Founder, Piano started playing the piano when she was five years old. Under the direction of Lucretia Peterson of Salt Lake City, Utah, Lisa played competitively on a state level throughout her formative years. She received numerous honors in piano performance, played publicly throughout the inter-mountain area, and also participated in the music and vocal program at Lewis and Clark College of Portland, Oregon where she received her degree in International Business.
She founded Musical Chairs Studio in 2004 with the goal of providing a music lesson experience that created a life long love for music and served as a vehicle for self-expression and building self confidence. Under her direction, Musical Chairs has experienced consistent growth and now operates in various Chicago schools as well as offers lessons in the Lincoln Square studio. Additionally, Lisa established the Serenading Seniors and Play it Forward programs where students are encouraged to share their gifts with those who are less fortunate and instill the concepts of community service and philanthropy in today's youth. Lisa believes music is the single most important childhood experience that has shaped her life and feels blessed for the opportunity to pass this on to others.
Voice, Piano, and Business Manager Stuart Thompson teaches beginning to intermediate piano and beginning to professional voice. He is a classically trained vocalist with a masters in vocal performance from DePaul University and has studied piano at Indiana University and Butler University. Stuart is a frequent performer of opera and cabaret around Chicagoland with a budding career as a comedic baritone. Having a versatile voice some notable roles include, Tonio, The Father in Hansel and Gretel, and The Count in the Marriage of Figaro. Stuart’s musical interests are French art song, German Opera, and Italian food. His teaching methods revolve directly around the student’s individual needs and personality but always include heavy emphasis on technique, and theory. As a singer Stuart incorporates singing into piano lessons and has the student using their voice to fully understand intervals and for note learning. Stuart’s approach to music education is fully nurturing and enjoyable, but he has the highest of expectations for his students as he consistently sees success from his most dedicated and disciplined students.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Violin, Viola, Strings, Composition, Guitar, and Piano
Trevor Adams is an Alaskan composer, music educator, and violist whose style of writing ranges from eclectic and rhythmically driven to intensely introspective. He has an affinity for creating narrative in music and his work has been described as “visual in nature”. Trevor pulls inspiration from astronomy, physics, mythology, the environment, his Iñupiaq heritage, and his intrapersonal experience. Some stylistic influences include film and video game music, minimalism, Iñupiaq drumming and dancing, musical theater, rock, and indie music among others. Trevor earned his B.M. in Music Education and B.A. in Music Composition from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) where he studied composition with Dr. William Post and viola with both Dr. Kathleen Butler-Hopkins and Dr. Bryan Hall. As a composer, Trevor has given two recitals (2015 and 2017), scored several short films, and collaborated on arts/science presentations for the 2017 and 2018 American Geophysical Union Fall Meetings. Recently, Trevor scored the film Bodies of Water for the UAF Department of Film and Performing Arts and premiered two works: Siqiñiq for solo violin and Locality for alto flute, piccolo, and piano at Roosevelt University. Trevor has played in a wide variety of ensembles including both the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and Northern Lights String Orchestra as principal violist, multiple pit orchestras including Les Miserables with Fairbanks Light Opera Theater and Tosca with Opera Fairbanks. From 2014 – 2018, Trevor was the violist for the Nanook String Quartet, performing varied repertoire including Ravel’s String Quartet and Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet. As an educator, Trevor has taught all ages in the public schools. From 2015 – 2019, Trevor was both the orchestra director at West Valley High School and the band, orchestra, and general music teacher at Two Rivers K-8 School. Aside from public school teaching, Trevor has directed adult community orchestras, youth orchestras, and taught at youth summer music festivals and string chamber music intensives. Trevor is currently pursuing graduate studies in music composition at Roosevelt University with Dr. Kyong Mee Choi.
