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Great Lakes School of Music LLC

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TEACHERS

BARBARA WATKINS

PIANO, BEGINNER – ADVANCED

Founder & Director, Barbara Watkins is a graduate of James Madison University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music. She has studied with Lowell Watkins (JMU, VA), Benjamin Whitten (West Chester State College, PA), and Benjamin Selman (Arkansas State University) while serving in the United States Air Force in North Little Rock, Arkansas.


Ms. Watkins served on the faculty at The Cleveland Music School Settlement from 1989-1999 in the Performing Arts and Early Childhood Departments, as well as the Cleveland Municipal Schools extension program.


Aside from teaching, Ms. Watkins is an accomplished musician as a composer, arranger, and performer. In 1995, she was awarded the Lentine’s Music award for outstanding leadership in digital keyboard composition, arrangement, and performance.


Ms. Watkins led the 1995 Ohio Music Teachers Association (OMTA) Fall Seminar in Keyboard Technology and chaired the 1997 Music Festival at Judson Manor and 1998 and 1999 Music Festivals at Cleveland State University.


Barbara L. Watkins is an active member of the National Piano Foundation, OMTA, Steinway Educators Partnership, and the National Guild of Piano Teachers, in which Barbara was placed on the National Honor Roll of Guild Teachers for having successfully prepared her piano pupils for entry in the National Piano Playing Auditions.


Barbara was selected for the National Registers Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals.

Dr. SHEUNG - PING LAI

PIANO, BEGINNER – ADVANCED

Dr. Sheung-Ping Lai received her D. M. A. in Composition from The Ohio State University, her M. M. in Composition from Cleveland Institute of Music, and her M.M. in Music Education (Jazz Pedagogy Focus) from Capital University.


As a composer, her music covers a wide variety of genres and styles, and her compositions are frequently performed in public, including Western and Chinese instrumental music, choral music, electronic music, theatrical music, art songs, pop songs, and jazz, presenting a unique synthesis of the East and the West. Her jazz CD album Spring Nocturnes, released in 2021, is available on i-Tunes, Amazon Music, and Spotify.


As a music educator, Dr. Lai has substantial college teaching experience in the U. S. and in Asia. Since the COVID pandemic, she has been giving online music lessons to students across the globe. Dr. Lai takes pride in students’ accomplishments. She is a mentor to award-winning young composers, performers, and inspired music educators.


Dr. Lai believes that anyone can make music and have fun. Cross-cultural music making and education can enlighten souls, break cultural barriers, bring people close together, and achieve global harmony.

JORGE SARMIENTOS

PIANO, BEGINNER - ADVANCED

Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Jorge Sarmientos has performed several recitals in concert halls in Sao Paulo. As a collaborative pianist, he participated in the production of Mozart's “Die Zauberflote” at the "Fabrica de Óperas" Festival of the Sao Paulo State University-UNESP, underthe direction of Maestro Abel Rocha. In December of 2017, he worked as a pianist in the world premiere of the Ópera “Tres Sombreros de Copas” of the Spanish composer Ricardo Llorca, in Sao Paulo. He has also performs with soloists in recitals, auditions and recordings.


As a conductor, Mr. Sarmientos performed concerts with the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, featuring works by Haydn, Shostakovich, Dvorák, Copland, Walker, among others.

He also conducted concerts with the Santo Andre Symphony Orchestra, FIAM-FAAM Academic Orchestra, and the Sao Paulo State Academic Orchestra, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Jorge Sarmientos has a Master's Degree in Orchestral Conducting at the Cleveland Institute of Music-CIM, where he studied underthe guidance of Carl Topilow, Emily Freeman Brown and Vinay Parameswaran. He also has Bachelor’s Degree in Orchestral Conducting from the Sao Paulo State University-UNESP, studying underthe guidance of Maestros Abel Rocha, Lutero Rodrigues.


In October of 2017, Sarmientos won the first prize of the Eleazar de Carvalho Young Soloists and Conductors Competition. 



ANN MARIE FALCONE

VOICE, CLARINET & PIANO

Ann Marie Falcone is a performng composer, writer, and teacher. She creates art songs, opera, clarinet works, music for orchestra, experimental works, and essays. She produces video, recordings, and concerts of her original works in hopes to share something beneficial for the world.


In her early years, she was selected to sing in the Children's Bach Choir of Bethlehem, PA, was cast in various musicals, and played clarinet in pit orchestras. As an adult, she sang as soprano section leader and soloist at Euclid Avenue Congregational Church for six years, as a chorister with Opera Circle, and as a soprano in CityMusic Cleveland Orchestra's project of Verdi's Requiem.


With clarinet, she performed in the Catalina Chamber Orchestra and Youngstown Symphonies and gave numerous concerts.


She earned a B.M. from Northwestern University, an M.M. from The University of Arizona, where she was a teaching assistant, took vocal pedagogy at Malone College, and completed an M.F.A. in Creative Writing in nonfiction with accents in fiction and publishing at Chatham University.


Having taken and given numerous years of private voice, clarinet, and piano lessons, Ann Marie understands the beauty of the development of an artist's life.


She has been teaching since 1994. Her students have been accepted to the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, the Cleveland Youth Wind Symphonies, the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, and the Cleveland Music School Settlement Orchestra. Two have won a Cleveland Heights High School senior solo, their concerto competition.


Voice students have participated at Heights Youth Theatre, Beachwood Theater, the Beck Center, Hathaway Brown's Summer Theatre Institute, and Stagecrafters along with their school productions. They've been selected for The Singing Angels of Cleveland and the Cleveland Orchestra Children's and Youth Choruses.


