Who We Are

Aimee Young Hopkins, M.A. and California Credentialed Teacher, has worked extensively in literacy and arts education since 1988. Originally from Rhode Island, Aimee achieved her B.A. Magna Cum Laude from Middlebury College in Vermont and her M.A. in Theatre from Trinity Rep Conservatory in Rhode Island. Holding both the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and the Crosscultural, Language and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate, Aimee received the prestigious “Golden Apple Award” from LA Unified School District in 2002. Aimee has taught English in Latin America and toured the U.S. as an Artist-in-Residence. Before settling in Los Angeles, she won First Place in Rhode Island’s NATS (National Association for Teachers of Singing) Vocal Competition and several honors at the Solo/Ensemble Competition for Vocal Music. Since coming to the west coast, Aimee has performed in musical theatre and in her own musical one-woman shows and original plays. With her company, Aimee Art Productions and with the Music Center of Los Angeles, Aimee continues to offer quality arts instruction at schools and non-profits throughout the Los Angeles area. She is passionate about using the arts as a tool to build literacy and self-esteem and about sharing her expertise with classroom teachers. (Program Director; Private Teacher – piano, voice; Teaching Artist – Music, Dance, Musical Theatre, Art)
Originally from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, pianist Nisha Arunasalam started music lessons at the age of 4, and began performing and touring soon after.
She was awarded the Licentiate Diploma of Trinity College London at the age of 14 and went on to graduate from Berklee College of Music.
Nisha has performed all over the world, including opening for artists like Al Jerreau, and currently shares the stage with The Three Irish Tenors. She has also done arranging and session work for the major recording studios in Los Angeles working with artists such as Korn, Richard Page, Eisley, Vinnie Colaiutta, and Luis Conte.
Nisha also plays the organ, violin, steel pans, and gamelan, and spends the rest of her time teaching, as well as working on various composing and arranging projects.
Naguine Bensimon Tree is a Los Angeles native with a penchant for all things health related. She has traveled much of the world, studying nutrition, cooking, dance, and yoga in the hopes of creating a new blueprint for simple living that unifies and distills the wisdom of the worlds’ cultures into an applicable format for each individual. Her training includes a B.A. in Spanish literature and cultural studies and biology from Occidental College, certification in Ayurvedic cooking and nutrition from the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and training in Macrobiotic cooking with the George Ohsawa Macrobiotics Foundation in Chico, California. She is a budding food grower, a plant medicine maker, an essential oil blender, and a passionate scientist. She has worked in food preparation, catering, as a cooking instructor, a personal chef and yoga teacher for private clients and families in Los Angeles, New York, Brazil and Argentina.
As the creator of her own cooking and nutrition education program, Happy Healthy Yummy, she has gained invaluable experience interacting with students, parents, teachers and administrators. Naguine has taught over 300 students in the past two and a half years alone, developed her own curriculum, including parent/child recipe books, and even created a bilingual English-Spanish cooking and cultural immersion program called ¡Que Delicioso! One of the most gratifying comments she continues to receive from parents and staff alike is that after participating in her classes, the students’ taste palates are greatly expanded and they are less picky than before. And so the Happy Healthy Yummy revolution goes on…
David’s unusual path began at age eighteen when he began learning songs by ear. He continued his studies at a top music school majoring in piano performance. David studied classical repertoire with Dr. Sandra Bostrom as well as classical theory, counterpoint and history. He also studied jazz standards with Terry Trotter and jazz improvisation and big band arranging with Ladd Mcintosh. For over twenty years David has performed regularly at many L.A. hotels including the Biltmore, the Midtown Hilton, the University Hilton and the Westin in Pasadena. David has also toured in Top 40 bands and accompanied dinner theater, and improv comedy groups. For the past six years, David has been participating in additional training with the Well Prepared Pianist Institute. Using specific study pieces, methodology and piano teams, David has made development of the wrist a central part of his teaching. Originated by Beethoven and passed on by oral tradition, these wrist gestures create specific tones and economy of motion, leading any student to develop artistry in piano playing. Forty years of playing and studying the piano has made David a truly unique teaching artist. (Private Teacher – piano)
Kara Durrett is originally from Dallas, TX where both of her parents are high school teachers. She attended American Musical and Dramatic Academy and received her 2-year certificate of completion. She then attended and graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and Minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. She has performed in a nation-wide anti-bullying campaign, served as teacher at The Atlantic Theater Company after school program for 3 years focusing in scene work, script writing, and Improvisation, and worked as a princess for New York Princess Parties for about 5 years. She loves working with kids and the excitement they bring to every project.
