SSPA Founder & Instructor | Private Instruction in Advanced Piano & Voice
Alex along with his late wife Martha, co-founded the Spindrift School of Performing Arts back in 1994. Alex’s training and experience include a B.A. degree in Piano Performance and a M.A. in Musicology from the University of California. His education includes many years of study with European master teacher, Dusi Mura. Alex is committed to sharing his experience and knowledge with young people. He is also active as a pianist and music director throughout the Bay Area and is currently the Associate Music Director at First Presbyterian Church of Burlingame. He also leads a jazz quartet called Nucleus.
“The arts are a metaphor for life, and as such, play a vital role in a young person’s balanced and well-rounded development. They can do the same for adults, regardless of their age! Music, especially, touches the emotions in a way that few other mediums can. Studying and playing music can be an avenue for all manner of growth, healing, breakthrough, and success. My goal is for my students to express themselves in a way that draws forth who they really are.”
Leadership and Administration
Artistic Director, Director of Dance & Principal Teaching Artist | All levels Ballet, Pointe, Modern, and Jazz dance
Brianna began teaching at SSPA in the Fall of 2006. She holds a BA in Dance from CSULB & an MA in English Literature from San Francisco State. She is also a long-time member of RequisiteDance and has studied under dance greats Joe Goode, Bliss Kohlmeyer, Douglas Neilsen, Keith Johnson, Lauren Johnson, Alaine Haubert, Allison Deane and Barbara Crockett.
Keira has been with Spindrift since 1999, as a parent volunteer and as staff for the past 20 years. Both her children attended SSPA classes and summer camps and she takes great delight in seeing how the arts shape young humans and is well acquainted with the gifts the arts bring to children and the lasting effects into adulthood. She entered the Pacifica community in 1996 and folded into the Cabrillo community and then transitioned into Spindrift. She loves how Spindrift gathers all the children from Pacifica and forms community that way. Through classes and performing and camps, seeing the bonds children form with each other is special. She is extremely proud of the quality of artists Spindrift has achieved and maintained over the years to train and inspire children and is in constant awe of their abilities as teachers and artists. Next on her list of admiration are all the terrific parents and grandparents and children that are part of the Spindrift family. It remains a privilege and an honor to live and work in such a special community.
Gary Craig Schoenfeld Jr.
Director of Theatre & Principal Teaching Artist | All levels of Acting, Improv, and Musical Theatre
Gary joins the Spindrift Team with a long list of performance & directorial credits Gary has been a teacher with SSPA since early 2016 and teaches all levels of Musical Theatre, directs Play Production classes and teaches in-school drama at Cabrillo. He is also part of an outreach team dedicating to bringing quality theatre opportunities to schools all around the Bay Area. He has always hoped he would have a job like this. He is ready and eager to help inspire the next generation of great artists.
Director of Outreach and Curriculum, Principal Teaching Artist & Social Media Coordinator | Beginning Musical Theatre, Acting, and Jazz, Beginning Ballet, Tap, and Hip-Hop
Lizzie began teaching at Spindrift School of Performing Arts in the Fall of 2016. She holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Dance Studies and a Minor in Theatre Performance from Humboldt State University, where she was also recognized as “Outstanding Senior” by the faculty and staff of the Department of Theatre, Film, and Dance. Before her time at Spindrift School, Lizzie taught Salsa, Swing, and Ballroom at Arthur Murray. She teaches Creative Movement, beginning level Tap and Ballet, and all levels of Musical Theatre, Jazz, and Hip-Hop. In addition, Lizzie also teaches Kindergarten-8th Grade Drama at Cabrillo School.
Lizzie is also happily involved in theatre outside of Spindrift School. She’s currently the Artistic Chair at Pacifica Spindrift Players and enjoys performing, choreographing, and directing as much as she can throughout the Bay Area.
Guest Teaching Artist
Alexandra divides her time between opera, choral, and voice and piano instruction. In addition to extensive opera performance in the Bay Area, she has soloed with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, where she is an AGMA member, and is a member of San Francisco’s newest all-professional chamber choir, Cappella SF. Alexandra is an active recitalist and is dedicated to broadcasting the music of women composers and the Spanish speaking community. Alexandra completed her Bachelor of Music at the University of Miami, and her Masters of Music at San Francisco State University. She has the joy of studying privately with the world-renowned mezzo, Susanne Mentzer, and coaching with William Vendice. Alexandra teaches voice privately and is a lecturer at San Francisco State University. She has two opera loving, very supportive cats.
