A Minnesota native, Jacqueline is a creative and energetic instructor and performer. After graduating from the University of Minnesota and gaining work experience, she returned to school for a second bachelor’s degree — this time in music, with an emphasis in piano performance.
Jacqueline has over a decade of teaching experience, as well as a diverse background in collaborative piano, having accompanied for area churches, choirs, instrumentalists, cabaret shows, and local bands. She currently performs monthly with her band, Element, in the Chicagoland area, and she always strives to take her music to the next level.
Jacqueline aims to bring out in her students the charisma and emotion that characterize her own playing. She keeps them fully engaged with a flexible and fun repertoire, while maintaining a focus on fundamentals. She recently became certified as a Guild instructor through the American College of Musicians.
When Jacqueline isn’t teaching or performing, she loves being a mother to her daughter Alivia and fur-baby Bella, traveling, learning guitar, and being outdoors.
Max Bessesen is a performer, teacher, and composer. He holds degrees in jazz saxophone performance, and law and society, from Oberlin. His musical skills have taken him to five continents, earning him awards from such organizations as Downbeat Magazine and the United States Embassy. Having received a fellowship from the Frank Huntington Beebe Fund, Max spent 2016 in Chennai, India, where he researched the rigorous and systematic south-Indian classical system and applied it to the music of the African diaspora.
Max has performed with a wide range of musical icons, from jazz (Abraham Laboriel), to pop (The Fray), to world music (Simone Shaheen). He plays regularly with his working band, Echoes.
Max is on the teaching staff of Orbert Davis’s Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, which connects him to various Chicago schools as a teaching artist. Max has also been a mainstay faculty member at the Stanford Jazz Workshop for the past three years. He is thrilled to be a part of the Piano Power team.
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.
Originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, Jin is a composer, pianist, vocalist, and drummer. He received his bachelor’s in music composition from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and he is currently pursuing a master’s in jazz studies at DePaul. He won the 2018 TI:ME Electronic Music Composition Contest for his original work, “Letter to Dad”. Jin currently performs and writes for DePaul jazz ensembles and combos, as well as Eunfinished, a seven-piece jazz/hip-hop band.
Jin’s teaching style is warm and engaging, and he loves helping his students discover new musical perspectives. He looks forward to a year ahead filled with music, learning, and fun.
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.
Joe Contreras is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in music education from Northeastern Illinois University. His original choral compositions have been performed by collegiate choirs throughout the Chicagoland area. He also performs regularly and has been featured at Jazz Showcase and the Elmhurst Jazz Festival.
Joe believes in fostering a lifelong relationship with music, built upon the idea that anyone can succeed with dedication to their craft. His teaching approach is warm and empathetic, while also promoting a work ethic that can be applied to all aspects of life.
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.
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’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.
An Indianapolis native, Egan has studied at both the University of Toronto and Columbia College Chicago. While hailing from a family of performers, Egan has focused in his own work on original composition. During his college years, Egan also coached youth soccer all over the greater Chicago area. He’s excited to combine his passion for music with the joy of working with kids.
Egan is well-versed in multiple genres, with experience composing and performing jazz, blues, pop/rock, and musical theatre, to complement his native classical background. Egan is active in the composing and freelancing scene in Chicago, currently concentrating on musical theatre.
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.
Chris discovered his love for music and performance onstage in musicals, singing in roles varying from the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz to the Balladeer in Assassins. His involvement in a cappella ensembles led him to become an ace song arranger, in styles from folk and jazz to pop and rock. Today, he performs with Deep Dish, a Chicago-based a cappella group, and composes for musical theatre.
With degrees in theatre and music from Valparaiso University, Chris loves sharing his expertise and experience with his students. A deep love of piano and voice drives Chris to challenge himself as a soloist and ensemble member. In his lessons, Chris seeks to inspire that same enthusiasm in the next generation of pianists, singer-songwriters, and vocalists.
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.