Jessica Gentes has received her B.A. in piano performance and choral education from CSU Stanislaus. She is now completing an additional A.A. degree in contemporary keyboard performance/production from Musician’s Institute in Hollywood. (Private Teacher – piano)
Kevin Holmes holds a M.M. degree in guitar performance from Cal State University Los Angeles and has attended the USC Thornton School of Music (Studio/Jazz guitar) for two years working towards a D.M.A. He has studied with many outstanding guitarists including Joe Diorio, Pat Kelley, Frank Potenza, Ted Greene, and Jean-Marc Belkadi. He currently teaches at the Chandler School in Pasadena and at the Marlborough Summer School program. As a contractor for Aimee Art Productions, Kevin has taught at the Los Feliz Charter School, and Franklin Elementary. In addition, he has instructed private lessons at the Los Angeles Music and Art School and guitar classes at Murchison Elementary and 32nd Street Arts Magnet School as part of the House of Blues music outreach program. Kevin also has a studio of private guitar students. (Private Teacher – guitar; Teaching Artist – Music)
Alina Hevia is a native of Miami, where she received a Bachelors of Music as well as a Bachelors of the Arts in English. She is a singer/songwriter and actress, and has been seen on stage and film in Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Washington State. Her teaching career began as a school teacher with Miami Dade County Public Schools, and she recently achieved Certification Level One with Music Together, a national music development program. She is delighted to join Aimee Art Productions, and gladly brings her passion for arts education to the West Coast. (Teaching Artist – Music, Theatre; Private Teacher – voice, guitar)
Laura Jean was born in Olympia, Washington, and has been playing music since the moment she could make noise. Originally focusing on the study of voice with a classical and jazz background, Laura Jean received her BFA in Vocal Performance from California Institute of the Arts, where she had the privilege to work with some of the best teachers in the country. After expanding musically, Laura Jean began to explore the world of guitar playing and composition, where she has found her true passion. Although based in Los Angeles, Laura Jean travels the country with sensation Jomama Jones as well as with her own original music with the project The Lady and stays involved with many different projects as a musician in salsa, MoTown, soul, country, jazz and folk bands . Laura Jean has performed in various groups in many admirable venues throughout the county including The Kirk Douglas and Red Cat Theatre (Los Angeles), Fifth Avenue Theatre and Experimental Music Project Museum (Seattle), Joe’s Pub (NYC), Salvage Vanguard Theatre and Mohawk (Austin), and Victory Gardens (Chicago). Laura Jean has taught voice, piano, songwriting and guitar since she was 17. She is enthusiastic about giving students the feeling that they can achieve anything they set their mind to. Her approach is tailored to the student’s desires at the same time as pushing for expansion and experience.
Michelle Hanley began studying dance at the Newport School of Ballet at age 19 in Newport, Oregon. She went on to minor in Dance at the University of Oregon, specializing in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Improvisation, and African Dance. Michelle auditioned for and was accepted into the University’s African Dance Troupe, performing at schools and community centers around Eugene from 1995-1998.
Michelle continued her dance education after college at the Stites Performing Arts Center in Portland, Oregon, receiving top-notch training from world-renowned instructors in Jazz, Modern, and Ballet. In 2000 Michelle was hired on as a Creative Movement teacher for children ages 3-12. The Performing Arts Center also gave Michelle an outlet for expressing herself through choreographing dance pieces for her students and performing as part of Modern, Jazz, and Hip-Hop ensembles. She was also given a forum for her own artistic interpretation, working along-side the studio owner, directing shows and designing costumes. Michelle’s enthusiasm and talent for working with children and sharing her love of dance, lead to her career development at a variety of Dance Institutions around Portland including teaching Ballet, Tap, and Hip-Hop to kids age 2-18 with KinderDance International; Ballet, Hip-Hop and Stretch to teens and adults at the East Portland Community Center; and Jazz and Hip-Hop to college students at the Mt. Hood Community College. Michelle currently lives in Hollywood and furthers her Jazz and Hip-Hop training at MaDonna Grimmes Dance Fitness Theatre and her Ballet technique at Edge Performing Arts Center. She also continues to incorporate her passion of teaching and dance at the local YMCA and various after-school enrichment programs, instructing kids 3-10 in Ballet, Tap, Hip-Hop, and Creative Movement, as well as Jazz, Hip-Hop, Beginning and Intermediate Ballet to adults of all ages.
Originally from St. Louis, Dave Johnstone moved to Los Angeles in 2000. Since that time he has worked with a wide range of artists, including The Dan Band, Aubrey Logan, Eden Espinosa, Mike Schmid, and The Running Jumps among many others. Dave has been seen performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Last Call with Carson Daly, Ellen, and NBC’s Last Comic Standing. He has played on many albums and film scores, including the score for the hit movie “Juno”. Dave is the drummer for the award-winning vocal jazz department at Mt. San Antonio College, with whom he had the honor of performing at the 2013 Monterey Jazz Festival, and also received a Downbeat Magazine award for their 2013 album, “Imagine.” (Teaching Artist – Music)
Ali Mandelbaum has been working with young people in Musical Theatre since 1996, from Pre-K to high school seniors. She received her Theatre training at the California Youth Theatre and later at the American Academy of Musical and Dramatic Arts in New York City. A native Los Angeleno, she has written and directed plays with young performers at the Marlborough Summer School, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Theatre of Hearts Youth First, Hollygrove Children’s Home, Willows Community School, and Franklin Avenue Elementary. Ali’s mission is to help young people have fun and learn through Theatre Arts. (Teaching Artist – Musical Theatre)
D.M. Osborne is among 500 yoga instructors nationwide who are certified to teach YogaEd, a curriculum that has been used by schools in 30 states, and that has been shown to improve academic performance and physical fitness. Prior to teaching yoga, D.M. enjoyed a career as a senior staff writer with national business and legal magazines. Growing up on the Florida Panhandle, Osborne studied ballet and apprenticed with Elvie S. DeMarko, an influential teacher who garnered Osborne a spot at New York’s Jaffrey School of Ballet. Osborne continued to study and perform dance at Hunter College in the City University of New York, where she obtained her BA. She went on to obtain a Masters of Science at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and began working as a magazine writer. In 2007, inspired by DeMarko’s positive influence on her own life, Osborne embarked on a new career as a children’s yoga teacher, hoping to have a similarly beneficial impact on the physical and emotional well-being of children and young adults. She lives in Hollywood with her husband, Donald Brown, and their two teenage children, Anna and Lewis.
