The Teacher is Key
"When looking back at one's life, everyone carries somewhere in their heart a teacher that enlightened them in various ways, in terms of character or intellect." From Children are the Best Teachers, by Genichi Kawakami (Tokyo: Yamaha Music Foundation, 1981)
The teacher is critical to the effectiveness and success of all methods. Yamaha (YMES) music teachers must possess a variety of skills; they must be able to sing on pitch expressively, play piano and electronic keyboards, accompany, conduct, transpose, improvise and manage both children and their parents in a group setting. Of course, they also must enjoy young children and have the ability to motivate them and communicate with them effectively.
In every Yamaha group music class, the teacher is responsible for creating an atmosphere conducive to learning. This means smiles, laughter and energy, as well as quieter moments- times for closeness between parent and child and moments to appreciate the beauty and intricacies of music-all should be part of the class experience. The teacher engages the students in many ways, all of which are intended to draw children's attention to the music and build a desire to participate. Imagery, story telling, pictures and movement stimulate the children, but the teacher's musical performance of a piece and his or her corresponding facial and physical expressions are of the utmost importance.
All Yamaha Music School of Boston group & private teachers:
- Have a minimum of a bachelor degree in music performance and/or education (BM), and 3-5 years experience teaching, with most teachers holding a master of music (MM) or a doctor of music (DMA)
- Are cleared with an annual Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) - including all administrative staff
In addition, all group Yamaha Music Education System (YMES) teachers are certified and:
- Undergo rigorous seminar training with national music education department staff at Yamaha Corp of America
- Successfully pass Yamaha Grade Exam, a comprehensive international music examination
- Receive special seminar instruction with Yamaha Music Foundation teachers and staff from Japan
- Have systematic, ongoing development and support through annual study groups and Experienced Teacher Seminars
Yamaha Music Education System (YMES) Group Class Faculty
YMES Coordinator / YMES / Piano
Mina Osako began studying music at age 3. She attended Yamaha Music School in Narita, Japan and participated in Electone ensemble and studied solo piano performance. She earned her Bachelor of Music in piano performance at University of Hawaii and Master of Music at SUNY Purchase where she was a recipient of a vocal fellowship. Mina is an active vocal collaborator and chamber musician and has performed at various chamber concerts, Broadway musical productions and school and church choirs in Japan and the U.S. Her mentors include Thomas Rosenkranz, Jonathan Korth and Paul Ostrovsky.
YMES / Piano
Yuki Shibata is a music teacher, jazz pianist, and composer originally from Himeji, Japan. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Yuki maintains an active teaching and performance schedule, including recent gigs as a band leader at Mile's Cafe and Shrine in NYC and The Fireplace, Cafe Luna, and Kings Back Bay in Boston.
Studying classical ballet as a child, Yuki was introduced to jazz, classical, and contemporary music. Because her dance teacher was a big fan of jazz, she got a chance to dance to the album, "Helen Merrill with Clifford Brown" in concert, which was the first time for her to feel a strong passion for jazz.
Yuki's principal piano teachers are Yuki Arimasa (Tokyo, Japan), Frank Carlberg, and Ray Santisi (Boston, MA). She has also studied with Danilo Perez, Joanne Brackeen, and jazz improv with Hal Crook.
YMES / KE / Piano
Violeta holds a Bachelor degree in Piano and Sound Engineering from the Music Academy in Sofia, where she worked as a piano teacher in the Sofia Music School and as a Sound Engineer at Theater off the Canal. Violeta participated in multiple piano competitions and composition contests, did recordings for the National Television and Radio in Bulgaria, played in a band as a keyboardist, and composed and arranged numerous songs for theater performances. In 1998 she won a Piano competition in Thsaloniki, Greece.
Violeta moved to the US in 1999 to study Jazz Piano and Music Production & Engineering on a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Violeta has worked at Sonic Temple Studio in Roslindale, MA as a House Engineer, and recorded artists and groups like Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Lydian String Quartet, Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra, Boston Bach Ensemble, Boston Musica Viva, Yo-Yo Ma, and many others. Violeta's credits include various solo performances and records, as well as collaborations with some of the best New England orchestras and performers.
Miriam Conti Vanoni
YMES / Piano
Miriam Conti Vanoni is a pianist and music teacher active mainly in the Greater Boston area.
She earned her D.M.A. in Piano at Boston University and her Master degree at the Conservatory “Giuseppe Verdi” in Milan, Italy.
