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.
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.
Audio Production, Composition, Piano, and Theory
Sadie Azersky is a pianist, composer, and producer from Tucson, Arizona. She recently graduated from Arizona State University in the Popular Music program, specializing in Audio Engineering/Production and Contemporary Composition.
Combining her background in classical piano with her passion for electronic music production, she enjoys composing experimental music for film and dance. In addition to working with local filmmakers and choreographers, she has begun releasing music under her own name, with her debut solo piano EP ‘Silhouettes’ (2021), out on all streaming platforms. She is in the process of producing her upcoming project ‘Luna,’ scheduled for release in 2024.
She enjoys running, hiking, and traveling when she isn’t working on music!
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.
Audio Production, Live Sound
Stormie Burcky is a current student at Arizona State University completing a double major in Popular Music and Music Teaching & Learning. They have been studying post production and live sound since the age of 13, starting locally in the Contemporary Musical Arts and Sciences program at Arcadia High School. Within the new Popular Music BA, they are able to explore advanced audio production as well as dip their toes into contemporary songwriting and arranging. They feel extremely fortunate to be able to learn what they love, pave the way for future contemporary music educators, and ultimately pass that knowledge on to young musicians such as within the PCM community. In the future they hope to help revolutionize what music learning looks like within our public education system right here in Phoenix.
Guitar, Composition, Songwriting
As a composter, guitarist, and singer-songwriter from Phoenix, Arizona, Alicia Castillo combines her background in folk, classical, and jazz to craft narrative-driven music that provides listeners not only a story, but an experience. In addition to writing concert music, she seeks to collaborate with various interdisciplinary mediums and actively partner with new music organizations and festivals to premiere as well as perform new works. She has worked with the ASU Philharmonia production of “The Snow”. In 2021, she composed a new work for the Arizona Contemporary and dance department to produce a new work, “RISE” through a virtual collaboration and as a
2020 ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence nominee, Alicia composed for ASU’s 2020 Music Ensemble that premiered at the Prisms New Music Festival and also received first placein the ASU Mykytyn Composition Competition for her guitar composition, “Enneagram Suite”.
Outside of the concert world, Alicia is currently working on producing and recording her debut singer-songwriter album “ODDS and ENDS”. She is also active in the Valley as a volunteer, performer, and music educator. In teaching private lessons and group classes, she aims to uniquely tailor each lesson to each student and help students work towards their individual
Alicia holds a Bachelors of music in Composition from Arizona State University, where she was a recipient of the Richard and Babette Burns Classical Guitar Scholarship and a Special Talent Award. She is currently continuing her studies at ASU as a graduate teaching assistant of music theory, pursuing dual Master’s degrees in Composition and Guitar Performance Pedagogy.
Piano, Violin, Voice, Flute, Clarinet, Alto Sax
An Oklahoma native, Emily Craft 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!
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 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.
Liliana de León is a master dancer, choreographer, composer, vocalist, performer, educator, and professor of World Dance Studies who embraces dance as a powerful form of expression. Liliana brings her expertise, spirituality, and charismatic personality to the stage as choreographer, soloist, and co-composer of “FLORYPIEDRA”, for which she performs works that while focusing on Flamenco, use a diverse mixture of Mexican Folklorico, Latin Popular dance, Latin Jazz, Post-Modern American dance, film, light and spoken word, that showcase her interdisciplinary expression through her original creations. She was recently invited to assist Gabriela Martinez as cultural attaché and she will be featured in “Azucar” at The Getty Museum in February 2022.
Liliana, who started dancing at the age of three, began her professional career in her teens. She has performed extensively throughout Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Germany, and the United States where she has worked for theatre, television, film, and stage. Liliana has also produced concerts and created dances in community settings for dance festivals, dance fairs, magnet school programs, high school performance groups, college dance companies, university outreach groups, praise and worship concerts, Religious Education Congress, site specific performances and professional dance companies. She has a B.A. in Modern Dance from A.S.U.; an M.F.A. in Choreography and Performance from U.C.L.A; Adjunct Professor in the World Arts and Cultures department at U.C.L.A; is currently at South Mountain Community College in AZ. Liliana de León is a professional choreographer, performer and dancer of many talents who welcomes commissions and looks forward to new challenges.
