Our top-notch faculty are patient, experienced educators who are also professional musicians graduated from acclaimed music institutes such as The Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music, The Manhattan School of Music, and Berklee College of Music to name a few. Our instructors welcome learners of all ages and ability.
Carlos Bendfeldt - founder/executive director
Guitar, Bass, Arranger & Producer
Carlos has been teaching students of all levels, skills and ages for over 30 years. Some of them choosing careers paths in the performing arts. His approach in teaching is catered to each individual lesson, understands that everyone learns at a different pace. Patience and encouragement are embedded into every private lesson.
Guatemalan-American guitarist Carlos Bendfeldt, First Prize winner in the Artists International Youth Awards, received his master’s degree in performance from the Juilliard School of Music in 1997 where he was the student of Grammy winner Sharon Isbin, and his bachelor of music degree in 1994 from the Manhattan School of Music with Maestro Carlos Barbosa-Lima Nicholas Goluses, and Mark DelPriora. Mr. Bendfeldt gave his New York debut in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 1997 and since then his concert career includes a second appearance at Carnegie and major concerts through North and Central America, Hawaii and the Caribbean. Performances include the Williamsburg, Virginia Symphony, as well as with the members of the Johnson City, TN Symphony performing the World Premier of Appalachian Harmony. He has participated in various International and National music festivals which include the Aranjuez Guitar Series at Carnegie Recital Hall, New York, NY, the inauguration of the Francisco Marroquin University Music Festival Guatemala,Central America, Jim Callaway Honors Series Colorado Mountain College, All Star Guitar Festival Hawaii, The Breckenridge Music Festival CO, to name a few.
Brandon Seyferth - assistant director
Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Drums, Songwriting & Composition
An easy going and experienced instructor, Brandon tailors his lessons to the interests and goals of his students while stressing good technique and fundamentals, to assist them in growing as quickly as their practicing habits allow.
Brandon Seyferth has written songs, performed, and recorded with such notable names as Jackson Browne, Victor DeLorenzo (Violent Femmes), Eric McFadden (dubbed "modern day Jimmy Hendrix" by Guitar Player Magazine), Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins) and Geri X ("Best of Indie," Rolling Stone Magazine, Bulgaria). His work has appeared on large market radio including Chicago's WXRT.
He has also composed, performed, and recorded music for short films selected and nominated for award at film festivals including The Sanford Film Festival and the International Film Festival of Cinematic Arts, Los Angeles.
Paul teaches traditional note-reading. The recognition of intervallic relationships on the staff is crucial. Improvisation is key to developing the ear. Physical movement and simple dance are incorporated to help the student feel and internalize rhythm. Technical fluidity is achieved at all levels so that the student is free to focus their attention on listening. Ear-training and theory are introduced independent of repertoire and reinforced on it. Paul holds himself to the following standard: If the student is not “getting it,” it is the fault of the teacher, not the student. His goal is to create an independent musician. Parents are a big part of the equation. And the lessons are always fun!
Pianist Paul Blievernicht has been a music instructor for over twenty-five years. He considers it a privilege to pass along to his students the musical skills that expert teachers have taught him. Paul has taught in many music institutions across the Chicago area. He studied music education and voice at Millikin University and earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in piano performance from Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University. His teachers included Helen Greenhalgh, Judith Mancinelli, Dr. Ludmila Lazar, and Pawel Checinski.
Paul was a teaching artist at the Eloise W. Martin Center (ECHO) of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where he led music appreciation workshops for the association’s community outreach division from 1998 to 2000. A performer as well as a teacher, Paul was the accompanist for the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus from 2005 to 2008 and Allegrezza Singers from 2014 to 2015.
Paul has witnessed the power of music to open people’s hearts and he is committed to breaking down barriers of hatred and intolerance through music.
Voice coach & Musical Theater
Mrs. Rutherford uses a natural approach to enhance the singing abilities of her students, giving each a unique vocal technique that can be applied to most singing styles. Many of her students have continued their studies in notable colleges and universities around the country in genres of Jazz, Musical Theater, and Classical.
Kay Rutherford holds her MM from Roosevelt University in Voice Performance and Pedagogy, and BM from the Eastman School of Music. Mrs. Rutherford is currently appearing with the touring production of Jane Austen’s Persuasion with Chamber Opera Chicago. She has previously appeared as Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice: A Musical. A featured artist in COC’s Te Amo and The Menotti Tribute, she has also appeared in the company’s productions of Amahl and the Night Visitors, Hansel and Gretel, Vanessa, and Carmen. Having performed in recital on such stages as New York’s Alice Tully Hall and the Odilien Institut in Graz, Austria, Mrs. Rutherford sang the role of Jennie in the Midwest premiere of Ronald Perera’s The Yellow Wallpaper with the Chicago College of Performing Arts. She also performed as Jezibaba in the Opera for the Young touring production of Rusalka. Her artistry has been recognized in competition as the recipient of the Dorothy Darr Foundation Scholarship and a semi-finalist in the renowned Meistersinger Competition in Austria. Aside from music, Mrs. Rutherford recently began a career in Early Intervention Speech Therapy.
