Natalie Assemany

Natalie is an Art Teacher in Oakland County. She has been teaching Art for 9 years and operating her private art business, Noah’s Art for over 10 years! Natalie has a true passion for children and creativity. Natalie looks forward to having you participate with her on creative adventures!

Brighton + Livonia

Andi Bissett

Andi, Bissett, a graduate of the Madonna University, has honed her baking craft in her home kitchen for 20+ years. Baking has always been a passion for Andi, and over the last few years she has taken classes at Zingerman’s Bakery and Teresa Greenways to perfect her art.

Andi has been married to her college sweetheart since 2003, together they have three children who all LOVE their mama’s baking. A motivated self learner, Andi is always tweaking and perfecting. Her sourdough devotion runs deep.


Ashley Brown

Ashley Brown is a classically trained musician that has been playing piano since the age of 8. She attended Berklee College of Music and in 2012, graduated with an BA in Music Business. Ashley has given private piano lessons for over 10 years around the US in Boston, San Francisco and New York City, and has experience working with students of all ages. She believes learning how to read and play music encourages creativity, provides a solid foundation for future musical pursuits and builds confidence and self-esteem.

Brighton + Livonia

Cheryl Chidester

Although Cheryl Ann Boc Chidester’s art can be described as eclectic, it shares common themes strongly inspired by nature, her travels and experiences, and by her love of history. These themes are often interconnected in her art, as well as our world. While places, and people and their culture, offer unique perspectives and experiences, there are universal ideals and shared history, knowledge and spirit that transcends time and place. Cheryl strives to touch upon these connections.

After attending Eastern Michigan University and earning a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree (and, later, a Master of Science Degree), Cheryl  has held a number of art-related positions – graphic designer, gallery manager, art instructor, muralist, set designer, architectural historian  – she currently serve as the curator of the Argus Museum and is the proprietor of Cheryl’s Creative Custom Art & Framing/Inspirecreationsart. Her work has been accepted in juried exhibits throughout the country and has been honored with several awards. She has held solo exhibitions and was awarded a 2021-2022 Michigan Council of the Arts and Cultural Affairs grant.

Cheryl works in a variety of media combining techniques of texture, light and color to convey her impression of a subject matter, place, culture or moment. She appreciates exploring materials, methods and ideas, while staying true to them, as they guide her to a finished piece of art expressing an interpretation and shared experience. One of her joys in life is sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm of art.

Electric Bass, Guitar, Ukulele

Nick Dalbis

Nick Dalbis is a Music Producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and teacher. For over 30 years he has produced, recorded, collaborated and mentored hundreds of songwriters and bands in the Detroit metro area.

Nick started playing guitar at age nine. By age 12, Nick and his brother formed a popular wedding band and entertained at hundreds of events for over a decade. In his teens, he became interested in songwriting, recording and music production. Nick has written and produced a successful series of children’s educational songs

His passion for music and the creative process has evolved into sharing his love of music and sparking that passion in his students. With over ten years experience in teaching students from 8-80, Nick believes pursuing music as a pastime or as a professional, is a fulfilling lifelong quest. Recognizing each student is different, Nick adapts his lessons to the individual’s musical interests and needs to ensure a fun, successful musical journey.

Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone

Holly Finch-Glynn

Holly began playing saxophone in fifth grade, she loved it so much she wanted to try all of the woodwind instruments. In sixth grade she started playing clarinet outside of her band class and eventually started playing flute in college. Holly participated in marching band, concert band, wind ensemble, jazz ensemble and jazz combos at Saginaw Valley State University. Her main instrument is saxophone but has played in multiple groups on clarinet and flute as well.

Holly now teaches K-12 music in Washtenaw County. She loves beginning band and helping students find their joy in music. Holly is so excited to help you grow in your musical journey too!

