“Amelia has grown so much as a piano student in the almost three years she has been with CHMA” – Theresa D.
The staff at Chestnut Hill Music Academy have either university music degrees or professional performance experience. Each teacher is carefully chosen and screened for their ability to teach, inspire and connect with children and adult students. They have all undergone both a PA Criminal Background Check and a Child Abuse Clearance. Since each student is totally unique, at CHMA teachers are empowered to use their intuition and experience to create a unique learning environment to suit each child’s interests, temperament and learning style. Our goal is to choose just the right match for each student from our diverse staff. Each teacher is encouraged and supervised to be flexible and creative in their approach. In collaboration with parents we design a unique personal teaching plan to keep each child growing, inspired and engaged.
Mickey Leone – Director and Guitar Teacher – CHMA Director Mickey Leone has been working with children and music for over 3 decades. He founded and co- directed Soundstage School of Music for 9 years before moving on to CHMA. A professional musician since the age of 14 when he began playing drums in rock bands. Over the years he has studied guitar, piano, voice and fiddle with various private teachers. His musical influences run from blues to country to jazz standards to southern rock. A native of the area, Mickey first started teaching music privately in the mid 1980’s. In 1995 he founded The Chestnut Hill Guitar School where he taught hundreds of students over the years. In addition, he was the Montgomery County director of Makin’ Music the interactive parent-tot program from 1998 to 2010. Mickey also holds a Master’s Degree from Chestnut Hill College in Counseling Psychology with special training in play and music therapy for children. Mickey personally chooses and supervises all teachers.
Mark has been playing drums in rock bands at popular music venues up and down the East Coast the past several years. He grew up nearby in Delaware County being professionally trained in complex rock, jazz and Latin patterns as well as the rudiments of drumming. Mark’s drumming influences are some of the most renowned and skilled drummers in rock and roll history including John Bonham, Neil Peart and Matt Cameron. He has a passion for music education, and applies all his lessons to real world examples from popular music as a means for keeping the lessons fun and educational for his students. Mark is a graduate of Saint Joseph’s University where he also played hockey, and is a fan of all Philadelphia sports teams. He looks forward to meeting anyone with a desire to learn music and encourages everyone to explore their musical interests to the fullest.
Jonathon Alba – Guitar, Ukulele, Bass, Piano
Jonathon is a Penn State graduate and has been deeply involved in music since he was 6 years old, growing up in Bucks County. He believes that everyone is blessed with musical ability and enjoys helping kids discover which instrument they can best express themselves on. He has done a wide variety of things ranging from composing for the Delaware Valley Philharmonic Orchestra as a teenager, audio engineering at recording studios in his 20’s and 30’s, being the lead singer and guitarist of several touring bands, and playing a handful of instruments as well. Jon’s main instrument is the guitar which he has been playing for 25 years. He has taught guitar, bass, and vocals for the last 16 years, both privately and as a teacher in middle and high schools. He studied at the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society and Berklee College of Music. His solo project includes 4 albums recorded at his own studio in Conshohocken and he currently plays in the Philadelphia-based band “Lucid by Midnight”. Jonathon is currently a music teacher at Masterly Charter Thomas Elementary School working with with grades K through 6.
Andy has been an active performing professional for his entire adult life. His personal dedication to music, performing and teaching is amazing. He performs on guitar, mandolin, tenor banjo, bass, drums, ukulele and is a steller singer and songwriter with many recordings and CDs to his credit. Andy has special love and experience with Irish Music, Classic Rock, R and B and Americana styles. His friends and fellow musicians call him the “Human Jukebox” for his huge and varied repertoire of songs committed to memory. Andy began teaching in 1976 and he has been offering private lessons, classes and music programs ever since. He loves working with adult beginners or coming back to music and can easily attune to their particular goals and interests. Andy also has extensive experience with young children as a performer and teacher. He directed a music program at Germantown Friends School for 6 years and held the position of music specialist at Miquon summer camp for 11 years. Andy also has experience working with people with learning differences and other special needs, both children and adults.