This December 2021 Liliana is premiering three original dance works: “Tristezas del Desierto”, “Danza de Mezcla”, “Leyenda y Costumbre del Caracol”, inspired by the Mixtec, Zapotec, Chichimec, Mayan and Aztec indigenous Mexican cultures at Cesar Chavez Theatre in the Round. FLORYPIEDRA premiered their one hour original bilingual text, music, dance and spoken word “Calaveras Cantantes Y Calacas Bailantes” on Novemeber 3rd, 2021 at Inpira in Arrowhead. In 2006-8 Peter and Liliana premiered three music, dance and spoken word pieces by the author Stella Pope Duarte, ‘If I die in Juarez”, “The day I was born,” and “La LLorona” performed by Stella and the FLORYPIEDRA duo. Her work was also featured at the Arizona Dance festival 06′ and 21’ where FLORYPIEDRA filled the proscenium stage of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and featured again at ADF at Tempe Art Center Friday October 22nd, 2021. Liliana was choreographer and soloist while Peter was Music Director, singer and guitarist for the 2005-06 tour of the Grammy Award nominee Maria del Rey’s “Bridge El Puente”. With performances by the FLORYPIEDRA duo with Maria at Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in CA, Alden Theatre in Virginia, Leeds at University of Nebraska, Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center CA, and Mesa Center for the Performing Arts in AZ amongst others. Also in 2005, Liliana with husband Peter Torsiello, created, directed, and starred in “Amor”- the original two-person intercultural show by FLORYPIEDRA that had a great eight month run in the small stage in Scottsdale AZ. In 2011 and they along with their son Vincenzo Torsiello continue to perform and share their faith, music, song, poetry, and dance with Performances like the Café Flamenco in Phx. AZ and the Singer Songwriters showcase in Venice CA. Their original composition “Mujer como Tu” was featured in Rincon Cultural in 2021 for Telemundo Az.
Furthermore, Liliana directed three evenings that featured 9 new works that premiered in “Punto de Vista Point of View” at the Electric Lodge, CA. In the past few years, she has been a performer for the Dance Kaleidoscope at the legendary Anson Ford theatre, CA; an opening lecturer for Maria Benitez at the Wadsworth, CA; a featured dance soloist in a dazzling commercial for Eastman Kodak Film, US; a Flamenco and Folklorico dance soloist and choreographer for PBS in “A Malibu Christmas”, CA; a Soloist for Television Española, Madrid, Spain; a featured interdisciplinary artist for ABC “Vista L.A.’s Power Couples”, CA; and a featured soloist at the Joyce Theatre in New York City in 2002 where she received great reviews for her exciting work. She was also the Choreographer and Principal dancer for the Phoenix Opera Company’s presentation of “Carmen”.
A love story like no other, Liliana and Peter met as teenagers, are now married for 28 years, and have a wonderful son, Vincenzo Torsiello who loves to sing, harmonize, play the drums, piano, bass, cajon, ukulele, write songs, write skits, and is a Psychology and Classics double major at the University of Notre Dame. Vincenzo is light and joy in their lives. JITTERSPIT, ESTESQUELETO/THISKELETON are his two albums you can listen to on iTunes. The love, pride and admiration Liliana has for her husband Peter Torsiello and son Vincenzo Torsiello is as vast as the soul can be.
Violin and Composition
American-born Egyptian violinist and composer Mo Farag started piano and violin at ages 5 and 7, and moved on to play professionally and compose original music in his teens.
In 2010, After having completed his Bachelors and Masters degrees in violin
performance and composition in Canada, Mo performed in Egypt as soloist and
member of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra which premiered many of his orchestral pieces.
As of May 2021, Mo earned his doctorate in music composition from Arizona State University with a dissertation in the field of electroacoustic music composition and performance.
Josh Finnson is a vocalist and pianist who strongly advocates the value of an arts education. After his time at Arizona Conservatory for Arts and Academics, he went on to graduate from Grand Canyon University with a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance. Along with extensive private instruction, he has taken several voice and piano education classes, giving him a thorough background as a performer and educator.
