Emma Gies is a violinist, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist specializing in improvisation and cross-cultural studies. She draws on the musical languages of Hindustani Gayaki-Ang, Gypsy/ Roma, Jazz, Classical, and American Roots music, giving her an extensive musical vocabulary and a unique sound. Her playing and singing have been described as “hauntingly gorgeous” - Zoe Madonna, The Boston Globe.
Some of her career highlights include: co-producing and scoring the #17 podcast in the history genre with over 20,000 listeners, Blood on Gold Mountain; recording What Is Done in Love, a solo album for violin and voice, which she performed at the Aratoi Museum of History and Art as part of an artist residency at New Zealand Pacific Studios; touring and performing with her band The Flower Pistils, winning finalists in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition; and receiving an Entrepreneurial Musicianship Grant, Spark Award, and Alumni award from The New England Conservatory to support her performance projects.
She is a passionate educator and strives to inspire each of her students to develop a love for music-making. She has taught hundreds of children and adults over the past 7 years and guest lectured at Skidmore College, Scripps College, and The New England Conservatory.
Pianist John Gilmour divides his time between performing, teaching, and coaching. For five years, he served on the accompanying staff at Scripps College, where he regularly performed alongside faculty and students and accompanied the choirs.
A dedicated educator, John has taught piano at CCSM since 2018. His holistic approach draws upon the study of somatic practices and the work of Dorothy Taubman to help students uncover free, embodied movement that ensures a lifetime of enjoyment at the piano. He holds a master's degree in collaborative piano from the University of California, Irvine, where he was a fellowship student of Nina Scolnik. John is a member of the Music Teacher's National Association and the Dalcroze Society of America. In addition to teaching at CCSM, he is on the piano faculty at the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles.
Association of California (MTAC), where he has served in numerous positions within the organization and is currently a member of the branch Board. Within MTAC, Brian participates in the Certificate of Merit study program, which allows students the option to enroll in yearly statewide evaluations containing Repertoire, Technique, Sight-Reading, Theory and Ear Training components. He is also an active participant in Pomona Valley Branch recitals and music competitions.
Brian is also a member of other local music organizations and is on the board of a local annual music competition. He enjoys teaching students of all ages and likes to incorporate elements of theory, technique sight-reading and ear training into his lessons: all of which he believes helps students to build a strong musical foundation while they work to improve their skills and develop an appreciation for music.
Caleb Grabowski is a jazz pianist, classical pianist, composer, arranger, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. As a recent graduate from Azusa Pacific University in Commercial Piano Performance, he had the opportunity to study under current industry professionals, including Bill Cantos, Mari Falcone, and Michael Lee. Caleb is also a freelance musician, playing gigs around LA at restaurants, donor events, weddings, parties, and more.
Caleb also has a passion for teaching. Throughout high school and college, Caleb ran his own private studio, where he taught lessons to students ages 4-20. While he has primarily taught piano, he has also taught drum set, percussion, and guitar. He looks to meet students at their current experience levels, help them build up their musicianship, and increase their understanding of jazz theory, style, and history.
Master of Music, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Bachelor of Music, Piano Performance, California State University, Fullerton
Bachelor of Arts, Piano Pedagogy, California State University, Fullerton
Tracy Grandy served as a full-time faculty member for twenty years at The New School for Music Study in Kingston, New Jersey. The New School was founded in 1960 by Frances Clark and her associate, Louise Goss. The school has attained national recognition for providing innovative piano instruction and advanced teacher training. Ms. Grandy joined the faculty after completing a Master of Music degree at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She has worked with many of today’s leading pedagogues, including Louise Goss, Marvin Blickenstaff, and Ted Cooper. During her tenure at The New School, Ms. Grandy also performed in a series of faculty recitals held throughout every school year. In 2010, she participated in a recital of French music at Carnegie Hall as a 50th celebration of the school’s founding.