Pre Piano I and II, Piano Lynn studied the harp for ten years as a child, learning solfege alongside. Her love for music was kindled for life, but she found the solfege taught to her in France to be didactic and frustrating... until she discovered the Kodaly Method with Musical Chair's Step The Beat. Now she gets to be the music teacher she always wished she'd had, sharing concepts of rhythm and melody in a hands-on, intuitive and age-appropriate way. She earned a BA in Literature from Yale University (after studying bio-chemistry there for her first two years!), a Masters in Education from DePaul University, and created a full-immersion curriculum to learn foreign languages in a song-and-play based delivery for Language Stars. She has been a teacher since high school, accumulating experience in formats ranging from private classes, tutoring, summer camps, enrichment group classes, teaching in elementary, middle and high schools. When not with Musical Chairs, she enjoys giving private instruction in French.
Piano earned her BMA from DePauw University School of Music. She studied piano with Carmen Alverez-Breckenridge, Lorna Griffin, Claude Zimmerman, Julliane Miranda, Jeffrey Swinkin, and accompanying with Mikail Hallak. Carrie attended the Interlochen Arts Camp and the Las Vegas Music Festival.
Carrie brings many years of teaching experience to Musical Chairs. She taught at the San Francisco Music Center, the Morton Grove Park District and in her own studio. In addition to teaching, she is accompanist and co-founder of the Chicago Womens’ Chorus and was rehearsal pianist for American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. She sat on the board of the Music Teachers’ Association of San Francisco, chairing the after-school piano program in the public schools. She has taught movement and music classes for infants to preschool. Carrie enjoys working with all ages, but specializes in working with young children as early as 2.5 years old.
In 2007, Carrie took a hiatus from teaching to study body mechanics. Now owner of Stretch Chi, a bodywork studio, she specializes in balancing muscles through stretching. She brings this knowledge into her lessons, creating a muscularly balanced technique.
Piano and Step the Beat Melissa Grant is a pianist and educator, originally from the Chicago suburbs. Her undergraduate degree in music (piano emphasis) was completed in 2001 at North Park University, Chicago. At VanderCook College of Music, Melissa completed her Master's Degree of Music Education and Certification, with a choral emphasis, in 2017. Ms. Grant has performed as a soloist and accompanist in the US, Asia, and in Europe. She directs her own women's choir (Nordic Voices of Chicago), teaches a full private piano studio, and accompanies the Sing to Live Chorus. She continues to study piano in her free time and is thrilled to be a piano student again. Ms. Grant lives on the north side of Chicago with her husband, daughters, and two cats.
Piano, Voice, Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Trumpet and Drums is an experienced multi-instrumentalist and composer. He earned his Bachelors of Music degree for Composition and Classical Voice at San Francisco State University, where he studied composition under co-founder of EarPlay, Richard Festinger and voice under Nikolas Nackley. He is currently studying at the Chicago Conservatory of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University for his Masters in Composition and Classical Voice, where he is studying under composer Daron Hagen.
He has performed in a number of ensembles, choirs and bands in addition to having many of his works premiered for opera, choir, chamber ensembles, and piano. He is most known for his work as singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the rock band “The Silhouette Era,” which have released numerous works and toured over the last 7 years.
Carlos' diverse experience and love for all types of music allows him to creatively approach each instrument and student with the attention they need. He believes that creating a fun and safe environment for his students is crucial. Music fundamentals are an integral part of his lessons, but fun musical experiences are the driving force of his teaching.
Piano, Composition Quirky and vibrant, Jonathan Hannau is a Chicago-based composer and pianist submerged in the surreal, abstract, minimal, and colorful possibilities of music. Jonathan holds a Bachelor’s degree from DePaul University and a Master’s degree from Roosevelt University, and has studied composition with Stacy Garrop, Kyong Mee Choi, Kurt Westerberg, Christopher Jones, Seung-Won Oh and piano with Jelena Dirks.
