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)
Marlaya Charleston has had a background and is skilled at many of the arts. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The School of Visual Arts in New York and has had a career as a visual artist since the 1970’s. Being multi-talented, she has also participated in other artistic expressions: She performed in New York and Los Angeles in her one woman show, stand-up comedy, and has acted in the theatre. She is also a published poet.
Marlaya holds a teaching credential from the state of California. She has worked with all ages from pre-K to older adults. She loves to pass on her skills showing others how to use the creative process with a sense of fun and ease.
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)
Delton Davis is an international expert percussionist, author, and educator with a passion for exposing kids to artistic opportunities that will ignite a spark within their being, and bring out their inner gifts. Delton assists students in learning about language and culture through drumming.
Earning his Bachelors in percussion performance from the University of Tennessee at Martin and post graduate work at California State University Long Beach, he has experience in teaching students from pre school to the collegiate level. Having self published the highly acclaimed hand percussion book ‘Groove Along’ is currently available on ibooks and was reviewed in Percussive Notes International Magazine. Recently, Delton traveled to the Philippines in which he gave percussion workshops at various schools a world percussion workshop to music educators.
Delton brings years of experience in performing world percussion drumming to his teaching and he studied percussion in Brazil. He is an educator and an accomplished performer having performed with artists such as Andy Grammer, Troop, Van Halen, Branford Marsalis, Take 6, just to name a few. He has appeared on Good Morning America, Jane the Virgin, Girlfriends, Everybody Hates Chris and 90210.
Fun facts: Can greet people in 11 languages. Has a weakness for pazookies. Loves cooking
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)
Dawn Gray Giani: I’ve always had an artistic flair which started as a baby. I would try to sing and dance before the age of one. I won an art contest and a savings bond for a candle holder I made in elementary school, which was made with a saucer, Michelob beer bottle, baby jars, yarn and paint. I remember everyone had finished theirs, but I wasn’t satisfied with just painting it blue or gold. So instead I painted it blue and also sprayed it with gold paint, which gave it this antiqued look and set it apart from all the others. I was always willing to try and forge my own way. At the age of twelve, I knew I wanted to be an actress. I also loved painting, sculpture and all aspects of being creative. That has always rung true for me as a person and continues to do so.
After high school, I was interested in teaching, so I got a job at a elementary school as a teacher’s aide. When the school started a behavior reward program. I was who they chose to run the reward classroom for those students with outstanding behavior. In that class they could paint, play, have as much fun as possible, it was their time. I created different stations for artwork, and fun zones which I really enjoyed. I had an interest in becoming a teacher. However, I found that so many of the teachers were so negative in the teachers lounge, that I changed my mind because I just didn’t want to end up that way. After all, I was an impressionable teenager. I always had a great connection with the children and it was a sad day when I left that job to pursue other interests.
Then, I pursued a career in acting, but had some creepy experiences along the way with men who tried to take advantage of my youth and innocence. So then, I started working in the corporate world in an administration capacity. I did well, and was a very organized and competent employee. However, it didn’t fulfill the artistic side of me and so for years I would go back and forth trying to find a way to have it all. I needed money to survive, but art for my soul to survive. It was the age old dilemma most artists deal with throughout life. At one point, I worked as a Corporate Art Consultant for a large art publisher. I had painted a painting at one of our represented artist homes, and the President of the company offer to buy it, but I refused his offer. I wanted to be a published artist, but it was again a conflict of interest since I was employed as a salesperson.
In the early 1990’s I got my SAG union eligibility doing the TV show called “Melrose Place.” I had been studying acting with Tony Greco, a method teacher from New York who had gone through the Lee Strasberg’s acting and teaching program for several years. I was the secretary of the class as well, which enabled me to study for free three months of the year when he came to Los Angeles. I stayed with the program for about ten years, then studied for awhile with Larry Moss. Enjoyed observing the master class, but since I wasn’t famous was then guided towards the other teacher, but found it far to elementary. I was too advanced for that class and could have taught the class better myself. So I moved on…
1997, I got married to my husband David Giani, a chef who was born and raised in Florence, Italy. We have a daughter named Dior Gabriella Giani, who is a student at Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High School. She’s currently in the 7th grade and is 12 years old. She is the light of our lives. We currently reside in Glendale in the Adams Hill community, and live in a 1925 Spanish style home which we bought in 1999. In 2004, we opened a restaurant which had always been my husband’s dream and called it “Fioretto Trattoria” it was located in the Marina del Rey area. We had the restaurant for five years, but after the bailout and financial turn down in the economy were forced to leave that dream behind us and carry on. Currently, my husband is a chef consultant with his company Chef Design, Inc. He’s a master chef with a specialty in Tuscan food, and has created his own website, since 1997 called www.tuscanycuisine.com. He learned the HTML codes himself and works on it religiously. He also is an artist and together we have endured many setbacks and victories along our way together in this life. Such is the life of an artist, but love can be a beacon to guide you along the way.
