Musical Chairs was founded in response to Lisa Borelli's perception of a growing need for quality music instruction that children actually enjoy, not dread! After hearing numerous stories involving teachers who made beginner piano lessons rigid and inflexible, Lisa envisioned a group of handpicked, engaging instructors who would team up to share resources, best practices and offer a superior musical experience for all the students at Musical Chairs. Today, we teach nearly every instrument to both children and adults. Some of our most popular lessons include:
Piano lessons for kids * Guitar lessons for kids * Vocal Lessons * Violin Lessons * Bass Guitar Lessons
As a teacher, Alex enables students of all ages to develop a well-rounded knowledge of basic musicianship skills, including the essential building blocks of technique, ear-training, music theory, harmonic language, sight-reading, composition, and improvisation. She tailors lessons to suit student's personal goals and strengths, pairing technical study with age-appropriate repertoire that interests and challenges each student in an individual way. Above all, she aims to foster a healthy fundamental technique in all students, and a genuine appreciation for music that they will be able to carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Hanna Pederson (Violin and Viola) is a violist who grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As a teacher of viola and violin, she values music’s ability to allow her students to think creatively, develop self-confidence, and have an emotional outlet. Hanna loves orchestra and currently performs with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Her recent professional engagements include performances with the Mercury Chamber Orchestra, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, and Symphony of Southeast Texas. She earned her Master’s Degree from Rice University Shepherd School of Music and her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland.
Her major teachers include Ivo Van Der Werff and Katherine Murdock, and she has performed in masterclasses for Roger Meyers, James Dunham, and Peter Slowik. Over the summers, she has performed contemporary, chamber, and orchestral music around the country at the National Repertory Orchestra, Contemporary Performance Institute, Kent/Blossom Music Festival, National Orchestral Institute, and Chautauqua Summer Music Festival. In addition to playing music, she loves to read, write, and explore her new home city of Chicago.
Lynn Allavoine (Step the Beat, Piano, Drama, Tutoring) studied the harp for ten years as a child, learning solfege alongside. Her love for music was kindled for life, but she found the solfege taught to her in France to be didactic and frustrating... until she discovered the Kodaly Method with Musical Chair's Step The Beat. Now she gets to be the music teacher she always wished she'd had, sharing concepts of rhythm and melody in a hands-on, intuitive and age-appropriate way. She earned a BA in Literature from Yale University (after studying bio-chemistry there for her first two years!), a Masters in Education from DePaul University, and created a full-immersion curriculum to learn foreign languages in a song-and-play based delivery for Language Stars. She has been a teacher since high school, accumulating experience in formats ranging from private classes, tutoring, summer camps, enrichment group classes, teaching in elementary, middle and high schools. When not with Musical Chairs, she enjoys giving private
Will Champion (Percussion) is a freelance percussionist and educator based in Chicago, IL. His recent performing experience includes the Chicago Philharmonic, Charlotte Symphony, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, West Michigan Symphony, Rockford Symphony, and Northbrook Symphony. Will is eager to work with any age and any level in many different genres: classical, rock, jazz, and funk. His music and teaching expertise has taken him to eight states in the US, as well as a solo performance in the Netherlands at the TROMP International Percussion Competition. Will received his BM in Percussion Performance from Northwestern University in 2016 and pursued additional graduate study at the Manhattan School of Music.
Robyn Lustbader (Piano and Voice) has been a lover of music and theater since she was a child. She started training in piano and voice at age 6. Growing up in Oregon, she participated in the University of Oregon’s Bach Music Festival for four years during high school, before moving to Ithaca, NY to pursue a degree in Voice Performance and Music Education at Ithaca College. Robyn has studied classical voice at the Spoleto Vocal Arts Symposium in Italy and the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute in San Francisco. While she loves to perform, she finds the most joy in working with children and facilitating growth as musicians, actors, and performers.
Rick quickly made his way around the Chicago live scene with his unique blend of old-school sounds and jazz/funk stylings, combined with the modern sensibilities of an electronic music producer. This has enabled him to perform throughout the world with legends like Sugar Blue, Bootsy Collins, Gladys Knight, Charlie Wilson, Poi Dog Pondering, Mr. ALI, Peven Everett, the J Davis Trio, RC7, and the Booty Movement Coalition.
As Mr. Egg Germ, Rick combines his past and present into a melange best described as organic.funk.technology (think deep house, funky down tempo, and soulful steppers). He has released original tracks on Loveslap, ILI, D'lectable, Bass X, Esntion, Fourplay, and LAY. In addition, Rick has produced/performed on countless remixes (Patricia Barber, Jesse De La Pena, Uncle Milty, DJ Dealer, Gene Farris, Anthony Nicholson), composed and produced commercial music (McDonald's, Walter E. Smithe), and composed and produced a film soundtrack.
