Josh Billingsley began performing in his hometown of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at age 16 at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. After winning lead trumpet in the SC All-State jazz band, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree from Winthrop University, where he was the Bruce Thompson concerto competition winner his senior year. After finishing college in 2012, he went on to play lead trumpet for Royal Caribbean cruises touring the southeast Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
In 2014 Josh began a Master of Music in Jazz Performance at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on a full scholarship. After finishing his master’s May 2016, he began touring with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus in August. He toured from coast to coast performing in the nation’s top venues for tens of thousands of people a day up until the final show on May 21st, 2017.
Since the circus has ended he has decided to pursue a doctorate of musical arts degree in jazz at UT Austin and plans to enter the program Fall 2018. In addition to his extensive performance background, Josh has successfully taught students of all ages for over a decade. He is an open-minded teacher who believes in adjusting his teaching style to the student’s needs.
Cory Blais is an active performer and teacher currently pursuing a Masters of Music degree at the University of Texas. Cory serves on the faculy of the UT String Project, a program recognized as being one of the world’s finest for the training of teachers and the development of young talent; he also conducts the program’s Advanced Orchestra in addition to teaching. During the summer, he spends his time performing as a member of Wundertrio and attending music festivals.
Before settling in Austin, Cory received a Bachelors of Music degree from the Ohio State University, studying under Mark Rudoff.
For Cory, cello lessons are more than just about learning to play. Music is meant to be thought-provoking, challenging, and fun, and he believes cello lessons should reflect those qualities. His main goals for his students are to be creative, be attentive listeners, and to foster a love for the cello and music in general.
Lex Chabraja is a pianist from Indianapolis, Indiana, where he began playing at age 8. Currently living in Austin, Lex received his Bachelor of Arts in Music degree from The College of Wooster where he studied under Greg Slawson and Brian Dykstra, specializing in jazz and ragtime.
Lex teaches piano for all levels and genres, with a belief that focusing on improving students basic aural and technical skills will open the door to any confidently playing any style of music.
John Henderson is a collaborative pianist, composer, teacher, and music director. He has taught piano, organ, choir, and musical theater to students at many levels; from those in elementary school to those pursuing graduate degrees. Institutions where he has taught include The Catholic University of America, Montgomery County Community College, Saint Bernadette Catholic Church, Adventure Theater Musical Theater Center, and Everyman Theater.
As a performer, John has worked extensively with soloists and ensembles in a variety of venues and styles, recently joining mezzo-soprano Claire Galloway Weber to compete in the Nadia and Lili Boulanger Voice and Piano competition in Paris. His compositions, ranging from sacred to musical theater, have been performed across the country and abroad for occasions including Pope Francis’s visit to the United States, the Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage Festival, the Washington International Piano Series, and the International Double Reed Society Convention.
John received his BM and MM in composition from The Catholic University of America and the Peabody Conservatory respectively. A recent transplant from Washington, D.C., John is thrilled to make Austin his new home!
Matthew was first introduced to music at the age of six, when he began playing piano. However, once he began clarinet at age ten, he could not put it down. After playing both clarinet and piano for a year, Matthew decided to focus on clarinet alone, and he has been refining himself as a clarinetist ever since.
Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Daniel Kavka is a keyboardist/singer with 15 years of experience playing in solo and bands playing. Danny earned his Master’s Degree in music from Bowling Green State University, and specializes in Pop and Rock music, but has also played and taught blues, modal jazz, country, folk, soul, R&B, jam, metal, and electronic styles.
Danny uses a mix of structured method books to develop reading and technique, while also helping students learn how to play their favorite songs by ear. He encourages students to develop a base level of musicianship that will allow them to learn new pieces on their own and also emphasizes ear training, good practice habits, music theory, free improvisation, and style specific patterns to help students engage with their music on multiple levels. For younger students, Danny also incorporates games, composing new pieces, and singing to develop musical connections.
Danny has previously played in multiple bands including Cincinnati’s The Madisons, Cleveland’s Liquid Sunset, and was most recently lead keyboardist in Toledo’s Game and Anime Music Ensemble (G.A.M.E.) Orchestra. He currently resides in Austin, Texas where he is active in the musical community.
