performing and improvising, and he even met some of his future high school music teachers. Nick attended North High School for 3 and a half years taking group guitar, and he performed in marching, symphonic, and jazz bands. He transferred to Arizona School for the Arts and was awarded scholarships for private Guitar from ASU professor Charles Houlihan and private trombone from Kim Ohlemeyer of the Phoenix Symphony. Arizona School for the Arts also awarded him with the honored John Philips Sousa Award in 1998. Nick’s teaching career started immediately after graduating from high school in 1998, and he has been a full-time teacher since 2001. Nick has never lost the desire to perform; he continues to play bands in various styles of music to stay active. Ever the book worm, Nick is also the head of worship and youth minister of Living Stones Christian Church. Click here for Nick’s full resume.
Mac Christensen – PianoMac Christensen began playing his family piano at the age of four, and began taking lessons at age five. He received his B.M. in Piano Performance from Brigham Young University, where he studied with Dr. Richard Anderson. His studies there included experience as an independent piano teacher and tutor. One of his favorite experiences was accompanying the French diction lab for vocalists. He was also a tenor in the BYU Concert Choir. Mac is currently pursuing a master’s degree in music therapy at ASU. He believes that music has fundamental power to promote wellness and quality of life. He is also gaining experience working with children with autism and other disabilities through his clinical work. Mac had a stretch from when he was 9 to about 13 when he wanted to quit piano. It wasn’t until he started playing Chopin that he fell in love with piano again. Due to that experience, he is committed to helping students not only build fundamental skills like sight-reading and technique but also find ways to love music so that it can become an important part of their life. There is nothing more rewarding to him than seeing a student progress from week to week and find joy in music and the same instrument that he loves. Click here for Mac’s full resume.
Tyler Schoep – Guitar & Piano
Tyler Schoep is a singer, songwriter, and music instructor from Montevideo, MN. He began taking piano lessons when he was six years old and continued until he was thirteen. From that age through college he sang in various functions, namely choirs and bands.
Tyler continued his education at Southwest Minnesota State University. There, he studied piano with Dr. Daniel Rieppel, voice with Dr. Stephen Kingsbury, and guitar and Composition with Dr. Peter Lothringer. Completing his Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory/Composition in Spring of 2015, Tyler has discovered a passion for teaching and developing musical appreciation and ambition in his students. His rounded approach to music in studying a wide array of instruments has given him exposure to a useful array of experience. He’s accompanied jazz ensembles, orchestra, and has sung solos for choirs.
Tyler now lives in Mesa, AZ with his wife and is pursuing songwriting, classical composition, and teaching. His warm demeanor allows for his students to grow comfortable quickly and begin to shape their own goals with his direction. His teaching philosophy is to assist the student in discovering what they want to get out of their training and helping them to achieve those goals. He believes that music should be developed as a passion, but that it requires study of technique, theory, and repertoire.Click here for Tyler’s full resume.
Ryan Borden – Percussion
Ryan Borden is a percussionist and music educator from Chicago. He is the current principal percussionist of the Missouri Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra (KY), and the Enid Symphony Orchestra (OK). In graduate school, he was the winner of the 2010 University of Missouri concerto competition where he performed Andrew Beall’s Affirmation: Concerto for Solo Percussion and Orchestra.
In addition to his orchestral credits, Ryan has a passion for new compositions and improvised music and has performed at the Mizzou International Composers Festival, Indiana University’s Hammer & Nail, the ISIM conference, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. He has premiered works by Stefan Freund, Grant Fonda, Anna Krause, Stephanie Berg, and Kevin Hartnett, and participated in workshops with composers Martin Bresnick, Donnacha Dennehey, Steven Stuckey, and Pulitzer Prize winner Roger Reynolds.
Ryan’s teaching experience spans all grades and skill levels, including adjunct faculty of music at the University of Missouri, and he has been instructing privately, coaching percussion ensemble, and teaching drum lines and front ensembles for over ten years in five states. He earned degrees in music performance from Illinois State University and the University of Missouri where he studied with Dr. David Collier and Dr. Julia Gaines, respectively. Prior to college he studied with Grammy award winning drummer, percussionist, and composer Glen Kotche of the band Wilco, and the late founder of L.e.a.P and Evolution Indoor Percussion, Jeff Hoke.
When not making music Ryan enjoys his time cooking, hiking, doing yoga, reading, and trying to make DIY percussion instruments.Click here for Ryan’s full resume.
Elliot Yang – Cello
Since making his solo orchestral debut at age 18 with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Cellist Elliot Yang has had a distinguished career as soloist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. Mr. Yang’s performances have been on concert stages ranging from Vienna’s Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Prague’s Dvorak Hall, Overture Hall, and Uihlein Hall. Mr. Yang has made appearances with both the Milwaukee and Madison Symphonies performing the Elgar and Shostakovich Concertos respectively. His performances have been heard on Wisconsin Public Radio and Television. In 2012, he was the featured artist in Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s Concerts on the Square series.
