Originally from Easley, South Carolina, Allison attended the Greenville Fine Arts Center, and earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy from Florida State University (cum laude). She also served a six-month internship at San Antonio State Hospital (a mental health institution). Allison pursued a career as a singer/songwriter after college, recording three EPs and one full-length album. While touring, she was hired by Mars Music, Inc. to implement the Babies Make Music program in the metro Atlanta area.
In addition, Allison was a finalist in the Greenville Symphony Orchestra Russian Music Festival Piano Competition in 1990 and a semifinalist in the Young Keyboard Artists Association International Piano Competition in 1990. She toured with the band Life As Mary from 2000-2003, including an exciting showcase with A&R exposure at the 2002 Atlanta Music Conference.
Allison’s flexibility working in diverse positions and environments gave her the training needed to begin Metro Music Makers in 2002. As parents learned about her music therapy background, she began to get requests for adaptive lessons for students who might not otherwise find success in traditional lessons.
Allison is currently a member of the National Guild of Piano Teachers, the Music Teachers National Association, the Georgia Music Teachers Association, the North Fulton Music Teachers Association, and the Music Therapy Association of Georgia. Additionally, Allison serves as a judge for events sponsored by the National Guild of Piano Teachers and the Georgia Federation of Music Clubs.
Allison’s students have achieved many honors over the years. She has seen over 225 of her students make top marks in the National Piano Guild Auditions and National Federation of Music Clubs Festival since 2003.
Allison believes that the process of learning how to play a musical instrument and learning how to create music relates to everything else that we accomplish in life. “We are teaching the future leaders and innovators of tomorrow,” she says. “As a teacher, when I really think about that and about the influence that lessons may have in my students’ lives, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to work one-on-one with young people over the course of many years.”
In fact, now that Allison has been teaching for a number of years, her favorite times are catching up with prior students over lunch or coffee. “It’s exciting to see what my former students do with their lives as they grow into adulthood,” she says.
Allison also was a one-time snake handler (a long story involving removing a baby snake from her house that turned out to be a copperhead!) and a one-time opera singer, (I Pagliacci) in 1991). She and her husband David have an adorable young son, Elliott, who began music classes at the age of six months. Elliott loves strumming the family’s guitars and playing the piano keys.
Alicia has three years of experience as a voice and piano instructor. She teaches across all genres, including classical, opera, musical theater, country, pop and gospel. Her mission as a teacher is to build confidence in her students while helping them establish good technique and a beautiful, unique sound. She encourages her students to never compare themselves to others and to just be the best they can be. “I want my students to develop a love for music that will last their entire life,” Alicia says. “I come to my students’ performances. I get so much joy in seeing their progress!”
True story: Alicia has a cute little dog named Bella who loves to hit the high notes with Alicia when she’s practicing!
Andrew has extensive experience teaching private lessons and performing in a variety of orchestral ensembles. His honors including winning MTNA’s Georgia Division of the Young Brass Artist Competition in 2016, the Barry Tuckwell and Jon Hawkins Awards from the International Horn Society in 2016, EKU’s Concerto Competition in 2012 and 2014, and the Borchardt Concerto Award in 2009.
As a french horn and beginning trumpet teacher for Metro Music Makers, Andrew wants to “provide solid mentorship while teaching good musical habits.”
Andrew has a lot of interests in addition to music. In his free time, he hikes, repairs computers, plays video games, reads classic novels, listens to a variety of podcasts, and lifts weights.
Ashley has years of experience as a piano instructor and choral accompanist, including teaching private and group classes. She is currently leading a music education seminar and a piano class for non-music majors at UGA as a teaching assistant.
In her role as piano and elementary music instructor, Ashley strives to “expand the inherent creativity in children, giving them ownership of their music to instill self-confidence.” Regardless of their skill level, she teaches each of her students the tools they need to compose their own music. She encourages her students, “Mistakes happen often, and that’s okay. It’s what you do different next time that makes progress!”
Ashley is a member of the National Association of Music Education, the Dalcroze Society of America, the Organization of American Kodaly Educators, and the American Orff-Schulwerk Association. She loves dogs and visiting her local animal shelter to socialize with all the puppies. An avid hiker, Ashley hopes to hike the Appalachian Trail someday!
Brentley has taught private music lessons full-time on guitar and piano throughout the Atlanta area since 2011. He is a member of the Atlanta Guitar Orchestra, and was a judge for All-State Chorus auditions in 2014.