An alum of Louisiana State University, Linnae Kraemer offers harp and piano lessons with enthusiasm and an encouraging approach to teaching. She received her Bachelors of Music in Harp Performance from the University of Austin in 2015, and is both an active teacher and musician in the community. She is currently the Vice President of the Austin Harp Society and is also involved with the University of Texas String Project, one of the oldest and most established string pedagogy programs in the nation, under the direction of Dr. Laurie Scott.
Over many years of teaching in both public and private studios, Linnae has developed a style that focuses on student enjoyment, while also developing the skills they need to excel on their chosen instrument.
Hailing from Massachusetts, Tom is passionate about music performance and teaching, having done both since the age of 16. In high school, he created an annual benefit concert for his community to give all ages a platform to perform, while also raising money to fight against drug addiction. In his senior year, he was an assistant to Ken DoRosario, an accomplished music therapist who specializes in counseling children with autism. Together, they traveled to over 10 public schools in the Boston area and provided children of all ages an opportunity to learn and express themselves.
Tom graduated from the University of Georgia, where he studied Classical Guitar Performance under Dr. Daniel Bolshoy. Along with learning how to play guitar at a more advanced level, Tom further developed his teaching ability by analyzing and adjusting to each individual student’s needs and working on their points of improvement.
Tom creates healthy fundamentals for students that will lead to more ease of playing and a better overall experience of the instrument. Along with having a thorough knowledge of classical music, he loves playing and teaching the blues, pop, rock, and more.
Marina received her Bachelors, Masters, and Ph. D from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where she studied piano and chamber music. Upon completing her Ph. D dissertation, she was invited to conduct a series of lectures at the Conservatory as part of the course entitled “History and Theory of Piano Performances”. During her years in Russia she gave numerous solo and chamber performances, and also recorded for Moscow radio and television.
In 1992, Marina moved to Boston, MA, where she became active as a teacher, accompanist, and chamber musician. She taught as a professor with the Northeastern University music department for sixteen years, and was a faculty member of the Brookline Music School for twenty-two years. While in Boston, Marina performed in a permanent duo with violinist Tamara Smirnova.
In 2016, Marina moved to New Mexico to become a faculty member at the New Mexico School of Music, where she collaborated in numerous performances. She often performed in chamber music series at the University of New Mexico, Chatter Albuquerque, and the New Mexico School of Music.
Marina has many years of experience teaching students of all ages, levels, and backgrounds. We’re excited to welcome her to Austin and to our school!
Founder of Greater Austin Music Academy (formerly McLaughlin School of Music), Matt McLaughlin is also active as a founding member and President of the Austin Piano Festival, past Vice-President and Student Events Chair of the Austin District Music Teachers Association, and editor of the popular PianoBlog.com.
As a teacher, Matt is know for his extensive experience and expertise with students across the entire spectrum of levels and ages. His students have garnered top prizes in numerous competitions, have successfully auditioned at major conservatory programs, have appeared in multiple KMFA 89.5 radio broadcasts and interviews, and have performed as soloists with ensembles such as the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Austin Civic Orchestra.
Making his Concerto debut at the age of 15, Matt has over two decades of solo and collaborative performing experience. He holds a Bachelors degree in piano performance from James Madison University where he studied under Eric Ruple, and moved to Austin to study under the legendary pianist Anton Nel. As a member of Nel’s studio completed a Master Degree in Music Theory at the University of Texas at Austin. Matt is also an alumnus of the Aspen School and Music Festival. Besides music, Matt maintains many interests including fitness, philosophy, and business. You can also view Matt’s private studio website at www.MattMcLaughlin.net, or read a more full bio here.
Please note: Matt’s teaching schedule is currently very full, and he is only taking students on a case by case basis.
Hannah was first introduced to playing piano at the age of six when she began lessons. She began teaching while still in high school, taking on students at varying ages and levels. During her time in college, Hannah also focused on vocal music and besides working as a music instructor, Hannah has taught other subjects including high school history.
