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Dorothy Savitch has led the Music Partners program since 1996, developing fully enriched, sequential programs that build upon students’ skills from year to year. Under Dorothy’s guidance, Music Partners has grown from six sites with 700 students to 34 sites with 4,500 participants. Dorothy has expanded the course offerings to meet the needs and interests of our diverse community, including chorus for seniors citizens, West African Drumming, GarageBand Songwriting and programs for toddlers and pre-kindergarten students. Dorothy has been on the BKCM faculty since 1989, and prior to becoming Program Director of Music Partners, she taught music theory, history, classical guitar, chorus and recorder. In 2002, Dorothy Savitch was also named as the first Music Director of the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra. Since 1997, Ms. Savitch has also been Music Director of Long Island’s Sound Symphony Orchestra. Since her tenure began, both orchestras have grown and expanded into two of the finest community ensembles in the New York metropolitan area. They have received high praise for their vibrant performances and expansive repertoire. Before her transition to the podium, Ms. Savitch studied the classical guitar with Christopher Parkening and Vicente Gomez, and toured throughout the West Coast. She received music degrees from Columbia University and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. Her conducting teachers include Harold Farberman and Maurice Peress.
phone: 718-622-3300 x221
Music Partners Director
A New York native, Sara Holtzschue’s career in music began as a classically trained flutist. She graduated with a degree in music with honors from Barnard College at Columbia University where she studied with David Rakowski, Mario Davidovsky, Jeff Nichols and Harold Jones. Sara’s interest in jazz led her to a master’s degree with honors in Jazz Composition from New England Conservatory of Music. She adopted voice as the focus of her performance studies while at the Conservatory and studied voice and composition with Dominique Eade, John McNeil, Bevan Manson, George Garzone and Jimmy Guiffre. She now serves as an Assistant Professor at the City University of New York. Her shows are eclectic as her interest lies in performing her original work as well as composing works based on the poetry of such varied writers as Derek Walcott and William Butler Yeats. She is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships from the City University of New York Research Foundation, New England Conservatory, The Brooklyn Conservatory, Reed College, Columbia University, Barnard College and the AscaPlus Award for Performance and Composition. September, 2005 saw Sara as a featured artist on Skyjazz Internet Radio. She has performed with and/or had compositions recorded by the Kingsborough Community College Orchestra, Bruce Barth, George Colligan, Michael Kanen, David Berkman, Nate Radley, Dave Ambrosio, Rez Abbasi, Roberta Piket, George Garzone, Andrew Rathbun, Peter Retzlaff, Christian Howes and Taylor Haskins, among others.
Music Partners Community Engagement Liaison, Winds, Flute, Recorder
The Wire magazine places Sara Schoenbeck in the “tiny club of bassoon pioneers” at work in contemporary music today and the New York Times has called her “riveting, mixing textural experiments with a big, confident sound.” Sara promotes the bassoon as a colorful and flexible voice in both her own work and in collaboration as an improviser, interpreter and composer. She has been involved in many projects including Anthony Braxton’s 12(+1)tet, Henry Threadgill’s multi-media works, the International Contemporary Ensemble, SEM, Wayne Horvitz’s Gravitas Quartet, Ghost Train Orchestra, Wavefield Contemporary Ensemble and the Michael Leonhart Orchestra. She has performed at major venues and festivals throughout North America and Europe and can be heard on dozens of music recordings and film soundtracks including Matrix Reloaded and on her self-titled record released in 2021 to critical acclaim on Pyroclastic Records. Sara received her BFA from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. Sara is currently adjunct bassoon faculty Brooklyn College and has been adjunct faculty at California Institute of the Arts and Citrus College. Sara has given masterclasses on improvisation for bassoonists at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Cornish College, University of Denver, Western Washington University and Sacramento State University.
Music Partners Program Coordinator, Bassoon
Sheri Gottlieb is Associate Director of the Music Partners Program at BKCM Music. She joined the team in 2000 and personally developed sequentially sequenced programming for PreK through 3rd grade students. Among her tasks, she is most proud of her work as mentor and curriculum developer. She created “Play Practice~Practice Play”, a series of Seminar/Workshops designed for Music Educators and Classroom Teachers. Her teaching career has given her opportunities to work with diverse populations in public and private schools, Head Start programs and Community Music Schools. Through the DOE, Sheri designed and supervised an intensive training program for early childhood UPK teachers and leaders. She has extensive experience as a clinician, working on “The Ready Readers Program” in conjunction with Chinese American Planning Council. Sheri is Past President of the NYC Chapter AOSA, served on the board of NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and is a trained hospice volunteer and a founding member of the Threshold Choir NYC and Solace Singers. She is co-author of “Melodic Weavings – A Soprano Recorder Approach for Teachers.” Her article on Music and Urban Education appears in The Orff Echo.
Music Partners Associate Director
From: Buenos Aires, Argentina
I started teaching music in… 2008
I started teaching at the Conservatory in… 2018
My inspiration: Max Roach, Billy Higgins, Philly Joe Jones, Billy James, Grady Tate, Ed Thigpen, Clifford Jarvis, Pat Martino, Don Patterson, Cannonball Adderley, Sam Jones, Trudy Pitts, Kenny Washington, Djavan, Joao Bosco and many, many more.
Few people know that I… worked as a lead salsa singer
Education: Escuela de Musica Contemporanea
I play and teach: Drums and Percussion
My other artistic/musical endeavors: I play with my own quintet where we play original arrangements of jazz standards and other genres as well. I also play in two different organ trios where we play soul jazz classics and Latin American music. I also freelance a lot.
Biography: Agustin (Augustine in English ) is an Argentinean born musician residing in Brooklyn, NY. He began playing music (drums) at age 15 and continued his formal education at Escuela de Música Contemporánea (Berklee International Network) in Buenos Aires. He decided to move to the US in 2013 with the intention to study with the living masters of the music called jazz as well as to immerse himself in the vibrant NYC music scene. He has performed at David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, the Airtrain Jazz Festival, Harlem Arts Festival, Showman’s and many other music venues throughout the tri-state area.