Awards include top prizes in the Final Forte: Bolz Young Artist Competition, Milwaukee Symphony Young Artists’ Competition, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition, Second prize in Vienna Konzerthaus’ Summa Cum Laude International Festival, and first prize in the WI ASTA competition.
In addition to solo performances, Mr. Yang has held teaching positions with Peabody’s Preparatory Program, Baltimore Symphony Orch Kids, and the East Valley School of Music. In addition, he has participated in the Chautauqua, Green Mountain, and Madeline Island music festivals. Mr. Yang has also served principal cello positions with the Peabody Concert and Symphony Orchestras.
Mr. Yang is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he received the Grace Clagett Ranney Prize in Chamber Music. He is proud to acknowledge his teachers Amit Peled and Stefan Kartman. He has studied chamber music with members of the Peabody and Kneisel Trios and the Ying, Arianna, and Jupiter String Quartets. He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Cello Performance at Arizona State University with Thomas Landschoot.
Steve Martin – Brass
Steve Martin, originally from Mounds View, Minnesota, attended St. Olaf College and Bemidji State University for his undergraduate studies where he earned his BA. He is currently completing his MM at Arizona State University. He has studied under Bob Dorer, Martin Hodel, Charles Lazarus, Del Lyren, and David Hickman.
Steve is an active freelance musician, he has performed with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, Steve Smith, Graham Breedlove, The Phoenix Chamber Brass, local theater companies, and has toured with La Chica Cumbia. Before moving to Arizona, he performed regularly with the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra and the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra. Steve also performed as a featured soloist with various ensembles throughout Minnesota, performing works by Handel, Tartini, Telemann, and Vivaldi.
Steve believes that private lessons are a great and fun way to keep students interested and engaged in music while preparing them for the rigors of the upcoming year.Click here for Steve’s full resume.
Denise Deutchman – Piano
Denise Deutchman has had a passion for music since she was 6 years old and started playing the accordion – which was almost bigger than she was! In sixth grade, Denise started studying clarinet, and in eighth grade she started studying classical piano. Initially, Denise wanted to learn piano so she could play duets with her best friend, but piano soon turned into the one music passion that stayed with her. In tenth grade, wanting very badly to play in the school musical, Denise started playing alto saxophone because that was the only position open for the musical. Learning also saxophone resulted in a love for jazz, which led to Denise’s college degree of Bachelors of Music Education, majoring in jazz saxophone with a minor in piano. Although Denise had a career in Information Technology, she taught piano private lessons and played keyboard and piano for various churches around the country in her extra time. Now retired, Denise is again looking to help others learn the passion for music that has always been with her.Click here for Denise’s full resume.
Natalie Gallatin – Woodwinds
Natalie Gallatin is currently completing a double major at Arizona State University for Jazz Performance in Saxophone and teaching certificate in Music Education. Natalie has played across the valley in the Glendale Community College big band from 2013-2015 and had the privilege of playing with famous saxophonist, Seamus Blake, as well as composer and performer Michael Abene while attending GCC. During her time at GCC, Natalie also played with the concert band under the direction of Bill Humbert, a well-known band teacher across the valley. Originally, Natalie started playing flute and then transitioned to saxophone, where she became interested in jazz and has studied it since middle school while continuing lessons for flute up until her second year of high school. Currently, Natalie is playing in the Concert Jazz Band at ASU under the direction of jazz pianist, Michael Kocour and also performs in a jazz combo under the direction of guitarist, Jeff Libman. Along with the ensembles at ASU, Natalie has played with Paradise Valley Community College’s little big band under the direction of Adam Roberts, and in a combo at Scottsdale Community College with Justin Brotman. Ms. Gallatin is very passionate about teaching and has completed two internships with different schools across the valley through ASU. Last year Natalie was the woodwind tech for Thunderbird High School Marching Band and will be returning this fall to conduct a few masterclasses. Natalie has taught private lessons since high school and has had a steady private student for over a year now and is looking forward to teaching more through EVSM.
Zach Jones – Piano
Zach Jones is a composer, pianist, drummer, guitarist, educator, and published scholar from Bethlehem, PA. As a composer, he likes to create an emotional musical experience similar to his own experiences of classical, film, and ambient rock music. Starting out as a rock transcriber and songwriter in high school, Zach has since explored composing acoustic and electronic concert music, incidental music for theatre, and short film scores including virtual reality films. As a composition fellow, his music has been premiered at the nief-norf Summer Festival in Tennessee, Cortona Sessions for New Music in Tuscany, and Atlantic Music Festival in Maine.
