Faculty and Staff

Meet the Faculty and Staff of Armstrong Community Music School

Liz Cass, Executive Director & Voice
ACMS Executive Director Liz Cass has been a proud member of the ACMS faculty and staff since 2004 and is committed to providing excellence in music instruction for all in the Austin community. She enjoys working with students of all ages and forming long and lasting relationships for students in the school. Liz has served on the staff as Program Coordinator and Community Liaison and is currently the second Executive Director in the school's history. Ms. Cass serves on the Austin Classical Guitar board and as President of the Seagle Music Colony Alumni Association board.

In addition to her work with ACMS, Liz Cass enjoys a lively schedule of performing and producing in collaboration with many arts organizations in Austin, TX and beyond. Ms. Cass is a founder and the Executive Producer of the award-winning LOLA, Local Opera Local Artists (501c3).  LOLA is a professional non-profit opera company dedicated to keeping the art form alive by utilizing local talent in new and innovative productions.  This spring, Ms. Cass will premiere the role of Dinah LeFarge in LOLA’s first commissioned piece, Lardo Weeping, by composer Peter Stopschinski and librettist Terry Galloway. Ms. Galloway is the original playwright of the one-woman play by the same name.

Recent performance highlights include:  Mezzo Soloist in Graham Reynold’s opera Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance, for which Liz garnered an Austin Critic’s Table Award for Best Singer, Mrs. Lowe and Dora in The Manchurian Candidate by Kevin Puts with Austin Opera, The Brahms Alto Rhapsody with Chorus Austin, mezzo soloist in Handel’s Messiah at the Teatro Nationale and Casa Santo Domingo in Guatemala and Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance with PuSh Festival in Vancouver and the Prototype Festival in NYC. Upcoming performance engagements include the role of Marcello in La Femme Bohème with LOLA at San Diego State University, the mezzo soloist in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with The Georgetown Festival, a concert with pianist and Artistic Director Michelle Schumann for the Austin Chamber Music Center Festival, and the role of Giovanna in Rigoletto with Austin Opera.

Ms. Cass studied voice at the University of Missouri at Kansas City Conservatory of Music where she met her then and current voice teacher, Inci Bashar. Liz furthered her education by working as an apprentice with the Seagle Music Colony, Opera in the Ozarks, Central City Opera, Shreveport Opera, and Fort Worth Opera. Ms. Cass’s education in arts administration has been through Austin Opera, Armstrong Community Music School, and the National Guild for Community Arts Education.


photo Keith Allegretti

Piano and Composition

Keith Allegretti is a pianist and composer currently pursuing his DMA at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been an active educator in Ann Arbor, Santa Fe, Houston, and Austin, giving private lessons in piano, ear training, sight singing, music theory, and composition. A frequent performer, he regularly plays old and contemporary styles of music on the piano and accompanies vocalists and instrumentalists. Recently, he has been featured as a pianist by the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, and as a conductor for UT Landmarks Sound in Sculpture. His piano teaching focuses on musical expression, interpretation, and clean technique, with an emphasis on collaborative playing.

photo Bethany Ammon

Voice, Early Childhood Music, and Registrar

Bethany Ammon is an actively performing mezzo-soprano and voice instructor. Bethany obtained her BA in music and in French in her home state of Mississippi from the University of Southern Mississippi, followed by a MM from Manhattan School of Music in New York City. Bethany has taught all ages: from developing pre-k choirs, to private voice lessons for adults, and everyone in between, in Mississippi, New York and Texas. While in New York, Bethany was on staff at the Young People's Chorus of New York City. Bethany has had the opportunity to perform around the country and abroad in Italy, and actively pursues a performing career in opera, musical theater, recitals, and choral opportunities. Enjoying all aspects of the theater, Bethany has experience as production manager for several operas and musicals, choreographer, hair and make up artist, event planner, diction coach, and even front of house manager on numerous occasions. Since moving to Austin, Bethany has taught voice privately at two different schools, while also singing with several ensembles in the area. Bethany believes that everyone can sing and invites anyone to explore their own voice. She aims to connect with her students by creating a dialogue about the sensation of singing. Understanding and flexible, she strives to create a teaching and singing environment that challenges, nurtures and communicates.

