- Natalie Andrews
- Josh Ashinoff
- Neray Bailey
- Emily Cabell
- Stephanie Crawford
- Daniel Davis
- Jay Eldridge
- Cynthia Elek
- Dave Elston
- Scott Gleason
- Ben Hedquist
- Keith Johnson
- Parker Mann
- Eric Martinez
- Randi Meador
- John Meier
- John Moore
- Regina Nixon
- David Paonessa
- Josiel Perez Hernandez
- Meghan Ruel
- Renée Saxon
- Chandra Susilo
- Frances Tenney
- Jonathan Travis
- Teresa Valenzuela
- Isabella Villalón
- Carlos Villegas
Natalie Andrews, Voice, Musical Theater, Community Music Educator
Natalie Andrews grew up in Louisville, Kentucky performing in various performing arts including musicals, choirs, Shakespeare productions, improv comedy groups and operas. She studied classical voice in private lessons starting at the age of ten. One of Natalie’s fondest childhood memories is singing and writing songs on long car rides with her aunt, who was the beginning of her lifelong relationship with music and creativity. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre from the University of Oklahoma (OU), School of Drama. During her time at OU, she performed in the American debut of Ernestine Schuswap Gets Her Trout by Tomson Highway, which was awarded a performance at the Kennedy Center by the American College Theatre Festival. Natalie has experience performing with several bands, including The Jimmy James Trio and Shine: A Pink Floyd Tribute. She has also produced and directed several theatre productions, including Matt and Ben by Mindy Kaling, The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown, and an original piece, titled Into the Fading Light.
Natalie began her career as a teaching artist in high school, when she took an outreach position at Walden Theatre teaching theatre and improv to elementary school students with little or no access to arts education. She continued to teach these theatre classes throughout high school and college. After graduating from OU, she completed a teaching assistantship for the French Ministry of Education, spending two semesters teaching conversational English at a high school in Brioude, France. She was an adjunct professor of Voice and Movement for the University of Oklahoma, School of Drama from 2012-2013. Natalie started teaching private voice lessons at the Infinity Music Arts Academy in Norman, Oklahoma, where she served as Head Vocal Instructor for two years. Upon moving to Phoenix, she was immediately enamored with the Phoenix Conservatory of Music and its unique musical community and programming.
Natalie is also the Approved Care Network Coordinator for Healing TREE, a nonprofit that assists people in recovering from traumatic experiences. In addition, she is a certified yoga instructor and has taught yoga classes at Ashtanga Yoga Studio and the Wellness Center. She incorporates elements of this into her voice lessons to promote healthy alignment and alleviate muscular tension that may interfere with singing.
Forever a student herself, Natalie continues to develop her musicianship by studying guitar, piano, audio production, and songwriting. She recently presented an ongoing research collaboration with Laura Meador, Original Music Programming: Nurturing the Human Artist at the 2015 Berklee City Music Summit at Columbia College.
Josh Ashinoff, Guitar
Josh Ashinoff picked up the electric guitar in his teenage years. A year after that, Josh started to study the classical guitar at Glendale Community College and had obtained his Associates in Arts Degree.
During his time there, he performed in GCC’s Guitar Ensemble and Quartet. His quartet received an honorable mention in the instrumental ensembles category that spanned district wide in Artists of Promise competition.
In Josh’s lessons, you will get to learn songs of your choosing, learn how to develop good practice habits, read music and apply practical music theory on the guitar.
On top of teaching private lessons , Josh also teaches a handful of music theory classes at PCM and directs some of PCM’s ensembles.
Neray Bailey, Piano and Voice
Neray Bailey joined the Phoenix Conservatory of Music in 2009 with nearly thirty years of experience in piano and vocal performance and instruction. After obtaining her high school diploma from the Bul Bul Music School, a special school for gifted children under the Azerbaijan State Conservatory of Music, Neray attended the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, obtaining Masters degrees in vocal and piano performance with high honors. Throughout her professional career, she has held numerous positions in both academia and the musical performance sector, including: Soloist at the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater (1985-1997), Vocal Performance Instructor (1985-1991) and Professor of Vocal Performance (1991-1997) at the Azerbaijan State Conservatory of Music, Pianist (1998-2008) at the School of Ballet Arizona, Music Teacher (2003-2008) at Irene’s Happy Day Child Care, and Voice Teacher, Choir Instructor and Accompanist (2004-2009) at Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children.