Elle Gyandoh – Voice, Flute, Piano
Elle has been deeply involved with music since the age of 8, when she began her study of the flute. Within the next few years she found her voice and started acting in her school theater, especially in the Musicals. In middle school she began writing songs and performing at local clubs and coffeehouses. By high school she had worked her way to First Chair Flute all the while continuing her singing and songwriting. At Temple University she played in the Marching and Concert Bands. Today she leads her own band, as singer and flutist, performing Soul, Jazz, Funk, Pop, & R&B. She also is vocalist for a successful wedding/corporate band performing at many large venues throughout the area. Elle has a passion for working with children and she brings that to her teaching, With an M.A. in School Counseling, she is on staff at an Elementary School, where she facilitates a music club. Elle is also a volunteer with WXPN’s Musicians On-Call Program, singing at the bedsides of sick patients, many of them children. As a teacher Elle works to help each student get the most from the experience whatever their goals might be. According to Elle “confidence is the key ingredient in successful performance. When working with a teacher first you need to build trust, Once trust is established, anything is possible”
Henry is a long time friend and musical collaborator of Mickey Leone, the school director. He has performed with Mickey since they were both teenagers playing in various bands and music ensembles. Henry began studying piano at age 7 with private classical lessons so he has a deep background and excellent skills. His interests transitioned to rock, blues, folk & pop music and he started playing with bands at age 13 ultimately going through the evolution of dance club bands, original music groups, touring cover bands, full-on R&B bands, solo piano performance, duos and trios. Throughout his experiences he took a special interest in electronic keyboards becoming familiar with their sound textures and programming capability.
Henry earned his BA and majored in Communications at Temple University ultimately working on staff for the college, supervising the Film Sound & Editing facilities. He’s spent many years as the director and chief instructor for American Music Institute of Pa. The workshops he presented taught students to play songs by ear, using a shorthand method and a few simple ideas and techniques. A skilled improvisor, arranger and ensemble player he is able to show his students how to use their playing in a variety of situations. Henry believes that when in a group, listening to what others are playing is a crucial skill for all musicians. He is pleased to share his love of music with the youngest students as well as adults at all levels.
Elizabeth Basoff – Violin, Piano
Elizabeth began Violin and Piano lessons in Los Angeles at the age of 6. She was accepted at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia when she was twelve years old and took masterclasses with world-renowned soloist Ruggiero Ricci in Palm Springs. She continued her studies with the highly acclaimed teacher, Boris Kuschnir in Vienna (Austria) and after in East Asia.
She had the opportunity to study the Suzuki method as a young violinist while focusing on a traditional style consisting of passage-work, intonation, vibrato, sliding, presence and solidity. Elizabeth performed multiple tours in Germany for several consecutive years. She premiered with the Paganini Concerto No. 4 in Germany (live recording released by JPK Musik) and Bruch Concerto in China under the baton of Volker Hartung with the Cologne New Philharmonic Orchestra.
She recorded the majority of the violin score for the documentary, “Paul Mellon: In His Own Words”, which premiered at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
In 2018 (Germany), she played a newly-written concerto by English composer, Alexander Webb-Mitchell.
Elizabeth also performed as a soloist with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra in an open auditorium holding about 25,000 people. Other notable events include her featuring as a solo artist with the Israel Chamber Orchestra, Feng Yuan String Chamber Orchestra, and Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra; performing the Antonio Vivaldi “Four Seasons”, even performing twice at the Kremlin Museum in Moscow.
She became very aware of the importance of Mind-Body connection and took holistic approaches. Elizabeth started learning Yoga from the age of 14 and currently provides Yoga classes. She also volunteers as an artist for the FSP: Fifty Shades of Purple Against Bullying, a non-profit organization that stands for resilience and community support
teacher Michael Warren, San Francisco teacher Sven Edward Olbash, and her current Juilliard affiliated teacher Badiene
Magaziner. Rebecca has taught singing since 2015. She is a Philadelphia resident and a San Francisco native.
Laura Luca – Violin
Laura started violin lessons when she was 7 years old in Romania and at the age of 10 she made her solo debut, being mentored by representative pedagogues of the great Romanian violin school. She studied at he “Ciprian Porumbescu” Art College and “Dinu Lipatti” National College of Arts of Bucharest and graduated with a “Certificate in Violin Performance”. After moving to Greece, she continued her studies at the Greek Conservatory and she earned a “Violin Performance Degree with Excellence” and a “Violin Soloist Diploma with Distinction and First Prize”.