Brentley teaches electric/rock guitar, acoustic/steel string guitar (strumming, flat-picking and finger-picking), and classical guitar/nylon string guitar in all styles (popular, rock, blues, jazz, classical), with an emphasis on note reading and music theory, as well as tab and chord reading. He also teaches piano, bass guitar and ukulele.
Brentley seeks to provide a well-rounded music education that includes equal parts of note reading, music theory, technique and improvisation. All eight of Brentley’s students who participated in the 2015 National Federation of Music Clubs Festival received Superior ratings. He also enjoys helping his students arrange popular songs to perform on piano or guitar – he even helped a student write a song to the tune of “All of Me” by John Legend in order to present her platform in a student election for class president, and she won!
Outside of teaching, Brentley loves collecting vinyl records and he loves to cook. He doesn’t see practicing as a timed discipline. “Don’t look at a clock to see when you are supposed to be done practicing,” he says. “You are done practicing when you feel better after getting up than when you first sat down.”
Calia also has musical theater experience. She has played the role of Maria in “The Sound of Music,” and she taught voice and theatre to children and teenagers as a summer camp instructor.
In her role with Metro Music Makers, Calia is a vocal instructor specializing in musical theatre, classical, jazz, and pop music. She also teaches clarinet, guitar, piano and ukulele. Calia connects to her students by getting to know them beyond just music. “I like to know my students’ other interests and hobbies in order to connect with them from a different aspect,” she says.
Calia admits to treating her miniature schnauzer as her child. She also enjoys reading and playing sports. Her favorite style of music to sing is jazz and musical theatre. She also enjoys participating in community service projects with her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Chelsea has been a Metro Music Makers instructor since June 2013, where she wears many hats: vocal pedagogue specializing in opera and musical theater techniques, acting coach and piano instructor. Chelsea also organizes teacher events, workshops and collaborative peer coaching for the Metro Music Makers staff.
Chelsea has received numerous awards, and she is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda and the Missouri Music Educators Association. All of Chelsea’s students who participated in the 2015 National Federation of Music Clubs Festival excelled, and one of her students was a 2015 Shuler Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress. Chelsea wants to “inspire musical fun and creativity though strong mentorship and field teaching that is grounded in solid, healthy technique and pedagogy.”
A self-professed “Hallmark card snob,” Chelsea believes Panera has the best coffee. She loves to hike and is a southern English expert who dabbles in Spanish, Italian and German, but she aspires to learn Pig Latin.
Desiree loves to sing and has been singing since she was a child. She also loves to read and watch movies.
J.T. has six years of full-time private instruction experience, and has worked with kids of all ages through daycare and after-school programs. He is the Music Director and Youth Worship Leader at Cross Church Atlanta.
A rare teacher that offers in-depth, attainable improvisational studies, J.T. can arrange music to fit any instrument. J.T. teaches guitar, piano, bass and woodwinds at Metro Music Makers, in styles as varied as jazz, country, worship, rock and classical. It’s his personal mission to show kids that music is not just something else to study, but rather is a fun art for expressing oneself.
J.T. loves coffee and, in his words, “may have a slight addiction to it.” He has an almost-two-year-old who won the award for cutest kid ever (and may explain the coffee addiction?).
Joseph has been a private vocal teacher since 2010, and he is a voice teacher at Our Lady of the Mountains Roman Catholic Church in Jasper, Georgia, where he is also studying under the music director. He is also the tenor section leader in the choir, as well as a cantor.
As a vocal and beginning piano instructor for Metro Music Makers, Joseph wants to “help nurture students’ natural and instinctual understanding of music, all while helping them construct a technical foundation that allows each of them to apply these basic skills to any style of music.” While Joseph’s vocal studies focus primarily on opera and musical theater, he reaches his students by relating their studies not just to “old” music, but also to the music they enjoy listening to.
In addition to music, if you have any questions about Savannah, Joseph can answer them. He is a fully-licensed tour guide there and used to drive a horse and carriage on tour throughout historic downtown Savannah.
Kristen teaches voice and piano and also works as a music therapist at Metro Music Makers. “I love having a piece of my heart in both the music education world and the music therapy world,” she says. “I know how influential music has been in my own life, and I love helping my students discover their own journey with music and the role that it can play in their own lives.”
Kristen is known for her corny jokes and funny voices, which she uses in her quest to make music accessible to everyone while keeping them laughing in the process. She is also a huge Harry Potter fan who loves musical theater.
