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19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA

2024 Lab COHORT


Abigail Bracewell

Originally from North Carolina, Abigail Bracewell is an active violin teacher and performer currently centered in Houston, Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro under Marjorie Bagley.  She then went on to earn a Master of Music degree in Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Houston with Dr. Kirsten Yon.  

Starting in her junior year of high school, Abigail has taught violin, viola, and piano lessons to students of all ages, including beginning adult students learning to play an instrument for their personal enjoyment.  She uses her Suzuki training and the Suzuki method combined with elements of her eclectic background for a mixed style of teaching, combining the Suzuki Method with traditional étude and technique books to meet the student’s needs and interests.  Abigail believes that students of all ages and backgrounds can learn to play music, and she strives to help and encourage her students as they learn to play the music they enjoy.

Abigail is an active performer in chamber ensembles and symphony orchestras.  She has performed with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and Salisbury Symphony in North Carolina.  Abigail has performed in chamber concerts with the Triad Early Music Society in North Carolina, and she has premiered works of local composers for chamber ensembles and for orchestra in her hometown and in Houston.  She currently performs around Houston with small chamber ensembles.  An active church musician, Abigail performs regularly in local churches, and she arranges string quartets and vocal works for special services.  Besides performing and teaching, Abigail enjoys baking, CrossFit, and reading. 

Houston Youth Symphony's Coda Music Program​

Alex Norberg

Alex Norberg is a Boston-based cellist and teacher. He is a recent graduate of Boston University’s Master of Music program, where he studied with Boston Symphony Orchestra cellist, Mihail Jojatu. As an active freelance cellist, Alex plays with the Great Bay Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Chamber Orchestra. During the summers, he has participated in the Sitka International Cello Seminar (Alaska), National Music Festival (Maryland), and Bowdoin International Music Festival (Maine).

As a teacher, Alex is passionate about finding the best ways to teach valuable life skills through the medium of learning an instrument. He is currently a Cello Teaching Artist at Bridge Boston Charter School, an El Sistema-inspired program in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He is also a new cello faculty member at the Community Music Center of Boston, whose mission is to provide equitable access to a quality music education throughout the city. Alex has previously worked with the University of New Hampshire Youth Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Boston University All-Campus Orchestra. 

Originally from Rhode Island, Alex also enjoys putting his cello away to explore the beautiful beach and mountain landscapes of New England with his family and friends!

Bridge Boston
Charter School

Alex Villa

Alex Villa is an avid performer and teacher of music. He attended the University Maryland and graduated with a Master's Degree in Music Performance in the spring of 2023. He also attended Texas A&M University-Commerce and graduated with Bachelor's Degrees in Music Education and Performance. Alex has performed with various community groups both in the North Texas and DC areas.

When he is not performing, Alex teaches private clarinet lessons and masterclasses with multiple school districts. He also works with the Kim Noltemy Young Musicians Program in Dallas, TX which is an El Sistema inspired after school music program dedicated to reaching underrepresented communities.

Alex currently resides in McKinney, TX.

Dallas Young Musicians Program

Alysha McElroy-Hodges

Bold, sensual vocalist, Alysha, mesmerizes audiences with the sultry vocal styling of jazz and soul music. Her endearing aura bewitches listeners into the essence of love, individuality and self-actualization. Surrounded by incredible musicians who strive to push their music to an innovative level, Alysha’s creativity and originality continue to ascend upward. An experience with Alysha is striking, genuine and poignant.

Guitars Over Guns – Chicago

Ana Paulette Ortega

I'm a violinist, singer and music educator that believes that children of every age can learn how to express themselves through the language of music.

ana paulette
Miami Music Project

Annaeka Johnson


Merit School of Music

Annie Mittelsteadt

Annie Mittelsteadt is a clarinetist and educator based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She recently earned her master’s in Clarinet Performance from Western Michigan University, and holds degrees in Music Education and Clarinet Performance from the University of Mary in North Dakota. She has gained a wide range of experience from her teaching opportunities, including elementary general music, secondary concert band, and private piano and clarinet lessons with students of all ages. Currently, she serves as the site coordinator and clarinet teaching artist at Kalamazoo Kids in Tune and also as an elementary group piano instructor for the Gilmore Piano Labs.

Kalamazoo Kids in Tune

Brett Karner

Brett Karner is a musician and music teacher born and raised in Miami, Florida. Predominantly a trumpet player, Brett has taught a variety of instruments ranging from ukulele, piano, guitar, bass, voice, drums, and trombone. As a New World School of the Arts High School alumni, Brett has traveled nationally and internationally performing with and learning from guest artists Bobby Watson, Paquito D’Rivera, Sammy Nestico, Ted Nash, Duffy Jackson, and Doc Severinsen, and more. Brett also attended San Francisco Conservatory of Music for 2 years until ultimately changing his major from Jazz Trumpet Performance to Music Education. 

These days, Brett teaches a brass ensemble at Achieve Miami, where he also composes arrangements and exercises for his class. Brett is also a teacher at My Gym Children’s Fitness Center where he teaches beginning gymnastics to children ages 3 months- 8 years old.

Achieve Miami

Bryce Bottomly

Bryce Bottomly is a guitarist and music educator based in Miami, Florida. An experienced instructor with 9 years of teaching experience in both classroom and one-on-one settings, Bryce has a continued and growing passion for exploring new approaches and philosophies in pedagogy. Bryce has spent the last four years working with Guitars Over Guns, a not-for-profit organization that seeks to empower youth through music in vulnerable and marginalized communities throughout Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles. 

“The work that we do on a weekly basis at Guitars Over Guns will inform the rest of my teaching career. I can teach scales, chords, motivic development, form, counterpoint, and much more. Without the context of a community to appreciate and love what music becomes (which is much greater than the sum of its parts), we’re simply vibrating the air. I have students who have built a community with two members — themselves and their guitar — and the meaning they find in that relationship. I also have students whose biggest goal is to share their voice with as many people as are willing to listen. Anything is possible in music through passion and open-mindedness.”