Zach has also presented at regional, national, and international conferences since college and has premiered his piano music in Sweden, Italy, and across the United States. He holds degrees from Lafayette College, where he was a Marquis Scholar, EXCEL Scholar, and Phi Beta Kappa inductee, and Arizona State University, where he was a teaching assistant for music theory and treasurer for Arizona State’s chapter of the Society of Composers, Inc. His composition teachers included Rodney Rogers, Kirk O’Riordan, Jody Rockmaker, and Robert Paterson, and his piano teachers were Peter Carpenter and Anna Maria Marzullo.
Through his many years of piano training, Zach learned to value creativity and expressivity over flashiness. By focusing on creating and expressing, he finds music-making and performing more rewarding and self-fulfilling. He aims to inspire his students to express themselves, achieve meaningful performances, and create lasting connections with music.
Aside from musicking, Zach likes to stay active, travel, and watch hockey to beat the desert heat.Click here for Zach’s full resume.
Lisa Blasi – Voice/Piano
A New York Native, Lisa Blasi moved to the Valley of the Sun to study Music at Arizona State University where she completed her Undergraduate and Graduate degrees in Music Education. Lisa also received all three levels of Orff training at ASU. She has had the privilege of teaching K-12th Grade Music in various school settings throughout Arizona. She has studied voice privately with well-renowned faculty at ASU and throughout the East Valley for 10 years. Lisa has also studied piano privately for 10+ years. In the fall, she will begin pursuing her Doctoral Degree in Choral Conducting at Arizona State University. In her spare time, Lisa loves getting to perform in music theater productions, singing jazz, and writing and playing her own arrangements on the piano. One of the greatest joys Lisa gets is to share her love of music with students of all ages. Her goal is to develop a deep appreciation and knowledge of musical skills in each of her students with the hope that they will continue an active involvement in music for the rest of their lives.Click here for Lisa’s full resume.
Kasandra Krause – Little Pianist
Kasandra Krause is an Arizona native who recently moved back after living on the east coast and working in New York for Universal Music Group. Before that, she was the co-owner of Rockasorri Music (a Montessori-inspired program that inspires the love for music at a young age) and taught piano at Waterfront Montessori.
She has the desire to connect and share her love for music with students of diverse backgrounds. Kasandra has extensive experience with students from the ages of 6 months up to 6 years old. She first started teaching piano to elementary school students through the Kyrene school district. Piano has been the building foundation in her continuous love for music and its form of expression. Her love for children and having been a young student once herself, allows her to see the importance in making music not only a learning experience, but a fun and exciting one as well! Kasandra also understands that every student has a different learning style and that it is important to be intuitive to the needs of the child while engaging them.
In her spare time, Kasandra also works on her own music as she is a singer/songwriter and spent time performing in New York with her band. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Humanities with an emphasis in multi-cultural awareness from Northern Arizona University. Kasandra is excited to join Easy Valley School of Music as a Little Pianist teacher!Click here for Kasandra’s full resume.
Katherine Thilakaratne – Voice
Soprano Dr. Katherine Thilakaratne received her degree in vocal performance at Arizona State University. Recent performances include Die Zauberflöte (First Lady) with the Landesbühnen Sachsen-Germany, Owen Wingrave (Mrs. Coyle) and Le Nozze di Figaro (Marcellina) with Arizona State Lyric Opera Theater, and L’enfant et les Sortilèges (La Bergère) with Wichita State Opera Theater. Katherine also sang the title role in the world premiere of James DeMars’ opera Guadalupe. She has appeared in recitals across the United States, Mexico, Italy, and Germany. In addition to being an avid performer, Katherine has taught both at West Valley Music Studio, Milano’s Music Studio, RLS Music Studio, and as a Teaching Assistant at Arizona State University. She holds an MM/Opera Performance (Arizona State University), and a BM/Voice (Wichita State University).Click here for Katherine’s full resume.
Amanda Kim – Voice/Piano
Atlanta native, Amanda Kim moved to Arizona State University where she started her Doctoral program in Vocal Performance and minor in Piano. Before ASU, Ms. Kim studied at West Virginia State University pursuing her doctorate program and transferred to ASU. She got her Master’s degree at The Boston Conservatory and Bachelor’s degree at Shorter College in Rome, GA. She was one of the member as a soloist at the Shorter Chorale, which is very well-known chorale in the southeast area.
At her institutions, Amanda continuously studied piano, conducting, and organ. She is also a successful accompanist, playing for many singers and instrumentalists. She has studied piano privately for more than 30 years, Organ more than 9 years, and conducting for 10 years.
Amanda also was in the junior high and high school band for 7 years playing Xylophone and piano. She was also in marching band.
