Instructors

We take pride in our team of university-trained instructors, who use their professional experience as both educators and performers to foster each student’s music education. They are qualified to teach students of all ages, from toddlers to adults. Our instructors are versatile in all styles of music, from classical to jazz to rock and everything in between. Whether you are a novice or have been playing for years, we will help you achieve your musical goals.

Alyssa DeGuzman Voice and Piano Instructor

Alyssa DeGuzman

Piano/ Voice
Adelphi University

Alyssa’s love for music began in the first grade when her parents signed her up for piano lessons. From that point, her passion for music grew as she started singing and performing on stage. Although being classically trained in both piano and voice, she is also proficient at other genres such as pop, musical theater, and jazz. She has performed as a soloist for several years at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall. In June 2013, she won first place in the Music Talent Competition of the Morgan Park Summer Festival. She has also sang the National Anthem at Nassau Coliseum for an Islanders hockey game, and for Event Power's triathlons held at Eisenhower Park, Nickerson Beach State Park, and the Nassau County Aquatics Center. Alyssa hopes to inspire and help her students cultivate their talents, while instilling in them a passion to pursue their goals.

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." – V. Hugo

Carmela Benvenuto Piano Instructor

Carmela Benvenuto

Piano
Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Australia/ The University of Queensland, Australia

Carmela has been playing the piano for over twenty years and has spent several years teaching general and instrumental music at a remote Indigenous community in Australia. She was responsible for creating and implementing musical programs as none previously existed. While working at this school in Australia, Carmela was fortunate enough to be mentored by the renowned jazz drummer, bandleader and music educator, John Morrison. With his guidance she was able to further develop her teaching strategies, as well as her own music skills. She also has experience teaching private piano lessons to students of various ages, abilities and interests. Carmela enjoys getting to know her students and sharing with them her passion for music. She believes that learning an instrument is a skill that will bring you great joy for the rest of your life.

"Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching." – Unknown.

Carrie McKenna Voice and Strings Instructor

Carrie McKenna

Voice/ Viola/ Violin/ Cello/ Bass
Adelphi University

Carrie finds inspiration as a teacher through an educators' and performers' standpoint. Throughout her time at Adelphi, Carrie made it her goal to perform as much as possible, with the thought in mind that a music educator cannot fully serve her students unless she is a successful performer. Carrie incorporates many different methodologies of instruction in her lessons. To Carrie, there is nothing more fulfilling than seeing her students succeed. She also believes that as a teacher, she is constantly learning through her students. She hopes to instill her passion for music in her students and looks forward to making music together.

“Music enhances the education of our children by helping them to make connections and broadening the depth with which they think and feel. If we are to hope for a society of culturally literate people, music must be a vital part of our children’s education.” – Yo-Yo Ma

Christina Fileas Voice and Piano Instructor

Christina Fileas

Voice/ Piano
Adelphi University

Christina began studying the piano when she was seven years old and voice when she was thirteen years old. Growing up, she had attended conservatory training at Cap 21: America's Musical Theater Conservatory and Theater Company, Theater Arts Center Summer Program, and the Broadway Dance Center. She found her passion for musical theater after having trained with multiple professional Broadway performers. In the last few years, she has taught Sunday school and Greek dance at her church and has directed her high school's performance of West Side Story. Christina is proficient in different vocal genres ranging from musical theater to classical. Aside from teaching a strong classical foundation in piano, she inspires her students to explore all genres of music. She believes that everyone is capable of learning music and loving music. Her goal is to inspire students to find their passion and to share with them her love of music and performing.