As a performer, she played in different venues and festivals in Europe and the United States. Among the others the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris; Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporaine de Nice; Crossroads Cultural Center, New York; Dante Alighieri Society, Boston; and at the American Bible Society, New York City; Cultural Center of Cape Cod, South Yarmouth, MA; MITO International Festival of Music, Milano, Italy; Kosciuszko Foundation New England Chapter, Mount Holyoke College, MA; Schloss Zeilitzheim, Germany.
As a piano and music teacher, Dr Conti Vanoni has worked in Italy, France and U.S. Her international and diverse teaching experience includes a variety of methods at many different levels, from beginners to college students, and helped her developing a personal approach to teaching that focuses on each student’s personality and skills.
In the Boston area, in addition to her private piano studio, she worked as a piano and music teacher at Boston University College of Fine Arts, Saint Clement School, Medford, MA and Merry Melody Music Academy, Norwood, MA.
She lives in the greater Boston area with her husband and her four kids.
YMES / Piano
Jee-Lian began studying piano at age 6 in Malaysia with her aunt through the ABRSM system, where she achieved the highest score in Malaysia at the final level. At 12, Jee-Lian immigrated to the US with her family and settled in New York City. There she continued her musical studies at Juilliard Pre-College, under the tutelage of Olegna Fuschi. Jee-Lian attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she minored in music, studying piano with David Deveau. Jee-Lian has performed as a soloist with orchestras in the New York Tri-State area as well as with the MIT Symphony Orchestra.
Some of Jee-Lian’s fondest memories growing up were made at Juilliard’s Saturday group classes and playing chamber music with friends. As a parent she chose the Yamaha group classes, knowing they would provide a nurturing environment for her own children as they began their musical journeys. Jee-Lian is excited to share these same experiences with the next generation of students and their families.
Jee-Lian has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and worked as an engineer for 14 years before deciding to pursue her passion for music and teaching. She maintains an active private studio and is eager to reach young kids through the Yamaha Music Education System.
YMES / Piano / Administrative Assistant
Nathan Morel is a passionate professional musician who shares quality, expressive music with all audiences and focuses on helping others to do the same. Nathan began his musical journey studying piano at age 7. A defining point in his early education was attending Pinella County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School, where he discovered his joy for learning, teaching and performing music with others. He participated in choirs, various performance ensembles as a pianist, and learned essential musical curriculum. At the University of Tampa (UT), Nathan studied Piano Performance with pianist Grigorios Zamparas. Both as a soloist and chamber musician, he focused on using technique and movement to play expressively and efficiently. He received both academic and musical scholarship at UT and was a recipient of the Marvin Hamlisch Piano Award.
After graduating magna cum laude from UT in 2017, Nathan moved to Boston and started working in the non-profit sector interning at a local synagogue. During this time, he focused on developing Jewish communities through music. He combined West African Djembe rhythms with Judaism's rich singing tradition to create engaging energetic music for Jewish communities. He also has been a Director of a Jewish summer camp for two years. As a teacher, Nathan has taught piano privately in both the Tampa Bay and Boston area.
YMES / Piano
Michelle Madasamy is a pianist, and music educator. Her teaching experiences range from teaching undergraduate applied music theory to teaching group piano to preschoolers. She has a passion for helping students retain a love for music while they gain an appreciation for going from process to product with care. She has experience and a deep interest in teaching special learners as well. Her private students have been recognized for musical excellence through competition and adjudicated festivals.
Michelle earned a B.M. in Piano Performance from Western Washington University and was the recipient of the Arthur Hicks, William Sanford, Ford Hill, and Piano Area scholarships. She was recognized in the Bellingham Herald as one of the most accomplished pianists at the university. She earned a M.S. in Music Education from Long Island University and completed her student teaching in K-2 general music, and middle school and high school choir. She continued her artistic studies with pianist Yuri Kim at Mannes School of Music (The New School). She became a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) through the Music Teacher’s National Association in 2019, and a New York State certified music teacher in 2014.
Michelle is a former Navy Musician and was one of seven keyboard instrumentalists in the worldwide program at the time. She performed in 287 concerts in the U.S. Since then, she has performed notable solo and chamber recitals at venues such as Nichols Concert Hall, Goldmark Hall, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, and the Mannes Beethoven Institute.
Hsiu-Lan Cheng is a member of the New England Piano Teachers' Association and has been teaching piano, harp, and theory in private lessons for over twenty years. Originally from Taiwan, R.O.C., Hsiu-Lan began teaching piano at age eighteen. In 1988, she received a Piano and Harp Performance Diplomas from Tainan Junior College of Home Economics. After graduation, she was invited to teach piano at the Taipei Yamaha Music School.