Inspired in his teenage years by the music of such luminaries as Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Keith Jarrett, Bryce relocated from Connecticut to Miami to attend the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami to study jazz guitar where he completed a Bachelor’s in Music degree. During his tenure at UM, Bryce received several Downbeat awards for jazz ensemble work and studied with renowned artists such as John Hart, Martin Bejerano, Chuck Bergeron, and Dr. Kate Reid. 

Initially intending to focus all of his efforts on performing, Bryce found that the most impactful thing about his college experience was the change his teachers had elicited in him. This sparked a passion for teaching and led to his involvement with Guitars Over Guns where he works with youth in the pursuit of life enrichment through music. Bryce still regularly performs in the Miami area and maintains a private lessons studio offering instruction in guitar, composition, and music theory. 

Guitars Over Guns – Miami

Caitlin Olsen

Caitlin Olsen holds a Master of Music in viola performance from the University of Redlands, where she studied viola with Kira Blumberg and violin with Jeanne Skrocki, and a BA in music from Pomona College, where she studied viola with Cynthia Fogg. Caitlin has performed as a member of numerous ensembles in the greater Los Angeles area, including Redlands Symphony, Sinfonia Mexicana, and Golden State Pops Orchestra. Her true passion, however, lies in music education. In 2010, Caitlin played an integral role in the formation of the Lawndale Youth Orchestra, which was later adopted by Harmony Project, a non-profit based on the model of El Sistema and dedicated to community building through music education. Since then, she has taught K-12 orchestral strings classes through Harmony Project, Arts Alive, Santa Monica Conservatory, and The Colburn School, in addition to maintaining a private studio of students aged preschool to adult. She has completed professional development focused on growth mindset, trauma-informed teaching, and anti-racist pedagogical practices, as well as extensive teacher training in Creative Ability Development, a method of improvisation created by Alice Kanack meant to help students find their personal creative voice. Caitlin believes that studying music goes well beyond the notes on the page, and challenges her students to consistently practice creativity, community, and personal integrity.

caitlin olsen
Harmony Project

Carlos Esparza

Carlos Esparza is currently a Senior undergraduate student in Music Education at the University of Texas at El Paso and will be graduating in Spring of 2024. He has had held leadership roles in organizations such as President & ACPR for Phi Mu Alpha Fraternity of America, as well as Vice President of The American String Teacher Association Chapter at Utep. He has performed throughout the country with the University as well as being involved with festivals. Mr. Esparza currently has his own private cello studio where he has helped create very successful students. He has worked with independent school districts as a tutor for all string instruments and is currently employed as a teaching artist for the Tocando Music Project.

Tocando Music Project

Carlos Herrand Pou

Carlos (Cabeto) Herrand Pou is a Dominican drummer, composer & educator based in Boston, MA. He joined the National Conservatory of Music at age 15. He then soon started to gain recognition in the local jazz scene and started playing with renown local jazz musicians. After participating in the 2015 edition of Berklee on the Road, he was given a scholarship to join the prestigious Berklee College of Music, where he graduated with the highest honor majoring in Performance. While at Berklee, he studied with renown drummers Terri Lyne Carrington, Francisco Mela, Neal Smith, and Yoron Israel. He joined Berklee's prestige Berklee Global Jazz Institute undergraduate program in 2017, where he studied under the tutelage of Danilo Perez, Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, Ben Street, Adam Cruz, and others. He received the Steve Gadd Award in 2017 and The Most Active Drummer in 2018. Currently, he is pursuing a Master's Degree in Jazz and Contemporary Music at the renown Longy School of Music of Bard College as a Presidential & Equity Scholar.

As a performer and composer, Carlos is leading his group alongside seasoned musicians Eric Hofbauer and Noah Preminger. His approach in composition for this ensemble is influenced by drummer Paul Motian. The avant-garde ensemble sound fresh and innovative. He has also played with the likes of George Garzone, Joe Lovano, Kris Davis, John Lockwood, Kenny Werner, Ramón Vázquez, and of his generation: Daniele Germani, Milena Casado, Giuseppe Cucchiara, Kento Tsubosaka, Charlie Lincoln, Santiago Bosch, Noam Tanzer, Dan Elbert, Temidayo Balogun, and many others.

As an educator, Carlos is current a faculty at Community Music Center of Boston, where he teaches percussion, ensembles, labs, music programs at site partners (mostly Boston Public Schools). He has also helped tailored music programs for other music schools in the Greater Boston Area, such as Bach to Rock, The Jam Zone, and Unity Music School.

Herrand Pou
Community Music Center of Boston

Cindy Joy Gossman

Cindy Joy Gossman (Program Director, ASO Sympatico; Teaching Artist, Cantamos) was born and raised in Virginia and has been singing and performing in various public settings since her early childhood. An alumnus of the music program at Northern Virginia Community College, Cindy has led a distinguished local career as a music educator, children’s choir director, choral singer, classical soloist, and folk/rock musician. Cindy’s enthusiasm for music is contagious and her holistic approach to music education has inspired a life-long love of music in countless children and their families.  During her five years of teaching an El Sistema Inspired choral program, Cindy has found extensive support from the ESUSA community through participation in professional development opportunities such as the Eastman School of Music Nonprofit Leadership Bootcamp, TATI Regional Practicum, and several ESUSA National Symposiums. Cindy was on the team that assisted in the development of the Collective Conservatory’s virtual platform in the Spring of 2020 and has collaborated with many ESUSA organizations over the years.

