Instructors

Ylva Bjerstedt Blom

Ylva Bjerstedt Blom

Ylva holds a bachelor’s degree in contemporary, urban, and popular music from Columbia College Chicago.
While acquiring her degree, she worked as a nanny, honing a nurturing and effective child pedagogy. Upon graduating from Columbia, she combined her love of music and skills with children into a career in music instruction.

Ylva’s warm and gentle manner, complemented by a healthy dose of humor, creates a comfortable and fun learning environment. Ylva believes that enjoyment is the key to learning, and she adapts her approach to her students’ interests and goals.

Apart from teaching, Ylva’s passion is songwriting and arranging, with a focus on pop and contemporary country. She writes, sings, and records her own songs, and she loves helping her students write and arrange as well.

Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown

Known for her equanimity and upbeat spirit, Sarah has a passion for teaching music in an accessible and engaging way. She takes pride in her alternative approaches to theory and encourages her students to strive for creativity and expression, whether they’re studying classical, musical theater, or pop.

A California native, Sarah moved to the Chicago area after completing a bachelor’s in vocal performance at Chapman University, where she performed in operas, musicals, choirs, and piano recitals. In addition to her experience on the stage, she has taught piano and voice lessons privately, tutored college-level music theory, and directed music and drama at Christian Music Theater Camp.

Sarah is currently a graduate student at Northwestern University earning her master’s in speech, language, and learning, aiming to combine her passions for music and science by specializing in the health of voice professionals. She is thrilled to be a part of the Piano Power team!

Andrew Clinkman

Andrew Clinkman

Andrew Clinkman

A native of Glenview, Andrew holds a bachelor’s of music from the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music, where he majored in jazz guitar performance. Andrew has been a lifelong musician, beginning both cello and guitar instruction at an early age. While studying at the New England Conservatory, Andrew was an active member of the Boston music community, in addition to appearing on several commercially-released recordings.

Andrew’s teaching experience includes directing a high-school jazz band, and structuring lesson plans for legendary pianist and educator Ran Blake. Andrew believes in the importance of embracing the individuality of each musician. Provided with the right tools, each student can thrive and contribute a unique perspective. Andrew is thrilled to be a member of the Piano Power team.

Sarah Diller

Sarah Diller Piano Power

Sarah Diller

Sarah Diller moved to Chicago in 2014 after completing a master’s degree in opera performance from Wichita State University. Her piano study began at age 6, and she added vocal instruction starting at age 12. Since then, she has performed in choral groups throughout the United States, Europe, and South America. She has also performed with the Ohio Light Opera, the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company, and the Wichita Salon Series.

Sarah has an enthusiastic, engaging approach, and she enjoys teaching all musical styles, including classical, Broadway, and pop. She has coached her students to great success in auditions and competitions, and is excited to share her love of music with students of all ages.

Andrew Doney

Andrew Doney

Andrew Doney

After studying piano and voice at Sonoma State University, Andrew earned his bachelor’s degree in jazz piano performance in 2009. His easy-going attitude and sense of humor, combined with his love for all types of music, help his students to flourish while playing music they truly enjoy. To keep his love of music fresh, Andrew performs regularly with rock bands all around Chicago.

Andrew holds a firm belief that everyone can find joy in music, regardless of experience or skill level. A full-time teacher since 2010, he’s coached students through all stages of the musical learning process — their first notes, first recitals, college auditions, and even performances at Lollapalooza.

Doug Ferdinand

Doug Ferdinand

Doug Ferdinand

Doug’s teaching approach is relaxed and compassionate, while maintaining structure and high standards for his students. He challenges them to think critically about music and foster a unique voice in the process. Doug’s diverse musical spectrum allows him to relate to students across styles and genres, as he encourages each student to broaden their musical vocabulary.

Doug began his piano study with a classical approach. By high school, he started exploring jazz and improvisation, performing with other like-minded talented young Chicago musicians. Doug currently performs around Chicago with jazz, funk, and rock groups. He has played many notable Chicago venues, including Double Door, Mayne Stage, and Martyrs.

Doug is especially excited to work with Piano Power and to help his students enhance their love of music.