Writing and starring in his own original production Darkness & Redemption (2018), Josh has demonstrated his theatrical abilities by performing in lead and supporting roles for a number of musicals, including The Fantasticks, Sweeney Todd, and Joseph. Along with this, he has performed solo work in numerous piano recitals held at AZ Conservatory, Arizona Christian University, and Grand Canyon University. Josh has experience in a wide array of musical genres, including classical, Broadway, art song, contemporary, folk, rock, hymns, and modern worship.
Josh encourages self-expression through the arts. Music lessons provide an ideal environment to discover one’s personal voice and identity – whatever the instrument. Through a structured but flexible learning atmosphere, students can discover the joy of learning an instrument. Music not only builds self-confidence, but develops empathy and broadens one’s perspective. Lessons are a fun, creative way to grow as a human being!
Megan Frederick is a performer, educator, and active community musician, having played violin for over 14 years.
Her previous instructors include Drostan Hall, the conductor of Camerata Chicago, and most recently, Meichen Liao Barnes of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Megan has attended three consecutive seasons of the Philadelphia International Music Festival, where she has had private lessons with Kim Fisher, Daniel Han, Barbara Govatos, Bob Depasquale, Julia Li, and Dara Morales of the Philadelphia Orchestra. During her time at the 2019 PIMF festival, she was named Concertmistress of the most advanced symphony orchestra, working closely with maestro Thomas Hong of the University of Pennsylvania.
Megan was a member of the Delaware County Youth Orchestra for over five
consecutive seasons under the baton of Swarthmore College’s Senior Lecturer of Music, Andrew Hauze. After relocating to Scottsdale, Arizona, she began studying privately with Karen Sinclair of the Phoenix Symphony, working biweekly to refine technique and take on challenging solo repertoire. After branching out into the Phoenix area, Megan also gained experience performing with differing worship teams (contemporary or traditional) and performing actively as a soloist and ensemble member.
Megan is now pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Instrumental Performance and a minor in Worship Arts at Grand Canyon University. During her time in GCU’s Music Department thus far, apart from still maintaining her private lessons with Ms. Sinclair, she has also gained opportunities to perform with the Canyon Symphony Orchestra, as well as use her violin to accompany the GCU Critical Mass Choir on multiple occasions, both ensembles conducted by Dr. Juan Hernandez. Megan was a part of the Ethington Theater’s 2023 production of Big Fish, performing as a member of the musical’s Live Orchestra, conducted and led by Mr. Mark Fearey. Megan also spends much time tracking string parts for various artists at the GCU Recording Studio.
The challenging year of 2020 introduced Megan to a new passion. She was given the opportunity to teach underprivileged musicians (via Zoom) through the student-led organization Mission Orpheus. Since then, Megan has taught continuously, privately, and in music schools around the Valley.
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.
Songwriting, Voice, Piano/Keyboard, Ukulele, Voice-Over Acting, Music Business/Online mp3 Sales, Guitar (electric, acoustic, classical, jazz), Bass
Amy K is a professional guitarist, songwriter, vocalist, and studio musician. She holds a Bachelors of Music in Classical Guitar Performance, has won several classical & electric guitar competitions, and has appeared in Fender magazines & catalogs.
Her first CD “Reflections” are original songs for fingerstyle guitars & voice. She also records original pop/rock songs in which she writes all lyrics & music and performs all vocal & guitar tracks (available at https://mantramadeeasy.com/mp3s or https://mantramadeeasy.com/songs, CDBaby, iTunes, Pandora & more)
Amy was one of the first employees when PCM began in 1998. She taught private lessons & group classes, authored grant proposals, and volunteered for Conservatory operations. In 2001 she went on to pursue other endeavors and returned to PCM as an instructor in 2017.
Her teaching approach is to customize as all lesson materials to each individual student’s age, interests, and goals. Lessons always include a balance of: songs of the student’s choice (any genre) & structured music fundamentals; with specific practice goals given each week.
She teaches all ages & all skill levels including beginner, intermediate & aspiring professionals. She can prepare students for auditions (music theater, TV Shows, college, etc.) and has helped many students create, complete & sell their own original music.
Percussion and Drums
Taji Maalik, aka Folade is a second-generation musician and multi-percussionist here in Arizona and has dedicated himself to the art of music for nearly 30 years. He is currently a teaching artist at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), a performance artist at various venues and events, and a drum instructor teaching various styles of music.