An avid pianist and performer of new music, he currently plays in two Chicago-based groups: Ursa Ensemble, which performs contemporary and classical music during its concert season, and Plucky Plunkers: an improvisatory toy piano duo with composer Kelley Sheehan. His 3 year long solo project titled the Rocking Chair Series involved commissions of solo piano works presented alongside an interview with the composer; this creates an inviting atmosphere for the audience as they listen to a wide variety of musical styles and exposes them to specific insights of the compositional process. He recently became a member of Trade Winds, a group dedicated to teaching community building and leadership skills to at risk youth.
As a teacher he firmly believes in fostering a love for music, and adapts his teaching to the student's needs while encouraging a good practice ethic and technique focusing on the physicality of music.
Flute and Piano Noted by the Chicago Tribune for being “…especially deft at those dual actor/musician duties,” Suzanne Hannau (née Gillen) maintains an active career as a freelance performer and teacher in the Chicagoland area. She earned her BM(’11) and MM (’13) in Flute Performance from DePaul University, studying with Mary Stolper and Jennifer Clippert. She is currently a member of Trade Winds Ensemble, a group of musicians from all over the country dedicated to using music as a tool for social change. She is the Assistant Music Director at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Lincoln Park, and soprano co-section leader at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Old Town. She has been seen on stage and heard in the pit at various theaters within Chicago, most notably at Court Theatre. Suzanne is passionate about combining different performance arts in a production and is always looking for opportunities to combine instrumental doubling with movement, acting, and singing.
Suzanne is an invigorating, challenging, and encouraging teacher. She teaches at the Music Institute of Chicago, Musical Chairs Studio, Niles West High School, and in her private studio in Lincoln Park. She also runs a successful early childhood music program as a certified and licensed Musikgarten teacher. By celebrating individual milestones in student successes, she encourages her students of all ages to enjoy the actual process of learning, rather than to only focus on the results of practice. Learn more at suzannehannau.com
Harp, Piano, CYO grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and various towns throughout Michigan. At age twelve, she began taking private harp lessons through Meg Rodgers. Her sophomore year of high school she attended Interlochen Arts Academy to study with Joan Holland. Throughout her time there she was able to focus on music theory, pedagogy, orchestral and solo repertoire, and attend master classes with Yolanda Kondonassis, Nancy Allen, and Emmanuel Ceysson. She ended her time at Interlochen being named one of the top five outstanding seniors of the 2010 graduating class. She decided to continue private harp lessons under Joan Holland for her collegiate studies at the University of Michigan. From teaching students in high school, she found her passion in education and added music education to her major. Miriam has experience teaching grade levels K – 12 in Choral, Orchestral, and Band settings, working with students privately, in sectionals, and full classroom conducting and guidance. She performed with the University Bands and Orchestras and was a substitute harpist for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She was also given the opportunity to perform in master classes with Doug Rioth and Naoko Yoshino. Miriam currently holds teaching certificates in music education in both Michigan and Illinois. She teaches general music at Queen of Angels Catholic School, and pursues performance opportunities through wedding performances and events.
Violin, Viola and String Techniques a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and has performed with numerous regional orchestras around the country, including Mercury, Unsupervised, and Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestras. She is a founding member of the Southport String Quartet which has engaged in outreach and professional performances around Chicago. She holds degrees from Rice University and the University of Maryland where she studied with Ivo Van Der Werff, Joan DerHovsepian, and Katherine Murdock. Hanna has performed in solo and chamber music masterclasses for James Dunham, Peter Slowik, Geoff Nuttall, Roger Meyers, and Ralph Kirschbaum. Over the summers she has performed with the National Repertory Orchestra, Contemporary Performance Institute, Kent/Blossom Music Festival, Chautauqua Music Festival, and the National Orchestral Institute.
As a violin and viola teacher, she works to make music a fun, enriching, and challenging aspect of a student’s life by working to develop the critical thinking, listening, and emotional skills that can be learned through studying music. She teaches students of all ages and ability levels, from beginners to those preparing for auditions.
