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Our Staff

Meet our Teachers

Martina Caruso

Co-Director & Vocal Instructor

Martina Caruso is a classically trained musician and educator. She received her Undergraduate Degree in Opera Performance from Carnegie Mellon University in 2014 and earned her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Carlow University in 2020. For as long as she can remember, Martina’s two greatest passions in life were Music and Teaching. She spent the majority of her childhood singing in choirs, like the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and performing in various Musicals and Concerts, under the direction of her private vocal teacher, Claudia Benack, followed by Maria Spacagna at Carnegie Mellon. 

Martina’s professional career has included aspects from both her undergraduate and masters degrees. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, she spent several years singing as a freelance vocalist, specializing in weddings and events in the Pittsburgh Region. She also worked full-time in Development for various prestigious Opera Companies in the US, including The Glimmerglass Festival in Upstate New York and The Pittsburgh Opera. In-between music professions, Martina worked in Programming for another Pittsburgh-based Nonprofit, Beverly’s Birthdays. It was her time working with the children within this organization that brought her back to school, pursuing her second passion and a career in education. She now works as a K-5 Music Teacher for the Pittsburgh Public Schools and continues to sing throughout the community. She is excited to combine her passions and expertise now, opening the Children’s Music Academy of Greater Pittsburgh, in the exact area of Pittsburgh where she first fell in love with music and started her roots as a musician.

Michael Bernabe

Co-Director & Piano Instructor

Michael Bernabe is a wide-ranging musician and has performed in a variety of settings throughout his life. After learning to play piano with the Suzuki method at a young age, Michael attended the American Boychoir School at 12 years old and had a rare opportunity to perform at home and abroad in places like Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and with symphonies like the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, and Chicago Symphony. While with the Boychoir, Michael toured and performed throughout the US, to Canada, and even to Japan. It was this experience that laid the foundation for a future career in music.

With an undergraduate degree from Duquesne University, and a graduate degree from Rutgers University in jazz piano performance, Michael spent a number of years performing in the New York City and Philadelphia jazz scenes. Now back in Pittsburgh, he frequently performs in and out of town with Dwayne Dolphin, Hugo Cruz, James Johnson III, Reggie Watkins, Paul Thompson, Tony Campbell, Brian Edwards, George Heid III, Eric DeFade, and Mike Tomaro. He is active in many different music scenes in the city, including jazz, R&B, neo-soul, pop, and even salsa. Throughout his education and career, he has also had the opportunity to share the stage with a number of other all-time great musicians, including Jeff "Tain" Watts, Randy Brecker, Sean Jones, Eddie Palmieri, Buddy Williams, Poogie Bell, Renee Manning, Earl McIntyre, Roger Humphries, and Victor Lewis.

As an educator, Michael has held various positions in settings that involve children, teenagers, and young adults. Since relocating back to Pittsburgh, he has worked primarily with students with behavioral issues and those that are at an economic disadvantage in the Pittsburgh Public School district. That experience served as another example of Michael's desire to serve others. He also teaches piano privately throughout the Pittsburgh area, and he continues to maintain an active performance schedule. He looks forward to sharing everything he has learned with the future of Children’s Music Academy and M&M Music.

Daniel Mihelarakis

Guitar, Bass, and Ukulele Instructor

Daniel Mihelarakis is a composer, educator, and multi-instrumentalist from Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. He has been drawn to music from a young age, and grew up listening to his dad’s cassette tapes of Bob Dylan, James Taylor, and many more. When he was 12 years old, he started learning how to play the guitar by teaching himself some of his favorite classic rock songs by ear. Soon, this hobby turned into a passion, when he decided to attend Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School to learn more about music. It was here that he was first exposed to both jazz and classical music.

After graduating, Daniel attended Youngstown State University to pursue a degree in Music Composition and to further develop his musicianship. He graduated summa cum laude from Youngstown State in 2021, and has since moved back to Pittsburgh to continue his career as a professional musician.

Daniel plays many musical styles such as jazz, folk, rock, and R&B, and has played with a diverse group of ensembles, including jazz bands, musical theater pit orchestras, and even symphonies. Daniel is excited to share his experience and love of music with the students here at M&M music.

Andy Allen

Guitar Instructor

Andy Allen is a Pittsburgh native with a deep passion for music. He was born and raised in the South Hills and has been playing guitar for 27 years. He spent 18 years in Los Angeles, CA working as a professional actor before returning to the Steel City to raise his family. He has performed with his guitar on upwards of 75 stages between L.A. and Pittsburgh, has written over 100 songs, and has extensive experience recording music. It is a great joy for him to share his knowledge of guitar and his love of music with others.