At a young age, he developed a passion for working with the youth in his community in New York City that later crystallized. He began manifesting in numerous locations through the arts. While training in the art of music, he decided to pursue and continue his interests by obtaining a degree in Child Development.
As an educator for over 25 years, he shares and directs the same passion for the arts through Drums are Life, an organization that has had a long history of providing programming to youth and adults in the community through cultural awareness, music, song, and dance from around the world. His rich performance history ranges from performing at many national and international venues such as London, Beijing, Las Vegas, New York City, and San Francisco.
In addition to teaching at the MIM, he has taught in Saint Paul Public Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools, The Link Minneapolis, The Cultural Wellness Center, the City of Oakland Public Schools, and the City of Oakland Parks and Recreation Department, to name a few.
Voice, Early Childhood Music Education
Helen Margaret’s dream has always been to teach in a high-level, community-minded music conservatory (Imagine her thrill now!). She has been teaching all ages through music since 1991. As a bilingual guide who tailors her instruction to her students for every factor possible, music has been Helen’s favored medium — whatever the idea or content area. In a strong sense, her approach is learner-led. She knows that every child is a stellar and wondrous, uncopied miracle and potential genius, and she has always sought to guide individuals such that they awaken to their potential and fall more and more in love with their life, the person they are becoming, and the world they are helping to make.
An adept in teaching styles that include Montessori, Waldorf, Holistic Special Education, Dual Language Education, and Gifted and Talented Music, Helen is not without her voice, guitar, recorder (Blockflöte!), and a piano. She makes bold use of the Whole Language method in her music lessons and classes, prioritizing the preferred compositions of the developing musician/s as material for instruction. She takes stock of personal learning styles when crafting each distinct program.
Helen spent her childhood and adolescence on what she insists must be the sweet spot on the tennis racket of American education: the Chicago suburbs in the 70s and 80s. Since then, her studies in AZ, NC, MO, and MI comprise her college and university music courses, Montessori residency for Upper Elementary, M.Ed. in Bilingual and Multicultural Education, B.A. in Spanish and Elementary Education, and A.A. for teachers. She has traveled around Germany, Canada, and Mexico — for enjoyment, learning, and teaching. (Her Deutsch is not as advanced as her español.)
Helen has been performing since childhood in voice, piano, guitar, and recorder. She has directed recitals, ensembles, choirs, class musicals and variety shows. Primarily as an alto, she has sung with the Arizona Western College Chamber Singers and the Park Forest Singers (IL), and has performed solos for ad hoc community events. Her teachers and conductors have included Dr. David L. Brunner, Deltrina Grimes, Joan
Wright, and Dr. Rodney Abriol.
Helen’s poetry and portrait artistry are closely linked with her music. She enjoys strengthening her coding chops, studying psychology, poking around in ontological mathematics, and soaking in nature.
Helen lives her purpose:
…towards a world
where every child thrives
to the greatest extent
of their talents and drive!
Joe Marone started drumming around the age of 11 or 12. One day, while complaining to his mother about being “bored” around the house, she suggested he take drum lessons like his younger sister. He did, and has been playing ever since.
Soon after picking up the sticks, Joe started playing in Jr. Drum and Bugle Corps in northern New Jersey.
By the time high school approached, Joe was hooked on drumming! Joe played in Marching band, stage band, wind ensemble, and Jazz band, and in his Junior year auditioned and was accepted to the North Jersey Area Band. It was at this time Joe also started playing in rock bands trying to learn his favorite songs.
Joe went on to Berklee College of Music in Boston where he was exposed to a 24/7 lifestyle of making music. At Berklee, Joe performed in Jazz, Latin and Fusion ensembles as well as many recorded performances, including a film score and many live gigs around Boston.
After graduating Berklee, Joe was always playing in two or three bands at a time as well as managing a busy teaching schedule. The number of gigs and recordings mounted over the years, and Joe was fortunate enough to be able to play live on major market radio, live at city hall, and open for national act Hootie and the Blowfish.
Joe is extremely happy to join the PCM staff this year and can’t wait to share his knowledge with the aspiring drummers of Phoenix.