photo Dr. Risa Ando


A native of Tokyo, Japan, Dr. Risa Ando earned her Doctorate of Musical Arts in violin performance at UT and received highest honors at Tokyo Gakugei University in violin performance as an undergraduate student. During the time of graduate studies, she achieved a position as a member of the Austin Lyric Opera by way of selective auditions. Moreover, she won the “Chamber Music International Competition” while performing with the Clarke Piano Trio and was presented the “Student Award” for her accomplishments at UT. In order to sustain a diverse musical career, she gives recitals in Germany, Austria, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, USA, and enjoys playing music of different genres.

photo Anthony Basini

Early Childhood Music, Guitar, Group Ukulele, Community Partnership Programs

Anthony Basini is a musician in an all-encompassing sense. He is a guitarist, singer, composer and educator. He has been professionally performing since 2009, has recently finished his first two film scores and began teaching in 2015 with specialized experience in special education music instruction. Anthony is an enthusiastic and dedicated instructor whose fun and personal approach to teaching the guitar keeps his students engaged, excited and encouraged.

Anthony has spent his entire college career at a multitude of institutions studying music in many forms including music therapy, music composition/theory and music performance. He has spent the last few years in Boston, MA attending the world-renowned Berklee College of Music. At Berklee, Anthony studied under the likes of Walter Beasley, Don Lappin, Omar Thomas and Thaddeus Hogarth among others.

Anthony has performed all over the United States from the Carolinas to California and is well versed in many styles including jazz, funk, metal, pop, soul/R&B and rock. He has opened for notable international acts including The Bret Michaels Band, Apocalyptica and solo guitar sensation Angel Vivaldi.

  Jeane Burks

Curriculum and Program Consultant

Jeane is a fourth generation musician and sang in her first choir at the ripe old age of three. An early childhood and children’s music educator for over twenty years, Jeane is passionate about the power of music to, not only enrich, but transform lives. Having led and directed education and music programs for infants through high school students in both secular and religious settings, Jeane currently teaches for St. Francis School.

Jeane helped to establish the Early Childhood Music Program for ACMS and worked in a variety of roles including summer camps, opera education programs, and music classes for SafePlace and The Housing Authority of Austin.

Jeane holds a Bachelors of Music from Baylor University, a Masters of Music from the University of Texas, is a member of TMEA, TCDA, NACCP, NACED, The Chorister’s Guild and is a certified Music Together teacher. Jeane presents music education workshops for teachers and parents and has presented at conferences for private schools including the Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools and the Texas Association of Baptist Schools.

photo Clara Brill


Violinist Clara Brill is passionate about teaching and sharing her love of all aspects of music. Since graduating from UT Austin with her Masters in violin performance, she’s cultivated a private studio and pursued performance throughout the US and around Austin, recently concluding a tour Mother Falcon’s original score for Petra and the Wolf in collaboration with Glass Half Full Theatre and Lionheart Youth Theatre. She’s a founder and the program director of the summer music and media camp Mother Falcon Music Lab, where she is also a teacher.


photo Liz Cass

Executive Director and Voice

Liz Cass is a frequent soloist with Austin Lyric Opera, Chorus Austin and many other arts organizations in and around Austin. Ms. Cass’s upcoming schedule includes a tour to L.A. with Austin’s own Rude Mechanicals, a Messiah in Guatemala City and Antigua, Guatemala, Lucia di Lammermoor with Austin Lyric Opera, Bach Mass in b minor with Chorus Austin, and many recital engagements in Austin, TX and Greenville, SC. In addition to keeping up with her busy performance schedule, Liz maintains a large and diverse voice studio at the Armstrong Community Music School.

photo Robert Colley


Robert Colley grew up in Abilene Texas, and started playing violin and guitar in middle school at the age of 11. Robert is classically trained in violin, with a degree in Violin Performance from Hardin-Simmons University, and is a self-taught guitarist. While at Hardin-Simmons, Robert studied under Dr.Peter Isaccson and had the opportunity to take masterclasses with Stephen Clapp, Rachel Barton Pine, Micheal Shih, Timothy Ying and attend a masterclass of Giora Schmidt's. Robert is an avid violin and viola instructor with former students currently attending Belmont University, Boston Conservatory, Texas State, and Colorado Christian University. Robert has performed with various bands/artists including Kansas, Micheal Martin Murphy, Barage8, Hot Club of Cow Town, Mark O'Connor, and the Quebe Sisters to name a few. Robert has played with Revolution Strings, a high school string performing program based in Abilene Texas, for nearly 15 years. Revolution Strings has toured China, Europe, and Canada, also performing on the Grand Ole Opry, and was featured on the radio program 'From the Top'. Robert has also played in numerous musical productions and operas in the 'Big Country.' Robert recently moved to Austin, with his wife Ashley, continuing his career in music.

