SpeakMusic Conservatory is an innovative music school dedicated to individualized, creative music instruction for students of all levels and ages.
At SpeakMusic Conservatory we view music as a language and believe that studying it should be approached as such. Like learning a language, music students develop skills through studying with fluent master musicians, and immersing themselves through practice, reading, composition, and performance.
Our faculty is comprised of professional, highly trained artists with a passion for performing as well as teaching. SMC strives to create a musical community for students, faculty, and the public at large.
- SMC provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves as listeners, performers and composers.
- Our diverse and experienced faculty gives students the musical foundation to understand, enjoy and engage creatively in music.
- SMC not only instills proficiency in music theory and technique, but also imparts an understanding of the language of music, so students can grow to be musical artists.
- We aspire to impart to our students a love of music that will stay with them throughout their lives.
Antar Goodwin, guitar, bass, drums
Born in Philadelphia, bassist and composer Antar Goodwin spent the early part of his life moving with his family. He had a desire to play that showed at a very early age. By the age of five, he was playing drums, and by seven piano and classical violin. Antar studied music at the Berklee College of Music, Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts and Kripalu.
Antar has taught music as a part of several institutions, including the National Guitar Workshop and Institute of Music for Children.
He has performed with many accomplished and well-known musicians, including Sting, Lauryn Hill, Sharon Jones, and Matisyahu.
Antar currently plays jazz, funk, rock, and blues in New York either as a sideman or leader of a band. He teaches acoustic and electric guitar, as well as electric bass and drums at SpeakMusic Conservatory.
Dr. Sung Tae Park, piano
Concert pianist Sung Tae Park became a specialist at the Left Hand Alone piano repertoire after being diagnosed with focal dystonia in 2002. Thanks to God’s grace. Park took the stage with both hands for the first time since his diagnosis at his solo recital held at Baruch Performing Art Center in New York City in June 2017 and Daejeon, South Korea 2019.
A native of South Korea, Dr. Park has performed as a recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician in South Korea, Europe and throughout the United States. He has gained distinction as the winner of the Mok Won University concerto competition in South Korea. He has performed with the Vrasta State Philharmonic Orchestra in Bulgaria and Green Chamber Orchestra in Los Angeles. Dr Park has also performed as a soloist in the IBLA Music Competition & Festival in Sicily, Italy.
Sung Tae Park holds his Bachelor’s degree from Mok Won University (S. Korea), his Master’s degree from Kyung Hee University (S. Korea) and Brooklyn College and his Doctoral of Musical Art in Piano Performance from Rutgers University. Dr. Park has taught piano in South Korea and United States and is currently a piano faculty member of the Mason Gross Extension Division at Rutgers University.
Lessons offered in: English, Korean
Dr. Molly Shambo, flute
Flutist Molly Shambo has performed a wide variety of solo and chamber music ranging from traditional to contemporary works. In 2010, Ms. Shambo made her international debut in the Czech Republic performing at the Rabasova Gallerie and Chodovská tvrz as part of the Young Prague International Music Festival. The following year, Molly was accepted into the Imani Winds Chamber Institute Fellowship Program at the Juilliard School. Ms. Shambo was the first to receive an Advanced Certificate in Contemporary Music from University at Buffalo in 2013 and completed a Master’s degree in the Contemporary Performance Program at Manhattan School of Music in 2015. She has performed in concert halls in Estonia, Latvia, Prague, Finland, and New York City. Molly has performed in master classes for renowned flutists such as Roberto Fabbriciani, Keith Underwood, Judith Mendenhall, Mario Caroli, Christine Bailey Davis, and Lorna McGhee; as well as for chamber musicians including Jason Vieaux, Imani Winds, and Eighth Blackbird. Her teachers have included Bart Feller, Barry J. Crawford, and Tara Helen O’Connor.
Roberto Sanchez, guitar
Born in Mexico City, Roberto studied Classical Guitar at the National Music Conservatory of Mexico. Currently he is pursuing his MA in Music Performance at Hunter College/CUNY. He has taken master classes with Douglas Lora, Hopkinson Smith, Gonzalo Salazar, Iván Rijos, and Sante Tursi.
Roberto has played at Hunter College/CUNY, Baruch College/CUNY, in festivals like II International Puebla Festival, Cervantes por Todas Partes, La Guitarra Hoy. He also played with OFUNAM, OTBA, OSIPN, OSN, among other well known orchestras in Mexico City.
