For a list of our faculty members by instrument they teach, please click the links below, or scroll down to see a complete list of our faculty and staff in alphabetical order.
Rachel Benoit is thrilled to be teaching the Acting Workshop at Cornerstone Music Studios! Rachel has produced, directed, and performed in numerous venues both in PA and NJ. Rachel has taught voice and acting workshops at art centers and churches around the state, including Mill Pond Arts and the Princeton Arts Council. She also teaches approximately 20 private students out of the studio in her home. She earned her B.M. in Music Theatre from Westminster Choir College in 2010, where she had the opportunity to perform with various ensembles at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kimmel Center. She went on to intern as an assistant director with the Passage Theatre Company in Trenton, NJ. There she had the privilege of working under their resident director Adam Immerwahr, who now serves as the Associate Artistic Director at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey.
In 2013, Rachel began delving into the world of opera. She served as a stage director for Opera MODO for two seasons, directing their mainstage productions of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Rachel has also served as a director for the Brooklyn chapter of Opera On Tap, a company dedicated to making opera more accessible by holding unique performances in bars. As a performer, she has been featured in local theatrical productions, films, and musical ensembles. Soon after graduating college, Rachel was inspired to start her own theatre company, which has produced three full length original shows in Princeton and Philadelphia. Plutonian Productions focuses on the collaboration between performance and visual artists to create unique experiences.
“Anything you do, let it come from you. Then it will be new. Give us more to see.” –Stephen Sondheim
A native of Connecticut, Annie Bryson received her Masters of Music in Vocal Pedagogy and Performance from Westminster Choir College and her Bachelors of Music, magna cum laude, from Western Connecticut State University. Annie’s opera roles include Rose Maurrant in Street Scene, Miss Pinkerton in The Old Maid and the Thief, First Lady in The Magic Flute, Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Countess in The Marriage of Figaro and Nursing Sister in Suor Angelica. Her favorite musical theater credits are Thoroughly Modern Millie (Mathilde), Children of Eden (Snake), Into the Woods (Lucinda), High School Musical (Martha), Kismet (Princess of Ababu), Tommy, Cabaret, and The King and I. While at Westminster, Annie performed frequently with the Symphonic Choir at Carnegie Hall and The Kimmel Center with world-class ensembles such as The Berlin Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Simon Bolivar Orchestra, and The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Annie loves sharing her passion for music with her students. She currently sings with the choirs at Trinity Church in Princeton, NJ.
Music Motto: “Ah, music… A magic far beyond all we do here!”- Albus Dumbledore
Joseph Buttram truly enjoys teaching and is thrilled to be joining piano and guitar faculty at Cornerstone Music Studios. He welcomes students of all ages and levels – sharing his love of music with children and adults alike. He looks to build technique, theory, sight-reading, and repertoire in order to raise the student with solid musicianship, knowledge, and love of the instrument. Joseph began his music education at the bright young age of 4 years old. Beginning his musical journey on the piano, he explored other instruments along the way such as the guitar and violin. Joseph later became enthralled and mesmerized by the beauty, complexity, and technicality within the works of composers such as Schubert, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff.
Joseph’s awards include the South Jersey Music Teachers’ Association Technique Competition – 2nd Tier in 2010 and the Grand Prize in 2012 – as well as receiving the Gold award at the 2011 Golden Key Music Festival where he then performed at the Gold winners’ recital in Carnegie Hall. Joseph’s education includes private instruction from Ms. Alla Fabrikant of Voorhees, New Jersey, and with critically acclaimed professor and recording artist Raffi Besalyan at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. Joseph is currently studying at Westminster Choir College of Music under Rider University with Professor Ingrid Clarfield.
Sean Christiansen is thrilled to join the drums and percussion staff at Cornerstone Music Studios. Sean has been playing drums for over 20 years and has been teaching drums privately for over 4 years. He enjoys playing and teaching many styles of drumming, from Rock and Metal, to Jazz and Hip Hop. He graduated with honors from Mercer County Community College in 2012, and has received three recognition awards for musical proficiency. Currently, Sean plays in two bands and has been a member many bands for the past 16 years. Check out his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/christdrums1.