In 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a very long and hard journey to survive the disease. It taught me a lot about our life lessons and how important it is to follow your heart and be grateful for each and everyday. So, once I was able, I sought out other opportunities and was given a chance to be an artistic director at a theater in Hollywood. Then I wrote, produce, and directed my own comedy show called “Kids of Komedy” which was done at the Tre Stage in Hollywood in 2014.
Life is a culmination of all of our hopes, dreams, desires and experiences to enrich the lives of others we meet along the way. Make your life count. It’s the one thing that can truly make a difference in the world.
Brittney Grabill is a musician from Canada, where she performed her original songs all over the country at folk festivals from the age of sixteen. She plays guitar, sings and writes songs professionally. As she is writing and performing here in Los Angeles, she loves working with kids and teaching them life skills through music. From guitar to drum circles, Brittney teaches ages 6-12 currently. Brittney strives to create more music programs to improve the quality of life around our community. Please visit www.BrittneyGrabill.com for more information.
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 Atlanta, Georgia, LaKeashaFIT is the creator of Kids Who Juice with LaKeashaFIT and Kids Who Dance With LaKeashaFIT. Both are welnessl based programs designed to teach grade level students the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle from the inside out through self expression and proper nutrition. A look at the history of healthy consumption and genres of movement are explored, providing students the ability to demonstrate their knowledge at the end of each class session. More information on LaKeasha, can be found at www.lakeashafit.com.
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)
Caitlin Lainoff received her MFA from CalArts with a focus on scene design and puppetry. This summer she celebrated her sixth summer designing with Independent Shakespeare Company in Griffith Park. She works as a freelance designer and educator, designing theater on the east and west coast and teaching art to all ages. She is currently devising FEED with Applied Mechanics, which will premier at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival this fall. She is also a member of the education department at LACMA and can be found there teaching classes throughout the year.
Dedicated to teaching children through discovery, play and exploration, it is Heather Mendoza’s mission to connect students to their own unique self-expression and nurture their creativity.
Witnessing the power of the arts and communication firsthand, Heather has worked with children through Young Storytellers Foundation, 826LA, teaching private & group classes and the 3-6 year old kid’s yoga class at Golden Bridge, where she received her teacher certification through the Light Leaders program. Yoga has been part of her life practice for over 14 years.
Creating positive change, connecting people to their passion and being of service to communities is at the heart of Heather’s work.
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.
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
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.
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.
Steve Loizos has been teaching guitar for 10 years. That is his main instrument, he also has taught piano up to the intermediate level as well as bass and voice.. When Steve gets the privilege to work with a student who is quite serious about learning guitar, he learns from being introduced to artists the student is enthused about. Steve is currently studying jazz and teaching it to two students in the jazz program at Campbell Hall , a private school in Los Angeles. Mr. Loizos teaches finger style, funk, rock, blues, jazz and classical for the guitar. Steve has written music for films and artists, produced his own bands and currently is singing playing guitar and keyboard, writing and performing with Tony Valentino formally of the Standells.
Samantha Mandel, B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Education from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Sam is originally from San Diego where she taught art classes and Hebrew at the Beth Am Jewish Learning Center for a number of years. She also worked at a preschool for a few years and did Applied Behavioral Analysis with children for a few years and is a current graduate student of psychology at Pepperdine University where she hopes to incorporate art and music into her practice. She is passionate about the arts and helping children and people express themselves through all creative avenues!
Lynn Sher started playing the piano and studying voice in 4th grade and has played in a variety of bands since she was in high school. She studied voice and piano at the university level both at Berklee College of Music in Boston and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC, where she received her BFA in Jazz Vocal Performance. Throughout her training she has studied everything from bel-canto opera and musical theater to jazz, rock n’ roll, blues and pop. She is also trained pre-professionally in classical ballet at notable institutions such as The Nutmeg Ballet, The Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet and Walnut Hill School for the Arts, where she graduated highschool with classical ballet and music majors, respectively. Being an all around creative, Lynn is also a trained and experienced actor, with credits in TV, film and theater from both NYC and LA. Most recently she played Gracey on the show NYC22 on CBS and played leading roles in a world premier play by NYC playwright, DC Copeland. She expresses herself in many other creative mediums, such as collage art, songwriting and copywriting.