Roberto has taught Music Theory and Classical Guitar since 2001. He loves to teach and help students achieve their goals.
Lessons offered in: English, Spanish
Corey Rawls, drums
From Atlanta to New York City, Corey Rawls is regarded as one of the most highly recommended drummers and educators.
The son of two eminent R&B recording artists on RCA’s label, playing music became as inherent to Rawls’ upbringing.
Rawls, endorsed by Yamaha Drums, graduated earned a Master’s degree in jazz studies from Rutgers Mason Gross School of Music and is continuing further his musical career by performing with artists such as Kenny Garrett, Bill Evans, Mark Whitfield, Victor Bailey and was recently the principle drummer for the off-Broadway show “The Secret Life of Bees”. Among an extensive list of New York based artists, Rawls is recording/ performing/touring with the Mark Gross Quintet, and The Horne Electric Band.
Though balancing a performing career, Corey gives back in educational capacities as well via teaching master classes and clinics with New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and teaching at SpeakMusic Conservatory.
Rawls has become an integral part of the incredibly talented New York Jazz, Funk, R&B, Gospel, and Hip Hop scenes, and can be heard on a weekly basis performing at various New York City music venues.
Caitlin Sweet, voice
A New Jersey native, Caitlin Sweet graduated from Westminster Choir College, where she received her Bachelor’s in Music Education with a focus in voice. Caitlin’s experience at Westminster Choir College has afforded her performance opportunities at such notable venues as Princeton University, NJ Performing Arts Center, and Philiadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the centennial performance of Mahler’s 8th “Symphony of a Thousand” under conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
In more recent years Caitlin has been involved with North Jersey’s Harmonium Choral Society, which regularly performs works from a span of cultures and time periods, as well as original works by rising composers. When not performing with choirs, Caitlin performs as a soloist in small ensembles for public and private events, performing everything from arias to jazz standards.
Outside of performance work, Caitlin teaches general music and runs two choirs for her elementary students. In addition to teaching at a public school, Caitlin enjoys working with her own voice students, teaching a variety of styles including classical, pop, country, jazz, and musical theatre.
Caitlin believes that anyone can develop a beautiful singing voice through mindful training. Her teaching style incorporates a balance of musicianship skills, vocal technique, and performance practices so each student may reach their full potential. Caitlin uses her wealth of experience as a performer and ensemble leader to help her students reach their goals. By recognizing each student’s unique abilities and interests, she helps to cultivate confidence and capability in singers of all ages.
Dave Merritt, Drums
Dave Merritt is an accomplished drummer of many talents and interests who has been playing drums for over 45 years. He has performed with varied and diverse groups including: drum set with the Road Runners Blues Band and Paul Plumeri Blues Band; bodhrán, bones, and hammered dulcimer with traditional Celtic bands Cwn Annwn and Browne Jenkyn; and snare drum for the First Highland Watch of Pennsylvania Bagpipe Band and Revolutionary War re-enactors First New Jersey Volunteers. Dave is also the music director of Groove Merchant Drum & Dance Ensemble, in which he plays West African, Middle Eastern, and Afro-Cuban percussion.
A teacher since 1980, Mr. Merritt teaches a variety of drum techniques: Drum Set, Rudimental Snare Drum, Bodhrán, traditional West African Djembe and Dunun, and Arabic Tabla (dumbek). As a drum teacher, his casual approach allows students the relaxation and freedom necessary to learn at their own pace, and his enthusiasm and appreciation of the instrument is both contagious and motivational.
Dave has attended workshops and studied with various drum artists including: Billy Cobham, Tommy Campbell, Rod Morgenstein, Ed Shaughnessy, Terry Bozzio, Greg Bissonette and Pat Patrillo (drum set); Sam Hall, J. Reid Maxwell, Jon Quigg and Gordon Bell (pipe band snare drum); Victor Marshall, M’Bemba Bangoura and Mamady Keita (djembe); Mangue Sylla (dunun); Kim Leary, Souren Baronian, Issam Houshan, Amir Naoum, Karim Nagy, and Bill Koutsouros (doumbek, def, riq); Francisco “Fuyo” Gomez (conga) and Phil Smiley of the Tannahill Weavers demonstrated bodhrán technique. Dave continues to refine and expand his own technique on these instruments, finding inspiration and new ideas everywhere he goes.