Music Motto: “Keep it on the one”
Thomas Cunningham is an integral part of the piano, violin,
guitar, theory, composition, language studies, voice and bass
guitar faculty at Cornerstone Music Studios. American conductor Thomas is artistic director of Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra. Founded in 2014, this orchestra for the 21st century is malleable in size, genre and venue and collaborates anywhere, anytime, with anyone. Mr. Cunningham made his New York debut conducting Iolanta for Opera Slavica in 2012. He is on the conducting staff of the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County in Bucks County, PA and Voices of Ascension in New York, NY. He works regularly with The Princeton Festival, Opera Slavica and The CoOPERAtive program.
A conductor of distinctly broad repertory, recent engagements have included the concertos of Bach, Dvorak and Berg, orchestrating Addi & Jacq’s award-winning songs, and commissioning numerous young composers. Passionate about the American repertory, Mr. Cunningham believes deeply in the underperformed compositions of African American composers, especially William Grant Still and George Walker. He is currently creating a symphonic suite of William Grant Still’s grand opera Troubled Island.
“But a sound may be truer than reason
And a word may be stronger than man.”
Holly Deitz, Studio Operations Manager at Cornerstone Music Studios, is responsible for scheduling, billing and student registration. Holly received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Rutgers University and law degree from the American University in Washington D.C. Active in community service, Holly currently has served the residents of Millstone as a member of the Millstone Township Board of Education. Prior to joining the BOE, Holly volunteered her time with Millstone Township Foundation For Educational Excellence (MTFEE), a not-for-profit organization of volunteers raising money for the Millstone Township School District to supplement the District’s curriculum.
Greg has taught private piano, saxophone and clarinet lessons for over a decade. Currently, Greg is a music teacher in central New Jersey where he runs an elementary band program. There he teaches students to play flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, French horn, trombone and percussion. In addition to teaching piano at Cornerstone Music Studios, Greg has also taught at Westminster Conservatory and “Bach to Rock Music Music School”.
Greg earned his Master’s degree in Piano Performance from The Boston Conservatory and received his undergraduate degree from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University with a double major in Music Education and Piano Performance.
Corey is excited to be on voice and piano faculty at Cornerstone Music Studios! Corey Everly is a collaborative pianist, coach, and conductor. He will graduate from Westminster Choir College with a Master’s Degree in Piano Accompanying and Coaching in 2016 where he is a student of Dr. J.J. Penna. Corey is the accompanist for the GRAMMY-nominated Westminster Williamson Voices and the Westminster Schola Cantorum (James Jordan, conductor). He has accompanied the Westminster Schola Cantorum on multiple U.S. tours and made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2010 with the Westminster Chapel Choir. Most recently he served as Assistant Conductor and Chorus Master for Opera on the Avalon in Newfoundland, Canada. In 2013, he was the Chorus Master for Britten: Saint Nicholas at the Shipley Arts Festival in West Sussex, UK. He has conducted over 30 musical theatre/opera productions spanning a wide range of styles. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Voice Performance from Westminster Choir College where he studied with Faith Esham. While studying as a singer, Corey performed numerous recitals in the tri-state area singing a wide range of repertoire from French mélodie to contemporary English song and musical theatre. Corey is active as a vocal coach and teacher at the university level and has students from Philadelphia and New York City.
As a chorister, Corey has sung with leading conductors such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Simon Rattle, Daniele Gatti, and Gustavo Dudamel. Highlights include the Verdi Requiem and Mahler Symphony No. 2 with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Carnegie Hall and performances with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra also at Carnegie Hall. One of Corey’s favorite projects to date include performances of the Bernstein Mass with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He remains heavily active in choral music and currently collaborates with conductor James Jordan, composer James Whitbourn, and the Westminster Williamson Voices at the Choral Institute at Oxford each year.
“When your being is right, the doing takes care of itself” – Elaine Brown
Julia Henderson is thrilled and honored to be on flute faculty at Cornerstone Music Studios since March 2011. She has always had a love of music. Beginning from childhood holidays seeing The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center to listening to Beatles albums in the living room. In 2003, Julia took her passion and earned her Bachelors of Science in Music Education from Lebanon Valley College. While studying there she was a flautist in the orchestra, symphonic band and flute choir. She spent a semester abroad studying at Anglia Polytechnic University in Cambridge, England where she also sang in the College Choir.
