Our Teachers

Alex Faulkner

Guitar, Rock Ensembles

Alex Faulkner holds a bachelors degree in Guitar Performance from Western Connecticut State University. He has been a performing musician since the age of 13, and has professionally studied jazz, rock, and classical music. Alex has taught guitar full-time throughout Fairfield County since 2002, and he is a foundHafezer and co-owner of The Southbury Music Studio. Alex can be heard performing throughout Connecticut with No Big Deal and original rock and jazz groups.

Amber Cardinal

Amber Cardinal is a Music Education major at Western Connecticut State University planning to graduate in May of 2019. She has been studying voice formally since the age of 12 with Cynthia Servetas of Southbury formerly and Constance Chase in the present at WCSU. Amber has been actively apart of musical theatre since she was 10, pursuing many different roles. Amber is now apart of the Opera Ensemble at WCSU where she studies opera and classical voice. She has placed 3rd in the National Association of Teachers of Singing New England Competition in 2018 as well as qualifying for the Classical Singers Competition for May 2018 in Boston. Amber loves spending her free time performing for various assisted livings in Connecticut to spread her talent and wonderful music of various genres.

Angelica Jara

Angelica Jara is a violinist and string educator in the NY and CT area. She received her Bachelors degree in Music at Western Connecticut State University and she has studied violin with Eric Lewis and Patti Kilroy.

Angelica currently teaches strings to children in 2nd through 5th grade at Brass City Charter School in Waterbury, CT. She also teaches privately at both the Danbury Music Learning Center and Sharps and Flats in Ridgefield.

Throughout her college career, Angelica has been apart of several Operas, Chamber Ensembles, Orchestras, and Pits through Western Connecticut State University. Outside of her performances at university, she participated in the Danbury Symphony Orchestra. She finds playing in pits to be the most enjoyable type of performance she can do with a community of musicians. Angelica has played for various pit companies in the Danbury, Bethel, Brookfield, Brewster, Mahopac, and Westchester area in shows such as “Oklahoma”; “The Secret Garden”; “Parade”; “The Nutcracker”; “The Music Man”; and many more.

In teaching, Angelica most enjoys assisting in her student’s journeys toward finding specific musical tastes. Through her experiences at the Mark O’ Connor Method Camp, Christian Howes Creative String Workshop, and numerous fiddle events, Angelica has adapted her teaching styles for learning both by ear as well as reading for students of all ages and skill levels.

“I believe music should be an interactive conversation between friends and strangers, to draw us closer and create beautiful moments. Sharing music let’s us build our musical vocabulary.”

Angelica expresses her love of fiddle music, and hopes that her passion inspires others to believe in the influential power of music once they find their musical taste. Angelica’s goal is to create a judgment free atmosphere in which people can dance and laugh and enjoy music of all kinds.

Arianna Carlo


Arianna Carlo is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music Degree in Audio and Music Production, with a concentration in Voice, at Western Connecticut State University. Arianna’s passion for singing started at an early age. She started soloing at St. Joseph Church in Brookfield in the fourth grade. Arianna continues to solo at St. Joseph Church today and occasionally solos at St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Church in Brookfield. At 11 years old, Arianna started taking private voice lessons with Lynn Paulella Beard, and currently takes private voice lessons with Dr. Margaret Astrup at WCSU. She has performed in many musicals such as “How to Succeed in Business”, “Grease”, and “Oklahoma” in which she played Aunt Eller. She has performed in various operas as well, such as “Almahl and the Night Visitors”, “Die Fledermaus”, and “The Tender Land”, in which she performed the lead role of Laurie. She also sings in the WCSU Chamber Choir, Concert Choir, and Opera Ensemble. Arianna won first place in the Lower College Division of the New England Regional round of the 2015 National Association of Teachers Singing Competition. In addition, Arianna writes and performs original music. She released an album called, “Love & Other Pointless Things” under her stage name, Arii, which was produced by multi-award winning songwriter/producer Funkee Boy. Arianna performs at various local venues, charity benefits, and concerts.

Ashley Dunne

Violin, Viola and Cello

Ashley Dunne is a professional violinist and music educator who is passionate about both performing and working with students. Ashley holds a Master of Education Degree from the University of Bridgeport, where she was nominated for the “Outstanding Student Teacher” award after spending time in the Stratford school system and in Regional School District #6. During her time at the University of Bridgeport, Ashley interned at Andrew Avenue School in Naugatuck working with students in a multitude of settings. Ashley also graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music, where she studied under Theodore Arm and Julie Rosenfeld. In addition to being an active member in the local music scene, Ashley has played violin in the UConn Symphony Orchestra, various chamber ensembles, and the Danbury Symphony Orchestra. Ashley is also a K-5 General Music and Chorus teacher at Gainfield Elementary School in Southbury, where she loves instilling an appreciation of music in kids from an early age.