Her experience extends to many different ages as well as working in group settings, and she is also skilled with young beginners as early as 3 years old.
Sammy Peters is a well-versed multi-instrumentalist heavily involved in the Austin music scene. He has been playing for over 15 years and has extensive experience with local blues, jazz, R&B, and funk groups. His teaching philosophy involves being flexible and adjusting to meet the needs of different students while focusing on both musical literacy and creativity through repertoire, technical studies, improvisation, and composition.
Sammy recently completed his Associate’s in Music Performance from Austin Community College and is currently studying for his Bachelor’s in Piano Performance at Huston-Tillotson University. Aside from teaching, he performs regularly with his jazz trio every Friday and Saturday night at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, and has performed at many notable and historic venues in Austin including Antone’s, C-Boy’s, Victory Grill, and Skylark Lounge.
Originally from Ellicott City, Maryland, Meagan Peaco began studying viola in 3rd grade. She went to Carnegie Mellon University where she was able to double major in Biology and Viola Performance at Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating college, she chose to follow her passion and attend the University of Texas at Austin to study with Roger Myers and earn her Master of Music in Viola Performance. Loving the warmth and the amazing music scene, Meagan decided to stay in Austin and begin teaching violin and viola. She was a teacher at the UT Austin String Project and has used that background to build a teaching program focusing on the overall growth of the student primarily based on the Suzuki methodology.
Emil Pohlig has always had a passion for music. He started taking piano lessons in middle school, even though he was already taking percussion in band class. In high school he decided to teach himself the flute when his older sister decided to stop playing. And then the oboe. And then the trumpet. And then the violin. He loved it all. But when it came time for college, he didn’t think music could be a career and tried to do computer science. His heart was not in it. So he joined Brigham Young University philharmonic orchestra percussion section and they performed concerts, and operas, and went on tour and it was amazing. It made him sad that he wasn’t doing that kind of stuff all the time.
In the end, Emil got a degree in music education from the University of Utah and moved to Austin, TX. He has taught piano and flute for over 6 years now. He also performs locally with choirs and bands in Leander ISD, Round Rock ISD, and Austin ISD as well as playing for weddings and holiday parties. Emil loves to make learning fun and exciting, whether you want to learn classical, jazz, or pop.
Miguel has taught private lessons for the past 10 years all over central Texas from Bastrop to San Antonio to Austin. He accepts students of all ages and skill levels, and has experience not only with private lessons but also with teaching Early Childhood and High School Music classes. He teaches a variety of styles, his favorites including acoustic, classical and Latin jazz.
Miguel played saxophone and performed in Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Band at Bastrop High School, where he competed at state solo and ensemble each year. A former Drum Major, he believes music and art is great for middle and high school students to receive a formal foundation for their learning.
After high school, Miguel attended St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, where he majored in Vocal Performance. He participated in almost every ensemble they had and performed in a few productions with the Drama Department. He was a church musician at Christ Lutheran Church of Alamo Heights, and also sang with the Conspirare Symphonic Choir here in Austin. He continues to teach and perform in Austin, always working on piano arrangements and saxophone covers. In his own words, “performing [music] is a way to express myself in ways that I might not otherwise be able to.”
Chad Tracy has over twenty years of experience as a performing musician and music educator. In 2003 he earned his Master’s degree in Jazz Performance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and has studies with many jazz greats including Pat Martino, Jimmy Bruno, and Mimi Fox. He taught at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania and later at Central Texas College in Killeen after moving to Texas. He has also worked as a music instructor and administrator for the University of Texas Continuing Education Program in Austin. He currently teaches guitar, bass, voice, and beginning piano in the Austin area.
Jackson Van Norman is a jazz, classical, and pop pianist born and raised in Austin, TX. He began at age 5 with the Suzuki method and then progressed to jazz performance in adolescence. As a performer, his specialization is in jazz performance and rock/pop. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Texas.
