Meet the Best Music Teachers in Brooklyn

Meet the Brooklyn Music Factory Family!

Brooklyn Music Factory Teachers

Stav German Glaser - voice, piano

Brett Gleason - guitar, piano 

Drew Krasner - piano, bands

Andrew Links - piano, bands

Nich Mueller- piano, UX Designer for Big Music Games

Kaitlin Pelkey - piano, voice

Sean Richey- guitar, bass

Sergio Rivera- guitar, bass, bands

Sapir Rosenblatt- voice, piano, bands

Christina Schwedler - piano, voice, bands

Rick Smith- bands

Emily Strong - voice, piano, bands, MiniKeys

Rob Taylor- guitar, bass, bands

BMF Admin 

Hilary Gardner - Registration & Billing Maven

Benjamin Healy - piano, Director of Private Lessons 

Kathryn Selman- Director of Marketing  

Stephen Selman- Director of Big Music Games  

Kai M Sorensen- Systems Ninja 

John Speck - Facilities Dude 

Jessica Tolliver- Director of Administration & Sales 

Jason Vance- Director of Bands, MiniKeys

Our Co-founders  

Peira Moinester - Co-founder, Camp Director

Nate Shaw - Co-founder & CEO

Gregory Baldwin -MiniKeys, Bands

Gregory Baldwin Music Teacher at Brooklyn Music Factory

Favorite Food: Sea food

Favorite Animal: Fox  

Main instrument: Guitar Other Instruments: Bass, drums, keys, vocals Other hobbies: Ride my bicycle and hang out with Heather  

Favorite part of your job: I love it when a song is born and it all clicks with a band. That spark and realization of such an accomplishment is magical!  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? As a child raised on MTV in the early 90’s, I knew at a very young age that all I wanted to do was write songs and play in a band!

Fun fact: I used to be a child fashion model  

Bands/groups/projects: Yours & Mine  

Find Out More Here: www.yoursandmineband.bandcamp.com  


Joshua Breslauer -Drums

Josh Breslauer Music Teacher at Brooklyn Music Factory

Favorite Food: Pineapple chicken  

Favorite Animal: Chameleon  

Main instrument: Drums Other Instruments: Piano, xylophone, bass, guitar  

Other hobbies: Cooking, weird movies, climbing, and running  

  

Favorite part of your job: I remember how excited I was when I was learning my first grooves and discovering what was possible in music. I love seeing that look on a young student's face when they discover something new in music they didn't know was possible.  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I played percussion in school band for a few years before I started on drum set and I always thought it was fun. As soon as I touched the drum kit though something clicked and every day after school I was playing in some basement or garage with my friends. For me music is first and foremost a way to bring people together and I think it's one of the most positive and creative ways for people to connect with each other.

Fun fact: I used to want to be a sketch artist and won a mail-in art competition when I was in 2nd grade.  

Bands/groups/projects: Drummer for Lighthouse Tabernacle and Love Fellowship Tabernacle. I also write and play drums for my indie rock duo "The Boskop"  

Find Out More Here: Bandcamp coming soon!  

 


Marco Frey - Drums 

Favorite Food: Stinky cheese  

Favorite Animal: The sifaka lemur  

Main instrument: Drums Other Instruments: Piano  

Other hobbies: Right now I’m on a huge tennis kick.

Favorite part of your job: I love teaching kids to express themselves on the drums and vibing with the younger generations.  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? Although I started on classical piano, I was turned onto jazz by an electric mandolinist who handed me the orange-hued album, Miles Smiles. I took to playing drums alongside my new friend and an older mentor on bass. I was hooked to the free flow and attitude of jazz. That’s how, over a decade later, I ended up in New York City.  

Fun fact: I was born in Switzerland and I play left handed on a right-handed kick.  

Bands/groups/projects: I play in a nine-piece jazz orchestra called the Revenge of the Cool Nonet. I also play in a whimsical brass band called the Dingonek. I played in the house band for a thrilling variety show in the east village every week for a year. Now I’m joining a dance-y indie synth-pop group called Detective Logan.  