He also performs for East Coast Contemporary Ballet and the Fred Astaire Dance Studio.
Name: Alex Kerckhoff
From: San Francisco, California
I started teaching music in… 2006
Education: BA from Thornton School of Music at USC
I play and teach: Guitar, Ukulele, Electric Bass
Biography: As a multi-talented six string guitar slinger, Alex has done it all. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Alex began teaching himself the guitar around the age of 12. He went on to graduate from USC’s Thornton School of Music with a BA in Studio/Jazz Guitar in 2010. With 15 plus years teaching under his belt, he is well versed and educated in all styles of music and is comfortable teaching acoustic, classical and electric guitar as well ukulele and electric bass. He has vast experience teaching one on one, as well as directing and rehearsing small groups of all ages and experience levels. He has also taught music theory and guitar performance in classroom settings and is proud to be a member of Brooklyn Conservatory of Music’s Music Partners program.
When not teaching he can be found playing live all over New York City and the tri-state area with a multitude of groups and in every setting imaginable. He is also a veteran in theatre as an onstage rocker in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Tommy.” He has also been a pit musician in classics such as “Man of La Mancha” and “Chicago.” No stranger to the road, he did an extensive tour of Central America with renowned Swiss artist Eliana Burki. He has released two full albums of his own material which he toured and performed all over Japan and on the West Coast. His playing can also be heard on many recordings including Trixie Mattel’s “Two Birds” and the upcoming “Time and Place” album by award winning writers Brandon James Gwinn and EllaRose Chary, which was recently featured in Broadway World.
Name: Alison Mari
I’m from… Philadelphia, PA
I started teaching music in… 2010
I started teaching at the Conservatory in… 2017
My inspiartion: Albrecht Mayer (my favorite oboist), Mr. Kevin Rodgers (my h.s. band director), and Nature!
Few people know that I… can juggle!
Education: The College of New Jersey – Bachelor’s in Music EducationNew York University – MM, Performance
I play and teach: Oboe, English horn, flute, saxophones, clarinet
My other artistic/musical endeavors: I am an active multi-woodwind freelancer in NY and the surrounding areas, and I love playing any and all types of music. I’ve been principal oboist with the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra for the last 4 years, and I am a member of the indie rock band Kurt Juergens and His Fellow Americans, where I play oboe, alto sax and sing harmonies. In addition, I play with the First Street woodwind quintet, which puts on an annual performance of quintet music and invites guests to prepare short performances to incorporate as part of the program.
Winds (Flute, Oboe, Clarinet)
Name: Amos Kwaku Gabia
I’m from… Ghana
I started teaching music in… 2002
I started teaching at the Conservatory in… 2013
My inspiration: Mamady Keita, Bob Marley, Lucky Dube, Babara Bangoura,
Few people know that I… have done shows where I eat fire and perform other tricks with fire.
I play and teach: djembe, dun dun, and other instruments from West Africa
My other artistic/musical endeavors: Salaka Dance Ensemble, African Beat,Telema Ensemble, Drum Cafe, Wasa Pan Africa Orchestra, Riclis Multicultural Entertainment, Akwaba Ensemble.
Name: Angela Morris
From: Toronto, Canada
Few people know that I… love to sew, and even designed and made my own wedding dress.
Education: MA in Jazz Composition, Aaron Copland School of Music at CUNY Queens College; BMus Jazz Studies (woodwinds), Humber College, Toronto; Royal Conservatory of Music violin teaching certificate
I play and teach: Piano, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Violin
My other artistic/musical endeavors:
Personal Teaching Statement: Making music transforms us into more present, responsive, and empowered people. Using interactive teaching methods and centering improvisation, I encourage students to practice listening, expression, innovation, and joy!
Biography: If Brooklyn’s music circles draw a venn diagram, Angela Morris thrives in the loop between avant-jazz, new music, and pop. As composer and multi-instrumentalist (known mostly as saxophonist who “doubles” on flute and clarinet, she grew up playing violin), she has performed throughout North America and Europe everywhere from basements to arenas.
The Webber/Morris Big Band, her 18-piece jazz big band, performs original compositions by Morris and co-leader Anna Webber. Their debut recording “Both Are True” (Greenleaf Music) was released in 2020 and featured on several Best of 2020 lists including The New York Times, Bandcamp, and NPR Jazz Critics Poll.
Morris’ vocal group Rallidae has released two albums: 2016’s “Turned, and Was” on the NYC-based label Gold Bolus Recordings and 2014’s “Paper Birds,” which AllAboutJazz called “a genuinely distinctive, and entertaining, combination of sounds and words… An exceptional debut by and exciting and innovative new band.”
As a co-leader, Morris is a member of TMT, a trio with Cat Toren on piano and Anthony Taddeo on drums, who recently released “Asleep in the Dust” – an art book and double CD collaboration with visual artist Jerry Birchfield. Another collaborative trio, Motel, released “like you always do, I always did too” (Prom Night Records) in 2017. And the band Skellettes with Nathaniel Morgan (saxophone), Jason Ajemian (bass) and Booker Stardrum (drums) performed at Winter Jazzfest in 2020.
Since 2016, Morris has organized the acclaimed multi-disciplinary, experimental concert series Brackish – Music & Art in Brooklyn.
Morris has performed with Jessica Pavone String Ensemble (appearing on her records “Brick and Mortar” and “Lost and Found”), Myra Melford, Jason Ajemian, and many others. She is a frequent collaborator with Helado Negro, appearing on his records “Far In, Private Energy” (Expanded), “This is How You Smile” and “Helado Negro and the Smile Band – Live at KCRW.”
A 2019 Composer Fellow at Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, Morris has also been artist-in-residence at Willapa Bay AiR, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Banff Centre. She holds an MA in Music Composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music at CUNY Queens College in New York and BA in Jazz Studies from Humber College in Toronto. She is an alumna of the BMI Jazz Composer’s Workshop lead by Jim McNeely and studied composition with Darcy James Argue.
