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 in their love of music. Of course our teachers all have great skill and a deep understanding of music but frankly that’s the easy part.
Each student is totally unique therefore CHMA offers private lessons that allow the teacher to give each 100% of their attention. Teachers are empowered to use their intuition and experience to create a unique learning environment perfectly suited to each child’s interests, temperament and learning style.
With each new student CHMA creates a completely new program of study. Our teachers are extremely flexible and creative in their approach. Regardless of age or experience we design a teaching plan that keeps your 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 has been a Montgomery County director of Makin’ Music since 1998. Through this interactive parent-tot program Mickey meets with preschoolers and their caregivers in highly interactive weekly music classes. Mickey also holds a Master’s Degree from Chestnut Hill College in Counseling Psychology with special training in play and music therapy for children. He still operates a small private counseling practice specializing in couples, families and individuals. Mickey Leone personally chooses and supervises all teachers.
Guitar, Ukulele Composition, Michael has a B.A. in Composition with Guitar from SUNY Fredonia, M.A. and D.M.A. (A.B.D.) in Composition from CUNY Queens and Temple University. Teaching experience includes RDC Music, Philadelphia University and Camp Saint Vincent. Specializing in Acoustic, Rock and Jazz styles with particular interest in written notation, solo accompaniment and Tonal theory. Michael has been teaching for many years. He tailors his approach to the personal needs and interests of each student. Able to teach folk, jazz. rock and classical guitar styles, Michael is also a great choice for beginners of all ages.
Marie Spidale – Voice, Piano, Musical Theater - 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
Mark Kuczynski – Drums – Rock School. 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, Rock School
Timothy Hill 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.
Mike Liszko – Drums and Violin
Mike grew up in a musical family who thankfully started him on violin at 5 years old. At 10 he began to play and study drums. He played in middle and high school jazz bands before moving on the The University of the Arts where he graduated with a BM in performance and minor in Music Ed, Mike is well versed in many styles including, rock, hip-hop, jazz, soul, blues, latin, classical and many more. Besides the drum set and violin, he also plays guitar and bass.
During his career he has had the privilege to study with fantastic teachers such as Erik Johnson, Joe Nero, Gerry Brown (who played for Stevie Wonder for 15 years), and Jason Gianni who is a lead instructor at the New York Drummers Collective.
Mike is a very active musician playing venues such as Festival Pier, Brooklyn Bowl, Trocadero, Johnny Brendas, and DC9. He is the drummer for several up and coming bands including Bel Heir, who recently signed to RCA records. Mike is a dedicated teacher who loved to work with young musicians.
Jack Carroll – Guitar, Bass, Rock School
Jack has been playing and performing on guitar for 30 years, and has been teaching guitar for the last 10, most recently heading the after school guitar program at Immaculate Conception school in Jenkintown, as well as at St Joseph The Protector school in Glenside. It is Jack’s mission in life to create an army of guitar players who can enjoy expressing themselves through music for the rest of their life. What greater gift can you give to someone? Equally adept at electric or acoustic, Jack will help your child to get the most out of their ability. Jack loves working with kids, he also works with foster children on a part-time basis, and has three daughters of his own. Jack sings lead and harmony vocals, and plays harmonica. He currently performs around Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore with his band RED X. Jack also has released three CD’s of original material, most recently 2013’s “On The Road”.
Fang Fang – Cello, Piano
Fang began to play the piano when she was 5 years old. Then when she was just 7 her mother, an accomplished musician herself, began to teach her the cello. She earned her Masters Degree in cello performance from Arizona State University after studying at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in China where she accomplished her B.A in cello performance. Fang has worked in the Shanghai Chinese orchestras for 8 years as associate principal cello and as the principal cellist for Scottsdale Philharmonic in Phoenix Arizona. For the last 10 years she has been an enthusiastic and patient teacher. She was schooled in the Suzuki Method of teaching and found it to be an effective means of working with young beginners. She looks for the unique talent and creativity in every children and she works hard with each family to bring out their best. In 2011 one of her prize students took first place in the national Cello Competition for all of Eastern China.
Raven Katz – Voice, Piano, Guitar Songwriting
Raven is an alumna of Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Songwriting and Voice. In 2009 she was a recipient of Berklee’s North American Scholarship Tour and in 2013 Berklee’s Songwriting department awarded her the SESAC scholarship for her achievements.
Raven currently works as a vocalist, music instructor and freelance graphic designer. For the last two years she has been invited to return to Berklee as a songwriting mentor at the college’s week-long songwriting intensive.
Raven is passionate about using the voice to develop lifelong musicianship. She has also created an original songwriting curriculum that has been utilized at Berklee and with students at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia. At CHMA Raven continues to use her enthusiasm and experience to encouraging young musicians to explore their creativity.