Hilary Gardner - Registration & Billing Maven

Favorite Food: There's no way I can answer that briefly! I LOVE to cook & eat so it's impossible to narrow this down too much; I've got a special place in my heart for Northern Italian food, though. My idea of heaven is nibbling on an assortment of cicheti in Venice, sipping on an Aperol Spritz.

Favorite Animal: As a Leo, I'm very partial to cats.  

Main instrument: Voice Other Instruments: A little bit of piano, a (VERY) little bit of ukulele. It's best if I stick to singing!  

Other hobbies: I love to write, cook, and eat. I'm also passionate about exploring New York City's endless cultural and culinary treasures, and I travel to Italy whenever possible.

Favorite part of your job: I love helping families find the perfect band, private lesson, or camp! And I'm always blown away by the dedication and kindness of BMF's amazing teachers and staff. I LOVE that BMF is a community of people who truly understand the value of music-making for everyone, from little kids all the way up through adulthood. It's extraordinary to be a part of a community that brings so much joy to our families AND creates sustainable livelihoods for musicians. Anyone who's made a living in the performing arts knows how groundbreaking BMF's philosophy is and it's been thrilling to see how much we've grown over the years. I'm so excited to be a part of BMF's future.

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I literally never considered doing anything other than singing. Somehow, even in my hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, where jazz was nonexistent and moose routinely ambled through my backyard, I always knew I would be a singer and live in New York City. The greatest stroke of luck in my life has been having parents and teachers who have believed in and encouraged me from childhood through the present day. Music has been a source of comfort, euphoria, healing, and happiness every day of my life, and my greatest ambition is to be of service through the music I make with others.

Fun fact: I wrote Ella Fitzgerald a fan letter when I was 12 and she sent me an autographed photo that I cherish to this day.  

Bands/groups/projects: In addition to my solo endeavors (my first record, "The Great City," was released on Anzic Records in 2014 and my upcoming album, "The Late Set," will be released on Anzic Records on Oct. 2017), I'm a member of DUCHESS, a close-harmony trio in the style of the Boswell Sisters.  

Find Out More Here: hilarygardner.com


Stav German Glaser - voice, piano

Stav German Music Teacher at Brooklyn Music Factory

Favorite Food: Mango Favorite Animal: Dog  

Main instrument: Voice Other Instruments: Keyboards, Ableton live (Computer)  

 Other hobbies: Watch movies and travel

Favorite part of your job: Hearing my students progress and seeing how they use their skills without even realizing it. And I love teaching singers- young and adults alike.  


When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I was taking a 4 month trip to India after graduating from high school and I decided that if I didn't try to study music seriously, I would regret it. So I tried it for one year and decided I want to do that professionally and teach. 

Fun fact: I'm a horrible cook!  

Bands/groups/projects: I have recently released my debut album as STAV G and perform with my computer based solo set. I'm also singing with the vocal lab group "Moving Stars" that is affiliated with Carnegie Hall and the Weill Music Institute. 

Find out more here: www.stavgmusic.com  


Brett Gleason - Piano, Guitar

Favorite Food: Bananas

Favorite Animal: Dogs!

Main instrument: Piano Other Instruments: guitar, bass, clarinet, singing!  

Other hobbies: I love gymnastics!  

Favorite part of your job: Watching kids grow and overcome their limitations.  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I always struggled to express myself in the moment but I found that in private I could write a song that perfectly said what I wanted to say.

Fun fact: I was the NY State Champion in Gymnastics for most of High School.  

Bands/groups/projects: I'm mostly a solo artist but I'm starting produce some other local solo acts (stay tuned!)  

Find Out More Here: http://brettgleason.com/


Ben Healy - Piano, Director of Private Lesson Dept. 

Ben Healy Piano Teacher

Favorite Food: Breakfast at Tom’s Restaurant in Brooklyn: Pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, OJ & coffee  

Favorite Animal: Giraffe  

Main instrument: Piano Other Instruments: Saxophone, drums, voice, ukulele

Other hobbies: Playing trains with my son. Hiking with my wife. Talking with my dad. Exploring new technology with my brother. Indulging in my mom’s signature Christmas cookies.  

