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 actively writes and performs original compositions.
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.
Joe began playing the piano at the young age of 5 and took private lessons through his sophomore year of high school. At 15, Joe began attending the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts where he began learning the craft of jazz piano and came into contact with local heavy-hitters such as Jonathan Barber, Matt Dwonszyk, Jovan Alexandre, Alex Nakhimovsky, and Doug Maher. He went to earn a Bachelor’s Degree of Music with a concentration in Jazz Piano at Western Connecticut State University. There, he played in the school’s top performing ensembles, gaining experience by playing small and large ensemble music, and got to learn from the pedagogical tag-team of Jamie Begian and Dr. Jimmy Greene. Through his involvement as the president of WCSU’s Jazz Club, he gained opportunities to meet and perform with the likes of Robert Glasper, Gerald Clayton, Orrin Evans, Sean Jones, Josh Evans, and Ron Carter.
Joe loves teaching and guiding young musical minds through private lessons. He has experience teaching any age, and has the facility to teach piano, composition, arranging, theory, and basic digital audio skills (i.e. recording, mixing, and using a DAW).
Jazmin Giles is a classically trained solo pianist and accompanist based in Connecticut. She is currently completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education at Western Connecticut State University.
She began studying piano at The Hartt School’s Community Division and studied classical piano under pianist Malgosia Lis. While studying at the Hartt School Community Division, Jazmin performed in many recitals, small ensembles, and has won awards and competitions such as the HMTA Rising Pianists Competition. She also attend The Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts where she studied with performer Alex Nakhimovsky and performed with many of the academy’s musical ensembles.
She now takes private instruction in classical piano from Russell Hirshfield and piano pedagogy from Laurel Larsen at Western Connecticut State University. Jazmin serves as a collegiate music tutor and provides her peers with additional training in Keyboard Competency, Music Theory, and Sight-singing. She is also an active member of the school’s National Association of Music Education chapter, the Connecticut Music Educators Association, and presides over the Music Department’s Keyboard Club.
Through studying and teaching music, Jazmin hopes to pass on the many joys and skills music has provided her to future generations.
Voice and Piano
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!
Katie Kelly is a classically trained Soprano, Actor, and Voice and Piano Teacher based in the New York/Connecticut area. She possesses both a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Performance and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Western Connecticut State University. Katie is known for her comedic performances as well as the beauty and power of both her classical soprano sound and her Broadway mixed belt. Katie’s teaching style focuses on enhancing the strengths of the musician through collaboration by adding tools and techniques to their arsenal in order to improve their skills, like fun “meow exercise“. This includes song analysis, ear training, and incorporating acting techniques into performances. Katie has been teaching voice and beginning piano at Southbury Music Studio since January of this year.
Christina Tran is a proud graduate of Western Connecticut State University where she studied Music Education with a concentration in Voice. Her passion for choral works along with years of piano experience perpetuated her love for music. She studied under the studio of Dr. Margaret Astrup, where she has achieved 2nd place in the Lower College Division of the New England Online Regionals Round of the 2018 National Association of Teachers Singing (NATS) Competition and has qualified for the 2018 Online National Round for NATS. Christina has participated as Alto Section Leader for “L’Elisir D’Amore” through Opera Theater of Connecticut (OTC) and was a finalist for the James Furman Honors Recital Competition in 2019. She also had the honor of serving as a piano accompanist for a collegiate ensemble under the direction of Dr. Liang-Fang Chang and Dr. Jeremy Wiggins.
Christina currently teaches in the Guilford Public Schools as a choral director. She is an active member of the National Association of Music Education (NAfME) chapter, American Choral Directors’ Association (ACDA), and the Connecticut Music Educators Association. Christina believes that every student has the ability to inspire and nurture their unique musicianship through the powers of compassion, curiosity, and creativity!
Malin Carta started piano lessons at the age of six, began playing saxophone at the age of eight, and has been singing all her life. She now holds a BM degree in jazz saxophone performance from Western Connecticut State University where she studied with saxophonist Jimmy Greene. It was here that she also studied voice with Atla DeChamplain.
Malin has experience teaching all ages and abilities, ranging from eighteen months to adults, and strives to make her students feel comfortable enough to take risks, make mistakes, and grow from them. She continues to keep a consistent performance schedule with various groups including the Elm City Big Band and the CT-based band Chris Daly & the Lavender Social Club.
Dina is a Connecticut based vocalist specializing in jazz and improvisation. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Western Connecticut State University in 2020 with a focus in Jazz Voice as well as a minor in Theatre Arts. She studied under Atla DeChamplain throughout her time at the University and had the opportunity to briefly study classical voice under Constance Chase. During her time at Western CT State University, she performed in multiple jazz combos and had the opportunity to play with Geoff Keezer and open for Robert Glasper. While attending school, she also had the opportunity to be mentored in an organization outside the university “Women in Jazz Organization” or WIJO. In this program she studied under Rachel Eckroth in voice and piano. Outside of jazz, she was involved in multiple theater productions as a performer and a musician. She accompanied the production of Peter and The Starcatcher and played synthesizer on The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and performed in UBU: A Grand Guignol Musical. She competed in The National Association of Teachers of Singing competition and was awarded 3rd place in the Musical Theater Category in 2018.
Now graduated, Dina is a regular performer in the Hartford and Danbury Areas. She most frequently performs in a duo with guitarist Mike Gaboardi. She is also a founding member of the new band “Out of Orbit” consisting of co written originals by Dina and Ryan Papagelis. She will also be seen performing with various groups around the state as well.