Miriam Johnson (Harp, Piano, Violin) grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and various towns throughout Michigan. She began her musical career at age seven, starting with piano training. At age twelve, she began taking private harp lessons through Meg Rodgers. Her sophomore year of high school she attended Interlochen Arts Academy to study with Joan Holland. Throughout her time there she was able to focus on music theory, pedagogy, orchestral and solo repertoire, and attend master classes with Yolanda Kondonassis, Nancy Allen, and Emmanuel Ceysson. She ended her time at Interlochen being named one of the top five outstanding seniors of the 2010 graduating class. She decided to continue private harp lessons under Joan Holland for her collegiate studies at the University of Michigan. From teaching students in high school, she found her passion in education and added music education to her major. Miriam has experience teaching grade levels K – 12 in Choral, Orchestral, and Band settings, working with students privately, in sectionals, and full classroom conducting and guidance. She performed with the University Bands and Orchestras and was a substitute harpist for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She was also given the opportunity to perform in master classes with Doug Rioth and Naoko Yoshino. Miriam currently holds teaching certificates in music education in both Michigan and Illinois. She teaches general music at Queen of Angels Catholic School, harp and pursues performance opportunities through wedding performances and events.
Pavi Proczko (Drama) is a stage Actor, Composer, Writer, Singer, and Audiobook narrator, and he is a member of Chicago's Ukrainian community. As a Ukrainian Scout Leader, he mentored Ukrainian boys and girls ages 6-16 at weekly meetings through the year and at month-long summer camps. His stage performances range from Shakespeare (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Muse of Fire), to musicals (Paramount Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Circle Theatre, Bailiwick Chicago, Brown Paper Box Company), to opera (Chicago Opera Vanguard), to USA Premiers of avant guard plays (Trap Door Theatre, Red Theatre, Oracle Theatre), to sketch comedy and stand up (Scribble Bibble). He composes classical pieces for piano, chamber ensembles, symphonies, and voice. His underscoring can sometimes be heard during theatre performances in Chicago. Pavi composed the music for the new musical Beowulf (script by Aaron Sawyer, Red Theatre Chicago), in which he also played the title role . His audiobook performances are available at audible.com.
classes in French to children and adults, developing her scientific and commercial translation practice, learning to play the guitar and to turn pots on the potter's wheel. She looks forward to becoming increasingly involved with Lincoln Square's vibrant education community.
Kent Jager (Piano, Organ) has 25 years of experience in music instruction. In addition to his collaboration with Musical Chairs, Kent is the Director of Music at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Parish in Chicago where he oversees a graded choir program, serves as organist and teaches music in the parish elementary school. At Queen of Angels Mr. Jager has establish three new vocal groups, the Cherub Choir for children in grades 1 – 3, the Choristers for children in grades 4 – 8, and a folk group for adults and high school students and continues to build the Queen of Angels Singers, the parish choir which focuses on more traditional choral music. As the school music teacher he has introduced a Kodaly program for grades K – 5 and established a hand bell program in the middle school. Prior to coming to Queen of Angels,
Mr. Jager worked in numerous parishes in the Chicago area and Iowa including Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago and First Presbyterian Church in Evanston. Mr. Jager received his Master's in Music at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where he was a student of Grigg Fountain. He attended Central College in Pella, Iowa for his Bachelor's of Arts in organ performance where he studied with Davis Folkerts.
Bernadette Garza (Piano and Voice) a Masters of Voice graduate from the Chicago Conservatory of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, brings over 15 years of professional experience along with a genuine excitement to develop musical growth at any age. As a dedicated advocate for the continuance of music education, she has played an integral role in introducing even the youngest of students to the world of music through ear training, pitch recognition, rhythmic structure and harmonic expression; thus creating the building blocks to a solid understanding of music theory and the foundation of Bernadette’s teaching in both piano and voice. Nothing brings her more satisfaction than sharing her knowledge to cultivate a lifelong passion. Upon earning her degrees, Bernadette has continued to perform throughout the regional Midwest in the classical, musical theater, and contemporary genres. Past favorite credits include Chicago Opera Theater’s Joan of Arc, Nixon in China, American Chamber Opera’s Madame Butterfly as Suzuki, Southern Illinois Music Festival’s Carmen as Mercedes, and Porchlight Theater’s Ragtime as Sarah. In the fall of 2015, Bernadette embarked on a new adventure in developing her sound in the Chicago jazz scene. She has been featured in the live jazz series at Uptown Underground and is honored to join an incredible lineup for Southport and Irving’s jazz series.