Pianist, Educator and Songwriter
Kiernan Marriott is a pianist, educator and songwriter from Phoenix, AZ. He is a recent graduate of Arizona State University, graduating with a degree in Music Teaching and Learning with an emphasis in Popular Music. Most of his time is spent teaching in the general music classroom, lessons, ensembles, and theory classes, but Kiernan also prides himself as a musician in the local phoenix music scene. Most of his work includes gigging solo for events or with a group of friends at various venues in the valley, but also playing keys in the indie folk band Ellie Fern – a group that’s just getting started and has a bright future ahead of them.
Besides playing and teaching music, he enjoys cinema and playing sports!
Guitar, Songwriting, Violin, Music Theory, and Ensemble Director
Recording artist and classical guitarist Diego Miranda is an active teaching artist in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. Serving in an administrative and functional capacity with videography, photography, music technology, sound production and stage design; his experiences and expertise go beyond masterfully playing the guitar. He is an active teaching artist; teaching guitar, music ensembles, music technology, music theory and improvisation in youth development for The Leading Tone and Harmony Project Phoenix in addition to Phoenix Conservatory of Music. An emergent artist, he is composing and innovating ways music can be a driving force in people’s lives. His music can be found on a variety of streaming services.
Diego began his hybrid collaborations at a young age with bands of all genres, including folk, indie, funk, rock, psychedelic and electronic music, all of which inspired his summer 2017 EP, Ancient Fortress. That summer, he also placed as a semi-finalist in the Wilson Center Guitar Competition. His collaborative spirit has continued to extend as a chamber musician, including orchestral and choral performances such as Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Roman
Diego holds a Bachelor of Music from University of Denver and a Master of Music at Arizona State University. His teachers have included Frank Koonce, Ricardo Iznaola, Jonathan Leathwood, Gilbert Biberian and Laura Husbands. As a teaching artist, Diego’s passion is to lead students to become autodidacts and helping them achieve a superior sense of self-efficacy.
Piano, Audio Production
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.
Jazz Piano, Jazz Composition
Arsen Nalbandian is a jazz pianist, composer, and educator in Arizona who strives towards a high degree of excellence and mastery within the jazz idiom. Arsen has participated in numerous jazz combos and ensembles during his formative years, such as the Young Sounds of Arizona 7 O’clock Big Band and 6 O’clock Combo, Union Jazz Institute, PVCC Wednesday Night Big Band, PVCC Latin Jazz Ensemble, Nash Legacy Red Ensemble, and The Nash/PCM Jazz Ensemble. Being in these ensembles and participating in jazz jam sessions throughout the valley, as per tradition, gave Arsen the experience, connections, and visibility to jump-start his professional career.
Arsen has also been composing equally as long as his career in jazz, composing over 30 original compositions, 3 of which are fully-fledged Big Band charts. Arsen now performs professionally all across Arizona at different venues and events with his fellow musicians in the jazz music scene and teaches at Phoenix Conservatory of Music through private lessons and through a jazz ensemble. Most recently, Arsen put together a piano trio and produced a sold-out show at The Nash to perform the highly elaborate and complex music of Oscar Peterson. Arsen is currently working towards creating his own album with 13 of his original compositions with a jazz quintet.
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.
Regina has presented numerous professional development workshops in Music Technology, Teaching and Learning Online, Early Childhood Music, Composing in the Classroom, Culturally Responsive Music, Assessment in the Music Classroom, Building Alignment around your music program, and Grant Writing for the Music Educator. As a teaching artist, she has facilitated arts and academic integrated residencies for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten for multiple districts. 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 and creative youth development.
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. In 2016, Executive Director, Regina Nixon received 2016 BCMN Distinguished Service Award for Sustained Leadership. 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 and presented at the Berklee Global Conference in Valencia, Spain.
Regina has served as an Arts and Culture Commissioner for the City of Phoenix, Arts Learning and Advocacy Committees from 2013-2018. In 2018 she took on the role of Vice Chair for the Phoenix Arts Commission and Chaired the commission in 2019-2020.
Ty Parker is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer, currently attending Arizona State University for his BA degree in the Popular Music program. Beginning his musical journey at 8 years old with piano lessons, he continued to immerse himself in all things music from playing saxophone in jazz combos to writing and recording original pop music for his band, 3PM.