In addition to teaching at Cornerstone Music Studios, Julia works as a vocal/general music teacher at Errickson Elementary School in the Freehold Township School District. There she sings, plays, dances and integrates technology into music class. In addition, Julia is a director for the Performing Arts Club, a group of fifth graders which desire more time on the stage, eager to be in front of an audience! Recently, Julia played flute in Opera Forza’s production of Madama Butterfly.
Music Motto: “Music is the key that can open the hearts of all.”
Hannah Hernandez is excited to be joining the violin faculty at Cornerstone Music Studios! Beginning at the age of three, Hannah started her musical journey as a violinist. Over the past 15 years she had the honor of performing on stage with Joshua Bell, Maxim Vengerov, Gil Shaham, and Mark O’Connor. At age eleven, Hannah began competing in chamber and solo competitions. She won second prize at the American Protégé Competitions in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, Hannah received honorable mention in both the National Young Musicians Showcase Competition and the Alexander & Buono International String Competition. She won first prize in the Prima Artists Competition in 2012 and won Top 5 in the New Jersey Transit “Music in Motion” Competition with the Timiza Quartet in 2013 and 2014.
Hannah’s performing opportunities have taken her to notable venues around the Tri-State area. Including Carnegie Hall, Bergen Performing Arts Center, The Ritz Theatre, The Jewish Heritage Museum, Bryant Park, The Merkin Hall in the Kaufman Center, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. She also performed frequently in Colombia, South America, as a soloist as well as with, Timiza, her string quartet. In addition to performing, Hannah has been fortunate enough to participate in masterclasses from conductor and cellist Diego Garcia, violinist MaryAnn Mumm, and violinist Ronald Copes from the Julliard String Quartet.
An avid chamber musician, Hannah is co-founder and director of the Timiza Quartet, a family string quartet with her three siblings. They performed regularly for the Colombian Consulate, numerous Senators and in 2013 for Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia. In addition to the Timiza Quartet Hannah has been involved in various string ensembles. Hannah was assistant concertmaster and concertmaster of the Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 season. Hannah is eager and excited to see what comes of the 2016 season.
As a teacher, Hannah received her certification from the American String Teachers Association in 2012. She frequently volunteers to play music for disabled children and veterans in New Jersey and enjoys working with young musicians in community organizations such as the Union City Music Project. Hannah has taught musicians from beginner to conservatory level and looks forward to bringing her passion and dedication as a violinist and educator to Cornerstone Music Studios.
Music Quote: “Growth is the only evidence of life.”- John Henry Newman
Jonathan Hesbol is thrilled be the joining the guitar, bass, and trumpet faculty at Cornerstone Music Studios. Jonathan graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelors of Music in Guitar Performance, before moving to Los Angeles where he completed a Professional Certificate at Musician’s Institute in Hollywood. In 2005, Jonathan joined the cast of “School of Rock,” in which he performed as the Lead Vocal/Lead Guitar role in a rock adaptation of the famous movie with the same name. In 2006, Jonathan performed his original song “Misunderstanding,” on the hit show “The Gilmore Girls,” for which he became an ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) Member. Jonathan has performed well over 1,000 times both as a guitarist, and as a solo acoustic artist, and continues to perform on a weekly basis both with his band The Skeleton Keys and as a solo artist.
Jonathan has been teaching guitar, bass and trumpet to students of all ages and abilities since 2000. Drawing from his Classical and Contemporary education, as well as his extensive performance experience, Jonathan teaches to each individual student, helping the student develop their own musical goals, and enriching their musical experience by teaching them to communicate the language of music in all areas including: Harmony, Theory, Notation, Improvisation and Song Writing. Jonathan teaches Blues, Rock, Funk, Folk, R&B, Jazz, Country and Classical styles.
“Listening is the key to everything good in music.” — Pat Metheny
Mezzo soprano, Meagan Lee Hodson just completed her off broadway debut as the lead character, Goeun Kim, in Comfort Women: A New Musical. She is an active performer in the NY, NJ & PA area, regional stage credits include Shrek (Gingy/Sugarplum Fairy), The Last 5 Years (Cathy Hyatt). In the spring of 2016, she will originate the role of Li Ming in Jame Doyle Klier’s new musical, WarLovers. In addition to music theatre, she regularly performs in concert and opera such as Bach’s Magnificat (alto soloist), Mozart’s Requiem (alto soloist), Le Nozze di Figaro (Cherubino), Pirates of Penzance (Kate), Die Zauberflöte (Papagena). In addition to performing, Meagan began teaching private piano and voice in 2006. She currently holds an active teaching schedule in the Princeton area including The Chapin School, JWActor Studio, and Cornerstone Music Studios at Millstone. BM: Western Connecticut State University, MM: Westminster Choir College. Proud SAG-AFTRA member. Meagan is an advocate for new music theatre and theatre for social change.