Mrs. Jasmine is an international vocalist, sound and theatre artist with a Berkeley degree in world theatrical traditions and music. Over the past15 years, her vocal research has led to residencies and performances throughout the world. Since returning to the USA in 2007, she has completed a national theatrical tour of a one-woman, eight, multi-ethnic character show about racial diversity in America; she has performed at the majority of commercial and underground concert venues, as well as galleries and festivals in Los Angeles as a bunraku puppeteer, vocalist and musician, as well as recorded and broadcast with popular musicians from groups/artists such as Devo, Rickie Lee Jones and Willie Nelson to name a few. Aside that Ms. Orpilla has won a number of artistic grants from the cities of Los Angeles and Pasadena, she offers leadership to the community as a teaching artist for various award-winning, not-for-profit organizations such as the Skirball Cultural Center (master trainer in percussion) Inside Out Community Arts, Venice (site artist/director), and 24th Street Theatre (actor, ESR teaching artist), with Debbie Devine, in collaboration with Jack Black. In July 2009, Mrs. Jasmine was selected to participate in a highly competitive, year-long commitment with the Music Center, Los Angeles, to create her own curriculum based on her particular background in intercultural artistic exchange. She has most recently performed on the mainstage of the TED 2011 Conference.
Eric Layer received his BFA in Acting/Original works at the Cornish College of the Arts. Since then he has formed the theatre company Piece of Meat, and the film production company Magic Beans Productions. Their first short, The Second Death, played in several prestigious festivals across the country. He is a recent finalist in the PEN Center’s Emerging Voices program, which mentors up-an-coming writers. He has also directed music videos, pilots, and short films.
Caitlin Lainoff graduated with her masters from CalArts in 2008 with a focus in scenic design and puppetry. Since then, she has been teaching at Plaza de la Raza, where she co-heads a puppetry program, Franklin Avenue Elementary School, where she taught a hand puppet workshop, and at Larchmont Charter School’s after school program, where she teaches art. Caitlin also toured Le Petit Macabre, the puppet opera she created, at the Great Small Works International Toy Theater Festival and the Puppet Shows at Santa Monica Museum of Art. Caitlin also works as a freelance scenic designer. Recently, she had her Philadelphia premiere designing Psalms of a Questionable Nature with the Nice People Theatre Company. You can find her at California State University Northridge this semester teaching scenic design.
Sarah Peters has been performing since 1996 and has been an early childhood educator since 2003. She received her BA in Theatre Acting/Directing from Mesa State College in Colorado, where she also studied music and dance, and spent several years in Chicago working as a theatre actor. In January 2003, she completed the Music Together teacher training and began teaching early childhood music around town, including at the Old Town School of Folk Music, where she learned to play guitar and first discovered capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art. In July 2004, she studied classical acting techniques with the British AmericanDrama Academy in Oxford, UK. She is a founding member of Song Weavers, an acapella song/chant group that has performed in Sebastapol, CA, New York City,and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Sarah has been teaching Music Together in LA since she moved here in July 2005 and began developing and teaching World Citizen Baby, a multilingual, multicultural music and movement class for infants to 4 year olds and the adults who love them, in January 2007. Sarah playsguitar, bodhran (an Irish frame drum), flute, banjo, berimbau (anAfro-Brazilian instrument) and djembe and brings a passion for creating a global community to her performance and teaching. Sarah’s cd Rest My Love, a collection of lullabies from around the world, is available on at http://cdbaby.com/cd/sarahpeters or on iTunes.
Born in Paraguay, Madeleine Zygarewicz grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where her appreciation of art and books was fostered at an early age. She received her BA in Book Arts at Mills College in 2000. Shortly after, she had a residency at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany to print a collaborative artist book, Body of Text. Her work can be found in special collections around the country and has been exhibited internationally. Printmaking in particular, has captivated Madeleine Zygarewicz for over 13 years, cranking presses throughout the country and abroad. Inspired by the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, she established her imprint Panorama Press, (www.thepanoramapress.com) offering a wide survey of printed matter ranging from limited edition art prints, artist books, as well as greeting cards, posters, invitations. She also teaches art classes at Oakwood School, the International Printing Museum and the Irvine Fine Arts Center. Madeleine’s day is not complete, without cranking the press once and getting her hands inky. She loves sharing her passion for art with students of all ages and abilities.
Dana Maman was born in Tel Aviv Israel, to immigrant parent of Moroccan and Persian decent. She started her involvement with music at the age of six with the violin, learning classical music and musicianship in the Catherin Luis Music Conservatory in Tel Aviv. Maman learned the violin for 13 years, traveling to England, Germany, and the Netherlands and participating in various youth orchestras and musical groups. At the same time of her formal violin training, Maman played percussion as well. During her late high-school years she began to learn more about Afro Brazilian beats due to her involvement with capoeira. At 2001 she moved to Los Angeles and became part of Capoeira Batuque, furthering her studies of capoeira and percussion. Three years later she became a part of Amen Santo’s Dance group Bale Folclorico do Brazil, with whom she have been touring and performed across California. In the past three years Maman has been playing West-African drumming and performing in this genre with various groups as well. She is still a member of the Bale Folclorico Do Brazil participating in school show and introducing Brazilian culture in various locations around California. She teaches a capoeira music class and is part of the children program in the Brazil Brazil Cultural Center. Recently Maman has completed conducting research in Salvador-Bahia regarding women in the music of Candomblé. The research explored women’s issues in the religion and music while getting an understanding of the effects of this topic to women in capoeira. Currently Maman is releasing her first capoeira music CD.