Ty has been a private saxophone instructor since he was a sophomore at Desert Vista High School, where he was also a Peer Mentor in the United Sound program for students with special needs for three years.
Ty believes that learning should be interactive, boundary-pushing, and above all, exciting! This means meeting the students wherever their interests are, so lessons can be designed to engage those interests while promoting the foundational skills and techniques that they need. Art is invaluable in this world, so let’s make some artists!
Guitar, Piano, Ukulele
Kyle Perez is a guitarist, composer and music teacher based out of Tempe Arizona. Kyle performs in a multitude of genres including but not limited to jazz, classical, rock, pop and flamenco. He has performed in many different performing environments ranging from solo guitar, rock bands, jazz combos as well as chamber music with various instrumentation.
While at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Kyle studied fretboard harmony and arranging with Randy Tucker and was a teaching assistant of Randy’s, helping him with several beginner guitar group classes. Here he arranged and engraved pieces for the Chandler Gilbert Guitar Ensemble and regularly performed with other departments such as the CGCC Dance, Theater and Orchestra as a soloist for their production of Kansas’ Dust In The Wind. Kyle also attended ASU from the years 2019-2021 where he studied classical guitar and composition with Jiji Kim. Much like his tenure at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Kyle regularly performed with various instruments including cello, voice and even tuba. In 2021 Kyle graduated with a Bachelors in Guitar Performance from Arizona State University after completing two recitals in which he premiered over an hour of his own compositions and arrangements including his piece Variations on a Theme by Charlie Parker and the chamber piece for cello and soprano War Machine.
Kyle currently teaches at Phoenix Conservatory of Music where he offers lessons for guitar, bass, ukulele, and piano both group and private. When it comes to teaching Kyle’s focus first and foremost is the self efficacy of the student focusing on helping the student achieve their own goals by giving them the tools they need to succeed. Music provides us with a rare opportunity to better ourselves in a way where we are constantly redefining what’s possible.
Audio Production, Piano and Voice
JP Rabusa is a singer-songwriter, producer, and audio engineer based in Phoenix, Arizona. He recently graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Popular Music, specializing in audio engineering, performance, and songwriting.
Born and raised in the valley, he has performed original compositions and arrangements for over a decade at venues such as Crescent Ballroom, The Nash, and Orpheum Theatre Phoenix. More recently, he has taken on audio engineering, running sessions at local recording studios and producing for artists and bands. Incorporating his passion for digital audio production with his experience as a songwriter, he continues to collaborate with a myriad of artists across Phoenix to uplift and amplify musicians’ voices. His upcoming project is a live, in-studio jam session with a thirteen-piece band, set to release on YouTube and streaming platforms by the end of 2023.
When he is not working on music, JP enjoys playing sports (especially basketball and pickleball), and watching his favorite TV shows on repeat (“Chuck” and “New Girl”).
Saxophone, Beats By Girlz, Music Theory
Lane Rogers is a saxophonist, composer, producer, and instructor. She graduated from Arizona State University (ASU) with a Bachelor’s of Music in Jazz Performance and a Bachelors of Art in Popular Music (emphasis on production). While at ASU, Lane participated in several ensembles, including the ASU Jazz Reparatory Band, Latin Jazz Band, and several Pop music ensembles and has also been part of jazz ensembles through Scottsdale Community College and Paradise Valley Community College. As an instructor, she has taught private saxophone and clarinet lessons, music theory classes, as well as beat-making classes. Lane has since included a focus on composition, moving into the realms of game scoring, film/tv scoring, writing, and producing pop music. Moving forward, Lane looks to continue her musical journey through learning, creating, and sharing while continuing to be part of the music community.
Native of Ottawa, Canada, Meghan Ruel has collaborated in chamber and orchestral settings in Canada and the United States, including the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Luminato International Music Festival, Durango Bach Festival, Southwest Arts, Austin Baroque Orchestra, True Concord Voices and Orchestra, Arizona Philharmonic, and has been active Concertmaster with ProMusica Arizona since 2017. She has taught and lead music education programs at Harmony Project Phoenix, Phoenix Conservatory of Music, Arts at Nativity, Arizona String Teachers Association, and at schools including Pan-American Charter School, Arizona School for the Arts, and Desert Marigold Waldorf School, where she was the Instrumental Strings Teacher from 2016-2019. Meghan was the Strings Director and Professor of Violin at Arizona Christian University from 2019-2022.