Music Motto: “I teach music to people of all ages because everyone deserves to have a closer connection to music, whether they are 5 or 85. Cornerstone Music Studios is an ideal place, reaching out to all students and giving a chance to become better musicians.”
Jacob Kinderman, baritone, is a Washington native now based in Central New Jersey. Jacob most recently performed Harry in My Fair Lady and Yakuside in Madama Butterfly with Ash Lawn Opera and was a Guest Artist at Princeton University where he performed Tobit in Jonathan Dove’s Tobias and the Angel and was a soloist performing works by Richard Croft with the Princeton University Glee Club. Past performances have included the title roles of Don Giovanni, Eugene Onegin, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Melisso in Alcina, Schaunard in La Bohème, Betto in Gianni Schicchi, Mr. Kofner in The Consul, Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin and Alcindoro/Benoit in La Bohème. Concerts have included The Westminster Art Song Festival and The CoOPERAtive French Mélodie Festival. Music Theater credits include Sky Masterson in Guys & Dolls, Sir Harry in Once Upon A Mattress and John Truitt in Meet Me In St. Louis.
Jacob has appeared with companies and ensembles such as Des Moines Metro Opera, Ash Lawn Opera, Opera Slavica, CoOPERAtive Concert Opera, The Princeton Festival, Westminster Opera Theater, Princeton University Opera Theater, The Princeton Singers, Philadelphia Opera Collective, Poor Richard’s Opera, University of Miami in Salzburg and the Florence voice seminar.
Jacob has received many awards and accolades including the first annual Dalton Baldwin Art Song Prize for his performance of selections from Before and After Summer by Gerald Finzi in the Westminster Choir College Art Song Festival. He won Second Prize at the 2014 NATS Artist Award Northwest Regional Competition after winning First Prize at the Washington State District level. In 2009 he received the Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Vancouver B.C. district. He was the First Runner-Up in the NATS Artist Award Competition Northwest Region in 2010 as well as the First Place Winner of the NATS Artist Award Washington District that same year. He also placed 1st in both the Classical and Musical Theater competitions at the Tahoma NATS Chapter in 2009 and 2010.
Jacob is originally from Olympia, WA. He holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance & Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College and a B.A. in Music with an emphasis in Guitar Performance and Voice Performance from Saint Martin’s University. He is currently the Concert Booker at the American Boychoir School in Princeton, NJ and the Curriculum and Program Development Advisor at Cornerstone Music Studios in Millstone, NJ.
Daniel Kochersberger, originally of Canandaigua, New York, is a saxophonist actively participating in the ever-changing New York City contemporary music scene. Daniel is a founding member of the Manhattan Saxophone Quartet, the Epoch Saxophone Duo, and is currently the saxophonist for the New York-based ensemble Contemporaneous. He has performed alongside artists such as David Byrne, Sondre Lerche, and Jherek Bischoff in new music venues including, (le) poisson rouge, St. Anne’s Warehouse, and Roulette.
In addition to orchestral appearances with the New World Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Mansfield Symphony, Plainfield Symphony, and the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, Daniel has performed as a soloist, recitalist and chamber player with the Contemporary Music Ensemble of Oberlin, the Chamber Winds Ensemble of Manhattan, the Manhattan Wind Symphony, Symphony Z and the Brooklyn College Wind Ensemble.
Daniel received his B.M. at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and his M.M. at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Dr. Paul Cohen.
Jane Labban is pleased to be joining the piano faculty at Cornerstone Music Studios. She has had the pleasure of watching the wonderful opportunities her own family has had at Cornerstone Music Studios. Jane has studied piano since childhood and as an adult, she continues her own study of the piano and started teaching private lessons in 2014. As a mother of three grown sons, all of whom started instruments at a young age, she is a witness to the incredible life experiences and character development that music has afforded them. Her own family’s early musical journey included the eager son who could not wait for his lesson, the son with a 15 minute attention span, and the son that got a stomach ache 10 minutes prior to each lesson. She understands the nurturing and fostering needed along the ever-changing stages of musical development. All of her sons continue to play in orchestras, compose and use their musical training both in and out of college. Each child’s personality brings a gift and beautiful uniqueness to his or her music, putting a melody and emotion to an inner voice.
“Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart.” Pablo Casals
Entering his fourth teaching year at Cornerstone Music Studios, Dylan Lloyd is excited and honored to be on guitar, piano, cello, violin, ukulele, mandolin and voice faculty. Dylan’s goal as a faculty member at Cornerstone Music Studios is to shape students into well-rounded musicians by creating a comfortable, enjoyable environment that is conducive to developing and sharing musical skills and ideas. Ultimately, these skills will promote confidence, self-esteem,
measurable achievement, and a reason for living.
Dylan Lloyd holds a Bachelors of Music Education in guitar and voice from The College of New Jersey, where he graduated magna cum laude in 2013. In
addition to teaching at Cornerstone Music Studios, he has instructed a wide
variety of classes and groups including Vocal Music and Music Appreciation at Chestnut Ridge Middle School.
Dylan performed in the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society Festival in 2012 and the Wall Guitar Festival in 2011. He has participated in master classes with guitarists Kevin Gallagher, who was the winner of the 2003 GFA (Guitar Foundation of
America) competition and Scott Tennant, who is the author of the guitar
technique book, Pumping Nylon.
Dylan had the honor of performing two benefit concerts with the TCNJ chorale alongside multiple choirs from Japan to promote the rebuilding of Japan. These performances included Mahler’s 2nd Symphony and Verdi’s Requiem at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theatre in New York City, with the New York City Opera Orchestra. Under his direction, the Trentones, an a cappella group at TCNJ, advanced to the 2013 ICCA (International Collegiate Competition of A Capella) semifinals.
“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of
humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” -Billy Joel
Colleen McDonald, Senior Faculty Advisor at Cornerstone Music and accomplished soprano, has been on voice and piano faculty since September 2011. She feels extremely lucky to make music every day with such talented and inspiring young musicians at Cornerstone Music. While maintaining a full teaching studio, Colleen also has assisted with Cornerstone Music’s Storybook Series, MPAC Musical Theater and Arts Camp as well as providing accompaniment at Cornerstone Music’s many recitals.
Colleen is a graduate of Westminster Choir College with a Masters of Music in Voice Pedagogy and Performance, graduating with distinction. During her time at Westminster she performed at such venues as the Kimmel Center, Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart and Carnegie Hall with the Westminster Symphonic Choir. A New Jersey native, Colleen received her Bachelor of Arts in Music from Muhlenberg College, graduating magna cum laude with emphases in Music History, Theory and Performance. There she received such distinctions as the Dorothy and Dexter Baker Foundation Award in the Performing Arts as well as the Muhlenberg College Summer Research Grant for her work on the female Czech composer Vítězslava Kaprálová.
An active performer, she was last seen performing excerpts from Pulitzer Prize winning composer Paul Moravec’s The Letter, as well as previewing excerpts from his new opera The Shining, based on the novel by Steven King. Her operatic experience ranges from performances with Princeton Friends of Opera, Opera Slavica, Westminster Opera Theater, Opera MODO, New Jersey Opera Theater and the Ameropa International Chamber Music Festival in Prague, Czech Republic, among others. Her musical theater credits include a wide variety of productions in the tri-state area. One of her favorite performances was the role of Esther in Meet Me In St.Louis at Kelsey Theater opposite her fiancé Jacob Kinderman. Colleen’s performance and teaching experience in such genres as opera, art song, music theater and jazz improvisation, allow her to provide a well-rounded musical experience for her students.
Music Motto: “Practice like you’ve never won. Perform like you’ve never lost.”
Zach Miller is excited to be joining voice, piano, and acting faculty at Cornerstone Music Studios. Zach is a Marlboro, NJ native and holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Penn State University. Zach is also an alumnus of the FPAC program at Howell High School and has multiple students in the acting program currently.