Play Today: Piano,
Rhythm + Music

Marilyn Floyd

Marilyn has been teaching piano for more than two decades. She was an inaugural teacher at School for the Arts in 2013. Her goal is to offer innovative, tech-savvy lessons that develop pianists who stick with music for a lifetime. In largely student-led lessons, she uses music apps, dynamic teaching tips, and off-bench activities. Marilyn teaches music theory through chords, composing, and improvisational techniques. No boring workbooks here!

Having taught over 20,000 piano lessons with students ranging in age from 4 to 74, she understands that with each stage comes different goals. Each student has their own musical journey; her goal is to support, teach and mentor at each juncture.   She has taught individual, partner/buddy, group, and online lessons. While individual lessons are the mainstay, partner lessons are her favorite. What’s more fun than learning with a friend!

Marilyn studied music at Julliard and holds a certificate from the Richards Institute (Education Through Music – ETM). ETM promotes physical, mental, and social growth through language, song, movement, and interactive play. In recent years, Marilyn has done extensive study in teaching boys and teens, chords, and online piano lessons. She holds a B.S. in Journalism with a minor in voice at the University of Kansas.

Between lessons, she plunks on another keyboard as a freelance writer for a music education app.  

On a personal level: Marilyn survived a stroke after childbirth, grew up raising pigs in rural Kansas, and has done mission work in Central America. Winston, a medium Goldendoodle, is her therapy dog partner. Together, they love to offer comfort and confidence to kids in need. She and her husband of 30+ years love to travel and have three extremely creative twenty-something-year-old sons and a daughter in college. 

Marilyn can’t wait to help you/your child take their next steps in music!


Kay Girolamo

My story is probably like that of many people who take up the piano. Maybe even yours?

I started playing at age six and took private lessons for about three years. I was no piano superstar. I was spectacularly average. However, the lessons taught me the fundamentals of music and gave me a life-long love of the piano. Growing up, I sang in school choirs and later in community choirs, but my family and my career in accounting kept me busy. There were months—sometimes even years—when I didn’t play the piano at all. But it’s something I’ve always been drawn back to.

Decades passed until I finally decided to get back to taking lessons.

In time, my own teacher began encouraging me to consider teaching. You never realize how much you know—and how much you still have to learn—until you teach. Working with students requires me to look at concepts from all kinds of different angles. They frequently come up with questions I’ve never thought to ask. I meet each student at their own skill level and constantly tailor my approach to how they’ll learn a given concept best. It’s exciting, challenging and not-just-a-little-bit humbling.

Teaching kids is fun; there’s so much energy there! With experience as an adult piano student myself, I also hold a special affinity for teaching adults. I really appreciate the slower, more thoughtful approach most adults have and the agency they take in their learning. I feel like I can be more of a personal tour-guide than an instructor: helping them understand the local language and customs (aka music theory), showing them sights they might not have found on their own (repertoire), and keeping them from unintentionally getting into too much trouble (piano technique).

I’d love to walk with you through your own piano journey!

Brighton + Livonia

Katrina Grace

Katrina Grace is the Hartland High School feature baton twirler and a JR Olympic gold champion. Coach Katrina started her own baton team Twirling for Grace in 2020, Twirling for Grace is the reigning WTA National Championship team. Katrina works with students of all ages in Michigan and Ohio and is excited to offer baton classes at School For The Arts.


Paige Heidrich

Paige Heidrich, soprano, is an Ohio native currently pursuing a MM in Vocal Performance at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Baldwin Wallace University’s Conservatory of Music with undergraduate degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Education. Hailed as “brilliant and funny” for her work on stage, Paige has been seen performing throughout the Northeast Ohio area in a variety of venues, including the Fairmount Center for the Arts and Willoughby Fine Arts Association with Resonanz Opera, Rabbit Run Theater, at “The 9” in Cleveland, and in the Baldwin Wallace University Opera mainstage productions. As a soloist, Paige had the privilege of debuting a chamber work by composer Lincoln Sandham titled “29 July, 1856” and has been a featured soloist for Baldwin Wallace’s Treble Choir, as well as the Ashtabula Area Orchestra. Paige has held positions as a general music teacher, vocal coach, and church choir director throughout her time in Ohio. She taught private voice at the Aurora School of Music for almost two years before pursuing graduate study. Paige believes that all people should have the opportunity to experience the joy that music-making brings. She brings her performance skills into the classroom to promote active learning and is able to share real-world performance experiences with students.


