Hope Academy’s Teaching Artists

Kathleen Andrews

Suzuki Violin, Violin

Violinist Kathleen Andrews holds degrees in violin performance from Eastern Michigan University and The Hartt School.  Her primary teachers have included Daniel Foster, Yehonatan Berick and Anton Miller.  While attending the Hartt School, Ms. Andrews participated in the long-term Suzuki teacher-training program with renowned pedagogue Teri Einfeldt. Since moving to Pittsburgh in 2012, Ms. Andrews has performed with many local orchestras and chamber ensembles, including the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh, Alia Musica, Ovre Arts, the West End Trio and others.  She is concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic and a member of the first violin section of the Butler County Symphony.  Ms. Andrews live in Pittsburgh with her husband, composer and bassist Ryan McMasters.

Liza Barley

Suzuki Violin, Violin

Liza Barley’s work is driven by her belief that the arts are a powerful medium through which to connect people from all walks of life, empower communities, and charge individuals to think creatively. Liza works as a freelance musician and multimedia artist, creative workshop leader, and teaching artist, and is the founder and executive director of Umoja Arts Project, a U.S.-based non-profit that works in the community arts sector both in the U.S. and in Tanzania, East Africa. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her partner, Gil Teixeira, and enjoys running, hiking, biking, gardening, generally being outdoors, cooking, and a good cup of coffee.

Benjamin Barson

Saxophone, Clarinet, Jazz Piano – HAT Co Band Co-Director

Benjamin Barson is a composer, baritone saxophonist, educator, and community-farming activist. He had been the Baritone Saxophonist for and protégé of Guggenheim-award-winning Fred Ho from 2009 until Ho’s passing in 2014. Since then, Barson has shared the stage with the legendary Motown group the Temptations, Grammy-winning Latin jazz pianist Arturo O’Farrill, and a diverse cross-section of innovative voices in New York City and Pittsburgh’s jazz scenes.  As an educator, Ben has been teaching saxophone and jazz piano in the Pittsburgh area for two years, and he and his students are regular features on the Saturday Light Brigade Radio station, based in the Children’s museum. His students have also performed at the Children’s Festival in Downtown Pittsburgh, the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, and many other major venues. Ben believes music performance and improvisation are tools not just for a music career but for building strong, independent minds capable of handling today’s challenges and the rhythms.

Laura Carmichael


Laura Carmichael is a freelance pianist who relocated to Pittsburgh from Chicago in 2015.  She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan; an Artist Diploma from Conservatorio Antonio Scontrino in Trapani, Italy; and a Master of Music degree from the University of South Florida in Tampa.  During her many years as a freelance pianist, Laura has worked with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, College Light Opera Company, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and various choirs, vocalists, churches, instrumentalists, and musical theatre productions.  As a solo and collaborative pianist she has toured throughout the United States, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Peru, and Canada.  With over 15 years of teaching experience, Laura has helped her students perform successfully in recitals, competitions, and with numerous musical ensembles.

Emma Cox

Guitar, Bass, Ukulele – HAT Co Band Co-Director

Emma Cox discovered her love of music at a young age. After trying her hand at ukelele and violin, she settled on guitar as her main songwriting instrument of choice. She studied Guitar Performance at the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts  (CAPA) High School before heading to The Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA to study Integrative Arts. She has taught at various music summer camps and songwriting classes for kids, including programs at the JCC in San Francisco, California and The Ellis School for Girls in Pittsburgh. For three years she worked as the Music Director for WYEP’s Holiday Hootenanny show which raises money to support youth education in the arts. This is Emma’s fourth year as a teaching artist at Hope Academy and she holds her own studio for private instruction as well. When she isn’t teaching kids how to rock out on guitar, she plays with her band The Color Fleet 

Gabe D’Abruzzo


Gabriel D’Abruzzo’s journey with the piano began at age 6 and since then, he has been a winner in numerous local piano auditions and competitions. Mr. D’Abruzzo’s education includes a Bachelor of Music degree from Duquesne University and a Master of Arts degree from SUNY, the State University of New York, where he studied with the world-renowned pianist, Vladimir Feltsman. Mr. D’Abruzzo’s musical positions include organist/choir director with various Pittsburgh area churches, including East Liberty Presbyterian Church; adjunct professor of piano at Saint Vincent College; accompanist for the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, City Music Center, Masterworks Chorale, Moon Area High School and Fox Chapel Area High School. He resides in Forest Hills with his wife Rachel and their two dogs Isabella and Sebastian.