As a classically trained opera singer (singing voice of mezzo soprano), Mrs. Bailey has performed in numerous classical opera productions, frequently holding lead roles. In the course of her artistic career as both a pianist and a vocalist, Mrs. Bailey has also been the recipient of a number of awards, including the M.I. Glinka Competition Certificate of Achievement Award (1981), the Transcaucasus Performing Artists Competition 1st Place Winner Award (1985), the Academy of Arts of Azerbaijan Honorary Membership Award (1990), and the Toulouse International Singing Competition Award (1991). In addition to her work at PCM, Neray is a piano accompanist and piano and voice teacher at the Scottsdale School of Ballet, where she has worked since 2007. Mrs. Bailey holds Masters and Bachelors degrees from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music. She has sung in numerous opera companies and has toured extensively throughout Europe and the former Soviet Union. She holds many awards and honors, and for more than twelve years, was a principal performer for the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater and served as an instructor and then professor of solo performance at the Azerbaijan State Conservatory of Music.
Emily Cabell, Piano, Violin, Voice, Flute, Clarinet, Alto Sax
An Oklahoma native, Miss Emily Cabell recently became a resident of Arizona. She is a 2001 graduate of Florida State University College of Music where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in General Music Education. She has taught in Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma and Arizona at various public, charter and private schools. Emily teaches piano, violin, voice, clarinet, flute, and saxophone here at PCM! She also has Level 1 Orff-Schulwerk certification and plans on achieving more levels. Emily loves being a resident teacher here in the great state of Arizona and hopes to be teaching here for a very long time!
Stephanie Crawford, Piano
A Phoenix native, Stephanie Crawford is a classically trained pianist and began her piano studies at the age of five. She credits her musical foundation to her first piano teacher and mentor, the late Frances Ballard of The Piano Room.
During her childhood, Stephanie participated in numerous performances with the Arizona State Music Teachers Association and the Federation of Music Clubs for eleven years. After graduating high school, Stephanie branched out into music composition. Included in her body of work are scores composed in various genres of music for short films produced at Scottsdale Community College Film School.
In July 2012, Stephanie performed for the O-Live! Theatre in the production of Sister Mary’s House, and has also arranged and coordinated musical works for the 2009 and 2013 Christmas Spectacular at El-Bethel Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.
In addition to teaching at the Phoenix Conservatory of Music, Stephanie carries her own clientele of private piano students. She is also a hired musician for the Phoenix Christian Reformed Church, holding the position of piano accompanist. At Stephanie’s home church assembly, she has been the lead keyboardist for over fifteen years and, since 2008, has filled the position of choir director.
Daniel Davis, Guitar
Daniel Davis teaches all levels and styles of guitar. He holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts degrees from the world famous Berklee College of Music. He has taught guitar at the college level for the past thirty years and currently teaches at Mesa Community College. Dan is the author of two books published by Neil A. Kjos Music Company, and has studied and performed with some of the greatest entertainers in the world. Some of the performers he’s worked with include: William G. Leavitt, Sandler and Young, Joe Pass, comedian Danny Gans, Barney Kessel, as well as the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus.
Dan was awarded the prestigious Ovation Guitar Award by Ovation Guitar Company. As a performer, he has lead a variety band in the Phoenix area for over twenty years.
Jay Eldridge, Bass, Beginning Guitar, Audio Production, Community Music Educator
Finding music in his teenage years, Jay Eldridge became a servant of the electric bass, and shortly thereafter discovered Marcus Miller. This, in turn, led to a rigorous practice schedule, until he was able to replicate original compositions with precision. Gigging as a pit musician, performing Sunday Services at Ada Bible Church with over a thousand members and teaching private bass lessons to beginner students, created a defined path in pursuit of his passion at Berklee College of Music.
