All of our teachers are music professionals who hold degrees and have several years of teaching experience for their respective instruments. Many specialize in particular genre's ranging from classical to jazz to contemporary music, but all of our teachers have experience working with students at various levels and ages.
Aimee Acevedo began her musical training at the age of 9 on clarinet. When she entered middle school she began to learn saxophone and then began learning flute in high school. Currently, Aimee is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Tenor Saxophone Performance and Music Education at Azusa Pacific University. She currently studies clarinet under Jennifer Showalter, saxophone under Rusty Higgins, and flute under Shannon Canchola. She has performed with the APU Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, and University Choir and Orchestra on several woodwind instruments. She has years of experience performing in classical, jazz, pop, and latin styles. Along with playing in several ensembles at APU, Aimee also teaches lessons on saxophone, clarinet, and flute and is actively gigging in the Los Angeles area. In her teaching, Aimee hopes to instill an appreciation and passion for music by teaching students fundamentals, proper technique, music theory, and performance practice.
Enrico Arcaro-Guitar & Piano
Enrico’s musical ventures began as a teenager in the hardcore/Punk scene in New York City. After years spent composing for his bands, he obtained his Bachelors of Science in Music from the City University of New York, studying guitar, piano and composition. He graduated with honors, receiving the Ted McIrvine Memorial Award for Academic Excellence and the CSI Foundation Prize for Outstanding Music by Students. Continuing his education at NYU Steinhardt, Enrico obtained a Master of Music in Music Theory & Composition. There, he won NYU’s Takemitsu Project composition contest for his work Fifth Dimension which was then premiered at Merkin Hall. He went on to teach as an Adjunct Lecturer for the City University of New York, teaching Music Theory, Musicianship, Counterpoint and History, while maintaining a studio of private students in guitar, composition, and piano. As a teacher, Enrico aims to relay the wisdom gained from his diverse musical and artistic experiences. Through cultivating technique, theory, individual inspirations, and nurturing each student’s unique musical voice, he strives to instill awareness of music’s communicative power, urging his students to use their musicianship as a vehicle of self-expression.
Originally from Dallas, TX, Branden Brown was fortunate to participate in a strong public school band program. Branden began playing the saxophone at age 12, and immediately felt a strong connection to playing music. Branden attended the University of North Texas with a major in Jazz Studies, where he performed and recorded with a variety of diverse ensembles, including the UNT Two O’ Clock Lab Band, Latin Jazz Lab, and the North Texas Wind Symphony. In 2018, Branden was selected to play lead alto, flute and piccolo in the Disneyland All-American College Band, and spent the summer in the Los Angeles area working with prominent musicians in the area’s jazz scene. After being exposed to so many great musicians and educators in Los Angeles that summer, Branden chose to attend USC for his Master’s degree, where he spent time studying with Bob Mintzer and Vince Mendoza. Branden recently graduated from USC in Spring 2021. In addition to playing saxophone, flute and clarinet in a wide array of styles, Branden enjoys spending his time studying music composition, film scoring, and music production.
Katarina Butenschoen has taught piano for seven years and has prepared students taking piano exams for both the Certificate of Merit testing course and the Associated Board for the Royal School of Music course (known as ABRSM). Her Certificate of Merit students have received State Honors for the exams while her ABRSM students have earned test scores as high as "Distinction". Katarina received her Bachelor’s in Music Performance from the University of California, Irvine. She just finished her Master’s Degree in Piano Pedagogy from California State University, Fullerton. Katarina specializes in the Taubman Method for piano, which includes correct alignment and relaxation, to make playing the piano as effortless as possible. She enjoys taking music classes at Pasadena City College and speaks Mandarin Chinese in addition to English.
Victor A Carrracedo studied at L'AULA de Jazz de Barcelona under the mentorship of Quim Sole, graduating with honors in 2011. While at L'AULA, he was awarded a scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston where he moved in 2011. At Berklee, he garnered great experience as a studio drummer, recording over 40 sessions a year. In 2012, Victor graduated with a Master of Music degree. As an instructor, Victor gives his students the tools they need to create and perform in many styles such as jazz, latin, rock, reggae, etc. Victor's ultimate goal is to share his knowledge about drums with students and see them grow as musicians.