Andrew Hively

Andrew has been playing acoustic and electric guitar for over 35 years. As a teenager he played in different rock bands around the southeast Michigan area and started writing and recording his own instrumental music. Since that time, Andrew has recorded 9 instrumental guitar albums and has played on various other projects by Oak Pointe Church and Ephesus Music. He also continues to play live as a solo instrumentalist at parties, weddings, restaurants, and other events as well as part of the acoustic duo Coty & Andrew and as the lead guitarist for Radio Graffiti. Andrew also plays lead guitar in and is the Team Lead of the 2|42 Community Church Worship band.

Andrew started teaching at School for the Arts in 2014 and enjoys teaching and sharing his passion with students of all ages. He believes in customizing the lesson for the individual student and writes the curriculum based on the goals that the student wants to achieve. Andrew believes in making sure the student knows what they need to know to be a well rounded musician but also that they are having fun during the process. Andrew teaches beginner to advanced acoustic and electric guitar.


Chad Johnson

Chad Johnson has led an exciting and varied singing career, spanning two decades. His operatic repertoire includes over 30 leading, Tenor roles, including Lenski in Eugene Onegin, Gérald in Lakmé with Florida Grand Opera & Minnesota Opera, Sprink in Silent Night with Fort Worth Opera, Wexford Opera Festival & Michigan Opera Theater, Greenhorn in Moby Dick with Washington National Opera, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Boston Lyric Opera, Nadír in The Pearl Fishers with Virginia Opera & Opera Carolina, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Lyric Opera Kansas City, Opera Orlando, Virginia Opera &
The Savannah Voice Festival (directed by Sherill Milnes), Ferrando in Cosí fan tutte with Connecticut Opera, Sarasota Opera & The Tanglewood Music Center (conducted by James Levine). Chad has been featured soloist at Carnegie Hall, with the New York Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Washington National Chorale at The Kennedy Center & the Boston Pops, among many others.

He toured with Jazz Trumpet great, Chris Botti, appeared Off-Broadway, as Theo Van Gogh in the acclaimed Van Gogh’s Ear at the Signature Theater in Manhattan, and has performed cabaret at 54 Below in New York City.


Garrett Livernois

Garrett, who has Native American heritage, developed a passion for percussion at a young age, as he was often exposed to the sounds of drumbeats at Pow Wow gatherings. At the age of 10, he received his first complete drum kit and started formal lessons with Ryan Edwards, a graduate of Berklee College of Music. Throughout middle and high school, Garrett excelled in playing various percussion instruments, such as full drum set, snare drum, bass drum, and others, in marching, concert, and jazz bands. He also consistently received the highest ratings at all Solo and Ensemble competitions.

During his college years at Adrian College, where he studied Communication Arts & Sciences, Garrett remained active in music, playing snare drum in the marching band and various instruments in the concert band for all four years. He also played tennis at the collegiate level. Garrett’s love for music has driven him to produce and perform his own music, both as a DJ and as a drummer in his own band.

Aside from teaching percussion, Garrett has also served as an assistant coach for the Beach Middle School tennis team and has provided tennis lessons at a local tennis club. It appears that teaching comes naturally to him.

Cello, Ukulele

Adalus Low-Manzini

Adalus started her musical studies in the renowned musical program “El Sistema” in Venezuela and has performed as a soloist with orchestras all throughout her country. Between 2019 and 2021, she attended the renowned summer festival Center Stage Strings, a music program for emerging young artists held at the University of Michigan. In 2020, she won third place in the Louisiana State University concerto competition, allowing her to perform as a soloist with the university’s orchestra in April of 2021. Adalus obtained her Bachelors of Music in Cello Performance from Louisiana State University in 2021 and is pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Michigan.