"Music is what feelings sound like." - Unknown

Dan DelVecchio Guitar and Bass Instructor

Dan DelVecchio

Guitar/ Bass Guitar/ Ukulele/ Band
Hofstra University

Dan has been studying and playing the guitar for 19+ years. Each of his instructors growing up has helped to mold his style of playing, giving him a diverse perspective and sense of style on each instrument. Dan is a professional studio musician and has performed in various bands on Long Island, including playing in the backing band for Robbie Rosen of American Idol. As a performer, he has played for Fox’s Good Day New York and has shared the stage with some of the biggest acts in the industry, including Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, Kings of Leon, Stevie Wonder, Keith Urban, Billy Idol, Jane's Addiction, Shinedown, Staind, Of Mice And Men, and countless others. His performing experience has given him great insights to which he shares and applies to teaching his students. He introduces his students to the basics of guitar, bass and ukulele as well as motivates and informs students of the importance of practice and persistence. These are some of the key elements he likes to emphasize when teaching. He also helps to develop the students' ability to utilize their own creativity by allowing them to come up with their own ideas. This motivates students to continue learning as well as helps them to gain a passion for the instrument.

"Good music doesn’t have an expiration date." - Unknown

Daniel Grote Cello Instructor

Daniel Grote

Cello
Hofstra University

Daniel’s s passion for music began fourteen years ago when he was introduced to the cello in his third grade class and likened it to a guitar. Once he started playing, there was no turning back to a life without music. As a performer, he can be seen playing gigs throughout New York City. He also enjoys an acting career and can be seen performing on screen in television shows including White Collar and Royal Pains. Most recently, he has become the assistant to the Program Director/SVP of The Howard Stern Show & Channels. Having spent time working in music, TV, film and now radio, he continues to strive for a comprehensive understanding of the entertainment industry as a whole. Daniel loves teaching music because it paves the way for the next generation of musicians, while simultaneously enriching the lives of students and giving them a new, exciting way to express themselves.

"The only one who’s really judging you is yourself." – Tame Impala / Song: "Alter Ego"

Derek Ciminera Drum Instructor

Derek Ciminera

Drums/Guitar/Piano
Nassau Community College

Derek has been teaching drums for over fifteen years and has been playing since the age of eight. As a performer, he currently plays with several cover bands: Graffiti Rose, The Mango Brothers, Alter Ego, and a roots reggae band by the name of Hailey Unlikely. Derek is also a proficient guitarist and pianist, and has written over fifty original songs, including an original CD entitled "I Would". Derek is a qualified NYSSMA instructor and has achieved great success with all levels of snare drum and drum set. He aims to cater to his students' tastes, and focuses mainly on the styles, drummers and genres that inspire them, while simultaneously exposing them to a strong foundation of rudiments and note reading. He is extremely patient, friendly, and relates well to children and adults alike. Derek believes that music should be fun at all costs. He tries to fashion his classes with that in mind, at the same time exposing his students to many different styles. He strives to not only expand their horizons and make them better drummers, but to also show them how music is all somehow magically connected and creates a beautiful universal language; a language in which no words are necessary.

Edward Becker Guitar and Bass Instructor

Edward Becker

Guitar/Bass Guitar
Five Towns College

Long Island native Edward "Metal Ed" Becker has over a decade of experience teaching students of every age and skill level. Obsessed with rock and heavy metal since early childhood, he began taking lessons at eleven years old to finally "understand the sounds the bands were making." Edward currently performs as the bass player for female-fronted hard rock band, "Better Off Inc." and is lead shredder in the heavy metal act "Korotory." As an instructor, he brings his passion and fervor for technical performance, experimentation, and music appreciation to every lesson he teaches. Edward specializes in technicality, and teaching all genres of music, from J.S. Bach to Eddie Van Halen.

Esther Chung Piano, Strings and Voice Instructor

Esther Chung

Piano/ Voice/ Violin
Adelphi University

Esther began her musical studies with piano from the age of three, violin at age seven, and voice at age fourteen. Her love for music continued to grow throughout college and she graduated with a double major in Music Performance and Business. She has performed at renowned music venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, both solo and with ensembles. She has been concertmistress of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra Principal Orchestra directed by Scott Stickley, and first soprano in the Chamber Chorale with Edward P. Norris III. Throughout her musical career, Esther has had the privilege of working with musicians such as Ola Gjeilo, Molly Mustonen, Darla D. Diltz, and Keith and Kristyn Getty. Aside from preforming, Esther loves teaching students of all ages and enjoys bringing music into everyone’s lives.