photo Phil Davidson


Phil Davidson is a Suzuki violin teacher, with training registered through book 4. Phil’s teaching emphasizes development of functional instrumental abilities, including playing by ear, good practice habits, critical thinking, theory, history, observation and listening to a wide variety of music. Most of his new students have been adult beginners or kids ages 4-8. Phil received his B.A. in music from Drake University. Since moving to Austin in 2002, Phil has actively performed in several rock and Americana bands including the Invincible Czars, and he keeps one foot in the classical music world with the Chanterelle Duo.

photo Julia Dixon


Native of Louisville, Kentucky, Julia is a classically trained cellist who has performed on a variety of stages throughout the United States, China, and in Pakistan, where in the latter she also held workshops on western classical stringed instruments and western music theory. Julia's primary instructors have included Benjamin Karp at the University of Kentucky and Bion Tsang at The University of Texas at Austin. In her time studying at UT Austin, she also had the privilege of studying chamber music with pianists Anton Nel and Colette Valentine, as well as the highly esteemed Miro Quartet. In addition to music, Julia is an avid long distance backpacker.

photo Noelle Forestal

Piano and Voice

Noelle Forestal is a consummate professional whose background in music and theatre, along with her incredible dynamic range, gives her an edge that few singers possess. She is an incredibly versatile singer/songwriter and she sings many genres of music including rock, soul, country, opera, jazz, pop, bossanova, blues, musical theater, and Celtic folk music. She has worked extensively with producer, Les July, an eclectic artist in his own right who has attracted the attention of other notable female artists like Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Nancy Wilson (Heart) and k.d. Lang.

Noelle has been performing since age 3 and she is a Southern California native. She began private voice lessons at age 12 and studied vocal music at the L.A. Co. Highschool for the Arts, where she also worked with LA Opera. After many years of enchanting L.A. audiences, Noelle moved to Austin, Texas. She earned her degree in Theatre & Music from Texas State University, San Marcos. She has been a certified teacher and licensed director of Music Together® family classes for over ten years. Noelle teaches various voice, bellydance, and yoga workshops for all ages around Central Texas. She is also a proud member of the Texas Concert Opera Collective (TCOC). She has been honored to join the ranks of the many talented singers and songwriters that make Austin the Live Music Capital of the World.

photo Sarah Beth Gooding

Director of Programs, Beginning Piano, Voice

Sarah Beth Gooding holds a Master of Music in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance with a minor in Italian Studies from the University of Houston Moores School of Music. Sarah Beth enjoys working with students of all ages in a wide range of genres. As a private instructor, she provides a warm and supportive environment that focuses on developing a strong technical foundation and fostering creative expression. Sarah Beth is also one of the faculty members for the Music for Little Mozarts program. As the Director of Programs, Sarah Beth manages all ACMS programming at the Westlake location and in the community. She provides logistical support to ACMS faculty and builds strong relationships with partner organizations throughout Austin.

photo Elayne Harris

Piano, Music for Little Mozarts, Development Assistant

Elayne Harris is an active performer and music educator. She has performed with a variety of large ensembles and chamber groups, including: Ensemble X, Massanutten Brass Band, the Mid-Atlantic Wind Symphony, Finger Lakes Community Orchestra, Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Concert Band, University-Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra, and the Staunton Music Festival. She has also been active in commissioning and performing new works for percussion in both solo and chamber settings. Elayne holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from James Madison University, where she also received a Bachelor of Music, studying with Bill Rice, Michael Overman, and Marlon Foster. She received a Master of Music from Ithaca College, where she studied with Gordon Stout.

Elayne has taught private percussion and piano students of all ages in the Harrisonburg and Fredericksburg areas of Virginia, and Ithaca, New York. At JMU, she taught private percussion lessons to percussion majors, directed beginning steel band, and taught Percussion Techniques to future music educators. As a lecturer in music at Washington and Lee University, she taught private drum set lessons to non-music majors. Elayne currently teaches private piano, drum set, and percussion students in the Austin area. She free-lances in the community, works as an accompanist for kidsActing, and performs regularly with the Inside Out Steelband. 

