Our Teachers

Our Instructors

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-Winds

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.

Drew Aron-Guitar, Ukulele

Drew Aron began studying the guitar at age thirteen. He attended California State University, Northridge from 2008-2012 and earned his Bachelor of Music degree in guitar performance. During his studies he was awarded the Andres Segovia Scholarship and was a member of the CSUN Guitar Quartet. Since graduation he has dedicated his time to teaching classical guitar, recording and performing in the greater Los Angeles area. Drew's teaching philosophy is to help each student develop the musical skills necessary to accomplish their own individual goals so that they may become expressive and artistically fulfilled musicians.

Victor Carracedo-Drums

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.

Tigranuhi (Tina) Chapkinyan-Violin, Piano

Mrs. Tigranuhi(Tina) Chapkinyan received her Masters Degree in Music at the Komitas Conservatory of Yerevan in 1987 (Violin Major, Piano Minor). Mrs. Chapkinyan held teaching and Originally from Armenia, Mrs. Tigranuhi(Tina) Chapkinyan received her Masters Degree in Music at the Komitas Conservatory of Yerevan in 1987 (Violin Major, Piano Minor). Mrs. Chapkinyan held teaching and performing position in professional music schools, symphony and chamber orchestras in Armenia. Since arriving in the United States in 2000, she continues her career as a violin and piano instructor and solo performer. Mrs. Chapkinyan is an active member of Music Teacher's Association of California (MTAC), Hollywood Branch. Her successful teaching method which she has developed in her twenty-seven years of teaching experience is reflected in her current student's accomplishments who participate in numerous MTAC recitals and competitions, and play in state-wide conventions.

Emilio Corrales-Drums

Emilio has been playing drums since he was 12 years old. Originally self-taught, he later studied at Fullerton College where he earned his Associate's degree in music performance. He then completed his Bachelor's of music education at California State University Los Angeles. Currently, he is completing his single-subject teaching credential at the Charter College of Education. Emilio has been teaching drum-set for all levels and ages for the past three years throughout Los Angeles and Orange Country areas. He specializes in teaching drum-set, world drums, hand percussion and orchestral percussion. Emilio's playing experience includes touring the U.S. and Europe for the ska band Chase Long Beach, playing alongside acts such as Reel Big Fish, The Aggrolites, and Streetlight Manifesto. He has also played for the Orange County Wind Symphony, Shoreline Symphonic Winds, Olympia Youth Orchestra, and the Bellflower Orchestra. Emilio's philosophy of music education is centered on the idea of creating a learning environment where students can develop genuine music skills while also becoming life-long lovers of music.

Nan Deng-Piano

Nan Deng's musical studies began at the age of four in China, first on the piano and later in voice.  Over the years, Ms. Deng has performed as a solo pianist and won numerous local piano competitions. She was accepted into Xinghai Conservatory of Music in 2007 and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education with emphasis in Piano Performance. In May of 2014, she obtained her Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from California State University Northridge. In 2017, She completed a Master of Music degree in Keyboard Collaborative Arts at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and is currently pursuing a Graduate Certificate. She has worked extensively with professional singers and instrumentalists. As a collaborative pianist, she has performed in numerous collaborative piano concerts and served as music director in the USC chamber opera. As an instructor, Ms. Deng strives to provide her students with the tools required to become skilled musicians. She enjoys teaching her students and helping them to reach their full potential.

Oliver Dobrian-Drums

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!

Guro Elverhoei-Voice, Piano

Guro has been singing and playing piano since the age of 7. She attended Berklee College of Music where she studied classical voice technique and contemporary singing styles such as RnB, pop and gospel. She's recorded many of her original songs and worked with talented musicians in professional studios. At the commencement concert she was chosen to sing in front of 4000 people with Julio Iglesias and Dee Dee Bridgewater as honored guests. Guro has a warm personality and is a very patient but structured teacher. She has a strong knowledge in music theory as well as technical knowledge in both piano and voice, and she goes out of her way to help all of her students to improve their skills.