At Penn State, he had the opportunity to perform in numerous musical theatre and opera productions. Two of his favorite roles include Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance and Jeff in [title of show]. In addition to performing, Zach was able to explore two of his greatest passions: vocal pedagogy and piano performance. With the aid of voice faculty members Raymond Sage, Norman Spivey (NATS President), and musical theatre voice pioneer Mary Saunders-Barton, he formed his own private studio where he taught students to sing with vocal and artistic freedom. In addition to Cornerstone Music Studios, Zach teaches voice, acting, and piano at Act Out, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children and teens with autism and other special needs.
Zach recently finished his run with the national tour of Anything Goes as the Tenor soloist and featured dancer. He has worked in elite regional theatres including: The Pittsburgh CLO, Music Theatre of Wichita, West Virginia Public Theatre and The Connecticut Repertory Theatre. Zach is also co-founder of the Penn State a cappella group, The Statesmen, who have been featured on both BOCA (Best of College A Capella) and Voices Only. They have won multiple national recording awards and have had major success at the ICCA’s (International Collegiate Competition of A Cappella).
Zach’s goal as a teacher is to create an open, safe environment which encourages students to take chances and explore new techniques. As a result, his students will foster honest and playful moments in their acting work, while expanding their musicianship to create a supported, versatile, and well-balanced voice.
Music Motto: “Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Andersen
George Massina Jr.
George Massina has been a drum instructor for many years at Cornerstone Music studios and is definitely our closest brush with rock-n-roll fame! In addition to completing a Bachelors of Music Education at The College of New Jersey, George was taught by Tony DeNicola (of Harry James), Rod Morgenstein (of Dixie Dregs and Winger), Sandy Genaro (of The Monkees and Cyndie Lauper), and studied for two years with the New York Drummer’s Collective. Also proficient in teaching brass, woodwinds, and strings, George has over 25 years’ experience as a music teacher in public high schools in instrumental music and marching band.
During his incredible career George has recorded and toured in New York, California and Jamaica and opened for The Police, the Eurhythmics, The Ramones, The Smithureens, Three Dog Night and Brian Setzer (Stray Cats). He has played with members of such diverse groups as Styx, The Doors, Bon Jovi, the Partridge Family, Toto, The Supremes, David Bowie, The Crystals, Richie Cole, 4 Seasons, and The Animals. He still regularly plays with The Monkees for local shows. George’s former students have moved on to play with The Fray and Tonic, and two are currently touring with Dancing With the Stars. Once, George and the Lawrence H.S.Band were selected to play before the President of the United States at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.
Brandon Motz, tenor and skilled pianist, is thrilled to be on the faculty at Cornerstone Music Studios. Brandon earned his Masters of Music in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College in 2012. He brings with him a love of teaching and a personal goal of creating lifelong music-lovers. As a performer he is frequently praised for his “significant stage presence” and his clear and vibrant tone.
Growing up in Grand Junction, CO, Brandon began performing in children’s theatre productions when he was five years old and quickly developed a love of all things music and theatre. Before graduating high school Brandon had built a resume of over 20 leading rolls in plays and musicals in both amateur and professional productions. Favorite musical rolls include Marius in Les Miserable, Tony in West Side Story, Jack in Into the Woods, Annas in Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Artful Dodger in Oliver!
While attending Otterbein College in Ohio he turned his attention to classical singing. His operatic roles include Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Beppe in I Pagliacci, and Fredrick in The Pirates of Penzance. This past summer Brandon made his professional debut as a last minute replacement in The Magic Flute at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC.
Music Motto: “Music speaks what cannot be expressed.” – Victor Hugo
Ed O’Connor has been teaching guitar and saxophone at Cornerstone since 2007. He has been playing professionally since 1983, spending ten plus years with Trenton-based oldies groups such as Stormy Weather and the Cop-Shoo Bops. In 1987, he joined the Mahoney Brothers Band and their Jukebox Heroes and Long Live the Beatles shows, doing over 200 performances per year.
During the eight years with the Mahoney Brothers, Ed did seven national television appearances including Dick Clark’s Summer Safari (CBS), Charlie Daniel’s Talent Roundup (TNN), and several spots on the Disney Channel during one of their several stints at the famous park in Orlando, Florida. Ed has performed in 35 of the 50 states and played for President Clinton in Washington, D.C. He currently performs all over the tri-state area with Kindred Spirit along with a few other Cornerstone faculty members.