Cindy Joy
ASO Sympatico

Colin Hilliard

Colin Hilliard believes that expression through art is life giving. Through innovating in how we develop skills, he hopes to give greater access for all people to express themselves. Colin is a freelance Bassoonist in the Dallas Fort Worth area, maintains a studio of around 20 students, and is also a Teaching Artist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestras Young Musicians program, modeled after El Sistema in Venezuela. A graduate of the University of North Texas, Colin was a bassoonist with the UNT Symphony Orchestra and collaborated in chamber music for many years where he premiered multiple new works. Colin also studied with the orchestral conducting faculty and is a composer with a focus on bridging genres and creating new frameworks for musical creation.

Colin has a passion for seeking out simple solutions to the problems we face along the way as developing musicians and shares these solutions with others through teaching and articles online. Colin believes open communication and collaboration between those developing on similar paths is a hugely untapped recourse and seeks to understand the unique ways his colleagues go about their craft.


Colin has served on the board of chamber music non-profit Mélange Musical and has acted as event manager for their concerts. Colin has also been an integral collaborator with Chef Cody Penton with his pop-up restaurant series Cicada. In his free time, Colin enjoys playing basketball, DMing Dungeons and Dragons, walking with his dog Zara, and doing collaborative painting with his girlfriend Lisa.

Dallas Young Musicians Program

Dana Gatziolis

Born and raised just outside of Chicago, Dana Marie Gatziolis is a singer-songwriter, trauma-informed mentor, podcaster and a writer of poetry and prose. Her songwriting hints at an ever-evolving desire to experience life in all of its fullness - embracing the beauty to be found in life’s highs and lows. 

Brimming with passion for people and creativity, she aims to live with no stone left unturned. Her love for storytelling and hunger for a full, vibrant life gives her voice and songs an earthy, soulful, yet approachable sound. Friendly folk may be the perfect description. You can find her albums and latest singles available for streaming on all platforms.

Dana has found so much joy in mentoring with Guitars Over Guns. She loves helping her students to find their voice through songwriting. 

You can connect with Dana on Instagram where she has links to all of her music, inspiration, her podcast and any upcoming gigs! 

Guitars Over Guns -Chicago

Daniel Stevens

My name is Daniel Stevens. I am a professional violinist and musician. I have studied music my entire life and look forward to sharing and learning with you.

El Sistema Lehigh Valley

David Gueringer

I’m David (Dmajor) Gueringer, a classically and jazz trained pianist and clarinetist. Along with performing piano and clarinet for 20 years, I’ve composed over 40 original tracks for various indie comics, animations, and games. I specialize in auditory immersion and audio storytelling. As a shy and nerdy kid, music helped me become comfortable in self expression and expand my perspective of everything around me.

Guitars Over Guns - Chicago

Donghee Han

Korean-born violist Donghee Han has been active as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician, distinguished by her emotionally attractive performances. She has been warmly hailed for her enthusiastic commitment and sensitive musicianship to performing and teaching. 

As a dynamic performer, Han has worked in numerous chamber ensembles and orchestras and has performed extensively throughout the United States, South Korea, China, and Japan. Recently, Dr. Han was invited by Cavani String Quartet and Red Cedar Chamber Music. Various music festivals, such as Round Top Music Festival, Miami Music Festival, Decoda Chamber Music Festival, Green Lake Chamber Music Institute, and Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival, invited her as a fellowship, assistant, intern, and full scholarship recipient. 

Dr. Han is very passionate about new music and enjoys collaborating with living composers. She has worked with esteemed composers, including Hanki Kim (Korea), Michael Kimber (US), James Whitbourn (UK), and so on. She gave world premieres of Michael Kimber’s 2020 and Quest written for her, Han-Ki Kim’s Kankangsule, Jack Stanton’s Mourning Vignettes, Trinton Prater’s We Can Save Us, and other new works in her solo recitals, new music ensemble concerts, and composers’ workshops. In 2022, Donghee was selected by the 2022 American Viola Society Festival & 47th International Viola Congress, presenting Kimber’s new works for solo viola at the Columbus State University, which was a part of her recording project. As a devotee of Michael Kimber’s music, Dr. Han’s thesis and recording project include Kimber’s five new works for solo viola and a duet piece, and she has performed Kimber’s chamber music with several ensembles. 

She earned both B.M and M.M from Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul, South Korea, and was a full-time viola sectional member of a professional orchestra, Cheon-an Philharmonic Orchestra. With a new chapter of her musical journey in the US, Han continued her M.M. and Performer’s Certificate degrees at Northern Illinois University, where she earned the great honors of winning the NIU Concerto Competition and NIU Chamber Ensemble Competition. Dr. Han holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Viola Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Iowa under the tutelage of Prof. Christine Rutledge. During her DMA, Han was a Teaching Assistant at the UI Viola Studio and a Research Assistant at the UI Center of New Music. She was also an Assistant of Prof. Elizabeth Oakes, a UI String Quartet Residency Program director. She worked with fabulous string quartets in the UI Chamber Music Program, including Brentano, Jupiter, Parker, JACK, Miro, Daedalus Quartets, and so on. 

A devoted educator herself, Dr. Han enjoys opportunities to help young artists in her private studio and serving as the Teaching Artist of the Harmony School of Music. Recently, she was selected by TATI’s (Teaching Artists Training Institute) 2023-24 Lab Cohort, which is the signature program of Teaching Artist Training Institute, bringing together 50 Teaching Artists each year to learn, collaborate, and reflect on their teaching practice. 

Harmony School of Music

Enerida Mendoza

Enerida Mendoza has been part of YAMA (Yakima Music en Acción) since the first year it was founded, they were one of the first students to be a part of YAMA. Now during their college years she decided to join the YAMA team as a Teaching Artist.

