Our Teachers

Rachel

Rachel teaches Kindermusik classes, beginning piano, and all levels of cello.  She is the founder and director of The Harmony Garden.

Some of Miss Rachel’s earliest memories are musical.  Standing on her tippy-toes to reach the keys of her grandfather’s piano, attempting to blow into her mom’s clarinet when she was barely taller than the instrument, singing along to the radio and every Disney movie, walking around with an old cassette walkman and headphones permanently affixed, figuring out how to read notes before words, harmonizing before learning to ride a bike, and – at the age of four – asking her children’s choir director how to conduct.

Her childhood was a blur of magical musical experiences: choirs, piano lessons, guitar lessons, and musical theater.  But nothing quite hit the spark until she saw that dusty old child’s cello in the corner of her grandfather’s house and decided, “I’m going to play THAT!”

A student at John Jay High School here in Hopewell Jct, Rachel was often a section leader and soloist in the string orchestra and pit orchestras, while also performing with the Bard College Orchestra and the New Paltz College Community Orchestra.  Her heart set on becoming a string teacher and inspiring others as her teachers and mentors had inspired her, she earned a Bachelors in Music Education from Moravian College – where she fell equally in love with an instrument called the viol da gamba – and a Masters from Kent State University.  Later on, she discovered the immense joy that is early childhood education, and since earning her Kindermusik License in 2012 has helped hundreds of babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and their parents enjoy the benefits of early musical exposure.

After a brief time teaching elementary general music and chorus as well as high school orchestra in the public school setting, Rachel set out to fulfill a secret wish held since high school: to bring a music school to her hometown of Hopewell Jct.  What began as piano lessons held in her living room grew into The Harmony Garden of today.

As a teacher, Rachel strives for her students to not just grow as musicians, but to grow more into the unique, beautiful people they are through the vehicle of music.  She is eternally grateful for the opportunity to touch the lives of others with the joy of music and to be able to work with the amazing teachers on The Harmony Garden team.

When not at the studio, Rachel enjoys gardening, taking care of her rescue animals, reading, discovering new places, and some good old crime-solving tv.

Nicole

Nicole teaches all levels violin and cello, as well as beginning to intermediate piano.

Nicole began playing violin at age 8. At 15, she started cello and her career path began to unfold. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Music degree from Drake University.

Nicole has participated in prestigious masterclasses under the guidance of artists including Clive Greensmith from the Tokyo String Quartet and soloist Amit Peled. She has experience performing in Italy, New York, and states throughout the Midwest. Nicole is a recipient of a German cello from the Carlsen Cello Foundation and a first prize winner of the James and Katherine Andrews Young Artist competition.

Nicole fell in love with teaching after accepting her first student at age 15! She has been following her passion for music ever since through teaching and performing in NY as a member of the Hudson View Trio. Nicole believes that with the right guidance, music is attainable by anyone in any stage of their lives. Sharing music with others is a fulfilling experience that everyone should be involved in. She hopes to help guide each of her students to reach their own potential in a unique, fun and exciting way!

When she is not enjoying her musical endeavors, Nicole likes to hike, read, and play video games with her husband.

Miguel

Miguel teaches beginning piano and all levels of guitar and ukulele.

Miguel Yannuzzi is our “master of fretted strings” at The Harmony Garden. As dad of two of our piano students, he’s actually been part of our studio family for several years prior to joining us as a teacher, and we are thrilled to welcome him to our teaching team as well! A highly-accomplished musician, Miguel is truly devoted to each student’s growth. He brings a light-hearted, positive vibe to his teaching that makes hard work seem just fun.

Miguel has been studying, teaching, performing, and recording music in the Hudson Valley and New York City for 25 years. A multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter, he began as a guitar student of Martin Celay, a solo jazz guitarist and platinum record-winning engineer. In 2003, Miguel was chosen for an ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) singer songwriter showcase. He has taught guitar, piano, bass, ukulele, voice, harmonica, composition, and music theory to students of all ages and musical levels. Miguel brings a personalized approach to each student, developing methods that build a strong harmonic and rhythmic foundation for beginners, and enable experienced players to expand their knowledge and explore new and different styles of playing.