photo Alex Hartley


Alex Hartley is a freelance pianist and music teacher. After moving to Austin, TX, Alex quickly gained respect in the community leading to a spot on the Top 10 Keyboardist List at the 2014 Austin Music Awards. A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Alex spent his collegiate years touring the Northeast before landing a gig with Carnival Cruise Lines performing nightly throughout the Caribbean. Currently, Alex regularly performs solo jazz piano at vineyards, country clubs and retirement communities throughout Austin and Texas Hill Country and can be seen performing with local indie-rock trio, Yuma.

photo Scott Horton

Lute and Guitar

Scott Horton studied lute with Nigel North at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He studied classical guitar with Wolfgang Justen at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Further studies were with Pepe Romero, Paul O’Dette and Anthony Bailes. Mr. Horton has taught at the University of Texas, University of North Texas, University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He has performed in productions of "Orfeo" and "Poppea" for Houston Grand Opera and "Ariodante" for the Dallas Opera. He is a member of the Austin groups La Follia and Texas Early Music Project.

photo Natalie Howard

Registrar and Early Childhood Music

Natalie Joy Howard is a professional full lyric soprano based in the Austin area. Ms. Howard has performed numerous roles, including the title role in Pucinni’s Suor Angelica and Erste Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. In addition to operatic roles, Ms. Howard has performed several recitals, including being featured in the Alexander von Humboldt Chapter Meeting recital of “Songs of Richard Strauss and Gerald Finzi: Based on the Texts of William Shakespeare”. Ms. Howard also appeared as an Emerging Artist with the 2019 Victoria Bach Festival. Most recently, she joined the cast of the play Fefu and her Friends with the Filigree Theater.

Ms. Howard has competed in several competitions and most recently placed second in the National Association of Negro Musicians Southwestern Region Competition and received a finalist award in the Houston Saengerbund Vocal Competition in 2019. She also holds the Butler School of Music Presidential Scholarship for 2015-2016 and for 2016-2017, was a semi-finalist the Orpheus Vocal Competition as well as a finalist in the Henry Charles Memorial Concerto/Aria Competition.

photo Sasha Klare-Ayvazian

Piano, Songwriting, Community Partnership Programs

Sasha Klare-Ayvazian is an educator, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. Sasha is from Northampton, MA where he worked for over two years as the music teacher, band director, and chorus director at the New Hingham Elementary School. Sasha is a professionally licensed K-12 teacher in MA. Sasha received a BA in Music Theory from Oberlin College in 2010. Sasha has lived in Austin for the last three years. He recently completed his MM in Music and Human Learning at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to working at Armstrong, Sasha teaches piano privately and leads the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Jazz Ensemble. Sasha leads his own band American Dreamer and performs as a sideman in Kyloe Blue.

photo Zachary Krahe

Guitar, Ukulele

Zachary Krahe is an instrumentalist, instructor, and composer from Erie, Pennsylvania. Beginning at the age of 12 he has studied under numerous guitar instructors including Dan Monacella and Joshua Karickhoff. He then went on to pursue higher education and studied guitar under Dan Wilson and Dave Sterner at Cuyahoga Community College before achieving his BA in Music Production and Engineering from Berklee College of Music’s Online program. Throughout the process of taking private lessons and earning his degree Zach discovered his passion for teaching and helping others achieve their goals. 

In addition to his studies Zach is a founding member and composer for the progressive metal band “Amavasya,” and has played numerous shows across the country with them. Zach also has begun a project which is completely self produced, composed, mixed, and mastered. Additionally Zach is also an active audio engineer and producer whose portfolio consists of metal, pop-punk, country, praise and worship, rap, pop, folk, and more.

photo Will Krause

Bass, Guitar, Piano, and Music for Little Mozarts

Originally from the Gulf Coast, Will Krause moved to Austin to study at the University of Texas in 2003. He has been performing professionally on electric and upright bass, as well as tuba for the past 17 years, with countless different projects. He also teaches piano and guitar, and dabbles with composition and audio engineering. He emphasizes an appreciation of all styles of music, as well as an emphasis on music theory. Plus, he's an all-round nice guy!

photo Marina Magazinnik


Marina Magazinnik received  her Bachelors,  Masters, and Ph.D  from Moscow  Tchaikovsky  Conservatory. Upon completion of her Ph.D dissertation, she was invited to conduct a series  of lectures  at the Moscow Tchaikovsky  Conservatory  as part of the course entitled  "History and Theory of Piano Performances". During her years in Russia she gave numerous  solo and chamber performances  and recorded  for Moscow radio and television.