At present she carries out an important activity as a musician that includes both pedagogy and chamber and orchestral music. Adalus was a cello teaching artist at Kids’ Orchestra (an “El Sistema” inspired music program), where she taught music to elementary school children in the Baton Rouge area. Adalus has taught students from elementary to advanced levels.

One of Adalus’ passions is the creation of educational and informative content for social media related to music.

Violin, Viola
Brighton + Livonia

Paul Lundin

Paul is currently living in SE Michigan where he is a freelance violinist. He has performed locally with Ann Arbor, Flint, Midland, Saginaw, Oakland, and Rochester Symphonies. He studied at the University of Iowa where he earned Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Violin Performance. Most recently while living in Wisconsin, he performed with the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, Waukesha, and Green Bay Symphonies and held the post of Concertmaster for the Racine Symphony from May of 2000 until 2008.  In addition to performing, he was a sabbatical replacement at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point (2001) and was adjunct instructor at Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin for 8 years. Formerly, he was a fulltime member of the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra from 1992-1999, was on the faculty of Northwestern State University and Centenary College and concertmaster of the Longview (Texas) Symphony. He received critical acclaim as soloist in Longview playing Erich Korngold’s “Concerto for Violin and Orchestra” in 1998.


Christine Maiorana

Christine has been studying the piano since the age of four and competed at a variety of festivals throughout her junior high and high school years.  She set music aside to earn a Mechanical Engineering degree from GMI Engineering and Management Institute (now Kettering University), work as an engineer for General Motors for 14 years and raise a family.  Christine eventually found her way back to music through church, accompanying weekly at church, weddings, funerals,and teaching since 2003.  She believes that every student learns in their own unique way and works to find ways to keep lessons interesting.


Lei Min

Clarinetist Lei Min first studied clarinet at the age of 7. Her first public performance was at the age of 8 and by age 11 she won the first prize in the China clarinet youth competition. She achieved her bachelor’s degree in China Conservatory of Music. In 2017, Ms. Min was excited to come to the United States to study clarinet. She is currently a DMA student at Michigan State University, where she also obtained her Master’s degree. Besides clarinet study, she is interested in computer music and music therapy. Ms. Min has premiered her computer music pieces at MSU. She is also pursuing a music therapy major at Western Michigan University. Her major teachers include Mingzhe Wang, Keith Adam Lipson, Yi He, Corrado Giuffredi, Benjamin Lulich, Nicolas Baldeyrou and Donald Montanaro. Lei Min looks forward to helping her students have new and exciting experiences with music.


Daniel Pace

Dan Pace is the owner operator of Creative Minds Robotics and More and a professional educator of 25 years. As an educator he has worked with multiple age groups, ranging from ages 3 – 18yrs, and multiple subject areas including, core academics, Special Needs, and STEM. He also holds multiple professional licenses in education and Masters in Special Needs and Counseling.

In recent years Dan has been an international teacher working in South America creating STEM programs for multiple schools. In addition to his contributions to the classroom, Dan has also served as coach for sports and robotics teams. His most recent accomplishments as a robotics coach includes leading teams to national and world appearances in First Lego League robotics competitions, in Chile and Peru.

Dan is a passionate life-long learner that started his journey into teaching STEM by accident. As someone who likes to tinker and make things, his curiosity in robotics and CAD caught the eye of others and eventually turned into his day job.

I imagine some might assume the focus of my classroom is programming and robotics but it’s really about people, teaching our kids how to work as members of a team, accept mistakes as valuable learning opportunities, and most importantly to learn about themselves. The high interest nature of robotics seems to do a good job keeping the kids engaged, sometimes challenging them to manage their frustrations or develop a new perspective applying their creativity to find solutions for the tech hiccups that naturally occur in robotics. Its a wonderful experience seeing a young mind acquire new skills in robotics but to see them develop a better understanding of self and improved problem-solving skills is the ultimate.”


