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Faculty of the Month: June Asai, Voice and Piano Lesson Teacher

Congratulations to June Asai, for winning our Faculty of the Month Award! Below is a summary of our interview with June.

You teach Piano Lessons and Voice Lessons at our Flemington and Lebanon locations. How old were you when you decided to make music your career and what (or who) inspired you to choose this path? I started taking voice lessons in fifth grade while I was living in Japan. I studied with Prof. Saito Kotoko at Kobe College. I watched many of her performances. She was a great role model for me. She had great confidence and a wonderful stage presence. In 7th grade, I performed as the lead, princess, Pamina, in an opera by Mozart called, “The Magic Flute.” I was lucky to be able to perform with a full orchestra which was very exciting. That’s when I decided I wanted to make singing my career.

Voice Lessons Flemington NJ

As a YouTuber who releases covers and original song videos, what
advice can you give young aspiring artists? How DO you build a good following? My best advice is to make sure a career in music is the right path for you. First, learn about yourself and try to become as well-rounded as possible. Then, if you honestly think you have the ability, drive, and the talent to make it, never give up. I think success with YouTube is based on consistency, good content, and timing. I suggest developing a channel as soon as possible, that way you will have the time to develop your skills in social media, understand the programs and technology needed to make videos and work on feeling comfortable in front of the camera.

You have a degree in vocal performance from Rutgers University. How do you balance your classical training with your strong interest in popular music? I believe learning to sing classically is the best way to start for any young singer. Jumping into pop singing without the foundation of proper vocal technique leads to the development of bad habits that will be harder to break in the future. Once a singer can sing classically then vocal exploration is safe and can be very fun. There is nothing wrong with being versatile.

What do you enjoy about being part of the Hunterdon Academy of the Arts community? I love my kids! Every one of my students has their very own unique way of learning and seeing the world and I think that’s exciting. Being part of the process of creative growth is rewarding and fun. Also, the staff is friendly. HAA is a nice place to be

Find out more about June!.

Faculty Showcase: Angy Estrada, Piano Teacher, Flemington, NJ


This month, we are congratulating Angy Estrada on winning the January 2017 Faculty of the Month Award! Dr. Estrada is a very successful Instructor teaching Piano Lessons at our Flemington location
Tell us a bit about your musical journey. When did you start playing music and why did you choose piano over other instruments? My musical journey started when I was 7 years old and I joined the music program at my school. I played piano with our Salsa Band while attending “Bellas Artes” Music Conservatory in Colombia.

Who inspired you to become a professional musician and why? My Mother was always very supportive and my teachers encouraged me to study Music professionally. My colleagues from “Orquesta La Misma Gente” inspired me to continue my education and my piano teachers, Lucia Mora and Dr. Baruch Meir were highly supportive, as well.

You received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Rutgers University, but you also studied jazz composition and arrangement. How does classical music fit in with the rest of your music interests? Classical music is the foundation for my Piano Technique, Music Theory, Music History and Musicianship. My studies with Prof. Stasio expanded my horizons in Jazz allowing me to create my own music, and performing other genres such as, Latin Jazz and Gospel Music.

What is your recommendation for students to get motivated to practice on a regular basis? Students should build their weekly schedule including practicing their musical instrument. I recommend my students practice earlier in the day before they get too tired. In addition, having performance opportunities motivates my students to practice and achieve significant progress.

What do you enjoy about being part of the Hunterdon Academy of the Arts community? Hunterdon
Academy of the Arts is a very organized community. I enjoy the respect and commitment that everyone
shares with each other to make sure our students improve their musical skills.

Schedule Your First Piano Lesson with Dr. Estrada Here!

Student of the Month: Emily Rubin (Piano Lessons and Acting Classes)


We'd like to congratulate Emily Rubin on winning January’s Student of the Month Award!! Emily is a Piano andActing Classes Flemington NJ Acting student at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts in Flemington, NJ.

How old are you and how long have you been a student at HAA? I am 11 years old and I have been at HAA for 2 years.

You take Piano Lessons and Acting Classes at HAA. What do you like about each of these two programs?
I love being able to play an instrument, such as piano. And my Acting program makes me love to be in front of the camera.

