Piano Instructors


Simon Russell - Piano

Through the years Simon has developed a musical style that embraces the soulful traditions of the Bay Area with his Jazz/Blues/Gospel/Funk inspired vocals and piano Style. In 1983 Simon spent most of his time soaking up the sounds of the Oakland/Bay Area music scene, where he learned the great art of performance and musicality from a number of local musicians who were gracious enough to bring him under thier wings. One of the most influential musical figures in Simon's career was the multi-instrumentalist Rafael Grinage (bass player for Earl Fatha Hines and Odetta). He taught Simon that "no note should be wasted"! Make every note count or be silent! Those words have stayed with Simon all of his career. Later in his career through a recommendation of a friend Simon was introduced to the great Jim Grantham a Professor at Berkeley Boston and San Francisco State where he studied Jazz Theory. As a musician Simon has had the great honor of performing with The James Brown Band, El Debarge, Anika Noni Rose, Elvin Bishop, Pete Escovedo, Tom Politzer, Kenny Neal,  EC Scott, Alvon Johnson, Kim Waters, John Nemeth, Tommy Castro, David Grissom, Zakiya Hooker, Curtis Lawson, Beverly Stoval  and many that are truly remarkable musical phenoms yet to be discovered on a grand scale commercially.


Dana Salzman - Piano, voice

Pianist, singer, composer, producer and musical director Dana Salzman creates funky, flavorful tunes that re-imagine jazz, funk, hip-hop, soul, Latin and R&B music and illuminate her sultry voice, fine-tuned piano technique and talent for composition and arrangement. An enthusiastic collaborator and mistress of improvisation, she blends together fresh beats and lyrics into vivid arrangements that ignite all five senses and explore the intense dimensions of raw human emotion. Salzman began to study piano at age four with her mother (an internationally renowned classical piano teacher) and then went on to earn a degree from the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. Salzman has had the opportunity  to work closely with many celebrated musicians and songwriters during her career, including Mike Marshall (Timex Social Club), Samuelle Prater (Club Neaveau), Tony Flores (Marvin Gaye,. Bobby Womack), Pete Escovedo, Rappin 4Tay, Valerie Troutt, Tiffany Austin, and more. Now based in Oakland, CA, Salzman does all her own production, writing and arranging and is also an in-demand piano and voice teacher.

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Glenda Bates - Piano, English Horn, Oboe, Ukulele, voice, Little Notes)

Glenda is a multi-faceted musician and teacher whose specialties include chamber music, orchestral repertoire, jazz, historical performance, and contemporary classical. She plays modern and Baroque oboes, English horn, ukulele, and is a jazz vocalist. She is an active freelancer in Baroque, Classical, Contemporary, and Jazz ensembles, and frequently collaborates with contemporary composers to perform new works for oboe and English horn. She has performed with California Bach Society, New Opera New York, Festival Opera Oakland, Symphony Napa Valley, Eldad Tarmu, Ray Anderson, Jazz Mafia, Evanescence, and more. She also curates the cross-genre and multidisciplinary Crossing Over Series at Center for New Music, San Francisco. A well-rounded performer, Dr. Bates is also an enthusiastic and creative teacher.  Bates has been a Teaching Artist at Performing Arts Workshop for five years, designing and teaching preschool music curriculum in San Francisco. She is also a teacher with Music for Aardvarks, and is thrilled to begin teaching Baby Notes classes at Notes Academy. She also teaches oboe, piano, ukulele, and jazz voice lessons. She taught undergraduate oboists at the University of Maryland from 2008-2010, and has university classroom teaching experience in several areas of instruction including music appreciation, music after 1900, rock music, and jazz ensemble. Her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Oboe Performance is from Stony Brook University.


Helen orzel - Piano, Voilin

Helen Orzel grew up in a family of classical musicians and learned how to play many different instruments.  In college, she decided to focus on piano, but was convinced to continue to play violin and viola in different ensembles and orchestras.  After playing classical music in Germany and Serbia, she came back to the U.S. and  switched to jazz piano while still gigging as a classical string player.  She currently plays jazz piano, classical violin and viola in many bay area venues.

She has a Bachelor’s of performance and pedagogy from CSUN and a master’s degree from SJSU and has taught for 20 years.


