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 Philosophy

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.

Nicholas D. Brubaker - voice

A Wyoming native, Nicholas Brubaker is a graduate of Northwestern University where he received his master’s degree in vocal performance and literature. He received his bachelor's degree in vocal performance from the University of Denver in 2005 and is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in vocal pedagogy from Northeastern Illinois University. In 2013, Mr. Brubaker, with the assistance of his wife, started Greenlight Vocal Productions, an outreach opera program for children. In addition to his University and community work, Mr. Brubaker is an active church/synagogue musician and recitalist. Recent roles include Sky Masterson in "Guys and Dolls," Guglielmo in "Cosi fan Tutte," Gardefeu in "La Vie Parisienne," Speaker in "The Magic Flute," Carl Olson in "Street Scene," the English Ambassador in "The Ghosts of Versailles," Dr. Bartolo in "The Marriage of Figaro" and Sam in "Trouble in Tahiti."

Teaching Approach

"Through building voices and cultivating artistry, I aim to inspire confidence and illuminate a path of personal self-discovery that leads students to discover their most authentic selves. By cultivating vocal technique, stage presence, language proficiency, and musical interpretation, I have found that in addition to becoming competent musicians, students are empowered to connect more deeply with themselves, their music, their audiences and their communities."



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 and violin

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

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 multisensory 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.”