Meet the Director

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Mark Weisman

Mark Weisman’s career as a pianist, musician, conductor and educator spans more than the past 20 years. After graduating New York University with a BA in Music Education and Musicology, Mark has never stopped his passion for learning. He has studied continuously with the most respected people in the music profession such as Miriam Brickman (classical concert pianist), Sanford Gold (former pianist of the NBC orchestra), Janice Friedman (jazz pianist), Dena DeRose (singer, jazz pianist, conductor), Dave Frank (jazz pianist & professor, Berklee School of Music) and Celeste Simone (Broadway Theater Coach).

Performance credits include solo piano engagements at various venues throughout the tri-state area including the Marriot Marquis Hotel (NYC), the “W” Hotel, the Water Club, Valentino’s Piano Bar (Morristown, NJ) and the Madison Hotel (NJ) in addition to performing with some of the top rated wedding bands in the state. He also currently plays as the house pianist at the http://thegraycliff.com in Moonachie, NJ, an upscale wedding venue. Additional credits as musical director and conductor include local community and High School theater productions of Little Shop of Horrors, Once upon a Mattress, Pippin, Beauty and the Beast, Sound of Music, Fame and most recently Footloose at Dunellen High School.

As founder and director of The Piano Workshop at Chester, who along with his faculty of 11 teachers specializing in private instruction to over 100 students in the area, Mark has maintained his standing with the Music Educators Association of NJ and serves as an adjudicator for their piano auditions at William Patterson University. His most recent project is the Musiq Club program which offers group piano classes in an enriched after school program environment using state of the art computer lab technology.

 

Meet Our Teachers

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Angela Dench: Piano, Voice, Woodwinds

Angela Dench is a music teacher currently working in Orange Public Schools as a general music and choir teacher. She graduated from William Paterson University with a Bachelor’s in Music Education completing a concentration in clarinet performance and a minor in piano. While in William Paterson college she sat as the principal clarinet and concertmaster in the concert band from 2014-2015. She also was principal clarinet of the WPU Orchestra, playing famous clarinet solos in her repertoire such as Capriccio Espagnole and Danzon No. 2. Miss Dench also holds an Associates of the Arts from County College of Morris with a major of Music Liberal Arts. During her time at County College of Morris, she also sat as principal clarinet and concertmaster for 2011-2013. She has worked with numerous pit orchestras over the last eight years, playing shows like CATS, Legally Blonde, The Sound of Music, and Les Miserables for high schools and colleges around the area. She has also had the privilege of singing in the New Jersey Cathedral Choir during their annual presentation of The Messiah several times, and has previously accompanied services at First Baptist Church of Dover. Miss Dench has worked with students all over the state of New Jersey from ages Pre-Kindergarten through adult and greatly enjoys working with all age groups.


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Ben Schroeder: Piano, Voice

Ben Schroeder can be described truly as a lover of music. Composing choral works since he was in high school his pieces have been performed by a number of choirs throughout New Jersey. He received his BA in Music in addition to a BA in Physics from the University of Rochester in 2003.
His talent as a pianist and composer are complimented very nicely by his rich Bass voice.

A member of the famed Harmonium Choral Society since 2004, he is currently their Bass II Section Leader. He was also the Bass Section Leader and Soloist for the PeaPack Reformed Church in Gladstone, NJ from 2003-2007. Currently Ben is the Music Director for Abiding Peace Lutheran Church in Budd Lake, NJ.

As a Music Teacher, Ben shares his passion for music with all those that want to learn. His skills as a musician are equally matched by his patience as an instructor.
Ben Schroeder’s professional career travels have enabled him to share his musical gifts with audiences and students across the globe. This is a privilege he plans to continue for many years to come.


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Carol Comune: Steinway Artist in Residence

Carol Comune’s technical precision and lyricism has earned her a reputation as one of today’s premiere pianists, performing extensively throughout the eastern United States both as a soloist and as a chamber musician. She has been featured artist in Boston at the New England Conservatory of Music, the Gardner Museum, the Art Complex at Duxbury, and the Longfellow National Historic Site. She was featured at Lincoln Center and Steinway Hall in New York City; Flagler Museum, Kravis Center in Palm Beach and her recitals have been featured on National Public Radio.

This season she has been very active as an accompanist for voice and instrumentalists at Lehigh University, Moravian College and NATS Singing Competition. Ms. Comune is also a successful teacher, composer and recording artist. She has produced eight albums through her company, Elegant Entertainment & Co. They are featured on commercial stations and National Public Radio in the United States and on broadcasting stations in the Far East, Canada, Europe and the World Wide Web.