Noah Skowron

Piano Instructor

Hello! My name is Noah Skowron. I studied at Wright State University where I earned my bachelor’s degree in music education with a concentration in vocal studies. I started singing in church when I was really young. I always enjoyed the hymns and being able to have that opportunity to discover how much I loved to sing. From there I moved on to singing in the chorus at West Allegheny from elementary school all the way up through high school where I was also able to join the show choir as well. I also participated in a number of high school musicals where I had the pleasure of playing some lead roles.

Growing up with music in my life led me to pursue it as an education. At Wright State University I sang in three different choirs and also played a part in two operas. All throughout my college career I studied voice under Dr. Kimberly Warrick and organized and performed my own Senior Recital. With my education, I am well trained to teach methods of the classical singer as well as the musical theatre singer. I am well endowed with singing techniques, performance techniques and vocal health methods that will benefit the aspiring singer. These things can really transform the sound of the voice and take a singer from excellent to superior.

With my education, I am well trained to teach methods of the classical singer as well as the musical theatre singer. I am well endowed with singing techniques, performance techniques and vocal health methods that will benefit the aspiring singer. These things can really transform the sound of the voice and take a singer from excellent to superior. My goal as a vocal teacher at M&M is to help the student discover their true sound. I believe that great singers are born through hard work and practice as opposed to merely being born a singer. Music has transformed my life and has gifted me so many fond memories, and friends. It brought me out of my shell and helped me find my true voice. I sincerely know it can do the same for my students.

Jon Runion

Brass Instructor

A native of Rochester, NY, Jon Runion is a trumpeter and organist in the Pittsburgh area. Jon received a bachelor’s degree in Trumpet Performance from the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University. While at Duquesne, he studied with Micah Wilkinson and Chad Winkler of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and participated in various large ensembles and chamber groups. As a freelance trumpeter, Jon regularly subs with the River City Brass and the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra.

Jon is also an accomplished organist and pianist. At Duquesne University, he studied organ with Dr. Ann Labounsky for nearly four years and performed regularly at Duquesne. Throughout his time at Duquesne, Jon served as an organist at Heinz Memorial Chapel, assisting with the PSALM Ministry for Lutheran students at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon.

Alongside his work at the student center, he regularly subbed in with several Catholic parishes throughout the Pittsburgh region, including Divine Grace Parish and Saint Ann Parish in Cranberry and Rostraver, respectively.

Most recently, Jon was appointed to the staff of Resurrection Parish in Bethel Park, serving as their Assistant Music Minister. In this role, he directs a children’s choir and bell choir, on top of weekly masses.

Joseph Seman

Woodwinds Instructor

Dunbar, Pennsylvania native Joseph Seman began playing music at a young age, settling on the saxophone at age nine, followed by clarinet and flute shortly thereafter. When his family moved to Colorado, he was able to study improvisation under Air Force Falconaires trumpeter and UNC Greeley jazz faculty member Mark Israel.

After receiving the Chancellor’s Scholarship to study Music Education at Duquesne University in 2016, Joseph relocated to Pittsburgh. While at Duquesne, he played with Duquesne’s Jazz Ensemble I and Wind Ensemble, studying both classical and jazz under James Houlik and Mike Tomaro respectively. Having graduated from Duquesne in 2020 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Music Education, Joseph completed a Master’s in Saxophone Performance from Carnegie Mellon University in 2023.

In Pittsburgh, Joseph has performed as a leader of his own groups as well as with musicians such as Roger Humphries, Thomas Wendt, James Johnson III, Paul Thompson, Jeff Grubbs, Mark Strickland, John Shannon, Cliff Barnes, Jeff Bush, Reggie Watkins, and many others. He has performed with organizations such as the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and MCG Jazz, and continues to be an active member of the music scene in Pittsburgh.

Brian Edwards

Drum Instructor

Brian E. Edwards was born in Pittsburgh, PA to musician parents. His love affair with the drums began at age three, and it was at that time his parents realized they had a prodigy on their hands. Brian came up in the strong Pittsburgh tradition of jazz, and decided to follow in the footsteps of great Pittsburgh drummers like Kenny Clark, Art Blakey, Joe Harris, and Roger Humphries. In his teens he attended the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts where he studied under Roger Humphries. It was also around this time that he started to expand his abilities by diving into Drum and Bugle Corps, Fusion and R&B.