Guest Teaching Artist | Music and Vocal Performance
Walter is a performer, educator, and composer. He holds a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in music education and piano performance from San Francisco State University, where he also received his teaching credential. Walter teaches K-12 in the San Francisco Unified School District, as well as private piano and theory/musicianship skills. He accompanies singers and ensembles regularly throughout the bay area. His compositions have been featured by ensembles in the bay area and beyond.
Music Instructor | Beginning Piano, All levels of Voice (Virtual Only)
Soprano, Sarah Benzinger holds a CA Secondary credential to teach Music and Mathematics and loves joining her students on their unique journeys of musical discovery on the piano and in voice. She currently co-teaches classroom music at Casa di Mir Montessori school in Campbell and has maintained a full studio in voice and piano at Santa Teresa Academy of Music and Dance for the past three years. She has taught and performed in the US and abroad, working with students through Opera Tijuana in Mexico, Opera Nova in Costa Rica, and with students at Lake County high school in Leadville Colorado. Previously she sang with the Oregon Bach Collegium, Lyric Opera of San Jose, Cascadia Concert Opera, Humboldt Light Opera, Portland Summer Opera Workshop, Vivace Vancouver, Chamber Music Silicon Valley, Redwood Symphony and at the Astoria Music Festival.
Voice Instructor | All levels (Virtual Only)
Elana is a professional singer, teacher, music director and choral conductor currently residing in San Francisco, Ca. Ms. Cowen has a Post-Graduate Certificate and Master’s of Music in Vocal Performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music as well as a Bachelor’s of Music from Chapman University with a minor in Germanic Studies. Ms. Cowen teaches voice and has musically directed all over the Bay Area, with companies including Starbound Theatre and Missouri Street Theatre to name a few. Currently, Ms. Cowen is conducting with the San Francisco Youth Chorus as well as being a soloist at the Episcopal Church of St. Matthew’s in San Mateo. Ms. Cowen is also an active performer, performing with companies all over the Bay Area including Pocket Opera, Lamplighters Music Theatre, West Bay Opera and recently debuting at Phénix Opera.
Osvaldo de Leon
Director of Spindrift Performance Choir
A native of Mexico, Osvaldo earned his BA in Piano Performance at Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de Monterrey in México and was the recipient of the Mexican National Fund for Culture and Arts grant to complete his MA in Piano Performance and Chamber Music at San Francisco State University. Osvaldo has performed with the Russian Chamber Orchestra in Marin California, the SFSU Orchestra, and the Orquesta Juvenil de Nuevo Leon. He conducted the production of The Marriage of Figaro with Berkeley Chamber Opera. He has also studied composition under the guidance of Jorge Torres and Georgina Derbez.
Kaori Nakano DeNoia
Music Instructor | Beg & Int Piano (virtual)
Kaori graduated from Japan’s prestigious music school, Kyoto Horikawa Music High School, where she studied vocal performance. She earned her BA from Kobe College and graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with an MA in vocal performance, having studied with Herman Leroux and received a first place prize in the American Art Song Competition. She received preschool and teaching credentials from San Francisco State University, studied pipe organ with Wyatt Insko, and has Kodály training from Holy Names University. Kaori is passionate about teaching and has served as a choir director, pianist and organist for many organizations. These include the San Francisco Girls Chorus (20 years), A.P. Giannini Middle School choir, Christ United Presbyterian Church, and her very own children’s choir Kirakiraboshi Children’s Choir in Japantown. She currently teaches over 1,000 K-5th grade students in the Millbrae School District. When she is not teaching, Kaori enjoys spending time with her family and practicing karate. She is very excited to be a part of the Ragazzi family and to continue sharing the love of teaching music to talented young musicians.
Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Banjo, and Piano Instructor | All levels (Virtual only)
Luke has played guitar for 20 years and has been teaching music for 6 years. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from UC Berkeley and a Master’s degree in Philosophy from San Francisco State University. He has studied music theory extensively, both within the university and independently. The primary styles of music that he focuses on are gypsy jazz, early blues, classical, rock, and Irish music. Luke has also spent years playing slide guitar and working with a variety of open tunings. He teaches both acoustic and electric guitar. In addition to guitar, Luke also plays and teaches Ukulele, Banjo, and Piano. Luke lives in San Francisco and presently plays in several groups around the Bay Area. He also composes music and has worked with local filmmakers to produce original scores for a variety of projects.
Guitar | All Levels In-Person (Vaccinated students only)
Distinguished as a performer and teacher Larry Ferrara has the distinction of being the first guitarist to receive a master’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His teachers have included Julian Bream in master classes, and George Sakellariou in studio lessons. A committed educator himself, Mr. Ferrara has taught for many years at the collegiate level at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and full time at City College of San Francisco. In addition to currently teaching at the Spindrift School of Performing Arts, Mr. Ferrara also teaches in the Pre-College, and Continuing Education divisions at the San Francisco Conservatory, and also teaches guitar and guitar ensemble at San Francisco State University.
As a performer Mr. Ferrara has played major recitals in San Francisco, Toronto, Barcelona, Los Angeles and at the Carnegie Recital Hall in New York. He has served on the Music Advisory Panel to the National Endowment of the Arts and is the author and performer of a best selling sequence of music books titled, The Student Repertoire Series for Guitar Vol. 1 and 2 , with accompanying CD’s, published by Guitar Solo of San Francisco. Mr. Ferrara has a solo CD of American Guitar Works on the VGo label and a CD on the GSP label of the Pacific Guitar Ensemble where he plays along with David Tanenbaum and Peppino D’Agostino. In addition, Mr. Ferrara won the top humanities prize in the California Virtual Campus (CVC) competition for, “Best Online Teaching Website,” based on his course in music appreciation.
Course description of guitar study with Larry Ferrara
The study of guitar includes technique and the musical understanding in the language of the guitar. The many musical styles that include folk, blues, classical, jazz, or any type of popular music will be learned. All students will learn basic guitar technique, how to play chords, songs, pieces, solos, and accompaniments. Students will learn how to read guitar music using standard notation, tablature, chord charts, or other modern methods of learning to play.
Each lesson will include work with scales, arpeggios, chords, songs, pieces, and exercises that will introduce or provide further study into the world of guitar playing. A review of the previously learned material, and assignments of new techniques, and music will be part of the learning experience. Choices of music for each lesson will be based on both the students and teachers decision as a progressive selection of pieces and songs will move from easy to challenging as the student will develop their skills while mastering both current and previous work.
In the course of study the student will learn; guitar technique, musicianship, chords, note reading, tablature, scales, melodic patterns, improvisation, songs and pieces that put all of these elements together. Many styles of music will be studied to make the guitarist a well-rounded musician. The objective of the guitar lesson is to make the player an accomplished guitarist.
Violin Instructor | All Levels (In-person)
Chikin has been playing violin for over 20 years and is currently pursuing her B.A. in violin performance at San Francisco State University. She is studying chamber music with the Alexander string quartet as well as violin with Fred Lifsitz. She has performed with the SFSU orchestra, the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony and several bands in the Bay Area. Chikin has worked with young children in numerous capacities for many years beginning at a young age. She is patient and excited about making music fun!
Piano Instructor | All levels (Virtual)
Tatyana Loskutova was born into a family of professional musicians. At the age of 16, she was the winner of the region festival program “New Names”. In 1994, she graduated with honors from Rachmaninov College of Music and went to obtain her degree from St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music.Ms. Loskutova is an active chamber musician in music recitals in the USA, Russia and Holland. She is a member of the Music Teacher Association of California and teaches chamber ensembles in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Ms. Loskutova also studied Arts Management at the St. Petersburg State Theatre Academy. Over a period of many years, she served as an arts administrator at the Vaganova Ballet Academy, Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg State Conservatory, and State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg where she initiated and managed several cultural projects.
