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.

Carmela-Benvenuto, Instructor at Center Stage Music Center.

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

Dan Gillen, Center stage drums Instructor

Dan Gillen

 
Drums
SUNY Fredonia

Dan is a recent graduate of SUNY Fredonia, where he received his bachelor's degree in music performance. During his time at Fredonia, Dan studied a wide array of music, ranging from orchestral to West African. Over the course of his studies he has taught privately, performed in interactive children's concerts, and taught percussion class at the Northport School District Summer Camp. Dan has worked with students of every age and playing ability. In addition to teaching, Dan is a freelance performer on Long Island, playing with groups such as The New Inlet Chamber Orchestra, The North Shore Symphony, and The Long Island Street Band. Outside of the classical realm, Dan plays drum set with a few bands locally as well. His passion for music is what drives him to teach, so that he may pass on his love of music to others.

David Voss, Piano Instructor at Center Stage Music Center - Long Island Music School.

David Voss

 
Piano
Lawrence University

David Voss is a versatile piano instructor, teaching his student’s not only technical skills, but also music theory and songwriting to those who are interested. He has studied piano with Nancy Terhorst, Catherine Kautsky, and Luba Poliak, and has worked previously as a piano instructor in the Chicago suburbs. He has also worked extensively as a collaborative pianist in the voice studios of Teresa Seidl and John Gates. Active as an accompanist working for churches, orchestras, and choirs, David has performed with the Lawrence University Concert Choir, as well as with the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra on piano and celeste. David is committed to helping his students pursue their musical goals and providing them with the tools to help realize their own ambitions.

Derek Ciminera Drum Instructor

Derek Ciminera

Drums
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.

Karina Aristy, Center Stage strings 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

Michael Harris, Instructor at Center Stage Music Center

Michael Harris

Piano/Drums
Degree in Progress

Michael began learning music from the early age of 11 years old. He has been dedicated to his training in piano and drums since the very beginning. Although he began his musical journey as a self taught instrumentalist, Michael has gone on to study under Juilliard Graduate Peter Schubert, Steinway artist Carol Mont Parker, and Gina Ochiogrosso. Throughout his performance career, he participated in competitions through the Drum Corps. Association, in which he competed with the five-time champion Syracuse Brigadiers and the Rochester Crusaders. An accomplished pianist as well, he has served as an accompanist for various school concerts and events. Michael has extensive experience working with students of all ages and levels. Not only has he been teaching private lessons since he was 18 years old, he has also worked with local award-winning high school marching bands in the Copiague, Brentwood, and Lindenhurst school districts. Michael has a strong passion for teaching music and desires to help people find their passion and achieve their goals and dreams.

"He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Michael Roberts, Instructor at Center Stage Music Center

Michael Roberts

Woodwinds/Brass
LIU University

Michael is a New York State certified music teacher, specializing in woodwinds. Born and raised in Nassau County, Long Island, he was involved in various school ensembles and extracurricular music programs, including USDAN, Crane Youth Music (CYM), Gemini Concert Winds, and the Gemini Symphony Orchestra. He has been teaching privately since he was in high school. He has been the Administrative Assistant to the Directors for the LIU Post Chamber Music Festival for the past seven summers, and has assisted with coaching chamber ensembles for the last four summers. Michael received his B.M. in Music Education in May 2015 following his student teaching in the Baldwin School District. At LIU Post, he was a winner of the college division competition of the Long Island Flute Club in 2013. A member of the LIU Post Honors Program, he excelled academically, graduating with a 3.9 cumulative GPA. An avid performer, he was a member of the LIU Post Wind Symphony, Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Pep Band. He was also the undergraduate assistant for the LIU Post Flute Ensemble and organized large flute choirs of up to thirty members. In addition, he was a staff assistant for the Long Island Youth Orchestra. Upon receiving his undergraduate degree, Michael has worked as a band teacher at Plantation Middle School in Broward County, Florida. Now back in New York, Michael is a substitute teacher in the Seaford School District. Michael is a passionate, dedicated educator and holds himself to the highest standards of musical instruction and education.

"Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Andersen

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

Stephen Saylor instructor at Center Stage Music Center

Stephen Saylor

Guitar/Bass
Hofstra University

Stephen has been teaching for over seven years, but his musical journey started in the 5th grade when he taught himself to play the guitar, bass, and drums. Soon there after he began to form bands and play with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Throughout high school he became a veteran of the Long Island music scene, sharing the stage with acts such as Taking Back Sunday and Brand New. He graduated Cum Laude from Hofstra with a degree in Music Merchandising, while studying Jazz and Classical music under the instruction of world-class musicians. He has since toured extensively and has performed with acts such as Adam Lambert, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, Third Eye Blind, and Less Than Jake, to name a few. As a teacher, his focus is to inspire his students to learn how music works in fun and interesting ways. He is well practiced in teaching any age, style, or level. Each lesson is customized to the student, while still including rudiments and music theory.

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.

Victoria Astuto, Center Stage winds instructor

Victoria Astuto

Woodwinds/Brass
Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam & University of Northern Colorado

Victoria Astuto has been teaching private lessons for over eight years to students from elementary school through college. She received a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam in 2013. She then went on to graduate from the University of Northern Colorado in May 2015 with a Master of Music Performance in Clarinet. Victoria was also the Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Northern Colorado while she attended school there. She teaches all band instruments, specializing in woodwinds. Victoria hopes to inspire all students to express themselves, find their passion, and work toward their goals!