Laura was a participant in the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria; Music Fest Perugia; and the University of Miami Frost School of Music in Salzburg. Her opera roles include Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow with UGA Opera Theatre, Mimì in La bohème with Capitol City Opera, and Sister Constance in Dialogues of the Carmelites, among many others. A frequent soloist in the Atlanta area, Laura has appeared with the Atlanta Opera, Just Voices and Dunwoody United Methodist Church. She was the recipient of the Irvin Bushman Memorial Prize in Singing at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a semifinalist in the Meistersinger Competition at the American Institute of Musical Studies.
Laura has taught voice and piano privately since 2010 throughout her graduate studies. She teaches numerous vocal styles, including opera, art song, sacred, folk, and musical theater. She also teaches beginning and intermediate piano, songwriting and theory. Laura’s students have earned Superior and Excellent ratings at the 2015 Federation Festival.
When Laura is not working, she loves to relax and listen to ‘70s rock. She’s also fluent in German! She encourages her students to find their own passion for music, using theory and history to increase their understanding and appreciation. “Find what it is about music that makes you feel happy, whole and alive,” she says. “Try to always be mindful of that, because every piece of music is just ink on a page until you add yourself to it.”
Mark teaches guitar, bass, piano, banjo, mandolin and ukulele to students at Metro Music Makers in various styles including rock, pop, jazz, blues, country, metal and classical.
Mark’s goal with every student is to show how learning the fundamentals, the proper techniques and the theories that make up the musical world, can be fun and exciting, all while instilling a love of music in any form. “My students are not just strangers I see once a week,” Mark says. “I go out of my way to form a bond as a mentor that can last for years. Sometimes I’ll get a email from a student that moved away to college just to catch up. It’s a good feeling.”
Mark also writes, records and produces his own original music, which can be found on all digital distribution sites and iTunesⓇ.
Melanie teaches her students using various styles. She also brings additional instruments to the lessons (especially for those students interested in playing in a group setting) to teach students how to listen to others and play well with their peers.
I like to make lessons fun by implementing a little bit of whatever genre the student is interested in,” says Melanie. “It’s my mission to help students understand what we’re doing and how it relates to their overall goals as musicians.”
When she’s not teaching, Melanie enjoys hiking, camping, painting and playing tennis.
Melissa has performed with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra Celebration Chorus, the Settles Connection, and Melinda Doolittle of American Idol fame, and is now coaching country music star Joe Nichols. She has shared the stage with major recording artists such as Toni Braxton and India Arie. Melissa has more than 18 years of experience as a teacher, singer and performer, including teaching at Jan Smith Studios in Atlanta for over 13 years.
Melissa has immense knowledge of and continued involvement in the music business. Melissa joined Jan Smith, Recording Academy President Ron Roecker, and Seven Bridges as a music industry panelist at the first ever Music Conference in Beijing, China, in 2004. She is a proud voting member of several singer/songwriter associations, including the Grammys.
Melissa has received awards for her teaching and songwriting and co-managed an entertainment booking agency — all of which allow her to educate her voice students at Metro Music Makers regarding the specifics of making a living in the music industry.
At Metro Music Makers, Michael teaches guitar, piano and saxophone, as well as beginning woodwind, brass and percussion. He teaches in various styles, including classical, jazz, pop and rock.
Michael is always willing to go the extra mile for his students, as he wants to help every child grow and develop through music. “Keep trying! Never stop trying to reach for more because there are no limits to what you are capable of,” he encourages his students.
As the self-proclaimed “biggest Batman fan in Georgia,” Michael’s favorite hobby is going to the movies.
She has been a private lesson instructor for the bassoon since 2013, and was co-instructor/teacher for Georgia Children’s Chorus in 2015. Morgan also led individual music therapy sessions for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the YMCA in 2016. In addition, she completed an internship for her Music Therapy degree at Trident Medical Center in Charleston, SC.
Morgan teaches bassoon, ukulele, guitar, piano and voice at Metro Music Makers. She is also a music therapist who specializes in a variety of populations, including children, adolescents and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“I want to provide a caring environment for my students and clients in order to help them develop their musical skills in an efficient and fun way, as well as aid them in their growth and development in a therapeutic setting,” Morgan shares. Her advice for her students? “Honestly, just have fun! Music is a process, so don’t get discouraged – just enjoy creating music!”