In 1990, Mrs. Cheng continued her music study at The Boston Conservatory, completing a Bachelor in Harp Performance. Mrs. Cheng holds two Master Degrees; one in Harp Performance and one in Arts Administration, both from Boston University. Performances with The New England Philharmonic, Waltham Philharmonic, Franklin Performance Arts Company, Berklee Recording Orchestra, and Saint Malachy Parish Choir. Honors include The Dean Award Scholarship, Boston University.
Ayako Hattori has taught both privately and in the classroom at Boston University, the Univerity of Michigan, the Manhattan School of Music, and the University of the Redlands, as well as maintaining private studios in Ann Arbor, New York City, and Orange County, CA.
In 2008, she spoke at the MTNA National Convention in Denver, CO, lecturing on the use of extended techiques in pedagogical practice through the music of Henry Cowell. She has performed in California, New York, Ann Arbor, and made a special apperance at the 2008 Midwest Composer's Symposium in the world premiere of Paul Dooley's "Dani's Dance."
Ayako began her musical studies at the age of 4 at the Yamaha Music School in Orange County, CA, studying piano and composition. While a student at Yamaha, she received both first and second prizes in the Music Teacher's Association of CA Composition Contest.
She received her Bachelor's degree at the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Phillip Kawin. She receieved her Master's degree in Piano Pedagogy and Performance at the Univerity of Michigan as a full-scholarship student of Louis Nagel (piano) and John Ellis (pedagogy).
From Trumbull, CT, Joe Miterko is an active jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and music educator. He began playing piano at the age of four. Growing up, he actively participated in the Litchfield Jazz Camp and the Fairfield University Summer Jazz Camp as a student and counselor. He also graduated from the Regional Center for the Arts Performing Arts High School of Fairfield County.
Graduating cum laude from Berklee College of Music, Joe has collaborated on several exciting projects, including preparing charts for the pre-production of Julie Lavender’s album “Rising: A Musical Contata for the World to Come”. In college, he also was actively involved with an array of eclectic ensembles; from Klezmer Music to Microtonal Grooves , from Merengue/Bachata, to the Music of Miles Davis. He has played in notable venues such as the Berklee Performance Center, Steinway & Sons Piano Factory, and Brandeis University. He also is thrilled to have played with jazz greats such as Robin Eubanks, Charli Persip, and others. As an educator, Joe participated as a mentor in the Berklee City Music Mentoring Program and teaches privately and in group settings.
Piano / Guitar / Songwriting
Jared Rocco is a multi-instrumentalist composer and songwriter who has made music a part of his life since the very beginning. Born in Pennsylvania, Jared began taking piano lessons at age 6, eventually moving to New Hampshire at age 8. Inspired by the nature that surrounded him he began writing solo piano pieces as early as 6th grade. He later picked up guitar and began taking vocal lessons in high school. Jared studied music at the University of New Hampshire and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education in 2014. He then went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Studio Composition from SUNY Purchase College in 2017.
Jared has extensive experience as a composer and songwriter. He has recorded and released two albums of original music as well as composed music for the environmentally themed musical “What’s All the ComOcean?” The musical went on to be performed at dozens of schools around the state of New Hampshire. Since the beginning of his college years, Jared has shared his passion for music with others by working as a music teacher providing instruction on piano and guitar as well as songwriting and composing.
Composition Coordinator / Composition / Piano
David Ibbett is a British composer based in Boston, USA. He has found musical inspiration in many places – songs, symphonies, pop, classical and the electronic – and bringing these strands together is his ultimate aim. He is an active electronics performer, working with Original Gravity, Aeolian Progression, and the Equilibrium Ensemble, and co-directs Music of Reality – a performance series that combines music and science – with pianist Sophia Vastek.
In 2004, David won a scholarship to attend Cambridge University, studying composition with Giles Swayne and Robin Holloway. He then went on to undertake a Masters and Artist Fellowship at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Julian Anderson, living in London for several years, before moving to Boston in 2014. In 2015, he completed his doctorate at the University of Birmingham (UK) with Jonty Harrison and Scott Wilson. He frequently travels between the US and the UK. Over the course of these journeys, David has written works spanning many forms: from traditional ensembles to inter-arts collaborations, installations, digital releases and works with live electronics.