Favorite part of your job: Developing relationships with my students and their families  

Music has always been a part of my life. Both my parents play piano and I started taking lessons at age 3. Over the years I had a number of teachers who helped to instill the joy of making music. One was Doris Robinson, who lived right across the alley from me and cheerfully guided my early explorations on the piano and, later, the alto saxophone. Another, who I met around age 12 to begin studying jazz, was Nate Shaw. Much of what I do today can be traced back to my parents discovering Nate’s business card on the bulletin board of a coffee shop across the street from my junior high in St. Paul, Minnesota. I took private lessons with Nate and participated in a few summer jazz camps organized by a local band he played in called the Motion Poets. Those experiences inspired me to pursue a degree in music, which eventually led me to The New School for Jazz and later to work for Nate as he founded Brooklyn Music Factory.  

Fun fact: I’m 6’6″. Despite being asked almost daily, I don’t really play basketball.  

Bands/groups/projects: My jazz trio; David Coss Trio; duo with bassist Tod Hedrick  

Find Out More Here: benjaminhealy.com


Drew Krasner - Piano, Bands

Favorite Food: Pineapple

Favorite Animal: Arctic fox  

Main instrument: Piano Other Instruments: Saxophone, clarinet, voice, guitar, bass  

Other hobbies: I enjoy playing any sport that involves a ball, writing poetry and stories, and anything that gets me outside into the natural world: swimming, hiking, climbing, camping.  

Favorite part of your job: A student making a connection from one area of music to another, or from one area of music to another aspect of life is the most fulfilling thing as a teacher. At its most effective, teaching is about helping set up the student's internal web of connectivities and fostering them to begin making these connections on their own. 

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? My life has been marked by many ongoing epiphanies that have solidified my desire to make music with other people. The first and most catalytic discovery began at age 10 and involved a trio of friends that I played with--three curious kids trading off on piano, guitar, and drums. We were each exploring all these instruments at the same time that we were learning valuable personal lessons about ourselves; how to learn, how to create, how to communicate, how to cooperate. We went from trying trick shots on the basketball court to trying out new rhythms and forms. We made little melodies and beats out of the sounds of everyday objects. There was a fluidity and crossover between music-making and all facets of life. Global connections were made inside and across brains. Things not only made more sense, but this new level of understanding came with a side of meaning and purpose, which we came to realize was the main meal. This tight-knit relationship opened my eyes and ears to the universality of music as language and salve, to its power to create and strengthen human connections. I've been hooked ever since.  

Fun fact: I can jump really high.  

Bands/groups/projects: Apartment Sessions ; Iceland Soundscape Trio

Find Out More Here: Apartment Sessions; Iceland Soundscape Trio


Peira Moinester - Co-founder

Favorite Food: Apples

Favorite Animal: Dolphin

Main instrument: Guitar/voice Other Instruments: I dabble

Other hobbies: Be with my family!  

Favorite part of your job: I love helping teachers succeed, I love getting to know our community of families

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music?: I honestly don't remember a time I didn't want to play music. When I was 3 years old I would drag my parents to the community musicals right here in Park Slope, some of which I still remember! Music has always been a part of my life! 

Fun fact: I have lived in Brooklyn my whole life, my father lived in Brooklyn his whole life, his parents lived in Brooklyn most of their lives. My other grandfather grew up in Brooklyn, and his father owned a dry goods store in Fort Greene. We are a Brooklyn family all the way!  

Bands/groups/projects: Raising my 2 small children is a project. Not much space for anything else! I look forward to playing in a band again when they get a bit older. 


Nich Mueller - Piano, UX designer for Big Music Games

Favorite Food: Étouffée & cajun cookin! Favorite Animal: Red Fox! Main instrument: Piano Other Instruments: Voice & drums 

Other hobbies: Enjoy nature and take care of my self! Find fun ways of getting exercise and take pictures along the way!