Saxpohone, Harmonica, Flute &Clarinet
Chicago-based tenor saxophonist Nate Lepine has been working and performing in numerous musical settings throughout a career spanning 20+ years, participating in several notable ensembles that make up the rich Chicago jazz landscape. Currently he is leading two new ensembles, The Nate Lepine Quartet and the Nate Lepine trio while currently a member of the Nick mozzarella Quintet, The Quin Kirchner Group as well as the critically –acclaimed prog-jazz ensemble, Herculaneum. Mr. Lepine had an early tenure during the 90’s in one of Chicago’s most revered bands, The NRG Ensemble. In addition he has recorded / performed/ toured internationally with several established acts such as Cursive, Iron and Wine, Smog, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Afghan Wings, 10,000 Maniacs, Pete Yorn, Bobby Bare Jr., Poi Dog Pondering, David Amram, Manishevitz, Sister Machine Gun and others. He is currently working on an album with his Quartet. Nate Lepine has a Bachelor of Music from DePaul University and has been teaching for over a decade.
Guitar, Bass, Piano
Matt Lundergan's teaching method is based on his time at Berklee College of Music in Boston and pulls from a variety of techniques from rock, classical and blues, adding in basic music theory as needed in facilitating memorization. Matt is a Suzuki certified music teacher whose method is also based on the Suzuki method. Shinichi Suzuki was one the most influential teachers of the 20th century and his method is based on natural language acquisition, often called the \'Mother tongue\' method, having students learn music the same way that they learned their main language. Matt ultimately encourages students to be able to play multiple songs and pieces, all from memory. He hopes to make students generally better students in everything, by encouraging them to be methodical, break things down and be better at memorizing.
Matt Lundergan is a Suzuki Music Method trained music teacher who teaches guitar, bass, piano, drums and voice. He got his B.A. at Berklee College of Music in Boston and has 30 years of teaching experience. While in Boston, he studied Piano and Song Writing with both Craig Najjar and Charley Banacus. Before that, he studied Voice for three years at University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, with Dodi Protero, faculty at Juilliard. He also studied Voice with William Warfield, who played the original "Old Man River" on Broadway. While in Boston, Matt played Hand-Bells with the Boston Pops, with John Williams conducting.
Daniel Baer has taught at the Eastman School of Music, the Eastman Community Music School, and Syracuse University. His students have won piano competitions, participated in local and statewide music programs, and earned admittance to college music programs. Dr. Baer lectured and worked as an accompanist at Syracuse University in 2017. In 2016, he was awarded the Teaching Assistant Prize in recognition of his work as a teacher for the Eastman School of Music. For his achievements in the study and performance of piano, the Eastman School of Music awarded Dr. Baer the 2017 Cobos Piano Prize.
Dr. Baer won first prize, the Marshall Prize, at the 2015 Grieg Festival Young Artist Competition held in Sarasota, Florida. He has since made his international debut, playing in the International Bergen Arts Festival and for the Grieg Society of Oslo. He has been a prizewinner in many other national and international piano competitions including the 2017 Iowa piano competition, the 2015 National Federation of Music Clubs Biennial Competition held in Fargo, North Dakota, and the MTNA young artist piano competition. In 2011, he participated in Juilliard’s ChamberFest program performing the Brahms G minor piano quartet in Paul Hall. He has also played solo and chamber music recitals in Avery Fischer Hall, Kilbourn Hall, Hatch Recital Hall, and Steinway Hall. Dr. Baer received his Master’s Degree in Piano Performance at Juilliard where he studied with Jerome Lowenthal and earned his Doctorate at the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Douglas Humpherys.
Jazz Guitar, Ukulele, Composition, IMPROVISATION
Tim Stine focuses on teaching what the student wants to learn, but manages to make it fun and still sneak in large amounts of content. The student gains skill, whether it is on guitar, bass, or ukulele, and has fun too! Tim is highly trained with two undergraduate degrees in music and a Masters degree in Guitar Performance but still remembers what its like to be a beginner on the guitar, and proceeds very slowly, making sure each piece of information is thoroughly understood before proceeding. He believes understanding is the key to enjoying music and will teach your child (or you!) in a way that emphasizes understanding but is still enjoyable and effective.
Tim Stine – Guitar, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music from Minnesota State University Moorhead, Masters of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Tim has studied guitar with Glenn Ginn and Jim Smith. After graduating with a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Arts degree, Tim joined the faculty of North Dakota State University, where he taught as an adjunct guitar instructor. Tim then went onto Cincinnati where he recently received his Masters of Music in Jazz Studies from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.
