MOHAMMAD Abdelrahman - PIANO
Mohammad Abdelrahman is a native of Chicago and began learning classical piano at the age of 18 after realizing his deep passion for music. He began his undergraduate studies as a Chemistry major/Music minor at Loyola University Chicago. Prior to his time at Loyola, he had no formal training in music, but decided to pursue music instead of chemistry after a semester of self-taught piano study. He went on to complete his general education courses at City Colleges of Chicago. During this time, which lasted about two-and-a-half years, he continued his piano studies privately under the tutelage of Dr. Haysun Kang, one of the piano professors at Loyola, and accumulated a variety of repertoire ranging from Chopin etudes to multiple Beethoven sonatas, as well as works from the likes of Schumann, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Grieg and Scriabin. After a semester away from school in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he continued his music journey at Northeastern Illinois University where he is now studying piano under Dr. Susan Tang and is pursuing his Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance.
Mohammad finds that music is a diverse subject, and as such, should be taught variably depending on the student and their individual needs. Some students are visual learners, while others are better listeners. He finds that it is important to establish a good foundation and get to know the student in order to teach them efficiently. Something great about music is that everyone has different tastes, and will enjoy music of different kinds depending on their personality and interests. Holidays, video games, cartoons and many other forms of media and calendar events include music that may pique the interest of a young student. He finds that using these interests can be a valuable asset in motivating the student to practice and seek more knowledge so that they can be equipped to play music they will enjoy and find captivating. In this way, the student will find themselves carrying a good experience for the rest of their lives’, even if they pursue something other than music in the future.
Mi Ran Choi - CELLO
Mi Ran Choi (Pronouns: they/them, she/her) is a Chicago-based cellist, educator and academic completing their graduate studies at Northeastern Illinois University. Originally a violinist from Los Angeles, Mi Ran picked up the cello when they were 17 and went on to major in cello performance at Los Angeles City College and later at North Park University (NPU). At NPU, they served as the principal cellist, as an active chamber musician, and as the orchestra teaching assistant, and received a Certificate in Music for Social Change and Human Values.
Mi Ran served as an administrative intern with the People's Music School and as a teacher trainee at the Sathya Sai School of Thailand. They currently serve the Assyrian Cultural Foundation in Lincolnwood as a music arranger, the Chicago West Community Music Center as a cello instructor, and the Human Values Collective as a practice guide team member and web designer.
When not engaged in music, Mi Ran enjoys biking through Chicago (sometimes with their cello!) and learning different languages.
"Education is derived from two Latin roots: educare, to train, to mold, and educere, to draw out, to lead out." Mi Ran firmly believes that the best education involves drawing out what is already within the student's awareness, strengthening their voices and empowering the student to take ownership of their education. This creates a more authentic, personally meaningful music-making process and space for the student to further find themselves in the spaces between the notes.
IVONA KESIC - PIANO
Ivona Kesic is an accomplished pianist with a passion for piano pedagogy. Originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ivona came to Chicago in 2022 to start her master's program at Northeastern Illinois University to continue her dream of being a piano teacher. She studied piano with Prof. Jasna Djurovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina). She went to Commune di Barletta (Italy) for the young musicians international competition where she won a silver medal. She continued performing in festivals, regional and international competitions, solo recitals and recording. She was also a student of Prof. Nevena Popovic (a student of V. Ashkenazi and A. Ciccolini) who influenced her to continue her passion by going to bachelor's studies program in Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Ivona now studies with Dr. Susan Tang at NEIU in Chicago, where she's a current graduate student.
I think that music is a universal language that we all understand, and as a music teacher, my philosophy is to make difference in my students’ lives by encouraging their creativity and sense for music, cultivating their talent, and discovering the beautiful sides of piano playing. My role is to facilitate learning by providing a positive and supportive environment, based on mutual respect, and responsibility, where students will feel safe, comfortable, and valued. There are many different methods and method books for teaching students how to play piano, and I like to combine them all because every method has some good components that will suit every student as an individual with their own learning needs, different backgrounds, interest, and developmental stages. I work with my students on self confidence, self control, and stage presence. It empowers me as a piano educator to see the accomplishments of my students and their happiness after every class.
Gerardo Martínez Hernández - VIOLIN
Gerardo was born in Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico, and moved to Chicago at the age of 14, where he began playing violin. He attended Merit School of Music during high school years as well as concertmaster appointment in the Chicago Public Schools' All-City Orchestra in 2005-2006. During college years he held leadership positions as concertmaster at St. Xavier University Orchestra; principal 2nd with Classical Symphony, and Lake Shore Symphony where he currently plays.
Currently pursuing an M.A. in applied music pedagogy at Northeastern Illinois University, Gerardo believes the learning violin as well as other musical instruments allows students to acquire useful skills that are transferable and useful in any other fields. Most students that have had music training acquire discipline and skills that create successful individuals in different areas.
Additionally, Gerardo also co-directs a guitar mandolin ensemble in Chicago called Cuerdas Clásicas that has had the opportunity to perform at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Millennium Park, National Museum of Mexican Art, Orchestra Hall featured with the Chicago Sinfonietta for their “Day of Dead” Concert in 2017.
Anokyewaa Oppong - Violin and Viola
Anokyewaa Oppong Wadie is an experienced violinist of almost 12 years. She began her journey in violin studies after being inspired by Grammy award-winning jazz and classical violinist Regina Carter; about one year later she began her lesson in classical violin. Although Anokyewaa comes from a musical family, especially pianist, Anokyewaa was the first violinist in her family, and was taught classical violin at the age of nines specifically the Suzuki method. As the years would go by Anokyewaa grew a deep passion for the violin and began taking lessons from some of the best violinists in the Midwest and in the Chicago area. Her teachers spanned from Julia Sizer of University of Chicago Symphony to Lucinda Ali Landing of Chicago Sinfonietta and Suzanne Rickman of Illinois Philharmonic. After all this experience Anokyewaa decided to take violin studies as her major at Northeastern Illinois University where she is currently a senior of violin performance violin/viola teacher, performer, and pedagogue Dr. Jaime Gorgojo. As the daughter of first generation immigrants from Jamaica and Ghana, Anokyewaa has always felt the importance to work hard, have goals, and most of all achieve milestones in her career. Therefore, this teaching opportunity with the Community Music Program at NEIU is great for her, and she looks forward to seeing her growth as a teacher and violinist.
"As someone who comes from a background of educators, I have seen firsthand my whole life of teaching with care, consistency, review, and an upbeat non-judgmental environment. Teaching has always been one of my passions, and I cannot wait to continue my journey with the Community Music Program here at NEIU!"