David’s music has been performed at the Aldeburgh Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Barbican Total Immersion, Noisegate Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Coventry University recital series, Nonclassical, Banff Centre Encounters series, Voiceworks at Wigmore Hall, BEASTiary concert series, Bristol Victoria Rooms, London Institute of Contemporary Art concert series, Spitalfields Festival, Hendon Festival, Logos Foundation, Boston’s The Record Company, NYCEMF Festival, EMM Festival, International Horn Society Conference, Klangspuren Festival Austria, Red Sonic Festival, Vortex Jazz Club recital series, The Village Underground concert series, Original Gravity Concert series, Music of Reality, Seven Bridges Project, Leeds University Music Festival, City of London Festival, Bath Festival, Mapmaking at LSO St Luke's, Faster Than Sound concert series.
Composition / Piano
Voice / Accounts Coordinator
An active performer and teacher in the Boston area, soprano Beth Sterling firmly believes in the adage that "everyone can sing", and strives to help students of a wide range of vocal experiences and abilities experience the joy of music & build confidence through the improvement of vocal technique, musicianship, musical literacy, and artistry.
As a performer, Ms. Sterling has recently sung with organizations such as the Multiverse Concert Series, Quorum Boston, MIT's Gilbert & Sullivan Society, Emerald City Opera (now Opera Steamboat), Longwood Opera, and OperaWorks. As a soprano soloist, Ms. Sterling has been featured in works such as Handel’s Messiah, Fauré’s Requiem and Vivaldi’s Gloria (RV 588).
Ms. Sterling completed her Masters of Music in Voice Performance at the Longy School of Music of Bard College, where she received the Amabassador Assistantship. She received her Bachelors of Music in Voice Performance from Baldwin-Wallace College (now University), where she graduated magna cum laude.
In addition to teaching at the Yamaha Music School of Boston, Ms. Sterling also teaches Semi-Private Voice Lessons at the Tufts University Community Music Program. More information can be found on her website, www.bethsterling.com
Voice / Piano / Songwriting
Starr Desmond is a young and innovative singer-songwriter, performer, teacher, and choreographer located in East Boston, Massachusetts. From the young age of four, Starr has always had a love for the arts. She began studying dance at Eleanor Rubino’s Academy of Performing Arts (now known as Jessica Gordon’s Academy of Performing Arts) in 2001. At that same time, she became a student at the non-profit organization titled ZUMIX. Here she studied in private piano lessons at the age of six, private singing lessons at the age of eight, and participated in numerous group classes. Through ZUMIX, Starr developed a love for songwriting and performing and was connected to the Berklee City Music Program. In 2014, Starr attended the Berklee 5-week Summer Program, and the following year she applied to Berklee College of Music and was accepted and awarded a Full-Tuition Scholarship.
Starr graduated cum laude at Berklee College of Music in 2019 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Songwriting. At Berklee, she spent her time teaching others through the Berklee City Music Mentoring Program, in which she received a Berklee Urban Service Award (BUSA) in 2017. During her time at Berklee, Starr went on to teach private lessons in voice, piano, and songwriting. She is also one of the founding members of the prestigious co-ed Berklee A Cappella group titled On The Vox, in which she was also the Director of Choreography. She has also been teaching at Jessica Gordon’s Academy of Performing Arts as a choreographer and teacher since 2018. In 2020, Varsity Vocals presented Starr with the Outstanding Choreography award for her work with On The Vox at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA). Currently, Starr is continuing her education at Boston University, studying for her Master’s Degree in Music Education.
Violin / Viola
Geofrey Cua has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and abroad in chamber groups such as the LSU String Quartet, Inland Empire String Trio, and Empyre Chamber Ensemble. Equally comfortable performing on the viola, he has served leadership positions in the RCC Symphony, LSU Symphony, Riverside Lyric Opera, as well as the role of Concertmaster and featured soloist of the NEYE. Geofrey has won the CYSO Concerto Competition, Rotary Music Competition Corona Branch, MTNA Young Artists Competition in Maryland, and was a finalist in both the RMC Regional, VOCE, and an alternate in the MTNA Regional competition. He began his studies under Mary Kneeland, Sue Hagmann, Jack Krumbien, and Mischa Lakirovich. While at Washington Adventist University in his undergrad, he studied with Dr. Gerald Fischbach, the former President of the American String Teachers Association who came out of retirement especially to instruct Geofrey in collaboration with Dr. Preston Hawes. As a violist, Geofrey has studied with Dr. Victor Yuzefovich and Juan Miguel Hernandez from the Fine Arts quartet. He finished his graduate studies at Syracuse University under the esteemed Laura Bossert and chamber music under Terry King.
Violin / Viola
Hailing from Bellevue, WA, violinist Amelia Sie made her solo debut with the Seattle Festival Orchestra at the age of 8 and has gone on to solo with many orchestras, including the Seattle Symphony and Coeur d’Alene Symphony.
