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.
Marie Spidale – Voice, Piano Marie is a graduate of Millikin University’s School of Music with a degree in Vocal Performance. She alspo has a Masters in Vocal Performance from Temple University. 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.
Emma Scott-Garnett – Violin, Piano
Emma is a graduate of Temple University with a masters degree in voice performance. She also holds a bachelors degree in voice performance from Eastman School of Music. Emma is an active performer in the Philadelphia area and recently in Germany and England. Her recent credits include the Neil Semer Vocal Institute in Coesfeld, Germany, Temple Opera Theater, and Curtis Opera Theater. She has been an active church musician, serving as an alto staff singer at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for four years. Although performance is an important part of her life, Emma is also a passionate private music teacher. She has been teaching voice and beginner piano lessons for the past three years. Her ultimate goal is to create music at a high level in a nurturing, healthy environment.
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.
Jason Miller – Guitar, Piano, Ukulele Jason has made a career of performing, studying, and teaching music. His training included a BA from Temple University in Broadcast Performance, private music lessons with many great teachers and an intensive apprenticeship to master ukulele virtuoso Peter Delapinia. During his years of living in Hawaii he was a featured performer at the well-known Sunset Club and directed a music program for the Hawaii YMCA for 5 years where he honed his skills at working with students of all ages. Nothing brings him greater joy than finding the unique musical personality of each student, helping them create original songs, building up their confidence to perform for an audience, and work towards mastering an instrument or song that they really want to play.
Mary Loftus – Violin, Stings, Piano Mary Loftus received her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University where she obtained her Suzuki method teaching certification and served as concertmaster of the Vanderbilt Symphony Orchestra. During her time there she also performed as a substitute with the Nashville Symphony and Nashville Opera. Growing up in Philadelphia she was the winner of several regional competitions and a scholarship recipient at Settlement Music School’s Advanced Study Program and Temple University’s Music Prep Division. She attended the Aspen Music Festival twice as a fellowship recipient, and spent other summers at the Brevard Music Center, Meadowmount, and others. She is currently a member of the Delaware Symphony, and actively performs with several other ensembles in the area, including the Allentown Symphony, Philly Pops, and Opera Delaware.
As a teacher, she aims to foster a fun and engaging learning environment where students can explore their creativity while they hone their instrumental skills. She is thrilled to be teaching at the Chestnut Hill Music Academy!
Arianna graduated from the Peabody Conservatory where she received her Bachelor of Music degree. Starting from the age of 3, she has continuously studied and performed over the last 20 years. A native to Philadelphia, she has won several competitions around the area, and has performed as a soloist with the Ocean City Pops, Kennett Square Symphony, Warminster Symphony and the Ambler Symphony Orchestra. In addition to her solo career, during her undergraduate studies at Peabody, she became a regular member with the Washington Chamber Orchestra and has performed with several others, including the Lancaster Symphony as well as the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra.
Arianna has always loved performing and sharing music with others. She enjoys sharing that love for music with her students at the Chestnut Hill Music Academy
Kobi Oxman has been involved in music all his life. Kobi performs and teaches at the professional level in the Philadelphia and West Chester areas. He currently attends West Chester University as a Music Education major, focusing on many different instruments. He is studying under several professors who have performed in such prestigious groups as the Philadelphia POPS Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Ballet. He has performed in many ensembles at West Chester including the West Chester Latin Jazz ensemble, Wind Symphony, Steel Pan Band, West Chester University Marching Band, Percussion Ensemble and Jazz Combos. Kobi was previously a member of the Philadelphia Sinfonia. Kobi loves teaching to children of all ages and helping young musicians reach their full potential.
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”
Edward Castillo – Piano, Music Theory
Edward is a pianist, composer, and music educator from the Dominican Republic. He received his early music education at The Fine Arts School in his hometown, San Francisco de Macorís, and then continued at the National Conservatory of Music in Santo Domingo where he was trained in Classical and Afro-Caribbean piano, Dominican folkloric percussion, harmony, and Latin American orchestration. Then he moved to Philadelphia and attended the University of The Arts where he pursued a degree in Piano Performance and a minor concentration in Music Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology. He played with various university ensembles including The Sound of Philadelphia, Salsa, and Standard-Times. He has also performed as a choral singer with the Uarts choir and the Philly Pops. As a music educator, he is very patient and dedicated, and he understands that every person learns at a different pace.
Audrey began violin lessons at age 5 in the Village Violin School, a Suzuki program in Houston, TX. In high school Audrey received a full scholarship to the Kenneth Goldsmith’s studio in the pre-college division at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. She went on to receive a BM in violin performance and psychology from Vanderbilt University and then to complete her Masters of Music at University of Texas. During her degree programs, Audrey performed regularly with the Austin Symphony and the New World Symphony. She is currently a member of the Austin Opera and Allentown Symphony, and is on the adjunct music faculty at Chestnut Hill College.
As a teacher Audrey completed her Suzuki Book 1 training and taught for two years in the nationally renown, University of Texas String Project. She also developed curriculum for beginning violin classes at Blackshear Fine Arts Academy through the El Sistema system in Austin, and directed the orchestra program at Brentwood Christian School. Audrey has found that motivation precedes mastery, and her students learn the value of empathy and support systems within their musical lives.