In 1992, Ms. Magazinnik moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where she became active as a teacher, accompanist, and chamber musician  throughout  New England. She served as a Professor  at the Northeastern  University  Music Department  for sixteen  years  and was a faculty member at the Brookline Music School for twenty-two years. While in Boston, Ms. Magazinnik performed  in a permanent duo with violinist Tamara Smirnova, Associate  Concertmaster,  Boston Symphony  Orchestra, and Concertmaster,  Boston Pops. Additional Performances  included concerts for Graubart- Irving Concert Fund, Longy School of Music, New England Conservatory, and Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society.

In 2016, Ms. Magazinnik  moved to New Mexico and became a faculty member at New Mexico School of Music. She continued  to frequently  perform as a chamber musician  and participated  in the Faculty Spotlight  Recital Series  at the University  of  New Mexico, at "Chatter" Albuquerque, TGIF Concert series  in Santa Fe, Faculty Recital Series  at New Mexico School of Music, and "Musical Experiences " Concert Series  at St. John's  College  in Santa Fe. In December 2019 Ms. Magazinnik  moved to Austin, Texas, and became a faculty member at Greater Austin Music Academy.

photo Leigh Mahoney


Leigh Mahoney is a founding member and first violinist of the Tosca String Quartet. She has toured the world twice with David Byrne and the Tosca Strings. She has performed and recorded with David Byrne, Ray Benson, Bob Schneider, Dixie Chicks, Kip Winger, Blondie Chaplin, Heather Greene and Susanna Baca, and has played on the soundtracks for Waking Life (2001) Ladron, Borderland, and El Cantante and the PBS documentary Last Best Hope. She is also a member of Glovertango, BARBWIRE, American Repertory Ensemble, Golden Hornet Project, Erik and the She-Wolves, Austin Lyric Opera, and the Austin Chamber Music Center. An avid tango violinist, she has participated in master classes in Buenos Aires by renowned tango violinists Mauricio Marcelli and Raul Gallo. She was nominated for the Austin Critic’s Table Award for her performance of Augusta Read Thomas’ Spirit Musings. Leigh received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon Institute and her Masters Degree in Music from the University of Texas at Austin.

photo Toshio Mana

Early Childhood Music Coordinator, Early Childhood Music, Music for Little Mozarts, Bass, Registrar

Toshio Mana received his Bachelor of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 2000 before moving on to cut his teeth in the music scenes of Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. As a bassist and sideman, he has performed across the country playing “a little bit o’ everything” - rock, pop, jazz, and classical.

photo Paul Matthews


Born and raised in New York metropolitan area. Undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame. Upon finishing school, relocated to Chicago in 1994 and worked as blues/rock sideman for several years. Returned to New York in 1998 to study jazz and Latin jazz with Bruce Barth and Delfin Perez, and to study classical piano with Martin Soderberg. Formed a trio. Recorded an album. Scored two films. Moved to Austin in 2001. Did his graduate work in Composition with a Jazz Emphasis at The University of Texas. Has played with every major Latin jazz and Salsa ensemble in Texas. Winner of Univision’s Premios de Texas 2006 award for Best New Artist and 2007 award for Best Salsa/Merengue. Has played with some of the biggest names in Salsa, including legendary Puerto Rican singer Tony Vega who said of Paul to a crowd one evening in San Antonio, TX (in Spanish), “This guy may not understand a word I am saying, but he gets the soul of the music…” Leader of Latin orchestra Timberos Del Norte and producer/composer of their debut recording (Austin American-Statesman Top Ten Releases of 2014). Continues to compose/produce across many genres. Member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Enjoys teaching all ages and skill levels.

photo Dr. Rachel McInturff

Director of Finance and Administration, Piano, Composition, Sound-Engineering

Dr. McInturff holds degrees from the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City (bachelors and masters in composition) and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from the University of Texas at Austin. She taught university level courses in electroacoustic composition at UMKC, as well as UT, from 1988-1999. She has been on the faculty of the Armstrong Community Music School since its opening in 2000, teaching composition, piano, music theory and sight singing. She currently also serves as the school’s Associate Director (since 2008), assisting in strategic planning, financial tracking and all logistical matters for daily operations.