Elisa Chan started learning the piano at the age of four. In 2015, she obtained her Master of Music Degree in piano performance from the Jacobs School of Music in Indiana University. While there, she was the recipient of the Irving and Leno Lo Scholarship, the Dean’s Scholarship, and the chamber music scholarship. She received her Bachelor of Music (Honors) Degree at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in 2013, with Great Eagle Scholarship, Helena May Scholarship, and Parsons Music Foundation Scholarship. Elisa made her concerto debut at the age of 11 with the Pan Asia Symphony Orchestra. She has also played in many major festivals around the world, including Mozarteum Academy in Austria, International Institute for Young Musicians in the United States, and the Beijing International Music Festival & Academy in China. She is a prizewinner of many national and international competitions, including 1st prize at the 69th Steinway & Sons International Youth Piano Competition and the China Regional Competition. Elisa was one of the faculty members at the Indiana University Young Pianist Program and held the position as an accompanist of the Indiana University Ballet Department. Elisa currently resides in Los Angeles, and continues her studies in Keyboard Collaborative Art with Kevin Fitz-Gerald in University of Southern California. As an instructor, Elisa hopes to share her experiences and help her students build a solid technical foundation in piano and an interest in music.
Linden Chang has been active an active guitar teacher around East of San Gabriel Valley for over 15 years. In addition to teaching privately, Linden holds the position as guitar instructor for group classes in partnership with L.A County enrichment programs. Linden has studied various types of guitar styles from LA area colleges that include Classical, Pop, Rock, R&B, Funk and Soul. He also attended several Cal Poly Arts workshops and master classes in San Luis Obispo, such as with Ana Vidovic, David Leisner, and Adam Del Monte. In 2013, he was featured in the showcase of guitar videos from GSI (Guitar Salon International) under the guidance of professor Scott Morris (CSUDH). More recently, Linden has spent more time developing his pop and rock music proficiency with the completion of Professional Rock Guitar Certificate from Berklee College of Music. Through this program, Linden found a deep resonance with Funk and R&B styles of music. In his approach, Linden likes to devote special attention to beginners. With his passion toward music education, Linden brings passion and patience that aids students of all ages and levels to progress at a rate that is suitable to their proficiency.
Oliver Dobrian is a musician, songwriter, and teacher based in Los Angeles, California. He is primarily a drummer, having started playing at age 4. Since 2008, he has been teaching drum lessons privately. In 2014, he earned a degree from UCLA in Jazz Performance. Currently, he is the drummer in California rock band Filmspeed, as well as playing and recording as a freelancer in various groups around Los Angeles. Oliver’s love of music spreads to all aspects, and his biggest goal is to spread that love in any way he can. In his lessons, Oliver likes to cater to the interests of every individual student as much as possible, maintaining focus to make progress in an area the student truly wants to learn. Ultimately, Oliver believes that music making should be fun, and he aims to keep it that way by exposing students to new topics of interest, fostering old ones, and playing as much as possible!
Valerie Espinoza earned her Bachelor's of Music Education from California State University, Los Angeles. Under the tutelage of her instructor- Dr. Susan Kane, Valerie’s powerful voice and sensitive musicality quickly established her as a sought-after soloist and choral artist. She has been a featured soloist for Pergolesi’s Magnificat in C major , Schubert’s Mass in G, and Schwartz For Good from the musical Wicked . H er operatic roles include Rosalinda in Strauss II Die Fledermaus , and her chorus roles, for Gluck’s Orphee et Eurydice , and Philip Glass Hydrogen Jukebox . Beyond her success with classical repertoire; Valerie also enjoys singing other genres like Pop, Afro-Latin, Latin-Jazz, Early music, Romantic, Latin-pop, and R&B. Shortly after receiving her degree, Ms. Espinoza was also given the opportunity to travel to Europe as a scholarship student, to study and perform German Lieder. Valerie hopes to continue to share and grow her instrument, as well have the opportunity to help cultivate the art of her future students.
Dylan Ewen began studying classical piano at age 11. In high school he branched out to other instruments and began writing original music and playing in bands. He went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Berklee College of Music in 2014. In 2015 one of his projects was asked to play the LA festival Burger-A-Go-Go which prompted his decision to move to California. Dylan has taught all ages and believes the most important thing a teacher can do is instill a lifelong love of music in their students. A background in theory and technique is important, but Dylan also loves to bring in contemporary examples to spark his students’ interest, whether it be rock, pop, blues or jazz. In addition to teaching, he continues to write and record original music for his personal projects as well as for commercials and short films.