During his time in Boston, he tutored his fellow undergraduates on harmony, ear training and arranging, while honing his skills as a multi instrumentalist on electric bass, piano and guitar.
In 2015, after earning his Bachelors in contemporary writing and production from Berklee, he elected to further his education at Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain to pursue his Masters in electric bass performance with production concentration. During his tenure in Valencia, he studied under Gary Willis, and continued gigging on the side. Dedication, growth and education represent Eldridge’s ideals upon which he will continue to build and influence aspiring students of music.
Cynthia Elek, Community Music Educator
Cynthia Elek holds a Master of Music in Opera Performance from the University of Maryland’s Opera Center, which offers comprehensive training for the stage through classes in scene study, Shakespeare, improvisation and stage combat as well as opera repertoire, diction and languages. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Oberlin College, where she studied piano, theory and voice in the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. She is a music and drama specialist, teaching artist and national workshop presenter for the Kennedy Center Community Partnerships, the Kennedy Center’s Professional Development for Teachers division and the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts. She taught both early childhood music and senior outreach at the Levine School of Music, and was a visiting music specialist at Maryland’s Greenwood School. Ms. Elek was a company actress and classroom drama specialist for five years with InterAct Story Theatre, a Maryland-based professional children’s theatre company, and continues her work with InterAct as a drama-for-literacy workshop presenter. She has appeared in opera, film, commercials and voice-overs and has directed opera and musical theatre for university and community theatre organizations. A native of Dallas, Texas, Ms. Elek moved to Maryland from Alaska, where her thirteen-year residence included performing, teaching university voice, writing visual arts criticism and managing programs for various music and theatre organizations.
Ms. Elek joined the Arizona Commission on the Arts teaching roster in fall 2004, and is currently listed as a Music Artist. She has taught after-school drama for the Kyrene School District enrichment program and Desert View Learning Center in Paradise Valley. She is an active arts-integrated residency teaching artist and workshop presenter whose clients include Higley, Scottsdale, Peoria, Chandler and Globe school districts; the Arizona State Library; Arizona Wolf Trap; and national Kennedy Center sites in Wyoming, New Mexico and South Carolina.
Ms. Elek is a member of the Arizona Opera Chorus and has performed at Broadway Palms, New Carpa Theatre, and Theater Works. She is a volunteer reader for SAG’s Arizona BookPALS and RFBD and a member of the Arizona Reading Association. Her article on integrating music with literacy through the use of chant in the classroom appeared in the fall 2009 issue of Arizona Reading Journal.
Dave Elston, Guitar
Dave Elston is a guitarist in the Prescott Valley Bible Church band. He started his music career playing trombone, baritone, and tuba in school. He eventually began playing guitar and taking lessons right here at PCM. He has been teaching beginning guitar since 2013 and enjoys presenting other instruments to his students to inspire them.
Scott Gleason, Percussion, Ensemble Direction
Scott Gleason is a drummer and educator from Cave Creek, Arizona. He holds a Bachelors of Music Degree from Arizona State University in Jazz Studies-Percussion Performance. During his time at ASU, he performed with the Jazz Repertory band, multiple jazz combos, the Pan Devils, the African drum ensemble, Wind orchestra, and Sun Devil Marching Band.
Since he was 14, Scott has been involved with Drum Corps International, and has traveled the country numerous times with various drum and bugle corps. In 2014, he was awarded the Fred Sanford award for Best Percussion performance, as part of the Santa Clara Vanguard
Scott continues to teach privately and as consultant for marching percussion groups, and has worked with touring groups and high schools. His expertise is involved with building better musicians, through a “work smarter and harder” mindset that allows his students to succeed competitively.