Jabari Ali - piano

Composer, producer, songwriter, and musical director Jabari Alii creates cinematic soundscapes that blend the structure of classical and orchestral with the emotion of jazz and soul. Over the years Jabari has created a musical style that embraces his jazz roots, classical training, and love for cinematic music. As an Oakland native Jabari is following in the footsteps of his father who is a local jazz pianist and teacher. Growing up in a band family he began playing piano at the age of 5 and composed his first song by the age of 8. He studied Music Education at Howard University and has taught individual lessons and in the classroom for over 10 years. Jabari has traveled all across the country and the UK performing on stage and working in the studio. This experience allows him to take a unique approach with students providing insight into the music industry. His teaching philosophy focuses on a circular learning system that keeps students highly engaged and playing songs they love. His lessons provide the best of both worlds tapping into advanced jazz harmonies and complex classical techniques. Currently Jabari has returned home to Oakland where he works as a composer for TV and Film under his company Cinematic Score. He works with youth across the bay area teaching piano, orchestration, composition, songwriting, and music engineering.

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Joanne De mars - piano, cello, upright bass

Bay Area cellist, composer, and teacher Joanne De Mars holds her Master's Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Jennifer Culp. Since coming to California from her home in Seattle, she has been an active performer and teacher. Described as “beautiful and hypnotic… thrilling to watch and hear” (SF Music Weekly), Ms. De Mars is a member of contemporary ensemble Wild Rumpus, Merced Symphony, and Bella Rosa String Quartet. As a solo performer, she has collaborated with UC Berkeley Dance Department, St. Mary's Department of Theater, and Stanford's New Ensemble. Joanne's versatile playing lends itself to both classical and contemporary styles. She plays regularly in the Bay Area rock scene as a session player, having performed with Tony Toni Tone, Goapele, Persian master Shajarian, and many other notable bands.

With more than a decade of teaching experience, Joanne’s aim is to inspire students of all ages to experience joy in music. Her private cello, piano, and theory lessons focus on strong technical foundations of playing as a means to create expressive music. Her previous teachers include Raymond Davis, Toby Saks, and Jennifer Culp. Having earned degrees from the University of Washington in Music Theory and History, she incorporates this knowledge into all of her lessons.

Joanne currently lives in Oakland with her partner, dog and cat, and derives inspiration from daily runs in the lush trails of the Oakland hills.


Mae-Elisa Jean salvador - classical piano, classical voice, clarinet, flute, saxophone, trumpet, french horn, xylophone, vibraphone, marimba

Mae-Elisa Jean Salvador graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A degree in music. Her main focus was specifically music education. She was involved with her high school marching band and drum line for all four years of her high school career. After graduating from high school, she performed with the Santa Clara Vanguard Winter Percussion playing the marimba. In college, she began to study piano under Dr. Teri Yumae from Solano Community College then later, Dr. Roger Woodward at San Francisco State University. While attending SFSU, she participated in the University Chorus Ensemble and Chamber Singers Ensemble as a Soprano, while also participating in the Wind Ensemble playing concert percussion and clarinet.

Mae-Elisa has been working with children since she was a junior in high school, first starting off as a volunteer teaching music at Oakbrook Elementary School. She continued working as a front ensemble instructor with Crystal Middle School, then John Swett High School, and now Rodriguez High School. Mae-Elisa wishes to be as inspiring as her past music mentors and continue sharing her passion for music with students. She aspires every day to learn more so that she can teach more through her musical journey.


Scott siler - piano, drums

From a young age Scott has had a passion music. He started learning piano at age 6 and went on to learn drum set at age 12. This led to joining high school band at age 14 where he started playing percussion. In high school he realized music would be a life long pursuit. Since then Scott has gone on to receive a Bachelors of Music in percussion music performance for the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music as well as a Masters of Arts in music composition from Mills college in Oakland. Scott plays a wide variety of percussion instruments in many contexts including classical and chamber music, rock/heavy metal bands, jazz, funk and blues. Since moving to the bay area in 2011 Scott has played professionally in percussion ensembles including the William Winant percussion ensemble and the Light Bulb Ensemble. He has played in venues across the U.S. such as, the Freer gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., REDCAT (part of Disney Hall) in L.A., Roulette and Queens College in New York City. He has also played at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., with the Van Ahn Vanessa Vo Ensemble. He has also played at many local venues and universities around California such as Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Jewish Contemporary Art museum, the De Young museum, the Berkeley Art Museum, Stanford University, and University of Santa Cruz. He has recorded and performed in collaboration with legendary wind player Roscoe Mitchell of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. One of these recordings (Conversations) was on the New York Times classical music best of list in 2015. In addition to performance Scott is a composer. In 2012 he received the first commission given out from the local non profit music group Thingamajigs. This piece, for percussion and steel guitar, was premiered at Mills College. Scott’s approach to teaching is to teach musicianship skills and instrumental technique through getting to know the students and the music that excites them, letting each student grow at their own pace, in their own way. Scott can teach drum set, percussion, piano, music theory, composition and music production.