photo Dr. Larisa Montanaro

Early Childhood Music

Larisa Montanaro is from northern New York but after freezing in the cold snowy winters for 21 years, she moved to Austin for sunnier skies and greater opportunities. She specialized in avant garde music and vocal pedagogy at UT, and completed her Doctorate in Voice in 2004. Upon graduating, she branched-out into the world of early childhood music. It was a bit of a fluke. When she observed her first Music Together® class, she had no idea the impact it would have. She became certified as a teacher in 2004 and now she is the Director of our Music Together® program. Larisa can also be seen singing around Austin, whether in a jazz duo with David Webb, a roots rock band called the Rust Tones, or Walter Tragert and the Rated G's. She released her debut jazz album in 2014.

photo Terry Muir

Registrar and Cello

An Austin Critics Table nominee for best instrumental performance of 2013, cellist Terry Muir has performed as soloist, chamber musician, orchestral member, jazzer and rocker for twenty-five years. As a soloist, Muir has appeared with orchestras in the concertos of Schumann, Dvorak, Haydn, Saint-Saens and Victor Herbert. In 2004, he performed in three of the “Top Ten Shows of the Year”, as voted by the Austin Chronicle, and again reached the top ten list in performances in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 and 2012. In collaboration with jazz great Tina Marsh, he performed dozens of concerts and recorded two CDs. Inside the Breaking was given four stars by Jazz Weekly and proclaimed by Jazz Times to be "Less an album than a multi-discipline art installation, requiring more introspection than inspection." 

Muir is well known to Austin audiences for his many appearances in warehouses, airplane hangers, in partially completed buildings and other unique locations with acclaimed choreographer Sally Jacques. As chamber musician, Muir co- founded the Hengst Studio Concerts in Seattle with visual artist Jeff Hengst, the Idaho Chamber Music Fortnight in Boise with the Langroise Trio, and the Charleston Eclipse Ensemble. Other chamber highlights include performing piano trios with the Stars of the San Francisco Ballet, live radio broadcasts from the Schubert Festival at Town Hall Seattle, and recitals at the Valyermo Monastery in Los Angeles. As an orchestral musician, Muir has performed with the Seattle Symphony, Tampa Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Charleston Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, Austin Symphony and recorded many independent and Hollywood movies. On the road he has performed and toured with Elton John, Tears for Fears, Sarah McLaughlin, Billy Joel, Pavarotti, and Sheryl Crow, among many others. Muir is a committed teacher who has taught beginners, professionals, students preparing to enter music conservatories and students of all ages, including those well into their 80s. 

photo Nathan Nokes

Piano and Composition

Nathan Nokes is a composer, pianist and instructor, based in Austin Texas. Music of his has been performed by musicians from all around the world including members of Wet Ink, Loadbang, Mise-en, and Mivos Quartet. As well as by musicians who have performed with Bang on a Can and ICE. His works have been featured in Clutch Concert Series, Uncertainty Music Series, New Music Hartford, and CUA New Voice Festival.

Nokes is currently a Doctoral of Musical Arts student at University of Texas at Austin where he received the Kent Kennan Graduate Fellowship. He received his Bachelor’s in Music from Washington State, and received his Master’s in Music from the University of Hartford at the Hartt School where he received the Hartt Talent Scholarship. 

In addition to music Nathan Nokes is an avid backpacker and runner. He has organized extended group outings in places such as Mount Rainier National Park, White Mountain National Forest, and Mount Saint Helens. In 2013 he received 3rd place in his division at the Hogsback Half Marathon.

photo Meagan Peaco

Violin and Viola

Originally from Ellicott City, Maryland, Meagan Peaco began studying viola in 3rd grade. She went to Carnegie Mellon University where she was able to double major in  Biology and Viola Performance at Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating college, she chose to follow her passion and attend the University of Texas at Austin to study with Roger Myers and earn her Master of Music in Viola Performance. Loving the warmth and the amazing music scene, Meagan decided to stay in Austin and begin teaching violin and viola. She was a teacher at the UT Austin String Project and has used that background to build a teaching program focusing on the overall growth of the student primarily based on the Suzuki methodology.

photo Lindsey Pino

Early Childhood Community Liaison, Early Childhood Music, Voice, and Registrar

Soprano, and Native of the California Bay Area, Lindsey Pino completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance at San Diego State University. While in San Diego, she was a founding member of both the Students of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Student American Choral Directors Association chapters at San Diego State University. Miss Pino’s Master’s Degree in Opera Performance is from University of Texas, Austin where she premiered the first official staged version of Jake Heggie’s one-woman scene for soprano, At the Statue of Venus, while the composer was in residence. Her other performance credits include Musetta in La bohème, Casilda in The Goldoliers, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Belle in Beauty and the Beast, and Maria in The Sound of Music. Miss Pino has been teaching private voice lesson for eight years and currently has a private studio of nearly forty private voice students at Canyon Ridge Middle School in Steiner Ranch. Her passion for music education carries over to her work as a Registrar at the lovely Armstrong Community Music School where she collaborates with some of the finest music educators in Austin, Texas.