Kristen Lynn Herbert is a professional working actor and musician in Los Angeles.   From Philadelphia, PA, she holds a BFA in acting from WVU and has extensive training in various styles of theatre, performance and music.  Since the performance bug hit Kristen at a young age, she realized that the artist she had become was truly inspired by the professional performers from her childhood.  She realized if she could use her gift to give back and inspire kids in the performing arts, she could make a difference in a child’s life.  Some of Kristen’s credentials include:  Teaching after school enrichment programs over the last 6 years, with classes such as Music, Guitar, Piano, Cooking, Acting, Musical Theatre, Improv, Stage Combat, Dance and Movement with companies such as Kid’s Music N’ Motion, Music Together, Got Game Kid’s Camp and Aimee Arts Productions.  Kristen also performed with Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program in and around schools in LA.  Working with ages 3-14, Kristen currently teaches private Guitar, Voice, Piano, Flute, Ukulele & Acting Lessons.  Whether Kristen is performing for or teaching children, she has found a great love in knowing the impact she can make on a child’s life by not only sharing her experiences but by being a great role model. This kind of work is absolutely inspiring and rewarding.  Learn more about Kristen’s Album now on iTunes here:  www.KristenLynnMusic.com
Jennifer Tehani Sarreal is an international dance champion (BDUC 2008), Reiki Master, author, event producer, activist and multidisciplinary performance artist dedicated to bringing understanding, humanity and compassion to the world through her work. Tehani is a Long Beach native who started her dancing career at age eight with a dance group within her family. Growing up in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the nation, she grew an affinity for other cultures and their art forms. Today her dance repertoire includes: Polynesian (including fire poi), international-style ballroom and Latin, Middle Eastern, hip hop, West African and various folk dance. A CSULB graduate with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology, she is involved with both conservation and humanitarian projects around the world. Her work within art and activism has been featured in various publications and broadcast media including The Press Telegram and ABS-CBN. Sarreal was nominated by the MCC-CSULB for Long Beach Arts Council’s Distinguished Artist of the Year Award in 2009, danced at the historic World March for Peace & Nonviolence, crowned Queen of Miagao at the Salakayan Festival (Philippines) and has taught and performed in over nine countries. She dedicates all her work to her late father and best friend, Josef Sarreal.
Mara Bassani-Santamaria is a multicultural , multilingual teacher, with a primary focus in language and the arts. She has taught varying ages from toddlers to adults. Throughout the years, both Mara and her students have shared a variety of classes, activities, lessons, and experiences. Her classes range from Children’s Drama, to Spanish/English Bilingual Latin Dance, Momentuos Movement, and American Sign Language (ASL). Mara is also a ASL interpreter, a trilingual interpreter, and a Signed English Transliterator. She has a B.A. in Spanish from Augsburg College, in Minneapolis, MN and a A.A. from the Interpreter Training Program at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California.
FIsh (aka Blue FIsh) is no stranger to the music scene locally as well as nationally. Fish has played with many top artists including Chaka Khan, Grant Green, members of the band Canned Heat as well as James Brown and other top local blues, Country, Latin, funk and jazz artists. He has also played and recorded with many top rock acts and celebrities including Mick Marrs of Motley Crue, We Five, Steve Allen as well as the Harlettes, Bette Middlers back up singers. Fish has been teaching drums and percussion privately for many years as well as performing drum clinics and percussion concerts at local colleges, schools, churchs and music stores. Audio and Video samples and more information on Fish is available at www.myspace.com/bluefishnow.

Mrs. Jovana Djoric has over 9 years of experience teaching beginning to advance level of piano students and teaching music in general.
Jovana was born and raised in Serbia (former Yugoslavia). Her music education started when she was 9 years old.
Comparatively with Elementary School, Jovana completed 6 years of her Primary Music Education and 4 years of Music High School at Music School “Miloje Milojevic” in Kragujevac, Serbia.
After she graduated with a Master Degree of General Music Pedagogue from the Music University in Serbia, Jovana moved to Los Angeles where he is working and living now.
Teaching piano and music, for me, is more than a job. It’s the greatest responsibility and an art form. With music I train little minds to explore, to develop imagination and creativity to investigate, to discover , to love and to enjoy playing piano.
It is very important to me to be as effective and successful teacher as possible, both for the education of my students and for my own professional and personal growth.
www.jovanaradovic.weebly.com
Máire Clerkin is from London of Irish parents. Following in her mother, Sheila’s footsteps, Máire became a certified Irish dance teacher /adjudicator with Irish Dancing Commission, Dublin. She ran her own Clerkin School of Irish Dancing in North London 1980-93. Graduating from Middlesex University in the Performing Arts, Máire co-founded dance theatre companies, The Hairy Marys and later Clerkinworks, with her sister Angela, touring the UK & Ireland extensively. The Clerkin sisters had success with their double act The Smarmy Old Sods on London’s comedy circuit.
As a teacher and arts workshop leader, Máire worked on numerous special needs programs at WAC Interchange Performing Arts Centre in London. She trained as a broadcast journalist and presented on BBC TV and radio before moving to California in 2003. Máire gained a Professional Designation in Arts Education with LA County Arts and the Los Angeles Music Center Education Division. As a leading exponent of Irish Dance education, she has lectured at University of Limerick, Ireland and Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. She coaches and adjudicates internationally and completed teaching tours in Australia 2006 & 2010.
Previous choreographic credits include at London’s Royal Festival Hall, Royal Opera House, Theatre Royal, Radio City Music Hall in New York, Edinburgh Fringe, Brighton Comedy and Dublin Street Festivals. Within the Irish Dance world, Máire Clerkin is in high demand having enjoyed great competitive success: over the past four years she has choreographed seven Irish Dance Drama regional winners and her teams garnered national and World Championship awards.
Máire is writer-performer of her critically acclaimed one-woman show The Bad Arm – Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer, directed by Dan O’Connor. She has performed it at L.A. Irish Film Festival, Santa Monica Playhouse, Hollywood Fringe (Best of) and Chicago Fringe Festivals and hopes to perform it in Ireland and New York during 2011.
Máire divides her time as a Teaching Artist with Los Angeles Music Center, Orange County Performing Arts Center, STAR Education, and Aimee Arts Productions. She specializes in teaching Irish dance and drama, using Celtic folk tales, and has recently created Write-Move! – Writing through movement program. In 2007, Máire staged A Gaelic Gathering – Irish Music & Dance at Walt Disney Concert Hall rooftop auditorium. A Gaelic Gathering has since been adapted to school assembly performances in Southern California.