Valerie Espinoza-Voice

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. Her operatic roles include Rosalinda in Strauss II Die Fledermaus. Her chorus roles include 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-Piano

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.

Danny Godwin-Piano

Danny Godwin is a piano teacher originally from Boston now based in LA. He started studying classical piano from the age of 7 and went on to perform jazz and contemporary styles later on. He received his BM from Berklee College of Music with honors in 2016 with a focus in Piano and Music Production and Engineering. He has toured the US and has performed locally at the Hotel Cafe and Sayers Club. Danny is friendly, patient and kind to work with and loves to make learning music an enjoyable process for students of any age. Danny believes that a foundation in proper technique and theory can carry a student far in their musical journey. Aside from teaching, Danny produces and performs music for his artist project and for fellow artists/bands.

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 University of Rochester. 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.

Kunyou Guan-Piano

Born and raised in southern China, Kunyou has developed a love for piano music since the age of 5. She has been teaching in various settings such as group piano and working with students of special needs. Her teaching philosophy is that learning is to be student-centered, and teaching is to be tailored to the student’s needs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Pedagogy from Cal State Fullerton and is a member of Music Teachers’ Association of California. Outside of teaching, she also plays for worship services at her home church, and enjoys exploring different music genres. Her favorite composer is Beethoven.

Alyse Hokamp-Flute & Piano

Alyse Hokamp was born and raised in Kailua, Hawai'i. She earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in flute performance from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, and recently moved to Los Angeles. She performs regularly with her husband in The New Rainbows, a flute and guitar duo. Alyse regularly takes orchestral auditions and aspires to be an orchestral flutist. A late beginner on the piano, she began her first piano classes at the end of high school, and practiced earnestly throughout college. A few years after college, she began her first church organist job and has employed as such since then. She is currently the Music Director/Organist at Bethel Lutheran Church in Los Angeles. Alyse has taught beginners young and old, as well as group and private lessons, for over five years. She believes that anyone who wants to learn and enjoy music can, and she aims to help!

Esteban Obando Jaramillo-Piano

Esteban was born in Bogota, Colombia but was raised in Montreal, Canada where he began taking piano lessons very early on. While living in Montreal, Esteban was a very involved member of the music community and spent his time teaching privately, performing in bands, recording and singing in his church choir. In 2011, Esteban performed as the youngest member of the Montreal All-City Big Band in the world-renowned Montreal International Jazz Festival. That same year, Esteban began his studies at Berklee College of music in Boston. During his four years at Berklee, Esteban further developed his abilities as a pianist, performed and recorded with several artists, immersed himself in music technology/production and honed his skills as an arranger in diverse musical genres. He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in piano performance and another in contemporary writing and production as well as a minor in latin music studies. Since graduating in May of 2015, Esteban has continued to teach and perform. As a teacher, Esteban is very invested in his students and motivates them to achieve their goals through passion, method and discipline.

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.

Ryland Kelly-Piano, Guitar, Bass, Drums

Ryland Kelly is a graduate of The Juilliard School where he studied bass, piano and composition with members of the New York Philharmonic and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Nationally, he has performed at such notable venues as The Blue Note, The Highline Ballroom, Sullivan Hall, and The Kennedy Center. Over the past few years Ryland has dedicated even more of his time to teaching Bass, Guitar, Piano, Drums, Rock Band and the music production software Ableton Live. He finds the experience of working with all ages and levels very inspiring and fulfilling. Ryland also finds the process of taking a student from their first lesson to their first concert to be very rewarding.

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.

Jeff Melendez-Woodwinds

Jeff Melendez is a woodwind performer and educator based in Los Angeles. Jeff currently studies at the Los Angeles College of Music and is an expert in saxophone, clarinet, flute, oboe and bassoon. His performances include the Los Angeles Latin orchestra and he had the privilege to be part of the Tournament of Roses Honor Band for 2 years. Currently, Jeff teaches at Helen Bernstein High school as a coach and was former director of music at Belle Vista Elementary school. Jeff believes in helping students achieve a goal of musical knowledge and experience.