photo Lucas Quintana


Lucas Quintana has played multiple instruments since the age of 11 years old (Trumpet, Clarinet, Alto Sax, Latin Percussion, and Piano). His main instrument is piano. Lucas directed two musical groups called 'Buena Onda' and 'Tradicion', in Los Angeles in 2014-2015. During his collaborations with these bands, he played piano and vocals with Tradicion and was lead vocalist for Buena Onda. The groups focused on Cuban music and Latin Jazz. Lucas also has vast experience playing professionally in Puerto Rico and teaching piano performance and music theory independently.

As part of his formation, Lucas studied Jazz piano under two Berklee College of Music Alumni. Quintana also studied piano at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico in the Department of Jazz and Caribbean music. He recently finished composing his first album that is in the process of being recorded. The album is set to be launched at the end of 2017.

photo Monica Salas

Flute, Early Childhood Music, Community Partnership Programs

Monica Salas started listening and feeling to music inside the womb. She attended catholic grade school where in the choir she was introduced to the idea of playing an instrument in a school band. Flute and voice carried her through grade school and beyond! She was very fortunate to take private lessons grade with the lovely Helen Blackburn - Principal Flautist for the Dallas Opera and Dallas Wind Ensemble - and attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. There she had many musical experiences, as well as performances with chamber ensembles, jazz ensembles, choir, R&B Ensemble (playing saxophone), and last-but-not-least the Latin Ensemble. As the singer and flute player for this ensemble, she was able to go on a musical tour for three of the four years she attended high school.

After high school, she attended West Texas A&M University for Music Therapy and intensely studied classical flute with Professor Sally Turk. There she was given the opportunities and experiences to teach flute. She currently resides in Austin, Tx with her fiancé (also a musician) and are both in a band with Paul Mathews by the name of Timberos Del Norte.

photo Sara Hailu Sheerin


Sara Hailu Sheerin has 15 years of piano teaching experience and holds a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Wheaton College. “Playing the piano has been a great source of happiness for me since childhood. I love to share this passion with others and am thrilled to equip students with the skills to make the music their own.”

She recently moved to Austin from the Chicago area, and spent her childhood in Northern Virginia and Ethiopia. While teaching in Chicago, Ms. Sara’s students had opportunities to play annually at MTNA events such as the Jazz Festival and the Sonatina Festival where her students placed as gold medalists for three consecutive years. As a piano teacher, Ms. Sara maintains a high standard with all students. Group piano parties, recitals, festivals and competitions are an important part of student enrichment. Inspired by the curiosity and energy of very young children, and a desire to offer quality programs for even the littlest musicians, Ms. Sara attended teacher training in Musikgarten and Music Together.

When not teaching in the studio or practicing piano, Ms. Sara enjoys exploring the beauty and variety of the natural spaces around Austin, reading 20th Century fiction and loves to make crafts with her children. She is a member of MTNA (Music Teachers National Association), TMTA (Texas Music Teachers Association) and ADMTA (Austin District Music Teachers Association).

photo Dr. Gordon Sparber


After earning a doctorate in piano performance from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Ellen Mack, Gordon Sparber began teaching piano for Peabody’s Preparatory School and working as a freelance pianist in Baltimore. While in Baltimore, he performed on such series as Res Musica Baltimore and Music at Loyola and was the pianist in the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. At the same time, he began writing on musical subjects, eventually becoming a music critic for the Washington Post and other newspapers and a fellow of the National Arts Journalism Program. Mr. Sparber's career took an unexpected turn when he became a bread baker and business owner, creating Ollie's Bakery in Winston-Salem, N.C. He recently moved to Austin from northern Michigan, where he was working as a pianist.

photo Bryan Sunderman


Bryan Sunderman began his enthusiastic pursuit of guitar at the age of 13. By 15, he was coordinating a band, collaborating with other musicians, and performing in church. As a young adult, he began his classical study at the Austin Orpheus School of Music under the instruction of Robert Gibson. During that time, Bryan was awarded first place in the Eastfield Collegiate Guitar Competition. He was then admitted to the prestigious Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied with the highly acclaimed “University Distinguished Teaching Professor” and world-wide performer, Adam Holzman. He has performed his classical repertory in and around Austin and abroad in Cervo, Italy and Morelia, Mexico. Bryan also is a member of the Austin soul/funk band KP and the Boom Boom.