Amanda just began her new school year as a vocal doctoral student at ASU. She loves to work with the kids and has a great amount of experience. She is very excited to be working at East Valley School of Music as a voice and piano instructor.Click here for Amanda’s full resume.
Nina Tahbaz – Piano
Nina Tahbaz, from Iran, began taking piano private lessons at the age of 12. After five years of playing Persian repertoire, she started studying western classical music and has been learning and performing ever since. Nina would compose and accompany for her school choir and she was given several prizes from Student Choir and Music Festival Competition during her high school years in her hometown, Tehran.
In 2010, Nina moved to the U.S. and has been living in Mesa with her husband and her children since then. In 2014 she completed the Beginning and Intermediate Piano Pedagogy Certificate as well as Associate in Arts Degree from Mesa Community College. Also, she pursued a Bachelor of Arts in piano from Arizona State University in 2016. Over these years, she studied solo piano with professor Ruth Yandell, Walter Cosand, Dani Shraibma and had collaborative piano lessons with Dr. Daian Baker and professor Russel Ryan. Also, she finished piano pedagogy courses with Dr. Radmila Stojanovic. In addition, she was a winner in Mesa Community College Piano Competition and Maricopa Community Colleges District Piano Competition.
Nina’s Piano Teaching experience goes back to 25 years ago when she was in Tehran. As a high school student, she used to substitute her piano teacher’s studio and teach her younger students. After that excellent opportunity, she considered teaching more seriously and decided to run her own piano studio which lasted for years. Since 2011, Nina reestablished her home- studio and has been a member of Music Teacher National Association, Arizona State Music Teacher Association and East Valley Music Teacher Association.Click here for Nina’s full resume.
Mary Cota – Piano
Born in the small town of Marion, Alabama, Mary moved to Birmingham at age 11 to attend the Alabama School of Fine Arts as a piano major. While living and studying at ASFA, she won awards in piano competitions from local to international levels, and competed in the national round of the Music Teachers National Association Competition. At the age of 15, she debuted with orchestra, performing Grieg Piano Concerto in A Minor.
Mary completed her Bachelors of Music Degree in Piano Performance at the University of Houston under pedagogue, Nancy Weems. She then went on to complete her Masters of Music in Collaborative Piano at Arizona State University under the tutelage of Dr. Andrew Campbell. Mary is currently a doctoral student in collaborative piano at ASU. She held the position of Collaborative Piano Teaching Assistant for four years there. Mary has participated and performed in summer festivals such as Brevard Music Center, International Institute for Young Musicians, New Orleans Piano Institute, Eastern Music Festival, Texas Music Festival, and Fresh Inc Festival.
Mary is a passionate teacher who champions the positive and far-reaching benefits music education has for all people, and places a special emphasis on collaborative piano. Her students have won highest honors in the Arizona Study Program Competition. She is an active performer and collaborator at ASU and in the greater Phoenix area, and is a regular commissioner of new works with the Rogue Trio – an innovative violin-saxophone-piano ensemble.Click here for Mary’s full resume.
Golnar Vazinpour – Little Pianist
Golnar Vazinpour has had a passionate and keen interest in music for as long as she remembers. She grew up in a family who was interested in all kinds of artistic expression, especially music. She knew from a very early age that she wanted to be a musician and piano teacher so she could share her knowledge and the impact of this art with others. She went to university in Iran, where she studied computer science. Since she was 10 years old, Golnar studied with Dr. Markarian and Dr. Clara from Russia. She has had distinguished careers as a solo/collaborative artist and as an instructor. She uses effective techniques to make lessons fun and enjoyable for her young students.
Golnar moved to the United States in 2014 and continued her passion in piano, studying solo piano with Dr. O’Brien at Scottsdale Community College and finishing a piano pedagogy course with Dr. Radmila Stojanovic. She also has appeared in a variety of concerts and recitals as a soloist in Iran and the United States.
In addition, Golnar was a winner of Maricopa Community Colleges competition. Nothing would give her more pleasure than to bring the joy that music has brought her to others. She is excited to be teaching at East Valley School of Music.Click here for Golnar’s full resume.
Mo Farag – Violin/Viola
American-born Egyptian violinist and composer Mohamed-Aly Farag (b. 1985) started his musical studies at the age of 5 in piano and violin at the Cairo Opera House in Cairo, Egypt. Mohamed-Aly moved to Canada to attend the University of Toronto where he completed his Bachelors degree in violin performance and musical composition and University of Western Ontario for the Masters degree in musical composition. A full time violinist in Cairo Symphony Orchestra from 2010 – 2017, he continues to compose and his works have been performed throughout Egypt, Europe and North America in various festivals, concerts and competitions. In the 2015-2016 season Mohamed-Aly had his orchestral composition debut with his Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, performed by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra with its prinicple fautist as soloist.Click here for Mo’s full resume.