His “real” job is as a Regional Supervisor for the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, overseeing all traffic safety programs in the seven Southern Counties. Ed is considered a national expert in the field of vehicle occupant protection and speaks at safety conferences all across the country. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from The College of New Jersey.
Arielle Rabano is excited to be part of the voice, piano, and flute faculty at Cornerstone Music Studios. Receiving her Bachelors of Music in Music Education from Westminster Choir College, she studied voice as a primary instrument, piano as a secondary instrument, and reinforced flute, of which she previously studied privately for 5 years. While at Westminster, Arielle learned both contemporary (heavy focus on musical theater) and classical styles of singing and is well-versed in the pedagogy behind both. Her favorite musical theater credits include The Phantom of the Opera (Meg), Seussical the Musical, and Aida. Arielle remains active in the musical theater community working and teaching in places such as McCarter Theater. While at Westminster, Arielle performed frequently with the Symphonic Choir at the Kimmel Center and NJPAC with world-class ensembles such as The Philadelphia Orchestra. Favorite performances include Bernstein’s Mass and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Philadelphia Orchestra (conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin) and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana withNJSO (conducted by Jacques Lacombe).
Arielle hopes to provide rich musical experiences within a safe environment whereby students can more easily discover, nurture, and expand their own musical interests to become lifelong music lovers and advocates. With a balance between healthy vocal habits and technique and freedom of musical and personal expression, students will have meaningful music experiences they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Daniel Santos is a drum set player and hand percussion specialist from New Jersey. Daniel graduated Cum Laude from Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in Professional Music. Known as a “musician of many hats,” his stylistic versatility allows for musical options as well as a holistic approach to education, paying homage to tradition while innovating for the future.
Prior to teaching at Cornerstone, Daniel taught at Berklee College of Music through the Berklee City Music program, where he lead an ensemble of high school students in addition to teaching private lessons. Through extensive performance and diligent study, Daniel has developed a teaching method that not only facilitates learning, but promotes both creative and positive thinking.
Amanda Lee Schneider, a Florida native, is a graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. She has performed with a variety of internationally acclaimed orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and Dresden Philharmonic under the baton of Joseph Flummerfelt and Rafael Frühbeck De Burgos, respectively. Among her operatic experience are performances in Der fliegende Holländer, Carmen, Sweeney Todd, Falstaff, Il Trovatore, Beatrice et Benedict, and Tosca with such companies as Princeton Festival, New Jersey Opera, Westminster Opera Theatre, and the Lyric Orchestra. She most recently appeared as Princess Eboli in Don Carlo for the Metropolitan Opera Guild. Mrs. Schneider comes to Cornerstone Music with six years of private music instruction, including a thriving studio in Fort Lauderdale, FL before her return to New Jersey. She currently enjoys a busy schedule of teaching voice, violin, and piano, and has recently founded an opera company, Opera Forza.
Music Motto: Music opens the door to a greater form of self-expression. With musical study, children and adults will develop a new way of looking at themselves, and at the world around them.
Danyel Shiflet is excited to be on staff as the Arts Administration Coordinator and on faculty for Musikgarten and Story-to-Stage at Cornerstone Music Studios. Danyel completed her Master of Music in Voice Performance, cum laude, from the
College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati in 2013 and received her Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance, cum laude, from Westminster Choir College of Rider University in 2011.
Danyel filled her summers by participating in various young artist programs such as The Florence Voice Seminar in Florence, Italy in 2010, Songfest at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, CA in 2012, and Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2013. While attending BASOTI, she earned the role of the Governess in Benjamin Britten’s Turn of the Screw while
being assigned various scenes such as Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette and as Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte. At Songfest 2012, Danyel worked one-on-one with contemporary composers and coaches such as Jake Heggie and
During her time at Westminster Choir College, Danyel was extremely fortunate to learn from the best instructors at Westminster Choir College. She was selected to perform major works with world-renowned conductors and orchestras,
including “Mahler’s Third Symphony” with the New York Philharmonic’s premier concert under the direction of Alan Gilbert at Avery Fischer Hall, Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” with the KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) Symphony
Orchestra under the direction of Shinik Hahm at The United Nations, and John Adam’s “El Niño: A Nativity Oratorio” with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s under the direction of John Adams at Carnegie Hall.