Favorite part of your job: I love the sense of community and teamwork at Brooklyn Music Factory. I feel like everybody supports each other and we're all stronger happier people because of it!  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I was fascinated at how music can tell a story when I was a kid. I loved writing my own songs and finding ways of sharing my story with other people. I learned a little later in life that music is even more fun and exciting when you're committed to creating your story with other people! That's what making music is all about for me.

Fun fact: When I was a kid I did a lot of competitive public speaking and placed 11th in a national competition!  

Bands/groups/projects: Four Corners (modern vocal jazz quartet), Juliet Varnedoe Quartet (early 20's swing music), Nich Mueller and Culture in Flames (contemporary singer-songwriter), Father Knows Best Session (weekly free jazz session in Bushwick, Brooklyn)

Find Out More Here: nichmueller.com  


Danita Pappas - Bands

Danita music teacher at Brooklyn Music Factory

Favorite Food: Cream cheese

Favorite Animal: Beluga whale

Main instrument: Voice & clarinet Other Instruments: A little piano, euphonium, recorder, tambourine 

Other hobbies: Photography! Exploring NYC! Broadway Musicals! Traveling! 

Favorite part of your job: I really love Jam Band! Seeing kids experiment with all the instruments and helping them feel like a rockstar no matter their ability level.  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I remember in elementary school, the high school band came and played for us. I was fascinated with how so many people came together to make something so beautiful. In 5th grade, I picked up the clarinet and I’ve never put it down. In college, I discovered a passion for teaching music to kids and there is something truly magical about watching a child discover their own love of music. 

Fun fact: It took me 15 years to get my Bachelors degrees and only 1 to get my Masters degree.  


Kaitlin Pelkey - Voice, Piano, Bands

kaitlin pelkey voice piano teacher

Favorite Food: I love pho :)  

Favorite Animal: Bumble Bee!

Main instrument: Voice Other Instruments: Guitar, piano, ukulele, bass  

Other hobbies: I love creative writing, drawing, yoga, swimming in natural bodies of water, travel, and reading fiction.

Favorite part of your job: I love witnessing how music education expands my students’ lives. Music brings them new friends, introduces them to the ideas and imaginations of the great musicians we study, and gives them a new language to express, invent, and understand themselves through!  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? Tell us in a paragraph about your discovery! Pursuing a life outside of the arts was a possibility that never even entered my mind. I come from a musical family — some of my first memories are of the legs of a piano bench from when I wasn’t even tall enough to reach the keys! After several educational experiences in the arts, I went on to attend Berklee College of Music for my Bachelors and later obtained licensure as a board-certified Music Therapist. Through my work and life experiences, it became more and more clear that music education and music composition was where I THRIVED — professionally, creatively, and emotionally!  

Fun fact: I’m vegan!  

Bands/groups/projects: Pinkie Promise  

Find Out More Here: https://pinkiepromisemusic.wixsite.com/pinkiepromise  


Sean Richey - Guitar

Favorite Food: Indian  

Favorite Animal: Lion

Main instrument: Guitar Other Instruments: Bass, Piano, Drums, Voice  

Other hobbies: Travel, read, cook  


Favorite part of your job: Helping students realize and achieve goals. I love being around the spark of creation in an atmosphere of learning!  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? Tell us in a paragraph about your discovery! I knew I wanted to be a musician when I started playing in junior high jazz band and church!  

Fun fact: I lived in Mumbai for 2 years, and directed a "Western Music Program" for students of all ages.  

Bands/groups/projects: Prismatic  

Find Out More Here: https://soundcloud.com/seanrichey  


Sergio Rivera - Guitar, Bass, Bands

Favorite Food: Pernil

Favorite Animal: Cat

Main instrument: Guitar Other Instruments: Bass & Piano

Other hobbies: I love reading and trying to make my own comic books.  

Favorite part of your job: My favorite part about teaching is sharing new music and techniques with students.  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? When I was 14 my sister came home with an acoustic guitar that only had 4 strings. I remember picking it up and thinking, "this is exactly what I've been missing in my life." I spent the entire summer working and saving up so I could buy my very own guitar with 6 strings. I haven't looked back. Music has been one of the most therapeutic and life changing aspects in my life.  