What kind of music do you like to listen to at home? I like listening to Ballads (Adele, Twenty One Pilots, etc.).

What are your hobbies and what do you like doing in your free time? I love to draw and play video games in my free time.

What do you like about being part of Hunterdon Academy of the Arts? Being able to learn so many new things (Piano, acting).

What do you want to be (professionally) when you grow up? I want to be a professional artist when I grow up.

5 Reasons Why Music Lessons Should be Among Your New Year’s Resolutions


Music Lessons

The beginning of a new year holds great promise. It provides an opportunity for us to leave “in the past” any disappointments, shortcomings, and discomfort we may have experienced during the previous year. At the same time, the start of the new year also allows us to build on previous accomplishments and take them to a new level. So here we are on January 1, looking both back and ahead.

It is a moment when many of us define their personal New Year’s Resolutions. We make them in good faith, but come March, how many of us will still abide by them or even remember what they were? As Joseph Luciani says, 80 % of New Year’s Resolutions Fail because we tend to be over-ambitious in choosing goals that lie well beyond our capacity to attain, or because we may lack the experience in managing setbacks on the path to reaching our goals, be it saving a certain amount of money each month, losing x number of lbs, etc.

Part of the problem is that resolutions often involve sacrifices that take us way out of our comfort zone or are difficult to love and enjoy. Most of us resolve to exercising daily for two hours not because we enjoy exercising but because we want to lose 40 lbs by a certain date, with the ultimate goal of making an improvement to our health or feeling better about our physical appearance.

Check out our Special New Year’s Promotion!


Learning a musical instrument is a different kind of challenge, though it is one that deserves to be among yourVocal_Lessons resolutions and goals to achieve this year. Of the many reasons why music lessons are so high on my priority list, I will focus on the five most important ones:

1. Music is forever. The ability to make music, once you have learned at least basic musical concepts and skills, is yours to keep for life. Playing soccer at age 80? No, unless you want to make a fool out of yourself. Playing the guitar? Absolutely! With ease, and a smile on your face.

2. Making music brings people together because instruments--traditional ones at least--don’t play by themselves. If you can play an instrument, you will have friends and likely some admirers as well. Over time, you will also find friends interested in making music together with you!

3. Making music is immensely enjoyable. The learning process does require a concentrated effort to develop and maintain your skills. But at the end of a tricky practice session, what remains is your passion for music and love of the instrument.

4. Making music offers you an island of sanity in the craziness of your daily life. Regularly set aside some time to experience the calming effects of music and explore the sea of emotions it holds!

5. Music lessons improve mental focus. You will learn to read and interpret a new language--musical notation. Expressing that language on your instrument requires you to develop some special fine motor and coordination skills. Your ability to focus will improve even further as you begin to memorize the songs you are learning.

Are you ready to start (or restart) music lessons this year?

Check out our Special New Year’s Promotion!

Faculty Showcase: Rob George--Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Ukulele, and ROCK Plus Instructor


This month, we are spotlighting Rob George. Rob is not only one of our most popular but also one of our most versatile Teachers. Below are the highlights of a recent interview we had with him:

You teach several cool instruments, as well as ROCK Plus, a new performance program at HAA. How did you get into playing several different instruments? In addition to teaching
guitar lessons, I also teach ukulele, banjo, and mandolin. I actually got into these instruments because of an uncommon instrument one of my previous teachers had me learn: the lute. The lute is essentially a predecessor to the guitar, and it’s really tricky to get a nice sound on. My teacher had a philosophy that if you can get a good sound on the lute, your sound on the guitar would be that much better because of it. This sparked a fascination with tone, and I began learning a bunch of less played, fretted instruments in hopes to apply that to my guitar playing.

You also play in a band. Can you tell us more about it and the kind of music you play? The band I play inguitar(1)-756733-edited.jpg is called Mr. Hey Mister. If I had to label our sound I’d say we’re kind of like a chill electronic jazz group. It started as a duo with my friend Ryan and I; I would play guitar and program sounds on my computer, and he played the drums. Recently though we’ve developed a much more R&B sound as we’ve been joined by a bassist and a singer. We’ve been working on a full length album hopefully ready to release relatively soon!