She is a conceptual thinker, has excellent communication abilities and understands how to integrate ideas and themes into many areas of the curriculum” – Susan Cambigue-Tracey, Director of Curriculum and Teaching Artist Development, Music Center, Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. www.maireclerkin.com
Sari Anna Thomas, a native of Seattle, moved to Los Angeles in 2000 to explore new artistic avenues. By 2003 she had already worked for the likes of Robin Anton, Mandy Moore, RJ Durrell, Troy Christian & Mark Swanhart to name a few. In 2004 Sari Anna was the assistant director, choreographer and dance captain of “Wonderland” a show under the direction and choreography of JT Horenstein. In 2005 Sari began to focus her career on teaching, choreographing, and directing most notably succeeding Mandy Moore as the Artistic Director of Expressions Dance Company at Bobbies School of Performing Arts from 2008-2010. Currently, Sari is the Assistant Director of Company. As a dance educator, Sari Anna’s mission is to cultivate independent artists in a manner that pushes them to approach their art with an open mind, free of judgment. For her, this must coexist with learning the importance of technique. Sari Anna notes that blending these two ideas will create an inspiring environment for artists to grow.Project Sky Danceand Producer of The Feedback Experience.
Pashyo Sarkin is originally from Vienna, Austria and studied dance at the “Wiener Volksoper.” Her love for foreign cultures led her to study African dance and drumming. Being a world traveler she has been teaching African drumming and dance in Berlin, Germany; in Montreal, Canada; in Poona, India; and now here in Los Angeles. She performs with her World Music band, “SangomaBeat.” See her website for Magical Drums at www.pashyo.com/magicaldrums and for her band, www.sangomabeat.com.
Liz Vacco: After graduating from Yale with a B.A. in Theatre Studies, Liz moved to New York where she was active in the downtown theater and dance communities, working with Les Freres Corbusier, The Collapsable Giraffe, Sidra Bell Dance NY and at Lincoln Center’s Clark Studio Theater, St. Ann’s Warehouse, PS 122 and the Hangar Theater. She has also toured regionally and internationally, most recently to Shanghai, China. She is a founding member of the performance ensemble Immediate Medium and has collaborated on all IM pieces since 2002, contributing to their original and genre-defying works as a creator, performer, and choreographer. Additionally, while living in NYC, she taught dance, choreography, theater and yoga to children through the New York City Ballet’s Education Department, at Discovery Programs and Karma Kids Yoga in Manhattan and through City Kids Dance in Brooklyn, to name just a few. She recently created and released an original dance video for kids ages 2-5, entitled Petite Feet. In her classes, Liz draws from her training as both an actor and a dancer, and she introduces technique and artistic concepts to her students in the most playful and creative ways she can. She incorporates a lot of story telling and imaginative games to keep the atmosphere active, fun and friendly and the emphasis on self expression and confidence building.
Phoenix Brown is a native of Jacksonville, Arkansas, a veteran Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, and a published children’s book author. Her first book, I Love to Exercise is endorsed by Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and the P.Gators Urban Relief Foundation (addressing childhood obesity). Phoenix has traveled the world and entertained in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan and Korea to name a few. In addition, she has danced for such artist as Beyoncé and Shania Twain. She has also appeared in Joe Boxer and Gatorade Campaigns. Recently, she was a contestant on Don’t Forget the Lyrics and America’s Got Talent. As a former manager of five years for the popular children’s bookstore Storyopolis in Encino California, which boasts clients such as Steven Spielberg and Tyler Perry, she selected both classics as well as up and coming stories to appear on shows such as MSNBC and ABC news. Phoenix holds a B.A. in Media communications with an emphasis in Editing and Publishing from Henderson State University and is currently a candidate for her MFA in Creative Writing.
David Guerra is an actor, director, teaching and performing artist, guiding and mentoring both youth and adults in playwriting and performance. He has worked with some of the most influential arts education providers in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, including The Music Center, Center Theatre Group, Spirit Series, The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, East LA Classic Theatre, Boxtales Theatre Company, Theatre of Will, Enrichment Works, and Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival.
With the Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, David served as both Outreach Coordinator and Program Coordinator in Pacoima, CA, for the City of Los Angeles’ Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) program and the Prevention Initiative Demonstration Project (PIDP). PIDP has been recognized as an effective approach in reducing child abuse and neglect in Los Angeles County.
In the fall of 2011, David started working with the Center Theatre Group as a teaching artist apprentice in their Middle School Playwriting Program. Beginning in 2012 he will join the roster of teaching artists in theatre with The Music Center Los Angeles.
David has been the Associate Artist Director at Watts Village Theater Company since October 2011.
Some of his film and television credits include Where the Sky is Born, Committed, Cargo, La Rosa y El Gato, Flor de Naranja, Diagnosis X and Untold Stories of the ER. His favorite stage credits include Desert Aria at Theatre of NOTE; Meet Me @ Metro II and Ochre and Onyx, both with Watts Village Theater Company; Dibujos de Nuestra Frontera directed by and performed with James Donlon in Puebla, México; Thirsty City with Theatre of Will; Leyendas de Duende performed with Boxtales Theatre Company in Sonora, México, (Leyendas was selected in the fall of 2009 to join the Music Center on Tour roster); 365 Days/365 Plays with The Mad Scene Theatre Company; Company of Angels’ World Premiere production of Arlington; Working with Attic Theatre; A View from the Bridge, Much Ado About Nothing, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, at UCSB; and The Grunt Child at ELAC.
David received an Associate in Arts degree from East LA College and then graduated with honors and distinction from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre. He is a Los Angeles native.
Almost 20 years after receiving his first pair of drumsticks, Sean Rainey has developed into an exciting and original drummer, who’s playing has taken him across the globe. Originally from Oakland, CA, home of the “East Bay Grease”, Sean has shared the stage with international vocal stars the Three Irish Tenors, drumming legend Ricky Lawson and the Oregon Marching Band to name a few. Finding joy in the wide variety of musical styles and cultures, Sean has toured Europe with an award winning concert band, traveled to Ghana to perform traditional African drum and dance and done session work for the major film studios in Los Angeles.