Amy Pacheco

Amy Pacheco has been a dance educator for over 30 years, she has enjoyed working with toddlers through adults. Amy has directed 11 Holiday Showcases and 11 Spring Dance Recitals. Many of her students have gone on to receive college scholarships and pursue professional positions in the art of dance. Amy has certifications through Dance Educators of America and Cecchetti Council of America. She is also a certified yoga instructor through Yoga Alliance. She is a mother of four with children ranging from five years old to twenty-three years old. Amy is excited to join the School for the Arts team!


Marianne Potter

Marianne started playing the piano at the age of five and studied piano at Rochester College while pursuing her Elementary Teaching degree. She took classes at Schoolcraft College through their Piano Teacher’s Program, when she first began teaching piano. Marianne finds joy in seeing young children master a new skill and develop their musical abilities. She believes piano not only enriches lives, but also is a great teacher of discipline and contributes to higher success in other academic areas as well.

Banjo, Bass, Guitar, Mandolin, Ukulele

Steven Prevett

Steven Prevett is an active composer/songwriter, performer and instructor from Flint, Michigan. He graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor of Music with a focus in composition and classical guitar. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has developed a unique style of playing, ranging anywhere from classical to broadway to popular music. His most recent successes includes the original musical about dogs, “3 Pekes in a Pod,” co-written by Quincy Dobbs. Other works include the original score for Central Michigan University’s production of William Shakespeare’s “Pericles”, music scores for various short films, & original music for live comedy sketch acts in Chicago. His current performance acts are the classical guitar &accordion duo “Everything but the Polka”, the classical guitar group “The Phly Boys” and the husband & wife comedy-duo “Melon 2 Melon”. As an instructor, Steven has had the pleasure working with many wonderful students of all ages. With over five years of teaching, he has had the opportunity to watch students grow and reach their goals as growing musicians. Steven strongly believes in the importance of music education, that music should be explored and shared with everyone.


Anastasia Ries

Hello, my name is Anastasia and I was born with music intertwined within my soul. From the age of 6, I have been playing the piano. It is without a doubt my favorite musical instrument. I immigrated from Russia in 2013, formerly known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I obtained my Bachelor of Russian Classical Piano and a Master’s Degree in music and Choir Direction, from the State University of Culture while in the USSR. I have been teaching piano for over 20 years in both Russia, and the United States. I have taught students of all ages ranging from ages 5 to 50 years old. I absolutely love to teach piano and to assist my students in developing their musical talents. I also teach my students the discipline of becoming a pianist and performing to the best of their ability. At the same time I hope to create in my student’s a passion for the piano and develop a lifelong desire to continue improving their skills as a pianist.

Bass, Cello, Flute, Guitar, Piano, Trombone, Trumpet, Ukulele, Violin

Brighton + Livonia

Steven “Thor” Sigurdson

Steven Sigurdson received his bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School as one of the final students of the great Leonard Rose. He also pursued conducting at Juilliard as a student of Ronald Braunstein, and as a frequent auditor of the conducting classes of Jorge Mester and Otto Werner Muller. Upon graduation, he was among the first cellists selected by Michael Tilson Thomas to perform in Miami’s celebrated New World Symphony, an ensemble with which he performed and toured internationally for three seasons. He was subsequently hired as Associate Principal Cellist of the Florida Philharmonic, a post he held for 13 years, finishing his tenure as Principal Cellist. Over his 25-year orchestral career, he performed under dozens of legendary maestros, including Leonard Bernstein, Sir Georg Solti, and Seiji Ozawa. As a soloist and chamber musician, he was a finalist in both the National Society of Arts and Letters Cello Competition and the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition.

After relocating his family to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his wife is earning a PhD in Anthropology, Sigurdson is excited to finally be pursuing his solo career in earnest. His debut recording of favorite cello solos along with Chicago-based harpist Nichole Young, entitled After a Dream, is now available. In between concerts and recitals, he remains committed to training and inspiring musicians of all ages throughout the greater Detroit area.

Brighton + Livonia

Rebekah Start

Rebekah Start is a visual storyteller working in cut-paper collage, mixed and digital media. She has taught a variety of art classes for skill levels ranging from beginner to advanced. Rebekah creates a welcoming and encouraging environment for all of her students and believes that art is meant to be fun for everyone.