Colleen Toole


Colleen is a pianist and educator. She is currently studying Music Education at Western Connecticut State University, with a concentration in classical piano. Colleen first fell in love with piano at age eight, when she started taking private lessons.

She currently studies piano with Dr. Hirshfield, and has preformed in two of his studio
recitals. Colleen is an active member of Western’s NAfME (National Association for Music Education) chapter, and Keyboard Club.

Colleen loves teaching and believes that music is for everyone.

Dexter Chamberlin

Dexter is currently studying K-12 music education with a concentration in piano and composition at Western Connecticut State University. He started studying piano at age 15 with Martha George and concentrated on classical music. He started playing guitar at the age of 12, saxophone at ago 17, and he began composing music at age 16. His compositions have been used for the play “Waiting on the Sun” in 2011. He has premiered compositions as well as performed in recitals with the concert choir, symphonic band, and jazz combos at WCSU. He loves teaching and believes that everyone can and should take part in music making.

Elliot Wallace


Elliot Wallace is a drummer, percussionist and educator throughout New England and NYC. Highly active as a freelance percussionist, he has a diverse output. Elliot has performed with groups and institutions such as: Apartment Sessions, Powerstation Recording Studio, Ghost Hit Recording Studio, Ivoryton Playhouse, Playhouse on Park, Off Broadway Theater, Schubert Theater, The Fairfield Theater Company, The Yale Alumni Association, Richmond IN Symphony, The Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, 10th Intervention, The New Baroque Soloists, New Britain Symphony, Waterbury Symphony, Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra (HICO) and many others. He was recently a featured xylophone soloist with the Simsbury High School Band. In addition to music theater and classical music, he performs regularly with his rock band Art School Girls and plays frequent jazz and big band gigs. Elliot also holds the position of dance accompanist at the University of Hartford.

Elliot is also well versed in world percussion, studying with conga greats Michael Spiro and John Amira, as well as Brazilian music expert RogerioBoccato and African percussionist Joe Galeota. In January 2014, Elliot traveled to Ghana to study ewe drumming from master drummer Bernard Woma. During school, Elliot’s primary teachers were Dr. Larry Snider, and Benjamin Toth. Elliot is currently the percussion instructor at Simsbury High School, The Loomis Chaffee School, Parkville Sounds, and Southbury Music Studio, as well as professor of percussion at Holyoke Community College and Naugatuck Valley Community College. He also recently (Spring ‘16) served as Sabbatical Replacement for Benjamin Toth at The Hartt School of Music. Elliot holds a Bachelor Degree from the University of Akron and a Masters Degree from the University of Hartford.

Erik Perez


Erik D. Perez is a native New Yorker with 33 years of Experience as both a player (live and studio) and instructor. Erik started playing drums at the age of 11 for his church choir. He studied with Robert Brown and Peter Metranga. Through the years, Erik explored various styles of music such as Gospel, Funk, R&B, Jazz, Pop, Rock, and World (Latin etc.).

He continues to play in the Tri-state area with various groups and singer song-writers. Erik enjoys helping students discover a passion for music through drumming.

Grace Nield


Grace Nield has been playing the cello for 20 years. She is currently a freelance cellist here in CT playing everything from weddings and musicals to benefits and bar gigs. Grace is a cello teaching artist for Bravo Waterbury! an El Systema inspired educational initiative of the Waterbury Symphony and enjoys teaching her K-6 students after school.

“I have learnt much from my teachers, more from my colleagues, and most from my students.”
-Rabi Hanina, Ta’anit 7a

Gina Carrozza

Flute, Woodwinds

Gina Carrozza has been teaching private lessons since 2014, and started teaching at the Southbury Music Studio in 2017. Gina has been playing flute since the age of ten. She received her Bachelor of Science in Music Education in 2015 from Western Connecticut State University with a concentration in Flute, and is currently a Music Teacher in the West Haven Public School District. She has studied classical flute with Heather Levanti-Syzmanki and Dr. Kerry Walker, and has played for famous flute players Robert Langevin, Susan Hoeppner, and Bart Feller. Gina also teaches the New Milford High School Marching Band and musically directs the Danbury Drum Corps. She is a member of the Hat City Flute Choir as well as the WCSU Alumni Band, plays fife with the Danbury Drum Corps when she is not directing, and is the Piccolo player and Flute Sub for the New Haven Chamber Orchestra. Gina has also performed with the Ives Symphonic Winds, Sound Beach Community Band, Shepaug Valley Flute Choir, and the Danbury Music Centre Orchestra as a sub. In college, Gina played flute and piccolo in the Wind Ensemble, New Music Ensemble, Flute Choir, Woodwind Quintet, Orchestra, Pit Orchestra for the Musical Theater Department, played flute and clarinet in the Symphonic Band, and sang in the Concert Choir. With her flute duo and trio, Gina won the WCSU James Furman Chamber Competition two out of four years of her college career. She has a passion for music and believes that it is a universal language that can be learned, spoken, and appreciated by anyone.