David Flowers

David Flowers

David works to create a curriculum which, first and foremost, inspires a love of music and a curiosity for creative work. He believes every student is capable of learning an instrument, and he crafts individual lesson plans which encourage the student’s active engagement. While incorporating good technique, David expands his students’ musical horizons so they can be comfortable playing anything.

Based in Evanston, David holds a bachelor’s in music composition from Illinois Wesleyan University, where he also studied piano and flute. He has written for a wide variety of ensembles and styles, from solo and chamber pieces, to orchestral works and musical theater, to jazz, folk, and modern. In 2016 he was selected to be a composer for the Fresh Inc. Festival in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Dominic German

Dominic German

Dominic German

Dominic is currently completing his master’s degree in vocal performance at North Park University. An active performer, he sings in the North Park Chamber Singers and performs in North Park Opera productions. He is also the bass section leader and soloist at Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmette, and sings with Constellation Men’s Ensemble. Dominic is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, where he received his bachelor’s in sacred music with an emphasis in vocal performance. While at Moody, he studied piano and organ and was a frequent worship leader for chapel services.

Equally comfortable in classical and pop genres, Dominic takes an integrative approach to teaching that focuses on fundamentals while encouraging students’ creativity and individualism.

Lucas Gillan

Lucas Gillan

Lucas Gillan

Lucas Gillan has been teaching private piano, guitar, and drum lessons in the Chicago area for six years. He is an adjunct faculty member at Wheaton College, where he teaches jazz drum set. With a broad musical background that includes everything from garage bands to jazz gigs to professional orchestras, Lucas has a unique perspective on what kind of experiences music can offer. His teaching approach balances a solid grounding in music fundamentals with a creative spirit that is open to each student’s musical interests.

Lucas originally began making music in his hometown of Tucson, where he performed in church, punk clubs, and all-city jazz ensembles by the time he had graduated from middle school. His passion for music led him to the renowned jazz-studies program at Northern Illinois University. He graduated with a major in jazz studies and a minor in journalism in 2007.

Aside from being an inspired teacher, Lucas is also a program director at AccuRadio.com and an active performer in Chicago’s music scene. He leads his own jazz group, Lucas Gillan’s Many Blessings, and performs under his own name as a a singer-songwriter, while also playing in numerous bands such as The Right Now, and Terry Bartolotta and Dan Burke’s original jazz groups. He has performed at venues ranging from Jazz Showcase to the United Center.

Peter Groch

Peter Groch

Peter Groch

A Chicagoland native, Peter studied piano performance at the University of Illinois. Throughout his college career, Peter competed in a number of piano competitions (winning the 2011 ISMTA collegiate competition), actively performed new compositions, and participated in a variety of ethnomusicology, choral, and orchestral ensembles. He enjoys listening to and performing classical, American and world folk, jazz, rock, and pop music.

Peter believes in an individualistic, creative, and fun approach while stressing technical proficiency and musicality. Along with the fundamentals of piano playing, he focuses on instilling an understanding of music theory and compositional techniques. He believes in catering his curriculum to each student’s personal interests in order to encourage a lifelong appreciation of music.

Mallory Harding

Mallory Harding

Mallory received her bachelor’s in music education, as well as her K-12 teaching certification, from North Central College, and her master’s in voice at the University of Missouri-Columbia. An active performer, Mallory was most recently heard singing as Countess in The Marriage of Figaro with New Moon Opera in April 2015.

Mallory has been teaching piano, voice, and clarinet lessons for over a decade. She has worked with a wide range of students, from ages four to 92, from beginners to advanced musicians, and from home musicians to members of touring rock bands. Her engaging style and comfort with all musical styles help her make great connections with her students. She is excited to work with more Piano Power families.

Andrew Hollander-Urbach

Andrew Hollander-Urbach

Andrew completed his master’s in music at Concordia College-Chicago, and he holds bachelor’s degrees from University of Wisconsin-Madison and Columbia College Chicago. His rich training in pedagogy allows him to work with all ages and levels, and to develop a unique lesson plan for each student. An active participant in the local music scene, Andrew has performed at such venues as Millennium Park and Soldier Field. He currently plays with a number of prominent cover bands throughout Chicago.

Andrew is a true musical polymath. From Bach to Bela Fleck, from Gershwin to Goo Goo Dolls, he loves crossing genres to help his students learn their favorite tunes.