Dr. Cameron Ghahremani-Brass, Piano
Dr. Cameron Ghahremani holds a Doctoral of Musical Arts from the University of Miami, a Master's in Orchestral Trumpet Performance from McGill University, and a Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music. While a member of the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, Cameron has shared the stage with such world-class guest artists as Maria Schneider, Dawn Upshaw, Rafael Padron, and Ben Folds. While at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, Cameron was awarded a teaching assistantship and conducted private lessons and coached the Frost Trumpet Ensemble who were awarded Second Place at the National Trumpet Competition in 2015. Since his arrival in Los Angeles, Cameron has performed with the San Diego Symphony, Musical Theatre West, Cupcake Theatre, the Golden State Pops Orchestra and the contemporary chamber orchestra, Kaleidoscope. Dr. Ghahremani began his musical studies first on the piano and received instruction for 13 years. He was also trained in keyboard proficiency, musicianship, and theory at the Eastman School of Music. Since his arrival in Los Angeles, he has been an active trumpet and piano instructor for all ages and levels.
Jason Golday-Guitar, Bass Guitar, Ukulele
Jason studied Jazz and Classical Guitar at Indiana University in Bloomington, receiving his BM in Performance. He received his MFA in Jazz Guitar Performance from California Institute of the Arts. Jason has over fifteen years of public and private teaching experience including middle school, high school and conservatories. Jason is involved in several Los Angeles music projects and frequently performs in diverse venues such as The Echo and Satellite to The Santa Barbara Museum of Contemporary Art and The Hammer Museum. Along with performing, Jason composes music for commercials, short films and silent films.
Andrew Heavelin-Guitar, Ukulele
Andrew Heavelin is a classical guitarist and teacher based in Los Angeles. Andrew started playing guitar at the age of 17, without formal instruction. He began studying music at Pasadena City College in 2005, where he was a member of the school’s resident guitar quartet and an active participant in the school’s chamber music program. In 2016, Andrew received his Bachelor’s in Music at Humboldt State University, where he excelled both academically and as a member of the musical community. In 2018, Andrew received a Master of Music in Classical Guitar Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he was privileged to study with some of the greatest guitarists active today, including David Tanenbaum and Marc Teicholz. Andrew has taught for 10 years, and offers guitar, beginning piano, bass guitar and ukulele lessons.
Jeffrey Huspek is a pianist, piano teacher and piano technician based in Los Angeles, CA. Mr. Huspek began studying piano at age 7. During his high school years he was accepted into the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts and Tanglewood winning first prize in the Birmingham Musicale Competition which gave him the opportunity to perform solo live on television. Mr. Huspek was then accepted to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with the Presidential Scholarship where he studied under Paul Hersh and earned a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance. Upon graduation, Mr. Huspek remained an active musician in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 15 years. His activities included teaching with a studio of 20-35 students, doing piano technician work, accompanist at the Peninsula Girls Chorus and Ragazzi Boys Choir and pianist for the Sofia Foundation to name a few. Mr. Huspek relocated to Los Angeles in August 2020 and continues his teaching and technical work to this day. Mr. Huspek’s main joy has been teaching piano and music theory to children and adults of all walks of life and is very eager to continue that into the future. He is an active member of MTAC and PTG.
Lukas Hutzler-Guitar & Ukulele
Lukas began playing music at the age of eight, starting with the drums but quickly after picking up the guitar and realizing that it was where his true interests lay. Growing up in Los Angeles made it easy for Lukas to begin joining bands as he continued to join the school jazz band as well as multiple performing bands in the LA area, gaining lots of performance experience. From 2017-2021 Lukas attended Bard College in New York's Hudson Valley where he received a degree in Jazz Guitar Performance and Jazz Composition, winning the class of 2021 Jazz Performance Award. For several years Lukas has worked as a music educator to children and adults of a wide variety of skill levels and stylistic interests through the form of private guitar/ukulele lessons as well as assisting the music program at Walden Elementary School in Pasadena, CA. Lukas aims to help students achieve their musical goals through the encouragement of fun, creativity and dedication as he believes all of these components are what make a great musician.
