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.
Stella is an classically trained jazz pianist, composer, and arranger with a strong background in music education spanning over a decade. She graduated from Berklee College of Music majoring in Professional Music; Jazz Performance and Contemporary Writing and holds a Master’s Degree from Columbia University where she deepened her endeavor in music education. Stella grew up in South Korea where she started her piano studies at the age of four and graduated from Myongji College specializing in Applied Music. During her time there, she honed her skills as a composer and pianist, and her composition gained recognition by winning top accolades by the FEBC broadcasting company. Stella broadened her artistic horizons in New York City by performing at various renowned venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center. Throughout her career, she has guided students of diverse ages, helping them achieve their musical aspirations while nurturing a deep love and appreciation for music. Her dedication lies in cultivating a student-centered approach, where they can learn, grow, and find joy in music. Stella provides comprehensive instruction in piano and songwriting for students of all skill levels, spanning from beginners to advanced, and encompassing a wide range of musical genres.
Nettie holds a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance from Kean University. Her musical career began at the age of thirteen when, at the Academia Cristiana de la Música, Nettie studied piano under the direction of Berklee graduate, Peter Oliveras.She was then trained and learned to play and teach contemporary musical styles such as: Pop, Salsa, Merengue, and Cumbia on piano. At the age of sixteen, Nettie quickly began teaching faith-based piano lessons at the academy. During her time there, she participated in recording projects and live performances in New York and New Jersey. In addition to studying the piano, she took violin lessons with Juilliard graduate Adriana Ocello. During her time at Kean University, Nettie majored in classical piano, studying with such highly credentialed faculty as Dr. Stephanie Ho, Dr. Matthew Halper, Richard Hobson, and Dr. Mark Terenzi. She also gained performance experience by participating in Kean’s student recital programs performing piano and voice solos, playing violin for Kean University’s Chamber Music Ensemble, and singing in the Women’s Chorale. Nettie brings nearly a decade of teaching and performance experience to her studio and continues to pursue her passion for music in all of its forms.
Hyun is a voice and piano teacher with over 20 years of teaching experience. She has a Masters degree in Vocal Performance from New York City University. In addition to her formal education, she has studied with renowned vocal coaches and pianists in NYC and Seoul and performed in opera companies, concerts, and recitals. Her main roles include Susanna, “Le nozze di Figaro” and Zerlina, “Don Giovanni”.
Her additional performance credits include but are not limited to the Aspen Music Festival, White Mountain Summer Concert, Mozart Academy masterclass, and Cynthia Hoffman masterclass. Hyun is actively involved in community service as well and directs CD recordings of children’s musicals, ‘Oh! Jonah”, and Christmas musical Jubilees. She works at local community churches in New Jersey as an accompanist and soloist.
Teaching students of all ages and skill levels, she has helped them achieve their musical goals by tailoring her approach to each individual student’s needs and focusing on developing strong technique and musicianship skills while also encouraging creativity and self-expression. Many of her students not only perform in high level choirs such as regional and all state, but also place and often win in renowned vocal and piano music competitions.
Marco studied classical performance at William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ and the Mannes Conservatory in New York City. During his undergraduate studies, Marco studied with Richard Jacobowski, winner of the prestigious Andres Segovia Award for Outstanding Guitar and Michael Newman, founding member of the critically acclaimed Newman and Oltman duo. Marco also participated in master classes with renowned classical guitarists Elliot Fisk, Frederick Hand, Ben Verdery, Jason Vieux, and David Leisner. Marco went on to study Music Therapy and graduated from Montclair State University in 2012. Marco has performed in international competitions in Orvieto, Italy and Bratislava, Slovakia. Marco has over 17 years of extensive experience teaching guitar and piano throughout the New York metro area. In addition to teaching, Marco is also a regular performer at venues throughout the Jersey Shore area.