Over the past decade, he has performed in numerous ensembles, including the Austin College Regional Jazz Ensemble, Modal, Metal & Wood, Sherry, Groove Think, Dreamboat, Smiile, and Batty Jr. In addition to live performance, he has assisted in numerous Austin recording projects as a session musician. Currently, you can catch him accompanying the fiddle prodigy Ruby Jane Smith, leading the band King Warbler, and playing solo jazz and singer-songwriter shows.
Jackson has been teaching kids and adults of all ages and levels for six years. His teaching style is a mix of from-the-book traditional curriculum and more loose-leaf education. Students have also been known to bring in original compositions for songwriting workshops.
Jackson also enjoys writing, woodworking, cooking, and making tea.
Trevor Villwock is a composer and pianist currently based in Austin, TX. Previous teaching experience includes as teacher at The Lesson Studio in Boulder, CO as well as privately in Austin. His music pulls from a variety of influences, primarily jazz, 20th and 21st century classical, punk, and psychedelic music, and he finds a deep joy in the act of musical exploration as a listener, a performer, a teacher, and a composer.
Trevor began his music study at the piano at age 6, and holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he also studied piano under Alejandro Cremaschi. During his time there, he received the 2016-2017 CU Undergraduate “Spark” Award for electronic music and the 2013-2014 CU Undergraduate Composition Award, was twice named a CU New Opera Workshop Composer Fellow, and received performances from the Boulder Chorale and the Colorado Honor Band Association. Prior to his undergraduate studies, his music was also performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the McCallum Fine Arts Academy Orchestra.
As a performer, Trevor has appeared extensively with the Boulder Laptop Orchestra (BLOrk) as well as with the iPad Quintet Boulder Image and Sound Network (BISoN). His principal composition teachers have included Michael Theodore, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Daniel Kellogg, Carter Pann, Adam Gorb, and Laura Bowler.
Caroline Wilkins is the 2019-2021 touring “Concert Artist” of the American Harp Society, after winning the prestigious national competition. She frequently presents recitals and masterclasses throughout the United States and Canada. She also won the 2018 Concerto Competition at the Music Academy of the West, and has performed harp with many groups including the American Youth Symphony, Debut Chamber Orchestra, and the New World Symphony.
Also a pianist, she has been studying classical piano from the age of five, and maintains a robust teaching studio of both harp and piano students. Caroline graduated from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music with a Masters degree in harp performance. She enjoys teaching students of all ages.
A native of West Texas, Eric Young began his piano studies at the age of five. Initially a science major, Eric quickly switched to music because of his deep love for the piano. An accomplished musician and performer, he holds a degree from the University of Texas in Piano Performance, where he studied under the legendary pianist and teacher Gregory Allen.
Beside his studies with Professor Allen, Eric studied piano pedagogy with Professor Sophia Gilmson, who is one of the most respected experts in the field and lauded and encouraged his remarkable teaching abilities. Eric’s teaching teach style is warm, patient, and encouraging while maintaining a structured and logical approach. He consistently receives raving reviews from his students, and is highly adaptive to each student’s personal needs and goals.
When not teaching or performing, Eric enjoys reading, learning languages, and making piano covers of Billboard Top 100 songs.
Born in England but raised in Texas, Stevie has been a passionate musician since they started learning piano at five years old. In middle school they picked up flute, then saxophone towards the end of high school (their hoard of instruments has continued to steadily grow since then). They graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois with a Bachelor's Degree in Music. During their time at college, Stevie led the Knox Jazz Ensemble saxophone section for two years, then came back for a post-baccalaureate year which they spent working for the music department. They also helped raise $12,000 for the KJE to support a cross-cultural exchange trip to Beijing and Xi'an, China.
Since graduating, Stevie has been actively working and performing for a variety of bands all over the Austin area. They lent their time to Conspirare, Austin Chamber Music Center, and Strait Music before becoming GAMA's office manager in the fall of 2018. Aside from their work at GAMA, Stevie is also a piano accompanist at Ballet Austin. Their current bands include Primo Musique, Oh Antonio and His Imaginary Friends, and Sheilava. You can see some of Stevie's work on their YouTube channel, linked through the image above.