Winds (Sax, Flute, Clarinet), Violin
Name: Brian Floody
From: New York City
I started teaching at the Conservatory in… 1998
I started teaching at the Conservatory in… 2002
My inspiration: Duke Ellington, John Coltrane
Few people know that I… speak Portuguese
Education: New School for Social Research – BFA
I play and teach: Drumset, Tympani, Percussion
My other artistic/musical endeavors: Frequent performances at Smalls and Mezzrow jazz clubs with groups lead by trumpeter Alex Norris, pianist Anthony Wonsey, vocalist Melissa Morgan and others. Weekly residency at Tooker Alley in Brooklyn.
Name: Bryan Vargas
From: Brooklyn, NY
I started teaching music in… 1998
My inspiration: Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Prince, Eddie Palmieri, The Ramones, Gil Scott Heron, Pedro Pietri, Kurt Vonnegut, Neil Gaiman, Jim Henson and so many more
Few people know that I… Bicycle everywhere I can, all year round
Education: New York University, Bachelors of MusicSUNY Purchase Masters of Music
I play and teach: Guitar & Ukulele
My other artistic/musical endeavors: Falu’s Bazaar – Grammy Nominated bilingual Children’s project, Chop & Quench – the band from the Broadway Musical Fela!, Assoc. Music Director of Fela! National Broadway Tour, Miramar – bolero group featured on PBS, Bryan Vargas & Ya Está – original latin jazz group featured on Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” Netflix series
Christine Cornell is a musician, actor, and music educator based in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently the chair of the Vocal Department here at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, as well as, the co-director of Brooklyn Harmonics Vocal Program (Tweens, Teens and Twenty+) with her long-time collaborator, Broadway music director and arranger, Jeffrey Klitz. She has a background in Classical Voice training from Indiana University Jacobs’ School of Music and Manhattan School of Music. Christine is a multi-genre artist and teacher who focuses on solid technique and vocal health throughout amplified and unamplified styles of singing. Students can expect to learn repertoire that they enjoy while strengthening their individualized instruments and performance practices.
This year, Christine is guest artist for the BCCO Fabulous Swing Dance Gala, the Chorale winter concert, and a Quarter Finalist for the American Traditions Vocal Competition in Savannah, Georgia. Last season, she was a guest artist for Sound Symphony in Long Island performing works by Puccini, Gershwin, Lehar, and Mozart under the batons of Dorothy Savitch and Alex Wen and performed a multi-city concert series in Italy with Ghostlight Chorus (music director Dr. Evelyn Troester DeGraf). She was a featured artist for Erik Carlson’s Slowly Expanding Milton Babbitt album (Three Theatrical Songs). She played Sister Margaretta in the Virginia Opera/Virginia Arts Festival Co-Production of The Sound of Music conducted by Rob Fisher. She made her film music debut in Alex Weston’s original score for What Breaks the Ice (Released October 2021). Some other favorite performances include: Joanna Gleason’s Out of the Eclipse (54 Below, Quick Center, Renberg), The Apple and Other Slip-Ups (ARC Stages), The Most Happy Fella (Goodspeed), The Sound of Music (Paper Mill Playhouse, Sacred Heart), Master Class (Gulf Shore Playhouse), A Nantucket Christmas Carol (White Heron Theater), and Four Saints in Three Acts (BAM). Christine is a member of Actors Equity Association and on the roster at Avalon Artists Group.
Voice, Brooklyn Harmonics Tweens, Teens, & Twenty+
Name: Dave Sewelson
From: Oakland, California
Few people know that… my beard’s birthday is July 24, 2005.
I play and teach: Flute, clarinet, saxophone, bass, electric bass, recorder
My other artistic/musical endeavors: Smooth FreeJazz, Sewelsonics, Two Sisters Inc, Music for a Free World Quartet
Personal Teaching Statement: I love finding the beautiful sound in any instrument and the music in any situation. I believe that everyone has the ability within them to pull wonderful sounds out of the air around them.
Biography: Dave was born in Oakland, California in 1952. There was a half-size violin kept in the closet in case he wanted to be a concert violinist. He played trumpet at the age of nine, moving to baritone horn at the age of eleven, followed by a stint on drums until settling on electric bass at thirteen, adding upright bass to the mix until the switch to saxophone at the age of twenty-one. He has specialized in the baritone saxophone since the early seventies.
Dave arrived in New York City in the summer of 1977 becoming an active member of the Downtown Scene and since then has played, performed and recorded music all over the world with 25 O’Clock Band, Jemeel Moondoc’s Jus Grew Orchestra, William Parker’s Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra and Saheb Sarbib’s Multinational Big Band and the Microscopic Septet. He has played with many wonderful musicians, including, Billy Bang, John Zorn, Peter Kuhn, Alex Cline, Roy Campbell, Sonny Murray, Kidd Jordan, Daniel Carter, Will Connell and Stephanie Stone. Dave’s current projects include, Two Sisters Inc. with David Hofstra and Claire Daly, Smooth Freejazz, Sewelsonics, and The Daves.
Dave has been teaching music since 1971. Some highlights include:
-Teaches private instrumental classes with focus on improvisation and runs workshops for young people.-Conducted music classes in the Newark, New Jersey High School system.-Improvised Music at New School NYC.-Taught children using Orff Approach at Turtle Bay Music School in NYC.-Woodwind section workshops through the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra program.-Youth Band Director and music theory and instrumental instruction at Campos Plaza Community Center in New York City
Name: David Bertrand
I’m from… Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago
I started teaching music in… 2011
I started teaching at the Conservatory in… 2014
My inspiration: John Coltrane, John Ellis, Mark Turner, Tim Garland, The Lord Kitchener, The Mighty Shadow, Brother Resistance, Kelvin Mapp, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, A Tribe Called Quest, MF Doom, Busta Rhymes
Few people know that I… love to cook Afro Trinidadian food for large groups people (last time it was 45!!!) and that I started exercising as a teenage because I wanted to be Wolverine.