As a professional musician, Gene is known for his versatility and ability to excel in all aspects of trumpet performance. He received a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from Mason Gross School of the Arts where he had a unique experience studying for four years with two Broadway/Studio musicians, Tatum Greenblatt and Joe Mosello. He also studied with New York Philharmonic member Kenneth Decarlo for two years, greatly broadening his expertise in classical performance. Now as an educator, Gene has been teaching students of all ages and experiences with trumpet, piano, music theory, and jazz improvisation. His teaching style greatly stems from his philosophy; "Whether I am playing lead trumpet for a big band or principal trumpet in a wind ensemble, I have learned throughout my years of performing that versatility is the most important part of a musician's career. I believe that learning a vast range of musical genres on your instrument is how a well rounded professional musician is made."
Dannielle is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where she received her Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance. Recent perfomrance credits include La Contessa in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She has been a featured soloist with the Eastman Chorale, Eastman Repertory Singers, and the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra. Dannielle has worked with internationally renowned coaches and composers and has received local and regional awards, most recently as a finalist in the NATS Eastern Region Conference. Her studies have taken her abroad, most recently performing in numerous concert halls in Italy at Si Parla, Si Canta. Dannielle works to ensure that every student creates their unique musical fingerprint while maintaining a comfortable environment for students to experiment and grow.
Jerry began piano studies at the age of four and his professional work has spanned genres from television and theater to sacred music. He has worked for a variety of renowned institutions and individuals including New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse, Emmy Award-winning director Andrew Carl Wilk, Massachusetts’ North Shore Music Theater, and the Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut. His theatrical credits include pianist/conductor for the past original off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks, co-musical director of Heart’s Desire, by Emmy Award-winning conductor and composer Glenn Roven, and conductor for the musical Green Gables by Cincinnati composers Mark Friedman and Janet Vogt in Dayton, Ohio. His work in music for television has included work for National Geographic Television and he has made several appearances on Sounds from the Spires, on Sirius/XM’s The Catholic Channel, hosted by Dr. Jennifer Pascual, Music Director of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
Jerry holds a bachelor degree in music (Thomas Edison State University) a masters in theology (Saint Elizabeth University), and is pursuing a Phd in music composition at Rutgers University in the studio of Grammy Award-winning opera composer Robert Livingston Aldridge.
Mark is a New Jersey born and raised guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, and vocalist. He graduated from Monmouth University with a BA in Music with a concentration in Music Industry and a minor in Media Production. He taught himself guitar and keyboards at age 12, which inspired him to begin formal piano training in the eighth grade. In college, he trained one on one with private vocal and bass guitar instructors and participated in vocal and instrumental ensembles, gracing various stages with his talents. Beyond his formal education, Mark is a prolific composer/songwriter and an active member of local bands. His teaching repertoire is as diverse as his musical palette, encompassing a wide spectrum of playing and vocal styles, including rock, pop, jazz, hip hop, country, and classical. He is uniquely equipped to nurture and guide aspiring musicians, drawing from his eclectic and ongoing musical journey.
Stella has been a highly motivated and energetic voice teacher and music educator for 20+ years of experience in music lessons and performances. She graduated summa cum laude in Music Performance at Kyunghee University in Seoul, Korea and received her master's degree at Mannes School of Music in New York City and Montclair University in New Jersey. She has been teaching music at St. Thomas the Apostle School since 2016 and has been singing on major stages in the metro area such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Madison Square Garden. Stella also has been part of the prestigious group, New York Choral Society since 2003. She recently completed the Dalcroz Eurythmics for Children Comprehensive Training Program at Lucy Moses School in Kaufman Music Center in New York City. Stella continues to train, coach, and mentor singers of all ages and levels. Her students have been part of numerous auditions and have performed on main stages such as Lincoln Center and a Carnegie Hall. To this day, Stella is a committed and dedicated music educator for those with a serious passion for music.
Sophia is a singer/songwriter from Red Bank, NJ. She has been writing, producing and performing in the NJ area since she was 15 years old. She attended the University of New Haven and received a degree in music and sound recording in Spring of 2022. While at school she was able to spend a semester in Nashville, the songwriting capital of the world, and got hands-on experience working in a recording studio called Sound Stage Studios. She has performed in many bands over the years and is very passionate about performing and songwriting.