Website: https://www.falconecreationsinthemaking.com - Also, there are some Videos of her compositions at her Public Facebook Page.


She teaches voice lessons to adults and to kids starting from age ten.


She starts piano students as young as 5-years-old and teaches beginners through early advanced students.


She teaches clarinet to kids from fourth grade up at all levels.

SHARI L. ARMSTRONG

BRASS

Shari Armstrong received her Bachelor of Music Education from the University Mount Union in 1992 and her Masters in Education from Malone University in 1995. While at Mount Union, she was involved in several ensembles, including the Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Brass Choir, and other smaller groups.


The Brass Choir gave her the opportunity to perform in churches around the state of Ohio and Pennsylvania as well as performing at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. She has also played for pit orchestras for various musicals at the Carnation City Players in Alliance, Ohio.


Her career path has been a varied one over the years since college, including teaching music, working in child care, as a nanny, and most recently as a freelance writer and editor. She is also an active member at the Bible Baptist Church in Bedford, where she is on the Music Committee, performs special music with various vocal ensembles, and plays the French horn for offertory.


She has also directed the children's Christmas program and Shari was a member of both the Cuyahoga Community College Orchestra and Solon Community Band.


KEVIN NATOLI

TRUMPET & BARITONE

Kevin Natoli is an active freelance trumpeter and teacher residing in the Cleveland area. His most recent engagements include performances with Erie Philharmonic, Canton Symphony, Youngstown Symphony, Akron Symphony, Firelands Symphony, Orchestra Iowa, and Juneau Symphony, AK. He has also held Associate/Substitute positions with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and New World Symphony in Miami, FL. He earned his Master’s Degree in Trumpet Performance from the New England Conservatory in 2017 Studying with Boston Symphony Orchestra members Benjamin Wright and Michael Martin. Kevin also earned his Graduate Performance Diploma ‘15, & Bachelor’s Degree in Music ‘13 from The Boston Conservatory studying with Boston Symphony Orchestra members Steven Emery, Benjamin Wright, Thomas Siders as well as Principal trumpet of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Joseph Foley.


In 2016, Kevin completed Deborah Adams three year, 1,600 hour teacher certification course for the Alexander Technique. He maintains a diverse studio of students from multiple countries, ranging from the enthusiastic beginner to the seasoned professional, helping individuals find more ease in their artistry. 

JEFF BREZNAY

GUITAR & DRUMS

Jeff has played music in various bands starting in the early 70's, mostly classic rock and rhythm and blues. Early on playing saxophone and learning guitar, he also did vocals, lead and back up. as well as recording sessions of original music. Jeff looks at music as an art form of expression; Learning an instrument allows this expression to come out and gives an inner satisfaction for ones soul.


In order to attain this one must learn an instrument and then perform to share it with others in order to achieve this feeling that is like no other. Learning an instrument, but not performing only, gets you halfway there; performing is like the cherry on top and the fruit of ones labor!

GARY SIPERKO

GUITARS, BASS, MANDOLIN, UKULELE

BMus: Berklee College of Music


Gary Siperko is a professional touring/recording guitarist and composer most notably associated with The Legendary Shack Shakers, Pere Ubu, and Rocket From The Tombs. Mr. Siperko has over 30 years of experience teaching and performing. He teaches Contemporary and Classical Guitar as well as Bass, Mandolin and Ukulele. Beginning lessons focus on fundamentals as well as playing basic songs.


Intermediate to advanced lessons focus on the application of Music Theory to the instrument to help students acquire strong compositional and songwriting skills, knowledge of chord construction, the ability to play scales proficiently, and gain necessary skills needed for solo improvisation, as well as sight-reading skills.


In addition to a wealth of teaching experience, Gary has earned a reputation as a virtuosic live performer and highly sought after professional guitar instructor.


In 2011, he joined Rocket from the Tombs for the USA 'Barfly' Tour, replacing Richard Lloyd(Television) in Peter Laughners’ former guitar position in the band. He has since toured with Rocket From The Tombs throughout the United States and Europe, as well as co-writing and recording songs for 'Black Record' (2015, Fire Records).


In 2016, he joined Pere Ubu and toured on the 'Coed Jail' Tour, followed by co-writing, recording and touring as a member of Pere Ubu in support the '20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo' album (Cherry Red 2017). In 2017, he joined the Legendary Shack Shakers and toured in support of their release “After You’ve gone” and appears in the official video for the song “Sing a worried song” from the album.


In 2018, he toured world-wide with JD Wilkes and The Legendary Shack Shakers in support of the release “Fire Dream”, in addition to more touring in Europe with Pere Ubu. Some highlights include performing at the Centre Pompidou Modern Art Museum in Paris, France with Rocket From the Tombs, and recording live at Sun Studios in Memphis,TN with The Legendary Shack Shakers.

GREG BERLIN

VIOLIN & VIOLA

Gregory Berlin is a graduate of Indiana University; he earned a BM in violin performance and BSOF in Business. In addition he has a MBA in finance from the Weatherhead School of Business at Case Western Reserve University. Gregory has performed with many different local orchestras & symphonies.


He enjoys performing chamber music as a soloist or with small groups (duo/trio/quartet). Gregory currently serves on the board of the Broadway School of Music (BSMA) in Slavic Village Cleveland, Ohio. He teaches violin and viola at Great Lakes School of Music LLC and Fairmount School for the Arts.