Ben Hedquist, Upright Bass, Theory, College Prep Coordination
Ben Hedquist hails from Stevens Point, Wisconsin and has recently completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Double Bass Performance. Since moving to the Phoenix metropolitan area, Ben has become one of the city’s most in demand bassists. He plays regularly with the jazz sextet, Running from Bears with saxophonists Eric Rasmussen, Adam Roberts and Keith Kelly, Guitarist Jeff Libman, and Drummer Ryan Anthony. He has also performed with Mike Kocour, Dom Moio, Bill Moio, Joe Gallivan, Mark Fewer, Allan Chase, Lucas Pino, Joe Locke, and Chris Cheek. He joined PCM in 2017 as the College Prep Program Coordinator and Jazz Ensemble Director.
Keith Johnson, Community Music Educator
Keith Johnson was born in the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a child, he was exposed to many cultural events that helped develop his interest in music, particularly the drums. After hearing the Latin beat of bongos and congas, the rhythm inspired him to hit the streets to learn more about Afro-Cuban music. This style of music was played in Adams-Morgan, the Latino community of D.C. Watching their drumming and dancing was one of the greatest experiences of his life, and started his journey of playing many styles of music utilizing a variety of drums.
Keith’s journey led him to Africa to learn about their drums. He met and studied with master drummer Yacub Addy of Ghana for a number of years. He also learned that the tonal language was the way of communication in Africa. On his first trip to West Africa; Accra, Ghana, he was amazed at the people and the food. He learned that traditional drums come in families, for example: Ewe drums (Sogo, Kidi, Kagan, Atsimevu, Boba, and Kroboto). Some of the drums are only played for the King. After studying for many years during his travels to Africa, his teachers entitled him a master drummer.
After extensive travel throughout West Africa (including Bamako, Mali, Dakar, Senegal, and Accra, Ghana) and his research on drums, Mr. Johnson became a craftsman of tradition with musical instruments. These instruments cover a wide range including Membranophones: talking drums, water drums, panlogo, djembe; Chordophones: Kora 21- stringed harp (grandfather to the banjo and guitar), gonji, violin, riki harp, lute; Aerophones: whistle, panpipes, signal flutes, transverse flutes; Idiophones: gourd rattles, seed pods, thumb piano, balaphone, and cocoon. During his research in the Caribbean Islands of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith learned about the steel drums, a musical instrument indigenous to the island. This instrument was an extension of the African drum but with stretched metal to create pitch, similar to skin being stretched on a drum. The steel drum was like hearing the piano on 55- gallon oil drums. The tenor pan plays the melody while the double second plays harmony. The other drums are the guitar, cello, and bass pans. All of the drums together create the full sound of a steel pan orchestra with various styles of musical genre; classical, jazz, calypso, and popular songs.
Parker Mann, Percussion, Drum Kit, Ensemble Direction and Music Theory
Parker Mann is a percussionist, composer and music educator born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance and is currently a graduate student at Arizona State University completing a Master of Music in Jazz Performance. His specialties include all styles of drum set, orchestral percussion, marimba and hand drums.
As a musician, he has performed here in Arizona and around the United States. In Arizona, he has performed with the Scottsdale Philharmonic, the Chandler Symphony, the Salt River Brass Band, the Detour Theater Company, the Phoenix Theater, the GreasePaint Theater and countless other ensembles. At Arizona State, he performed with the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, African Drum Ensemble, Lyric Opera Theater, Latin Jazz Band and Jazz Combos among others. His local bands, Mama Butane, That Blues Trio and The Village Blasting Club can be seen playing venues around the valley. In addition to his work here in Arizona, he has performed live on NPR in Grand Rapids Michigan with the Blue Lake Festival Orchestra, Festival Band and Big Band. In the coming months, you can catch him on the debut albums of local bands Mama Butane and Ramses II.
As a composer, he writes primarily for small groups, solo instruments and film scores. He has scored Arizona independent films such as A Comedy of Horrors, Mariam, The Take and Pull, and will be making his theater debut composing the score for his first play this spring.
He instructs percussion at Skyline High School, where he has helped lead the band to numerous honors, including a 2nd place percussion title at the 2015 State of Arizona Marching Band Championships as well as a 5th place percussion score in 2016 and an overall superior Marching Band rating for the first time in school history. He has taught percussion at Taylor Junior High School, Cactus Middle School and Phoenix Music as well as teaching general music at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, one of the top programs for young musicians in the country. Currently, he enjoys his role as an ensemble director and percussion faculty member at the Phoenix Conservatory of Music.
