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.
Daniel began studying music when he was twelve years old. By age nineteen, he was studying piano at Fundação das Artes in the city of São Caetano do Sul, under the guidance of pianist Claudio Tegg. During this time, he began composing pieces for musical theater and short films and has been a passionate composer ever since. Daniel has participated in several music festivals throughout Brazil, such as the International Piano Festival in Piracicaba and the International Piano Festival in Vale do Aço. In 2016, he had his work, 'Respirateur,' premiered by Roger Admiral, a pianist and professor of music at Alberta University - Canada. As an active performer of contemporary and ethnic music, Daniel has also performed in festivals throughout the U.S. including MusikFest, Newark Porch Music Fest, and a special performance at the Oregon Piano Summer Music Festival in collaboration with the esteemed Alexandre Dossin. His compositional style merges classical influences such as Scriabin, Chopin, Ravel, Schumann and Brahms, with his background studying Jazz and Brazilian music. Currently, Daniel is involved in researching piano pedagogy and spends his time preparing students for competitions and performances throughout New Jersey and New York.
Lizaveta is a graduate of Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, Poland, where she earned her Bachelors degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy. Belonging to a family of musicians, Lizaveta started playing the piano when she was three years old. By the age of nine, she was placing in international piano competitions and performing in numerous concerts and festivals throughout Europe and the USA. Her love for classical music eventually inspired Lizaveta to organize her own international classical music festival in Poland and she has been passing her enthusiasm onto her private students for many years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dani is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and film composer. As soon as she could walk and talk, she found herself enchanted by music-making and instrumental experimentation. She has been studying piano and clarinet for fifteen years, and most recently studied classical clarinet performance with Dr. Antoine Clark while receiving her Bachelor of Arts at Kenyon College. Dani’s approach to instruction is tied to her love for creative independence and storytelling. She believes that every music student, no matter how young, has a creative voice and a story to tell through their instrument. Dani plans on attending graduate school to earn a Master's degree in film composition.
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.
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.
Makiah is a graduate of Kean University with a Bachelor of Music in Music Performance and a concentration in pedagogy. She is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Choral Conducting at Westminster Choir College and is studying with grammy nominated, Dr. James Jordan.
Makiah conducted the Kean University Women’s Chorale for their performance of Eric Whitare’s Sing Gently and Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus with the Concert Choir. She has a wealth of experience performing soprano solos, duets, and trios, which have included the opening movement of Mozart’s Requiem with the Concert Choir under the direction of Dr. Mark Terenzi.
Off the podium, Makiah has held other leadership positions such as Chaplin of Kean’s chapter of the National Council of Negro Women. She was also inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success and a member of the National Association for Music Educators.
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.
Jillana has loved music ever since she joined her first choir in preschool. She grew up taking piano lessons and voice lessons and her favorite pastime was being in musical theater shows. Her passion for music drove her to pursue her masters at NYU in classical voice and she holds a postgraduate certificate in vocal pedagogy. As a member of NATS and Kodaly certified instructor, Jillana loves teaching the young and young at heart. She is passionate about the learning process and creativity music brings to the soul.
Shane is a multi-instrumentalist who has been a working musician and instructor for over a decade. While earning his BA in jazz performance as a drummer at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, he studied closely with preeminent musicians including Ben O’neill (John Legend), Kevin Hanson (The Roots), Marc Dicciani, and Erik Johnson. Since then, Shane has toured the world with artists such as River City Extension, Remember Jones, Billy Walton Band,
and Cranston Dean and has played drums, guitar, bass, keyboards, and vocals on dozens of records for artists around the country. He was also a member of the PA All-State Jazz Band in 2010 and performed in the Uarts Transfusion Ensemble. As a teacher, he has a wide breadth of knowledge stemming from real world experience in everything from improvisation to songwriting, marching band to music production, and so many things in between.
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.