Meet Our Teachers
Abigail is a sensitive, confident teacher who is always listening to her students to fine-tune their technique and relationship to music. A violin, piano and composition teacher with JFMA, Abigail graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston with her degree in Violin Performance and Film Scoring. She was selected as a participant for the Composing for the Screen 2019: A Film Scoring Mentorship Program, sponsored by BMI and directed by pro composer Rick Baitz. This is a prestigious six-week workshop for budding film composers to learn more about writing music for a wide variety of media. Abigail’s past teaching experience includes being an instructor at the Global Strings Intensive camp run by Berklee College teaching her students styles from Bluegrass to Celtic. Abigail has written music for video games and has worked as an audio engineer and music producer. Abigail enjoys teaching her violin and piano students to identify with their instrument, to better control it with technical skills, to express their unique thoughts and feelings, and most of all to enjoy playing. She charts a unique plan for each student’s development and optimum learning and takes an active, hands-on role to realize their goals.
When you see easy-going, fun-loving Alex, be sure to tell him, “hej,” which means hello in Danish. An international musician and educator, Alex has over fourteen years of experience teaching Guitar, Piano, Bass Guitar, Ukulele, and Drums to students of all ages in both Denmark and the US. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and his Master’s Degree in Performance for Jazz Guitar at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He was the recipient of both the Bent Thøger Olesen Foundation scholarship and a Music Department scholarship as he was on the Honor Roll for academic excellence at Cornish College. Alex has also worked as a sound engineer and creative producer for over fourteen years, possessing strong skills in: composing, arranging, stage management, live sound, recording, mixing, and editing. An active performer, arranger, and producer for many musical ensembles, projects, and festivals internationally, Alex even toured with a Doors tribute band across Denmark. Well-versed in multiple instruments, musical performance and technical skills, and multiple languages, Alex is a kind, patient teacher who daily enjoys how music brings people together.
Amanda is passionate about helping people to recognize both the personal and global value of music and likewise encourages her students to be ambassadors of music. She teaches saxophone, flute and clarinet. Amanda is currently pursuing a certificate in Music for Early Childhood Education at Pasadena City College. She has been playing music for ten years and has performed all over the country. Having been a private music instructor for many years, she has extensive knowledge of various reading materials and musical supplies in addition to experience teaching students of all ages. Amanda is committed to having her students recognize that regular performance is an ideal method to further their musical educations.
Amanda’s fun-loving, positive, and patient nature defines her both personally and professionally. With JFMA, she teaches Voice and Piano. Amanda earned her Associate’s Degree in Vocal Performance from Los Angeles College of Music where she was on the President’s Honor Roll. She has taught as a private and group music instructor at Gymboree, Altadena Academy of Music, Alhambra School of Music, and Oksana School of Music. An active songwriter and performer, Amanda has played at a wide range of venues like prestigious music halls, festivals such as “Make Music Pasadena,” and the Fox Theater in Pomona. An enthusiastic teacher, Amanda’s specialities are: versatile singing, chart writing, world music, musical theater, and of course, songwriting. Amanda’s teaching philosophy is that students of all ages learn best through play.
Ariana is an incredibly dedicated teacher; patient, encouraging, she sets high expectations that bring out the very best in her students because that what she sees in them. Ariana teaches violin, viola, cello, piano, and Spanish from beginning to advanced levels to musicians of all ages. Her Bachelor’s Degree is from Azusa Pacific University and she is an elementary school teacher of string instruments in the Anaheim school district, and prepares students to perform in concerts throughout the year. Ariana’s educational philosophy is to inspire and motivate her students to not only become better skilled musicians, but most importantly (and through music) more compassionate, thoughtful, and perceptive human beings.
Deborah guides her students to high achievements by instilling in them a solid work ethic, which she models herself; her enthusiasm for personal growth and development are infectious. She teaches voice, piano, drama, and violin. Deborah earned her Master’s Degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance from Azusa Pacific University and then went on to teach beginningpiano for APU’s conservatory. She has been the Workman High School Choir Director since 2012, where she practices a variety of styles but developed an impressive classical program that prepares students for college-level musical training and the professional world. Deborah coordinates music lesson material in adherence to California state educational standards and builds a strong foundation of reading, vocal production, and practical musicianship.