Eric Martinez, Community Music Educator
Dr. Eric Martinez is a veteran music teacher who is originally from El Paso, Texas. He has been in the valley for the past eighteen years and has taught every instrument in some capacity. He currently teaches middle school band, orchestra and general music for Cartwright School District in Phoenix. In addition, he teaches several music history classes through the Maricopa County Community College District, instructs piano and guitar through the 21st Century After-School Program, is an advisor for the school drama department, teaches privately for several music studios, and is a peer-counselor for Estrella Mountain and Rio Salado Community Colleges.
Eric holds a Bachelor’s Degree in music education from New Mexico State University and a Master’s Degree in music education, secondary education and counseling. His background and knowledge in English as a second language, gifted, Spanish immersion and special education has enabled him to help all his students achieve their musical goals.
His philosophy is to provide a musical experience that is fun, exciting and stimulating for all levels of musicians, whether music is a hobby or life-long career.
Randi Meador, Voice, Piano, and Ensemble Director
Randi Meador developed a passion for music at a young age. At age 7, she began to study the violin. After pursuing the violin for nine years, she began to expand her knowledge for music through voice and piano. Since then, Randi has been involved in various choral and music ensembles. After graduating from high school, she began to pursue her passion for music at Glendale Community College. While attending Glendale Community College, Randi was involved in numerous music ensembles including; A Capella Choir, chambers ensemble, vocal jazz ensemble, and hand bell ensemble. Currently, Randi is pursuing a double major in music education and voice performance at Ottawa University under the direction of Dr. Craig Peterson of Mesa Community College. Randi is also involved in many choral ensembles, such as Conto Vivo choral. Her involvement in music ensembles has allowed her to develop her passion and interest for music. Randi also enjoys sharing music throughout her community by singing throughout the valley. She enjoys singing at churches across the valley and helping others enjoy music. Randi has been teaching for several years and hopes to help develop the love for music in the community. PCM has allowed her love for music to expand and help others achieve their love for music through early childhood development classes, and group and private lessons in both piano and voice.
John Meier, Community Music Educator
John Meier is a local guitarist and composer in the Phoenix area. He has been studying music privately since the age of ten. In 2014, he received a Bachelor’s degree in jazz performance from Arizona State University (ASU). At ASU, he studied with Jeff Libman and Michael Kocour. John has been teaching private lessons in the Phoenix area since 2010 for students age 8 to 50. As a composer, he performs many styles frequently throughout the valley, but his main focus is jazz. John’s music has been featured at the Nash, Arizona State University Jazz Composition Contest, and Reno Jazz Festival.
John Moore, Piano, Audio Production and Ensemble Director
A native of Chicago, Illinois, John Moore began playing the piano at age 5 and has over forty years of experience. Originally he was playing by ear but enrolled music school at age 6. His studies include classical piano at Northwestern University and jazz at Roosevelt University. Music has been a life-long gift to him, and his dedication to the piano became apparent when he ways playing four to five hours a day.
Music has been a journey for John, and his experiences have enabled him to embrace all cultures. The multi-dimensional nature of music that he has seen in different genres has sparked intrigue in the cultures and people behind those styles. As part of his journey, John says that his most memorable gig was playing for for Andre Crouche. John’s favorite piece to play is Chopin’s Nocturne, Opus 9, Number 2, which he describes as a “beautiful love song.”
As a seasoned musician, John has some advice for younger musicians. He says that it’s essential to “sculpt your identity, be distinct in your style, learn from others, but stay true to yourself.” He believes this because he sees many musicians who seem to blend in rather than stand out.
John encourages students to practice as much as possible, since he used to practice all day long whenever possible. He credits his success to his rigorous practice schedule.