Sean’s musical life began long before he touched the drums. Kicking in time at a Rolling Stone’s concert while still in the womb and going to his first Grateful Dead concert at age three are a couple of the early moments that helped define Sean’s course in life. Growing up listening to anything from Ravi Shankar to King Crimson to Mile Davis gave him the inspiration before he knew what drumming was. Since graduating from Berklee College of Music, Sean has maintained a busy performance and teaching schedule. Based in Los Angeles, he has performed with local and national artists, including Dub Thief and Mandorico. Most recently, he was the house drummer at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills with the Rob Gonzalez Trio.
With over 10 years of teaching experience, Sean is very active in the community, teaching both private and group lessons to students of all ages. Sean is a percussion coach at several schools in the Los Angeles area and has led after-school programs including the STOMP-style Tin Can Percussion Ensemble. A Vic Firth Sticks Teaching Endorsee, Sean is dedicated to helping his students reach their goals, to help them grow as people and to have fun doing so. He approaches all his lessons with enthusiasm and a passion he hopes to share with all.
Lacey Ammar began her violin studies at the age of four. Studying with the best teachers in the state of Utah, including Leonard Braus, associate concertmaster of the Utah Symphony, Lacey was able to go on a performance tour of Poland and the Czech Republic, win and place in numerous state music competitions, and achieve concertmaster of the Utah Youth Symphony. Lacey furthered her violin studies at the University of Southern California where she studied with world-renowned soloist, Hagai Shaham, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree of music in violin performance.
Lacey has enjoyed teaching the violin to children since the age of 15. Her students acquire excellent form and a high level of playing. They stay excited about the violin through plenty of performing experience, visible progress which increases self-esteem, and Mrs. Lacey’s fun yet effective approach to violin mastery.
Cynthia Speer: “My talents and how I connect with students and audiences are joys that I am so grateful for!  I am kind and patient and strive to help my students reach their personal musical goals, whether they be modest or grand! “
Cynthia Speer was raised in Louisiana and Mississippi, and had a love for music as soon as she could sing and sit at the piano bench.  She began studying the old jazz standards as a child, listening to 45’s around the house.  At that time and later, she was influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Nat King Cole, Nancy Wilson, Koko Taylor, & Bonnie Raitt, among many others. Her first music lessons were group improvisational piano classes and she played piano and sang for her peers all throughout grade school, entering talent contests and beginning to “jam” with other musicians when she became a teenager.
In her late teens, Cynthia began professionally performing with big bands, and trios throughout Mississippi.  After moving to Venice Beach in the 1980s, she sang with r&b, blues, jazz and more big bands in and around the Los Angeles area, going back to Mississippi to perform in her home town from time to time.  She has entertained audiences alongside legendary jazz musicians such as the late Earl Palmer, Art Hillary, John Heard, & the late, Red Callender.  Cynthia continued to study voice and piano at Santa Monica College and Pasadena City College, then trained as a preschool music educator, and became certified in Level One Orff training.  She worked with Music Rhapsody, based out of Redondo Beach, one of the leading preschool music education programs in the United States, and at that time also began teaching piano and voice to young children and adults.
In March of 2005, Cynthia won the “Fabulous Finds” monthly jazz vocal competition, on the air, chosen by listeners first, & again in a live performance.  Shortly after, she recorded and self-produced her first CD, “Nature Girl”.   Her second CD, “MellowTone” was released in January 2010 and can be heard at www.myspace.com/cynthiaspeer Both CDs can be purchased through www.cdbaby.com Scott Yanow LA JAZZ SCENE says: “Cynthia Speer constantly displays warmth, understanding for the lyrics (contributing two originals of her own), a sensual voice & an intelligent placement of notes.  Her improvising is subtle, her interpretations heartfelt & the performances stick in one’s mind.” Gerard W. O’Brien JAZZ REVIEW.COM says: “The first thing about the CD that caught my attention is Cynthia’s voice.  It is smooth, strong & very skillfully employed….without gimmicks & with a naturalism that is very appealing.”  Bob Comden LA JAZZ SCENE says: “Speer has a pretty voice….she got in some inventive scatting…. sang the melody beautifully….with lots of passion.”
Cynthia taught at the South Pasadena Conservatory of Music and presently, in addition to joining Aimee Art Productions, currently teaches for OTTA (Outreach for the Arts), and Pitter Patter Studios.  She also performs at various public and private events in and around the Los Angeles area, and all around the US.  Currently, through October, she can be seen and heard performing Jazz standards at the famous Hollywood Yamashiro Farmer’s Market on intermittant Thursdays from 5pm-9pm.
Karl Steudel graduated Bates College in Maine, with a minor in Music, and a BA in Physics, then later continued his studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston, focusing on composition, Music production and engineering.
Karl Steudel has been teaching piano for over 15 years, offering lessons that keep students motivated, while including a solid foundation of skills. Students are offered fun exercises, along with a natural progression of pieces that demonstrate musical form, theory, and technique. Students are also encouraged to select their favorite songs, or sing along with pieces from Musical theater, or explore their first Jazz or blues piece, improvisation or composition.
Published composer
Karl has composed over 300 songs, 45 of which are copy written, and released on three separate CD compilations. These 45 songs are also earning him money via direct sales of CD’s, mp3′s, performance royalties and licensing to Film and Television. Karl’s songs have been heard on The Oprah Winfrey Show, HGTV, The History Channel, VH1, The Travel Channel, Discovery Channel,Bravo, Hogan knows Best,and The Food Network, to name a few. Karl is still active with songwriting, for example, producing and licensing a co-write for ‘first rights’, in 2010 to a young Pop artist.
