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.
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.
Taylor has been teaching music to students on a variety of instruments including piano and drum set for over a decade. Raritan Valley professor Steve Hudson asked him to join his teaching faculty and since then, his passion for music has led him to perform and teach all over the country. From his work with New Jersey Youth Symphony to a multitude of private students, Taylor has taught students of all ages and abilities, those with special needs, and is well-versed in many styles of pedagogy. No stranger to the stage, he draws on significant performance experience having collaborated with such luminaries as Johnny O’Neal, Bernie Worrell, and Gene Perla. Taylor’s approach instruction is well-rounded and informed by years of experience on and off the stage.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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’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 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 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.
Naomi holds a degree in Jazz Piano Performance and Music Education at Mason Gross School of The Arts with the renowned pianist and bandleader, Bill O’Connell. She began her musical journey as a young child learning a traditional classical repertoire but became more interested in the world of jazz and improvisation. During her time in school, she performed with multiple jazz and classical ensembles. While gaining expertise as pianist during her time as a performance major, her concentration in education has helped her to develop teaching strategies to relate her vast knowledge of both the classical and jazz world to students of all ages.
Jack is a pianist, composer, and music educator, currently completing a bachelor’s degree at Mason Gross School of the Arts in Music Education. Music has always been a huge part of his life, beginning his studies early, he actively participated in Marching Band, Concert Band, as an accompanist for school choir ensembles, and performed in the pit orchestra for musical productions. He has composed music for Mason Gross' student-organized RUNME (New Music Ensemble), and most recently contributed the music to Sparky, a new musical performed at NY Winterfest (NYC). Jack's musical interests cover much more area than classical music, recently pursuing collaborative projects in jazz and experimental/electronic fields. His strong theory background and passion for teaching can inspire his students to become well-rounded musicians.
Zoë is a classically trained opera singer specializing in dramatic analysis and technique. Along with vocal artistry, she also teaches music theory and piano at the beginner to intermediate levels. In addition to teaching, she has also accompanied her voice students in their recitals and has been known to adapt those accompaniments to further showcase her student’s talent. Zoe believes that piano instruction is an excellent stepping stone toward a budding love for music and takes great pleasure in introducing her students to that wonderfully versatile instrument.
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.
Annie grew up in family of trained musicians. Her mother was a piano teacher for nearly 40 years, while her father taught high school music. As a result, Annie naturally developed a passion for piano and singing and began formal lessons by the age of four. After graduating with honors from Grove City College in 2005 with a Bachelors of Music with concentrations on voice and piano, she went on to earn a Masters in Music Education from Boston University. Drawing on her experience of teaching general elementary music for the past 10 years, she shares her passion about music with her students. While classically trained, she welcomes all genres and styles of music. She values teaching specific piano techniques including: ear training, notation, music theory, and sight reading. Annie believes with these techniques as a foundation, students can develop their own passion for music and creative expression.