Fun fact: I'm a collector of vinyl and comics  

Bands/groups/projects: Bodega Dream  

Find Out More Here: bodegadream.bandcamp.com  


Davis Rowan - Drums 

Favorite Food: Mexican

Favorite Animal: Dog 

Main instrument: Drum set Other Instruments: Guitar, Piano  

Other hobbies: Running & rock climbing  

Favorite part of your job: I love seeing a drummers face light up when they learn something new.  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I found a drum set in my neighbors attic while we where playing with Legos. It was love at first sight and I've never looked back! 

Fun fact: I'm currently training for the Philadelphia marathon.  

Bands/groups/projects: Sunrides, various session work  

Find Out More Here: https://soundcloud.com/sunrides


Sapir Rosenblatt - Voice, Piano, Bands 

Favorite Food: Schnitzel

Favorite Animal: Lion 

Main instrument: Voice Other Instruments: Piano  

Other hobbies: Painting and eating!  

Favorite part of your job: Getting kids excited about music!

 When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I can't think of a time when I didn't want to be a musician. I remember being 7 years old and going through my parents' records collection, I found the "Hair" soundtrack and I got obsessed with it to the point that the next Purim my costume was a 70's hippie character. While singing with the soundtrack, I remember this feeling as if I shared a secret with the music.  

Fun fact: My dad is a vet, so I grew up with an animal clinic inside my house  

Bands/groups/projects: A new project is coming up!  



Christina Schwedler - Voice, Piano, Bands 

Favorite Food: Spaghetti

Favorite Animal: Pink Elephants

Main instrument: Voice Other Instruments: Piano

Other hobbies: Outside of being a musician I also practice aerial arts! I train regularly on aerial silks and the lyra. I like being upside down in the air.

Favorite part of your job: My favorite part about teaching at BMF is getting to explore each student’s creativity! Whether it’s through a song writing exercise or approach to their rendition of a gig song, helping facilitate their creativity is so exciting for me.  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I had really awesome music teachers within my schools growing up in Texas and they inspired me to want to be one as well! I started singing classically in college, which is where I found my passion for opera. Whether I’m teaching or performing, I am truly passionate in what I do and hope that I can share it with those around.  

Fun fact: I can play handbells! I once held a handbell workshop to teach my peers how to play when I was in high school because I thought everyone should know how much fun they can be.  

Bands/groups/projects: I am currently enrolled in my Masters program at the Music Conservatory at Brooklyn College where I perform regularly within their opera program.  


Kathryn Selman - Director of Marketing 

Kat Selman Director of Marketing

Favorite Food: TACOS!

Favorite Animal: Red panda. Also every dog.  

Main instrument: Voice Other Instruments: Piano, ukulele, bass & mandolin. 

Other hobbies: I love being outside in nature, whether at a park, or hiking deep in the woods, or enjoying the beach. I also love to read, cook, and do crafty creative stuff at home!  

Favorite part of your job: I love working with girls and young women, whether on piano or in voice. I love helping them find their own individual voice, and building their creative confidence through music and songwriting. 

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I remember my parents taking me to see Phantom of the Opera in 3rd grade, and from then on I was obsessed. My Mom got me the piano book and I learned how to sing and play ALL of the songs. From there, I became more and more involved in music – choir, piano lessons, band (clarinet), songwriting, coffee houses, and singing with friends. I eventually went on to complete my undergraduate and masters degree at the University of North Texas in Jazz Studies/Voice, with a year of study at a music conservatory in Barcelona, Spain between the two degrees. I love music as a creative outlet and way to tell stories, and how it connects humans together whether they are performing, listening, or supporting behind the scenes. 

Fun fact: I love Brazilian music, and I often sing in Portuguese.  

Bands/groups/projects: I write my own music, and just released my debut album - listen to it here on Spotify! 

Find Out More Here: www.katselmanmusic.com 


Stephen Selman - Director of Big Music Games

Stephen Selman Director of Big Music Games

Favorite Food: Indian

Favorite Animal: The Owl. Any owl. Main instrument: Guitar Other Instruments: Voice, Bass, Keys, Drums, Banjo  

Other hobbies: Astronomy! I go out with the NY amateur astronomers association and help them with their public viewings. You'll find them on the High Line or at Lincoln Center (I help with the viewings at Hunters Point Park). It's instant connection with people - no matter who they are or where they're coming from. It also feeds my love of the outdoors (camping, especially).