Daniel Huber

Daniel Huber

Daniel Huber

A native of Maumee, Ohio, Daniel Huber graduated from Ohio University with a self-designed music degree, focusing on classical and jazz bass. Shortly after college, Dan moved to Chicago to pursue a career in music. He has been teaching guitar and bass ever since, as well as performing with more than 15 different rock and jazz bands. His current band, Old Shoe, has hosted its own annual three-day music festival, Shoe-fest, since 2011 and has released two studio albums.

Dan’s teaching approach is compatible with students of all ages and skill levels. He teaches a mix of songs that he and the student have hand-picked. In the process, he fosters an understanding of music theory and sight-reading, as well as developing composition and improvisation. Dan is thrilled to be able to spread the joy of playing guitar and bass to students.

When he’s not playing his Fender jazz bass, electric upright bass, or guitar, Dan enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and four cats at their home in Lakeview. He loves riding his bike around the city and traveling whenever possible.

Andrew Lawrence

Andrew Lawrence Piano Power

Andrew Lawrence

A Chicago native, Andrew attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied both jazz and classical piano. He was accepted into Oberlin’s top jazz ensemble, the Oberlin Jazz Septet, which toured the east coast, playing jazz venues and giving master classes at high schools.

Andrew has performed at the Ravinia Music Festival (where he twice opened for Ramsey Lewis), the Iowa City Jazz Fest, Millennium Park in Chicago, and the Chautauqua Institute in Chautauqua, New York, where he performed with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. Following a successful summer stint as the musical director for a Cleveland production of The Wiz, Andrew returned to Chicago in 2011. He currently performs all around the city.

Andrew teaches jazz and classical piano, as well as music theory and composition, to students of all ages and abilities. He is thrilled to be part of the Piano Power team!

Audie Lomboy

Audie Lomboy

Audie Lomboy

Audie received his B.A. in music from Loyola University Chicago, where his emphasis was in vocal performance. He has sung as both a soloist and a chorister, in everything from classical to musical theatre. His piano expertise comes from years of technical instruction, along with personal exploration of chord-reading, improvisation, and arranging.

He loves singing while accompanying himself at the piano, and he loves teaching this skill as well. In his spare time, Audie writes songs and has jam sessions. He plays and sings for Bonanzarafa, a group of friends who love music and love to have fun.

As an instructor, Audie facilitates growth — musical, academic and personal — in his students. He is thrilled to be a part of the Piano Power team!

Joe Meland

Joe Meland

Joe is committed to instilling a lifelong creative spirit within his students, catering to their individual interests while also introducing new and exciting ways to approach music-making. In addition to fostering technical skills, he also emphasizes “thinking like a musician,” giving his students real-world applications for what they learn. He holds a bachelor’s degree in composition from the University of Illinois.

A pianist, guitarist, composer, and producer, Joe’s original music covers many genres. In 2015, he premiered his concerto for rock band at the prestigious Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, taking home a BMI Student Composer Award. He has also received awards from the Wisconsin School Music Association and the National Federation of Music Clubs, and he was a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards.

He is an active performer, playing everything from folk, pop, and rock, to soul, R&B, and hip-hop. On weekends, he can be found playing in Chicago or traveling to play across the Midwest. His band Boycut was recently featured in the Chicago Tribune. Joe looks forward to sharing his love of music and creativity with more great students in the year ahead.

Anna Miller

Anna Miller

A graduate of the same arts magnet school that Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, and Ernestine Anderson attended, Anna was raised on music -— from classical to jazz to rock and roll -— and is thrilled to pass it on to the next generation. Trained in classical and jazz, she has performed in jazz, hip-hop, rock and roll, country, bluegrass, doo-wop, and church groups throughout the United States.

An experienced teacher, counselor and mentor, Anna brings a compassionate, individually-tailored approach to her music students. Whether it’s ear-training, classical technique, or original composition, she’s committed to making music lessons joyful and rewarding for each student, and to building creativity and confidence along the way.

Brandon Rizzo-Wojak

Brandon Rizzo-Wojak

Brandon holds a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies from Columbia College Chicago. He believes in teaching core musical concepts – rhythm, theory, improvisation, and technique – to students of all levels, and he customizes his approach to meet his students’ needs. Using a mix of structure, fun, and humor, he creates an engaging learning environment.