Yakima Music en Acción

Erika Perera

Charismatic, energetic and passionate about music, Erika Perera is a Venezuelan-Peruvian double bassist, conductor and photographer who began her musical education in the internationally acclaimed Venezuelan National Program “El Sistema."

Austin Soundwaves

Evanghelina Ciobanu

Evanghelina Ciobanu was born in Chișinău, Republic of Moldova. She finished her Bachelor’s Degree in cello performance at Park University’s International Center for Music studying under Daniel Veis in 2019, and Master’s Degree in cello performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music under Ilya Finkelshteyn in 2021. 

During her  school years, Evanghelina won several competitions, including first prize in the Concerto Competition (Moldova, 2007), third prize in the “Antonina Lucinschi” National Competition (Moldova, 2007) and second prize in the “George Georgescu” International Competition (Romania, 2012). She also received scholarships from the Kansas City Music Club, Sigma Alpha Iota and 2022 Civic and Engagement Georgie Award from Johns Hopkins Peabody Conservatory. 

Evanghelina was also a part of numerous orchestras. She held the principal cello positions in the Wonderful Youth Orchestra (2013) where they performed in Croatia, Italy, Serbia, and Slovenia, and National Symphony Orchestra “Tele-radio Moldova” (2013) where they toured South Korea. She was a member of the Central European Initiative Youth Orchestra (Italy, 2012), Chamber Orchestra of International Center for Music 2014-2019, South Florida Symphony Orchestra during the 2019-2020 season. In 2022-2023 she was part of the International Cello Seminar in Sitka, Alaska and  Castleman Quartet Program in New York state where she performed solo and chamber music. Evangelina was recently the Artist-in-Residence at Springwell Senior Community for the 2022-2023 season.

Evanghelina has performed in Europe, United States and South Korea and as soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra member. Since 2017 she has taught in numerous music academies such as KC Music Academy, Queen City Music Studio, Cincinnati School of Music,  Baltimore School for the Arts,  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra OrchKids and Peabody Institute of The  Johns Hopkins University.

Currently, Evanghelina is pursuing her DMA Degree in cello performance at Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University with Alan Stepansky.   


BSO OrchKids

Felipe Luzuriaga

Felipe Luzuriaga is a musician with an excelling trajectory. Having toured extensively throughout the world, he has performed as soloist, concertmaster, and orchestral member. He has conducted orchestras and ensembles internationally and written and arranged music in different genres for studio recordings films, theatre, and dance. During 2022, he served as Music Director of the National Theatre in Quito-Ecuador and is currently Music Director of the Durham Chamber Orchestra.

Recently the CBC featured Mr. Luzuriaga in their Front-Line Heroes series for his Balcony Concerts during Toronto’s partial lockdowns. Among festivals in which he has participated are Aspen, Juilliard Starling-Delay, Philadelphia International Music Festival, and the Orchestra of the Americas. He holds degrees from the University of Toronto, Boston Conservatory, and University San Francisco de Quito. A recipient of the Marilyn Cook Graduate Fellowship, he is currently a doctoral candidate in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Toronto.

Sistema Toronto

Frances Kennedy

Frances Kennedy, a native of Chicago, is the Early Childhood and General Music Program Manager at the Merit School of Music. She holds a degree in music with an emphasis in early childhood education and special education. Frances has completed Orff Level 1 training, is certified in Music Together, and teaches in partnership with the Foundation for Hearing and Speech Resources (FHSR), offering group classes and private lessons for children with hearing loss. As a trained classical pianist, she has worked with Rick Ferguson, Michael Langer, Tiantian Liang and is currently studying with Jeff Panko and Mary Sauer, former principal pianist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. With experience in teaching private lessons for all ages and elementary music group classes, Frances believes music is a means of universal teaching and can bring beauty and joy to a young student’s mind and heart.

Merit School of Music

Hannah Bureau

Hannah Bureau is a Chicago violinist and educator. She holds a degree in Violin Performance from the Boston Conservatory. As an active performer, Hannah can be heard around Chicago performing free improvisation, Jewish, and contemporary classical music.

In 2014 she served as a member of the Apple Hill Fellowship Quartet and their Playing for Peace initiative. She has twice been a resident at Hewnoaks Artist Colony (2014, 2016) and in 2019 was an Artist in Residence at the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra as part of Focus Group LLC. In 2022, she performed the experimental opera "WASTED LIGHT" with Focus Group LLC at Steppenwolf Theater.

Hannah has been teaching early childhood music and group/private string instruction since 2011. She strives to establish a community-centric classroom where students feel empowered and take ownership over their sound and ideas. She believes every teaching environment is an opportunity for compassionate and happy learning.

Chicago Center for Music Education

Holly Alpers

Holly Alper is an educator and double bassist from East Islip, NY. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Music performance from SUNY Fredonia in 2017 and her Masters Degree from New England Conservatory in Double Bass performance in 2019. Since finishing her Masters, Holly has been teaching strings in an El Sistema based music program in Boston. Holly is most passionate about giving her students ownership of their learning, empowering her students, building strong connections, and making joyful music. She is committed to consistently learning and growing her teaching skills through participating in the Music Educator and Teaching Artist fellowship through Massachusetts Cultural Council and spends her summers taking courses and professional development opportunities to further her skills as an educator.

Bridge Boston
Charter School

Jean Bynum

Jean Bynum is a violin and viola teacher and freelance performer based in Durham, N.C. Born and raised in the Washington D.C. area, she was inspired to take music lessons after seeing her older siblings play. She started group piano classes in third grade and violin classes in fourth grade. She earned the Bachelor of Music degree from UNC Chapel Hill and the Master of Music degree from UNC Greensboro, both in violin performance. Principal teachers include Richard Luby and Rachel Huang.

