Music School Faculty
Holley Bartlett-La Sala (Early Childhood Music, Piano, Flute)
MA Music Education, Hunter College; MA Music Performance, Flute, Hunter College; BA English/Music, Queens College. Holley is a N.Y.S. Certified Music Teacher (Pre-K-12), a 2017 Lincoln Center Scholar, and brings to our school years of experience teaching students of all ages, in Public and Private Schools throughout N.Y.C. She was the accompanist, music assistant and Parent’s Association President for the DiCapo Opera Children’s Chorus from 2008-2016, and the Music Director of the Imagine Project for over 20 years.
Amy Carstensen (Voice, Piano, Flute)
BM Music Performance, New England Conservatory, majoring in jazz performance with a concentration in voice and piano. Pre-College Certificate, Carnegie Mellon University, Classical Voice. Four years on New England Conservatory’s Dean’s List; NYSSMA medals in Jazz Vocal and Flute; lead vocalist, pianist and co-songwriter of pop-folk band Quiet City; four years private teaching studio.
Alice Colby (Violin)
BM, Manhattan School of Music; MFA, Purchase College Conservatory of Music. Alice has been teaching the violin for 20 years. She attended a summer workshop at the Hartt School Suzuki Teacher Institute and a violin pedagogy course at Indiana University and has taught at Merit Music School in New Canaan/Norwalk, CT and Music and Art School in Staten Island. Several years ago, Ms. Colby furthered her interest in pedagogy through music education courses at Teachers College, Columbia University. She enjoys combining different approaches to enable students to play music that they love and have fun doing it!
Carolyn Cole (Violin)
A graduate from University of Washington, Seattle with a Bachelor of Music, her graduate studies took her to Cologne, Germany on consecutive Fulbright scholarships to work with Russian pedagogue Max Rostal, and to other parts of Europe for Master Classes with Russian violinist Nathan Milstein and American violinist Aaron Rosand. Professional life started with a position with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. After a 25-year career in the First Violins, Carolyn retired and moved on to win a position with the Vancouver Opera Core Orchestra. After studies with early music specialist Elizabeth Wallfisch in Germany she performed for many years in the Carmel Bach Festival, California. Carolyn Cole enjoys teaching privately and regularly adjudicates festivals and competitions. Part of her teaching expertise is coaching and training young semi-professionals for orchestral auditions and in mentorship programs in preparation for concerts. In 2013, Carolyn Canfield Cole developed a unique support program called Violin for Wellness, born from her love for horses, violin and in collaboration with disabilities. www.violinforwellness.org .
Daniel Fernandez (Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute)
MM,Woodwind Performance, California State University at Fullerton; BM University of Texas at El Paso (Bachelor of Music). A seasoned performer and teacher, Danny regularly performs and teaches on saxophone, clarinet, and flute in classical, jazz, and Latin styles. Before moving to NYC, he was the founder and director of Fuego Latino, a Cuban Salsa band that performed with Son Como Son, Tito Puente Jr., and Ocho y Mas. As a classical player Danny has performed with the Orange County Wind Symphony, Claremont Winds, and more. He has served as a band director for several intermediate and high school programs; been an adjudicator for the Texas Music Educators Association, and has taught students from beginner to university level.
Hermira Gjoni (Piano)
Degrees from National Conservatory of Music and Liceu Artistik School of Music in Tirana, Albania. In Tirana 1958-1993: Opera Concert Master, Piano Master for State Opera, Piano teacher at Tirana School of Music. Accompanist for Placido Domingo, International Vocal Competition, Paris.
John Gray (Guitar, Bass, Piano)
BM, Jazz Bass, Manhattan School of Music, 2009. John has taught private lessons on upright bass, electric bass, piano, and guitar to students from ages 4 to 65 since 2011. He has also taught at music schools in Westchester, Connecticut, and Staten Island. John is experienced in teaching a wide variety of styles and subjects, including jazz, classical, rock, Latin, folk, country, and music theory, ear training, improvisation, composition, recording and production.