In addition to teaching, Ms. Grandy has worked as an accompanist. She has performed in over thirty musicals, including productions by The Blue Ridge Theatre Festival in Harrisonburg, Virginia. As an accompanist for students of In Dal Choi, former concertmaster of the Seoul Philharmonic in Korea and voice instructor at James Madison University, Ms. Grandy performed in competitions and recitals held by the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Ms. Grandy has participated in various chamber music ensembles. She has accompanied university and church choirs in California, Virginia, and New Jersey. Over the past two decades, Ms. Grandy has also performed classical repertoire as well as Contemporary Christian music for worship services at several Presbyterian churches. She hopes to continue her work as an accompanist. She enjoys playing in different venues and looks forward to working with the many talented musicians who reside in the Claremont area.
Wendy Kikkert holds a Bachelor of Music degree with an emphasis in piano from Wellesley College, and a Master of Music in vocal performance from CSU Long Beach. She has over ten years of experience teaching private piano and voice, as well as directing choirs. She enjoys teaching students of all ages.
Marna Makau taught at Machakos Teachers' College in Kenya for nine years, where she was head of the education department. She studied at a teachers' college in Germany for one year and has certification to teach English as a Second Language in California. She also retains a California Teaching Credential to teach through 8th grade. Ms. Makau was also an organist in several churches over a period of about ten years.
Her traditional piano study was with Ralph Travis and Nora Teichmann (Padgogische Hochschule, Gottingen, Germany). She completed Suzuki training through volume 3 with Harlow Mills, Carol Hendrixson and Bruce Anderson. Makau studied the pipe organ with Ralph Travis and Doctor Blanchard. Makau holds certifications in level-one Orff-Schulwerk approach, Multiple Intelligences and Digital Keyboard Ensemble teaching. She taught in the Ontario/Ontario-Montclair School District from 1962-64 and 1967-2002. She was a first-grade teacher and music specialist at Buena Vista Arts Integrated School. In 1998, Makau earned Teacher of the Year in San Bernardino County, and was a teacher mentor.
Teaching Philosophy: "I feel that the Suzuki method (mother tongue approach) is an exemplary way to teach, but that age-appropriate theory and pre-reading are also a necessary part of early instruction for keyboard instrument playing. I therefore take the best of both the Suzuki and traditional methods and integrate them in my teaching. I believe in life-long learning and have gained many insights from observing master piano teachers and attending music conferences. Since piano students often feel isolated from their peers who play in bands or orchestras, I like to give them the opportunity to play in ensembles to discover the joy of shared music-making. Finally, I truly believe that music has the capacity to enrich one's life, contribute to wellness, and nurture a beautiful heart that binds us together as fellow human beings."
Olga Meisel started her musical pursuit at the age of seven on violin and piano. She has been a violin teacher for 37 years to students of all ages and was nominated as Teacher of the Year, Togliatti, Russia in 1999. She gives local music-school masterclasses. Her students have won city, regional and country competitions in Russia, and she has had many students go on to professional careers in music over the years.
Bachelor of Arts, Music, Honors & Biological Chemistry, Honors, Grinnell College
Sophie Paek holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and Biological Chemistry from Grinnell College, and has over 18 years of musical experience performing, teaching, and directing music programs for youth.
Sophie began her musical studies at the age of four and is a proud alum of CCSM, where she extensively studied with Ana Maldonado. Since her student days, Sophie has been an active musician, both as a soloist and an ensemble player, performing in various orchestras and chamber ensembles both in and out of state. After deciding to pursue music as a career, she graduated with a B.A. in music at Grinnell College and extended her performance studies in Vienna, Austria under the tutelage of Josef Luitz.
In addition to performing, Sophie developed a passion for working with youth from a young age. Giving her first private lesson at the age of ten, she has been committed to sharing her love and joy of music through not only private lessons, but also group lessons, and youth orchestra programs in Southern California, Oregon and Iowa. She is the co-founder and president of KidsMusic, an after-school music program established to make music education more available and accessible to more students. Since then, she has worked with over 150 preschool-high school students. A passionate advocate for music education, Sophie has also served as an elected representative in the Music Student Educational Policy Committee at Grinnell College.
An enthusiastic and sincere teacher, Sophie seeks to further share the joy of music-learning and playing with all individuals.