Regina Nixon, PCM Executive Director / Curriculum Designer and Instructor
Regina Nixon joined Phoenix Conservatory of Music (PCM) in January of 1999 with a wealth of administrative and musical skills to draw from. She has a strong background in administration, including customer service skills, scheduling, salary cost planning, accounts payables and receivables, inventory control, contract negotiations, and organizational management. Regina has been involved in every aspect of PCM’s business, and is instrumental in continued program growth and curriculum development. Under her leadership, the organization has grown considerably, developed many community partnerships and been awarded honors such as the 2015 Arizona Governor’s Arts Organization Award Winner and placement as the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award Finalist from the Presidents Commission on Arts and Humanities through the National Endowment of the Arts.
She attended Arizona State University’s School of Music, Honors Program, and the Music Theatre Program as a recipient of The Barbara Long Opera Award. She also attended Glendale Community College-Music Studies with an emphasis in guitar performance. Proficient in piano, guitar, voice and acting, her principal teachers include Bonnie Lou (Toigo) Olander, Charles Hulihan, Michael Wieser and Patricia Irby. She furthered her studies in master classes with Enrique Madriguera, Frank Koonce, Mesut Ozgen and Nikita Koshkin. She received first place in the MCCCD outstanding Performers Competition for Chamber Ensemble, Guitar and second place in the MCCCD outstanding Performers Competition for Solo Instrumentalists, Guitar.
Regina has presented several professional development workshops in assessment, working with music and reading, and music movement and emergent literacy on a city and state level. Most notable, she has presented for The Maricopa County Libraries, The Arizona Library Association, and Kindercon, an annual State Primary Educators Conference, and Phoenix Elementary School District #1. She has facilitated arts and academic integrated in school residencies for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten for the Litchfield Elementary School District and Washington Elementary School District. Nationally, she has completed training from the Center for Music and Young Children in Princeton, NJ to teach early childhood developmental music programs. She has been a presenter at the Berklee City Music National Conference on resource development. Regina has a working knowledge of Arts Standards Rationale. In 2012, she received her PULSE Instructor Certification from the Berklee College of Music’s Berklee City Music Network and, in 2014, received her PULSE 2 Train the Trainer Certification and joined an elite group of PULSE trainers chosen to as regional and national training presenters and currently sits on the PULSE advisory council.
In 2016, Executive Director, Regina Nixon, was asked to sit on a national panel at the 2nd annual Berklee City Music Research Meeting about Creative Youth Development and received the 2016 BCMN Distinguished Service Award for Sustained Leadership. Over the last 4 years, Regina has served as an Arts and Culture Commissioner for the City of Phoenix, Arts Learning and Advocacy Committees. In 2017, Regina joined other Berklee City Music Network and Berklee College of Music Teachers with a professional development session for teachers and students in Cape Town, South Africa.
David Paonessa, Piano, Theory, Ensemble Direction
David Paonessa is a pianist from Phoenix, AZ. His interest in music started at young age, playing trumpet in school band. After high school, David attended Mesa Community College and Arizona State University, studying with acclaimed pianists Nick Manson and Mike Kocour. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies in 2015. He can be found playing and teaching regularly throughout the valley of the sun.
Josiel Perez Hernandez – Trumpet, Flugelhorn, French Horn, Piano, Theory, Composition, Arranging, Ensemble Direction in Classical, Jazz, R&B, Pop, Funk, Rock, Latin, Traditional and Contemporary Cuban
Josiel recieved his Bachelor of Arts in Music at the prestigious school of music in Havana Cuba, ISA (Instituto de Superior de Art). In addition to being a a multi-instumentalist, Josiel directs ensembles and symphonic orchestras, composes and arranges. In 2011, Josiel arrived in the United States on a 30 city tour with former Chuch Valdes flutist “Maraca” and has since performed with notable musicians such as Draco Rose, Luis Conte, Rayford Griffin, Haakon Graf, Sheldon Renolds, Rastine Calhoun, Jimmy Branly, Kamsi Washington, Ray De La Paz, Excelencia, and Son Mayor. Presently, Josiel leads the AC Jazz project, a world class and versatile contemporary Cuban band. Composed of extracts from Maraca, Poncho Sanchez. Chaka Kahn, Buena Vista Social Club, Grupo Afro-Cuba, Phil Collins, Arturo Sandoval and Chucho Valdes, their outstanding repertoire and style is a fusion of jazz improvisations mixed with afro-cuban music genres (rumba, folklore, danzon, cha cha cha, mambo, son timba). Josiel takes his teaching seriously, whether working with beginners or pros. He is an encouraging teacher whose love for music is clearly evident in the context of his lessons.