Voice, Piano, Cello Ana holds a bachelors and masters from San Francisco State University where she studied classical voice. While in San Francisco she had a small private voice and piano studio where she focused on technique and musicianship building. She is a strong believer in healthy habit building in voice and body technique and incorporates techniques like Alexander and Feldenkrais with her students. Within her teaching, she provides her students with the foundations of music education which include sight reading, ear training, and theory. Students can expect a welcoming and patient atmosphere where their experience will be personalized to their own needs and desires. While Ana likes to bring a warm and encouraging environment to her studio, she has high expectations from her students and will do whatever she can to see them excel in their instrument.
While earning her degrees, Ana participated in music programs and concerts throughout California where she performed professionally and as a young artist. Her favorites include singing with the Buxtehude band, American Bach Soloists and Haymarket Opera Summer program.
Step the Beat, Little Drummers Josiah Robinson is a musician and actor in Chicago with a long history of musical and early childhood education experience. He plays guitar, mandolin, and bass and has been playing violin for 25 years. He is a classically trained singer and has a BA in musical theatre. He has taught children in many different capacities, including after-school care, daycares, summer camps, and even substitute teaching. He has also played Dungeons & Dragons for almost 10 years and has led games and campaigns for many different groups over the years. He is very excited to bring his skills to the team at Musical Chairs and to share his love of music and D&D with all ages of children!
Guitar, Bass, Jam Session - Born and raised in the Chicago area, Colin began playing bass and guitar at the age of 14 and has been an active musician and instructor ever since. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music business from Southern Illinois University, as well as a master’s degree in jazz studies from DePaul University. Colin also co-formed the jazz/funk trio Spare Parts who are currently signed to the Grammy winning label Ropeadope Records. Colin can also be found freelancing in a wide range of bands around Chicago and beyond. He has performed with notable musicians including Grammy winning bassist Victor Wooten, SNL bandleader / saxophonist Lenny Pickett, virtuoso guitarist Fareed Haque, and drummer Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction to name a few. Colin focuses on connecting his students to music by developing fundamentals and repertoire, as well as the student’s specific musical interests. He works to introduce his students to new music whenever possible and always encourages their own exploration.
Brass, Piano, Voice, Woodwinds Kathryn (Katie) Trnka is a triple threat musician experienced in voice, violin, and trumpet. Studying at Saint Mary’s College under Dr. Nancy Menk, she earned a Bachelor of Music Degree, with a concentration in Opera. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Center, and the Auditorium Theater. Her exposure to violin began at the age of four, training in the Suzuki method with Bill Kronenberg. Katie is also a classically trained trumpeter and well versed in the style of Jazz. She studied trumpet under Matt Commerford and played at the notable Interlochen Fine Arts Camp.
Piano, Oboe and GLEE began playing piano at age three and started accompanying her peers in the middle and high school choruses, as well as performing in various recitals and the New York State Music Association Solo festival. At age 12 she started learning the oboe and hasn’t been able to put it down since. At age 15, she was the youngest first place winner of the James and Katherine Andrews Young Artist Concerto Competition, and was given the opportunity to give three performances of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 with the Orchestra of Northern New York. She then returned to the competition the next year, this time with oboe, and again won first place, honored with two performances of Haydn’s Oboe Concerto.
Lillia studied at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam for dual Bachelor of Music degrees in Musical Studies and Oboe Performance, concentrating in piano pedagogy. She obtained a Master’s Degree in Oboe Performance at DePaul University, studying with renowned oboist Alex Klein. She is now a freelance oboist and pianist in the area playing with various groups including the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Wisconsin Philharmonic, and Fifth Wave Collective.
Lillia is a supportive and enthusiastic teacher who believes that music is found in every person and can be celebrated through many different techniques. Her standards are high for her students, with goals set to build skills in technique, musicality, theory, and composition/improvisation. She believes each student has an individual learning process and builds these goals based on the uniqueness they possess in a manner that celebrates and encourages each students’ strengths.
Outside of music, Lillia likes to paint her favorite sunset scenes, read books, go hiking, and practice latte art.