No matter your musical genre tastes, Drew will most likely share them with you as he is committed to making music a part of everyone’s lives and is knowledgeable in jazz, classical, blues, rock and loads more. Drew earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Guitar Performance from DePaul University in Chicago and a graduate Degree in Film Music Composition from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. He has been a music instructor since 2012 teaching guitar, bass, beginning piano, drums, mandolin, and music theory to students at the the Santa Monica School of Dance and Music and the YMCA. In addition to teaching, Drew works as an assistant to film composer Miles Hankins and has played and written music for saxophonist Phil Woods, Netflix projects, the SyFy channel, Focus Features films, and Fuji TV. He is also on the Composition staff for the music production Qat Zoo Creatives, writing, orchestrating, and recording music for feature length films, tv shows, video games, trailers, and commercials. Working in Hollywood for many years with a wide variety of personalities, Drew is very patient and calm with his students and is always eager to share his love of music with them.
Fernanda is an incredibly encouraging teacher who builds the confidence of each of her students so that their learning is both self-motivated and fun. She teaches piano, voice, guitar and Pre-K. She joined the JFMA staff in 2012 having earned her Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance with the Vocal Department at Los Angeles College of Music. Fernanda is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. With regard to her teaching, Fernanda specializes in: vocal technique, songwriting, music theory, ear training, the physicality of performance, and song arranging.
Garrett is an outgoing, fun-loving, friendly, and patient instructor. He teaches saxophone, flute, clarinet, ear training, and piano. Garrett earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Studies from Cal State Northridge and an Associate’s Degree in Fine Arts & Musical Performance from Citrus College. Garrett prepares high school students for band competitions, teaching woodwind clinics and mentoring students to compete in sectionals. He’s knowledgeable in classical, jazz, and pop music among others. Garrett believes that learning to identify and express oneself through music is the key to mastering any instrument.
Jackie is fun and energetic, traits which serve her well teaching both adults and children. She teaches voice, violin, and piano. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Vocal Performance from Azusa Pacific University. She was Concertmaster for the St. Francis High School Chamber Orchestra for three years and a violinist with the Sacramento Youth Symphony for three years. In college she was a member of the APU Bel Canto Women’s Choir and the APU Oratorio Choir, and an university opera performer. Also at APU, she was a recipient of the Dean of Music Scholarship and a Vocal Performance Merit Scholarship. She won the Command Performance Vocal Soloist Award, State Level at the Golden Empire Music Festival. An accomplished performer, Jackie inspires her students to be actively performing musicians as well.
Jennifer is a very patient instructor and highly skilled with multiple styles of piano playing. She teaches piano, voice, songwriting, Math, English, and guitar. Jennifer graduated Summa Cum Laude from Life Pacific College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies and a Minor in Music. She has been the worship leader for Emmanuel Assembly of God Church and the Musical Director for Bible Mission church. In her teaching children of all ages and adults, Jennifer emphasizes performance skills. She enjoys teaching all types of musical genres including: baroque, classical, romantic, worship, gospel, ragtime, and contemporary.
Jeremy is wonderfully creative in his teaching and uses a diversity of methods to engage all kinds of students. A JFMA instructor since 2004, he teaches guitar, piano, drums, ukulele, bass, violin, theory, and banjo. Jeremy earned both his Bachelor’s in Psychology and his Master’s in Music Performance from Azusa Pacific University. As the Music Director for Mission Pointe Church, he prepared all the music for weekly services, led congregational singing, and ran rehearsals and performances for the worship band. Currently he performs as a freelance musician in the Los Angeles area. Dedicated to the success of his students, Jeremy develops personalized curriculums of music theory and guitar techniques for his students.
Jessie is committed to seeing steady progress in her students to keep them confident, motivated, and consistently improving as musicians. She teaches voice, math, and piano. Jessie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of the Redlands, where she was a Music Talent Award Scholarship recipient, and studied theater, jazz dance, swing dance, and ballet at the College of the Desert. She is skilled in multiple genres including: pop, jazz, musical theater and is highly accomplished in jazz singing, sight singing, and vocal improvisation. She was a choir member for productions at Opera by the Glass, the Pacific Opera Project, the University of the Redlands, and the McCallum Theater. Jessie believes that a solid musical technique is the ideal foundation for a lifetime of musical development and enjoyment.
Cosmopolitan, engaging, and patient, Lu teaches piano, music theory, and Mandarin. Lu earned her Master’s degree in Music Education from Mississippi College and her Bachelor’s degree in Musicology from Southwest University for Nationalities in China. Lu has helped many students to pass the ABRSM examinations in Music Theory and Piano Performance. Lu relies on her international experiences to enhance her teaching methods. She believes in working towards specific musical goals and mastering solid technique as the foundation of great musicianship.
Encouraging, patient, and thoughtful, Marika is always teaching with the next lesson in mind. She teaches piano, violin, music theory, and the Japanese language. Marika earned her Master’s Degree in Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music in Boston and her Bachelor’s degree from Shobi Music College in Tokyo, Japan. Marika studied composition, orchestration, and piano performance. She has experience playing violin, french horn, Taiko drums, and conducting. She is a classical pianist, composer, and recording artist. Marika is a practitioner of hands-on teaching, getting her students directly involved with their development of skill and technique-building.