Upon graduating high school, he attended Duquesne University where he studied with Don Liuzzi and Lenny Rodgers. While studying at Duquesne, Brian began quickly building a reputation for being quite a “player,” and was soon getting calls from Pittsburgh greats like Kenny Blake, David and Maureen Budway, Dwayne Dolphin, Jimmy Ponder, Eric Kloss, Dakota Staton, Modern Times, Don Aliquo Sr., and Tony Janflone Sr. After leaving Duquesne, Brian embarked on a touring and recording career that has taken him to Europe and Japan numerous times. He has played most major European venues including Wembley Arena and Royal Albert Hall in performances for the Royal family. He also has several American and European television appearances under his belt some of which include: MTV Europe, BET on Jazz, Live @ The Dome-Berlin, Live on Q, Halloween Live w/Jenny Jones..

Jason Washington Jr.

Drum Instructor

Jason is a Musician based out of Pittsburgh, PA. Beginning his musical journey at the age of 3, he was heavily influenced as a musician growing up in church.

He attended Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12 as an instrumental major, and then continued his music studies at Temple University. He was a member of the Temple University Diamond Marching band, Temple Jazz Band, as well as various other small ensembles. During this time he studied with Byron Landham, Dan Monaghan, and Rodney Green who were crucial to his growth as a musician.

Jason then discovered a passion for working with youth in education after accepting a position as a counselor with Urban Impact. Shortly after, he was given a chance to work at Center of Life as part of their jazz staff. It was during this time where he was able to develop his own approach that was centered around relationship building as well as each student's various needs. Today he is an active bandleader and freelance musician, playing with various musicians in the Pittsburgh area. He is extremely excited about having the opportunity join the M&M music family.

Courtney Moore

CMA and Private Lesson Instructor

Miss Courtney Moore is a public school music teacher currently in Wheeling, WV, residing in Washington, PA. She received her bachelor’s degree in K-Adult Music Education from West Virginia University in 2018. Since then, Courtney has taught grades 4-8 since she started teaching 5 years ago. She has taught orchestral strings, which includes violin, viola, cello, and bass. As of last year, Courtney started teaching middle school band and general music. This includes all woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments.

Miss Moore has dedicated her life to teaching young students about music and hopes to inspire a love and appreciation for the arts. In order to further spread the knowledge of the importance of the arts, she recently completed her master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Schools from Wheeling University in 2023.

Courtney hopes to build strong relationships with students and hopes to foster a love for music and performance. She is very excited to join the M&M team this fall and hopes to create even more meaningful musical memories with these students!

Tess Vanek

CMA & Strings Instructor

Tess Vanek is a music educator and multi-instrumentalist in the Pittsburgh area. Beginning with piano lessons at age 8, Tess showed an immediate enthusiasm and proclivity for instrumental performance, and soon learned to play the saxophone, the violin, and eventually the accordion, all of which she has played in a variety of professional settings.

Tess received her undergraduate degree in Music Education in 2021 from Duquesne University, where she was awarded for excellence in student teaching among her cohort. Her dedication to performance continued throughout her time at Duquesne, where she was named winner of the 2019 Robert and Carolyn Shankovich Wind Concerto Competition as well as the 2020 Women’s Advisory Board Competition.

Tess recently received her master’s degree in Saxophone Performance from Carnegie Mellon University, where her interests were focused toward independent research projects in ethnomusicology. At CMU, Tess was awarded the 2022 Gindroz Prize for Summer Study and Travel in Europe for her proposal to study music of diaspora in Paris. She is so excited to continue to share her knowledge, experience, and passion for music.

Martyna Janulioniene

Vocal Instructor

Martyna Janulioniene is a dedicated and enthusiastic voice and piano teacher with over 20 years of experience in music. I have a strong foundation in vocal performance, with an extensive background as a performer in various settings, including television shows, musical groups, and weddings. My experiences have equipped me with valuable insights that I eagerly want to share with my students. I am passionate about cultivating a love for music in both children and adults and fostering an environment of creative expression.

Jennie Van Mastrigt

Vocal Instructor

Jennie received her Masters in Voice Performance from Boston University. She served as a church soloist, musical theater performer, and soloist with the Boston Pops. While in New England, she directed a High School Choir that sang at Carnegie Hall and the 2000 Olympics in Australia.

Mrs. Van Mastrigt has been teaching private voice for 25years. She taught at Point Park and Trevecca Nazarene University. She served as music director at Forest Hills Presbyterian Church. She has directed numerous musicals including School of Rock, The Wiz, Descendants, Annie, and High School Musical.

Currently, she is a musical theater director, accompanist, musical director, group voice instructor, and private voice and piano instructor.

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