Andrew is originally from Amelia Island, off the northeast coast of Florida. After receiving his bachelor’s in jazz performance from the University of North Florida, he moved to Chicago for his master’s, where he quickly made his way into the city’s rich jazz scene, performing at such venues as the Green Mill, Andy’s, and Jazz Showcase. After finishing his master’s in jazz performance at DePaul, Andrew moved to Miami, where he received his DMA in jazz performance at the University of Miami, and worked extensively in straight-ahead and Latin jazz. Andrew then joined the faculty of Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida, where he taught applied lessons, and coached the jazz ensemble and jazz combo.
Andrew is delighted to be back in Chicago, where he has been playing regularly with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra at the Green Mill. He offers fun, engaging lessons with a crisp sense of structure, and he looks forward to working with more great students in the year ahead.
A native of Seattle, Christine began her musical studies as a classically-trained trumpet player. Moving to Chicago and collaborating with jazz colleagues led her to pursuing a master’s degree in vocal jazz. She was accepted into one of the nation’s leading jazz institutions, the University of North Texas. There she focused on her new passion for singing, honing her skills in piano, songwriting, arranging, and improvisation.
Since completing her master’s, Christine has enjoyed teaching piano, voice, trumpet, and theory to students of all ages. Her greatest passion is helping students find their personal connection to music, and helping them develop the technique and skills for self-expression. Whether through accompanying, facilitating original composition, arranging pop music, or using traditional literature, Christine leads her students to their goals in practical, attainable ways, by instilling creative and effective practice habits.
Christine is very excited to be back in Chicago, her favorite city. Outside of music, she enjoys drinking coffee, reading, cooking new foods, and spending time with dogs.
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.
A Chicagoland native now living in Evanston, Sean is a lifelong musician and performer. He earned his bachelor’s in music and psychology at Augustana College. While at Augustana, he worked with a variety of bands, percussion ensembles, and choirs, touring across America and throughout Spain. Sean spent the summer of 2017 in Paris, where he studied music history from a French perspective. Sean is currently pursuing a master’s in music therapy through Augsburg University.
An empathetic teacher who tailors each lesson to the needs of his students, Sean is excited to work with more great musicians in the year ahead. When not studying or working, Sean enjoys reading, discovering new coffee shops, meeting up with friends, and learning as much new music as possible.
Steven Hemmy was born and raised in Beloit, Wisconsin. He grew up listening to his father, a talented pianist and violinist, practicing almost daily. Not surprisingly, Steven asked at age six to study piano and, two years later, to study violin.
Having received a full music scholarship competing in a concerto competition on violin, Steven attended the University of Wisconsin. Feeling limited by the purely-classical university approach, however, he turned to the study of jazz and blues piano, songwriting, and improvisational techniques. After graduating, Steven lived and taught in Lampang, Thailand, for a year. While there he gave lessons on piano and violin to members of the Lampang community.
Moving back to Chicago after his year abroad, Steven now performs and records with his rock group, The Dirty Nines. Steven is excited to carry his variety of musical experiences into his teaching with Piano Power.
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.
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.
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!
A native of Philadelphia, Jocelyn recently moved with her husband to Highland Park. She is a graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. She also cultivated a love for choral music, maintaining an active career with professional choral ensembles around the country, and becoming a member of the first American choir to give a performance in Rome’s Sistine Chapel.
Before moving to the Chicago area, Jocelyn maintained an active music studio of more than 40 piano and voice students. Over the past ten years, she has orchestrated numerous recitals, performances, and recording sessions for her students. Being the oldest of five girls, she has always loved working with children, as well as adults, and inspiring creativity through music.
Jocelyn’s goal as an instructor is not only to teach the basics of technique and music appreciation, but to leave her students excited and eager to continue their studies and practice after each lesson. Jocelyn is thrilled to be a member of the Piano Power team!
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.
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 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.
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.
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!”
Originally from St. Louis, Ryan completed his graduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Grammy-winning guitarist and composer Sergio Assad. Ryan has performed in a wide range of settings, from rock bands, to solo classical concerts, to historical reenactments, to musical theater. Since relocating to Chicago in 2016, Ryan has been diving into the local music community and culture. He loves listening to modern and experimental music, and exploring music’s ongoing evolution.
Ryan believes that all music can be used for learning and growth, and he motivates his students by finding music they love. He balances the study of theory and fundamentals with the space to play for enjoyment, nurturing a sense of fun, excitement, and creativity.
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.
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 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.