Ana María Diaz


Ana María Díaz is a graduate of Duquesne University where she majored in cello performance with Misha Quint. Ms. Díaz began her musical studies in her native Venezuela as a member of the famous Youth Orchestra Program known as “El Sistema”; she studied music at Conservatorio de Música “Vicente Emilio Sojo”, Conservatorio Superior de Música “Simón Bolívar” and Centro Universitario de Estudios Musicales (IUDEM) under the guidance of Miguel Rojas and William Molina. In 2000 Ms. Díaz joined the faculty of Conservatorio de Música “Vicente Emilio Sojo” where she taught cello, kinder music, theory & solfège and coached the cello/bass sections for the children and youth orchestras. Ms. Díaz has has performed in Altoona Symphony Orchestra, Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, McKeesport Symphony and Washington County Symphony Orchestra. Currently, Ms. Díaz is the Program Manager of Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestras; she is a member of Butler County Symphony Orchestra, and teaches cello at the Elizabeth Seton Center in addition to Hope Academy of Music and the Arts.

Anna Elder

Voice, HAT Co Vocal Ensemble Director

Anna Elder holds a bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music where she studied with John Maloy and Connie Haas. She was trained in both operatic and choral singing and is proud to have sung under the batons of Benton Hess, Paul Odette, and Dr. Robert Page. Anna has held a voice studio in her hometown since 2008.  Since studying Music Education at CMU, she has taught workshops, private lessons, and choirs. Ms. Elder believes that anyone can sing and everyone should. Ms. Elder enjoys performing in a variety of vocal styles from classical to contemporary. She has performed with The Eclectic Laboratory Chamber Orchestra, Alia Musica, and the Blank Space Concert Series. Ms. Elder made her Off Broadway debut in 2013 with Squonk Opera’s “Mayhem & Majesty” in which her voice was praised by the New York Times as being, “ethereal” or “a voice that has blues, reds and purples in it.” She can be heard on Squonk Opera’s album “Go Roadshow” and anywhere from a basement to a concert hall.

Beth Goldstein-McKee

Suzuki Cello, Cello & Music Discovery Co-Teacher

Beth Goldstein-McKee brings her extensive performing and teaching experience to her work with students and teachers at institutes and workshops across the United States and in her studio. A registered Suzuki Association of the Americas Cello Teacher Trainer, she has taught at International Conferences in Japan and Peru, and served on the Board of Directors of the SAA and as Cello Coordinator for the 2016 SAA Conference. Recently moved to Western PA, Beth looks forward to starting a new generation of cello students.  Beth maintained a cello studio in Ashland, OR and performed with the Rogue Valley Symphony. Previous to moving to OR, Beth was on the faculty of Holy Names College’s Suzuki Program and East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, maintained a private studio in Berkeley, California and was Director of EBCPA’s Outreach Program for the Berkeley/Albany Schools. A native of NYC and graduate of Brandeis University, she trained as a Suzuki Teacher at the School for Strings.

Bronwyn Higgins

Percussion, Voice, Beginning Piano

Bronwyn W Higgins is as comfortable singing in front of a band with a microphone as she is standing behind an orchestra in the percussion section, or seated behind a set of timpani. A versatile musician whose repertoire spans multidimensionally from singing Gershwin to Gaga, and from playing Bach to Bartok. She is a singular combination of old and new, popular and classical. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Percussion Performance from the Eastman School of Music, a Master’s Degree in Percussion Performance from Boston University, and an Artist’s Diploma in Percussion Performance from Duquesne University. Born and raised in Texas, she now lives and works as a freelance percussionist, singer, timpanist and private music instructor in Pittsburgh, PA.

Meredith Hoppe

HAT Co Theater Ensemble Director, Acting

Meredith Hoppe is a theatre artist and educator specializing in drama, puppetry, and community art. In addition to teaching at Hope Academy, Meredith is also the Communications and Outreach Coordinator for APOST (Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time). An active member of the arts community in Pittsburgh since 2010, Meredith has served as the Ensemble Director for HAT Co (Hope Academy Teen Theatre Company) since her arrival in Pittsburgh six years ago. She also served as Program Director at MGR Youth Empowerment, managing, teaching, and administering after school arts programs to over 1600 youth yearly across the greater Pittsburgh area.  Meredith’s theatrical work with Co(lab)trix, the teaching artist performance collective she founded in 2011, has been showcased at the Union Project and at the Penn Avenue Unblurred Gallery Crawl.

Before landing in Pittsburgh, Meredith served a variety of arts organizations in Orlando, Florida teaching theatre and digital media, stage managing, administering programs, painting scenery, as well as building and performing puppets. Her work has been presented at Florida Theatre Conference, The American Alliance for Theatre and Education, and PSI: Performance Studies International. Meredith received her MFA in Theatre for Young Audiences from the University of Central Florida in 2010. Her current research interests lie in exploring avant-garde, non-linear, and devised theatre with and for young artists.