You can also catch some of Karl’s original music on itunes.
James Klopfleisch is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and teacher living in Los Angeles. He received his Bachelors degree in music from Illinois Wesleyan University and his Masters from California Institute of The Arts, and has toured extensively as a performing musician. He studied classical bass with Peter ROFÉ of the L.A. Phil, and has performed all over the U.S. and Europe. Originally from Chicago, James has taught extensively in both Chicago and L.A., has performed at REDCAT, the Civic Opera House in Chicago, The Grand Ole Opry, and on the Queen Elizabeth 2 Ocean Linear. He has been awarded several grants for his composing work. In 2011 his experimental theater piece Landscape #4 was premiered at the ‘Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space in Prague’, the worlds largest gathering of scenic designers for theater.
Stephanie O’Neill is a professional actor in Los Angeles, CA. She has written, collaborated and performed in productions hailing throughout Southern California, New York and Mexico and has acted in many short and independent films. Her work on stage has been highly influenced through the study of clown, mime and movement. Stephanie began her teaching career through acting classes and playwriting at The East LA Classic Theater Company. She continues to expand her curriculum, incorporating creativity and artistic expression as the best platform to learning new information. Stephanie is a native to San Francisco and received her BFA in Theater from UC Santa Barbara.
Summer Mencher, MT-BC, is a Board Certified Music Therapist and obtained her degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2008, and is the founder of the organization Rhythm & Truth Music Therapy, specifically aimed at empowering youth at-risk. As a Music Therapist, Mencher use a wide variety of music modalities (including a diverse selection of instruments, songs, improvisational techniques, relaxation techniques and creative arts) to establish non-musical goals. Summer has brought her music therapy to schools, hospitals (both medical and psychiatric), hospice, shelters, daycares, camps, yoga studios, and treatment centers, as well as 1:1 individual therapy. In addition to her broad local outreach, music has taken Mencher to 15 countries, including Kenya, Vietnam and Jamaica. When she is not practicing music therapy, Summer is writing, recording or performing with her band, hoping to inspire positive change through music however she can.
Sheri Zweier is a freelance clarinetist in the Los Angeles area. She began playing the clarinet at age nine and is thrilled to have found her life’s passion! Miss Zweier attended the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland where she earned her B.M. in Clarinet Performance studying with Anthony McGill, the Principal Clarinet of the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Sheri was the First Prize Winner of the Walgreens National Midwest Young Artist’s Concerto Competition and the Justine Hackman Young Musician’s Competition. She additionally was a Prize Winner in the International Clarinet Competition and was a Finalist in the Columbus Symphony Young Musician’s Competition. Additionally, Miss Zweier is a dedicated teacher, enjoys playing chamber music, and regularly performs throughout the United States and Europe.
Patrick Gutman is an accomplished and talented pianist and composer. He holds dual degrees in both Piano Performance and Music Composition from Chapman Universityʼs Conservatory of Music. He has been playing the piano since he was 8, and has performed at many venues, concerts and competitions. Some of his achievements include: Winner of the MTAC (Music Teacher’s Association of California) Southern California Adult Piano Performance competition. As a composer, Patrick has always had a deep interest in expressing himself through composition. His music is often introspective and full of expressive musical content. He enjoys teaching piano to students and is currently an instructor at Cal State University Northridge. He is also currently getting his Masters degree in Music Composition at Northridge also.
Amanda Johnson has taught over 150 students since 1996, with very little turn-over in established areas. For 2 1/2 years, she also took on students at Alta Loma Music in Rancho Cucamonga and Corona and was teaching over 60 students at one time at those stores AND at students’ homes. From Sherman Oaks all the way to Fontana and Corona, some students have been with Amanda for over 5 years. When she moved to Hollywood, she took on students with Aimee Art Productions in the Los Angeles area. In 2012, she did some cruise ship gigs to add to her own musical experiences so that when she came back home to teach private lessons again, she would have a whole lot of traveling out of the way. As of January 2013, she has started teaching private lessons again in La Verne at Academy of Music and Movement and at Mike’s Guitar World in Glendora.
Mao Shimizu is originally from Tokyo, Japan.
Mao started her musical career at the age of 8 years old by studying music in middle school. During her tenure she was singing in choirs, studying piano and performing in bands in Japan. She had worked at Yamaha Music Company and studied Yamaha music method. When she arrived to United States, she studied general music, voice, and piano at Pasadena City College and received her A.A/A.S. degree in Music.
Mao has been performing for the past 8 years professionally. Some of her performances include The Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, The Biltmore Hotel Gallery Bar in Downtown Los Angeles, Typhoon Jazz Club in Santa Monica Airport, Happa Restaurant in Gardena and 2nd Street Jazz Club in Little Tokyo. She has also performed at Weddings, Special Events such as The Art Walk in Pasadena which include the Museum Event “Happy Birthday Pasadena”, and Old Town Pasadena Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.
Ms. Shimizu is a music educator and has been teaching music at private schools for the past 7 years and giving private music lessons in the Los Angeles area for over 4 years.
Mao has released her first original CD project called “Dance 1.2.3” with performance/recording artist Latin Flamenco guitarist Nocy Karkour in 2013.
Currently she also enjoys art as well as music. She is a self-taught artist. Her colored pencil arts are created from her imagination and are sold all over the Internet and around Southern California and Japan. If you would like to contact her regarding her special art, you may contact her at:
www.redbubble.com/maoshimizu
Najite Agindotan is the son of an Urhobo tribal chieftain and a Master Drummer who, from a very young age, traveled with the Urhobo cultural musical troupe under his father’s direction. They traveled throughout West Africa and performed at national festivals in their native Nigeria. A fervent participant, Najite devoted himself to theatre performance, traditional dancing and drumming.