Francesca Gennusa

Francesca Gennusa is currently a student at Western Connecticut State University, working toward her Bachelor of Science in Music Education. She has played violin since age 12, and has studied under Patti Kilroy and Hafez Taghavi. Francesca plays as a first violinist in the WCSU orchestra, and also serves as a cellist in her WCSU string quartet. Francesca has played violin in the pit orchestra for shows at WCSU like “The Magic Flute”, and “Crazy For You”, and has played cello in a production of “Matilda”. Francesca also serves on the Strings Club Eboard at WCSU. Francesca strongly believes that every student should have the opportunity to enjoy music and to learn about the wonderful qualities it holds, and she is excited to go on this journey with her students!

Heidi Ohngemach

Heidi is a violinist and educator in the Southbury and Danbury areas. She has played violin since age 10 and has studied under Stephan Tieszen, Patti Kilroy, and Hafez Taghavi.

Heidi is a Bachelor of Science in Music Education student at Western Connecticut State University planning to graduate in 2020. There, she is the concertmaster of the orchestra and has performed on the violin and viola in musicals and operas including The Gondoliers, Evita, and Amahl and the Night Visitors. Outside of WCSU, she has also played violin for Little Women, West Side Story, Seussical the Musical, Behold the Lamb of God, and Newsies. Heidi is also very involved with on-campus clubs, being on the e-boards for WCSU’s chapter of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and Strings Club, and is also a co-captain for the Ultimate Frisbee Team.

Heidi is very excited to share her passion for music with everyone that walks into a lesson, and cannot wait to learn with all of her students.

Jake Habegger

Jake Habegger began playing the drums at the age of 13. He holds a Master of Music Education degree from University of Bridgeport and a Bachelor of Music degree from Western Connecticut State University in Jazz Performance. While at Western, Jake studied drum set with Jeff Siegel and classical percussion with Dave Smith and Patrick Smith. Jake is an elementary band teacher in Stratford, CT and plays many instruments in addition to percussion. He has been teaching private music lessons since 2007. Jake’s teaching is centered around making music and learning essential skills through playing rather than through lecture. Jake has been in many different bands and often performs with local musicians in the CT area.

Jeff Gursky

Jeff has been playing the guitar for 13 years across various styles of music. He attended Western Connecticut State University, where he received a Bachelor of Music degree in Audio Production with a concentration in jazz guitar. Since graduating, he has performed in a variety of musical settings, including jazz ensembles, pit orchestras, and playing/touring with indie-rock band Standby. Jeff also alternates between playing guitar and bass in post-rock band Hovel, and co-writes source cues for production companies Imaginary Friends Music Partners and 4 Elements Music, where some of his work has been included in television programs.

Joy Bellows

My name is Joy Bellows, I’m 23 and I have a BA in Music from WCSU with a concentration in piano. I have worked with music teams at churches, directed choirs, and worked with elementary through high school aged kids. I’ve also worked with adults in a teaching capacity and enjoy working with older students. I love music and teaching and can’t wait to share that with you!

Lindsay Tuttle


Violist Lindsey Tuttle has her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Western Connecticut State University where she studied privately with Professor Erick Lewis and Professor Hannah Levinson. Lindsey grew up going through the Region 15 school system, and ultimately completed half of her student teaching at Pomperaug Elementary School. Lindsey has also played in a variety of ensembles, including pit orchestras for Westconn’s opera productions, pit orchestras for Newbury Theatre Company’s summer musical productions, as well as in quartets for a variety of different events. Lindsey is a passionate music educator and enjoys teaching viola, violin, and cello. She also teaches general music in Bridgeport to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. In the next few years, Lindsey hopes to continue her studies and complete masters degree in Music Education.

Matthew Spencer


Matthew Spencer
Matthew Spencer, recent graduate of Western Connecticut State University with a degree in Jazz performance has been playing drums for 17 years. Hailing from Newtown, CT, he has been teaching drums for 7 years having students ranging from age 6 to 60. He plays a variety of styles and currently plays in two groups, both with albums out on iTunes, Spotify, and other popular streaming sites. They are entitled: Tales of Joy – Breathe Easy (Reggae/Soul) and Sub-Urban – Everybody Knows (Neo-Soul/HipHop).