Emily Ellen Gulati (Voice, Piano)
MM Vocal Performance, New Jersey City University; BM Vocal Performance, Barry University. Music instructor for Henrico Virginia Parks and Recreation; Consultant, Nu Jazz Agency. Performances with Miami Lyric Opera, Miami Music Festival, Colony Theater, the Band Shell Theater, the Cor Jesu Chapel and Montclair Opera.
Judith Insell: Director, School for Performing Arts at Bronx House (Viola/Violin)
As a Music Education Administrator, Ms. Insell previously held the positions of Director of Music Programs for Bronx Arts Ensemble, Director of Music at the Harlem School of the Arts and Assistant Director of Instrumental Studies at Mannes College, The New School for Music. As a performer, Ms. Insell continues to be an active violist on the classical, jazz, Broadway, rock and pop music scenes. She is currently a member of the Greenwich Symphony, has played in the Broadway orchestra for numerous orchestras including: Les Miserable (25th Anniversary Edition), A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, An American in Paris, and performs regularly as a jazz violist worldwide. Past collaborations include performances/recordings with Beyonce, India.Arie, Joe, Roberta Flack, Dead Presidents, John Cale, Suzanne Vega, the New Jersey Symphony, The National Chorale Orchestra, Lee Konitz, McCoy Tyner, Greg Osby, Miquel Zenon, Larry Harlow, and Elio Villafranca.
Kim Johnson (Musical Theater)
BA Theater, Northwestern University; extensive dance training including a merit scholarship with Alvin Ailey School. Kim has worked in regional, stock theaters, and on Off-Broadway dancing, singing and acting, directing and choreographing. For nine years she was the Artistic Director of ARTISTS IN SEARCH OF …, a NYC performing arts company. Teaching work includes, Horace Mann, The Center for Arts Education, CommunityWorks and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She is currently a teaching artist for Alvin Ailey American Dance and Henry Street Settlement/Abrons Arts Center.
Natalie Kriegler (Violin, Viola)
Artist’s Diploma, Manhattan School of Music; Certification from School for Strings; BM Empire College (in progress), over 30 years teaching experience including The Riverdale Y, Westchester Conservatory of Music, Montclair State University Preparatory Department, Crestwood Music Education Center, and Union College. She has appeared as a violin soloist with The Vermont Symphony Orchestra, The Amphion Chamber Orchestra, The Mohawk Trails Chamber Orchestra, as well as Capriccio Ensemble, of which she is the Artistic Director. She has been a NY State sponsored, and featured recitalist at The Empire State Plaza on several occasions.
Jon LaTona (Guitar, Bass, Piano, Beginner Violin, Beginner Cello)
BM Jazz Studies, University of the Arts; live performances at House of Blues, WNYC Greene Space, Smalls, The Roxy, SXSW and NXNE music festivals; nominated for an Independent Music Award for best jazz EP. Private music instructor in NYC, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Buffalo since 2002.
Janet Lucy (Violin, Viola)
MA Music Education, Hofstra University; BM Music, Manhattan School of Music. Suzuki Violin Teacher Training, School for Strings. NYS certified music teacher with over 10 years experience teaching full-time string programs in public and private middle and elementary schools, including The Rudolf Steiner School, Metropolitan Youth Orchestra Academy and Brooklyn Friends. Private instruction with Sylvan Academy, Long Island Suzuki Strings and private studio. Member of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 802, Chamber Music of America, NYS Music Association.
Diego Maldonado (Percussion)
BFA CUNY, Magna Cum Laude, Jazz Performance; Advanced Music Certificate, The Collective School of Music. Originally from Venezuela, Diego is a professional jazz drummer and educator. Diego has studied with players such as Kim Plainfield, Peter Retzlaff, Adam Cruz, Mark Ferber, Kendrick Scott and the arranger and piano player Mike Holober. In Venezuela, Diego toured and recorded with many jazz artists and was the head of the Jazz Percussion department at the jazz academy Taller de Jazz de Caracas for five years.