Jean currently teaches with the Raleigh Music Collective, an El Sistema-inspired program that aims to make music instruction available to students of all backgrounds. Previously, she taught strings in several after-school music programs in Durham and Granville County, N.C. She also teaches violin, cello and beginning guitar at a private school in Raleigh, as well as arranging music for concerts and sharing piano accompaniment duties with other teachers.

Jean plays violin with several North Carolina orchestras, including the Raleigh Symphony, the Durham Symphony and the Tar River Orchestra in Rocky Mount. She has performed contemporary chamber music on violin and viola with the Free Spirits Ensemble. She also enjoys playing violin and viola for various weddings and events, and maintains a private teaching studio for students of all ages.

Raleigh Music Collective

Joe Kaiser

Joe Kaiser is a Minneapolis based cello teacher who loves teaching students of all ages and abilities. As a member of the MacPhail Center for Music faculty and the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies’ Harmony program, Joe’s teaching includes individual lessons, school partnership programs, Suzuki group classes, cello sectionals, chamber ensembles and a cello choir. Joe is passionate about building community through music and breaking down barriers to music education. 

MacPhail Center for Music

Joey Ortiz

Joey Ortiz, he/him, a San Diego native, is a freelance musician that regularly performs and teaches throughout San Diego County. He regularly performs with his brass quintet, the Sunshine Brass, as well as San Diego City Ballet Orchestra, and the Poway Symphony Orchestra. Joey also dedicates his time teaching elementary through high school aged young musicians with the San Diego Youth Symphony and various districts across the county, spreading joy, passion for music, and commitment to their craft.

San Diego Youth Symphony

Miro Hernandez

Miro Hernandez is a percussionist from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in Texas. While working on his music ed degree from UNT, he helped build an El Sistema program and found his love working with non-profits that help bring music into communities. Miro has taught a range of classes, from general music, social emotional and theory, to leading band/orchestra sectionals and jazz/concert bands.

Miro moved to Chicago in the fall of 2021 and continued his work with various programs. He is currently working with Merit's Early Childhood program, which is also partnered with FHSR, teaching with the deaf and hard of hearing community. He is also a part of The People's Music School, teaching general music, instrument sectionals, and directing two of their concert bands.

Merit School of Music

Josh Levine

Josh Levine is a Chicago-based mentor and piano instructor with a passion for promoting positive change through music education. With multiple years of experience and a background in both music and theater, he is dedicated to empowering individuals to pursue their musical aspirations and cultivate their talents. Josh is currently a mentor with Guitars Over Guns and is committed to using music as a tool for social change and inspiring the next generation of musicians.

Guitars Over Guns - Chicago

Kathryn Hilger

Violist Kathryn Hilger is an active freelance musician and music educator in the Kansas City area. Kathryn earned a Bachelor’s in Viola Performance from University of Missouri — Kansas City and a Master’s in Viola Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. 

Ms. Hilger serves as the Artistic Director and Principal Viola for Midwest Chamber Ensemble. Previously, she served as Chamber Music Coordinator for MCE. She is also the Acting Principal Viola for the Topeka Symphony and can be found performing with various other local ensembles.

Lately, much of Ms. Hilger’s time is spent working as a Teaching Artist with Harmony Project KC, an organization that aims to provide deserving students with a path to higher education through free music instruction. She also maintains a small private studio.

Past achievements and positions include: Firelands Symphony (section viola), viola instructor at the Cleveland School of the Arts, National Repertory Orchestra (section viola), and the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute (principal viola). Kathryn also has experience in stage managing, box office, and string instrument repair. 

In her free time, Kathryn enjoys spending time outdoors, tending to her houseplants, thrifting, and learning about local history.

Follow @kathrynhilger.viola on Instagram or visit for more recent updates and upcoming performances.

Harmony Project KC

Kavita Shankar

Kavita Shankar is a passionate musician and teacher in the Boston area. As a performer, she regularly plays with various ensembles including the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, the Cambridge Chamber Ensemble, and the Lowell Chamber Orchestra. She also enjoys freelancing as a chamber musician, where she performs at a diverse array of venues, concerts, and events in the New England area. Not only is Kavita a Western Classical musician, but she also has a background in South Indian Carnatic music. Some of her favorite memories include spending summers in Chennai studying Carnatic voice with her teacher, Vijayalakshmi Subramaniam. She studied Carnatic violin alongside voice, and has performed around the world, most notably in the Kanchipuram Temple.

Kavita is on the Strings Faculty at the Community Music Center of Boston and Brookline Music School, where she teaches private violin/viola lessons to all ages, leads beginner violin classes, and coaches strings classes.

In 2020, she received her Masters in Music from Boston University where she studied violin with Bayla Keyes and discovered a passion for historical performance. She obtained her Bachelors in Music from Baldwin Wallace University's Conservatory of Music, where she studied violin performance along with viola, voice, and chamber music.

When she's not playing music or teaching, you can find Kavita reading, drinking tea, or cuddling with her cat, Leaf.

Community Music Center of Boston

Lauren Garza

Lauren Garza is the lead teaching artist and program manager for Tune Up, in Muskegon Michigan.  Tune Up is an El Sistema inspired string music education partnership between West Michigan Symphony and Muskegon Public Schools Impact 21st CCLC after school program.  

Lauren’s favorite musical changemakers skills to celebrate and nurture in her students are purposefulness, curiosity, and collaboration. In addition to Tune Up, she maintains a private studio and facilitates experiential music programs with partners through her Harmony Scholars Mobile Studio. She is also an artist in residence with West Ottawa public schools orchestras.  She strives to be a radically accepting human being, mother and working musician. Lauren has been teaching since 2007 and actively seeks to build equitable music education opportunities in her community. 

Lauren is also principal violist of the Holland Symphony Orchestra and former General Manager of their Youth Orchestras program.   She holds a Doctorate in Musical Arts Performance from Michigan State University, where she also received a Masters Degree in performance. She received her bachelors of music from Hope College.

