SpeakMusic Conservatory Students

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.

Learn more about our lessons, classes, or events.

Our Faculty:

Aaron Weiman

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 director of the SpeakMusic Conservatory.

Susana Leiva Ovalle (voice and piano) was born in Santiago, Chile. Susana began piano lessons at the age of four with Georgina Gonzalez at the Conservatory of the University of Chile. Alongside her developments in piano, Susana has been constantly involved in singing with various groups that had toured extensively in North America, South America, Canada, and Japan. This has allowed her to be part of over twenty productions recording in different languages. She holds a B.M. Voice Performance, Cum Laude, from La Sierra University and is pursuing her Master Degree in Opera in the studio of Eduardo Chama at Mason Gross School of Arts, Rutgers University.

As a singer, Susana has performed in operatic and musical productions such as Elsa in the “Sound of Music” (2012), Adele in Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus”(2013), Hodel in the production of “Fiddler on the Roof”(2014), Lauretta, in “Gianni Schicchi”(2015), The Princess in “Little Nemo in Slumberland”(2015), Maria mother of Jesus in “Oh my Son”, Mable in “Pirates of Penzance” (2016), Gretel in “Hänsel und Gretel”(2017), and the most recent one as Susanna in “Le Nozze di Figaro”(2018.

Susana has performed with the La Sierra University Wind Ensemble as a keyboardist and percussionist, in annual Opera Galas, and many other operatic outreach programs including numerous recitals for the Riverside Opera Guild and Los Angeles. In recognition of her fine work, Susana won first place in the Rain Cross Chorale Scholarship Competition 2013 and 2015, and also in the Riverside Opera Guild Competition in 2016. She also placed first and second in the Marguerite Marsh Scholarship Competition in 2015, 2014 and 2016, respectively. In 2016, Susana was chosen as the winner of the Grand Prize of La Sierra University Concerto Competition, which allowed her to have a full concert with the La Sierra Orchestra in May of 2017. As her newest accomplishment, Susana will be performing the role of Alcina in Handel’s Alcina at the Music Academy International summer festival in Italy on July 2018.

Susana has taught piano since 2005, as an assistant to Susana Ovalle, her mother. Her passion for teaching has led her to gain much experience in giving private lessons to students of all ages, and coaching vocal groups of all sizes in Chile, Trinidad and Tobago, and in the United States. For the past 5 years, she has had the privilege to work with many talented children as a teacher of piano, organ, voice, and chamber music at the Music Summer Camp and the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA) hosted at La Sierra University of 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. She truly enjoys the interaction with students and always looks for ways to draw out their maximum potential.

Lessons offered in: English, Spanish

Antar Goodwin

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.

James Keene

 James Keene, violin and viola

James Keene is a versatile soloist, chamber musician, and music pedagogue. After attending Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, he received his B.M. from Rutgers University, and received his Masters from San Francisco Conservatory. Starting in high school, he has played solo, chamber, and orchestral performances for audiences throughout China, Italy, Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and the USA. His principal teachers have been Todd Phillips, Carmit Zori, Lenuta Ciulei, and Wei-He.

Lessons offered in:  English, Spanish, German

Jihyang (Jennifer) Seo

Jihyang Seo is a doctor of musical arts candidate in violin performance at Mason Gross School of the Arts, where she studies with Carmit Zori. She began violin studies under Junsu Jeong when she was 10 years old and went on to attend Kyung Hee University in South Korea before being offered a full scholarship at Stony Brook Unversity, where she studied with Soovin Kim, Philip Setzer, and Jennifer Frautschi. She has won several competitions at Saegaeilbo, Emakchunchu, Kyung Hee University, Stony Brook University, and elsewhere. She has performed Mozart, Brahms, and Sibelius violin concertos and was a member of Gwacheon Philharmonic Orchestra in Korea. She attended the Seoul International Music Festival and Music Academy of the West where she studied with Katherine Winkler and had masterclasses with Gil Shaham, Glenn Dicterow, Midori Goto, and Cho-Liang Lin. She currently serves as concertmaster of the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra.

Lessons offered in:  English and Korean

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 Schafer, voice

A New Jersey native, Caitlin Schafer 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.

Enriqueta (Piano)

Enriqueta Somarriba, piano

Pianist Enriqueta Somarriba has performed in Europe and the United States, both as a soloist and chamber musician. Performances include appearances in Carnegie Hall in New York, Unity temple of Chicago, Castle d’Ursel in Antwerp (Belgium) and National Auditorium of Madrid (Spain), among others. She appeared as a soloist with the Andres Segovia Orchestra in the presence of the Queen Sofia of Spain, and other orchestras in her native Spain. In addition, Ms. Somarriba has made recordings for the Spanish National Radio and 98.7 WFMT Chicago and hasbeen awarded first prizes in national and international competitions.

She has taken part in several master classes with Andrei Gavrilov, Dina Yoffé, Joaquín Soriano, Akiko Ebi, Jorge Federico Osorio and Gilbert Kalish, among others, and has participated in music festivals such as the Euro Music Festival in Leipzig and International Piano Festival in Spain. Scholarship recipient of Juventudes Musicales of Madrid, Mutua Madrileña and AIE (Society of Spanish Artists and Performers), Enriqueta Somarriba studied with Solomon Mikowsky at the Chicago College of Performing Arts and Manhattan School of Music. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree with Min Kwon at Mason Gross School of the Arts in Rutgers University.

Since very young, Ms. Somarriba has found in teaching an incredible way to channel her passion for music, and a source of apprenticeship for her own development as performer.

Lessons offered in:  English, Spanish


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 and Clarinet

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.  

She started learning piano at age six and found her interest in percussion playing at age eleven. Shortly after, Ms. Chen was accepted to the musically gifted program of Stella Matutina Girls’ School studying both piano and percussion. At age eighteen, she came to the United States to further her musical studies. She completed her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at Mannes College the New School for Music, and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Rutgers University, where she studies with Joseph Tompkins. Her teachers have included Michael Werner, Marc Damoulaskis, Eric Millstein, Barry Centanni, Glen Velez, James Preiss, Maya Gunji, James Baker, Mike Truesdell and Che-Ming Tsai.

She has performed with renowned orchestras, such as the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, New World Symphony, Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra, Staten Island Philharmonic, Chelsea Symphony and Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra. She was also invited to the Pacific Music Festival (Sapporo, Japan) in 2010 and Music Academy of the West Summer Festival (Santa Barbara, CA) in 2012. Recently, Ms. Chen was featured with Excelsis Percussion Quartet as a guest ensemble in Zeltsman Marimba Festival.

Mike Noordzy, acoustic/electric bass and guitar

Acoustic, Electric Bassist and Guitarist, Mike Noordzy brings an incredible passion and experience as a performer and teacher of diverse genres including country, jazz, rock, afro-cuban, and bluegrass. He has performed as leader and sideman for diverse groups in the NYC area and has graced the stages abroad in Canada and Australia.

Mike holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in Jazz performance from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University studying under Kenny Davis, Mike Richmond, Vic Juris, and Victor Lewis.  Alongside legendary bassist William Parker, he has performed avant-garde music with the Intro-Scopic Music Ensemble.

He leads his own projects that vary from punk rock, jazz, afro-cuban, and experimental music.

An experienced teacher working with children and adults, Mike brings his infectious energy and love of music to his students.

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