Raymond is a multi-instrumentalist musician and audio engineer who has been teaching since 2012. Ray studied Communications/Media Theory and Music at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where he concentrated his research in Popular Music Studies. As the keyboardist/songwriter of his funk & soul band Des and the Swagmatics, he has performed at venues across the east coast, including NYC's Bitter End and Bowery Electric, and Asbury Park's Convention Hall, Stone Pony and Asbury Lanes; recorded at Atlantic Records Studios NYC; shared the stage with Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes and legendary drummer Bernard Purdie; performed at Gov. Phil Murphy's election night victory party; and was named Best Keyboardist by newjerseystage.com's 2019 Makin' Waves Awards. Ray is also a Beatle encyclopedia, music history nerd, vinyl record enthusiast, and piano tuner at the ready!
Edsel holds a Bachelors of Music, Piano Performance, with an emphasis in pedagogy from Kean University and is also a composer. His musical career began at the age of sixteen, and while many may consider that an older age to begin learning, his late start did not deter him. Under the guidance of music professors at Kean University, Edsel learned to play and master difficult classical piano repertoire such as Claire de Lune by Claude Debussy and Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor K.310 (First movement) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in a short amount of time, while also pursuing his passion for composing. During his time at Kean, he studied piano with William Barto-Jones (whose style is based upon the Alexander Technique), Music Theory and Composition with Dr. Matthew Halper, and participated in many choir concerts under the direction of Dr. Mark Terenzi. Under the instruction of Professor William Barto-Jones, Edsel learned the Alexander Technique, and now teaches it to his students in hopes that it will help them progress and play piano with the least amount of tension, only using tension when needed. With the help of Dr. Halper, he was also able to compose four original compositions named: Playing in the Snow, Falling Leaves, Marching through Spring, and Fun Summer Days. At Kean University, he gained performance experience by participating in their student recital programs performing piano solos and piano four hands pieces and accompanying chamber works for Kean University’s Chamber Music Ensemble. Edsel has been teaching students for nearly a decade. Now, he performs for various winter and summer fundraiser concerts at the Messiah Lutheran Church in Sayreville, NJ, and has also premiered some of his original compositions at concerts and continues to work on his craft.
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.
Timothy resides in Neptune NJ and began playing music as a young child in elementary school. While in high school, he performed at the NYC Saint Patrick's Day Parade and was a member of the All Shore Symphonic Band. Timothy continued his education at Lebanon Valley College where he studied Music Education and French Horn Performance. While at college, he performed in the marching and jazz bands along with touring with the concert choir and singing with his Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia brothers.
Lindsay is a graduate student at Rutgers University pursuing her M.M. in opera performance and has a B.M. from Ithaca College in vocal performance. She has performed in Cendrillon (Ithaca College); Die Fledermaus (Martina Arroyo Foundation) and has performed roles such as Micaëla (Carmen); Antonia (Belisario); and Third Lady/ Pamina (The Magic Flute). She was a finalist in the National Hal Leonard competition; third place Rising Stars Classical Voice Competition; and winner of the SMC Young Artists Scholarship. Lindsay is enthusiastic and passionate about teaching musicians how to develop their abilities and unique musical identities. She has also taught in a variety of musical styles as she believes in the expression of all genres of music. Her teaching style provides students with a supportive and enriching learning experience.
Brianna is currently the General Music and Choir Director at Milltown School in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District. She received her Bachelors of Music in Music Education with a concentration in Voice from Westminster Choir College and has experience teaching students of all ages and abilities in voice and piano. In addition to her teaching experience, Brianna has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Julliard Orchestra, and the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. Her love of music started at just four years old, when her grandmother taught her how to play piano. As a teacher, it is Brianna’s goal to help every student find their passion and love of music.
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.
Jessica graduated from Westminster Choir College with a Bachelors of Music in Voice Performance with a minor in Piano and has performed at such world class venues as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic and with other renowned orchestras as a member of the Westminster Symphonic Choir. She has worked as a soloist at Liberty Corner Presbyterian and at Holy Nativity Episcopal in Rockledge Pennsylvania. Jessica is devoted to Art Song, particularly to the works by Franz Schubert, and recently gave a community recital where she both sang and accompanied herself on the piano performing Art Song by Schubert and others. After obtaining her music degree from Westminster, Ms. Shawaluk obtained her Juris Doctor from Temple Law School, and was admitted to the bar in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. She has worked in private practice as an attorney for over a decade, but has recently felt called to pass on her great love of music to students, and is delighted to be passing on this love to the next generation of musicians at Octopus Music School.