Ms. Comune also signed with a Music Library: Prolific Arts in 2008. Found in 2006, Comune Music Press, has published original compositions which include: Gealyn and Me, Sleeping Beauty, The Nightingale, Variations on the hymn, “O, God Our Help in Ages Past”, Carousel Classics and Season of the Light. Her music was premiered in Boston at the Rivers School 30th Annual Seminar on Contemporary Music, New York’s Steinway Hall and Moravian College. In 2008, Ms. Comune was invited as Staff Accompanist and Private Piano at Palm Beach Atlantic University where she coached and performed for voice and instrumentals weekly.
Since 1973, Ms. Comune has taught, coached, judged and accompanied hundreds of students, many of whom have been recipients of achievement awards and winners of competitions for performance. She is a former piano faculty member, accompanist and chamber coach at New England Conservatory Preparatory School of Music; Berklee College of Music; New School of Music, Massachusetts; Conservatory of Music at Lynn University, Florida and continues producing outstanding musicians through her private studio.

Ms. Comune is a member of Music Teachers Association in PA, New England and FL. She has presented numerous programs at New England Conservatory of Music Intensive Pedagogy, Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association and Palm Beach Music Teachers Association as well as she has an active piano studio in Easton and is a faculty member of The Eastern Conservatory of Music, Bedminster, NJ. Ms. Comune is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, BM in Piano Performance with David Hagan; graduate studies in Piano Pedagogy, Jean Stackhouse; Composition; John Felice, and Donald Waxman, and influential mentor concert pianist Anthony di Donaventura. Carol also serves on the Conservatory faculty at Westminster Choir College Young Artists Program.


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David A. Poli: Piano, Guitar

David A. Poli’s mission is to joyfully provide the highest quality instruction to his students so that he mayfacilitate their rapid growth, create independent learners, foster their lifelong love of music, and help them realize their own musical goals, no matter how great or small.
David meets the needs of each student by striking a balance between ‘student centered’ and ‘teacher centered’ instruction. He makes learning fun and exciting by selecting music that suits the tastes of the student. He then uses that energy to advance their technical skills and expand their awareness of core musical concepts. In addition to piano and guitar, David has also studied percussion, composition, Alexander Technique, voice, and conducting. By infusing piano and guitar lessons with various elements of these disciplines, he further broadens the experiences of the student.

David’s comprehensive study of the Alexander Technique, a method for improving coordination, allows him to bring a ‘total body approach’ to instrumental study. His discovery of the Alexander Technique came about in 2005 while searching for a cure for his potentially career ending tendinitis. After making a full recovery, he now uses this knowledge to cultivate healthy and natural playing practices in his students.

David is also passionate about the development of innovative group classes including, Rock Band, Guitar Club, and Songwriting Workshop. His bands often perform in talent shows, open mics, and festivals in the north New Jersey area. Recently, he coached local metal band, Immortal Coil, to professionally record an original EP.

As a performer, David constantly expands his musical boundaries by collecting a wide range of experiences across multiple instruments and genres. On piano, he made his solo debut in 2012 at the Community Music School in Trappe, PA, where he premiered one of his original compositions entitled Chorale Fantasy, and performed works by J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, and Rodrigo. On both piano and guitar, David’s performances in weddings, benefits, church services, and musicals feed his varied repertoire which ranges from Chopin, Berkeley, and Brouwer, to Metallica, the Beatles, and No Doubt. He is also an avid chorister, singing in the New Jersey premier of the opera Elmer Gantry, and for Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem with the New Jersey Symphony. He has premiered new music by local composer, Matthew Van Dongen, and is currently composing a ballet in cooperation with professional dancer, Rachel Carina from New Jersey Ballet.

David received his B.M. in classical guitar performance from Montclair State University, graduating magna cum laude. Recipient of the Morse Estate Scholarship for academic excellence, David has studied privately with Jason Vieaux, Glenn Lyons, Dr. Robert Bedford, Dennis Chinelli, and the Alturas Duo (Scott Hill, Carlos Boltez). In addition, David has taken master classes with Agatino Scuderi and Dr. David Witten.


Don Callahan: Voice

I love teaching and I love music! I am a Tenor, and I am a Voice teacher. I received My Bachelors degree in Vocal Performance from Wheaton College in Wheaton IL. I have been singing since I was about 8 and have been studying Voice for over 10 years. I am able to teach a variety of different music. I am very good at deciphering areas that may need improvement in a singer’s sound. Let me teach you how to sing healthily, with good technique and good stage presence! I’ll make sure that you can sing for years to come!

