PIANO LESSONS AT OCTOPUS

Piano lessons at Octopus Music School are taught using our proprietary OPUS curriculum (Octopus Poly-Instrumental Units of Study). OPUS consists of ten grade levels, each with a requisite assessment and certification. With consistent practice at recommended intervals, our carefully designed curriculum prepares students to quickly advance from day one by equipping them with the necessary tools and scaffolding to build a comprehensive understanding of the piano. In addition to learning note-reading, rhythm interpretation, and proper technique, students are exposed to theory, aural training, music appreciation, and collaborative courses with peers to help cultivate an immersive environment in which to thrive.

Lessons are still tailored to individuals' unique learning needs, and repertoire remains flexible so that students are able to learn music which interests them, however the core content and benchmarks have been standardized to ensure fast and steady progress for students of all ages and skill levels.

Joanna, Piano Teacher

JOANNA

Joanna holds a Bachelors of Music degree in Music Education with a specialization in keyboard and choral from The College of New Jersey. She has taught general music and choir at elementary schools in New York and New Jersey. As a pianist, Joanna has participated in chamber music programs at Curtis Institute of Music and Westminster Choir College. She has also performed as a collaborative accompanist for the Music Academy International festival in Italy. Joanna has been in choirs since a young age, and has performed in operas such as La Bohème and Tosca. At The College of New Jersey, Joanna sang in the Chorale with Japanese students who were affected by the 2011 earthquake at Lincoln Center. She has also sung in the Chorale with the Mendelssohn Club and Philadelphia Orchestra. Her years of experience as an instructor and performer ensure her students receive a well-rounded and comprehensive music education.

Xiaoyuan, Piano Teacher

XIAOYUAN

Xiaoyuan graduated from Louisiana State University with a Masters of Music degree in piano performance. Her well-rounded skills allow her to perform a diverse number of genres as a soloist and accompanist but her true passion is teaching the piano to others. Beginning at age six, she eventually went on to study at Oklahoma City University with Dr. Sergio Monteiro receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Piano Performance. Xiaoyuan was the accompanist at Northwest Baptist Mandarin Church in Oklahoma until graduation. Among her various awards, she won the division of upperclassmen at the Oklahoma Music Teacher Association collegiate piano competition. Xiaoyuan has performed in many solo and chamber performances both in China and in the U.S. She believes music is another language with which to communicate and relishes teaching students of all ages and skill levels.

Rodney, Piano Teacher

RODNEY

Rodney holds a Bachelor’s of Music in Classical Piano Performance. He studied jazz piano with Blue Note recording artist Harold Mabern and classical piano with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music, where he received the Eubie Blake scholarship for ragtime piano. From 2008 to 2011, Rodney was musical director for the famed Second City improv theatricals boat co. out of Chicago and now regularly performs improvised musicals at The People’s Improv Theatre, The Magnet Theatre, and Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York.

Jennifer, Piano Teacher

JENNIFER

Jenn has studied the piano for most of her life. As a young classically trained student, she participated in countless competitive performances and went on to win the Young Artist Competition twice. Other impressive achievements she made as a young student include receiving NJMTA high honor awards and performance opportunities in such prestigious venues as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. She received a B.A. in music with a minor in psychology after studying piano performance at Mason Gross School of the Arts under Professor Paul Hoffmann. During her time there, she participated in Voorhees Choir and completed many technique and pedagogy classes, such as Vocal Tech, Percussion Tech, Foundations of Music Education, and Conducting. She has observed and assisted teachers in elementary school music classes for both typically functioning students and those with special needs. She plans to return to school to complete a certificate in the recording arts.

Marisol, Piano Teacher

MARISOL

As a child, Marisol studied with renown violinists Janet Sung, Dale Stuckenbruck, and composer Matthew Pierce. She graduated from the State University of New York Fredonia with a performance degree in piano and strings. She has worked with various artists around the world, notably performing with Yo-Yo Ma in 2012. Over the past 10 years she has performed in various countries as a solo artist, and symphony member.

