our team

biographies

Nicole

Payne

Nicole Payne has been passionate about music her entire life. She studied piano and voice since the age of five, and has been playing professionally since she was fourteen. She achieved her B.A. in Classical Piano Performance, with a minor in Piano Pedagogy, from Elon University in 2015. She continued her education at Florida International University, where she obtained her M.M. in Jazz Piano Performance in 2017. 

An award-winning concert pianist, Nicole has performed recitals, accompanied orchestras, chorales, and instrumentalists. She has attended and presented her musical research at several conferences including the North Carolina Music Teacher Association Conference and the National Undergraduate Research Conference. She is currently an active performer in classical, jazz, latin styles, and has performed throughout South Florida, North Carolina, and abroad including Italy. 

 

Nicole's extensive teaching career has led her to develop her own unique teaching style, and facilitated her success with students of all ages and backgrounds. She believes that through patience, passion, and a love for teaching, she can help children achieve their limitless creative potential 

Makayla Forgione

Makayla Forgione is a South Florida native that has been involved in music from a young age. She attended BAK Middle School of the Arts and A.W. Dreyfoos High School of the Arts in

Palm Beach County, in which she studied classical voice and has performed with choirs in prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Llangollen International

Eistenfod in Wales, UK. Along with her classical studies, she has performed in various pop and jazz ensembles in which she found her passion for jazz music.

 

Aside from singing, she also

enjoys playing piano and writing her own music. Makayla is now attending her second year at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami where she studies jazz voice and hopes to

become a performer of the genre.

Makayla has been teaching for several years now, and loves sharing her talents and passion for music with her students. 

JIARUI "SHERRY" YAO

Soprano from Guizhou, China. She studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China. Following this, she earned her master’s degree at the Longy School of Music of Bard College in Boston Massachusetts, and is currently pursuing a DMA degree in vocal performance from the University of Miami. She has sung with Harvard University’s “Haccapella”, and Voices 21c, a group she performed with around Massachusetts, Isreal, Palestine, and Mexico. She has held roles in various operas including Der Zwerg, The Finishing School, Orfeo ed Euridice, and others. She is currently teaching piano and voice as well as singing at various venues in Miami Florida. Her primary focus is singing classical, contemporary classical, jazz and pop music, as well as teaching this her students.

Senegal Apostolo

Senegal Apostolo has been fueled by the power of music his whole life. A graduate of Florida International University, he holds a B.M. in Jazz Performance and has experience playing Latin, Funk, Reggae, Pop, Neo-Soul and various other genres. Senegal is an established player on the South Florida live music scene, playing frequently throughout venues in Miami-dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. His musical abilities have led him to play with many notable artists such as Steven Scott and Josh Evans. He has travelled the country playing in locations such as New York and California, and in 2014 he performed as a headliner in the Suriname Jazz Festival in South America.

Senegal has been teaching private lessons for nine years and currently is involved with the Gold Coast Jazz Society, a federally funded project that provides educational jazz presentations for elementary schools throughout Broward County. He loves to share his passion for music with his students and believes that music is a fun and healthy way to find yourself and know your heart.

Jose

Romero

Jose Romero has loved expressing himself through music his whole life. Originally from Venezuela, he began playing at a young age and has nearly fifteen years experience playing multiple instruments as well as his primary instrument, trumpet.

 

Currently pursuing his degree in jazz performance at Miami Dade College, Jose has a notable and extensive performing career. He played at the special event Jazz Under the Stars at Miami Dade for two years, as an opening act for the many notable artists brought to the event. His playing experiences have led him to working with prominent musicians such as Ed Calle, Ira Sullivan, Arturo O' Farrell, Dave Liebman, Mark Marcinko, and many others. He has performed throughout Florida, New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, New Jersey and abroad in places such as Paris, France, Canada, Guadalupe, Martinique, British Virgin Islands, Haiti, and Venezuela. 

An inspired teacher, Jose has many years of experience teaching a wide range of instruments. His mastery of multiple styles allows him to teach everything from classical to jazz to commercial music. He believes that through patience and creativity, music can allow children to flourish in their expressive capabilities.

JACK

SCHUNK

Downbeat Award-winner Jack Schunk is a drummer, pianist, educator, composer, and bandleader.  In addition to his own group, the Jack Schunk Trio, he has performed with Grammy-winning musicians Eric Marienthal, Ed Calle, Dave Weckl, and Randy Brecker.  Schunk has performed at the Peaks Jazz Festival, the Umbria Jazz Festival, and the Sundance Film Festival.  He is a 2013 YoungArts Merit Winner in Jazz, and performed at the Kennedy Center with fellow YoungArts alumni in 2015.  At the University of Miami, Schunk studied jazz drum set performance, classical composition, and music production.  He was a Weeks Scholar, a Foote Fellow, and a Who’s Who Among American College Students Award recipient.  He graduated cum laude in 2017 with a BA in music. 

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