Amelia has performed with Joseph Silverstein and members of the Ébène Quartet and St. Lawrence String Quartet, amongst others. She has also worked with conductors including Christoph Eschenbach and Ton Koopman, and most recently was concertmaster under the baton of Hugh Wolff performing Don Juan with the NEC Philharmonia. She currently is a member of the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra, and the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra.
An avid performer of new music, Amelia has performed thrice for the Boston Symphony Orchestra's "What I Hear," a concert series showcasing works of living composers commissioned by the BSO. In August 2018, she performed Lei Liang's Verge Quartet for the composer at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival.
Amelia recently completed her Master's degree at the New England Conservatory under the tutelage of Soovin Kim and Miriam Fried. She received her Bachelor's degree there as well, studying with Paul Biss. In her spare time, Amelia obsessively collects plants, sews shirts out of old bed sheets, and dotes on dogs out on a walk. Amelia has been teaching violin since 2016.
Michael Pihakis owned his first electrical guitar at age five, and immediately began being obsessed with the popular music of that time, Grunge rock. He began his formal musical training at the age of twelve under Tripp Duke in Birmingham, Alabama. In his studies with Tripp, Michael learned about theory and history of the guitar while still playing electric. It wasn't until Michael attended college that Tripp taught him to read his first notes of music notation. Michael always had an immense appreciation for classical guitar players, so he knew that would be the next step. Under the tutelage of Dr. Alan Goldspiel at the University of Montevallo, Michael obtained a Bachelor's degree in classical guitar performance, and learned the necessary skills to teach his craft to others through pedagogy classes with Dr. Goldspiel. From there he relocated to Boston to attend the New England Conservatory where he studied with the great Eliot Fisk for his Master's degree.
Michael's love for playing the guitar is only matched by his love for teaching the guitar. He enjoys the way that each student is their own unique riddle to solve with challenges to overcome. Some get certain things immediately while others have to work at it. As such, Michael has developed an immense bag of tricks to combat any issue that may arise in a student's development. As a teacher, Michael is very focused on taking into consideration both a student's needs and interests as he crafts a lesson plan unique to them.
Jessica Smith is an active flutist and flute teacher residing in the Greater Boston Area. She holds a master's degree in flute performance from Ithaca College and a bachelor's degree in flute performance from Eastern Michigan University.
Throughout her career, Jessica has been honored with music recognitions including: 2015 grant recipient for InertiaTwo from the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County, winner of the 2010 William Stewart Concerto Competition, winner of the 2011 Manilow Soloist Competition, and featured soloist at the Huron Valley Council for the Arts Recital. Jessica has performed with the Ithaca New Music Collective, Ithaca College Contemporary Ensemble, Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, and the Eastern Michigan University Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble.
Alongside Nick Merillat, Jessica performs in the flute and percussion duo, InertiaTwo. The duo strives to promote the eclecticism of music available for flute and percussion by playing works new and old. InertiaTwo also aims to push the genre further through experimentation, composition, improvisation, and live electronic enhancement.
Yamaha Music School of Boston Administration
School Director / Saxophone
Lily Symmonds is a performing arts manager, saxophonist and composer. After earning her B.A. from Wellesley with a double major in Music and German Language and Literature, Lily was accepted to the M.F.A Music Composition program at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA. At CalArts, she studied composition under Michael Fink, Barry Schrader and Anne LeBaron and composed music for Orchestra, Chamber Ensembles, Theater, Voice and Film. Her music has been featured in awarding winning short films and theatrical productions.
Prior to her work with Yamaha, Lily worked in talent management specializing in Film Music Composition and Storyboard Art with top agencies in Los Angeles, CA.
As School Director, Lily leads with an unwavering passion for and dedication to the next generation’s artistic education.
Kristine Munroe is a seasoned manager in the field of Corporate management, with over 15 years of experience. She has extensive experience with all leadership roles and held positions in the academic, retail, and business fields. In addition to Kristine’s managerial experience, her love of singing started as a child, where she sang and traveled in multiple national choirs, as well as directed numerous church bands.
Born and raised in Rhode Island, Kristine graduated from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts in Government/ Pre-law and a minor in Communications. After graduating, Kristine taught 7th and 8th grade English, History, and Science at a private school in Rhode Island. In addition to teaching, Kristine held distinct managerial roles in retail brands such as Pandora, Bare Escentuals, Dellaria, and Estee Lauder.
Kristine also has 17 years experience as a free-lance makeup artist and specializes in photo shoots, special occasions, commercial and print ads, as well as fashion shows.