Join Ms. Downs this summer for Arts Camp! We'll be exploring different techniques and mediums including Acrylic Painting, Clay, Weaving, Watercolors, Embroidery and Spirography. There are two sessions of camp, 1st through 3rd grades and 4th through 6th grades. We will be Virtual unless social distancing allows in person meeting.  If in person is possible camp will take place at 2124 W. Lawrence Ave. 

For additional information and to enroll

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We are currently offering both Virtual and In-Person lessons.  Please visit registration pages for details.  

For details regarding our In-Person Studio Health and Safety Protocol, click here

 Summer Programs  are available for registration. Musical Chairs is offering In-Person lesson resuming July 14th in a socially distanced environment.  We will continue offering virtual opportunities for any client who prefers them. 

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.

Instructor Bios

Lisa Borelli (Founder, Piano) started playing the piano when she was five years old. Under the direction of Lucretia Peterson of Salt Lake City, Utah, Lisa played competitively on a state level throughout her formative years. 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 where she received her degree in International Business.

She founded Musical Chairs Studio in 2004 with the goal of providing a music lesson experience that created a life long love for music and served as a vehicle for self-expression and building self confidence. Under her direction, Musical Chairs has experienced consistent growth and now operates in various Chicago schools as well as offers lessons in the Lincoln Square studio. Additionally, Lisa established the Serenading Seniors and Play it Forward programs where students are encouraged to share their gifts with those who are less fortunate and instill the concepts of community service and philanthropy in today's youth. 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 others.

Carrie Collins (Piano) earned her BMA from DePauw University School of Music.  She studied piano with Carmen Alverez-Breckenridge, Lorna Griffin, Claude Zimmerman, Julliane Miranda, Jeffrey Swinkin, and accompanying with Mikail Hallak.  Carrie attended the Interlochen Arts Camp and the Las Vegas Music Festival.  

Carrie brings many years of teaching experience to Musical Chairs. She taught at the San Francisco Music Center, the Morton Grove Park District and in her own studio. In addition to teaching, she is accompanist and co-founder of the Chicago Womens’ Chorus and was rehearsal pianist for American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.  She sat on the board of the Music Teachers’ Association of San Francisco, chairing the after-school piano program in the public schools. She has taught movement and music classes for infants to preschool. Carrie enjoys working with all ages, but specializes in working with young children as early as 2.5 years old.  

In 2007, Carrie took a hiatus from teaching to study body mechanics. Now owner of Stretch Chi, a bodywork studio, she specializes in balancing muscles through stretching.  She brings this knowledge into her lessons, creating a muscularly balanced technique.

Suzanne Gillen Hannau (Flute and Piano) is an active freelance performer and teacher in the Chicagoland area. She earned her BM and MM in flute performance from DePaul University, studying with Mary Stolper and Jennifer Clippert. She is currently a member of Trade Winds Ensemble, a group of musicians dedicated to using music as a tool for social change. Additionally, she is the Assistant Music Director at St. Vincent de Paul parish in Lincoln Park, and she plays with local woodwind quintet Aether Ensemble, as well as 5th Wave Collective. She has been seen on stage and heard in the pit at various theaters within Chicago, most notably at Court Theatre. Suzanne is passionate about the marriage of different performance arts in a production and is always looking for opportunities to combine instrumental doubling with movement, acting, and singing.

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.

Lynn Allavoine (Step the Beat, Piano) 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

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.

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

Suzanne is an invigorating, demanding, and encouraging teacher. By celebrating individual milestones in student successes, she encourages her students of all ages to enjoy the actual process of learning, rather than to only focus on the results of practice. Learn more at

Hanna Pederson (Violin and Viola) a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and has performed with numerous regional orchestras around the country, including Mercury, Unsupervised, and Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestras. She is a founding member of the Southport String Quartet which has engaged in outreach and professional performances around Chicago. She holds degrees from Rice University and the University of Maryland where she studied with Ivo Van Der Werff, Joan DerHovsepian, and Katherine Murdock. Hanna has performed in solo and chamber music masterclasses for James Dunham, Peter Slowik, Geoff Nuttall, Roger Meyers, and Ralph Kirschbaum. Over the summers she has performed with the National Repertory Orchestra, Contemporary Performance Institute, Kent/Blossom Music Festival, Chautauqua Music Festival, and the National Orchestral Institute. 
As a violin and viola teacher, she works to make music a fun, enriching, and challenging aspect of a student’s life by working to develop the critical thinking, listening, and emotional skills that can be learned through studying music. She teaches students of all ages and ability levels, from beginners to those preparing for auditions.

Our experienced teaching staff offer piano lessons for kids and adults as well as guitar lessons, voice lessons, violin lessons, percussion lessons, and wind instrument lessons, 

Jonathan Hannau (Piano, Composition) Quirky and vibrant, Jonathan Hannau is a Chicago-based composer and pianist submerged in the surreal, abstract, minimal, and colorful possibilities of music. 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.