Aside from teaching and making music with large groups of young string players during and after school, Lauren is a member of Shoreline Strings trio, Holland Symphony Quartet and is an active freelance musician.  

Lauren is committed to continued learning and growing as a person and teacher.  Most recently she completed a 6 week intensive Course of Action called Growing Equitable Music Studios (GEMS) as well as one-on-one coaching with Detroit Youth Volume Founder Clara Hardie. Lauren’s continuously evolving GEMS work includes nurturing an equitable Studio Culture, maintaining a racially and socioeconomically diverse student body, grassroots fundraising to make her services accessible, and using inclusive social justice teaching methods because she believes every child can change the world!   

She is proud to be a member of the 2023-24 TATI Lab Cohort.  Building on her skills as a teaching artist to better understand her students and herself and her community.  In doing so, she will be better equipped to provide a nurturing learning space where all students are valued for who they are. 

Tune Up, West Michigan Symphony

Lisa Kincaide

Lisa Marie Kincaide (she/her), is a percussionist and an active performer in a variety of styles including musicals, world music, jazz, yoga, dance and symphonic percussion. She is in her second year of teaching through El Sistema Indianapolis, which utilizes ukulele to train children in grades two through five in musical concepts. Lisa is an experienced Drum Talk facilitator, with eight years of experience using vocables and hand drums to teach rhythmic concepts, improvisation and composition to children and adults. 

Since playing percussion for her first musical, Annie (Middletown Fine Arts), at age 12, Lisa has been a dedicated, and addicted "theater junkie”. She has performed professionally in musical productions including Shy (the musical!)(IndyFringe Festival), Songs for a New World (Footlite Musicals), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Blue Ash Players), Blue Man Group(Playhouse Square Cleveland) and STOMP (Midwest Touring Company). Lisa created the percussion book for Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years (The Cat: Carmel Theater) as her Pandemic Project, followed by performances to sold out audiences. Most recently, Lisa continued to explore writing and performing musical percussion books with the new work, Shy (the musical)!, (IndyFringe Festival) by Douglas Walker in August and September of 2023.  

Attending Ohio University in Athens, Ohio on a percussion performance scholarship, she earned her degree in music therapy and went on to start her own private practice. Lisa teaches drum set, percussion, piano, guitar, ukulele and adapted lessons in person and online to groups and individuals of all ages and abilities. Utilizing music, Lisa seeks to empower and educate through the Creative Arts. 

El Sistema Indianapolis

Margaret Medina

Margaret Medina is a graduate of Muhlenberg College, where she earned a degree in Music with a Concentration in Violin Performance. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and was the recipient of the Seena Marcus Art Award, as well as the winner of the Class of 1969 Competition for her performance of J.S. Bach’s C Major Violin Sonata. Margaret also plays viola and piano, and has worked and trained as an actor, including earning a semester diploma in Classical Acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. She loves arts in all forms and is passionate about sharing the joy of creativity with her students and with her fellow teaching artists at El Sistema Lehigh Valley, where she currently serves at Operations Coordinator and Conductor. Margaret began working with El Sistema Lehigh Valley six years ago, while earning her undergraduate degree, and quickly realized that teaching would be her life. Every day she counts herself lucky to be able to work with such an amazing group of people.

Margaret resides in the peaceful college town of Kutztown, PA, where she enjoys exploring outdoors with her husband, daughter and stepson. They are avid about food and cooking, watching murder mysteries, and enjoying a peaceful evening in the hammock on their porch.

El Sistema Lehigh Valley

Meg Rosson

Meg Rosson is a violist and teaching artist living on Lingít Aani in Juneau Alaska. Originally from the UK, Meg has been in Juneau for four years, teaching for Juneau Alaska Music Matters (JAMM), a tuition-free music program, which uses the power of music and the social experience of ensemble to help youth reach their fullest potential. Meg is a teaching artist in their afterschool program and in Haa Tóo Yéi Yatee classes, which serve 5-8 year olds during the school day, combining violin instruction with indigenous culture and language revitalization. Meg also performs with the Juneau Symphony and collaborates with other Juneau artists on a wide variety of musical projects from baroque ensembles to sets at the Alaska Folk Festival to new music written in collaboration with University of Alaska climate scientists. Meg also currently serves as the board president of Juneau String Ensembles, a non-profit dedicated to enriching the musical experience of Juneau’s youth through education, travel, and performance.

Juneau Alaska Music Matters

Megan Robbins

Megan Robbins is an oboist and educator located in the Chicago area. Dr. Robbins is a teaching artist as well as Senior Manager of Learning and Teaching at the People’s Music School of Chicago. Prior to joining the People’s Music School faculty, she held the position of principal oboe in the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra from 2011-2017. Dr. Robbins completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in oboe performance at Northwestern University and holds a Master of Music degree in oboe performance and literature from the same institution. Dr. Robbins was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Chicago Philharmonic. She has played at the Lincoln Center, Chicago Symphony Center, Vienna’s MuTh Theater, Grant Park, and Ravinia Park, and has taught at Northwestern University. Before moving to the Chicago area, Dr. Robbins completed a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy at Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor of Music in education and oboe performance at the Peabody Conservatory.

The People's Music School

Natalie Conover

Natalie is a violist born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She graduated from West Chester University of PA in 2017, and has gotten right to work performing and teaching. She has performed actively in Philadelphia and around the country performing with groups such as The Divine Hand Ensemble. Other than being a solid member of this group, she performed as a freelance musician in “pop-up” groups for various events and concerts. Natalie has taught in organizations and institutions such as Trenton Music Makers and Settlement Music School, and even with larger festivals such as The Philadelphia International Music Festival as a Chamber Music Coach and administrator. She currently is a Teaching Artist for Tocando Music Project in El Paso, TX, and as well serves as the Operations Manager.