Education: The University of the West Indies – B.A., Literatures in EnglishAaron Copland School of Music at CUNY Queens College – M.A., Jazz Performance
I play and teach: Flute, alto flute, piccolo, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone and percussion
My other artistic/musical endeavors: I’m extremely grateful to play in a number of jazz and world music groups that focus on original compositions. This includes my own quartet where my writing focuses on integrating folkloric elements with modern Brooklyn-inspired jazz.
Biography: A graduate of the Aaron Copland School of Music, David Bertrand is a flutist/multi-reedist and composer active in the New York jazz scene. A sideman for a constantly expanding community of artists, he has performed throughout the Caribbean and the USA.
David also leads a group devoted to playing his original music, driven by an interest to find organic, personal intersections between modern jazz and the folkloric rhythms and song forms of his homeland, Trinidad & Tobago.Together, they have performed at Twins Jazz, the Cornelia Street Café, Soapbox Gallery, ShapeShifter Lab, Whynot Jazz Room, Nublu, Spectrum, Club Bonafide, Caffè Vivaldi and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Concert Hall.
David was a regular guest musician for the Spring/Summer 2020 sessions of Meditating for Black Lives and in the same year, was invited by Downbeat Magazine to write the September 2020 editorial that focused on the impact of systemic racism within the jazz world.
He is a 2021 recipient of a City Artist Corp grant through the New York Foundation of the Arts and was invited to accompany speakers and presentations at the 2022 Mine Action symposium of the United Nations Mine Action Service.
Name: Deric Dickens
From: Moultrie, Georgia
Few people know that I… secretly have always wanted to be a graphic designer and visual artist. My overseas music tours are mostly fueled by my need to visit museums! Oh, and to play killer music all over the world.
Education: BA-Music Ed, Valdosta State University; MA-Percussion Performance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; MA-Entrepreneurship in the Arts, Purchase College (currently)
I play and teach: Drums, percussion
Personal Teaching Statement: I’m committed to educating and facilitating creativity in and through the arts by providing hands-on learning in a collaborative space regardless of age, gender identity, income, or talent. My goal is to have young artists play and learn together very early in the process. This group play adds excitement, listening skills and collaboration so that we are able to start adding prompts for group improvisation and creative music making. My values for myself and my students include community and inclusion, creative problem solving, improvisation and collaboration.
Biography: Deric Dickens is a Brooklyn-based percussionist and composer. After growing up in Southern Georgia, Deric worked as a band director, taught drum and bugle corps, and played as a principal timpanist with local orchestras and symphonies. But it was the ride cymbal; a friend had asked him to play at a jazz session, which changed everything. Since, Deric has toured and recorded with Robinella (Columbia Records), Daniel Carter, Donald Brown, Jaimie Branch, John Ralston, Russ Lossing, Caroline Davis and Brad Linde, and has worked on soundtracks for James Schamus’ “Indignation,” D.W. Young’s “Too Cold to Swim,” as well as many other indie films and television projects. Deric has forged many long term musical relationships and has been a founding member of bands such as Brad Linde’s Team Players, DAD’s, Dix Out, John Ralston, Urbane Outfit and Arms Bent Thrice, a graphic score ensemble. He has performed at major venues throughout North America, Europe and Asia and currently leads his groups Speed Date, Rocket #9, The Dickens Campaign, Left Bomb Bay, and co-leads Arabic for Beginners, Zero Point with Marius Duboule and Daniel Carter, and Big Trouble with Eva Novoa.
Name: Emma Simpson
From: Sacramento, California
My inspiration: I love listening to Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Nina Simone and Sly and the Family Stone.
Education: BS in Human Development, UC Davis
I play and teach: Guitar, voice, bass
Personal Teaching Statement: Through singing, dancing and telling stories, Emma brings entertainment, education and musical exploration to young children and families. She invites children to be as curious, brilliant, silly and loud as they truly are! She believes that everyone has a song in their heart and that music makes the world magical.
Biography: Emma is 25% musician, 25% educator, and 50% coach, adding up to 100% support crew. Emma earned her BS in Human Development from UC Davis in 2018. She is currently in a rigorous coach training program with The Academy for Coaching Excellence. Upon completion she will become an ICF certified coach. In 2022 she won a week’s worth of recording time at 18 Source Studios in Sacramento and is finishing her third studio album. On May 1, 2022, she led a workshop at CAAEYC for parents and educators. Following love and adventure, she moved to New York the very next day. She now teaches music with Music Partners through the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. She loves to spend her days singing and dancing, making concoctions in the kitchen, listening to her closest friends speak from their heart and watching them bloom.
Name: Fabio Rojas
From: Valencia, Venezuela
I started teaching music in… 2005
I started teaching at the Conservatory in… 2019
My inspiration: My Family.
Few people know that I… Love cars.
Education:B.M. in Performance & Professional Music, Berklee College of Music ’14; M.M. in Jazz Studies, Queens College (currently attending)
I play and teach: Drums/Percussion
My other artistic/musical endeavors: Fabio Rojas Quintet, Greg Osby Band, David Bixler, Kevin Harris, Sara Ontaneda
Biography: Fabio Rojas is a drummer, film composer and educator based in New York City, originally from Valencia, Venezuela. Since arriving to the US, Fabio has performed with artists such as Terri Lyne Carrington, Geri Allen, Greg Osby Band, Bill Pierce, Sean Jones, Kevin Harris, John Lockwood, Nino de los Reyes, Manuel Valera, Paula Champion, Mike Rodriguez, Pablo Menares, Jason Palmer, Jon Cowherd, Regina Carter, Rachel Z Hakim, David Bixler, Gregg August and in venues such as SXSW, Daegu Jazz Festival (South Korea), Smoke Jazz Club, Lincoln Center, BU Agganis Arena, Boston Symphony Hall, Scullers Jazz Club, MusikFest, NAMM, RIFF, among many others.
