John Agno - classical percussion and drum set

John Agno is currently a student at Northeastern Illinois University earning his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. He teaches at Mayfair School of Music and has performed in various ensembles. Equally passionate about teaching and performing, John takes great pride in ensuring his students understand music in a way that is meaningful to them.

Teaching Approach
John strives to draw connections between life’s challenges and the process of creating music. He values each student’s individuality and crafts lessons that build upon their abilities. By constantly receiving and applying feedback, students, and teachers develop strategies to overcome challenges. As a team, teachers and students explore how to develop artistry and musical expression through performance. 

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 - CLARINET

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.

Isabella Ferrari - VOICE

Isabella Ferrari is currently pursuing a Master of Vocal Pedagogy degree at Northeastern Illinois University. She is a graduate of Butler University with a Bachelor of Music Arts degree in voice. Isabella is a former member of the Butler Chorale and the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir. An active performer, she has shared the stage with such renowned artists as the Rolling Stones and Kristin Chenoweth. Isabella aspires to become a voice professor with a focus on vocal health and training trans-masculine voices.

Zen Hsu - piano

Zen Hsu is currently the pianist for the Chicago Goodnews Church. He graduated from Wilbur Wright College with an associate degree in fine arts in music performance. Now, he is a senior at Northeastern Illinois University studying under Dr. Susan Tang in the piano performance program. He has participated in the NEIU Concerto Competition, performed in master classes for renowned pianists such as Nelita True and Sergio Monteiro, and is a part of the NEIU jazz band and combo.

Teaching Approach
"Music is wonderful to listen to but to play that music requires a musical foundation cultivated through different aspects such as technique and music theory. I not only want students to play musically but to understand what they are playing, to fully enrich the students' musicianship and growth. I believe that music is a powerful way to express oneself and I am passionate to help my students play from the heart."

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.

Hongyu Lei - piano

Hongyu Lei is a pianist, collaborative artist, arranger, and composer. She was born and grew up in China, where she got selected by the Middle school affiliated to the Shenyang Conservatory of Music and completed her early music education in this nationally renowned school. Hongyu Lei has competed in competitions including the Rebecca Marriot Champion Piano Competition and China Contest Area Preliminary Contest of US International Piano Competition in honorable mention. After high school, she came to the United States to study piano and composition at Utah Valley University. She was the recipient of a full scholarship in piano performance from 2013 to 2017, and she also earned her piano collaborate experience with the UVU Symphony Orchestra and UVU Opera workshop. Her private lesson teachers included Dr. Hilary Demske, Dr. Koji Attwood, Dr. Hsiang John Tu, Nathan Hofheins and Todd Sorensen. In 2017, she received her dual Bachelor's degree in piano and composition from Utah Valley University. As a composer, her work has been commissioned and presented by Shi Chao’s Vocal Band Concert in Jiangmen city recital hall in 2018. During the time in China after completing her undergraduate studies, Hongyu taught piano and music theory in TianYun Music Studio. Hongyu is currently pursuing a Master's degree in music at Northeastern Illinois University where she studies piano with Dr. Susan Tang.

Teaching Approach
"I believe that the inspiration from a music teacher can lead a student to feel that playing music is fun and fulfilling. My goals are to keep students active and passionate in their music study, as well as find a way to discover a fun and enjoyable way to learn. I choose different lesson plans for each student and approach studying music in a comprehensive way. I want students to learn a new piece, but also learn the history, style, and technique of the music. I encourage them to listen to recordings in addition to practicing the piano. I believe the most important aspect of being a music teacher is to have an open mind to the conversation with students and find where their interest lies. I love to discover students' personalities and use different methods to help them gain technical skills. Learning music is a lifelong endeavor. Regardless of age or background, whether it is a future music professional or a music-loving amateur, I will do my best to develop skills and develop good values for my students."

​Hilary Ortiz - violin

Hilary Ortiz graduated from the University of Windsor with a double major in music and psychology and is currently studying at Northeastern Illinois University where she is working towards a master's degree in violin/viola pedagogy. She has played in the Sault Symphony Orchestra, the Windsor Community Orchestra and the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra, and has worked as a violin teacher for Breath of Music in Windsor, and Access Contemporary Music in Chicago.

Katie Samayoa - all brass instruments and flute

Katie Samayoa is currently a music education major studying the trumpet with Dr. Travis Heath at Northeastern Illinois University. She has played for various musical productions in and around Chicago. She enjoys teaching privately and in a classroom setting.

Teaching Approach
"Through music lessons, I want to nurture, first and foremost, the musician in the student. The instrument is merely an extension of the student and as such only serves to give voice to the musicianship of the student."

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.”

Jierong Wang - piano

Jierong​ ​Wang​​ is ​currently​ ​a senior​ ​at Northeastern​ ​Illinois​ ​University and majoring in ​piano performance.​ ​She​ ​started​ ​piano​ ​at​ ​the age​ ​of​ ​8 and a few years later, passed ​​the​ ​audition​ ​to study piano at the prestigious Northeastern​ ​University​ in Shenyang, China. ​In 2014, Northeastern​ ​University​ in Shenyang chose ​​five​ ​outstanding students​ ​to​ ​study abroad at ​Northeastern​ ​Illinois University.​ ​Jierong Wang​ was​ ​one​ ​of​ ​these​ ​five students and after two​ ​semesters as an ​exchange​ ​student​,​ ​she​ ​decided to​ ​continue ​her ​education​ ​in​ ​the United​ ​States.​ ​Ms. Wang was awarded​ ​first​ ​prize​ ​in ​Northeastern Illinois​ ​University's​ ​Concerto​ ​Competition​ ​in​ ​2016.​ ​She​ ​has also been a recipient​ ​of the​ ​McGowan​ ​Scholarship Award​ ​(twice),​ ​the Spasojevich​ ​Award,​ ​the Ruth​ ​Hanna​ ​Award,​ ​the Gill​ ​Scholarship,​ ​and​ ​the Joan Sachs​ ​Memorial​ ​Scholarship​.

Teaching Approach
"For me, studying the piano is not only about having an interest in music but is also a way to take on new challenges and encourage the brain to develop and grow. You may not think that you have significant musical skills, however, musical talent or potential is not always recognizable in the early stages of learning an instrument. All that is required is that a student wants to learn and is diligent in their practicing. I encourage parents to take an active role in their child’s progress and I am candid about the student’s progress. Parental support is very important and can make a big difference in a student’s growth. I am always available to talk with parents about their child’s learning style to help guide me in preparing the lessons and practice material. I will help students make the most of their natural talents and make music and the keyboard an enjoyable and rewarding experience for all!"