Matthew Volpe


Matthew Volpe
Matthew Volpe is a certified PK-12 music educator from Western Connecticut State University with a concentration in jazz and classical trumpet. He began studying trumpet at age 15 with Domonic Talotta, focusing on classical and jazz trumpet. At age 18 he began studying with jazz trumpeter Dave Scott and studied with him for 2 years. He then studied with Rich Clymer, the first trumpet player for the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, for two years studying classical trumpet.
He has performed in the WCSU Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Combos, and Brass Quintet.
Music is for everyone, and He believes that every student has the potential to be great, so long as they desire to be such.

Michael Mosca

Michael Mosca
Michael Mosca is currently studying Music Performance at Western Connecticut State University with a concentration in jazz guitar. Michael started playing guitar at the age of 11 studying under Shane Peters. After making it into the CMEA Western Regional band in high school, he developed an interest in learning jazz guitar, which later led to pursing a degree in music at Western and studying under Chris Morrison. Outside of jazz, Michael can also be seen performing with his original rock band Standby throughout the local tri-state area and currently has three recordings available on iTunes with them. Michael also has experience in several musical settings including pit orchestras, big bands, and church bands.

Noelle Chave

Instructor of Voice

Noelle Chave graduated Magna cum Laude from Western Connecticut State University with a degree in Music Education and holds her Connecticut license for teaching music K-12. While at WCSU, she was a member of the Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Opera Ensemble and Symphonic Band (flute) and was the recipient of the Connecticut Choral Society Scholarship, which is awarded to a music major “with a record of academic achievement and who possesses extraordinary singing or musical talent.” Noelle studied voice with Dr. Margaret Astrup and music composition with Dr. Kevin Jay Isaacs and was a music theory and sight-singing tutor as well as a private voice and flute instructor for students of all ages during her time at WestConn.

Noelle recently returned to Connecticut after spending a number of years in Wisconsin, where she sang with the Madison Symphony Chorus, the Madison Chamber Choir, and the Milwaukee Chamber Choir. She also worked as a choral music editor for Hal Leonard where, in addition to editing sheet music and teacher resource books, she collaborated with colleagues, McGraw-Hill and esteemed writers, educators, and directors to create a choral music textbook. She has performed in venues ranging from local churches in Connecticut and Wisconsin to the Overture Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York City. In addition to teaching privately, Noelle is currently a cantor at St. Edward the Confessor Church in New Fairfield and sings with various ensembles throughout the state. You may also find her working the front desk at the studio, so stop by and say hello!

Rachel Merriam

Rachel Merriam is currently completing her Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance at Western Connecticut State University with a concentration in Jazz Guitar. She started playing guitar at age 9, and played her first gig at age 12. At age 16 she started playing with funk groups S.O.N.S of Funk and Smoovtime, led by Parliament Funkadelic drummer Rico Lewis, playing gigs in the New England and New York area as well as music festivals in Ohio and Indiana.

Rachel has had the privilege of studying with guitarist Christopher Morrison since high school. She has also studied theory and improvisation with saxophonist, pianist and arranger Jon Blanck. At WestConn, Rachel has had the opportunity to play with pianist Orrin Evans and trumpeter Sean Jones as part of their guest artist series. She also works as musical director for recording artist Samantha Cole’s Vocal Showcases.

Rachel loves playing music of all styles, and working with students of all ages and levels. She can be seen playing gigs in the tri-state area with various jazz groups, S.O.N.S of Funk, and the reggae/rock band Bahama Mama & the Painkillers.

Ryan Dunne

Instructor of Drums

Ryan Dunne holds a Master of Music Education Degree from the University of Bridgeport and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Jazz Percussion Performance from the Western Connecticut State University. Ryan began studying percussion at the age of 13 and performed with various rock groups throughout the early stages of his career. While studying at Western Connecticut, Ryan performed in a variety of ensembles including the Western Connecticut State University Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Choir, and Small Jazz Combo groups. Throughout his career, Ryan has studied and professionally performed a wide range of musical genres including rock, jazz, funk, r&b, and various types of world music. Ryan currently performs professionally with the wedding band No Big Deal, with the saxophone group the Saxtet, and as a sideman with various jazz groups/projects. In addition to the Southbury Music Studio, Ryan teaches elementary general music and band in the Ridgefield Public School system.