Meghan Ruel, Violin
Canadian violinist Meghan Ruel is an active teaching artist and entrepreneur currently living in Phoenix, Arizona. As a performer, she has explored chamber music in settings across Canada and the United States, including the Orford Arts Academy, Luminato International Music Festival, the Tempe Center for the Arts and Music Teacher’s National Association. Her recent travels brought her to Texas, where she performed with the Austin Baroque Orchestra, as well as the Madeline Island Chamber Music Festival where she acted as outreach coordinator alongside artists including Shanghai String Quartet and Geoff Nuttall. Meghan’s other teaching initiatives include Arizona’s leading music education non-profits, Phoenix Conservatory of Music and Harmony Project Phoenix. To promote health awareness in the music community, she founded
FitForte, a community group fitness initiative for musicians and artists in the Phoenix metropolitan area. She can also be heard on several band EP’s including Liteyears and Phoenix-based Lydia. Meghan currently holds a Masters degree in Violin Performance from the Herberger Institute at Arizona State University. Her teachers have included Annalee Patipatanakoon,
Timothy Ying and Jonathan Swartz. Meghan recently obtained her work visa and is excited to live in Arizona for the next year to collaborate, teach and perform.
Renee Saxon, Community Music Educator
Ms. Saxon is a mezzo-soprano whose primary instrument is voice. She is certified in both Somatic Voiceworks® and Total Singer Voiceworks®. A member of both the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) and the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), she regularly continues her education in voice, focusing primarily in contemporary commercial music.
Additionally, Renée teaches beginning to intermediate guitar and piano, early childhood, after-school and community programs for children and adults.
Renée is the former director of the Girl Scout Melody chorus and is certified by Opera America to present the Music! Words! Opera! Program.
Ms. Saxon is state-certified as a substitute teacher. With an undergraduate degree in English Literature, and Masters in organizational management, she worked in the corporate world for twenty-three years before venturing out to develop voice accompaniment software that she is presently marketing to music publishers. She also produces customized accompaniment in her digital studio.
Ms. Saxon studied voice under Ms. Amy Gingrich-Perciballi; the Somatic Voiceworks® method under Jeanette LoVetri (NYC); and Total Singer Voiceworks® method under Lisa Popeil (LA). She has played piano and guitar since her teens, sang for fourteen years in a professional chorale, and has sung as a soloist and member of small ensembles.
Chandra Susilo, Community Education Coordinator, Violin
Chandra Susilo was born in Hawaii, and began playing violin at the age of five. In high school, Chandra made her debut with the Honolulu Symphony. She had the privilege of studying in studios and master classes with teachers such as William Preucil, Andrés Cárdenas, Daniel Guedes, Pinchas Zukerman, Andrew Dawes and Danwen Jiang. She received her Master’s degree at Arizona State University (ASU), where she won the concerto competition and performed as a member of the Herberger string quartet.
Frances Tenney, Voice
Frances Tenney received her Master’s degree in Voice Performance/Pedagogy from ASU in May 2016 and her Bachelor of Music in Classical Vocal Performance in May 2008 from Belmont University in Nashville. She has been teaching privately for the past six years, catering to a wide variety of ages and interests. While Musical Theater is her passion, and Classical music her core strength, she appreciates a wide range of musical styles. Her teaching reflects her opinion that correct technique knows no style boundaries. During her studies at ASU, she performed in the Lyric Opera Theatre production of Owen Wingrave as “Kate” and more recently as the title role in The Drowsy Chaperone for which she received an AriZoni Nomination for Actress in a Major Role – Non-Contracted Musical. Before summer she joined the female quartet, Killarney Fair, which morphed into a mixed sextet that performs wherever they can find opportunities in the valley. Having studied piano from the time she was eight, she spent the years since then accompanying friends, groups, performances, and various church choirs. Music has defined her life since she was very young, and it has been her passion since then. She found her calling in teaching when she realized that it would allow her to share that passion with others.