Melissa is a kind and nurturing instructor who enjoys traveling and learning about different cultures. She teaches Voice and Piano and earned her Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance from Chapman University. Melissa is committed to developing and preserving healthy musical habits in her students for a lifetime of making music. In Voice lessons, she pays special attention to proper technique for breath control and support and when teaching piano, Melissa focuses on strengthening her students’ fingers for both power and agility. Melissa sings Soprano and performs with multiple choirs throughout Los Angeles and is a section leader for St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Choir in Monrovia. In college, she performed in staged opera productions, recitals, and numerous choir concerts all over California and Nevada. In 2017, she was awarded first prize in the Great Composers Competition in the Rising Talents of the Americas competition and third prize for composition in the Artist of the Year Competition that same year. Always professional, Melissa makes use of every lesson and takes every opportunity to develop her students’ growth.
Matthew’s approach to learning music is that just because it’s hard work doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun. He has an extensive academic background in music and media including audio engineering certificates, years and years of private study in Trumpet, Trombone, Guitar, French Horn, and Piano. He earned an Associate’s Degree from Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio. He then worked as a Recording Engineer at Scorpio Studios in Cleveland. An eclectic musician, Matthew has performed original jazz, pop, metal, and rock as a band member. He has played at various professional music festivals and opened for major label bands on tour. Locally, he’s performed at The Whiskey, Viper Room, Mint, and The Rainbow. Matthew has over ten years of experience teaching music students from age 4 to adults, including working with special needs individuals. His energetic personality motivates his students to overcome obstacles and reach for the stars.
While Ryan has energy for days he is also incredibly nurturing, thoughtful and attentive. He teaches guitar, bass, drums, piano, and ukulele. He earned his Associate’s degree in Guitar Performance from LA College of Music. Ryan has the rare combination of being both an excellent technical and improvisational guitarist and teacher. In addition to teaching with JFMA, Ryan is a freelance music producer, audio engineer, and musician. He tours around the US and Europe with his rock band, The World Over. He believes in students choosing what they want to learn to play whether it’s Disney and Pixar songs or rock music.
Sowparnika is wonderfully bubbly and energetic, making even the newest student feel welcomed into the world of musical education. At JFMA, she teaches Voice, Piano, Guitar, Ukulele, Music Theory, Pre-K Music Exploration and Drama. She holds a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance from Los Angeles College of Music. In her Voice lessons, Sowparnika makes sure her students master the basics of projection, breathing, and vocal techniques, providing the perfect foundation to develop in any direction they choose. She has instilled a love and familiarity with music in children from just a few months to five years old and has taught groups of up to twenty children at a time. As a professional performer, Sowparnika is a lead singer for several live entertainment bands and performs at local venues and festivals. She believes in the power of practicing for a performance to unlock students’ musical potential and in addition to vocal training, she makes sure to assist in song choices and performance tips specific to every individual.
Talar is just as cool and outgoing in person as she appears on stage. Her enthusiasm for music is infectious and she’s particularly great at teaching kids to come out of their shells and share their talents with the world. Talar teaches advanced voice and beginning piano, having trained in Vocal Performance and Theater at Azusa Pacific University. She specializes in stage performance and entertainment. Previously, Talar worked as the musical director of Showlights Theater and Judson High School. Currently she is a freelance film composer, vocal performer, actress, and singer. Fluent in Armenian, Talar pushes her students to project their voices, overcome their shyness, and be proud of who they are in any language.
If you respond well to big personalities, Thomas will be perfect for you. He is an upbeat, energetic, optimistic, and engaging instructor. Having earned his Bachelor’s of Music in Jazz Studies and Performance from San Diego State University, he teaches guitar, bass guitar, drums, and piano. Thomas’ past experience as a private instructor includes teaching his students instrumental technique, music theory, and composition. In college, Thomas played in Jazz ensemble, Jazz Big Band, and Jazz improvisation groups. As a teacher, Thomas is very patient and creative in finding the right approach to reach each student and connect them with their best musicianship and inner rock star.
Highly experienced, Vicky gives her students the perfect balance of encouragement and technical instruction. She teaches violin, viola, piano, and cello. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Violin Performance from the University of Buffalo, New York. Vicky has written orchestral arrangements of pop songs and classical music for school orchestras at varying levels of technical competence for the student players. She has taught group string lessons to students grade levels K-6th at several local schools, led masterclasses for violin students, and taught private lessons to students aged 4 to adults, ranging from beginning to advanced, for over ten years. Vicky’s educational philosophy is that music is meant to be shared and so regular performance is the best way to improve one’s skills.