Stuart Thompson (Piano, Voice, Business Manager) Stuart Thompson teaches beginning to intermediate piano and beginning to professional voice. He is a classically trained vocalist with a masters in vocal performance from DePaul University and studied piano at Indiana University and Butler University. Stuart is a frequent performer of opera and cabaret around Chicagoland with a budding career as a comedic baritone. Having a versatile voice some notable roles include, Tonio, The Father in Hansel and Gretel, and The Count in the Marriage of Figaro. Stuart’s musical interests are French art song, German Opera, and Italian food. His teaching methods revolve directly around the student’s individual needs and personality but always include heavy emphasis on technique, and theory. As a singer Stuart incorporates singing into piano lessons and has the student using their voice to fully understand intervals and for note learning. Stuart’s approach to music education is fully nurturing and enjoyable, but he has the highest of expectations for his students as he consistently sees success from his most dedicated and disciplined students. www.stuartsings.net
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leah Rockweit (Piano, Voice and Step the Beat) Leah Rockweit grew up loving piano, and eventually found her true calling of singing. She completed a BME in Choral and General Music Education and a MM in Vocal Performance. Leah attributes the beginning of her love for music to her very first music teacher and believes this has fueled her passion for teaching early childhood music. She has taught early childhood music classes with Arts for Kids in Wisconsin and Gymboree Play & Music in Chicago. Leah currently teaches voice lessons of all levels from beginner to professional and beginning to early intermediate piano lessons. Leah has been seen in several performances in the Chicago area, including Hansel and Gretel, H.M.S Pinafore, and singing alongside the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a live soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings. One of Leah's favorite performances was as Beauty in Opera for the Young's production of Beauty and the Beast. She loved being able to teach children about opera in a touring, hands-on production. Leah teaches with enthusiasm and energy. She values keeping lessons fun and creative, while holding herstudents accountable for practicing and continuing their musical growth.
In addition to teaching, Lisa assists with the Queen of Angels School Music Program and has launched the Chicago wide Serenading Seniors community outreach program geared to teach children about sharing their musical gifts with our senior community.
Lisa Borelli (Founder, Piano) has been playing the piano since she was five years old. Under the direction of Lucretia Peterson of Salt Lake City, Utah, Lisa played competitively on a state level throughout Junior and High School. She received numerous honors in piano performance, played publicly throughout the inter-mountain area, and also participated in the music and vocal program at Lewis and Clark College of Portland, Oregon. The mother of three musical children, she currently teaches twenty-two thriving students and is thrilled to augment her program with the diverse and high-quality instruction of the other Musical Chairs instruction team. Lisa believes music is the single most important childhood experience that has shaped her life and feels blessed for the opportunity to pass this on to other children.
Rick Gehrenbeck (Piano - Jazz, Blues, Improvisation, Composition, Recording Technology) was born in New York City to a musical family (his father a professional organist) and started on piano at age 7 studying classical music which later evolved into ragtime and jazz. He begin playing professionally in bands at the age of 15. An encounter with Herbie Hancock's Thrust outlined the rest of his musical adolescence. After moving to Chicago in '93, Rick hit the scene hard, playing funk and acid-jazz in dozens of bands. He studied jazz at the American Conservatory of Music and used a Computer Science degree to help construct a high-tech recording studio where Mr. Egg Germ was born.
Jonathan Hannau (Piano, Composition) Jonathan Hannau started his musical career as a classically-trained pianist; his exposure to experimental and avant-garde music as an undergraduate sparked an interest in composition.
Jonathan holds a Bachelor’s degree from DePaul University and a Master’s degree from Roosevelt University, and has studied composition with Stacy Garrop, Kyong Mee Choi, Kurt Westerberg, Christopher Jones, Seung-Won Oh and piano with Jelena Dirks. Recently, he was selected as one of five composers commissioned to write a piece for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. An avid pianist and performer of new music, he currently plays in two Chicago-based groups: Ursa Ensemble and Disquiet Music Ensemble, both of which perform contemporary and classical music during their concert seasons.
His solo project titled the Rocking Chair Series involves commissions of solo piano works to be presented alongside an interview with the composer. This is done in an effort to create an inviting atmosphere for the audience as they listen to a wide variety of musical styles and expose them to the ideas that composers think about while writing. As a teacher he firmly believes in fostering a love for music, and adapts his teaching to the students needs while encouraging a good practice ethic and technique.
Alex Olsavsky (Voice and Piano) began her musical journey at age 3 by studying piano with her father. Shortly after, she became involved with local children's theater companies in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, where she began early training as an actress and vocalist, and began to cultivate a lifelong love for the performing arts. Alex came to Chicago to continue her vocal studies at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, receiving her Bachelor's degree in voice. She continues to be a multi-faceted performer in the Chicago area, actively performing with a diverse array of artistic ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Ravinia Festival, Haymarket Opera Company, Chicago Opera Playhouse, Bach and Beethoven Ensemble, and Fifth House Ensemble. She is also the founding member of Chicago’s female-forward, cross-genre vocal trio, Artemisia, which routinely works with youth ensembles, advocating for community and cultural awareness through music.
Colin Scott (Guitar, Bass, Jam Session) - Born and raised in the Chicago area, Colin began playing bass and guitar at the age of 14 and has been an active musician and instructor ever since. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music business from Southern Illinois University, as well as a master’s degree in jazz studies from DePaul University. Colin also co-formed the jazz/funk trio Spare Parts who are currently signed to the Grammy winning label Ropeadope Records. Colin can also be found freelancing in a wide range of bands around Chicago and beyond. He has performed with notable musicians including Grammy winning bassist Victor Wooten, SNL bandleader / saxophonist Lenny Pickett, virtuoso guitarist Fareed Haque, and drummer Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction to name a few. Colin focuses on connecting his students to music by developing fundamentals and repertoire, as well as the student’s specific musical interests. He works to introduce his students to new music whenever possible and always encourages their own exploration.
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