Meghan is currently a program manager at the Phoenix Conservatory of Music, where she also holds a private teaching studio. In 2021, Meghan and her husband Diego Miranda were awarded a Research and Development Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts for their violin and guitar ElectroBach concert series. They recently participated in the 2021 Tafelmusik Summer Baroque Institute and the Dorothy Delay Pedagogy Symposium at Juilliard. From 2016-2019, they led community outreach programs for college students at Madeline Island Chamber Music, an intensive string quartet music program in Wisconsin.
Meghan earned her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Toronto and her Master of Music in Violin Performance from Arizona State University. Her teachers have included Joan Milkson, Annalee Patipatanakoon, Timothy Ying, and Jonathan Swartz.
Viola and Violin
Filipino violinist and music educator Ramon “Chino” Soberano is known for his thoughtful and emotional interpretation and engagement with his audience. Born in Manila, Philippines, Chino fell in love at first sight with classical music when he saw his grandaunts play the piano. At age seven, he started his journey with the violin with a simple and tiny rental violin and never looked back.
As a passionate performer, Chino is no stranger to the concert stage. As a soloist, he performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Manila Symphony Orchestra and the Western Illinois University Symphony Orchestra, where he was one of the concerto competition winners. He is also an enthusiastic chamber musician, a member of the Julstrom String Quartet and the Herberger String Quartet. He coached and performed alongside renowned quartets such as the Shanghai String Quartet, St. Lawrence String Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Arianna String Quartet, Enso String Quartet, and Brentano String Quartet. Chino was also a participant in solo and chamber masterclasses and lessons with renowned musicians, such as David Halen, Gerardo Ribeiro, Andres Cardenes, Jorja Fleezanis, Shmuel Ashkenasi, David Ehrlich, and Sergiu Schwartz, among others.
Chino is also a dedicated teacher. Aside from teaching private lessons, he was a teaching assistant to extraordinary violinists: Dr. Julieta Mihai at WIU and Prof. Danwen Jiang at Arizona State University. While being a pedagogue-in-training, he enthusiastically taught undergraduate violinists, violin technique classes, and orchestra sectionals. In 2021, he conducted pro-bono virtual masterclasses and lectures to his past alma maters in the Philippines – the St. Scholastica’s College’s School of Music and the University of the Philippines’ College of Music – as a way of honoring and giving back to his musical roots.
Aside from performing and teaching, Chino is also invested in finding ways to combine his advocacy for social justice and his love of music. In 2018-2020, he served as a member and co-president of the school’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accountability Student Committee, which both faculty and students highly regarded. He spearheaded impactful projects for the community that included “Mosaic,” a virtual performance showcase featuring members of the community performing works created by BIPOC artists, and the LGBTQIA+ Faculty Panel Discussion, where students get to see and listen to faculty and staff share their experiences in the performing arts while being members of the
Chino received his doctoral degree in violin performance at ASU in December 2021. In addition, his community engagement efforts during his studies granted him the Outstanding Graduate Award from the School of Music, Dance, and Theater. In addition, in January 2022, he will be receiving the KDR Icon of Music and Philanthropy from one of the leading media institutions in the Philippines, Wish FM 107.5, as recognition for his spirit of generosity through the Free Masterclass and Lecture project in 2021. He hopes to delve deeper into community building and engaging performances after graduation. Currently, he enjoys searching for new and underplayed violin pieces, trying new roasts of coffee, and making occasional trips to local independent bookstores.
Composition, Theory, Choir, and Music History
Daniel Taborda is a Colombian-born composer currently based in Arizona. Taborda’s music blends his Latin American heritage with the contemporary classical music language. Daniel is a versatile composer, and his compositions embark on various levels, genres, styles, and instrumentations. In addition to this, he also creates electroacoustic music, EDM, and popular music genres.
Daniel received his bachelor’s in music composition from Universidad EAFIT in Medellin – Colombia, in 2014. Daniel also holds two master’s degrees from Oklahoma City University Bass School of Music. Daniel is the music director at Shepherd of the Desert Lutheran Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he conducts the choir and composes sacred music. In addition, Daniel is also an adjunct professor of music theory, aural skills, and music history at Grand Canyon University.
Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Peter Torsiello began his music career at the age of 7 when he begged his mother for guitar lessons so that he could play just like “that guy at church.” Since then, Peter has been on a journey that has taken him to such diverse venues as the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles and The Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.
From the age of 8 into his 20s, Peter played and sung throughout the country in a performing group known as “The Amigos.” It was there that he developed his love for rock, classical and Latin music. After earning a leadership scholarship, Peter received a Bachelor of Music degree in Classical Guitar Performance from The Arizona State University. All of this led him to relocate to Los Angeles in pursuit of a career as a composer and performer.
Peter’s songwriting unites Latin, Classical, Folk, Flamenco, Light Jazz, and Rock: all revolving around his acoustic/electric guitar stylings. His debut album, “Paper Cathedrals” resided on play lists in over 72 major national markets, as well as Cox Music Network and U.S. Airways. While promoting his CD, Peter played at such noteworthy Los Angeles venues as Genghis Cantina and The Troubadour. He later released a Christian Compact Disc, “Glory to God.” Two of his compositions “We Will Turn” and “Say the Word” have been published through Oregon Catholic Press.
Peter also co-composed and co-produced the album “Amor” as a member of the flamenco-pop trio “FLORYPIEDRA”. This CD contained 2 songs that became winners of the John Lennon Songwriting Competition. In collaboration with the Phoenix Conservatory of Music, Florypiedra utilized these songs and other original compositions for a concert at the Herberger Theatre with students from Papago Elementary School in Phoenix. Peter’s theatre experience also includes being Musical Director for Man of La Mancha at the Smothers theatre in Malibu, California with acting legend Martin Sheen starring.
In addition to his own compositions, Peter has played lead guitar for Hollywood Records recording artist Serralde, Paul Cotton of Poco, Latin Grammy nominee Maria del Rey and film composer Matthias Weber. His guitar playing and original compositions can be heard on ABC and NBC networks; MGM and BMG/Sony Productions. He has also played for such notable Catholic composers as Chris De Silva and Tony Alonso on numerous recordings. His greatest love is his family, and currently feels extremely blessed to be composing and performing with his wife Liliana de León and son Vincenzo Torsiello on numerous projects.
Mark Wetzel is a twenty-six-year-old beatboxer, live looper, music producer, and live sound engineer hailing from Phoenix, Arizona. He earned his B.A. in Popular Music from the Herberger Institute of Design and Arts at ASU. Beginning his musical journey as a drummer at the tender age of eight, his interests expanded into various musical realms over subsequent years. Boasting over a decade of experience as a beatboxer and music producer, coupled with three years as a live sound engineer, he is a seasoned professional in the field.
Apart from his career in education, Mark remains dedicated to personal growth and professional development within the music industry. He frequently collaborates with fellow artists in the valley, offering his expertise as a producer, sound designer, sound editor, mixing engineer, mastering engineer, session musician, and live sound engineer. Moreover, his live performances incorporate beatboxing and live looping, skillfully enhanced by a range of devices and effects.
His passion for teaching and inspiring the youth was ignited by his two younger siblings with special needs. During high school, he embarked on a journey of volunteering with various organizations aimed at supporting children and adults with special needs. This experience deepened his commitment to helping others, and growing up alongside his two special-needs siblings enriched his life and instilled in him patience and acceptance. As an educator, his mission is to lead by example, consistently treating others with equity and kindness.
Voice, Saxophone, Piano
Donna Wilde started singing at the age of three, studying piano at eight, and adding saxophone when she was twelve. She was raised in Wisconsin, and after earning her music degree at UWRiver Falls (Vocal music with saxophone minor) landed her first full-time gig as a member of a show band on board a Carnival Cruise ship.
In 2000 she moved to Phoenix and began her dual career as an educator and performer. Wilde is a certified teacher in Arizona and believes that studying music helps to develop the powerful skills of listening, expression, creativity, collaboration, discipline, and poise. Her teaching specialties are voice, saxophone, beginning piano, jazz, broadway, pop, folk, classical, and improvisation techniques.