Piano & Keyboards
Jaki Nelson was born to an entertainment family. She began learning piano at the age of 8 and has continued her study of the instrument to this day. She has taken vocal lessons from the best, including Rosemary Butler, Monica Margolis, Alexis Lopez, and Hannah Ferber. She began her recording career at the age of 17 with a song she engineered herself, titled “Take My Hand” that went worldwide, debuting on BBC radio, and getting picked up by Mau5Trap Records, a partner of Capitol Records. Jaki has begun her teaching career at Monster Music Lessons and looks forward to taking on new students to help them explore their creative instrumental and vocal abilities.
Jay Vincent is an award winning, USC-educated composer, performer and educator. He has composed music for the #1 kids’ television series “LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu,” Morgan Freeman’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2012 Golden Globes, and became one of the youngest composers to receive a BMI Film & TV Award. Jay is also part of the Star Wars universe, having composed music for the new “LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles” on Cartoon Network. A longtime collaborator with EA Games, his music can be heard as the top selling track on EA’s “Dragon Age 2: Epic Times” video game soundtrack, and in many award-winning trailers including “Battlefield “4,” Mass Effect 3,” “Command & Conquer,” “Dragon Age 2″ and the upcoming “Dragon Age: Inquisition.” As an avid teacher and educator of the next generation of musicians, Jay has been passing along his extensive knowledge of many instruments and styles since the age of 14, and continues to do so 14 years later.The worldwide phenomenon of “Ninjago” has given him the privilege of presenting rich and intelligent music to a new generation of children, in the spirit of the classical masterpieces in Chuck Jones’ “Looney Tunes.” In a time where musical themes are losing popularity, “Ninjago” fans in 40 countries are treated every week to memorable melodies played by unique instruments from around the world. As a vocalist and instrumentalist he has brought Haydn to life with the Vienna Philharmonic, sung for Pope Benedict’s 80th Birthday at the Vatican and toured the islands of Japan. As a listener, his diverse and meticulous study of sound, story and history has yielded an arsenal of abilities that make even the most challenging project possible. This passion for musical history, diversity and intense study always comes out in his teaching; every lesson with every student becomes both a trip to the past and a new venture into the future.Educated at USC in Composition and Cinematic Arts with a graduate degree in Film Scoring, Jay’s knowledge of music and art across multiple disciplines comes out in his multifaceted teaching style. As and undergraduate he had the privilege of studying composition—particularly for voices—under world renowned choral composer Morten Lauridsen. He also was fortunate enough to sing under LA Master Chorale music director Paul Salamunovich for a year in the USC Chamber Choir. Maestro Salamunovich’s wealth of stories about Luciano Pavarotti, Zubin Mehta and Marilyn Horne provided a firsthand look into the history of world-class music making, a knowledge Jay is relentless about passing on to his students.Jay loves teaching largely because of the many great teachers he was lucky to have. Their passion and genius was infectious, and it comes out every day in the music he writes, plays and sings. And he insists on carrying that torch and passing it to the next person who walks through the door of the lesson room!
Beginning and Intermediate Classical Piano
Coco York has performed for President and Mrs. Bill Clinton twice, royalty, dignitaries, State Departments around the world, members of the Dutch Government and she has also authored a book: Simple Vocal Technique with Inner Engineering. Hailing from Strong, Arkansas, USA, where she was born, Coco has made her way to New Orleans, Australia, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Asia, Africa, Europe, leaving her mark in music across the globe.
CoCo has shared the stage with artist such as McCoy Tyner, Dianne reeves, Tanya Marie, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Toots Thielemans, and many others. She has appeared in theaters, recorded, and has extensive television and radio experience from around the world.
Born Guinevere Henry and nicknamed CoCo because of her penchant for drinking hot chocolate, she earned a Bachelor of Performing Arts degree in Music from Southern University in Louisiana. She studied Opera with Matiwilda Dobbs then subsequently returned to Southern University to continue her education. She has since earned a Masters Degree in Psychology and a Masters Certificate in Music Therapy.
Coco has worked as a Music Therapist at Links High School in Montreal, QB with developmentally challenged children, as well as in geriatrics at the St. Andrews Long Term Care Facility (also in Montreal, QB) with adults who suffered from autism, Parkinson’s, stroke and other ailments. Additionally, Coco has served as a Substitute Teacher at a number of schools in the LA County, has taught Master Classes all over the world, and has held permanent positions at both the Aboriginal School of the Arts in Sydney, Australia and the prestigious Rotterdam Conservatory of Music in The Netherlands.