Fabio earned his Bachelor of Music with a dual major in Performance and Professional Music at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, thanks to a scholarship and extreme hard work. There he had the honor of being mentored by Terri Lyne Carrington and Kim Plainfield. Fabio plays Canopus Drums, Vater Drumsticks and Zildjian cymbals exclusively.
Percussion, Music Technology
Hans Luchs is a guitarist living in New York City after relocating in the fall of 2017 from his hometown of Chicago. Hans has performed in a wide array of settings, from small jazz clubs to large outdoor festivals. Hans regularly plays at venues across the country, and has also performed internationally in Europe, Canada, and Latin America. Hans has performed and toured with an array of artists in American music including 8-time Grammy winner Pepe Aguilar, Motown legend Martha Reeves, and many jazz musicians in Chicago, New York, and beyond. As a recording artist, Hans has recorded in various formats as a sideman and leader, including projects produced by NPR and Apple Music. As a faculty member of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, Hans teaches guitar, ukulele, ensembles, and music production, and works with several sites through the Music Partners division. www.hansluchs.com
From: Arvada, Colorado
I started teaching music in… 2004
Few people know that I… love musicals so much that I am writing one! It is about marching band. If I’m not playing in a brass band, you’ll likely find me sitting in the audience of a newly opened Broadway show!
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Music Education, Western Michigan University; Masters in Tuba Performance, Colorado State University
I play and teach: Trombone, Tuba
My other artistic/musical endeavors: Brass by the Slice, Bridget’s Garden (trombone and tuba duet), L Train Brass Band, Brass Queens, and soon the eGalitarian brass quintet.
Personal Teaching Statement: I believe that a high quality education in music is for every student regardless of race, gender identity, or economic status. I believe first and foremost in developing a strong relationship with each private lesson student I have the pleasure of teaching. A relationship built on trust, communication, respect, kindness, and humor creates an environment where young musicians can flourish on their chosen instrument. I get to know each student as a person and then tailor the exercises that they will play to their individual musical goals and needs. I love arranging music for my students that they are passionate about!
Biography: Heather has been enamored with the tuba for 21 years and teaching young musicians to play trombone and tuba for 17 years. Teaching private music lessons has been both her longest held and her favorite job, so she is very grateful for the opportunity to teach at BKCM! She grew up in a musical family outside of Denver, Colorado, the daughter of a percussionist and a bassist. Heather and her twin trumpet player brother both trained to be band directors, following in their music educator mother’s footsteps.
Currently in her sixth year teaching middle school music, Heather moved to Brooklyn in July 2019. In addition to getting middle schoolers excited about being in an ensemble, Heather plays in several ensembles around the city. She is a sought after sousaphone player in the brass band scene, playing for Brass by the Slice, Brass Queens, Brooklyn Delta Jazz Party, New Heights Brass Band and the L Train Brass Band which she has also music directed for two years.
Heather also plays classical tuba in brass quintets, orchestras, and concert bands in the area, including eGaliterian, Brass in the Bandshell, and the Protestra. She has also played trombone in the brass band scene, and is a talented arranger who enjoys arranging music for her private lesson students.
Saxophone, Beginner Piano For Adults, Piano Friends, Winds
Name: Jay Vilnai
I’m from… Jerusalem
My inspiration: In music, the gamut runs from Brahms to Bartók to Bowie. Otherwise, writers such as Shakespeare, Rilke, and Lydia Davis are constantly on my mind as I go through my day.
Few people know that I… also teach language, and use many of the same techniques as I do in music.
Education: The New School – BFA, Jazz PerformanceCUNY Brooklyn College – MM, Composition
I play and teach: Guitar, composition, theory
My other artistic/musical endeavors: I mostly write music for other performers.
Guitar, Ukulele, Music Technology
Jennifer Taylor is a Brooklyn-based event manager, educational administrator, music educator and student. Jennifer attended Elon University before earning a master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in Music Education. While Jennifer isn’t a fan of performing music, she is passionate about sharing her love for music and teaching with her students and colleagues.
Jennifer has worked for non-profit community music schools across NYC since 2017, writing unique curricula for students ages 2 to 12. Her favorite things to teach are preschool music and movement and elementary-level ukulele. Jennifer’s journey at BKCM began as a camp counselor then faculty member in the Music Partners program before she began focusing on event staff work. In September 2022, Jennifer joined BKCM’s staff as the first Events and Marketing Associate. Since becoming a full-time member of the team, Jennifer has continued to lend her skills as food and beverage manager for BKCM’s biggest and smallest events, worked alongside fellow faculty members at open houses and recitals as well as leading production of events like World Refugee Day and the Midsummer Night concert series. Jennifer has played a critical role at BKCM’s two annual fundraisers, House Party and Open Stages. At Jennifer’s first House Party, she arrived just in time to serve mystery drinks out of a huge mason jar in the “speakeasy”. Since then, she has managed the various catered spaces, the extensive bar team and helped plan the many eclectic spaces that make the event unique.
When Jennifer isn’t working or practicing violin at the Conservatory, she can be found embarking on a cooking project in her apartment or dancing at a rock concert somewhere in NYC.
phone: 718-622-3300 x257
Events Associate, Early Childhood, Ukulele
Name: Jeremy Powell
I’m from… Largo, Florida
My inspiration: John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, J.S. Bach, Radiohead, Bibio, Toninho Horta, Guinga, J. Dilla, Robert Glasper, as well as people who are always truthful, ego-less, and treat others equally with respect and dignity.
Few people know that I… have never taken a selfie 🙂
Education: Jazz Performance, Jazz Composition,
I play and teach: Saxophones, clarinet, flute, piano
My other artistic/musical endeavors: In NYC I can be seen playing with Arturo O’Farill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Iris Ornig, Adderesound, Grupo Rebolu, Pedro Giraudo, Dan Pugach Nonet, Banda Nueva York, and numerous Big Bands.
From: Minsk, BelarusI started teaching music in…2002I started teaching at the Conservatory in… 2006My inspiration: My familyFew people know that I… like cross country skiingEducation: Aaron Copland School of Music at CUNY Queens College – BMTeachers College at Columbia University – MA, Music EducationI play and teach: PianoMy other artistic/musical endeavors: I’m a freelance accompanist.