In 2005, Brandon founded the Aperion Project, a multi-genre umbrella that uses live instruments, electronic elements, improvisation and modern composition techniques.

Brandon is passionate about music and teaching, and he looks forward to working with more great students in the year ahead.

Leah Rockweit

Leah Rockweit

Leah Rockweit

Leah moved to Chicago in 2012 after completing her master’s in vocal performance from University of Wisconsin. She quickly created her own opportunities by co-founding a classical performance duo, Two, and discovering unique singing experiences, such as singing alongside the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia in the live-soundtrack performance of The Lord of the Rings. Her other performances have ranged from singing with the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company to being a soloist for Carmina Burana.

Since completing her bachelor’s in choral and general music education, Leah has taught in early-childhood music programs. Leah recently completed a yearlong tour with Opera for the Young, an outreach company that makes opera accessible and engaging for children, in their production of Beauty and the Beast. (One frequently-asked question from audience Q-and-A sessions: “Are you a real princess?”) The tour brought Leah’s love of teaching to a new level. She also performs with New Moon Opera in Chicago.

Alex Rowney

Alex Rowney

Alex is an avid composer of experimental, electronic, pop, and film music. He is a singer, guitarist, bassist, drummer, and French-horn player. He programs synthesizers and samplers with his own sound designs, performing as EHF (Extra Human Function). He also writes and records with his band, Soft Candy, in which he plays keyboards, guitars, and sings background vocals. He enjoys improvisation and experimentation in his music, blending a pop sensibility with the extremes of experimental music, harmonies of jazz, and excitement of world music.

Alex received his master’s of music in piano performance from one of New York City’s finest conservatories, the Manhattan School of Music. He also attended Northwestern University, where he received his bachelor’s in piano. He has performed in Russia, Italy, Austria, Germany, and England, as well as in Chicago and in New York.

Alex loves to teach music to any age and skill level, and he has taught piano, guitar, voice, drums, French horn, music theory, history, composition, MIDI and laptops, and film-scoring. He looks forward to working with a great new set of Piano Power students in the year ahead.

Adrienne Schroeder

Adrienne Schroeder

Adrienne Schroeder

Adrienne Schroeder is a musician excited about all genres of music and the lasting impact it has on the lives of others. She is an active freelancer in the Chicago area as a performer and music educator. Adrienne completed her master’s degree in horn performance at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and she earned her bachelor’s in performance from Central Michigan University. Raised in a musical family, Adrienne received a solid foundation that fostered a passion for creating and sharing music.

Adrienne’s teaching philosophy is all about making the most expressive, artistic music possible in the most efficient way possible. She focuses on mental preparation and explores how attitudes affect the quality of performances. She meets each student where they are, creating effective habits in their playing and having plenty of fun along the way. Mastering an instrument takes courage, responsibility, and consistent practice. Adrienne works to instill those values and work ethic in her students. Her goal is for them to learn valuable life skills and develop a lifelong appreciation for music and the arts.

Outside of music, Adrienne enjoys exercising, being outdoors, and spending time with friends and family. She is thrilled to make more great music with Piano Power students in the year ahead.

Reid Taylor

Reid Taylor

Reid studied piano and voice at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Having played since the age of four, Reid has given recitals in New York, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Chicago, as well as throughout Austria. While pursuing his degree, Reid performed many tenor roles at the Cleveland Institute Opera Theater and soloed at Park Synagogue, Cleveland’s oldest Jewish congregation.

Reid has a warm, engaging teaching style, using positivity, humor, and technical expertise to generate great student progress. An avid linguist, he also holds a degree in German and French literature. He is very excited to work with new Piano Power students in the year ahead.

Deanna Varagona

Deanna Varagona

Deanna Varagona

The product of a musical Tennessee family, Deanna’s music career began at age three, playing one-string bass in her family’s Italian folk group. Violin, piano, saxophone and guitar soon followed.

Her love of music continued to grow, and she now has 15 musical instruments under her belt. Deanna has toured extensively, playing everything from classical to country to indie rock. Her resume includes stints with Will Oldham, Lambchop and Bobby Bare, Jr., as well as tours of her original compositions.