My Philosophy:
I believe that our learning environment should be a fun one! If you’re serious and want to train for the next big competition, don’t worry, we’ll get you there and have fun doing it! I think that students should enjoy what they’re doing, and not think of the lessons as something that they will immediately be perfect at. DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES!! Music has the ability to speak to people, it can make people laugh, cry, relax, etc. Your job is to convey the meaning of the music!

My Experience:
I’ve been involved most recently with Gloria Musicae where I had the opportunity to sing with the Sarasota Symphony Orchestra. I’ve also had the opportunity to sing with Susan Egan, Christiane Noll, Gary Mauer, the Westminster Choir College Concert Choir, The Masterworks Choir, and The Masterworks Camerata. I participated in the New Jersey All State Choir for two years. During college, I was the Tenor Section Leader of the Men’s Glee club and helped found the Fake Group (a Vocal Jazz group) and The Thundertones (a small Men’s A capella group). I’ve been involved with numerous school Operas and numerous Musicals.


Dorian Morales: Piano, Pro Tools and Logic Software

Dorian Morales started taking piano lessons at age 7 and ever since, his life has been shaped by music. By an early age, composition became his passion. Dorian began enrolling in contests at the age of 16, and performed in recitals at Carnegie Hall. He also was the winner of the televised event “The New Jersey Hispanic Youth Showcase” at NJPAC.

Dorian earned his degree in music at Hofstra University, where he began scoring music for documentaries, movies, radio and television. His clients include MTV, PBS, Z100 radio station, Moviefone.com, chapter 4 Entertainment, NYU Film School, etc… Dorian won an Emmy for his work on the PBS documentary “Su Salud Primero”. Dorian has performed at Carnegie Hall, NJPAC theater, on television and continues to play on an ongoing basis at wedding venues and nightclubs and performs regularly with his Latin Jazz Band. He also released a CD of cocktail music and is working on his next album of World music.

Dorian brings passion, motivation, fun and life into his private lessons. In addition to piano lessons, Dorian coaches students in GarageBand, Megamix software and Pro-Logic for more serious minded musicians who need to learn how to make loops, backing tracks and instrumentation for “radio and cd ready” production.


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Jaime R. Reyes: Cello

Jaime has been playing the cello since the age of 5. Throughout elementary and high school, he played in his school orchestras, the New Jersey Youth Symphony, as well as the New Jersey Regional and All-State Orchestras. He has been a cello coach at the New Jersey Youth Symphony Orchestra summer camps since 2008. He is a Cello Performance and Music Education Major at Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Jersey where he has received multiple chamber music competition awards.


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Jean Cheng: Piano

Jean Cheng started taking classical piano lessons at the age of 5 in Taiwan and hasn’t stopped playing since. After immigrating to the United States she went to Rutgers University and earned a B.A. degree in economics, but playing piano – especially classical music – has remained a constant thread in her life.

After settling in Michigan in 1987, Jean started giving classical piano lessons privately. While working with young students she decided to further strengthen her teaching ability and enrolled in Piano Pedagogy at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, MI, concentrating in classical music. The college sponsored her trip one summer to St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia, where she attended the Piano Teaching Workshop and other cultural events to further enhance her piano teaching skills.

Upon completing her study of Piano Pedagogy, Jean relocated to Brussels, Belgium, and continued to teach at the International School as well as giving private lessons while spending most of her time learning French. She moved to Randolph, NJ in 2005.

Jean has accumulated more than 15 years of experience teaching piano. She especially enjoys holding recitals for her piano students, to help encourage and motivate them to practice and to provide valuable performance opportunities. She specializes in teaching beginning to intermediate levels, and is looking forward to teaching your future pianist.

Jean also participates in our partnership program with the Morris County Arts Workshop in their after school program at the Bragg and Dickerson schools in Chester. They have a number of young piano students who study with and adore Jean. In addition to her piano teaching schedule, Jean also manages to find time to teach Chinese and Tai Chi.


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Jeremy Sweet: Piano

Mr. Jeremy Sweet, a Piano Performance graduate from Moravian College, has performed extensively as an accomplished classical and jazz pianist. Spending much of his time in Philadelphia, as a performer he has taken the role of a sideman, accompanist, and as a leader of his own jazz trio. His career has granted him the opportunity of performing at a number of prestigious venues such as the Kimmel Center, The Philadelphia Museum, The Barnes Museum, and The Curtis Center to name a few.

