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.

Teaching Approach

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.

Teaching Approach

"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.


Vladimir Dinic was born in Nis, Republic of Serbia. He started playing the clarinet at the age of 7, and in 2018 he completed a master's degree in clarinet performance. Vladimir has performed with numerous orchestras including the Nis Symphony Orchestra and the Nis Opera Orchestra as principal clarinet, bass clarinet and alto saxophone. Vladimir is also an experienced soloist with more than 200 solo performances during his academic career. He is also a regular participant in clarinet competitions. Vladimir is currently a graduate student at Northeastern Illinois University studying clarinet with Dr. Rose Sperrazza.

Teaching Approach

Vladimir's teaching philosophy is inspired by his many past instructors who have instilled in him a deep sense of musicality and strong fundamentals. He feels that teaching is an amazing opportunity and he wants to share all that he has learned. Vladimir brings to the United States many years of teaching experience from Serbia.

Mikayla Jang - piano

Mikayla Jang was born in South Korea. She is a passionate pianist and violinist and performs solo recitals regularly at Northeastern Illinois University where she is a full scholarship recipient for piano and violin. In addition to teaching for NEIU's Community Music Program, Mikayla teaches violin and piano at the ACM School of Music and has 10 years of experience teaching violin, piano and music theory. Mikayla started playing piano at age 5 and violin at age 10 and later started composing as well.

Teaching Approach

Mikayla loves to connect with others and share her love of music. She gets to know each of her students and plans lessons for the individual student to help them develop their skills. Mikayla enjoys learning and appreciates the importance of having a great teacher. She strives to be the kind of teacher that motivates and inspires her students the same way her teachers have done that for her.

Gerardo Martínez Hernández 

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 School’s 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 nine. 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.

Teaching Approach

"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!"

Melanie Rolon - flute

Melanie Rolon, native to Chicago, is currently a student at Northeastern Illinois University, pursuing a master’s in applied music pedagogy. Melanie has been playing flute since her junior year of high school and studied music at North Park University as an undergraduate. There she performed in the university concert band, orchestra and in multiple chamber groups. Melanie desires to give private lessons as a profession, along with performing. She has gained teaching experience as an intern for the People’s Music school and found that NEIU’s Community Music Program is a great place to continue teaching.

Teaching Approach

Melanie aims to activate a student's interest in music by sharing her own passion for it and inspiring them. She likes helping students find different ways of learning, one of which is incorporating a little imagination. Melanie looks for new ways to engage students, believing that studying the arts should be a positive and memorable experience.

Diego Tapia - piano

Diego Tapia is currently a junior at Northeastern Illinois University and is majoring in piano performance. Diego was born in Argentina and showed musical inclination at a very young age. He learned the fundamentals from his beloved childhood piano masters, Horo Ansata and Leandro Di Pasquantonio. After high school, Diego continued his musical journey by diving into the world of Indian Classical music where he developed a deep understanding of percussion and traditional ragas (scales) while initiating full-time spiritual practices. He performed for almost a decade in various Hindu temples in South and North America.

Diego moved permanently to the United States in 2013 and received a position as a music instructor at the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, where he founded Vamsi School of Music in an attempt to organize and inspire music education in his community. An active teacher and musician, Diego produced an album for Vamsi School Children’s Choir while developing his performance career through a regular schedule of street performances, special engagements and collaborative efforts with musicians from the most diverse genres. Diego Tapia has taught piano, guitar, and Indian percussion in both private and group settings since 2010 to students at all levels. He also teaches piano at Northeastern Illinois University to a wide variety of pre-college students. In addition to his private piano teaching in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, he is also a group piano instructor at City Colleges of Chicago. Diego has also been a recipient​ ​of the​ ​McGowan​ ​Scholarship Award.

Teaching Approach

“Every person deserves the opportunity to explore and develop their inner musicianship no matter their background or age. As a piano teacher, I seek to provide a classroom that celebrates diversity, creativity and allows room for active learning. The type of environment that is safe, encouraging, empowering and fun. At the same time, I believe in the importance of student recitals as an opportunity for them to develop artistic and expressive performance skills. I value and support the various learning styles of my students. Since music is a multi-sensory experience, some students are more inclined to learn how to read music faster than others who rely more on aural skills to get through a particular piece of music. In both cases, I support the idea of incorporating diverse piano methods to stimulate students from every aspect of learning to attain a balanced set of skills.”

Jin Hyun Yang - Piano

Born in Seoul, Korean pianist Jin Hyun Yang is currently pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Music degree at Northeastern Illinois University as she is interested in music composition and teaching. Jin Hyun grew up in Incheon city where she first learned how to play piano at the age of 5, and continued studying piano and served in a children’s ministry (preschool, kindergarten) of Gyesan Joongang Methodist Church. There she served as an accompanist from the age of 10 until her family moved to the United States in 2007. Jin Hyun studied music at Harper College and later transferred to Northeastern Illinois University as a piano performance major. Jin Hyun believes that it is extremely valuable and necessary to have a teacher who is dedicated to developing a student's musical abilities, self-esteem, and personality. Jin Hyun continues to work hard and looks forward to being able to share her passion and love for music and teaching to aspiring and curious students. 

Teaching Approach

Jin Hyun thinks music education is necessary for children because music is always around. The biggest goal Jin Hyun has in teaching students is to develop their musical senses, skills and help them get to know themselves better by realizing their true nature through studying music and instruments and making music. Jin Hyun thinks music can help students build their personalities. Learning music through instruments require a lot of patience, empathy, rational judgment, self-understanding and self-esteem, respect for others, and more. 
Learning musical instruments deals with many things that cannot be learned through only academic studies and social common sense.