You majored in Classical and Jazz Guitar Performance. How does classical music fit in with the rest of your music interests? Classical music fits in to the rest of my musical interests in almost too many ways. I would say the biggest influence studying it has had is how I now listen to music. In Classical music, expressing
yourself through your playing is so essential to conveying the way the piece makes you feel, and in my opinion the most beautiful music is created due to the subtleties that can often be overlooked. For example, I try listening for how loud or soft is the music being played, which notes are being accented and which aren’t, when there's tonal changes... when you start to critically listen you can find there’s a lot of sounds going on that you may not have been aware of before and it’s really really cool!    

How do you inspire your students to explore various musical styles and dedicate their time to practicing? To inspire my students to explore various music styles. I try to understand what kind of music they like first. Then we work together to learn the songs they’re interested in. Once we understand what sounds they’re interested in, we pursue those sounds. Once I have an idea of what my student likes and doesn’t like I try to suggest bands that they might not have heard of before; the more music you listen to the more you can understand what sounds you like and what you don’t. As far as practicing goes, the biggest thing I encourage is to use your time efficiently by setting a few small goals instead of one big one. Trying to learn an entire piece in one day from start to finish can often be frustrating, discouraging, and frankly, unrealistic. But saying something to yourself like, “Okay, I can get the first thirty seconds of this song down, and then maybe I can work on my scale” creates an achievable, realistic, and rewarding goal.     

What do you enjoy about being part of the Hunterdon Academy of the Arts community? My favorite part about being a part of the Hunterdon Academy of the Arts community is easily the positive and encouraging atmosphere. From the students and parents to the teachers and staff, everyone is always helping each other become better musicians, but more importantly, better people :)

Find out More about Rob George Here!

Student of the Month: Matthew Scotto, Piano, Cello, and Banjo Lessons


This month we’re congratulating Matthew Scotto on winning December’s Student of the Month Award!! Matthew is a 10 year old student who got started in our MusikGarten program over 6 years ago.

What instruments do you play and what made you choose them? What’s cool about them? I am currentlMatthew Scotto-993222-edited-058005-edited.jpgy
lessons for piano, cello and banjo. I was in the group keyboard class and when that ended I started taking private piano lessons. I started cello lessons in school last year and thought it was fun so I continued with private lessons. I don’t know why but I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the banjo.

What kind of music do you like to listen to in your free time? I listen to all sorts of popular music like: Frankie Valli, Beatles, Queen, Eagles, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay.

What are your hobbies and what do you like doing in your free time? My hobbies are playing video games and playing with my puppy.

What do you like about being part of Hunterdon Academy of the Arts? What I like most about HAA are my current and former teachers. My music classes are fun! And HAA has fun parties.

What do you want to be (professionally) when you grow up? When I grow up I would like to be a famous YouTuber.

Faculty Showcase: Mauricio de Souza, Drum Lesson Teacher


This month, we are spotlighting Mauricio de Souza, one of our most successful Drum Teachers. We’re fortunate for having Mauricio on board, and can’t wait to share with you the interview we had with him.

How old were you when you started your formal music education and what made you choose percussion? I started
learning to play drums at age 11. My first teacher was Ricardo Gianetti in my hometown of Brasília, Brasil. Within a few months, I began playing in a cover band with friends from school. Later, I joined the youth percussion ensemble at the Teatro Nacional Cláudio Santoro. From 1991 to 1997 I played in numerous rock cover bands, ranging from the Beatles, to Pearl Jam, to Rush, to Metallica, Pantera,... Eventually, I became interested in Fusion (mix of jazz with rock). Always looking to forward my studies, I took a summer course with Brazilian classical percussionist Ney Rosauro in 1996 and came to the US in 1997 to study with jazz drummer Joe Morello.