He has also acquired a wealth of experience as a private tutor by teaching a wide variety of students for over fifteen years.

Mr. Sweet’s professional experience as an instructor began in 2003 at Sacred Heart School in Princeton, New Jersey, and has continued through private tutoring until the present. Mr. Sweet’s teaching style involves educating the student on the fundamentals of playing the instrument and reading as a foundation, but also on the importance of understanding music theory, form, and structure. This is applied through the encouragement of student composition as well as the study of current music.

Mr. Sweet believes that the study of music improves one’s critical thinking skills and also provides a means of meditation. Through guidance that is tailored to each student’s unique abilities, learning style, and interests, Mr. Sweet achieves his primary focus, which is to establish a solid foundation from which a student can reach his/her full potential.

 


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Jessica Walch: Voice

Soprano Jessica Walch is a versatile emerging young artist.  She is a current student at Montclair State University where she is pursuing a Master’s in Vocal Performance. In both 2013 and 2014, Jessica was recognized by the Continuo Arts Foundation’s Minuetto Music Festival as an Emerging Artist Award Winner.

Recent performance credits include Josephine in HMS Pinafore, Lady Saphir in Patience, Nursing Sister & Alms Sister in Suor Angelica, Edith in Pirates of Penzance, and Violet Hilton in Side Show.  She has worked with opera and theater companies such as Light Opera of New York, Ridgewood Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Co., Garden State Opera, New York Lyric Opera, Stony Hill Players, and the Montclair State University and Muhlenberg College performance ensembles.

She is a member of the Continuo Arts Foundation Civic Chorale and professional choir Sonare.  In the summer of 2014 she attended a professional development opera intensive called Opera Ischia with voice teacher Michael Paul. In 2010 she participated in the Manhattan School of Music Summer Voice Festival and studied with Neil Rosenshein.  Jessica received her Bachelor’s degree from Muhlenberg College with a double major in Vocal Performance and Communications.


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John Kiernan: Guitar, Composition, Music Technology

Hailing from New Jersey, hard rock guitarist and award winning film/video game composer John Kiernan grips audiences globally with heart wrenching compositions, unbridled guitar virtuosity and a mastery in an array of genres. His fans describe his work at the sit-down session of guitar virtuosos Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen and Andy James with composer Hans Zimmer.

John’s self-released rock instrumental album “Of Oceans” in 2013 showcased his unique blend of memorable melodies with dynamic, vigorous compositions. His work has allowed him to the stage with acts such as Slash, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Gus G (current guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne), Foxy Shazzam!, and other notable acts. John also represented Ernie Ball and Gravity Guitar Picks at his performance at The annual NAMM Show in 2015. John is currently working on his next release, “Horizons”, which will feature internationally acclaimed cellist Tina Guo and will showcase John’s musical artistry with the incorporation of orchestral and digital instrumentation.

As a composer for video games, film and television, he started his own music composition company Sound Kettle Productions. His compositions have won multiple awards at ZedFest 2014 and ShriekFest 2013 & 2014’s “Best Original Score” categories with award winning director Anthony Mezza’s “One Last Kiss” and “Cut To Pieces”. John’s music has been featured in national commercials, such as Pennsylvania’s FOX News’ Mother’s Day 2014 announcement. John as recently completed music for the 2016 feature film “Star Crossed Lovers” and is the official composer for the animated series, “InGame”.

During his time at Florida Atlantic University, he worked closely with acclaimed composer Stuart Glazer, Grammy Award Winning producer Michael Zager, and Latin GRAMMY Nominated producer Alejandro Sanchez-Samper. John has also studied under the tutelage of Italian composer and guitarist Daniele Gottardo (virtuoso Steve Vai’s choice of favorite modern guitar player) and Guitar World/Premiere Guitar Magazine’s columnist and Chimaira guitarist Emil Werstler.

John currently teaches private lessons along with our music technology class. His lessons have been known to cover modern music industry pillars such as performance, stylistic versatility, technology and modern business practices of the music industry. From the age of ten years old, John has followed a musical direction that demands musical expression, technical virtuosity and modern and fun teaching methodologies that he imparts upon his students.

Endorsements include : Ernie Ball, Ernie Ball Music Man Guitars, Blackstar Amplification, Pro Tone Pedals and Gravity Guitar Picks.