An avid pianist and performer of new music, he currently plays in two Chicago-based groups: Ursa Ensemble, which performs contemporary and classical music during its concert season, and Plucky Plunkers: an improvisatory toy piano duo with composer Kelley Sheehan. His 3 year long solo project titled the Rocking Chair Series involved commissions of solo piano works presented alongside an interview with the composer; this creates an inviting atmosphere for the audience as they listen to a wide variety of musical styles and exposes them to specific insights of the compositional process. He recently became a member of Trade Winds, a group dedicated to teaching community building and leadership skills to at risk youth. 

As a teacher he firmly believes in fostering a love for music, and adapts his teaching to the student's needs while encouraging a good practice ethic and technique focusing on the physicality of music. 

Stuart Thompson (Voice, Piano, and 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 has 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.​    He can be reached at

Lillia Woolschlager (Piano and Oboe) began playing piano at age three and started accompanying her peers in the middle and high school choruses, as well as performing in various recitals and the New York State Music Association Solo festival. At age 12 she started learning the oboe and hasn’t been able to put it down since. At age 15, she was the youngest first place winner of the James and Katherine Andrews Young Artist Concerto Competition, and was given the opportunity to give three performances of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 with the Orchestra of Northern New York. She then returned to the competition the next year, this time with oboe, and again won first place, honored with two performances of Haydn’s Oboe Concerto. 

Lillia studied at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam for dual Bachelor of Music degrees in Musical Studies and Oboe Performance, concentrating in piano pedagogy. She obtained a Master’s Degree in Oboe Performance at DePaul University, studying with renowned oboist Alex Klein. She is now a freelance oboist and pianist in the area playing with various groups including the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Wisconsin Philharmonic, and Fifth Wave Collective. 

Lillia is a supportive and enthusiastic teacher who believes that music is found in every person and can be celebrated through many different techniques. Her standards are high for her students, with goals set to build skills in technique, musicality, theory, and composition/improvisation. She believes each student has an individual learning process and builds these goals based on the uniqueness they possess in a manner that celebrates and encourages each students’ strengths.

Outside of music, Lillia likes to paint her favorite sunset scenes, read books, go hiking, and practice latte art.

Leah Rockweit (Piano, Voice) 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.

Nathan Kistler (voice, piano, guitar) studied Vocal Performance at Central Michigan University, and the University of Notre Dame. During his time at Notre Dame he began teaching choir to children aged 5 to 7. After his time at Notre Dame, Nathan settled in Chicago. He found a home with Musical Chairs Studios where he is able to continue his journey in early music education.

Nora Shaffer has performed and recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic, and many other area ensembles. A proud DePaul University graduate, she studied with Larry Combs and Julie DeRoche while earning a Performer’s Certificate and Masters in Music (with distinction). She completed a B.A. at Luther College, Decorah, IA.

Passionate about chamber music, Nora is a founding member (Clarinet 1/E-flat Clarinet) of the Lake Effect Clarinet Quartet. As Vandoren artists, the quartet concertizes and presents clinics across the Midwest. The Quartet released their debut album, Nielsen, Grainger, & Strauss in October of 2019.

Nora is Adjunct Faculty in Music Education at DePaul University (Chicago, IL) and Adjunct Professor of Clarinet and Theory at Wilbur Wright College (Chicago, IL). She maintains a studio at Niles West High School, Skokie, IL, and Puzon’s Musical Instruments, Lansing, IL. Her talented students have participated at Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa All State Bands/Orchestras, received consistently high marks at Solo Ensemble Festivals, moved higher within their respective sections, and have been accepted to study music at many quality universities. Above all else, Nora strives to empower her students to be thoughtful, gracious and creative in their music-making.

In 2017, Nora’s method, Scales and Harmonic Studies for the Intermediate Clarinetist, the first comprehensive intermediate scale study, was published by EHM Publishing.  Suitable for high school - early college, this method provides students with a solid knowledge of all keys to eliminate frustration when learning more complex variations of scale study. It was "Highly recommended," by the International Clarinet Association's December 2018 Clarinet journal.

In her spare time, Nora enjoys adventurous cooking and baking, biking along the lakeshore, doting on her two cats, and maintaining an impressive shoe collection.

Carlos J. Gonzalez (Piano, Voice, Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Trumpet and Drums) is an experienced multi-instrumentalist and composer He earned his Bachelors of Music degree for Composition and Classical Voice at San Francisco State University, where he studied composition under co-founder of EarPlay, Richard Festinger and voice under Nikolas Nackley. He is currently studying at the Chicago Conservatory of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University for his Masters in Composition and Classical Voice, where he is studying under composer Daron Hagen.

He has performed in a number of ensembles, choirs and bands in addition to having many of his works premiered for opera, choir, chamber ensembles, and piano. He is most known for his work as singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the rock band “The Silhouette Era,” which have released numerous works and toured over the last 7 years.

Carlos' diverse experience and love for all types of music allows him to creatively approach each instrument and student with the attention they need. He believes that creating a fun and safe environment for his students is crucial. Music fundamentals are an integral part of his lessons, but fun musical experiences are the driving force of his teaching.

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

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,