Lee W. Kikuchi

Piano, Cello, Violin, Voice

Lee W. Kikuchi graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music in 1991 (Majors in Music Composition and Computer Science). His studies included theory and composition, private piano instruction with Julian Martin and Mary Dannenberg, private voice instruction with Theresa Williams and Richard Miller, conducting with Daniel Moe and several courses in musicology beyond the minimum for the major. Prior to attending Oberlin, Mr. Kikuchi studied piano with Hannah Li and Mineko Avery; cello with Robert Sametini and Allen Sher; and violin with Frances Ortenberg.

Tonya Lynn

Acting, Musical Theater Workshop and Shakespeare Coach

Tonya Lynn holds a M.A. in Theater and Performance Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, and has worked as a freelance actor and fight director in the Pittsburgh area since 2005. Her recent acting credits include Viola in Twelfth Night, Witch/Murderer in Macbeth, Julia in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, (Poor Yorick’s Players), as well as Mistress Page in Merry Wives of Windsor, Leonata in Much Ado About Nothing, and Holofernes in Love’s Labour’s Lost (Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks). She has provided fight direction for several Pittsburgh area theaters, including Pittsburgh Irish and Classical, Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks, Prime Stage Theater, Poor Yorick’s Players, University of Pittsburgh Repertory Theater, Seton Hill University, and Marietta College, among others. Tonya particularly enjoys providing young actors with an introduction to theater, and has served as a guest instructor for the Pittsburgh CLO Academy and currently teaches Shakespeare and acting for Hope Academy of Music and the Arts. Tonya is an Advanced Actor-Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD) and has trained at national and regional stage combat workshops across the United States since 2004. Tonya has also studied at the International Stunt School under Maestro David Boushey in Seattle, WA.

Ryan McMasters

Double Bass, Electric Bass, Beginning Guitar

Ryan McMasters is a Pittsburgh based music maker and PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh. As a composer, areas of interest include the study of distortion, setting the poetry of H.D., the use of new technologies in performance and education, and collaborations with the hard sciences, including a 3 month residency with a quantum information system lab. His bass playing credits include such varied groups as Alia Musica, Squonk Opera, and the house band for Red Caiman Media studios. He teaches an equally diverse set of styles from traditional classical methods to the Carol Kaye method for electric bass. His new music band, WOLFTRAP, provides a space to focus on the development of oral traditions for new music making. Ryan holds a Master of Music from The Hartt School in double bass performance and a Bachelor of Music from Duquesne University. His music can be heard on bandcamp.

Patricia Pavlack

Suzuki Piano

Patricia Pavlack graduated with a dual degree in Music and Music Education. She continued her training in Dalcroze Eurhythmics at Carnegie Mellon University where she was introduced to the Suzuki Method. She went on to receive training in the Suzuki method, primarily with the Japanese instructor Haruka Kataoka (founder of the Suzuki Piano School), and completed all Suzuki book levels. Mrs. Pavlack is now a certified teacher trainer through the Suzuki Association of the Americas. She also teaches in her private studio in Green Tree and is a Suzuki guest clinician, training teachers and students across the United States. She is married with two grown children and three precious grandchildren.

Cynthia Pennington

Accompanist, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dance Classes

Cynthia Lynn (Cyd) Pennington has maintained both music and dance as continuing, lifelong pursuits. She has accompanied Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dance classes at Hope Academy for over 12 years. Cyd began singing as soon as she could talk, and started dance training at age 5, with piano lessons and eventually her primary area of expertise, Percussion, not far behind. Through music and dance educational and performance experiences, and as a lifelong avid audience member, she has developed and cultivated an eclectic taste and extensive knowledge of the performing arts. In Pittsburgh, Northern Ohio, Minnesota, and her native Wisconsin, Cyd has performed in symphony and opera orchestras, jazz big bands and combos, theatre pit bands, symphonic bands, a concert chorale, an oratorio chorus, a polka/oldies band, and a British-style brass band, as percussion accompanist for modern dance classes and children’s dance/movement classes, and has danced in collegiate opera corps de ballet and modern dance ensembles. She has studied ballet, tap, modern, and jazz, and has taught and assisted children’s creative movement classes.

Cyd is currently a member of the Pittsburgh Savoyards and Undercroft Opera Orchestras, and a former member of several community orchestras and concert bands in the Greater Pittsburgh area. She holds a B.A. in Music Therapy, with a Minor in Psychology and an emphasis in Dance. Cyd continues to perform music, study dance, and attend the many cultural events in music, dance, and theatre that Pittsburgh has to offer. On the flip side, she can often be found watching football and hockey games on TV, or comic book superheroes at the movies, or better yet, curled up with a real paper book.