Stephan Tieszen


Violinist Stephan Tieszen has a Bachelors from the Mannes College of Music, a Masters from the Juilliard School and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Yale School of Music. He studied violin with Mischa Mischakoff, Guila Bustabo, Sally Thomas, Sidney Harth, and Gabriel Banat.

Dr. Tieszen teaches violin and chamber music at Mannes College of Music and the Tabor Community Arts Center in Branford CT, and orchestral violin classes at the Meadowmount School of Music in Elizabethtown, NY. He has taught at Yale University, the University of Connecticut, Connecticut College, and Fairfield University. He has been Concertmaster of the Norwalk, Meriden, Bridgeport and New Britain Symphonys, and he is currently the Concertmaster of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra in New London, and the Principal Second Violin of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Tieszen appears frequently with the Wall Street Chamber Players, was a founding member of the Concord Chamber Music Ensemble, and is an active performer and lecturer in educational outreach programs.

For this performance, Dr. Tieszen has written his own cadenzas in the style of Mozart, and he will be playing on a violin made in the mid-1700’s that was in use in Mozart’s time, using a reproduction of a contemporary Dodd bow. He has based his interpretation on Mozart’s manuscripts as published by Gabriel Banat.

Stephanie Biello

Piano, Music Composition, Music Theory

Stephanie Biello started playing piano at the age of seven. She now holds a Master of Music Degree from SUNY Purchase College in Studio Composition and a B.A. from Western Connecticut State University in Music Education. While studying at WCSU, her instrumental focus was classical piano. It was there that she studied under the studio of Dr Russel Hirshfield. Along with her private piano lessons and performances, she also privately studied music composition with Dr Kevin Isaacs. Stephanie is an experienced performer, piano instructor, composer, arranger, and a founder and co-owner of The Southbury Music Studio. She has been teaching piano, music theory and composition privately since 2004. In addition to teaching and running The Southbury Music Studio, Stephanie performs regularly with her cover band; No Big Deal. She also activly writes and performs original compositions.

Taylor Doyle



Taylor Doyle is a recent graduate from Western Connecticut State University with a Bachelors in Music-emphasis on Vocal Performance and a minor in Marketing. At WCSU Taylor studied under Dr. Richard Weidlich learning proper vocal techniques and practicing repertoire from all genres but mostly Classical and Opera. Taylor is a trained Soprano Opera singer but also has a background in Theater and Pop Music. She stared in Carrie the Musical at Thomaston Opera House playing Margaret White and she also held lead roles in many Operas at WCSU, such as Amahl and the Night Visitors (Mother), The Gondoliers (Gianetta), Candide (Cunegonde) and Carmen (Frasquita). During this time she was also secretary of Opera Club, part of Chamber Singers and Concert Choir and held a job at Wilton Congregational Church as a section leader and a soloist. She hopes she can share what she has learned with many aspiring students!

Click here to listen to my sample music.

Tim Smith



Tim Smith graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a B.M. in Classical Piano Performance. Tim is an experienced accompanist and has performed with choirs, and has been a part of pit bands for musicals and operas.

He also performed two solo recitals while at WCSU. Tim also plays the organ and is substitute organist at many churches in Connecticut. He also enjoys singing and playing French horn and was a part of WCSU’s chamber choir, Symphonic band, and Orchestra.

Vinny Brophy



Vinny Brophy is a graduate from Western Connecticut State University with a degree in Classical Performance for saxophone. Vinny has been studying the saxophone since he was ten, and began playing with combos at thirteen. At fourteen, Vinny began his study of guitar and bass, and while in college added the flute and clarinet to his studies.

Vinny has studied under various saxophone teachers including Mark Rivera, Javier Oviedo, Dave Noland and Dr. Dan Goble. Vinny is a current instructor for the Newtown Nighthawks marching band.

Vinny has performed in various pits across Connecticut, playing shows such as the Wizard of Oz, Nice Work if You Can Get It, Gypsy, Shrek and more. In jazz combos and rock bands, Vinny has played in numerous venues in Connecticut and New York.

Brian Suto


Brian Suto

Brian Suto is set to receive his Bachelor’s degree in Music from Western Connecticut State University. He has been playing guitar since he was 8 years old, and over the years has become well-versed in a wide range of musical styles. He adjusted his focus to jazz music while beginning his undergraduate education at Furman University, where he studied with jazz-fusion great Steve Watson. After transferring to Western Connecticut to work towards a music degree, he began studying guitar with Chris Morrison. In his time at Western, he has had the opportunity to share the stage with some noteworthy musicians like trumpeter Sean Jones and guitarist Russell Malone.

Brian performs regularly both as leader and sideman of various jazz groups, and could be found playing guitar in the hip-hop group Raioh Pop Golden.