When asked about her teaching style, Coco responds: “My teaching style is extremely simple: I always meet a client where they are. I assess to find out what their individual needs are and join them there.”
Coco is available for private beginning/intermediate piano lessons on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Jazz and Rock Piano
Derek John Buechel is an honors graduate of Columbia College in Chicago where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree. While attending Columbia, Derek based his studies in the jazz and rock/fusion guitar idiom, and had private lessons with Chicago greats Frank Dawson and Peter Lerner. Through his studies and training, Derek attained a solid foundation in all aspects of music including composition, theory, technique, production, sight-reading, and ear training. While at Columbia, Derek was surrounded by many of the businesses’ finest musicians including blues greats Koko Taylor and Fernando Jones, jazz greats Pat Martino, Jon Faddis, and John Pizzarelli, and funk legend Fred Wesley.
While maintaining a solid rock n’ roll foundation, Derek’s style is described as an eclectic mix of jazz, rock, blues, funk, and psychedelia. Part of the reason for his unique style is his involvement in a number of different musical outfits. Derek was a member of almost every different ensemble Columbia had to offer including Jazz Guitar, Blues Ensemble, Pop Orchestra, New Music Ensemble, and Groove Band. He was also very involved in Chicago’s theatre and comedy scene, working as Music Director for a production based out of Chicago’s legendary 2nd City and also playing lead guitar for the Apollo Theatre’s Baby Wants Candy, the most popular improv-comedy sketch in Chicago.
Since moving to Los Angeles in late 2008, Derek has built a solid musical foundation for himself through teaching lessons, and his rock band, Hey You!. Hey You! has been lighting up Hollywood, constantly playing some of L.A.’s best venues such as the House of Blues, Key Club, Viper Room, and the Troubadour, and has even won a couple of awards along the way (RAW Artist Musician of the Year, Project Rock Warrior winners). The band happened to catch the ear of Producer/Engineer Mike Clink (Guns N’ Roses, Heart, Metallica), and is currently in the studio recording their debut album with him.
While performing with Hey You!, Derek has still kept his love for teaching alive. He has received much praise for his teaching of all age groups, but specifically with children. He has been involved with childcare and education since high school, and this can be seen in his teaching style with kids. Some of his students have even given him the nickname “Happy”.
Classical and Pop Piano
Andreas Farmakalidis is a professional performing musician, published musical author as well as educator with national as well as international touring experience.
He is primarily known as an electric bass player. He was fortunate enough to record with notable musicians such as Grammy award winning guitar player Marty Friedman,Megadeth, aika (J-pop top10), Neilaproductions, among others. In addition, he supported many well known artists and he has shared the stage with the likes of Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, WAR, Greek x factor and super idol artists among many others.
He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Music from Berklee College of Music as well as a MA degree from Brandeis University . In addition, Andreas is a Rotterdams Conservatory alumnus, where he was studying Jazz bass Performance as well as Music Pedagogy. Moreover, he has a performance grade degree in piano from Trinity College in the UK.
Lastly Andreas is a staff writer for the renowned bass magazine. His First music book, which is published through academic publishing, focuses on observations and analyses in the music of Ornette Coleman. His second book (hip hop bass lines), which is going to be published through bassline publishing, will be out early 2012.
Andreas is available for private lessons on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Alexis Stone Lopez
Beginning Piano & Piano for Vocal Accompaniment
Alexis was born in August 1984 in Modesto, CA. She attended Woodrow Elementary, Somerset Middle School, and Fred C. Beyer High School.
Shortly before graduation from high school, she decided to audition for the first season of American Idol. So, at 17, she skipped school just before finals to drive more than 300 miles alone to Los Angeles for a 40-second audition. Although competing with more than 10,000 Idol-hopefuls, she made it all the way to the final Wildcard competition, before leaving the show.
After graduation, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her music interests. She attended Pierce College in Woodland Hills, CA, where she studied Linguistics and Music, and then went on to earn a full scholarship to the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.
Alexis has been working in recording studios since she was 14 years old, not only as an artist and studio vocalist, but also as a recording engineer and a producer. Although her primary focus has been on her education, she has also managed to tour with several major acts at venues including MGM Grand, Cal Expo, Universal Amphitheater, and other major locations across the U.S.
She is currently back in the studio full time, working to complete a volume of songs, to draw from for her upcoming album.
Alexis has limited availability for Private Lessons