The history of the instruments that he plays is also important to Mr. Merritt. He continues to study their origins, cultural and social signifigance, historical impact and evolution. One of his hobbies is the restoration of vintage drums and drum sets. He has even designed and built a few snare drums and various folk instruments. Dave combines his love of drums, history and education in his school and library presentation of “A Day in the Life of an 18th Century Soldier”, the Revolutionary War as seen through the eyes of a Drummer.
Aaron Weiman, piano
Aaron started playing piano at 7 years old and studied both classical and jazz piano under the direction of Stanley Cowell. Aaron received a Bachelor of Music from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and won the Mason Gross Creativity award for his achievements.
Aaron was awarded a fellowship to attend both the Banff Center for the Arts in Canada and the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program at the Kennedy Center. He has traveled and performed at venues such as the Saint Louis Jazz Festival in Senegal, Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC, the East Coast Jazz Festival, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and has been featured in the Washington Post and Washington Times.
Aaron has been teaching private students since 2001 and developed Piano Summer Workshop in 2006. With experience in teaching classical and jazz piano, chamber music, jazz improvisation, and conducting professional development workshops, Aaron is the founder and executive director of the SpeakMusic Conservatory.
Senior Faculty III Master Teacher
Xiyue Huang, Piano
Chinese-born pianist Xiyue Huang started to learn to play the piano at the age of five. Mr. Huang performed his first piano four-hands concert in 2003 when he was six in his hometown, Zigong. In 2014, he received the Golden Prize in the Beijing International Youth Festival Piano Competition. Mr. Huang has performed various piano solo programs in Asia, Europe, and North America. He made his music festival debut playing Poulenc’s Trois novelettes at the Beijing International Music Festival and Academy in the summer of 2016. He has also appeared at the Euro Music Festival and Academy in Halle (Saale), Germany (2016 & 2020), the International Academy of Music in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Italy (2017), the Classical Bridge Music Academy in New York City, USA (2019), and the Altenburger Music Academy in Altenburg, Austria, where he received high praise for his passionate and thoughtful playing of solo works by Ravel, Mendelssohn, Scriabin, Poulenc, and Schubert.
In the U.S., Crystal Field, the Executive Director of NYC’s Theater for the New City, once complimented his playing of Liszt’s Vallée d’Obermann as displaying his “virtuosic technique, thoughtful control and distinct contrast within the music (2018).” During his undergraduate studies, Mr. Huang’s performances at Mikowsky Hall at NYC’s Manhattan School of Music focused on piano four-hands and two-piano repertoire, especially works by Mozart, Debussy, and Poulenc. His most recent recital at Bhouse Music Hall in Chengdu, Sichuan, China (2021) included solo pieces by Bach, Bach/Kempff, Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, Samuel-Coleridge Taylor, and Philip Glass. Mr. Huang made his New Jersey chamber music debut with a flute, oboe, and piano trio performing Madeleine Dring, Jules Demersseman, and Félix Charles Berthélemy’s music at the Lamington Presbyterian Church in Bedminster in December 2022. Xiyue Huang attended masterclasses with and performed for pianists Yuan Shen (2013), Yunjie Chen (2014), Sharon Mann (2015), Michael Lewin (2015), Spencer Myer (2019), Jean Beers (2023), and Ann Schein (2023). Mr. Huang studied with the late Mr. Phillip Kawin at the Manhattan School of Music, earning his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. Currently, Mr. Huang is under the tutelage of Dr. Min Kwon and pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, USA.
Dr. Enriqueta Somarriba, piano and Director of Education and Community
Praised by the New York Concert Review for her “aplomb” and “natural, individual interpretation”, Spanish pianist Enriqueta Somarriba develops her career as a soloist and chamber musician, performing in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Center for Jewish History in NYC, Organization of American States in D.C., Auditorio Nacional de Música de Madrid, Festival de Música y Danza de Granada, Festival dels Horts in Valencia and Sala dei Notari in Perugia, Italy, among others.
She has performed as a soloist with the Orquesta Andrés Segovia, Virtuosi Brunensis Orchestra, Orquesta Fórum Musikae and Rutgers Symphony Orchestra. Her performances have been broadcasted by the Spanish National Radio, Veracruz Television-Radio (México) and 89.1 WWFM Radio and has recorded for MRS Classics.