Additionally, Natalie also manages her own business based in Philadelphia, PA where she provides music featuring string players exclusively in the modern genres for events of most kinds, such as weddings, corporate events, and other opulent events.

Natalie is so excited to be participating in TATI and hopes to make many new good friends and colleagues.

Tocando Music Project

Nathan Chan

Nathan Chan is a Suzuki trained violinist from Edmonton, Alberta. Starting from the age of 4, he has been immersed in the Edmonton music scene through various competitions and performances. He is currently a Violin Teaching Artist and Pedagogical Lead at the Francis Winspear Centre for Music.

YONA - Sistema

Nestor Pardo

Nestor is a Venezuelan oboist with an impressive 29-year career in orchestras and chamber groups. His musical journey began with various groups of the National System of Orchestras of Venezuela (EL SISTEMA), through which he embarked on numerous national and international tours, collaborating with acclaimed conductor Gustavo Dudamel and The Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (OSSBV).

Nestor's talent has taken him to an astounding 45 countries worldwide, proudly representing his homeland. Notable artistic residencies at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York, the Salzburg Festival, and the United Nations Headquarters have enriched his musical experiences. He has also participated in significant events like the Latin Grammy 2011 alongside Gustavo Dudamel and Calle 13.

As a member of the OSSBV, Nestor actively engaged in row workshops, sectionals, dress rehearsals, and awe-inspiring concerts under the batons of internationally renowned maestros, including Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Baremboim, and Krzysztof Penderecki, among others. His exceptional skills have been showcased in recordings across CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray formats with the prestigious German label Deutsche Grammophon.

Nestor's talent extended beyond Venezuela, where he served as a Principal Oboe in Mexico and played substitute positions in various symphony orchestras.

In addition to his musical achievements, Nestor successfully completed his studies at the Conservatory of Music. He holds a degree in International Studies and has earned a Master's in Human Rights, showcasing his commitment to global issues and the power of music to advocate for positive change.

Riverside Arts Academy

Raúl Marcano

Raúl Marcano, a versatile Venezuelan clarinetist, brings his passion for music to life in the vibrant Miami arts scene. With an impressive background in both performance and education, he is a dedicated artist who enriches the cultural fabric of the city. Currently, Raúl serves as a Teaching Artist for the Miami Music Project, nurturing the next generation of musicians at the Miami Gardens Chapter. As a freelance clarinetist, he has performed with several Miami ensembles, including the Miami Symphony, Palm Beach Symphony, Florida Grand Opera, Broward Symphonic Band, and Les Art Nouveau Chalumeau. His versatility shines through in his participation in Opera and Zarzuela productions for The Opera Atelier and Florida Opera Prima. Raúl's musical journey has led him to collaborate with world-renowned conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel, Thomas Wilkins, and Ulysses Ascanio. He has shared the stage with exceptional artists, including the likes of Renée Fleming and Angelo Xiang Yu. His talent has earned him the distinction of being a five-time winner of the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation Tuition Assistance Scholarship. He graduated from the University of North Texas under the tutelage of Dr. Kimberly Cole Luevano as well as Longy School of Music in Boston with professors Jorge Montilla and Michael Norsworthy

Miami Music Project

Riddhiman Moharar

Riddhiman (Shub) Moharar is a distinguished musician, educator, and financial professional with a deep-rooted passion for music and a remarkable journey spanning over two decades. With an extensive background in classical and contemporary music, Shub is a multifaceted talent who brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the world of music education.

With a remarkable 25 years of experience studying the viola, Shub has not only honed their skills but has also cultivated a profound love for the art of music. As a collegiate minor in music, he delved into various facets of this dynamic field, further broadening his musical horizons. Over the past two decades, Shub has ventured into diverse musical territories, learning instruments such as the guitar, bass, piano, baritone, synthesizer, and didgeridoo while continually expanding their repertoire by experimenting with countless others.

At the Harmony School of Music, Shub serves as a dedicated educator, imparting his vast knowledge and passion to aspiring musicians. Specializing in violin, viola, and cello, Shub has played a role in nurturing the talents of students, helping them unlock their musical potential. Additionally, Shub holds the esteemed position of Treasurer on the Harmony School of Music's board, contributing their financial acumen to the institution's growth and stability.

Beyond the classroom and boardroom, Shub finds solace and inspiration in the world of improvisational music. He is a prolific member of jam bands, lending his versatile skills to create spontaneous and captivating musical experiences. Acoustic shows and recording sessions serve as outlets for his creativity, showcasing a dedication to the craft that knows no bounds.

In addition to their musical pursuits, Shub possesses an unwavering passion for the natural sciences and technology. This multifaceted individual also operates an investment advisory firm, where he expertly navigates the intricate world of finance.

Shub's journey is a testament to his unwavering dedication to music, education, finance, and the sciences. His unique blend of talents and experiences makes them a standout figure in both the musical and financial spheres. With a heart full of passion and a mind brimming with knowledge, Shub continues to inspire and influence those fortunate enough to cross his path, leaving an indelible mark on the world of music and beyond.

Harmony School of Music

Samuel Higgins

I am a music teacher at El Sistema Leigh Valley and a Double Bass player. I’ve been teaching for 3 years (2 at El Sistema) and have been playing Bass for 16 years. I’m originally from Kingston NY, in the Hudson Valley and that is where I started playing. I attended Ithaca College for my undergraduate degree, studying music education. While there, I discovered my passion for teaching and began the journey that I’m on today. Outside of music I enjoy spending time outside, watching sports (go Pats!), and relaxing with friends.