Laura has performed as a soloist and as member of orchestras at The Romanian Athenaeum Concert Hall, the Parliament Hall in Bucharest, the Dalles Concert Hall Bucharest, The Benaki Museum Athens, The Conference & Cultural Center of The University of Patras, The Athens Concert Hall among others. She has been broadcasted live on Romanian National TV and Radio and she also appeared on Greek TV, experimenting across different musical genres, from classical to rock, jazz, tango and Greek music.
Laura has great enthusiasm and experience with students of all ages over more than 15 years, and is now available to students here at Chestnut Hill Music Academy. Contact the office to see how your family can work with Laura.
Bill Saurman – Trumpet, Trumbone, Piano
William has been a brass specialist and pianist in the Philadelphia area for the past 7 years and has been teaching for the past 5 years. Growing up in Cheltenham, PA, he started playing the trombone at the age of 9. Before long, he became obsessed with jazz,
inspired by the likes of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and JJ Johnson to name a few. It was his
influences that inspired William to strive for musical virtuosity and professionalism, and, by age 16, he set out to become a professional musician to share his music with the world. While he was studying in Temple University’s renowned Jazz Studies program, William began teaching students of all different ages, instruments, and backgrounds out of his home. He believes that everyone with a thirst for knowledge and a passion for music can learn to play music, and his
instruction has always been tailored to the needs of his students. Since he started teaching from his home, he has gone on to teach at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz as well as guest speak and teach for various high school ensembles in the greater Philadelphia area. William is looking forward to joining the Chestnut Hill Music Academy community and is ready to inspire the next generation of young musicians.
Jacob Beilenson – Bass Guitar, Piano, Guitar, Voice, Songwriting
Jacob is a lifelong musician who is eager to share his love for music with his students. Jacob started teaching piano at age 17, working with kids in his own neighborhood. Over the years, he has worked with kids of all ages in his work as a music instructor, tutor, and teacher. His goal is always to make learning fun and to connect with every student. A songwriter himself, he encourages his students to embrace their creativity through music. Last year he led a music production after school program at Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia, where students learned basic music theory and how to write and record their own music.
Jacob received classical training on piano at the Main Line Conservatory of Music, but his interests in music extend across genres. Besides the piano, Jacob sings and plays guitar, bass guitar, and vibraphone. He writes and records his own music at his home studio. You can often see him performing in New York and Philadelphia, as he is involved in a few musical projects.
Mary Loftus – Violin, Piano
Mary Loftus is an active performer and teacher in Philadelphia. She holds a bachelor’s in music from Vanderbilt University, where she obtained a Suzuki teaching certification, served as concertmaster of the Vanderbilt symphony orchestra, and won a graduation award for excellence in string performance. While in Nashville she began performing with the Nashville Symphony, Ballet, and Opera, and recorded soundtracks for movies and video games at Ocean Way Studios.
Currently Mary is a violinist with the Delaware Symphony and Ocean City Pops, and performs frequently with many other ensembles in and around Philadelphia.
As a teacher, she aims is to help students build a strong technical foundation so they can more effectively express themselves through music. She wants to share the joy of music and create a fun atmosphere for learning and growth.
Coming from a very musical family, Mike had the chance to experience music at weekly family gatherings where his father and uncles all played guitar and had sing-alongs. The family was always so happy and had so much fun singing, Mike discovered the joy of making and sharing music. Mike got his first guitar at age 12 and joined the family band. Guitar and music became his passion.
Mike first performed at a junior high chorus recital after playing for guitar six months. He learned from every guitar player he met. Mike played in bands throughout school and later began teaching guitar. His students ranged in age from seven to forty-seven. During that time, Mike played wherever he could, and began recording at his home studio which he continues today.
Mike plays both acoustic and electric guitars, and has been working with digital audio recording and guitar effects for years. While it sounds great with all the effects and performing, Mike enjoys playing every day at home with an acoustic like the one he started on. Simple, and always available to enjoy.
After a lifetime of enjoying music through playing guitar, Mike understands how important music can be for someone. He loves the chance to share that with his students.