Our staff 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.
Marie Spidale – Voice, Piano Marie is a graduate of Millikin University’s School of Music with a degree in Vocal Performance. While a classically trained singer, she has performed a variety of genres ranging from musical theater, opera, and contemporary styles. Marie has experience in areas of vocal pedagogy (technique) and has a foundation in foreign language diction. This has given her the ability to sing and educate in music of many styles, in multiple languages healthily. Marie’s career in performance has taken her around and out of the country, her most recent venue being the Salzburg Mozart Festival in Austria. She has a passion for performance and has earned several roles in musical theater productions. Some of her favorites include Ariel in the Little Mermaid, Ti Moune in Once on this Island and Gertrude in Seussical. Other recent credits include various roles in operas, theater workshops and touring with the Millikin University choir. Her background has molded her teaching methods, which mixes classical technique with modern and varying repertoire. It is her mission to make singing a fun and fulfilling experience for each of her students. Marie is currently working towards her Masters in Voice at Temple University.
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.
Mindy Cutcher – Harp
Mindy has been teaching harp to children and adults for over 20 years. Although she teaches every level, she specializes in beginning students with no prior musical background. Mindy emphasizes the “Salzedo” technique, but makes the lessons fun and easy. You will be able to play a song with the first lesson! Principal Harpist for the Pennsylvania Ballet, Mindy Cutcher is an in-demand performer and teacher. Symphonic engagements include the Baltimore and Delaware Symphonies, the St. Louis Symphony and Philadelphia’s Chamber Orchestra. Mindy has performed on The Tonight Show and with notable names such as Joshua Bell, Josh Groban and Anne Hathaway. She studied with world-renowned Alice Chalifoux at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where she received her Bachelor of Music degree in Harp Performance
Henry Tirfe – Saxophone, Clarinet, Piano
Henry specializes in classical, jazz and pop styles on the saxophone and clarinet. He is also an accomplished pianist. He has been a part of The Kimmel Center Youth Jazz Ensemble, Simple Commotion, Rick Kerber Tribute Ensemble plus various Classical Saxophone Quartets. Over the years he has performed at Chris’ Jazz Café, The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, City Hall Philadelphia, Penn’s Landing, Warmdaddy’s Café and the Merriam Theater among many others. He is currently pursuing his degree in performance and music education at the University Of The Arts in Philadelphia. Throughout his musical education Henry has been fortunate to study with a great many musical mentors including Mike Cemporla, Chris Farr and Korey Riker. Henry has taught private students since 2010 and spent two years on the faculty of The Brad Schoener Music Man Camp. Henry encourages music students to start young as he did so they can learn about music as they are learning about life. Henry’s goal as a teacher is to bring out the joy and creativity in each of his students.
Gabriel Rebolla – Piano, Vocal Performance Coaching
Gabriel Rebolla has a career as a soloist, piano professor and collaborative pianist. He has performed with chamber groups, orchestras, singers and choirs, and as a soloist in many concert halls throughout Brazil, France and the United States. A native of Brazil, Gabriel earned Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Campinas (Piano Performance) and the Pro-Musica Conservatory (Piano and Theory). He has received national and international awards such as the Stegner Scholarship for best pianist at Georgia State University in 2008 and the Pro-Musica Piano Competition and Cadenza Piano Competition in Bauru in 2004, where he also received an award for best interpretation of Brazilian music. From 2004 to 2008, Gabriel worked for a professional children’s choir in Brazil, which was co-sponsored by the Brazilian government and the Petrobas Oil Company. During his time with the choir, he taught piano, theory and singing to children. This choir recorded CDs and traveled throughout all of Brazil, performing and winning several awards. In the Fall of 2013, Gabriel completed his Opera Coaching Program at Temple University in Philadelphia. Gabriel has vast experience teaching piano for all ages. In his work with children he often uses stories to create characters and emotions that make it personal and engaging. This develops their music skills and their overall creativity and imagination.
Timothy Hill - Drums, Trumpet Timothy was born in Athens, Greece. His family sang together since before he was born, he took piano and trumpet lessons while in Jr High, and he began playing drums in High School. He has no idea how his parents let him play the drums in their apartment, but he played with various local bands until he moved to Denver, Colorado where he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music. He spent a number of years traveling between Greece and the US playing classical, blues, folk, jazz, hard rock, musicals, latin, world, and singer-songwriter music regularly. In addition to playing music, Timothy has been teaching music for over 15 years. He loves learning new instruments and practicing and believes that everybody can and should play music if they want to. He’s taught young children, teenagers, and adults, refugees and recovering substance abusers, individuals and group. By approaching music visually, aurally, kinestheticaly, and orally, as well as by customizing his lessons to each individual’s needs, Timothy tries to impart his love of music to his students, help them succeed through disciplined work, and understand and enjoy music on a deeper level.
John Backetti – Violin, Viola, Cello John has been teaching the violin for more than 15 years with stints on staff at The Springside School and Dresher School of Music. He earned a B.A. in Music and English, a MA in English, and a Master of Education Degree, all from Arcadia University. John studied under several great violin teachers in his 25 year career including Amedeo Wm. Liva, a Julliard trained violinist. Since 1995, John has performed extensively as a member of The Old York Road Symphony Orchestra and The Chestnut Hill Symphony. Although classically trained, John also enjoys playing and teaching fiddle tunes, Broadway classics, popular music and Standards. He believes that each student is a unique individual and it is his job to help them find and present their unique musical voice.
Praised by the Broad Street Review in Philadelphia for her “lovely lyric voice,” soprano Katherine Bell has performed across the Eastern US and abroad. She has performed a variety of full operatic roles, her most recent engagements include Despina in Mozart’s Così fan tuttewith the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and Adina in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. Other roles include performances of Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Maren, the title role, in the world premiere production of Maren of Vardø: Satan’s Bride by Jeff Myers. Along with singing operatic roles, she has toured Italy as the soprano soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria, cantored at many churches, performed at religious services, sang jazz standards with big bands, and performed cabaret and musical theater performances. As a voice and music instructor, she teaches all genres and styles of singing. She has worked with students of all ages and experience levels to help her students better understand their own instruments so that they can find their unique creative voices and make music that is all their own! She earned her Masters of Music degree in Vocal Performance with a concentration in Voice Pedagogy from Peabody Conservatory, and her Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Temple University.
Matt graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a degree in music production and business. During two decades as a professional musician, he has performed in intimate living room concerts and before crowds in amphitheaters. He was co-founder of the Yves Jean Band, a fusion rock group that opened huge concert venues for the likes of John Scofield, Dave Matthews Band, OAR. While with YJB, he toured the U.S. and cut two studio albums. As a drummer, songwriter, and composer he became well known around Pittsburgh PA for his work in rock, fusion, country and Americana bands including Liz Berlin’s (Rusted Root) “AudioBioGraphical”.
Since moving to Philadelphia Matt keeps busy with songwriting,composing music for film as well as teaching. He enjoys working on the craft of music and helping students reach their potential through fun, hard work, and dedication.
Paul is a multi-talented instructor committed to sharing his passion for music with children and adult musicians of all ages. He is also a gifted performer and improvisor, Paul’s music can be heard in live performance and on numerous recordings, including collaboration with Grammy Award-winning cellist David Darling. In 1999, Paul and the Hot House Trio (with Eric Henry, Jim Smith) were selected Jazz Ambassadors to the Middle East by the U.S. State Department and the Department of Cultural Exchange. As Jazz Ambassadors, they performed and taught in Syria, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco, and Tunisia. Paul holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree from Mansfield University and is a certified Music for People teacher, leading workshops in music improvisation for self-expression.