El Sistema Lehigh Valley

Sarah Cracknell

Sarah Cracknell currently serves as the choir and band director for Pontiac Middle School. She also serves as the lead brass teacher and elementary director after school for Accent Pontiac, an organization she has been working for since January 2018. She was a trumpet student at Oakland University where she participated in multiple ensembles, performing at NABBA, MMC, Dublin Festival of Brass, and the Great American Brass Band Festival with Oakland's Brass Band and performed at Motor City Casino and Cliff Bell's with Oakland's Jazz Band. She received a Matilda for her service in music, and graduated in May 2021 with a bachelor's in Instrumental Music Education and a minor in Jazz Studies. She loves performing various styles of music and teaching music, whether it be in a private setting or an ensemble setting.

Accent Pontiac

Tim Egan

Tim teaches music throughout NJ at all age levels. He performs on saxophone and other woodwind instruments. He loves all genres of music!

Paterson Music Academy

Tristan L’Heureux

Tristan is a graduate violist studying at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He is a passionate educator with over 10 years of teaching experience. While living in Columbus, he started a studio of over 20 students of all ages before moving to Boston and working as an instructor with the historic All Newton Music School. In college, he served as the Assistant Conductor of the Tuscaloosa Youth Symphony. He is currently teaching and conducting at the El Sistema program, the Harmony Project, in Daly City outside San Francisco.

Harmony Project Bay Area

Vladimir Perez Popov

Vladimir Perez Popov, an accomplished musician with a Master's degree in Music from Florida International University, Associate's degree in Jazz Performance from Miami Dade College and a Bachelor's degree in Music Performance from the University of Florida and Masters degree in Linguistics from New Russian University.

Throughout his career, Vladimir has had the privilege of performing with various music bands and orchestras. He has worked with esteemed soloists such as cellist Lynn Harrel, violinist Robert McDuffie, and pianist Philippe Entremont, and has been a part of ensembles like the New World School of the Arts Jazz combo led by Dr. Jim Gasor, the Alhambra Community Orchestra directed by Maestro Daniel Andai, FIU Latin jazz band with Rodolfo Zuniga, and FIU symphony orchestra, directed by Maestro Javier Jose Mendoza.

Vladimir's passion for music extends beyond performance. He is an experienced music teacher with a strong belief that every musician has a responsibility to share their talent with others. He teaches at "Lessons in Your Home" and Miami Music Project, and also works with non-profit organizations to provide music education to less fortunate children and communities.

Perez Popov
Miami Music Project

Wesley Hortenbach

Wesley is a writer and director for both theatre and music based in Minneapolis. He attended the University of Minnesota and while studying directing and music composition has worked on numerous productions both on and off campus. Wesley has also been a long-time educator back from working as a math tutor in school to music directing several children's theatre productions. He recently completed a fellowship with Cow Tipping Press where he taught writing classes for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and helped publish a collection of writings exclusively by neurodiverse authors. He is currently a teaching artist with Children's Theatre Company and teaches after school programs with ComMUSICation.


Yessica Rivera Belsham

Yessica Rivera Belsham is an interdisciplinary artist indigenous to the tail of Turtle Island/North America; México.

Her love of life and passion for world rhythms, colour, movement, and healing arts are combined in her daily life, as she celebrates visual arts, dancing, drumming, and singing while walking gently with Mother Earth.

Yessica is currently residing in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where she carries many roles. She is entering her third year as a Teaching Artist with Sistema Kingston with a focus on cross cultural music, wellness, and nutrition. She has been influenced by singing and drumming since a young age and has been learning & sharing in communities for 18 years.

Yessica’s background includes working with a wide range of populations from across Turtle Island, and around the world, to promote growth within individuals, families, and communities in a compassionate and embracing manner. Her workshops and events as foster inclusion, diversity, and equity of peoples of all directions.

Ollin in the Náhuatl language is connected to movement of the earth with love and strength which echoes across many generations

Rivera Belsham
Sistema Kingston

Zach Raphael

Born in the Philadelphia area, Zach Raphael has always had a huge passion for music. An avid cellist and singer, Zach grew up singing and touring in the Keystone State Boychoir and is a graduate of Ithaca College’s Anthropology department. While at Ithaca, Zach performed in the Sinfonietta and founded Ithaca College Strings. Currently performing in both orchestral and choral ensembles, he hopes to pass on his enthusiasm for music of all types to his students. In addition to cello and voice, Zach plays piano and trumpet. Outside of music, Zach loves going on hikes, cooking and reading.

El Sistema Lehigh Valley

Zollie Schut

Zollie Schut is a passionate percussionist with a deep love for music that was kindled by his father, a lifelong bass guitarist. Zollie's journey in the world of music has been marked by dedication and a thirst for knowledge. He holds an Associate's of Music degree in music performance from Grand Rapids Community College, a Bachelor's of Music degree in Music Performance from Oakland University, and a Master's of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Indiana.

With over four years of teaching experience, Zollie currently serves as an esteemed instructor, offering private percussion lessons and coaching jazz, pop, and classical ensembles at both Kalamazoo Music School and Kalamazoo Kids in Tune. In recognition of his outstanding commitment to music education, Zollie was honored as the "Teacher of the Year" by Kalamazoo Music School in 2022.

In addition to his teaching roles, Zollie has made a mark on the stage as a energetic performer. Zollie's performances are a testament to his musical versatility, as he seamlessly navigates through a variety of styles, including jazz, rock, classical, and more, captivating audiences across the Midwest. His drumming has also graced the theaters and jazz stages of Celebrity Cruises, bringing music to audiences worldwide.

As a teacher, Zollie firmly believes that everyone possesses the potential to make music, regardless of their background or personal challenges. His teaching philosophy centers on nurturing that potential and guiding students on their musical journeys, empowering them to find their unique voice in the world of percussion.

Zollie's dedication to music, both as an educator and performer, continues to inspire and enrich the musical community of Kalamazoo and beyond.

Kalamazoo Kids in Tune