In addition to having the cutest orange tabby cat in the world, Thor, Morgan loves listening to folk and pop music and being outdoors – hiking, sailing… you name it!
Nita taught piano and voice in Atlanta from 2000 to 2005 on a full-time basis, before moving to the Caribbean where she continued to teach. Since returning to Atlanta in 2013, she has been teaching full-time at Metro Music Makers. Nita is not only an experienced teacher of piano and voice, but she is also the Office Manager for Metro Music Makers.
Nita teaches all styles of music to her students, and her desire is to “teach them a strong foundation for reading music, while at the same time instilling in them a great love of music.” Many of Nita’s students consistently participate in the Federation Festival and receive Superior ratings. She encourages her students to “Try, try try! Never give up!”
Nita lived on two different Caribbean islands for seven years – and during one of those years, she worked as a musician at a Caribbean club.
Rachel has taught private violin lessons for four years and often works as a violin clinician at various middle schools and high schools. She is currently a student teacher for the KSU Sting Project, where she teaches beginning violin students.
Rachel has known she wanted to be a teacher since she was in kindergarten, and in the 6th grade she decided she wanted to teach orchestra. “I see the star potential in each student and teach them in a way that pushes them to be the best musician they can be,” Rachel explains. “I believe each student can be engaged and challenged in a way that is fun and exciting.”
Baroque and Romantic are Rachel’s two favorite styles of orchestral music. She also enjoys fashion, photography, singing, playing the piano and dancing.
Sara has been practicing professionally since 2012. She currently provides therapy for children and adolescents with a variety of diagnoses including autism spectrum disorders, ADD/ADHD, cerebral palsy, neurofibromatosis and anxiety/depression.
In addition to Sara’s master’s degree training, she has been teaching typical lessons as well as adaptive lessons for students on piano, guitar and voice since 2012. Students with learning disabilities or challenges, special needs or emotional and behavioral diagnoses who would struggle in a traditional lesson setting can thrive in adaptive lessons with Sara. She teaches piano, guitar and voice in all styles at Metro Music Makers, as well as working as our Music Therapy Specialist and Community Relations Manager.
All of Sara’s students received a Superior rating in the 2014 Federation Festival. Her students were also the first from Metro Music Makers to participate in the theory event at the 2015 Federation Festival. Many of Sara’s adaptive students perform in recitals alongside typical students.
Sara’s mission as a teacher is to unlock the inner world of every student through music. “I see music as a unique way for every student to find his or her voice, learn to set and achieve goals, express and process emotion, strive for excellence, learn responsibility and learn who they are,” she says. “I work hard to ensure that every student or therapy client feels understood, is challenged and motivated, and is having fun while learning or working to meet therapy goals!”
When Sara is not in therapy sessions or teaching, she spends most of her spare time dancing flamenco. ¡Olé!
At Metro Music Makers, Sarah is a voice instructor specializing in classical style (but also offering Broadway, pop and jazz), a beginner and intermediate piano instructor, and a beginning guitar and ukulele instructor.
Eleven of Sarah’s students received a Superior rating in the 2015 National Federation of Music Clubs Festival, and several of her students have been Shuler Award nominees. Sarah strives to nurture a love for music in her students by making the learning process fun and natural. “Even the most challenging material can become easy when presented in a fun and interesting way!” she says.
Sarah wants her students to be passionate about music: “Music isn’t just another subject in school – it’s the language of your emotions. If you can’t have fun with it, you’re doing it wrong!”
Sarah has two ferrets named Wilbur and Gracie, and she taught herself how to knit and crochet in high school. She loves watching and listening to opera as well as singing it, but she love all genres of music, from classical to country to jazz.
Scott performs with the Atlanta Guitar Trio and is an active voting member of the Grammy Recording Academy. He has 28 years of experience teaching all styles of music, and 15 years of experience as a college guitar professor.
“I enjoy teaching all styles of music, and I am proud to provide my students with the fundamentals they need in order to be the best guitarist they can be, no matter whether they want to play just for fun or if they strive to be a professional guitarist,” Scott says. His advice for his students is to stay persistent in their practicing. “Everyone can learn how to play and enjoy guitar. It is often hard to learn at first, but over time things will get easier and you will be playing your favorite songs.”
Scott spent his first ten years as a guitarist performing rock, but now he performs as a classical guitarist. Many of his students enjoy seeing old rock band photos of him when he had hair down to his waist!