She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Storyteller Academy and is currently working on illustrating a picture book.

Rebekah earned her Bachelor of Fine Art and Creative Writing minor from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, where she was on the president’s list and graduated with Honors.

Flute, Guitar, Piano, Voice

Daniel Ward

A passionate advocate for the arts and education, Daniel Ward firmly believes that music is an essential tool in developing relationships between various cultures. Daniel started his formal music education at the age of 7, beginning on flute. Over the years, Daniel’s musical journey has led him to learn various instruments including acoustic and electric guitar, bass, and piano. As a multi-instrumentalist Daniel plays a variety of styles including Classical, Jazz, Gospel, Latin and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). Daniel currently holds a BM in Flute Performance from the University of North Texas where he studied with Regents Professor of Flute Dr. Mary Karen-Clardy.

At present Daniel is on staff as the Worship Leader at Hill City Church, a church in the Oak Pointe family of churches. Daniel enjoys producing and writing music and has recorded, composed, and performed on various projects over the years.

Daniel’s core beliefs as a music educator are:

  • To equip students with the necessary tools they need to have a joyful musical career

  • To enable students to take ownership of their learning journey and evolve into self-guided educators.

Daniel is excited to serve the SFTA community!


Jaclene Wilk

Jaclene has been an actor nearly all her life, beginning at the young age of five. Jaclene began by acting in community theater, and continued middle school through high school by performing in every play and musical. Her passion led her to pursue acting as a full time career, Jaclene went on to study Musical Theater at Oakland University where she graduated with a BFA. Shortly after graduation she moved to NYC to gain more opportunities, enhance her career and broaden her acting experiences. While living in NYC, she starred in numerous commercials, independent films, and an off-Broadway production. Since moving back to Michigan, Jaclene began coaching acting privately, and is still auditioning and working as an actor.

Jaclene loves to act and is excited to offer LET’S ACT! at SFTA Brighton! 

SFTA Administrator
Brighton +

Tara Roth

Tara plays a supportive role to all things behind the scenes at School For The Arts. As SFTA administrator, Tara works alongside Brenda Hively to ensure the smooth operations of all classes and offerings at all SFTA locations.

Tara knows firsthand the wonderful ways artistic pursuits enhance one’s overall development, having been fortunate throughout her life to take music and art lessons. Tara is excited to be a part of the School For The Arts staff, and is happy to help in whatever ways contribute to the successes of our SFTA students, families, and team.

SFTA Director
Brighton, Lansing, Livonia

Brenda Hively

Brenda is passionate about offering a variety of artistic offerings to students of all ages within our communities. From the new student who is trying lessons or classes for the first time, to those who are passionately developing their skills, and those who are returning to lessons and learning as adults; Brenda works to ensure the best experience possible at School For The Arts.

Providing students the opportunity to explore, learn, and grow in artistic endeavors along with offering exciting SFTA performances is very important to Brenda. Her goal is for everyone involved with School For The Arts to have a positive and enriching experience while finding a place of belonging. Meeting our SFTA families, getting to know our students, and working closely with a team of top notch instructors to develop exciting classes, personal connections, and support for our students are all part of what excites Brenda about our SFTA motto of  Creativity + Education + Community.

Experiences in the arts have always been a part of Brenda’s life and assist her in her role as director at SFTA. Brenda exhibited in art, culinary, photography, sewing, and more throughout her early years at the Washtenaw County Fair. She participated in elementary to high school theatre and as a young adult Brenda performed in dramas at her local church. As a child Brenda took piano lessons (which she wishes she had never stopped taking) and she has been married to a musician for almost 30 years.

Along with her experiences in the arts Brenda brings a background in business that includes studies in radio and TV broadcasting, journalism, and accounting at Eastern Michigan University. She also brings experience from her role in accounts receivable at a software company, sales at the Ann Arbor News, and two successful home based businesses.

Brenda is excited to work with you at SFTA!