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Natalya Hentysh: Piano

With a fascination for the instrument, Natalia started playing the piano at the age of five. She attended the Drohobych State Pedagogical University of I.Frankо in Ukraine with a double major in piano and conducting. After graduating, she was a teacher in Ukraine for four years. After, she had ventured off into the great United States to further pursue her career. To this day, Miss Hentysh has been teaching students piano for fifteen years in New Jersey. She has been residing in Chester since 2006.


Riva Smith: Woodwinds

Riva Smith began her music career on flute in 4th grade. In high school, she realized music was going to be her career and lifelong passion. Junior year of high school she switched to oboe. She was very active in the music department in high school. She was member of Marching Band, Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Wind Symphony, Jazz Band, Pep Band, and numerous musicals.

After auditioning for numerous colleges she decided on The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Ewing, NJ. Her rapport with her own Oboe Professor is one that she hopes to bring to her students.

During her time at TCNJ she participated in the Concert Band, Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and Woodwind Quintet which all led up to her Senior Recital. The Senior Recital consisted of 25-35 minutes of prepared music, mostly solo work with a piano accompaniment. She is now a graduate of TCNJ with a degree in Music Education with a few private students of her own on flute and saxophone. She is passionate about creating a fun and comfortable learning environment for all of her students. Riva can provide beginner lessons on clarinet and saxophone as well as all levels of flute and oboe.


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Robert Trewhella: Guitar

Robert Trewhella was born and raised in New Jersey. He discovered the guitar while in middle school. By high school he was playing and singing in bands that performed around Monmouth County. While attending Lehigh University he formed a band with two fellow engineering students. They left school and spent the next few years, writing and recording original music while playing venues all across the Eastern US. After the group disbanded Robert continued performing as a solo artist as well as with various rock bands.

He began teaching guitar in the early 80’s and discovered sharing the gift of music with people of all ages and abilities was extremely rewarding. He became certified with “Music Together” to hone his skills for teaching young children; has taught children with special needs and was the first guitar teacher at New Jersey’s premier “School of Rock” location in South Hackensack NJ.

Robert uses an holistic teaching approach, empowering his students to realize and achieve their musical goals. His instruction includes music theory, technique, ear training, performance and all other aspects of guitar and musicianship. The desired result is not just a guitar player but, a well-rounded musician.


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Salomi Massaras: Piano, Voice, Certified Music Therapist

Salomi has been employed by the Piano Workshop for over ten years. She holds a BA in Music Therapy from Montclair State University and a Masters in Educational Leadership from the College of St. Elizabeth.  Salomi has over thirty years’ experience in teaching music private lessons.

In addition to teaching piano and voice, Salomi is the Principal of St. Andrew’s Hellenic Afternoon School and teaches Greek to preschoolers. She also tutors children and adolescents in behavioral health care at a local hospital.

Salomi enjoys working with children and adults of all ages.  Her focus is on teaching music in a student centered and developmentally appropriate manner. Her hobbies include singing with several choirs and volunteering for her church.


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Sascha Sternecker: Voice

Sascha Sternecker holds a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Hollins University where she also studied theatre, choral conducting, and psychology.  She is an accomplished choral singer, having performed masterworks such as the Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah, and The Peaceable Kingdom, and also has extensive experience with women’s choirs, chamber choirs, and a cappella ensembles.  She has been involved with theatre from an early age– both onstage and backstage– and has worked professionally in technical theatre in New Jersey and Virginia.  Sascha’s passions in performing are operatic and classical, musical theatre, and choral music.  When not teaching or singing, she is an avid equestrian.


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Sonia Kiernan: Piano

Sonia started playing piano at the age of 7, and by the age of 10 was a finalist in New Jersey Network’s Youth Talent Showcase. From then on, she performed with school orchestras, church services on both guitar and piano, and other musical events in high school. She also participated in the Guild National Auditions and received the Paderewski medal for high honors.

After high school, Sonia relocated to South Florida and went on to study music at Florida Atlantic University under the tutelage of Dr. Irena Kofman. Her interest in music kept growing as she performed with the FAU orchestra, participated in international keyboard festivals and was collegiate treasurer and president of FMENC (Florida Music Educators National Conference). She graduated in 2009 with her Bachelor of Music in performance and minor in education and Masters in Music in 2011. She remained an active musician keeping a well developed piano studio and actively performing in the South Florida/Miami area. Until recently, Sonia was an accompanist for Palm Beach’s Opera Restoration Project.

Along with being a classically trained pianist, Sonia has also released two albums on iTunes and Amazon in the field of pop/rock music. Notable performances include the 2009 SuperCon comic book festival with punk rock band Less Than Jake, opening for Black Tide, Alexisonfire, and more.