Johnny Travis, Music Education Intern, Bass
A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Jonathan Travis has been a part of Phoenix Conservatory of Music since 2012. Having just picked up bass guitar in 2010, Jonathan joined PCM’s College Prep Program and flourished. Over the course of several years in the College Prep Program, he participated in a total of twenty ensembles and gained knowledge in several styles of music. The performance experiences he gained through PCM influenced him to join several local bands. As a member of the band Northern Motel, he reached the semi-finals of Alice Cooper’s Proof is in the Pudding competition in 2016. He also reached the televised semi-finals of Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento as a member of Chris Reyes’ backing band that same year. In fall 2017, he was officially added to PCM’s College Prep staff as an intern to assist with instrumental sectionals.
Whenever he isn’t working at PCM, Jonathan enjoys furthering his musical abilities by practicing and researching new techniques, as well as through his participation in local bands, such as Mama Butane. His bass work can be heard on Mama Butane‘s upcoming debut album, High Spirits, to be released in the near future.
Teresa Valenzuela, Voice
Teresa Valenzuela is a professional musician and vocal instructor hailing from Phoenix, Arizona. She has been teaching voice and piano for ten years. Her students have included members of the Phoenix Children’s Choir, the Phoenix Boys Choir, the winner of the Chicks With Picks competition, and many praise & worship leaders across the community. She works with recording artists before concert performances and coaches musicians during the creative writing and studio recording process.
Teresa is a speech-level trained singer. Her philosophy is to treat each musician as an individual. Therefore, each lesson is flexible, relaxed, and conformed to the ability, focus, drive, and goals set by each student.
Teresa currently performs with four local bands and is also a worship leader at several churches across the Valley.
Isabella Villalón, Voice, Beginning Piano
Isabella Villalón is coloratura mezzo-soprano with over 10 years of classical vocal training and has experience with piano, acting, and guitar.
In 2011, she began studying at Phoenix Conservatory of Music (PCM), which works in conjunction with the Berklee City Music Network Program. She attended PCM until she graduated high school in 2014. This provided her with educational opportunities in music theory, music business, music production, and the Berklee Pulse online program. Her involvement in PCM provided her performance opportunities as part of Jazz, Rock, and R&B ensembles and as a featured soloist.
In 2013, she was accepted to the Anúna International Choral Summer School (Ireland’s National Choir) which took place in Dublin, Ireland. This event was attended by vocalists from twelve countries. That same year, Villalón was awarded a full scholarship to Boston’s Berklee College of Music Five Week Summer Performance Program, where she furthered her studies in Pop, R&B, Gospel, music theory, performance, musicianship, and songwriting. In 2014, Villalón was again awarded a full merit scholarship to Boston’s Berklee College of Music Five Week Summer Performance Program. In addition, Villalón was awarded academic and musical scholarships to eight other universities for her undergraduate studies.
Villalón attended Nashville’s Belmont University, School of Music, for music therapy and vocal performance, and is currently attending Grand Canyon University for her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Social Work
Carlos Villegas, Guitar and Banjo
Carlos Villegas spent the first thirteen years of his career working in social work and education, but he kept his passion for playing guitar by playing in bands throughout his educational and professional career. In 2008, Carlos was introduced to the banjo and instantly found a new love. He recorded with a country band the same year he picked up the banjo for the first time. Carlos decided to combine his passion for the guitar and banjo with his desire to educate when he discovered The Phoenix Conservatory of Music in the first month of 2017. Carlos continues to record and play live music with a local band while teaching basic guitar for PCM.
The Phoenix Conservatory of Music teaching artists are professional musicians, educators, mentors, have access to ongoing professional development, and undergo background checks to provide a safe environment for your students.