Dr. Jane Park
Doctor of Musical Arts, Piano Performance, University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music
Master of Music, Piano Performance, Cleveland Institute of Music
Bachelor of Music, Piano Performance, Eastman School of Music
Jane Park is an active pianist and educator. She received a Bachelor of Music in piano performance at the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of pianist Barry Snyder. She then had the privilege to study with Dr. Daniel Shapiro at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received a Master of Music in piano performance. Finally, she spent some time at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute of Music to study with Marian Hahn before moving back to California to study with pianist Antoinette Perry at the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music. At USC, she received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance along with minors in music education, piano pedagogy and music technology.
A passionate and highly dedicated music educator, Dr. Park continues to pursue various research interests. Among her research, she has written papers on common injuries and prevention in pianists, motivation in young piano students, as well as a literature review on the benefits of music therapy in children with autism. She also wrote a research paper on effective strategies on improving sight-reading skills in young beginning piano students, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal, .
Dr. Park currently serves on the board of the MTAC Pomona Valley branch as well as multiple competition committees. She also maintains a successful private studio where students enjoy learning all aspects of music, as well as being prize-winners in various competitions.
Doctor of Musical Arts, University of Washington, Seattle
Master of Music, University of Washington, Seattle
Bachelor of Music, Piano Performance, Eastman School of Music
Pianist Maria Perez was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she received her early musical training. Dr. Perez earned a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance, with distinction, from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and both Master and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Washington in Seattle. Her doctoral dissertation was on American pianist/composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk and his Caribbean-based compositions.
As a soloist, Dr. Perez has performed numerous recitals and a diverse repertoire of concerti. Her debut with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Puerto Rico was received with critical acclaim for her "captivating" and "bold" performances of Mendelssohn's Concerto in G minor and Gottschalk's Grande Tarantelle. Other orchestral solo appearances include the Claremont Symphony Orchestra, Puerto Rico Conservatory Orchestra, Beach Cities Symphony, Pomona Concert Ensemble, Rancho Belago Symphony, Laguna Woods Symphony and the Hour of Power Orchestra of the Crystal Cathedral.
She has been a featured musical guest in several television programs and live radio talk shows. As a collaborative musician, Dr. Perez's work has included performances with Martin Chalifour, Concertmaster of the LA Philharmonic; Lev Polyakin, Assistant Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra; Tenor Daniel Rodriguez; Irish tenor Ronan Tynan; sopranos Ursula Kleinecke and Hayley Westenra; arranger Tom Scott; film composer John Debney; and world-renowned Chinese Erhu player Ma Xioahui.
Dr. Perez is a member of MTAC and has been on the faculty of the Claremont Community School of Music since 1993.
Bachelor of Arts, Music Education, University of California Los Angeles
Member of Music Teachers Association of California
Christine Rhodes is proud to have served on-faculty at the Claremont Community School of Music since 1987. She has taught private studio piano lessons since 1978, when she began her music education journey at UCLA. She has taught all ages and styles and focuses on concepts of theory and sight reading. Her goal for each student is for them to enjoy and love all styles of music for themselves.
Rhodes has the pleasure of being the accompanist for the El Roble and Claremont High School choirs.
Bachelor of Music, Musical Pedagogy, Pedagogical College, Musical Pedagogical University, Moscow
Irina joined the faculty at the Claremont Community School of Music in 1996, where she has been working with students of all ages. Irina is a member of the Music Teacher's Association of California (MTAC), a professional organization dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in music education. She is also certified in the "Every Child Can!" method from the Southern California Suzuki Institute, a program that strives to make music learning accessible to all children by teaching them to first play by ear. Moreover, Irina completed the Robert Pace Keyboard Method for preschool and adult beginners with Dr. Marsha Wolfersburger, focusing on big-picture concepts, mastery through creative practice, and more.
Irina believes that every student, regardless of age and ability, has the capability to learn music and reach their goals. She strives to give each student and individualized approach and help them enjoy learning music at their own pace, targeting weaker areas to improve overall performance.