George (Giorgos) Nazos (Guitar)
Studied at the Swiss Jazz School of Bern and then on to Codorts Conservatory of Rotterdam (Netherlands) where he received a BA jazz performance in guitar 2009. In the of summer 2009 he toured with his band around Greece and performed in Music Festivals and cultural events such as Mykonos Summer Nights Festival, Naxos Cultural Summer, and Neo Petritzi. He eventually settled in Athens and was a guitar professor at Nakas Conservatory, a school affiliated with Berkley College of Music (USA). In 2015 George moved to New York City, where he performs regularly at clubs at the Blue Note, Cornelia Street Cafe, Jazz Forum, Deerhead Inn(PA), among other venues.
Tamuz Nissim, (Voice/Piano)
As a student at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Den Haag, Ms. Nissim a earned a Bachelor’s degree in Performing Arts, majoring in voice and minoring in piano In Holland besides many performances at the local Jazz clubs she also performed at the Amsterdam Israeli film Festival “Filmisreal” 2011 and her composition ‘Shir’ was featured in the Record “Love, Live, Listen 2 – The Hague playlist” . In 2013 she performed at Holon Women’s Festival in Israel, a common project with singer Martha Mavroidi. In 2015 was chosen as a finalist at “Riga Jazz Stage international vocal competition” and performed at “Riga Ritmis” International Jazz Festival in 2016. In 2015 Tamuz moved to New York City where she performs regularly at clubs such as Cornelia Street Cafe, Club Bonafde, The ShapeShifter Lab, Silvana, Cafe Vivaldi, Whynot Jazz Room, and The Flatiron Room.
Danijela Popovic (Piano)
MA, AC Collaborative Piano, The Juilliard School; Graduate Studies, BA, Piano, Belgrade Academy of Music; More than 500 performances in the USA and abroad, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center; Principal Pianist and Vocal Coach, Girls’ Choir of Harlem 1995-2003; Head of Piano Department, Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem 2001-2003.
Stephen Schwartz (Voice, Piano, Guitar)
MM Voice, Manhattan School of Music; BA cum laude Music, Cortland State University; Opera Engagements: Koblenz Operhaus (Germany), Lobero Theater (Santa Barbara), Nederlands Reisopera (Holland), Bachzaal (Amsterdam); music teacher, choir director, International School of Amsterdam, 1995-1999.
Sean Smeed (Piano)
BM Composition, Juilliard. A composer who uses creativity as the main inspiration for his teaching, Sean encourages all of his students to express themselves by composing their own music on their instrument. Mr. Smeed also has experience in preparing students for the NYSSMA and Royal Academy music exams, of which 17 of his current students ranging from ages 6 to 16, have passed.
Mariya Spector (Piano)
Studied in Moscow at the Stasov School of Music and Moscow Musical College, later earning her M.A. in Music Education at CUNY Lehman College. A creative and versatile music teacher, Mariya brings a special knowledge of Music History and Musical Genres. She is skilled in the Dalcroze and Kodaly methods of musical education.
Benjamin Sutin (Violin, Viola, Piano)
BM Jazz Violin Performance, Manhattan School of Music. Ben has been teaching private and group violin, viola and piano students of all ages, levels and styles (including jazz and improvisation) for over seven years. He specializes in a personalized variant of the Suzuki method, efficient practicing techniques, music theory and creative problem-solving regarding technical advancement in areas such as tone production, intonation, phrasing, articulation and musical expression. Lessons are always fun, engaging and catered to the specific needs and personality of each individual student. Benjamin’s students have been accepted to orchestras such as ISO, programs such as Jazz at Lincoln Center’s High School Jazz Academy and performing arts high schools such as Special Music School.