Jennifer Kang Piano and Voice Instructor

Jennifer Kang

Piano/ Voice
Adelphi University

Jen began playing the piano at the age of seven and has been singing for as long as she can remember. Jennifer plays and sings a variety of genres such as classical, pop, jazz, and many more. She is the lead vocalist and pianist in her church’s praise band and founder/musical director of Paws and Rewind, an up and coming a cappella group from Adelphi University. Jennifer believes that music should be a way for people to gain confidence and that music can be an outlet for students to express themselves. As an educator, Jennifer hopes that she can inspire her students to do what they love and to pursue their dreams.

"Music Education can help spark a child’s imagination or ignite a lifetime of passion. When you provide a child with new worlds to explore and challenges to tackle, the possibilities are endless. Music education should not be a privilege for a lucky few, it should be a part of every child’s world of possibility." – H. Clinton

John Grayson Guitar Instructor

John Grayson

Guitar/ Bass Guitar
Five Towns College

John began playing the guitar at ten years old and was playing gigs with his first band at age fourteen. He began teaching at sixteen years old and now has over thirty years of teaching experience under his belt. John is able to help students of any age, skill level, and background to achieve their musical goals. Coming from a family of musicians, John has been inspired by so many different genres of great music. He accommodates students who wish to learn anything from classical, to modern, to metal, and everything in between. He also does not forget what it’s like to be a student, and brings that perspective to every lesson.

Jordan Cohen Center Stage Instructor

Jordan Cohen

Woodwinds/Brass
Hofstra University

Jordan has been teaching privately for over eight years and has had countless students participate in NYSSMA, All-County, and All-State. Aside from teaching, Jordan is an avid performer and composer. His band "Lawrence" was recently signed to Warner Bros. Records and has toured all across the country. Jordan has also toured and preformed the saxophone with well-known bands such as Streetlight Manifesto. You can hear his debut film score composition in "Landline" starring Edie Falco and John Turturro. He prides himself on his passion for teaching and for instilling that passion, dedication, and a strong work ethic in every student he has the opportunity to teach.

Karina Aristy - violin, viola, cello instructor

Karina Aristy

Violin/Viola/Cello
Long Island University, CW Post

Karina has been playing the violin since she was nine years old. Throughout the years she excelled within various performing groups and was given the title of Concert Mistress from grade 7 through grade 12. During her time at Post, she furthered her studies in violin, viola and cello and received her Bachelor's in Music Education. Karina has been teaching students of all ages for over four years. She highly believes in the value of a well-rounded education and makes sure that all of her students can read, write and perform music to the best of their ability.

"Without music life would be a mistake." – F.W. Nietzsche

Kelby Khan - Piano and Voice instructor

Kelby Khan

Piano/ Voice/ Drums/ Guitar/ Band/Center Stage Blogger/Writer for Center Stage Magazine
Hofstra University & The Boston Conservatory

Kelby has been teaching for over 15 years. He was the only candidate selected out of an international pool to attend The Boston Conservatory for M.M. in Conducting with a full conservatory scholarship. His education and experiences have given him the opportunity to work with the MIT Chamber Choir, Boston Conservatory Chorale, Boston Conservatory Opera, Simmons College Choir, and The Boston Symphony Orchestra. Also an avid performer, he plays and sings with several local bands ranging from singer-songwriter rock to jazz, fusion, and art rock in popular music venues all throughout NYC. He is a writer for the CS magazine and is CS’s online blogger, providing professional and educational insight on the workings of the music world. Kelby loves to teach because it gives him the opportunity to learn from his students as well. Kelby says it best when he says, "I love that music is ever changing; it leads to new interpretations and new experiences each time. No two days are the same in the life of a professional musician, which definitely keeps you on your toes and in the moment!" One of his favorite music quotes comes from one of his teachers Dr. W. Cutter; "There is no such thing as easy music", meaning there is always a deeper understanding to be discovered whether it’s the easiest pop song or the hardest piano sonata!