With more than 30 years of teaching experience, Deanna excels as an instructor. Her friendliness, passion, and patience are complemented by a strong sense of clarity and structure. She encourages her students to explore their instruments and put their personalities in their playing, teaching both solid technique and the art of individual expression. “Even while learning the basics,” she says, “you’ve got to have fun!”

Candace Washburn

Candace Washburn

Candace Washburn

Candace is a graduate of the esteemed jazz-studies program at the University of North Texas, where her emphasis was in vocal performance. While in the Dallas area, she performed with jazz, funk and pop groups. She also developed a private studio of voice, violin, and piano students, whose interests ranged from classical to pop.

Candace has cultivated a lifelong love of music in her students, just as she has nurtured her own. She began at age five with piano lessons. By age seven, she had developed a passion for violin and voice that flowered in high school. During that time, Candace performed with the San Antonio, Wichita and Cincinnati symphony youth orchestras, as well as all-state choir and orchestra groups. She also began branching out into other genres, including a classic-rock electric string group and an original ska band.

After moving to Chicago in 2010, Candace began singing with several local groups, including critically-acclaimed gypsy-jazz band Le Percolateur. Candace has performed on the Celebrity Cruise Lines Eclipse and Equinox Ships. Now retired from ships, Candace is excited to return to teaching as part of the Piano Power team.

Alec Watson

Alec Watson

Alec Watson

Born and raised in Geneva, Alec is a graduate of the New England Conservatory, where he earned his bachelor’s of music in jazz piano. With over seven years of teaching experience in a variety of settings, Alec brings warmth, personalized attention, and grounded creative and technical instruction to his students.

Trained in classical piano and steeped in Chicago’s jazz scene as a young adult, Alec draws on a wide range of performing experience. His resume includes Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, the Chicago Symphony Center, the Chicago Cultural Center, and many other venues around the city. From 2010 through 2012 he attended the Dave Brubeck Institute, a prestigious fellowship program, through which he studied jazz and performed nationwide.

Alec also writes music and is active in the Chicago music scene as a songwriter and improviser. When not teaching or playing, you can find Alec on his never-ending quest for the best doughnut in Illinois. He is thrilled to be a part of the Piano Power team.

Shelby Weight

Shelby Weight

A native of Northern California, Shelby has studied classical piano since the age of six. With a talented musician as a father, Shelby grew up participating in many musical functions. In elementary school, she starting singing in school and church choirs and picked up the violin and viola. In high school, Shelby actively participated in her church by singing, playing keyboard, and leading worship. She also sang in a community chorus, performing a variety of Broadway hits, and started teaching piano in her home.

In 2010, Shelby moved to Chicago and received her bachelor’s in music, with an emphasis in piano, from Moody Bible Institute. After graduating, Shelby briefly lived in Seattle, where she taught beginning and intermediate piano. Currently, she volunteers at a Presbyterian church in Skokie, singing in the church choir and performing piano preludes.

Shelby strives to incorporate a well-rounded musical approach for all of her students, fostering an experience that is fun and educational. She believes music is an irreplaceable, energizing, and lifelong pursuit. Her patient approach motivates and encourages her students. She strives to elevate their talents so they can create, grow, and preserve the wonderful world of music, finding their own voice along the way.

Shelby loves literature, writing and jazz. Claude Debussy is her favorite composer, Charles Dickens is her favorite author, and her family and friends are the dearest people in her life.

Chen Yu

Chen Yu

Chen Yu combines masterful technique and passionate musicianship with an open, engaging, and upbeat teaching style. She holds a graduate performance diploma in voice and music performance from Baltimore’s esteemed Peabody Conservatory, as well as master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Tunghai University in Taiwan.

Chen comes to Chicago by way of New York City, where she maintained an active piano and voice teaching studio and sung with the Bronx Opera Company. During her studies, she performed in operas like Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, soloed in Handel’s Messiah, and accumulated numerous awards for outstanding vocal performance.

Chen started her piano studies at age six, started singing in her school choir a few years later, and began playing oboe in her junior-high orchestra.

She loves guiding students along their musical journeys. Besides music, she loves reading books and cycling. Chen looks forward to working with more great families in the year ahead.

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