Early Childhood, Piano
From: Cleveland, OH
I started teaching music in…2009
My inspiration: my cat
Few people know that I… Used to work for a primatologist in Costa Rica
Education: Eastman School of Music – BM
I play and teach: Clarinet/bass clarinet
My other artistic/musical endeavors: I am the founder of Home Audio series, monthly house shows featuring experimental music in Brooklyn since 2011. I perform with the Nouveau Classical Project, Curiosity Cabinet, GABI, Feral Children, Banda de los Muertos and more as a freelancer. For the last few summers I have been a guest artist in Alaska at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival.
From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
My inspiration: Some inspirations include Thelonious Monk, Olivier Messiaen, Erykah Badu, Adrienne Lenker, Geri Allen, Nicole Mitchell, Mary Lou Williams, Kris Davis, Angelica Sanchez, Pinegrove, Raavi, Scriabin, Bach, John Coltrane. Gwendolyn Brooks, adrienne maree brown, Octavia Butler, Grace Lee Boggs have to make the list as well.
Few people know that I… was the captain of my high school basketball team!
Education: My musical education started in Philly where I attended the Creative Music Program and Settlement Music School. Time spent playing with my jazz trio as a youngster in Philly was my most formative musical education. I also graduated with a degree in Music from Princeton University in 2022.
I play and teach: Piano
My other artistic/musical endeavors: Careful In The Sun
Personal Teaching Statement: My musical practice involves stretching, deep listening at the piano, singing everything I play, delving into harmony from Bach, Scriabin and Mompou, learning songs on guitar, embodying polyrhythms, free-writing, making loops on my phone, listening to recorded music and reading scores and trying to figure out what I find beautiful or surprising, transcribing bass lines, composing short piano pieces, reading about artists I love and learning from friends.
Music education (especially white, Eurocentric music education) has been traumatic for so many folks. As a teacher I try to treat music education as a framework in which to help students clarify their own intuition, develop ways of practicing that feel joyous and fun, and deepen their connection with themselves and the world. I also learn so much from students, so if you wanna take lessons with me, just know you’re going to be shaping my intuition too!
Biography: Maya Keren (they/them) is a Brooklyn-based pianist, vocalist, composer and songwriter from Philadelphia. They are interested in the process of environing people, voices, instruments and sounds in ways that invite connection with one’s erotic instinct (to use the language of Audre Lorde), embody compassionate and queer relations with the self and the collective, and destabilize learned systems of domination. These ideas have developed non-linearly throughout space and time, through settings and initiatives like the Creative Music Program in Philly, the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, and Mutual Mentorship for Musicians.
Maya graduated from Princeton University in 2022 with a Bachelor’s degree in Music and a certificate in African American Studies. Currently Maya is writing songs, loops and words for their band Careful In The Sun, drawing inspiration from Gwendolyn Brooks, Clarice Lispector, Pinegrove, and the Wissahickon.
Piano, Jazz Piano, Accompanist
Percussion (Concert Band, Bucket, Latin, Haitian, West African)
Name: Michel Gentile
I’m from… Montreal, Canada
I started teaching music in… 1983
My inspiration: Klee, Ligeti, Trane, Messi, Bach, Mompou
Few people know that I… enjoy birding
Education: Concordia – BFANew England Conservatory – MM
I play and teach: Flute, recorder
My other artistic/musical endeavors: I run the nonprofit Connection Works and I am part of several groups
Early Childhood, Recorder, Flute
Name: Nadine Grisar Mikulewich
I’m from… Brooklyn
I started teaching music in… 1997
My inspiration: Female song writers and vocalists, like Bonnie Raitt
Few people know that I… was a founder and member of a children’s theatre dance company
Education: SUNY The College at Brockport – BA, Interdisciplinary Arts for Children, Dance EmphasisNew York University – MA, Dance Education
I play and teach: Djembe, guitar, ukulele
My other artistic/musical endeavors: I am a member of the Brooklyn Community Storytellers, and I sing with the Jalopy Chorus.
Name: Noel Brennan
From: Calais, Maine
I started teaching music in…2005
My inspiration: Anindo Chatterjee, Flying Lotus, DJ Qbert, DJ D-Styles, Roy Haynes, Eric Harland
Few people know that I… am an Eagle Scout
Education: University Of Southern Maine – Jazz Performance with concentration in Percussion
New York University – Jazz Performance
I play and teach: Drums, DJ and Tturntablism, percussion
My other artistic/musical endeavors: I won the 2017 Keep Skratching contest with Swiftstyle. I also perform with my wife and fellow Conservatory faculty member Patricia Brennan in Antenna and TRYPTIK.
Winds, Saxophone, Flute
Name: Ochion Jewell
I’m from… Kentucky/California/Brooklyn
I started teaching at the Conservatory in… 2010
My inspiration: Arvo Pärt, Nicola Tesla, Daniel Day Lewis, Sarah Vaughn, Miles Davis, Pablo Picasso, Michael Jordan, Slavoj Žižek, Jimi Hendrix
Few people know that I… am an obsessed college basketball fanatic.
Education: University of Louisville – BM, PerformanceCalifornia Institute of the Arts – MFA, Jazz Studies
I play and teach: Tenor Saxophone – I teach all woodwinds
My other artistic/musical endeavors: Ochion Jewell Quartet, Bedstuy Ewe Ensemble, Bohio Music, duo with Cat Toren
Biography: Since moving to Brooklyn in 2009, saxophonist/composer Ochion Jewell has been awarded artist grants from NewMusicUSA, the Brooklyn Arts Council, California Institute of the Arts, and Toyota/Kentucky Center for the Arts, as well as from Brooklyn Conservatory of Music’s Knuston Fund (to study the Nonviolent Communication method used to mediate global conflict). The NYC Jazz Review named Ochion’s first and second albums (“First Suite for Quartet” and “VOLK”) on their “best of the year” list, Downbeat Magazine gave VOLK 4 1/2 stars and featured the album as a top pick of 2016, and the album was heralded as a “Top-10 of the Year” by Patrick Jarenwattananon (NPR Critics Poll) and Cadence Magazine, and “Best New Releases” by Jazz Journalists Association and JazzEd Magazine Readers’ Poll.