Favorite part of your job: Getting to connect not only with the entire BMF community, but getting to meet personally with teachers and students all over the country as Big Music Games grows.  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I had great piano lessons as a kid, and I played trumpet seriously for about 6 years (up until high school). One day my older brother Jonathan came home with an electric guitar. It had never even occurred to me to play, and I was hooked instantly. We shared that guitar and a year later my dad bought me one of my own on my birthday. That really took over EVERYTHING for a long time.

Fun fact: One day I am going to drink coffee in space.  

Bands/groups/projects: Not currently, but past projects include The Big Parade (lead vocals/guitar), and Dagger Shores (Acetone organ and a lot of pedals).  

Find Out More Here: https://thebigparade.bandcamp.com/ http://www.daggershores.com/  


Nate Shaw - Co-founder  

Favorite Food: BBQ

Favorite Animal: My puppy Lulu (a close second is Pearl's Guinea Pig: Oliver Tolliver)  

Main instrument: Piano (and other super funky keybaords like the Hammond B3)  

Other Instruments: Drums, dabble in Guitar, Uke, & Melodica  

Other hobbies: Cook from things I grow and harvest from my tiny urban garden. I also love to read and on occasion knit.  

Favorite part of your job: Absolutely it's building a sense of self in my students.  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I was playing piano in a blues band in Hong Kong (of all places).I was 21 yrs old & living abroad studying Chinese for 3 hours a day. Digging the food and the massive culture shock. It was a Sunday night gig that I did every week. I was just a wide eyed kid who saw everything as a possible. And then one song (a minor blues in E...I remember it perfectly) I played a chord on the piano and all of a sudden felt something shoot through my body that I'm not sure I had ever felt before. It was bliss. It was joy. It was totally real and physical and emotional. That one moment was when I realized that I needed to keep doing music for the rest of my life. My life has continued to be finding ways to feel that daily thorugh music.

Fun fact: I have been to Bali twice to play with a friend who lives there. I'm always willing to travel fro adventure.  

Bands/groups/projects: Gowanus Reggae And Ska Society & J Granelli's trio: Mr Lucky  

Find Out More Here: GowanusReggae.com  


Rick Smith -bands

Favorite Food: Spicy Chana Masala 

Favorite Animal: Dog 

Main instrument: Drums Other Instruments: Piano, Steel Drums, punk rock bass Other hobbies: My second passion in life is video games. Home consoles and arcades hold a special place in my heart, but these days its all about PC gaming. :-)

Favorite part of your job: I love being able to share my knowledge and experience, and to inspire people to reach their musical goals.

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? Playing music is simply something I have always done. Starting with piano lessons at age 5,and then drums age 12. I knew from a very young age this is what I had passion for, and this is what I was good at.  

Fun fact: I've been vegan for 9 years.  

Bands/groups/projects: Hello Brooklyn  

Find Out More Here: https://www.instagram.com/hellobkband/  


Kai M Sorensen - Systems Ninja  

Favorite Food: PIZZA

Favorite Animal: SEA TURTLE (did you need to ask me that!)  

Main instrument: Trumpet Other Instruments: Voice, Piano, Guitar, Percussion  

Other hobbies: I love cooking, being active, and relaxing with loved ones whenever possible. A great combination of these three things has lead to a healthy mind and spirit!  

Favorite part of your job: My favorite part about BMF is designing systems that help our faculty/staff be the best they can be as teachers and as human beings.

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I've always loved music and I come from a musical family so that part was easy. However, music really got ahold of me as a 6 year old when I discovered my Dad's best of the 70's disco records. I would spend hours with headphones on dancing by myself in my room (no joke, you can ask my mom - she walked in on me many times). This joy from music is what I yearn for and I try to evoke that every time I perform, write, or listen. You can't deny Earth Wind & Fire!