Michael, Piano Teacher

MICHAEL

A true multi-instrumentalist, Michael holds a BM in Classical Performance from Utah State University and a MA in Jazz Studies from Rutgers University. Studying and teaching classical and jazz on a variety of instruments (woodwinds, guitar, piano, etc) gives Michael a unique perspective beneficial to those learning multiple instruments. He also performs up and down the east coast playing everything from jazz clubs, Oktoberfest polkas, and rock shows/festivals.

Glennise, Piano Teacher

GLENNISE

Glennise received her BA in General Music from the University at Albany, SUNY and her MA in Music Theory-Composition from the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, where she studied with Dr. Ting Ho and Dr. Marcos Balter. She has over 25 years of teaching experience in vocals, piano and clarinet to both children and adults, in public schools and privately. She has also prepared numerous students to excel in the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Examinations (ABRSM) in both voice and piano.

Susan, Piano Teacher

SUSAN

Susan’s musical career began at a young age when she began studying at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee Wisconsin. After receiving her BA in Piano Performance from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, she went on to direct various children’s choral church groups. An experienced accompanist and instructor, she has over 20 years of experience teaching students piano, many of whom have gone on to pursue music as a career.

Alex, Piano Teacher

ALEX

Alex graduated from Westminster Choir College with a BA in Music and a concentration in Voice Studies. Studying voice as a soprano with Dr. Sharon Sweet, Alex was the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards and was counted a member of several select vocal ensembles, including Kantorei, Williamson Voices, and Symphonic Choir. In addition to her performances around the tri-state area at such prestigious venues as Lincoln and Kimmel Center, she has performed throughout France and England, including as a Choral Mentor at the Oxford University Choral Singing Summer School. In spring of 2018, Alex made her Carnegie Hall debut as the alto soloist in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. She has been recorded as a chorister, and is a featured soloist on three releases. This season, Alex has been accepted onto the extended roster for Donald Nally’s professional ensemble, The Crossing, and sings as the alto Choral Scholar in the Voices Chorale NJ. Alex has a passion for teaching, especially younger students, and her rich background in performance allow for lessons that teach not only technicality, but also musicality.

Robert, Piano Teacher

ROBERT

Robert studied guitar with international performing artist Anna Maria Rosado and composition with American composer Annette Le Siege. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Guitar Performance from New Jersey City University, and has performed extensively in small venues throughout Vermont. He was a house musician for several seasons at the Yosemite Theater in Yosemite National Park, California. A true pedagogue, Robert has been performing and teaching numerous instruments including guitar, piano, strings, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, mountain dulcimer, and brass & woodwinds for over 20 years. Notable performances include a guitar trio led by Dr. Rosado at the 2011 NJMEA conference in East Brunswick, and several trips to Carnegie Hall as a member of the NJCU Choir. His focus is on creating individualized lesson plans that address the students particular interests and needs.

Margaret, Piano Teacher

MARGARET

Margaret is a passionate and patient teacher with years of experience providing a wide range of students vocal and piano instruction. Starting at a young age in Rutgers and Westminster children's choirs, she has experienced first hand the value of learning music early in life. Margaret is a graduate of Monmouth University with a degree in Vocal Performance with a concentration in classical music. Her extensive performance experience began as a child with the Westminster Choir with which she performed at the White House and various private choral events. As a seasoned musician, she’s enjoyed roles in operas such as Carmen and Amahl and the Night Visitors.

Karl, Piano Teacher

KARL

Karl taught a friend how to play “Purple Haze” on the guitar in 1991. The friend returned the next day and gave him $5. At that point, Karl found his calling. He received a B.A. In Music from Rutgers University in 1994 and has over 30 years of teaching experience, privately and at various conservatories, including the New Mozart School in Palo Alto, CA. Along the way, he has studied jazz guitar with Ted Dunbar, jazz piano with Kenny Barron and classical piano with Sophia Rosoff. In 2002 he was approached by Alfred Publishing to write a book. Beginning Piano for Adults was published in 2003 and has sold over 20,000 copies. Karl was introduced to the Alexander technique by renowned hand therapist Caryl Johnson and considers proper posture and alignment an integral part of his pedagogical philosophy.