Dr. Somarriba carries a mission to promote Ibero-American music in the US, curating concerts and lectures around Spanish and Latin-American composers in institutions such as Cornell University, Manhattan School of Music and University of Michigan. As an active performer of new music, she has performed pieces by Jesús Torres, Valerie Capers, Roberto Sierra, Ginny Johnston, Benet Casablancas, Aina Sandoval, Paul Reale, Patricio Molina and Ricardo Lorenz, among others.
As an educator, Somarriba has taught in more than 50 institutions in America and Spain, such as The State Theatre of New Jersey, Universidad Alfonso X El Sabio in Madrid, IV Festival de Perfeccionamiento Pianístico in Veracruz, Mexico, McCarter Theatre in Princeton, and multiple K12 schools all over the US, teaching students of all ages. She is Director of Education and Community at SpeakMusic Conservatory and Ambassador of the Notes for Growth Foundation, which provides pianos to children in need.
Her main mentors are Solomon Mikowsky, Min Kwon and Fernando Puchol. Somarriba holds degrees from the Madrid Royal Conservatory (B.M.), Chicago College of Performing Arts (M.M.) Manhattan School of Music (Professional Studies Certificate) and Rutgers University (D.M.A.), where she is a Part-Time Lecturer and Staff Pianist since 2014.
Lessons offered in: English, Spanish
*Dr. Enriqueta is a Senior Faculty III– Contact our office if you would like more information!
Stamatis Vlachodimitris, piano
Originally from Greece, pianist and educator Stamatis Vlachodimitris has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician across Europe. He has performed in venues such as, Euopein Schönbrunn Palace Theatre Vienna, Istanbul’s Consulate of Germany Concert Hall, Kapuzinerkloster Kulturzentrum of Cochem, Megaron Concert Hall of Thessaloniki, and the Greek National Opera at Stavros Niarchos Foundation. He has also performed with the Symphony Orchestra of the Municipality of Thessaloniki.
Mr. Vlachodimitris was the first prize winner of, “Concorso Pianistico San Donà di Piave”, the Panhellenic Piano Competition (Larissa, 2013), National Piano Competition (Thessaloniki Piano Festival, 2019), and accompaniment of a classical song (Istanbul, 2013). He was awarded the second prize in Chamber Music and Accompaniment of classical song (Athens, 2012) in the German competition “Jugend Musiziert.”
Upon receiving his Bachelor’s degree in 2018 and his Master’s degree in 2020 at the Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität Linz, Austria, he graduated with First Class Honors under the tutelage of distinguished pianist, Michael Korstick.
Most recently, Vlachodimitris has completed a Postgraduate Degree with world-renowned pianist, Lilya Zilberstein at University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. He is currently a Doctoral Candidate at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University under the tutelage of Min Kwon.
Lessons in English, Greek, German
Roger Noguerol, piano and percussion
Roger received his Honors degree in Modern Percussion and Piano from La Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (ESMUC), under the direction of Enildo Rasúa, Anga Diaz, Dani Forcada, Mariona Segarra, Gary Willis, Ferran Conangle, Eduardo Tancredi and Joan Diaz.
He is a well trained musician in different disciplines by one of the top rated musical schools in Europe. He also studied Musical Language and Harmony in the “Taller de Musics” in Barcelona. Roger has also lectured at Rutgers University, as well as taught classes in piano and percussion at a primary school in Barcelona.
In his career he has produced many albums and demos for groups that he is or has been a member of such as: Tirant lo Funk, Aranjazza, Apache5, La Tremenda. He has contributed to the production of albums for other bands or artists such as Derrick Morgan, Hermano L, Desmon Deker Soweto, Sota Zero, Rocker Stress and others.
Roger is teaching percussion and piano as part of the SpeakMusic faculty.
Lessons offered in: English, Spanish, Catalan
Anthony Ware, Saxophone, Clarinet, and Flute
Anthony Ware is saxophonist, flautist, and composer who performs regularly in the New York and China alongside trumpeter Theo Croker’s DVRK Funk, Chinese pop artist Khalil Fong, and his own group the Anthony Ware Coretet.
Anthony’s love for music was nurtured by the New Jersey Jazz Institute during his formative years. At Mason Gross School of the Arts he earned his Bachelors degree in Jazz Saxophone with Ralph Bowen. In ten years as a teacher, he has taught at the Soumas School of Music, The New Jersey Jazz Institute, and Jazz Connections Summer Camp as well as taught masterclasses at the Thelonius Monk Institute in Los Angeles and Dynamix in Shanghai, China.