Fun fact: I'm from Nebraska and I LOVE corn.  

Bands/groups/projects: I currently tour and record with "Evolfo". A garage/soul rock band based out of Brooklyn and signed to Royal Potato Family Records. This is my main musical outlet and I truly enjoy every second I spend with these guys on the road, on the stage, in the studio or navigating the indy music scene. I also freelance as a trumpet artist and record on various projects frequently.

Find Out More Here: www.evolfo.com  


John Speck - Facilities Dude 

Favorite Food: Avocado

Favorite Animal: My daughter is a "monkey bird."  

Main instrument: Trombone Other Instruments: Tuba, production, a little guitar and piano  

Other hobbies: I love outdoor activities: hiking, swimming, riding bikes.

Favorite part of your job: I love being a part of an inclusive community that supports and fosters creativity in children and adults.  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I had a very passionate and intense Jazz Band Director in High School. We would practice every morning at 6:45 am and he would hold us to a very high standard. As a result, our Band was very well-respected in the community and even bested much larger schools at State-wide competitions. There was a moment when the great Sax and Flute musician Bud Shank came to "sit in" with our Jazz Band and stuck around to chat with us after class. I remember being inspired by his message and thinking that there couldn't be anything as fulfilling as being able to improvise effortlessly and make a career out of music.  

Fun fact: My last name means Bacon in German.  

Bands/groups/projects: Ola Fresca, NYC Ska Orchestra, The Heroes of Toolik, occasionally my own Jazz group: "Specktet"

Find Out More Here: www.johnspeckmusic.com  


Emily Strong - Voice, Piano, MiniKeys, Bands

Emily Strong MiniKeys at Brooklyn Music Factory

Favorite Food: Vegan Pizza! Favorite Animal: The sloth

Main instrument: Voice Other Instruments: Guitar

Other hobbies: I take improv classes at the UCB theatre and I write plays and musicals. I'm also finishing a Bachelors degree in theatre.  

Favorite part of your job: Seeing children really connecting with a lesson or piece of music. When they understand, their eyes light up! :) I love love love teaching our youngest musicians in MiniKeys!  

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? Ive always been very sensitive to music. I'm told that even as a child -- every time a slow song would came on, I would start to cry (sorry Mom!) :). I am a singer and songwriter, I express myself through music and it's always been a large part of my life. I am happy and at peace when I am creating or surrounded by music.

Fun fact: My previous band "The Distractions" were selected to be the opening act for comedian Bob Newhart at the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in 2015.  

Bands/groups/projects: Emily Strong Music  

Find Out More Here: EmilyStrongMusic.com


Rob Taylor - Guitar, Bass, Bands

Favorite Food: My favorite kind of food is the kind of food that makes me feel GREAT. For me, this usually involves a lot of the color GREEN. 

Favorite Animal: The Cheetah. It’s really fast.  

Main instrument: My main instrument is the Double Bass. Electric Bass comes in close as 2nd. Other Instruments: I also play the guitar. And I love to play the drums and piano too.  

Other hobbies: Travel, Hike, Swim, Run, Read, Play Hackey Sack.  

Favorite part of your job: Being an outlet for kids to find modes of expression and excursive discipline side by side. The relationship between a student and teacher within music is very special, as each individuals relationship to music can be. This can forge an impactful experience for both, as it surely did for me as a student, and already has as a teacher. I could say much more.

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? I’ve been in bands performing and recording albums since I was 12. It feels like it’s something that has always been a part of my life, and something that I’ve always identified with. In terms of making music my profession, well that moment occurred in an auditorium when I was offered a scholarship to Berklee. I realized that it was possible to make it a “Real Life” at that moment.

Fun fact:  

Bands/groups/projects: I’m involved in a number of groups as a freelance bassist. In recent times I’ve been working more consistently with some singer songwriters whose music lies between the idioms of Folk & Jazz, namely: Rob Flax, Benjamin Furman, and Allegra Krieger.

Find Out More Here: www.robtaylormusic.com


Jessica Tolliver - Director of Administration

Favorite Food: A lobster roll on a dock in Maine.  