Ochion earned a Bachelor’s in Classical Performance from the University of Louisville and an MFA from California Institute for the Arts, where he majored in Jazz Studies but ended up studying Ghanaian Ewe drumming, Persian Ney, Armenian traditional music, North Indian music, North African Gnawa, and Javanese Gamelan, as well as composition, contemporary improvisation techniques, and of course, traditional and contemporary jazz.
Ochion has collaborated professionally with world-renowned visual artist Marc Lafia, filmmaker/activist Mariam Ghani, Grammy-winning musicians Charlie Haden, Lionel Loueke, and Joe LaBarbera, composer/drummer Qasim Naqvi, the Haitian ensemble Bohio Music, and a majority of the Brooklyn jazz and free improvisation community. He’s held concerts of original music in the Guggenheim Museum, PS1 MOMA, the Rubin Museum of Art, the Met Breuer, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. As a sideman in Louisville some years ago, Ochion also had a unique experience in performing with national touring artists who pass through town and hire local musicians to expand their touring band, including legends Smokey Robinson, Chaka Khan, Macy Gray, Meatloaf, and Michael McDonald.
Ochion lives in Brooklyn, teaches for the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, is a founding member of the Bedstuy Ewe Ensemble, and plays in the NYC jazz, free improvisation, new music, R&B/pop, and world music scenes. In 2021, he and frequent collaborator, Cat Toren, launched a performance and interview video podcast series on YouTube called “Brooklyn Living Room Sessions.”
Name: Pablo Masis
I’m from… Cleveland, Ohio
My inspiration: The music of Miles Davis inspired me to pursue a life of jazz study.
Few people know that I… spent four years of my childhood living on a Native American Reservation
Education: Lawrence University – BM, Trumpet PerformanceUniversity of New Orleans – MM, Jazz Studies
I play and teach: Trumpet
My or other artistic/musical endeavors: My jazz trio is my main ensemble, and I also perform with several large jazz ensembles and chamber music groups around the New York City area.
Name: Pierce Yamaoka
From: Fresno, California
My inspiration: Mario Guarneri, Kris Kwapis, Sam Gellaitry, Snarky Puppy and so many others…
Education: B.M. Trumpet Performance, San Francisco Conservatory of Music; M.M. Trumpet Performance, Indiana University
My other artistic/musical endeavors: I perform with a variety of ensembles that include brass trios/quartets/quintets and jazz ensembles.
Personal Teaching Statement: My teaching philosophy is to strike a balance between creating engaging and fun lessons while instilling solid fundamentals in technique, musical awareness and literacy.
Biography: Trumpeter Pierce Yamaoka recently finished his Master’s Degree at Indiana University where he was the recipient of the Charles Gorham Trumpet Scholarship and studied with Edmund Cord and Kris Kwapis. Pierce also holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. During his time in Indiana, Pierce performed with the Indianapolis Brass Ensemble, Lafayette Symphony Orchestra and was a substitute musician for the Columbus and Terre Haute Symphony. Prior to studying in Indiana, Pierce led a varied performing career with the Fresno Philharmonic, Sequoia Symphony, San Francisco Composer’s Chamber Orchestra and the Sequoia Brass Quartet. As an educator, Pierce worked closely with the Youth Orchestras of Fresno as a brass coach and Executive Assistant for the organization and maintained an active teaching studio throughout the area. Following his Master’s program, Pierce taught at the Cathedral School for Boys and enjoyed freelancing throughout the Bay Area.
Since relocating to New York City, Pierce is currently on faculty at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and enjoys being an organizer for Protestra, a coalition for musicians who want to raise awareness and social consciousness about societal issues through music.
Sara Beth Hooper
Early Childhood, Voice
Name: Sara Ptak
From: Peru, Illinois
My inspiration: Benita Valente, Karina Gauvin, Joni Mitchell, Patty Griffin, Indigo Girls, H.E.R., Amos Lee, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Phoebe Bridgers, Raffi, Laurie Berkner
Education: DePaul University, BM, Voice Performance; McGill University, MM, Opera Performance
I play and teach: Voice
Personal Teaching Statement: My teaching style is strength based and led by curiosity and play. With both children and adults, I take time to notice what they’re already doing well and build awareness and confidence around that. From that place of confidence, we can build on those skills and create a solid foundation that really honors the whole student exactly where they are.
Biography: Sara Ptak, soprano and Brooklynite (by way of rural Illinois), has her Masters of Music from McGill University with a Bachelors degree from DePaul University. On the operatic stage she has performed roles such as Cleopatra in “Giulio Cesare” and Giulietta in “I Capuleti e i Montecchi,” Gretel in “Hansel and Gretel,” Susanna in “Le Nozze di Figaro,” Lauretta in “Gianni Schicchi,” Juno in Monteverdi’s “L’Orfeo,” Pamina in “The Magic Flute,” Donna Elvira in “Don Giovanni” and Almirena in Handel’s “Rinaldo.”
Sara has been a fellow at The Toronto Summer Music Festival studying under Elly Ameling and Julius Drake, The Schubert Institut (Baden bei Wien, Austria) with the likes of Helmut Deutsche, Robert Holl, and Bernarda Fink, Music nelle Marche (Urbania, Italy), Domaine Forget (Saint Irenee, Quebec) with Renata Scotto, The Aspen Music Festival and School and Brevard Music Center.
A passionate teaching artist, Sara performed the roles of Papagena, Third Lady in “The Magic Flute” and Gretel in “Hansel and Gretel” with Martina Arroyo’s opera outreach program. She has since founded Mozart Had A Sister, a recital series centering underrepresented composers and performers in Brooklyn, NY. Her children’s show “Miss Sara’s Music Room,” focusing on social and emotional learning through song, is coming to YouTube in Winter 2021.
