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.
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.
As a violist, Emma has performed as the principal violist with the Temple University Concert Orchestra and the Grammy-nominated Temple University Symphony Orchestra as a section violist, including concerts at the Kimmel Center. Previously, she was the principal violist in the Stretto Chamber Orchestra, touring through Eastern Europe in 2014. Additionally, Emma performed at the Blue Mountain Chamber Music Festival, while she worked with children at the associated day camp. Recently she attended the Domaine Forget Academy of Music in Quebec, and, as a viola fellow, the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Tennessee.
Emma is finishing her BM in Viola Performance at Temple University, under the tutelage of Kerri Ryan, assistant principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. She has been teaching both violin and viola for six years, working with beginning and intermediate musicians ages 4 to 74. Inspired by the famous pedagogue Karen Tuttle, Emma teaches with a focus of relaxed playing and total body integration as well as other aspects from Tuttle’s “Coordination Technique.” The choice of materials, while always including a mix of technique and repertoire, is developed alongside the student, as teaching should always be a highly individualized process.
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
Izzy’s musical journey started at 6 years old when he began to sing in his church and elementary school choirs. From grade 6 to 12 he took weekly classical and jazz saxophone lessons at Temple University’s Community Music Scholar’s Program. Later he was accepted and gradated from Phila. Creative and Performing Arts high school where he continued to develop as a musician and singer. Next stop was the University of the Arts where he received his MA in Music Performance. While at UArts where he continued to progress on Sax and Voice while participating in the concert band, jazz band, orchestra and choir.
As a professional musician Izzy has experience playing with many notable musicians including Larry McKenna, Tony Micelli, Tom Lawton, Don Liuzzi, Micah Jones. He has his own group, writes his own songs and frequently performs at private events, concert venues, festivals and much more.
According to Izzy “Music can bring out crucial aspects of our personhood. It can help to create self awareness and a sense of dignity and pride. I always find joy teaching others. My goal is to provide my students with many creative options. To help them find their own voice, develop great technique and having fun in the process.”
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”
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.
Laura is a Singer-Songwriter from a small village in Ireland. She holds a First Class Honours degree in Music Performance specializing in Voice. During her degree, Laura studied and performed in many musical styles including Contemporary, Musical Theater, Classical and Traditional Irish music. She has also studied Vocal technique in depth, with a keen focus on Vocal health and posture. She has experience with Alexander technique in particular which is a great asset to her musical teachings. Laura began writing her own songs at 13, accompanying herself on guitar and piano. In 2012 Laura moved to America to pursue music opportunities and have her original songs heard by new ears. She spent two and a half years in Nashville TN, performing her songs in many famous venues including The Bluebird Cafe, The Row and Douglas Corner. She has also played throughout New England, New York, Pennsylvania and of course in her home country of Ireland.
As a teacher Laura is a very friendly and enthusiastic. During her 10 years of experience she has worked with students from 4 years to older adults. Her goal is to make each lesson equally fun and productive. She is very adaptable in her approach, often finding unique and creative ways to motivate students or illustrate a musical point. This is especially helpful with younger children but adults love it too.
Ethan is a graduate of the Temple University Boyer School of Music with a degree in Music Performance. He hopes to pursue a masters degree in classical composition in the near future. Ethan specializes in teaching Piano, Theory, and Jazz Improvisation. Along with Chestnut Hill Music Academy he is also a piano instructor at Holy Child School at Rosemont and a teaching artist at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Ethan is an actively performing jazz pianist and has performed at numerous festivals and venues including; The Mann Center, The Cape May Exit Zero Jazz Festival, Longwood Gardens Jazz Festival, Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, Center City Jazz Festival, Philadelphia Ethical Society and the Free Library of Philadelphia. Ethan’s compositions have been featured on The Temple News, WRTI, WXPN, and a new work of his premiered by Prism Quartet. Whether working with young beginners or more advanced players Ethan’s teaching style focuses on exploration,discovery and self expression.
John teaches both advanced musicians and young beginners at CHMA. He is a pianist and arranger/orchestrator specializing in jazz, pop, and related styles. Although he has performed with musical legends all around the world his first love is working with children. His incredible career includes: accompanying Mel Torme for 4 years and Les Paul for 6 years plus dates with Lionel Hampton, Larry Coryell, Anita O’Day, Steve Miller and other greats. He was honored to win a cash prize in the first Monk Piano Competition and is currently a Concord Jazz recording artist.
When teaching piano John uses a method well suited to both Classical and Jazz called The Matthay Technique. This course is based on his own early training which emphasized specific movement in the wrists, hands, and fingers during keyboard executions. This insures that his students will have the strongest grounding in proper technique.
At CHMA John also coaches singers wishing to perfect their performance, hone their technique and define their personal style. He has arranged and produces many recording sessions with vocalist in various genres including Pop, jazz and Musical theater which makes him uniquely qualified to work with intermediate and advanced singers. John currently performs with his own Jazz Orchestra, Sextet, Trio, and in Solo Piano settings in the US, as well as overseas, averaging over 40 European gigs per year.