Sara Jones-Violin, Viola
Sara Jones originates from Pasadena, CA and began her violin studies at the age of 7. She attended Pasadena City College for violin studies and transferred to the University of Redlands, where she received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Music, Violin Performance. Sara has performed with many orchestral groups such as Crown City Orchestra, Coachella Valley Symphony, Redlands Symphony, along with various string quartets, piano trios, and string duos who perform across Southern California. Besides performing, Sara has been a violin instructor for almost 5 years and has loved every second of it. She uses a traditional approach in her methodology and tries to instil great musical knowledge and passion in her students. She strives to help students become very knowledgeable in playing the violin itself and in music theory, history, ear training, wise practicing, and performance etiquette. Sara hopes to continue this ideology here at San Marino Music Center.
Alicia Kuch has over 20 years of experience playing the violin and over a decade of orchestral experience. She is Classically trained and has also studied Baroque violin. Alicia graduated from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and received her Bachelor's in Music from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was a member of the Chamber Orchestra and University Baroque Ensemble. In her teachings, Alicia emphasizes developing proper violin technique as well as developing skills in music theory and musicianship, but also hopes to impart the joy that comes from learning and playing the violin by creating a fun learning experience for her students.
Alberto La Torre-Guitar & Ukulele
Alberto La Torre Jr is a musician, composer, and music educator based in Los Angeles, California. He began piano lessons at the age of 5 and expanded his study of music at the age of 13 with the addition of the guitar. Since 2012, he has taught private lessons at music schools throughout the Los Angeles region. Being passionate about teaching, he earned a Bachelor’s in Music Education from California State University, Northridge, and is currently in the Teaching Credential Program for Music as well as in the Master’s Program for Classical Guitar Performance under the instruction of Professor Satik Andriassian at California State University, Los Angeles. He has performed at venues including the Ford Amphiteatre, Alex Theater, Universal Citywalk, and Disney’s television show, “Next Big Thing”. Along with his performing experience, he has been music director at multiple churches, working with bands and choirs. Alberto has also had opportunities to produce and record various music projects. He believes that anyone can learn to play music and that music should be fun.
Armin Mariano-Violin, Viola, Piano
Armin Mariano began studying violin at age 7 and at 12, he switched to viola because of its warm rich tone. He graduated from Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), and decided to major in music. He was awarded a scholarship to attend Carnegie Mellon University and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Viola Performance, and Certificate in Music Education. Armin has been an active performer and teacher since 2009 in Los Angeles and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He teaches both violin/viola and piano to students of all ages. Throughout his studies, Armin has developed a passion for teaching and individualizes lessons for each student based on their different strengths. He focuses on developing basic musical skills using fun and creative ideas.
Justyna Misiewicz began studying classical piano in her home country, Poland. She later learned to play the organ and received a Master’s in Education and Church Music from Opole University. Justyna continued studying music at California State University Los Angeles, earning her second M.A. as well as California teaching credentials in music. Before moving to the L.A. area, she was an organist at a parish church on Catalina Island for five years. She has been teaching piano to young children as well as adults. Justyna is interested in early sacred music, music history, and performance practice. In 2019, she received a Ph.D. in Musicology from Claremont Graduate University. Throughout her doctoral studies, she continued lessons in piano and organ and served as a research assistant. She received the Graduate Dissertation Award from the university as well as a grant to conduct her dissertation research in Krakow, Poland. Justyna loves to share her musical interests with her students and hopes that playing the piano will stay with each student for a lifetime.
Carlos Peralta began his musical ventures in middle school when he joined the choir and handbell ensemble. Later on in the eighth grade, he decided to learn the trumpet and has not put down the instrument since. Carlos has been performing and teaching throughout Southern California since 2012 and has performed in a variety of groups, which include big bands, brass quintets, wind ensembles, orchestras, and pit orchestras. Carlos has spent the past 8 years performing and assisting the South Coast Youth Symphony Orchestra, as the trumpet/brass coach. He is a member of the Canyon City Brass Ensemble, where he has been principal trumpet since 2018. Along with coaching and performing, Carlos teaches private lesson that focus on topics such as brass fundamentals, music theory, and how to incorporate those tools into music. Carlos graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 2018, with his Bachelor's in Arts, Education, and is currently a candidate for his Master's in Music in Trumpet Performance at the same institution, studying under David Washburn.