I started teaching music in…1992
I started teaching at the Conservatory in… 1999
My inspiration: Duke Ellington
Few people know that I… play in a metal band!
Education: Virginia Commonwealth University – Bachelor of Music
I play and teach: guitar, bass, composition, theory
My other artistic/musical endeavors: The Four Bags and my own trio called SUN TIGER
Guitar, Ukulele, Recorder
Name: Soo Choi
I’m from… Seoul, Korea
I started teaching at the Conservatory in… 2016
My inspiration: My father
Few people know that I… like Christmas music all year round.
Education: The Juilliard School – BMThe Juilliard School – MM
I play and teach: Violin
My other artistic/musical endeavors: New Haven Symphony Orchestra
Name: Steve Swell
From: Newark, New Jersey
I play and teach: Flute, Clarinet, Trumpet, Tuba
Biography: Steve Swell, born in Newark, NJ, has been active in the NYC music community since 1975. He has toured and recorded with many artists from mainstreamers such as Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich to progressive artists like Bill Dixon, Cecil Taylor, William Parker, Dave Burrell, Anthony Braxton, Peter Brotzmann, Ken Vandermark, Gebhard Ullmann, Paal Nilssen-Love, Paul Dunmall, Matt Shipp, Rob Brown, Bernard Purdie and many others. He has over 50 CDs as a leader or co-leader and is a featured artist on over 125 other releases.
Steve conducts workshops worldwide and is a teaching artist in the NYC public school system. Steve worked on music transcriptions of the Bosavi tribe of New Guinea for MacArthur fellow Steve Feld in 2000, received a grant from USArtists International in 2006, an MCAF (LMCC) award in 2008 and 2013. In 2014 he received a Creative Curricula grant (LMCC), was nominated Trombonist of the Year 2008, 2011 & 2020 (Jazz Journalists Association), and received the 2008 Jubilation Foundation Fellowship Award (Tides Foundation) for his work in NYC public schools and has been recognized by the Downbeat Critics Poll in the Trombone category each year from 2010-2018 & 2020-2021.
He was selected Trombonist of the Year 2008-2010, 2012, 2014-2021 by the Argentinian journal El Intruso. Steve’s recording “Music for Six Musicians: Hommage à Olivier Messiaen” appeared on NPR’s top 50 list for 2018. He was also an inaugural recipient of a Jazz Road Tours (SouthArts) grant and a Creative Engagement (LMCC) grant in 2020. In 2021 Steve received a City Artist Corp Grant (NYFA/DCLA).
Name: Tahira Clayton
I’m from… Dallas, TX
I started teaching music in… 2012
My inspiration: My students! In every facet of my teaching and performance career
Few people know that I… am a great cook!
Education: University of North Texas – BA, Music with an Emphasis in Vocal Jazz
I play and teach: Voice and piano
My other artistic/musical endeavors: I lead my own band that plays all original music of the Jazz/R&B/Soul aesthetic. I also co-lead a group, AMP+T, that plays original jazz music and re-imagined standards. I am a frequent side-woman offering my voice as a background vocalist or featured vocalists for many different styles of music including jazz, pop, and country even! I currently work as a vocalist for the Band Method’s Broadway Project band, which allows me to travel and sing extensively!
From: New York
My inspiration: Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Debussy, Brian Wilson, Brando
Few people know that I… skipped grades in school
I play and teach: Voice, chorus, guitar, ukulele
My other artistic/musical endeavors: Play with Erin Maya and the Reckoning, the Kena Anae Band, also perform in various musicals, especially musicals involving actor/musicians. Also, compose and do sound work for choreographers and film.
Director of DEI, Piano, Voice, Songwriting
Name: Zach Hicks
From: Brooklyn, New York
Few people know that I… love folding origami frogs out of MetroCards
Education: MM (Music Composition), New England Conservatory of Music; BM (Music Performance), NYU Steinhardt; Manhattan School of Music Precollege; LaGuardia High School for the Arts
I play and teach: Flute, clarinet, saxophone
My other artistic/musical endeavors: The Park Slope Woodwind Quintet
Personal Teaching Statement: My teaching style is flexible and dynamic. My curriculums are custom-created in order to best accommodate students of any background. I believe that creative practices are essential for our mental well-being, and that anyone who is interested in creating music can learn.
Biography: Zach Hicks is a flutist, composer and educator born and based in Brooklyn. He is the founder and flutist of the Park Slope Woodwind Quintet, and the co-founder and artistic director of Off the Chamber, a new concert series showcasing chamber music written for nonstandard combinations of instruments. Zach has performed around the world with Orchestra 201, the Brooklyn Chamber Orchestra, Utopia Opera and the NY Youth Symphony. He is the youngest winner of NYU Steinhardt’s Woodwind Concerto Competition, and has participated as a finalist in competitions across the United States, such as the San Diego Flute Guild’s Young Artist Competition and the Jefferson Symphony’s Young Artist Competition.
Zach’s original music has been performed and recorded by a variety of musical groups such as the Horizon Ensemble chamber orchestra, the Cassatt Quartet, and the new music trio, Sputter Box. Recent commissioners of Zach’s music include members of the Jefferson Symphony, the piano studio of Victor Rosenbaum, and violist Elsie Bae Han. In 2020, his work for string quartet, “Hanging by a Thread,” was the winner of the NEC Honors Ensemble Composition Competition, and his solo baritone saxophone piece, “Lost in Translation,” was premiered by Claire Salli at the North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference in Arizona.
Zach completed his Masters of Music Composition at the New England Conservatory under the tutelage of Stratis Minakakis in May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. During his undergraduate years at NYU Steinhardt, Zach studied flute performance with Soo-Kyung Park and music composition with Justin Dello Joio as a Gale and Ira Drukier Music scholar. His other principal teachers include Kati Agócs for composition, Lyle Davidson for harmony and Frances Brodeur for flute.
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