Brianna

Brianna teaches voice, clarinet, and beginning piano lessons

Brianna, a Carmel native, is a recent graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, where she earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree with a concentration in Voice. 

During her time at Westminster she was the music director of her professional fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota.  

Brianna also loves to perform; in addition to two opera productions in the New Jersey area, she has performed as a member of the Westminster Symphonic Choir with The Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.  She was a member of the Grammy-nominated recording choir, The Westminster Williamson Voices, with whom she recorded three CDs during her time in college.

Brianna believes that through music every child can find a unique way in which they can express themselves.  She loves watching her students grow and find their individual voices and love for music.

Chris

Chris teaches all levels of piano and specializes in jazz piano

Chris was an avid listener of music as a young child and began to replicate sounds he liked by the age of 7. At this age he began his classical training, but he continued to have a passion for demystifying the music that put him in awe. By 12 he was jamming with local hometown musicians and learning other instruments such as drums, guitar, and bass.

At 16, Chris branched out into education, teaching private lessons in the Putnam and Westchester area.  He began studying under the renowned performer and teacher Jon Swift, focusing on jazz, theory, and improvisation. Chris absorbed Swift’s modern, colorful, communicative piano techniques and shortly thereafter was accepted into the SUNY New Paltz Jazz Program. 

At SUNY New Paltz, Chris studied privately under local legends Vinnie Martucci and Larry Ham.  From both of these teachers Chris was trained in the bebop and modern jazz idiom. 

Chris utilizes his firm grasp on music theory to learn modern music through transcription, learning anything from Rock, Funk, R&B, Neo-Soul, to even Rap and Electronic music.

As a teacher, Chris hopes his students both become inspired by and feel confident in their ability to play the music they love to listen to.

Sam

Sam is the director of our children’s choirs, including “Seedling Singers”

Sam’s love for music sparked at a very young age. Growing up he was encouraged by his parents to pursue all musical avenues.  However, his favorites have always been piano, voice, and musical theatre. Before graduating from Roy C Ketcham High School in 2016, he was fortunate to attend and sing in the 2014 NYSSMA All State Conference in Rochester, NY and the 2015 NAfME National Conference in Nashville, TN. It was these two experiences that solidified his decision to pursue music professionally.

Since then, he has been studying Music Education at Ithaca College where he has fallen in love with teaching students of all ages. When he is not on campus, he interns for the Ithaca Community School of the Arts’ youth choir, Prelude. While interning for this group, he has found a passion for choral music and hopes to continue to work with young singers after graduation.

Sam is a firm believer that everyone is musical. From a young age, it is our innate instinct to clap to the steady beat, and express our emotions through the melody of a song. As a music teacher, Sam hopes to remind his students of this, as he nurtures their growth as a musician and person. It is Sam’s dream to spread the idea that music is a safe place for everyone to be their most authentic self.

In Sam’s spare time, he loves to exercise in any way he can. He is always eager to find a new hike to try. He also loves meeting new people, so if you see him around the studio be sure to introduce yourself!

Sarah

Sarah teaches flute lessons

Sarah grew up in Beacon and graduated from Marist College. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education and a minor in music. Her earliest memories of music include singing and dancing around her house and performing talent shows for her parents. 

Sarah began playing the flute at the age of eight. Her parents hoped it would improve her speech as she was delayed with speaking. She was also very shy as a little girl. By high school, her musical studies helped her confidence soar, and she participated in her high school pit orchestra as well as the NYSSMA solo festival. 

Sarah continued with music after high school and joined the Marist Band. She has played with the band program’s advanced ensemble, flute choir, and had the opportunity to march with the band in the Inaugural Parade in 2017. Sarah also joined Tau Beta Sigma, an honorary band sorority that serves the local community and band at Marist. She has traveled to local high schools to help increase band membership, taught music to girl scouts, hosted “instrument petting zoos” for children, and brought music to the elderly. 

In her free time, you can find Sarah reading a good book and exploring new places in the Hudson Valley with friends. She is eager to work with future flute students and share her passion! She wants all of her students to enjoy practicing and learn how music is the voice of every musician.