While at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, the
Cincinnati Opera and the CCM Opera department selected Danyel to
participate in “Opera Fusion,” a workshop initiative created to further develop Ricky Ian Gordon’s opera, Morning Star, which was being composed at the time.
Music Motto: “Fortunately, something always remains to be harvested.
So let us not be idle.” -Gustav Mahler
Shane Tapley is pleased to be joining voice and piano faculty at Cornerstone Music Studios. Mr. Tapley is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, has been most recently seen with Long Island Opera in the production of Le nozze di Figaro as Don Basilio. He also worked in Greve-in-Chianti, Italy with Connecticut Lyric Opera’s inaugural Greve Music Festival in the summer of 2015. Known for his character portrayals, he performed in two operas with Hubbard Hall Opera Theatre’s 2014 season in Le nozze di Figaro (Don Curzio) and Gianni Schicchi (Gherardo). He has also explored the other side of the stage as the assistant director in Iolanta for Westminster Opera Theater. Other appearances include Westminster Opera Theater’s Gianni Schicchi (Gherardo), Les contes d’Hoffmann (Spalanzani), and multiple scenes from La traviata, Candide, and Lakmé. He has also performed with the Nashville Opera in productions of Carmen, La fanciulla del west, La bohème, La traviata, Andrea Cheniér, Tosca, and Amahl and the Night Visitors. In 2013, he attended OperaWorks, the nationally recognized opera training program based in Los Angeles as an advanced artist. Shane also participated as one of the six vocalists in the 2012 production of Side by Side by Stephen Sondheim with the Pull-Tight Players in Franklin, Tennessee. He has also been involved with the Princeton-based ensemble, Kinnara, a thirty-two voice professional choir that performs throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Mr. Tapley lives in Princeton, New Jersey, and completed his master’s degree in vocal pedagogy and performance from Westminster Choir College in 2014. Before making his way to the northeast, he completed his Bachelor of Music degree from Belmont University and worked as a session singer and background vocalist in Nashville, Tennessee.
Music Motto: “The impulse to sing, then, in our tradition, is not simply the wish to make a sweet sound, or a loud sound – indeed to ‘make’ any sort of sound; it is the overwhelming urge to express feelings.” – Thomas Hemsley
Neil Winkler teaches trumpet at Cornerstone Music Studios. Neil earned his Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education from The College of New Jersey. While at the College, Neil played with a variety of ensembles, including the Orchestra as principal trumpet, the Wind Ensemble as assistant principal trumpet, and the Brass Ensemble. He also played principal trumpet in the TCNJ Chorale’s performance of “Gloria” by John Rutter. Prior to college Neil was a member of the NJMEA Region II Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble.
In addition to teaching in private music studios Neil has also spent time teaching in several New Jersey public schools. Neil has also been performing in brass, wind and concert ensembles throughout New Jersey.
Growing up on a steady diet of classical music of such composers as Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Debussy and Chopin hardly prepared Laura for her current repertoire of music of Sara Barreilles, Cold Play, The Eagles, Brandi Carlile or Gavin DeGraw. Laura grew up in a musical family, beginning her classical piano studies at a typically young age. Laura’s fondest memories include those of playful, intricate duets which she performed with her sister, Dianne. Fortunately, her parents always believed in the value of learning a musical instrument. Gratefully, she didn’t have a choice!
As a resident of Millstone Township, NJ for over twenty years, Laura has enjoyed her share of volunteer appointments to various committees, boards and foundations within the community and Monmouth County. Several years ago while (as a mother and homemaker raising daughters, Olivia and Isabel) Laura began teaching piano lessons in her private studio. It was a modest arrangement, yet served an important purpose. As the years progressed, she began to feel inspired to create a space in the community that would welcome and nurture music students of a wide range of instruments. The opportunity presented itself and Cornerstone Music Studios at Millstone became a reality.
Laura holds her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Master of Arts in Organizational Communication from the University of South Florida, where, during a part-time assistantship, spent semesters in a dance rehearsal hall, accompanying USF ballet students during their demanding advanced performance classes. She currently assists with the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Freehold, NJ, “Wiggle-n-Worship” music program.
Music Motto: Every being is musical and has the unique ability to foster and express creativity through melody! “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.” Psalm 104:33
Questions or comments? Please email us or call our studios (732) 446-1919. We look forward to speaking with you!