You have a degree in Jazz percussion, but you also have classical training. What are the benefits that you’ve experienced in getting trained in both fields? Jazz combines numerous elements from classical music and (today) world music, allowing individual artistic expression through improvisation. As a professional musician, IDrum Lessons Flemington NJ want to be the best I can be. By studying and performing in both fields alongside musicians equally devoted to their craft, I get exposed to a wealth of ideas, techniques, and unique musical expressions which allow me to keep growing as a musician. Also, the more versatile a musician is, the more work one can do. In my experience, classical and jazz training have given me the foundation to be able to play any style of music I want or need to and to become the musician I want to be.

You often perform in some world-renowned venues. What’s it like to perform at the “Blue Note” in NYC? I’ve been lucky to be able to perform as a band leader in such venues as Blue Note, NJPAC, and this October, at the Québec International Jazz Festival in Canada. [The Blue Note is] my favorite jazz club and the place where all of my heroes have performed.

There is a new CD you released recently. Tell us a bit about it. My new album, “Trajetórias”, was recorded live at Galeria West in Westfield in May of this year. We have performed there numerous times over the years, it’s one of my favorite venues to perform in. It’s a very intimate and naturally artistic venue. This is my third commercial album as a band leader. I recorded nine tracks with my Brazilian jazz group, Bossa Brasil. The music features my arrangements of compositions by Tom Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Hermeto Pascoal, and Pat Metheny. The group is a quartet/quintet with Dmitry Baevsky on alto sax, Jerry Weir on vibes, Bob Rodriguez on keyboard, Gary Mazzaroppi on acoustic bass, and myself on drums. The album is available at live performances and online at Pandora (in a few months), iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, CD Baby, and most online music sites.

You are a kind and patient teacher and your drum lesson students love working with you. What is your #1 tool to motivate them to practice? :-) I love working with my students at HAA! They are all unique in their learning styles and interests and it’s a pleasure to watch them grow. My #1 tool to motivate my students to practice is always focusing on their interests. As a teacher I feel it’s my responsibility to show them how to play the instrument but I also feel it’s my responsibility to help them achieve their musical goals. I may expose them to different techniques but I don’t like to force anyone to study something they’re not interested in. I think the best learning happens in a friendly and relaxed environment.

What do you enjoy about being part of the Hunterdon Academy of the Arts community? I enjoy all aspects of being part of the Hunterdon Academy of the Arts community. I thoroughly enjoy interacting with the students and parents, they’re all dedicated to making the most of their experience at HAA. The staff is very friendly and professional. I feel HAA is dedicated to constant growth and improvement in providing the best learning musical environment possible. And I love that about the school.

Schedule a Drum Lesson with Mauricio Here!

Student of the Month: Keshav Viradia, Drum Lessons


IMG_6763 (1).jpgThis month we’re congratulating Keshav Viradia on winning November’s Student of the Month Award!! Keshav is an 11 year old drum lesson student and has been attending HAA for over 6 years.

What do you like about your teacher and the way he plays and teaches music? I really like how my teacher is loose, but still can guide me though. He teaches like the student is his friend, which helps me focus.

You’ve been with us for many years. What do you like about being part of Hunterdon Academy of the Arts? I love how playing a instrument can lead to so many opportunities, especially at HAA.

What kind of music do you like to listen to in your free time? I mainly listen to dubstep, like Skrillex and Teminite.

We interviewed you last year because of an important award you received. What’s new in your life since? I have actually quit piano, which is what I got that award for. I have moved to drums and I started to play the flute for my school. I am now in 6th grade.

What’s next for Keshav? What new skills are you developing: sports, hobbies, etc.? I have continued to play tennis, and I have been playing for 7 years. I am shooting for the high school team.

Faculty of the Month: Brian Green, Guitar


This month, we are spotlighting Brian Green, one of our most successful Guitar Teachers. We’re fortunate for having Brian on board, and can’t wait to share with you the interview we had with him.

When did you start playing music and what inspired you to get started? My parents always had music playing, many different genres. I’ve always felt deeply about sounds that I would hear in music, and lyrical meaning through melody impacted me a lot. I began playing music around age 10 when my parents had me take piano lessons. I remember doing well but not being very interested in practicing at the time. I think the lessons only lasted a couple of years. I did much better when, as a teenager, I joined bands and was learning on my own. It was later in my adulthood that I really began to take music seriously enough to formally study it and try to better my understanding of music. I’ve always been inspired by the creative element of music and music’s ability to change us. 