Mark Zapata Drum instructor

Mark Zapata

Drums
Five Towns College

Mark Zapata has been a part of the New York hard rock and heavy metal scene for nearly two decades. As the drummer for the technical, heavy metal band Killjoy, Mark has made a name for himself as one of the top drummers to come from Long Island. He has been teaching students of all ages and levels for the past ten years, and considers his drum set his home. His patience and attention to detail along with his strong communication skills make him a very effective educator. Mark believes that drumming is only one part of his teaching. He also teaches the value of hard work and dedication, the benefits of commitment and the importance of pushing our limitations. Mark believes that he is meant to teach students how to create their own music on their instrument and how to express themselves through the creation of music.

"Practice is an investment in your future greatness!” – M. Zapata

Patricia Yale Woodwinds and Brass Instructor

Patricia Yale

Woodwinds/ Brass
Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam

Patricia Yale is a NYS certified music educator. She teaches all band instruments, specializing in woodwinds. She has been teaching private lessons for over ten years to students of all ages. Currently, she directs the band, jazz band, and teaches AP music theory at the North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Lake Success. She fell in love with teaching band from her experiences in the Sayville Music Department during middle and high school. Ms. Yale brings her enthusiasm and love for playing to her students. She focuses on the positives while aiming to build confidence and technique in each musician she works with.

Stephanie McKenna Piano and Voice Instructor

Stephanie McKenna

Little Stages Director/Piano/ Voice/ Band
Adelphi University

Stephanie has been playing music her whole life and is constantly searching for new musical experiences. She is a co-founder of Adelphi's very first a capella group, of which she used to sing and beatbox for. An avid songwriter as well, she won the Adelphi's Got Talent show with a song that she wrote for voice and guitar. Stephanie has a vast background of working with people in musical environments, and loves to share her knowledge and experiences with people who aspire to be the best musicians they can be. Musicians of all ages come with strengths and weaknesses, and Stephanie would love to help them expand upon their strengths while improving their weaknesses. Music is innate in all of us and Stephanie would love to be a part of the journey of many aspiring musicians.

"What I express when I sing I cannot express when I speak." - S. McKenna

Tom Piscitelli Guitar and Drum Instructor

Dr. Tom Piscitelli

Drums/ Guitar/ Band
SUNY Binghamton/ SUNY Upstate Medical University

Dr. Tom has been teaching for over seven years. As a performer, he is currently writing and recording music for his western rock band, The Grave Jinglers, and they have performed in many famous rock venues including the Paramount in Huntington. The Grave Jinglers have released two studio albums, one of which, "Reign of the West", charted at #234 on the Americana Music charts nationally. Their single "Doo Wop in the Restroom" was placed in the independent film "What Happened Last Night" and is on the soundtrack distributed by Sony Records. Their single "Don’t Waste My Time" was aired on The Disney Channel on a "Make Your Mark" series that spread awareness for Tourette’s syndrome. Dr. Tom has previously studied with select members of the NYC Metropolitan Opera, Binghamton Symphony Orchestra, and Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. His favorite thing about teaching is identifying the personal attitudes, experiences and nuances unique to each student and assisting them in channeling those particulars through the music. He shares his knowledge of performing, songwriting and technique to each lesson, leaving his students with a comprehensive music education.

Ulises Amaya Guitar and Bass Instructor

Ulises Amaya

Band Director/Bass/ Guitar/ Drums/ Violin/ Viola/ Cello/ Band/ String Ensemble/ Writer for Center Stage Magazine
Hofstra University

Ulises Amaya is a New York State certified K-12 music educator and multi-instrumentalist from Long Island, New York. As an active educator for over six years, Ulises is well versed in both classical and jazz pedagogy. He has worked with elementary and middle school orchestras/choruses, and has had the pleasure of teaching PreK-8th grade general music in the Bronx. In addition to his time in a formal school setting, he has taught private bass, guitar, drum, violin, viola and cello lessons for many years. Alongside his years of teaching, he continues to be an active performer and has played numerous NYC venues and east coast music festivals. Ulises uses his performance knowledge and leadership skills to direct our Rock the Stage band program. As a lead writer for Center Stage Magazine, Ulises brings his creativity and vast musical knowledge to write articles that are thought provoking and sure to spark any music lover’s interest. He brings an infectious enthusiasm for music to his teaching and seeks to instill strong musical foundations in all of his students.