Jonathon, Piano Teacher

JONATHON

Jonathon is a recent graduate of Rutgers University with a B.M. in Music Performance from the Mason Gross School of the Arts. As a student, Jonathon studied classical voice as his primary instrument. He performed in both the Kirkpatrick Choir, the select choir that has a yearly performance in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and in the Rutgers University Glee Club, a men’s choir that recently toured Sweden, Finland, and Estonia. He also has experience performing musical theater, participating in shows throughout both high school and college. Jonathon has also studied piano since he was 7 years old. He has focused both on classical performance and jazz piano, which has helped him develop a unique musical ear. As a student at Rutgers, Jonathon excelled at ear training, and often tutored other students in music dictation and theory. Jonathon’s wide range of musical experience enables him to meet the needs of any students.

Austin, Piano Teacher

AUSTIN

Austin is a graduate at Eastman School of Music where he studied Music Education and Jazz Performance. During his time there, he played in the Eastman Jazz Ensemble where he performed at events like the Rochester Jazz Festival and participated in the Jack Rudin Championship. As a composer, Austin wrote the score for “Basie and the Trumpet” which was selected for the Rochester Fringe Festival. Austin was also selected as the winner of the 2021 Downbeat Award for Original Composition in Large ensemble. He loves listening and playing to all types of music and brings his vast experience as a composer and performer to all of his lessons.

Lina, Piano Teacher

LINA

An active performer, Lina is a frequent participant in recitals, chamber groups, choirs, and operas including Don Giovanni and Elixir. During her studies at the Valle University where she received a Bachelors of The Arts in Music Education, she performed with the Univalle opera which toured Colombia and Ecuador. Her work as a voice conductor at Cooperative University of Colombia and Unison Center for the performing arts in Jackson Heights, New York has given her a unique opportunity to see the world of performance from the other side of the podium. Lina is currently preparing for her Masters of Music in Vocal Performance with the distinguished Karen Beardsley at the Manhattan School of Music. In addition to her academic pursuits, Lina is both a member of the choir and cantor at St. Matthias Church. As an educator, Lina has extensive experience as a vocal, piano, and general music instructor and has taught a diverse range of students from children to adults, including those with special needs.

Bonnie, Piano Teacher

BONNIE

Bonnie received her B.A. in Music Performance at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in piano and organ studies. During her time there, she participated in the University Choir and several chamber ensembles studying and performing technically advanced pieces. Not simply an incredible pianist, she also has extensive knowledge of all levels of music theory, music history, music composition & arranging, aural skills, and advanced conducting. In addition to her work as an instructor and performer, she serves as music director at two area churches helping to adapt and arrange works for a variety of musical instruments. Her students benefit from her expansive knowledge of all things piano and organ and her exhaustive understanding of the scaffolding students must have in order to take their playing to the next level.

Nick, Piano Teacher

NICK

Nick has been playing and teaching the drums for almost two decades. He graduated magna cum laude from the William Paterson University Honors College, with a BM in Music Education and Jazz Studies and is a NJ state-certified K-12 music teacher, and recently taught 4th and 5th grade Instrumental Music in Livingston public schools.He has taught a diverse array of private students ranging from complete beginners to college students, some of which have gone on to study music at college programs such as William Paterson University and the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. His passion and expertise is the drum set, with a strong background in all styles including Jazz, Rock, R&B, and Afro-Cuban music. He has performed at venues such as the Bowery Ballroom, NJPAC, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. He has traveled to France, Spain, and Colombia for both teaching and performing opportunities. Nick also has a background in classical percussion and has performed with Wind Ensembles and Percussion Ensembles such as the New Jersey Wind Symphony, the Rutgers University Wind Ensemble, and the William Paterson University Percussion Ensemble.

Aidan, Piano Teacher

AIDAN

Aidan has studied Voice Performance and Secondary Piano at Westminster Choir College and Voice Performance at Mason Gross of Rutgers University. He has performed throughout the United States, Italy, France, and the UK, and has also studied in masterclass settings with such luminaries as Dalton Baldwin, Niel Shicoff, and Simon Carrington. Aidan sings with world renown outfits, such as the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Same Stream Choir. In addition to his impressive performance CV, he draws on a wealth of instructional experience including teaching secondary voice lessons and aural skills at Mason Gross to undergraduate students.