Favorite Animal: Our family menagerie (a dog, a cat and a guinea pig)  

Main instrument: Beginning bass!

Other hobbies: I love to be outdoors--hiking and traveling to places with big skies and fresh air.  

Favorite part of your job: I try to make sure the whole BMF community has what they need to create awesome music together every day.

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music?: Nate and I were in a heavy metal cover band together in college. I played the drums!

Fun fact: A movie--"Trail of the Lonesome Pine" starring a young Henry Fonda--was made about a (real!) family feud in Kentucky, involving my Tolliver ancestors. Henry Fonda played a Tolliver!  

Bands/groups/projects: Annual family holiday video!



Jason Vance - Director of MiniKeys

Favorite Food: Peanut butter

Favorite Animal: Octopus

Main instrument: Banjo Other Instruments: Spoons, Harmonica, Drums, Bass, Guitar, Piano  

Other hobbies: Storytelling & Theater for Young Audiences  

Favorite part of your job: I love tapping the imagination of the very young and creating a playful environment to learn music together

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? Growing up we would visit my grandparents on the weekends in the mountains of West Virginia. My Pa-paw (grandpa) and uncles would all sit around the porch and play and my Ma-maw (grandma) and Dad would flatfoot. I learned to flatfoot early on and the music was always the highlight of our family gatherings. I tried early on with guitar & piano but always had sub-par teachers adhering to a particular book. As an adult, still trying to learn, it was hard to carve out enough time to give music the focus it required. Finally I discovered the spoons, which allowed me an instrument I was good enough to join jams with. Determined to be a musician, at 25 I moved to that mountaintop in West Virginia to learn music. That provided me with enough of a basis that when I moved to New York the following year (and had the good fortune of finding jazz musicians as roommates on craigslist) I was on a steady incline. My roommates showed me the practice required to be able to play and I started carrying my banjo with me all the time to play as much as possible.

Fun fact: I have a One-Man Band  

Bands/groups/projects: I perform with the Electric Doyenne, myk freedman & the myk freedmans, Society for Misfit Puppets, and Trusty Sidekick 

Find Out More Here: http://theelectricdoyenne.squarespace.com/  


Michelle Zilles - MiniKeys

Favorite Food: Sushi and Rice Krispie Treats Favorite Animal: Dogs! Big Dogs! I have a Great Pyrenees mix rescue. She's amazing.  

Main instrument: Voice Other Instruments: Dabble in piano, guitar, ukulele  

Other hobbies: Camping with my family, Tai Chi, Swimming in ocean, Crafting with my daughters or anything else involving a glue gun.  

Favorite part of your job: I cherish being a child's first music teacher. In Mini Keys, I love creating a playful, successful experience that will lay a foundation for their lifelong love of music.

When and why did you discover you wanted to be a musician, or work closely with music? Everyone was singing in house growing up. My Mom sang in MGM musicals and Broadway and my Dad sang Opera. I was a shy kid and as a teenager loved The Smiths as much as Stephen Sondheim. Music gave me confidence and a sense of belonging. Fast forward years later, I was performing with a theatre company in hospitals and shelters. It hit me how deeply music can reach any population with any ability. I studied my Master's in Music Therapy at NYU and worked in early intervention and with dementia patients. I love leading group singing and building community through song.  

Fun fact: I sang on The Grand Ole Opry stage but surprisingly not country music.  

Bands/groups/projects: Raising my daughters is a big project right now. Slowly working on a collection of lullabyes. These have been passed down and a few are original.  


We like it here :) 


Our team comes from all over the map from California to Nebraska, Florida to Texas, Germany & Sweden! We are not just a music school; we are a mission-driven company intent on growing a body of 100,000 students worldwide with the tools needed to connect with others and build something bigger than themselves through music. Playing & performing in bands. Writing & sharing songs. Jamming around the campfire or around the world. We grow musicians for life and are changing a generation of music-making families.

music teachers at brooklyn music factory

"Your teachers are relatable to both kids and parents, they know the kids by name and they make making music FUN! We love BMF!"

- Megan, a BMF Mom