Bachelor of Business Administration - Emphases in Finance, Real Estate, & Law; Minor in Music, Cal Poly Pomona
Jeffrey Masaru Sweede started playing and performing on the piano at age five. He has studied with Marna Makau and Artemis Bedros, and has participated and placed 1st in the Impressionistic/Contemporary Festival, MTAC Pomona Valley Branch Romantic Festival, Division VI Torrance Piano Festival Grand Prix, and The Walker Competition.
At age 15, Jeffrey found a true passion for jazz music. He studied with Brian McNair at Alta Loma High School and went on to compete in the Reno Jazz Festival. He was awarded 1st place with his trio and also the award of Outstanding High School Rhythm Section Performer. Jeffrey has performed at numerous venues in Southern California with his trio, the Exit 9 Trio. Jeffrey also participated in the Cal Poly Pomona Philharmonic Concerto Competition and received a merit-based scholarship after placing 1st in 2019.
Jeffrey's true passion is spreading the word of jazz music through the piano. His vision is to work on students' creativity, historical understanding, and performance techniques.
Doctor of Musical Arts, Piano Performance, Claremont Graduate University
Master of Music, Piano Performance, Juilliard School of Music
Born in Russia, Tatiana Thibodeaux came to the United States to participate in a Music Festival and has remained in the USA ever since. She has gained critical acclaim in Russia and across several continents: Asia, Europe, South America, and North America. She is a winner of the Young Artist National Piano Competition (Russia), Liszt International Piano Competition (Germany), Association Musicale Mérignac Aquitaine (France), and PTNA Piano Competition for Promising Artists (Japan).
Nationally and internationally, Thibodeaux has performed as a guest soloist. She has appeared as a concerto soloist with Lyric Orchestra, St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Ekaterinburg Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ecuador, Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra, National Orchestra of Catalonia, Chiba Symphony Orchestra, and others.
Thibodeaux holds degrees from Saint Petersburg Conservatory, Julliard School of Music, and the Claremont Graduate University, where she was a Graduate Council Fellow. She is currently on-faculty at Scripps College in the music department. Thibodeaux has also served on the faculties of St. Petersburg Conservatory, Xiamen University, and Universidad de los Hemispherios.
Both the National Endowment of the Arts and California Meet the Composer Series have awarded Thibodeaux performance and teaching grants. From 2012-2014, Thibodeaux was honored as a Fullbright Scholar in Music and American Studies at Ural State Pedagogical University, Russia and at Astany State Conservatory, Kazakhstan.
Thibodeaux has appeared as a guest faculty artist at UC Santa Barbara; the San Francisco Conservatory; the Classical Music Festival in Ekaterinburg, Russia; the Liszt Academy in Hungary; Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt in Germany; and Xiamen University in China.
Bachelor of Music, Music College n. M. Lusenko. Poltava, Ukraine
Svetlana Woloschuk is a professional pianist and piano teacher. She studied music pedagogy, music theory & harmony, and music history & literature. Svetlana was a student of Professor Elena Natalevich at Odessa Conservatory and Lubov Drobitko at Kyev Conservatory. She and her students performed in annual concerts presented by Poltava region. She has received various achievement awards for teaching piano in Ukraine.
Since the year 2000, CCSM students in Svetlana’s studio have participated in the Junior Music Festival under NFMC (National Federation of Music Clubs).
Svetlana is a member of MTAC - Music Teachers Association of California. As a member of the Temecula Valley Branch of MTAC, she prepares students to receive the Certificate of Merit. The exam includes knowledge of theory, technique, music literature and performing classical and contemporary music from Levels 1-10. Her students have received Branch Honors and medals and have also participated in the Honor Branch Recital.
Master of Music, Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy, Westminster Choir College of Rider University
Ruisha Zhang has been active as a concert pianist and experiential piano teacher. She frequently participates in solo and chamber concerts internationally, including venues in North America and China.
She has studied piano pedagogy extensively and has set her students a high standard of performance skills as well as musicality. Ms. Zhang is currently studying her doctoral degree in piano performance at the Claremont Graduate University. She earned her master's degree in piano pedagogy and performance at Westminster Choir College in NJ.
Ms. Zhang is a registered Suzuki teacher, a member of Dalcroze Society of America, and a member of MTNA (Music Teachers National Association).