In his early teens, Najite was introduced to international superstar Fela Kuti and his original afrobeat music, a potent combination of Nigerian dance styles layered with funk guitars and Yoruba rhythms. Najite became Fela’s student and, upon the death of his father, he was taken by Fela as his godson in a traditional ceremony at the African Shrine in Lagos, Nigeria.
After relocating to Los Angeles, California, Najite immersed himself in the arts of the African Diaspora. His talent and reputation grew as he worked with jazz luminaries such as Horace Tapscott’s Pan-African People’s Arkestra, Billy Higgins and Jimmy & Jeannie Cheatham. During this period Najite was also privileged to contribute to the work of African artists such as Remi Kebaka. During his time in Los Angeles he has received several prestigious awards and grants. In 2000 He was recognized with a Congressional Award for Cultural Excellence by Representative Diane Watson, and has received grants from the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the University of California’s Riverside, San Diego and Los Angeles campuses. In 1991 he received a NAACP Image Award as Best Musical Director for the stage play “Omalingwo”.
More about Najite:
www.youtube.com
www.facebook.com
Odeya Nini is a vocalist, composer, mover and educator. Originally from both New York and Israel, she majored in theater at the Thelma Yellin high school for the arts in Tel Aviv Israel, continuing on to get her BFA in vocal performance at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York, and her MFA in Composition from California Institute of the Arts. Her practice as a vocalist draws from her experience of studying musical theater, classical, jazz and eventually contemporary voice. Her current exploration is one of extended vocal techniques, discovering new sounds and a unique style of singing. Additionally, her work is informed by dance and years of studying and teaching yoga, mixing movement with voice to find novel forms of expression.
Having the experience of various movement, voice, music, and theater practices, her teaching of voice focuses on release and creativity through imagery and imagination, strong connection to breath, exploratory movement, understanding physical structure and habit of voice, science of sound, and playful songs that lift the spirit.
Odeya’s work has most recently been presented at the Hammer museum in Los Angeles as part the Wild Up residency, an LA based contemporary orchestra and collective. She has collaborated with dancers, animators, film makers and theater directors, including Meredith Monk, Lukas Ligeti and Butch Morris as an improvisor, vocalist and composer. Her current solo project, A Solo Voice, has been performed in the US and internationally.
Laurie Melan: Listening to the sounds of Bennie Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Nat King Cole and other great musicians, Laurie Melan placed her ear close to the hi fi absorbing what she could. Once she discovered her brother’s extensive blues collection, she not only found herself absorbing guitar riffs and arpeggios but also took up the harmonica and was quickly learning the riffs of Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Big Walter Horton, Sonny Terry and anything she could get her hands on. While studying classical guitar, Laurie was accepted to The Boston Conservatory but the attraction to performing her own material and various other styles of music outweighed the classical guitar route.
Performing all throughout New England since the age of 17 Laurie Melan has shared the stage with such acts as Jose Feliciano, The Mammas and The Papas, Livingston Taylor, Kate Taylor, Leon Russell, John Mayall, Sam & Dave, Junior Walker , to name a few.
In 1989 she packed her guitars and clothes and moved from Salem, MA to Los Angeles to continue her passion of music. Landing a job with composer/producer Brett Perry of Daddy Jack Music led her to composing for film and TV for such shows as “That 70’s Show”,” IFL”, “Duel Masters “ and others.
Laurie Melan’s career has been filled with many performances and session dates on electric guitar, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica, recorder, dobro, mandolin, classical guitar, uke and vocals.
She continues to write for TV & film, play sessions and perform with her group.
Laurie Melan’s debut CD release “A Place In The Sun” is a passionate collection of songs that reflects on all her musical knowledge and experience.
Awards:
SESAC Top Rated Television Series “That 70’s Show”
SESAC Syndiated/local Televion “That 70’s Show”
SESAC Network Television “That 70’s Show”
Candace Coles: Born in Washington, DC –Her musical journey began as a young girl as she attended the Durham School of the Arts in North Carolina, and later pursuing Musical Theatre at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC. She later received her Bachelors of Music, from The Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Candace co-wrote with Grammy Award® winning songwriter, Gordon Chambers on his latest album, Sincere. In January 2011 Candace’s first EP, entitled Fingerprints, became available online at the iTunes Music Store. In 2012, her music was featured in Pepsi sponsored commercials, and later that year she took the stage with Hip Hop All-Star Common– performing for the Ajilie L Turner foundation in Brooklyn, NY.
For More information visit her online at www.CandaceColesMusic.com
Elena Wang has worked in several countries including Australia, London, Singapore and now Los Angeles.
Elena has a BA in Musical theatre under UK accredited LaSalle College of the Arts and an MFA in Film at New York Film Academy. Now having worked in Los Angeles for two years post grad, Elena has worked with artists including Taylor Swift, Shaquille O’Neal and Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii 5 O). Previous to her move, she had the honor of working with West End’s Maria Friedman while performing in London’s Royal Albert Hall for the Queen’s Birthday, as well as winning ELLE magazine’s ‘Breakout Star of the Year’ in Singapore’s industry.
Since having performed around the world, and now currently in the film and music industry here in Los Angeles, Elena is incredibly passionate about teaching what she has experienced and learnt to equally passionate students.
Vince White became acutely aware of his destiny in the early ‘90s, when he played a show at a blues club with San Francisco legend Tommy Castro. Eventually Vince grew into the rock mystic role on a long history of dates in major clubs and venues like the House of Blues and Canyon Club, performing with well-known artists such as BB King, Jimmie Vaughan, Dick Dale, Leon Russell, and many others. An arresting lyricist, Vince has co-written songs that have found their way into TV shows and contests and onto the stage with his various local bands including Idle Hands, Sayed Sabrina, and Devon Rowland. Recently, he has been endorsed by D’addario guitar strings and has many videos featured on youtube with his various projects. Vince has been playing and teaching professionally for over 20 years and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area.

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