Elzbieta Nawrocka-Piano

Born and raised in Poland, Elzbieta began a highly comprehensive piano and music education at age 7. She attended F. Chopin Music University in Warsaw, further deepening her knowledge and experience via short studies across Europe.  Having attained Master’s degrees in  Classical Performance and music Pedagogy, she continued her education in Paris, France through a full scholarship from the French government.  Upon relocating to Norway in 1992, she worked primarily as a music educator and organist, while simultaneously pursuing her career as a performer and interpretive artist.  Over the span of 18 years, she was employed to teach a wide curriculum of college preparatory music courses, including piano performance, music history, theory, and concert production while concurrently working as a private instructor and accompanist. Elzbieta has worked with many highly accomplished soloists and chamber musicians on notable and successful projects in Europe and Scandinavia. She also made appearances on a number of broadcasts on Norwegian and Polish national television and radio and was featured on several chamber recordings produced and distributed by LAWO Classics records.

Michelle Pan-Oboe, English Horn, Piano

Michelle Pan began learning the piano at the age of four, eventually passing all ten levels of the Certificate of Merit from the Music Teacher’s Association of California. She attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) where she focused on oboe performance. Michelle later furthered her musical studies, earning a Bachelor of Music degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University as well as at Mannes College The New School for Music where she obtained her Master of Music diploma. Michelle previously held the position of Principal English horn and second oboist of the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra. While in China, she also performed with the Shanghai Opera Symphony Orchestra. Along with the Noctua Wind Quintet, Michelle has garnered top prizes at the Fischoff, Coleman, J.C. Arriaga, and Chamber Music Yellow Springs competitions. Passionate about community engagement, Michelle has been involved with several organizations specializing in outreach concerts for elementary and middle school students. As a teaching artist, she has coached numerous young musicians in the orchestral setting and in masterclasses. As a private instructor, Michelle hopes to inspire a lifelong love and appreciation for music in students of all ages.

Stephanie Parsons-Voice

Stephanie graduated summa cum laude from Berklee College of Music with a Professional Music Degree. At Berklee, she focused on vocal performance, songwriting, music business, and production. She is pop vocalist cross trained with a background in classical and musical theater. Stephanie has further vocal training from Noel Smith and Kevin Wilson’s 2018 Vocal Pedagogy Workshop at Boston Conservatory. A songwriter and recording artist, Stephanie leads her own band, Stephanie James. Stephanie utilizes her technical background and 12 years of performance experience in various styles to teach healthy singing to her students. Her teaching experience and knowledge of music theory, piano and voice allows students to be well rounded and reach their individual goals.

Jeff Pifher-Saxophone

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-Violin/Viola

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.

Juan Sixto-Guitar

Juan Sixto began his guitar studies as a hobby, intending to replicate and cover the music of The Beatles. Soon, his teenage pastime matured and turned into a passion. His dedication has acquired him the opportunity to accompany and perform with groups such as the “Rio Hondo Guitar Ensemble” and the “Workman Mill Industrial Orchestra” in Whittier, California. Juan Sixto has studied under the private instruction of respected instructors such as John Dearman, Grammy Award winner with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. With an abundance of patience and nearly a decade of experience in teaching, Juan has had the privilege of guiding many students through their musical journey. His approach to teaching and his unique methodology can make the daunting skill of reading and playing music feel so easy and natural to any student.

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.

Christine Smit-Voice, Piano

Christine Smit started piano lessons at age 5 and singing at age 7. She went on to graduate from Berklee College of Music with her Bachelor's Degree in Contemporary Writing and Production. She works currently as a teacher, solo artist, background vocalist, arranger, and vocal producer. She has been featured on several contemporary gospel albums including Israel Houghton's 'Road to DeMaskus'. Christine is a patient and encouraging teacher who trains her students (both voice and piano) in proper technique, music theory, practice techniques, and ear training. Her goal as a teacher is to educate students not only to read the notes on the page, but to develop a deeper understanding of the music to further inspire their own creativity in all genres.

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