Why did you choose guitar as your instrument, and what is special about it (in your opinion)? I love theBrian_Green_Guitar_Teacher_Flemington_NJ diversity of sound that guitars can produce, from the intimacy of playing solo arrangements and chordal melodies to playing electric guitar through a pedal board and creating interesting effects. I like the challenge that it has to offer, particularly in terms of blending chord harmonies and single note melodies.

You have your own band. Can you tell our readers more about it? I’ve recently been performing in two bands, The Poet, Ebenezer and Sourland. Both of these bands fall into the indy rock genre. Currently, Sourland is the band I am performing more consistently with, playing gigs in Lambertville, New Hope, and various other Hunterdon County venues.

You are very successful as a guitar teacher and you have a very high student retention rate. What is your secret? Every student is different and learns differently. My goal as a teacher is to help my guitar students become the best musicians they can be and to be sensitive to each student’s needs. I seek to foster a positive experience in the classroom and help to guide them in their own personal, musical journey. I also feel that vulnerability as a teacher is important, and also to allow myself to be taught by my students. There are so many things that students are trying to understand that they inevitably ask questions, or bring up certain ideas that really cause me to think hard and learn. A bass guitar teacher that I had for a while told me that “if you teach once, you learn twice…” As a teacher I also have to remain a student and I think that is reflected onto my students and hopefully inspires them to continue studying and learning, and most importantly to enjoy playing music, because that is what it is all about.

What do you enjoy about being part of the Hunterdon Academy of the Arts community? Hunterdon Academy of the Arts has been a fantastic community to be part of. Everyone is friendly and attentive to both students and teachers.

Other than music, what are your interests and hobbies? I love surfing, reading, riding my bike, walking in cities, drawing and painting, and going to art galleries, and hanging out with artists and musicians.

Schedule a Guitar Lesson with Brian!

Student of the Month: Leo Allentoff, Piano and Clarinet


Hearty congratulations to Leo Allentoff on winning September's Student of the Month Award!! Leo is 12 years old and has been attending HAA for the past 7 years.

What instruments do you play? I
play the piano and clarinet.

What do you like about each instrument and how do you find time to practice both? What I like about eachLeo_Allentoff_Aug_2016-627540-edited.jpg instrument is that they both have a big range of notes they can play. Also both instruments have a very unique sound and can be used to play many different styles of music. I feel that if you really enjoy playing an instrument, it is very easy to find time to practice. This is because you can’t wait to play and so the first opportunity you get to practice, you will want to do it. This is the case for me.

Your sister also takes music lessons at HAA and music seems to run in the family. What are your family’s favorite music activities? Do you ever play together? My family’s favorite musical activities are listening to various types of music and playing instruments together. My dad sometimes plays with me and my sister. He likes to accompany me by playing on the piano while I play on either the piano or clarinet. We also sometimes have little recitals where my sister or I play in front of the whole family.

You’ve been with us for many years. What do you like about being part of Hunterdon Academy of the Arts? The thing I like about Hunterdon Academy of the Arts is that all of the teachers I have had so far are friendly, motivating, and help me really improve in my playing.

What kind of music do you like to listen to in your free time? I listen to classical and pop music in my free time. I especially like listening to Baroque composers like Bach and Handel.

What would you like to do when you grow up? Any plans to study music? I would like to be a chemist or an engineer when I grow up. While I don’t have plans to study music professionally in the future, I will still enjoy playing and listening to music.

Other than music, what are your favorite activities? One of my favorite activities besides music is playing soccer and watching sports; I’m a big fan of NASCAR racing and the New York Mets. I also enjoy sitting down and reading a good book.

What else would you like to tell us about yourself? I enjoy going to music concerts and watching live productions of musicals. I am learning Chinese and I have been to China five times. This is because some of my relatives live in China. I play clarinet in my school band and I have performed piano duets with classmates at school which were played over the loud speaker so everyone at my school could hear us. My goals as a musician are to be able to play challenging pieces on the piano and clarinet.

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