A warm and engaging teacher, Anthony shares his love of teaching and music with his students at SpeakMusic Conservatory.
Rachel Podhorcer, violin and viola
Rachel Podhorcer began playing violin at the age of 4. Her musical education began in the Suzuki method, which has shaped her outlook on the performance and study of music as well as children’s educational needs. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from Brandeis University, where she studied with Daniel Stepner. She went on to receive her Suzuki Teacher Training at the School for Strings in New York City, where she studied with Allen Lieb and Ekaterina Gerson. As a dedicated Suzuki teacher, she believes that every child can learn to make music and that the benefits of a musical education will enhance all aspects of their lives.
Rachel is Suzuki certified in Books 1 – 8.
Dr. Christine Chen, piano
Orchestral musician, chamber musician, soloist, and educator. Christine Chen has performed across Asia and the Americas.
Dr. Chen started learning piano at age six and percussion at age eleven. She was accepted to the musically gifted program of Stella Matutina Girls’ School where she studied both piano and percussion and continued her studies in the United States where she completed her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at Mannes College the New School for Music and her Doctor of Musical Arts at Rutgers University.
Dr. Chen was a featured performer with Excelsis Percussion Quartet at the Zeltsman Marimba Festival (2015). She has also been invited to major music festivals, such as the Pacific Music Festival in Japan and Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara as an academy member.
She has performed with renowned orchestras, including the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, and New World Symphony, as well as numerous chamber groups such as Ensemble du Monde, Areté Ensemble, New York Percussion Group, and the Montclair Orchestra Percussion Ensemble.
In recent years, Dr. Chen has collaborated with several choirs in live concerts, recording projects, and concert tours. Choral groups include Choral Chameleon, Empire City Men’s Chorus, Choral Art Society of New Jersey, Collegiate Chorale, Vox Nova, VS/VS, and Highbridge Voices.
Sheila Shukla is a music and movement teacher for pre-K and kindergarten students. She has taught music and movement at a Montessori schools, charter schools, libraries and has performed at children’s events for more than 20 years. Sheila incorporates imaginative play, yoga and social-emotional awareness in her music classes, along with global themes of peace and environmentalism.
Sheila is the guitarist and singer for the Magnolia Street String Band, and also plays professionally with several other groups and duos in New Jersey.
Her background and training is in choral and classical music.
Zoë D’Amico, Violin and Viola
Zoe D’Amico, is a dual candidate for the Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Instrumental Performance at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. An active performer and educator, she performs as a violinist in the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, concertmaster of the Rutgers University String Ensemble, drum major in the Marching Scarlet Knights, and a horn player in the Rutgers Symphony Band. Outside of the university, she has performed as concertmaster of the Eastern Festival Orchestra in the 2021, 2022, and 2023 Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina, as well as a member of the 2023 PRISMA Festival Orchestra in Powell River, Canada. She is an active freelance violinist across the tri-state area, performing in small ensembles for weddings, local orchestras, as well as pit orchestras for musical theater. She has studied violin with Brennan Sweet, the Associate Concertmaster of the New Jersey Symphony, since 2018.
Jem Seidel, Drums
Jem Seidel grew up playing music in Highland Park, and has been involved with the Speak Music Conservatory from a young age. He received his Bachelors in Music from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University where he studied with master drummers Victor Lewis and Robby Ameen. Playing a variety of genres of music, he has traveled and performed at venues including the Soho Grand Hotel, Nublu, and the Oshkosh Jazz Festival. He has also recorded and performed with a variety of esteemed artists including John Andrews, Jackie Jones, and Max Ochs. Jem has been teaching music lessons for several years privately.
Born in Beijing, China, Ruihong Chang is currently studying for a doctoral degree in violin performance at Rutgers University with Todd Phillips. She started playing violin at 7 years old and finished her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in violin performance at Arizona State University and Mannes School of Music with Danwen Jiang, Shmuel Ashkenasi, and took lessons with Aaron Rosand. She has won prestigious awards, such as the Hong Kong International Violin Competition and the Schoenfeld International String Competition. Her performances includes concerts in China, the United States, and Europe. Currently, she is playing in the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, and focusing on solo performances, chamber music, and teaching. Lessons are offered in English and/or Chinese.