Kristine Rominski

Flute & Flute Choir Director

Flutist Kristine Rominski performs as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician in the Pittsburgh area.  She can often be heard with the Incidental Chamber Players, OvreArts Sinfonia, Musicians with a Mission, and the Brazilian group Choro no Vinho. She was the recipient of a 2015 Artist Opportunities Grant from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council to further her study of Brazilian choro music.  As a soloist, Kristine has won awards in competitions held by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Public Radio, the United States Air Force Band, and the Upper Midwest Flute Association.    Kristine earned her Masters of Music from Carnegie Mellon University studying with Alberto Almarza and Jeanne Baxtresser. Her Bachelor of Music is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied with Stephanie Jutt. Kristine currently maintains active studios at Hope Academy and Winchester Thurston Schools, is director and music arranger of the Hope Academy flute choir.

Helga Scheibert


Helga Scheibert began her musical training at the High School of Arts  in Marosvasarhely, Transylvania at age 7. Immediately she traveled to Kolozsvar to continue her studies at Gheorghe Dima Academy where she received full scholarship and earned her Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance. Ms. Scheibert recently got her Artist Diploma and Masters from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh where she got full assistantship and she studied with great pianist David Allen Wehr.  She is the winner of numerous piano auditions and competitions, and was awarded full scholarship to Gheorge Dima Music Academy and Duquesne University.  Ms. Scheibert has experience performing with orchestras both as a soloist and collaborator. She has performed several solo and chamber recitals in the U.S. and in Europe and had performances broadcast on Romanian National Radio.  Currently she is studying towards a DMA in Piano Performance at West Virginia University with Peter Amstutz.

Karen Sloneker

Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone, Tuba

Karen Sloneker, brass instructor, spent 28 years as the adjunct instructor in brass at Rogers CAPA Middle School (now part of Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12), where she taught trumpet, French horn, trombone, and tuba, along with coaching chamber music groups and teaching a variety of music classes. An adjunct professor of trumpet at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and formerly adjunct professor at Seton Hill University, she plays second trumpet with the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet orchestras. Ms. Sloneker has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Mendelssohn Choir, Bach Choir, and was principal trumpet with the Westmoreland symphony for many years. In addition to her work as a performer and trumpet instructor, Ms. Sloneker owns and directs Music Together with First Notes, a well-respected small business offering family early childhood music classes using the Music Together Curriculum at a variety of locations in the Pittsburgh area. Her work with young children and their families has informed her trumpet teaching with a greater understanding of the process of musical development in children and its implementation in instrumental instruction. She lives happily in the Friendship neighborhood with her husband Steve, daughter Marnie, and two dogs. Her son Ean, formerly a member of Hope Academy’s EL CEO, is a sophmore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Gil Teixeira

Classical Guitar, Suzuki Guitar

Gil Teixeira is a prolific artist and educator that sees Sound as the unifying core of his many practices. A native of Portugal, Gil grew up studying classical guitar with some of the great masters of the instrument. He holds a Bachelor degree in Guitar Performance.  Alongside his classical studies, Gil started the post-rock band La La La Ressonance, a group that pushed the artistic boundaries of what a band is and does, mostly due to their bold cross-artistic experiments.  In 2012, Gil moved to London to pursue a Masters in Music at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he developed a keen interest in the exploration of technology in collaborative music making contexts and started working on CEEMI. His artistic practice also shifted from playing music into a more experimental and abstract exploration of Sound more in tune with Soundart and Multimedia Installation.  Gil has taught guitar, led workshops, and performed all over Europe and the U.S. He moved to Pittsburgh in January of 2015.

Anqwenique Wingfield

Visiting Artist

Anqwenique Wingfield is an extremely versatile vocalist and teaching artist specializing in opera, classical music, jazz and soul. Anqwenique has performed lead operatic roles such as Magda Sorel of Carl Menotti’s The Consul, Hanna Glawari of Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow and Zerlina of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Voice Performance from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Anqwenique is also the founder and director of Pittsburgh based artist collective Groove Aesthetic and co-founder of the Nouveau Noir Vocal Ensemble. This year she was named as one of Whirl Magazine’s 13 Under 30 and in 2013 one of the New Pittsburgh Courier’s Fab 40 under 40.  As a teaching artist, Anqwenique has shared her talents and experience with many young singers and musicians in the Pittsburgh area. She currently works as a teaching artist for Hope Academy for Music and the Arts, Gateway to the Arts, and Opera Theater Pittsburgh.