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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 traveled throughout the US, to Canada, and even to Japan. It was this experience that laid the foundation for a future career in music.

Michael continued his musical journey at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA and studied under Ron Bickel, Mike Tomaro and Sean Jones. After staying in Pittsburgh to finish his first Masters degree, Michael returned home to New Jersey to attend Rutgers University, studying with Bill O'Connell, Eddie Palmieri, and Fred Hersch, and earned his second Masters in Music Performance. After finishing school and spending a number of years between the New York City and Philadelphia music scenes, Michael has now relocated back to Pittsburgh and currently performs regularly with bassist Dwayne Dolphin, Cuban percussionist Hugo Cruz, drummer James Johnson III, and saxophonist Tony Campbell. 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 had the opportunity to share the stage with a number of all-time great musicians, including Jeff "Tain" Watts, Randy Brecker, Eddie Palmieri, Buddy Williams, Poogie Bell, Renee Manning, Earl McIntyre, Roger Humphries, and Victor Lewis.

As an educator, Michael has held various positions in situations 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. It was in this position where Michael discovered a passion for helping those who are underprivileged. 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.

Remy Vega

Piano Instructor

Jeremy, known by most as Remy, was born in Southern California. During his lifetime, he was introduced to music through his grandmother, who was a church pianist and organist, and his older brother, who is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist. Remy played trumpet and drums throughout middle and high school, eventually focusing primarily on music production until he dedicated his pursuit to piano and music theory.

During his time in Pittsburgh he has studied with Rick Gallagher and Ron Bickel, local pianists and educators, as well as a Kiefer Shackelford and Nicholas Semrad, who mentored Remy shortly between 2016 and 2019.

With 3 years of teaching, Remy has a deep passion for sharing the creative and healing powers of individual creativity through music. He teaches by incorporating a balanced approach of theoretical knowledge and freedom in creativity, tailoring each lesson to each student’s needs. He is excited to be part of the CMA/M&M Music team to share with all of the students who walk through the door.

Addison Winterhalter

Brass Instructor

Addison Winterhalter is an active professional in the Greater Pittsburgh Area, both in business and music. Winterhalter earned two Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degrees, summa cum laude, from Slippery Rock University in 2020, along with minors in Human Resource Management and Music Performance (where he focused on jazz trumpet). During his time in school, Winterhalter participated in SRU’s top jazz groups, sitting in the Solo Trumpet chair.

Over the course of his musical career, Winterhalter has had a wide range of performance experiences. As a student and freelance musician, he has performed with internationally-acclaimed guest artists (such as John Clayton, John Fedchock, Michael Davis, Greg Tardy, Steve Lippia, Chuck Bergeron, and Benny Benack III, among others), recorded original music for jazz ensemble, and continues to be an active member of the Pittsburgh music scene, playing with various groups across different idioms and styles. You may hear him with his small jazz group, Milestones, or playing with local ensembles like the Balcony Big Band!

Jeff Fabis

Woodwinds Instructor

Jeff Fabis is a Pittsburgh based saxophone player, and hails from Cleveland, Ohio.

He attended Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio where he studied classical saxophone with Greg Banaszak, and received his B.A. in saxophone performance in 2017. Jeff continued his education at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he focused on jazz saxophone, music composition, and arranging with Mike Tomaro. He received his M.M. in saxophone with an emphasis in jazz in 2019.

In addition to jazz music, Jeff has experience playing in many different settings including: classical, chamber, funk, rock, free improvisation and more. He also has experience performing professionally on the clarinet, flute, and EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument). Now he works as a freelance musician in the greater Pittsburgh region. This work includes leading his own quartet, woodwind doubling in musicals, private teaching, professional studio work, and playing in various function bands for a variety of events.  

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.

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