Music Instructor | All Levels of Piano (Virtual)
Peter Meredith is a pianist, choir conductor, singer, and music educator who enjoys helping people of all ages experience the joy of making music. He is currently finishing his Master’s of Music Education at Holy Names University, where he studies vocal pedagogy and the Kodály method. He works as a director and accompanist for Ragazzi Boys Chorus in Redwood City, and a teaching artist for the SF Arts Education Project. He is the music director at College Heights Church in San Mateo, First Congregational Church of Redwood City, and Mission Bay Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. He also performs regularly as a jazz and salsa musician, leading the Golden Gate Jazz Trio and playing with several Bay Area salsa bands.
Cello Instructor | All levels | Piano | Beginning through Int/Adv. (In-person Cello, vaccinated students only- piano is virtual)
Ami is a prominent member of the Bay Area music scene, playing with numerous ensembles and bands including The Holloway String Quartet, Mission Baroque, All My Pretty Ones, as well as playing in numerous orchestras and pit orchestras. She studied chamber music under coaches including the Alexander String Quartet, Martina Trumpp, and Yuval Yaron; cello under Carol Rice, Geoffrey Rutkowski, Mario De Secondi, and Sandy Wilson; and played in master classes taught by such artists as the Juilliard String Quartet, Toby Appel, and David Requiro. She studied cello at the Ruth Asawa SOTA, UC Santa Barbara, San Francisco State University for a MA in Music, and at the Musikhochschule Trossingen in Germany.
Carrie J Perna
Dance Instructor | Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Hip-Hop, Flamenco
Carrie has been dancing for over 25 years and has performed professionally across the country with companies and events such as Super Bowl XLIII, The Today Show, and Disney. She moved to San Francisco in 2014 after completing her BA at Wellesley College and has since been teaching, performing, and choreographing for companies across the Bay Area. Carrie is trained in many classic and modern techniques from Fosse to Flamenco, and she is excited to bring her knowledge to the students of Pacifica. Carrie is also a Wellness Coach and is currently pursuing an LMFT and MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. In her spare time, she can be found surfing out at Ocean Beach or hiking the hills of Sharp Park.
Piano Instructor | Beginning through Int/Adv. (In-person)
Paige is a pianist and mathematician from North Dakota with a Master’s degree in mathematics and many years of piano training. She has already fallen in love with Pacifica where she lives with her husband and dog. Ms. Relling has been playing piano since the age of eight under the guidance of Nicole Antonenko, where she studied a variety of piano styles including all the musical time periods. During the years, she performed in many recitals. She also participated in festivals in North Dakota where she received superior ratings for all three years. In her high school years, she played piano for her school’s jazz band. She also played bells, chimes, and piano in the band. During this time, she was a percussionist in band for a few years. Ms. Relling also performed in a pop band as a pianist. She truly enjoys performing with others. While studying mathematics in college at the University of North Dakota, Ms. Relling joined the school’s women’s choir and the Sweet Adelines’s choir. While participating in these choirs, she was asked to join a student talent show where she performed Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber. She also helped the Sweet Adelines by playing the singing parts to match pitch. This choir invited Ms. Relling to perform in their annual variety show where she performed Georgiana by Dario Marianelli, written for the movie Pride and Prejudice based on the book of the same name.
Dance Instructor | Ballet, Jazz, Modern & Hip-Hop
Born and raised in Santiago, Chile, Andi Salazar is a dancer, choreographer, and sociologist living in the Bay Area since 2017. She is the founder of Kazé Dance Company, a Contemporary Dance Company located in Santiago, in which she was the Artistic Director for eight years. Since relocating to the Bay Area, Andi obtained her MFA in Dance and Choreography from Mills College and has had the opportunity to perform with Emergence Dance Company and Mogli´s Movers Dance Collective, as well as showing her own work in different festivals and showcases in the area with her recently shaped Dance Collective A Pulso Dance Project. Currently, she works as a Dance Instructor at the Bay Area Ballet Conservatory teaching Ballet, Contemporary and Modern Dance; at PowerPlay SF teaching Creative Movement, Pre-Ballet and Latin Dance Cardio, and at Spindrift School of Performing Arts teaching Hip hop. She recently joined The Alonzo King LINES Ballet Community program “heART with Lines”, as an Assistant Teacher Artist.