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.
Josh Ssettuba has been involved in the arts since a sixth grade production where he played the dogcatcher in an elementary school production of Annie.
A Canadian by birth, Josh was raised in a home surrounded by arts and crafts from his parents home country of Uganda, and has infused all of his decade plus professional work as a performer and artist with the inspiration, color and soul of African art.
“My focus is to help bring a personal connection to the artwork as a means of creative expression. An extension of self into the world, and a reflection of our creativity as individuals within a larger group. To create a fun bonding experience and to have FUN!”
Anton Smirnoff began his piano studies at age of seven in Novosibirsk, Russia. Upon his graduation from Novosibirsk Conservatory with a Bachelor’s Degree, he came to US in 2006 to pursue further Western Music education. He graduated from Oberlin Conservatory with an Artist Diploma in 2010 and later earned a Professional Studies Certificate at The Colburn School in Los Angeles, CA. As a student, he was honored by the Russian government with several special talent scholarships. He has made more than 1,000 public performances world-wide at venues that include Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Avery Fischer Hall, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
As a soloist, Anton is a prizewinner of several international piano competitions including the Moscow International Competition for Young Musicians, International Russian Music Piano Competition in San-Jose, CA, Oberlin Concerto Competition, Corpus Christi International Concerto Competition, Louisiana International Piano Competition, the NTD International Piano Competition in New York, and others. He has performed as a soloist with various orchestras including the Tomsk Philharmonic Orchestra, San Jose Symphony and the Oberlin Orchestra. As a chamber musician, Anton collaborated with the members of Quatuor Ebene; double bass players Edgar Meyer Eugene Levinson, violinists Simone Perter, Mark Kaplan and Grigory Sokolovsky, violist Barbara Westphal, and many others.
Anton has participated in many international music festivals including “International Program New Names”, Cassalmaggiore International Music Festival, Banff International Master Classes, and Sarasota International Music Festival. Anton is a member of the collaborative faculty at The Heifetz International Music Institute. He participates in the “Heifetz on Tour” music series, performing chamber music with finest young string players. He has also performed in the master classes of John Perry, Marc Durand, Robert Levin, Hung Kuan Chen, M. Boguslavsky, M. Delli Ponti, Boris Berman, Menahem Pressler and many others.
A graduate of Yale University School Of Music (Master of Music), Anton currently resides in Los Angeles where he works as a teacher, pianist and a conductor.
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.
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.
Hélène has over 15 years of experience teaching music to children. She started her conservatory studies at 7 – at the age of 8 she chose the violin as her formal focus. Her studies took her to the Conservatory of Rennes, where she graduated in Music Theory and Violin. In parallel she obtained two BAs, one in Music and one in Literature, from University of Rennes II. Since then, she has been teaching music both in group and individual settings. After moving to California, she obtained her Orff Certification in Music Pedagogy (Mills College), and worked at various French and American schools in the Bay Area (Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley, French American International School, Walden School and Lycée Français), with a strong emphasis on pre-school and elementary school age music. Her teaching style combines the use of creativity as an instrument of discovery and learning with the rigorous expertise she inherited from her classical training. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she pursues her career as a singer-songwriter and recording artist.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
SESAC Top Rated Television Series “That 70’s Show”
SESAC Syndiated/local Televion “That 70’s Show”
SESAC Network Television “That 70’s Show”
Melanie Salisbury is currently a ballet teacher at a dance studio (Debbie Reynolds) in North Hollywood and has been working with the Burbank Children’s Theatre Company choreographing dance numbers in Androcles and the Lion and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Experienced in teaching ballet, tap, and modern dance for private lessons. Trained at The Arts Educational Schools in Tring, and London, England. Toured the UK performing in On The Town, West Side Story, Half a Sixpence, Company, The Apple Tree and Chicago. Performed in the West End, Anne Boleyn, On The Town,Company and Chicago. (Dance/Choreographer/Theatre Performance, Ballet, Tap, Modern Dance, Drama)
Katie Gilchrest is a musician, artist, sound engineer and composer. She holds a Masters of Music in Music Technology from New York University and a B.A. in Music from the University of Southern Maine. She began classical piano lessons at age 8 and discovered the guitar and rock music as a teenager. She has taught piano and guitar lessons with the Maine Academy of Modern Music, as well as summer rock and songwriting camps. Katie has also produced drawings and paintings since she was young, and studied fine arts at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. She currently performs with the LA based rock band High Priestess as lead guitarist and vocalist.
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.

Comments are closed.