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.
Beginning to play the piano at age 9 and studying classical piano with composer and pianist Paul Zeigler for close to 10 years, Andrew developed an intimate understanding of the instrument before attending Rutgers University - Mason Gross, where he studied Jazz Piano with Orrin Evans and with Bill O’Connell. Reaching into both the contemporary and the classical
worlds of music, Andrew demonstrates facility in a wide range of styles and eras, with a specific focus on contemporary jazz. He is currently a member of Rutgers University’s flagship jazz big band and small combo, and has previously featured with several university orchestral groups.
John holds a diploma in piano performance from the Conservatory of Salerno, Italy and a Masters in Music from Rutgers University. John studied with V. Vitale under the “Vitale technique”, a method of playing that utilizes a technique wherein the whole arm, including the fingers is used to play. He is the winner of several European piano competitions including the fourth national piano competition in Rome, Italy. His traditional approach to piano and emphasis on the fundamentals helps him teach students a range of styles including classical, jazz, popular, and modern.
In 2001, John was admitted to the doctoral program at Rutgers and studied music composition with C. Wourinen and N. Hunt where he also earned a piano tuning certification. Currently, he teaches, performs, and records for state-wide events. John firmly believes that teachers and students should work through a piece recognizing and studying all of the choices available to enhance a performance.
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.
Pierre received his BM in Music Theory from Five Towns College in 2007. Since then, he has been teaching in the Newark and Irvington school districts as well as privately in-home. His years of experience as a piano teacher and general music teacher help him to understand and instruct each student. Using piano as a form of expression and communication, Pierre encourages diligent practice habits and uses individualized lessons to keep students engaged and focused.
Paul began his music journey at nine years old where he started on trombone and fell in love with the instrument. He received a Bachelor of Music in trombone performance from University of California, Santa Barbara, where he studied with the legendary studio musician Bill Booth, and a Master of Music in Trombone Performance from University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music, where he studied with the bass trombonist of the LA opera, Terry Cravens. During his study in Southern California, he had many different freelance experiences, ranging from teaching students of all ages, playing classical, jazz, contemporary, and church music. His teaching philosophy is to teach the student to become a teacher for themselves. By helping students develop critical thinking skills, students would teach themselves everyday, in the practice room, in the classroom, and in life. He values composition and improvisation in early musical training for all genres.
Albert graduated with honors from Fredonia University in 1986, earning a B.A. in Music Performance for Classical Guitar. His twenty year music performance career began as a classical guitarist giving solo recitals and live cabaret shows. He then transitioned into the rock arena and performed and recorded with several original bands, including NYC’s Rip Chord, in addition to doing studio work for several other recording artists. Albert has also been teaching private guitar, bass, drum and songwriting lessons for over thirty years sharing his love of music with students of all ages. Recently, he turned his attention from performing to recording and created a studio in his seaside home in Highlands, NJ where he writes and records music for film in a diverse range of styles.
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.
Jamie is a professional, classically trained pianist, vocalist, and drummer and holds a B.A. in Music Education K-12 with a concentration in voice, and a minor in piano from William Paterson University of New Jersey. In high school, Jamie was involved in a variety of award winning ensembles including concert choir, chorale, Madrigals, men's choir, all-state choir, concert band, wind ensemble, marching band, and jazz band. In 2007, the drumline, of which Jamie was co-section leader, earned the title of Grand National Champions.
After graduating WPUNJ, he worked at Pompton Lakes High School as a Marching Band Tech and sang as a hired choir section leader for Trinity & St. Philips Cathedral in Newark, NJ, and for Trinity & Episcopal Church in Cliffside Park, NJ. In the summer of 2018, he was hired by Lincoln Center for their Mostly Mozart Festival. Jamie was the Assistant Conductor for the William Paterson University's Choir Tour in 2018 where he conducted and sang through Austria and Italy in places such as the Vienna State Opera House and Melk Abbey.