Tim has been very active performing and composing music in the Chicagos thriving jazz scene. Tim leads his own trio, the Tim Stine Trio, and performs with various other groups including a trio performing the music of piano great Herbie Nichols. The Tim Stine Trio recently recorded an EP. Tim has lead bands at many of the city’s finest creative music venues including Constellation, the Rachet Series at the Skylark, the Hungry Brain and as part of an on-going series for music curation service Uncanned Music.
An experienced teacher, Yuriy believes in developing a lifelong love of music in his students, even if they choose not to pursue it professionally. He believes that every child has the potential to express themselves musically, and it is a teacher's main challenge to find a way to identify and grow their talent.
Founding member of the Silhouette Strings, Yuriy Geyer received his degree in Violin Performance from Northwestern University. Making his solo debut at the age of 10 with the Florida Symphony Orchestra, Yuriy went on to receive numerous prestigious awards including first prizes at the Music Teachers National Association Violin competition, Bach Festival Society Violin competition, and a fellowship grant from the Aspen Music Festival. He served as a member of the Florida Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic, South Bend Symphony and Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and as the concertmaster of the Opera Moda Orchestra, Northwest Festival Orchestra, and Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra.
Guitar, Composer, Producer, Improvisation
Andreas Kapsalis began performing nationally with the Andreas Kapsalis Trio and recorded two discs featuring his compositions. While performing in LA, he was invited to apply for the Sundance Composers Labs. He was awarded the fellowship, an honor awarded to only six composers a year. This was his initiation into film composing. At the end of the Sundance Composers Lab, Andreas was invited by the directors to complete a score for their documentary film "Black Gold" among the documentaries selected for the January premier at the Sundance Film Festival. Founder of the Sundance Institute and Festival, Robert Redford, noted this was the first time in Sundance Institute history that documentary fellows and a composer fellow had an "official selection" at the Sundance Film Festival. Subsequently, he composed scores for several documentary and feature films such as "Pig Business" and "Mulberry Street" to name a few. He also has been commissioned by Northwestern University and Notre Dame to compose music for their silent film festivals as well.
Following this, Andreas performed and recorded several discs with the Megitza Quartet and the AKGI Duo. More recently, he has been performing internationally, solo and in various ensembles for festivals and concert series in Europe and Asia, such as Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the Calcutta Guitar Festival in India, Austria Jazz festival and the Guitar Festival in the Phillipines. In addition, concerts have taken place in Germany, Poland, Slovakia, spain, france and Canada. Throughout his career he has also enjoyed teaching guitar for many years, first at the Kapsalis Music Shoppe then Elgin Community College, Old Town School of Folk music, and Northwestern University Mini Courses. Being very much a self taught musician with a relatively unique playing technique and musical perspective, together with the variety of cultural experiences in the world of music, and as a traveler, Andreas continues to be inspired and eager to share the beauty of music and how it can enrich one's life. Among his many projects, Andreas is composing and arranging pieces for a solo album.
For those fortunate enough to have a voice, an ability to hear, and an ability to produce vocal inflections learning to sing requires a desire to build a connection between these three capabilities. In classical terms I use the Bel Canto approach singing. This technique views the voice as a natural phenomenon, one that requires muscle memory in various parts of the body in order to allow the freest, most unencumbered sound possible. Each voice sounding unique and true is the desired outcome. Repertoire serves as one vehicle for learning to sing. Each singer generally brings their own ideas for songs to sing. I am happy to work on music from any style or genre. Though I have much more experience in Classical, Musical Theater, and Jewish Music.
A graduate of Hebrew Union College, cantor David Goldstein began serving North Shore Congregation Israel in 2006. In addition to a Master of Sacred Music Degree from HUC-JIR-SSM, he holds three Master Degrees in Drama and Communications and Fine Arts (Voice) from the University of New Orleans and Tulane University. He also received his Honorary Doctorate from HUC-JIR-DFSSM.
Cantor Goldstein has entertained audiences throughout United States, Canada and Israel. He has performed as solo artist with the New Orleans Opera Guild, Gulf Coast Opera, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Greater Buffalo Opera among others. Critics have said of him that: his singing is “wonderfully communicative;” he “sings with great care;” his “singing is refreshingly lyrical,” and he was “mesmerizing.” He has been the soloist in numerous works including Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, the baritone (cantor) in Bloch’s Sacred Service, and Bernstein’s Arias and Barcaroles. He has been a featured performer at Merkin Hall and Town Hall in New York City and in numerous prestigious concert venues in the United States, Canada and Israel. As well, his performances and recordings have been broadcast on NPR, its local affiliates and WFMT.
Nikola Dokic is a Chicago based musician, music producer and a sound engineer. After graduating from Columbia College Chicago in 2008 with degrees in both Instrumental Performance and Audio Engineering, he started his own music production company (HiZ Productions) where he wrote, produced and engineered original music for film and TV ads and commercials, and also worked with independent artists and bands. For the past three years, Nikola works as an audio engineer for Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins. He is also a guitarist in a Chicago band called Ode.