Dina is passionate about not only providing a strong musical foundation for her students, but also wants to help them create a relationship with music that will motivate them to learn, explore their creativity, and express themselves in a healthy, fulfilling way. Dina hopes to later pursue this journey by getting her Master’s in Music Therapy and wishes to work with children and teens of all abilities.
Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in Music with a concentration 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 private music lessons full-time throughout Western CT since 2002, and he is a founder and co-owner of The Southbury Music Studio. In addition to teaching, he has also been actively performing with multiple ensembles covering many diverse musical styles during that time.
Nick Blanchette is a guitar player in the new haven area who is currently finishing his bachelors degree in jazz studies at western Connecticut state university. Nick started playing guitar at age 10, beginning with rock tunes and the blues. Since then he has studied a wide range of styles including jazz and classical guitar with renowned teachers such as Christopher Morrison, Joe Tinari, Barry Ries, and Val Ramos. Nick has played all around Connecticut and beyond in his own trio that plays a mix between jazz, soul, the blues, funk and classical music, and as a sideman for an assortment of jazz, rock, and funk bands.
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.
Steven Daniel Mastrianna
Steven Daniel Mastrianna is a bassist, guitarist, songwriter/composer, and teacher from Prospect, CT. Steven recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Western Connecticut State University and has been teaching guitar, bass, and piano lessons for over 2 years. Steven can also be found performing around CT in various musical groups on guitar or bass. Steven can also be found on Youtube and Instagram @stevendanielmusic
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.
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.
Theo Nield has been playing the cello for 20 years. He is currently a freelance cellist here in CT playing everything from weddings and musicals to benefits and bar gigs. Theo is a cello teaching artist for Bravo Waterbury! an El Systema inspired educational initiative of the Waterbury Symphony and enjoys teaching his 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
Yvonne is a violinist and teacher. Having studied, performed, and taught in the US and Canada, she holds experience teaching the violin at a variety of skill levels. She has maintained a personal violin studio for the past 25 years and is currently a strings teacher at Westover school. Throughout her career she has directed a number of string ensembles at the elementary and middle school level. Yvonne has a passion for molding young minds into future performers and musicians.
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.
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.
Gary has been teaching drum lessons for over forty years. He has helped countless students of all ages and levels achieve their goals. Gary’s approach to teaching has been described as fun and motivating. Please take a moment to read the following testimonials.
Gary is an excellent teacher. He really motivated my son and they had a lot of fun. He was also very flexible with our schedule and always did his best to find a time that worked well for us. Highly recommend him.
Wed Jun 30 2021
I sought Gary as a teacher for a second time after a long hiatus, and many other instructors who did not measure up. Gary is a skilled teacher with 30+ years of experience teaching and many more as an actual drummer. He excels at explaining difficult concepts, encourages me to do better, and challenges me to push harder when I say, “I can’t do this…” He can teach a variety of different styles and techniques and adapts quickly to different learning styles. I recommend him without reservation.
Wed Jun 30 2021
Gary is very knowledgeable and a terrific drum teacher. He presents the lessons in a flexible and easy to follow manner. He has a great sense of humor and is fun to work with!
Wed Jun 30 2021
Gary has been working with my daughter since she was 5 and all of her school band teachers recognize that Gary has been the single determining factor in her awesomeness. I wish all teachers “got” teaching the way that Gary does.
Wed Jun 30 2021
We only have great things to say about Gary! He’s been our daughter’s drum teacher for about 2 years. He makes the lessons fun and efficient. With Gary’s teaching and guidance, our daughter has been accepted into the Western Regionals Jazz Band. We highly recommend Gary!
Sat Jul 10 2021
Premik Russell Tubbs
Premik is a composer, arranger, producer and an accomplished multi-instrumentalist performs on various flutes, soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, wind synthesizers, and lap steel guitar has worked with everyone from Carlos Santana, Whitney Houston, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Ravi Shankar, Narada Michael Walden, Clarence Clemons, Ornette Coleman, Jackson Browne, Jean-Luc Ponty, Lonnie Liston-Smith, Scarlet Riveria, James Taylor, Sting and Lady Gaga just to name a few. He is equally adept in pop, R&B, jazz, world and experimental genres. As an instructor, Premik has been actively teaching private lessons on woodwinds in the greater New York area since 1994. He has taught over 200 students during that time. Premik received intensive training in both jazz and classical styles which he carries over into his own successful teaching methods.
Cailin McGuire is currently completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Western Connecticut State University with a concentration in Flute. The Watertown native, whose first music lesson was at age 4 on the piano, started playing flute in 2012 and studied for one year under Gina Carrozza. She now takes private lessons in classical flute from Dr. Kerry Walker at Western Connecticut State University. In 2017 and 2018, she took private lessons on classical saxophone.
Josh grew up in Southbury, CT and gained a love and a passion for music and trumpet in Region 15’s music program under Joe Choomack and Bob D’Angelo.
He then pursued and earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education (K-12). During his time at WCSU he played Lead trumpet with the Jazz Orchestra and shared the stage with greats such as Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Pacquito D’Rivera, Jeff Helmer, and Dafnis Prieto at their annual Jazz Festival each year. He also played and performed with the concert band, symphonic band, wind ensemble, chamber brass, and jazz combos during his time at WCSU.
After graduating he taught in the Fairfield, CT Public School system for a long term sub music position. The next calendar school year he was hired in the Danbury Public School system where he taught music for the next 8 years.
Currently he resides in Watertown, CT with his wife, son, and two pets!
He is an active performer in the tri-state area with pit orchestras, big bands, and his own brass quintet.