World renowned guitarists that he has studied under through private lessons and master classes include Andrew Zohn, Richard Todd, Jeffery McFadden, Lorenzo Micheli, Matteo Mela, Ana Vidovic and Elliot Fisk. In 2012, Bryan received his Master’s Degree in Classical Guitar Performance, and continues to perform and teach in Austin.

photo Courtney Tellman

Director of Development

Courtney Tellman studied vocal performance at Wichita State University with Dr. Vernon Yenne. While there, she was a soloist and member of the Madrigal Singers, Acapella Choir, and Concert Chorale. Since moving to Austin in 2008, she has sung with the chorus of Austin Opera as well as Spotlight on Opera. She was a student at Armstrong Community Music School before joining the staff in 2012 and continues her studies with Liz Cass.

photo Walter Tragert

Early Childhood Music

(coming soon...)

photo Ashley Wang

Piano and Composition

Ashley Wang is a cellist and pianist who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors of Music in Music Studies and has studied the cello for 14+ years and the piano for 10+ years under the tutelage of Dr. Emmanuel Lopez, Dr. Bion Tsang, Dr. Sarah Kemmerling, and more. During her time at UT Austin, she founded the first freshmen-only piano trio and also toured with the WTAMU Symphony Orchestra in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest as assistant principal cellist.

Ashley is a registered Suzuki cello teacher and a licensed Texas educator in Music EC-12. As a teacher in the UT String Project and student teacher at Round Rock ISD, she has gained many years of teaching experience with different playing levels and ages, ranging from 3 years old to 18+ years old. She strongly believes in encouraging her students to become the best they can be in a healthy and productive learning environment.

photo Karen White

Piano, Piano Faculty Chair

Karen White brings thirty years of varied teaching experience and collaborative music-making to the school. She received her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Piano Performance from Texas Christian University under the tutelage of Lili Kraus. She went on to continue her studies in New York City where studied with Nina Svetlanova and taught at the Community Music Center under Dr. Robert Pace at Teachers College, Columbia University. She then moved to Madrid, Spain for three years where she taught in a private music academy and performed. She has spent several years exploring specialized work in the area of performance-related injuries including Alexander Technique and the work of Dorothy Taubman.

photo Christina Whitford

Voice, Early Childhood Music, and Registrar

Christina Whitford was born and raised in Houston, TX and has an M.M. in voice performance from The Jacob's School of Music (Indiana University) and a Bachelor's degree in music education from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She has a long and wide range of performing experience in operas, musicals, and chamber ensembles. She has also participated in several opera outreach programs, bringing abridged versions of operas to public schools. As an instructor, she strives to help each student make and work toward their specific goals. She advocates a strong technical foundation and freedom of expression in her students. She has taught voice at The Musical Arts Center of San Antonio and at the Stone Oak Youth Theatre and Dance Company. Making music and nurturing music in others brings her life purpose. She strives to cultivate the unique voice of each of her students.

photo Caroline Wilkins

Piano and Harp

Caroline Wilkins is the 2019-2021 touring “Concert Artist” of the American Harp Society after winning the prestigious national competition.  As such, she frequently presents recitals and masterclasses throughout the United States and Canada.  She also won the 2018 Concerto Competition at the Music Academy of the West in her third summer as a fellow. As an orchestral harpist, she has performed as Principal Harpist for the American Youth Symphony, the Debut Chamber Orchestra, the USC Symphony, and has been a substitute for the New World Symphony.  She has performed in venues such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, James Conlon, and Alan Gilbert.  Also a pianist, she has been studying classical piano from the age of five, and maintains a robust teaching studio of both harp and piano students.  Caroline recently graduated from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music with a Masters degree in harp performance.

photo Erin Ferguson Young

Piano and Music for Little Mozarts

Erin Ferguson Young received her Artist Diploma from the nationally renowned High School for Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas, where she studied under Elizabeth Stern and Sylvia Strong. After completing a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and a Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Baylor University, Ms. Young joined the faculty of the Armstrong Community Music School in January 2001. She previously served as the Youth Piano Program Coordinator for the Music for Little Mozarts program and continues to maintain a private studio with students of all ages. Ms. Young performs in Austin and is a member of the Austin District Music Teachers Association.