Jeff attended the Eastman School of Music (B.M., ’07) where he studied jazz saxophone with Walt Weiskopf and classical saxophone with Chien-Kwan Lin. After completing his degree, Jeff became a full time production assistant and stage manager at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. Returning to academia, he received his master of music degree in jazz performance (M.M., ‘11) from the elite Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. While in Miami he studied jazz saxophone with Gary Keller and jazz piano with Whit Sidner. Recently Jeff has been in pursuit of his doctorate in jazz performance (D.M.A.) and has received a certificate in arts entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California. Jeff uses music to inspire his students to challenge themselves and make learning a more enjoyable experience.
Mercedes Quintana holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of Colorado and a master’s degree from the DePaul University School of Music where she studied with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Mercedes is an active freelancer in the Los Angeles area and regularly performs with local symphonies. As an instructor, Mercedes is certified in the Suzuki Teaching Method but believes in a comprehensive approach to teaching music. She believes that music is fun and creative so the approach to learn it should be also.
Madeline Reynolds was born to two musically gifted parents in Southern California. As a young child, she excelled in ear training and began singing in church and school choirs. In middle school and high school, she participated in choir, vocal jazz, and theater. Madeline attended Azusa Pacific University where she studied classical voice and graduated with a BM in Vocal Performance in May of 2020. She is attending UCLA for her Masters in Vocal Performance beginning in Fall 2021. Professional credits include being a soloist and choir member for the televised Hour of Power choir, yodeling in the Trolls: World Tour movie soundtrack on the song "Yodel Beat" and competing with the "Yuletones" in The Christmas Caroler Challenge tv show on The CW. She believes in the importance of the Kodály solfege method to teach musicianship. Her voice students will leave lessons with practical skills and an appreciation for many singing styles.
Rachel Ruiz is an up and coming singer in the Los Angeles and Orange County area. Rachel completed a BM in Music Education at California State University Los Angeles with an emphasis on voice. Rachel is well versed in several genres, notably jazz, classical and popular music. Past credits include a featured ensemble in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and she has also worked with The Music Companie, a prestigious caroling company in the greater Los Angeles area. As a singing teacher at San Marino Music Center, Rachel is well versed in foundational classical literature, as well as contemporary popular styles and musical theater. Rachel places an emphasis on healthy technique and passionate performance, in a manner that is inspiring for all ages and levels.
Rodolfo (Rudy) Ruiz-Voice
Rudy Ruiz is a SoCal native currently residing in the OC/South LA area. Rudy currently holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Arts/Music Education from Cal State LA. For the last 12 years, Rudy has sung in bands, choirs, ensembles and as a soloist performing music in a wide variety of genres. Among his favorite experiences performing, Rudy cites both singing as a professional holiday caroler and singing in rock bands as his favorite. An experienced instructor, Rudy believes that good singing techniques can be applied to a wide variety of genres and encourages his students to find their own, unique voices and take ownership of their artistry.
Patrick Shiroishi-Guitar, Saxophone, Piano
Patrick received his BM in Music Therapy and Music Performance in Classical Guitar from Chapman University. While at Chapman, he actively performed in the University's Guitar Quartet and Duo, which in 2008 took first place in a nationwide competition in Brownsville, Texas. He was also given Chapman's Guitarist of the Year Award in 2009 and Music Therapy Scholarship Award in 2008. From 2010-2013, Patrick worked at Orange County Children's Therapeutic Arts Center where he served as the Therapeutic Arts Coordinator. There, Patrick worked as Music Therapist for children with special needs, lead the Early Head Start/Pre-Kinder Arts program, and taught piano and guitar to children of all ages. When he is not teaching, Patrick performs and collaborates with several ensembles and bands around the Los Angeles area.
Jojo Yan is a recent graduate of the Manhattan School of Music with a Master of Music degree in Classical Piano Performance under the tutelage of the famous pedagogue, Dr. Solomon Mikowsky. She received her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the USC Thornton School of Music in 2018. Her passion for music began at an early age in China and continued when she moved to the United States at the age of 10. Throughout her musical career, she has taken masterclasses and performed in many prestigious venues in both the US and various European countries such as the New York Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall, Teatro Jovellanos in Gijon, Spain, and the Sibelius Academy in Finland, etc. She has worked with students of all ages in New York and California for many years. She believes in nurturing well-rounded musicians that are introduced to and fully immersed in the rich world of classical music with historical and stylistic awareness on top of solidifying a strong technical foundation.