Young Artist’s Conservatory of Music

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YACM develop the potential of children and youth by instilling the values of excellence, hope, hard work, and community through their achievement of their potential in the musical arts. Quality education in the musical arts has proven to be the greatest engine for developing cognition, social intelligence, and the capacity for artistic sensitivity in children. YACM provides the Solano County community with three program divisions that involve children in all phases of music development, from early child exploration, public school bands, orchestras, and choirs to rigorous and specialized pre-professional training.
Get to know how Solano children and youth can benefit from one or more of their three divisions: 1) Solano Music Conservatory for specialized conservatory-quality private and group lessons. 2) Music Matters for public school programs that enhance musicianship and academic outcomes at school. 3) Solano Youth Theatre for young people who wish to experience the confidence and social cohesion of a theatre program with a legacy of excellence.
Eleven years ago Kat founded YACM with a small group of passionate music teachers who knew that “Music Lessons” don’t work. She knows it is a shocking thing to say, but it is true. Their faculty knows that no one masters anything doing it only 30 minutes a week.
They provide more than music lessons. Their faculty bring years of music education, professional experience, and a track record of successful teaching to their students. Even the beginner is taught by an instructor who has achieved advanced musicianship and is a professional in their field. They assign professional musicians to every level because advanced musicianship comes from basic techniques learned early and learned well. A skilled teacher knows how to build proficiency as student progresses toward musicianship. They are a well-organized, dynamically engaging group of music professionals here to provide Solano County with the highest level of music education and performing arts.
Kat Austin
Kat Austin is a coloratura soprano from Davis, California and holds a degree in Vocal Performance from UC Davis. Trained in the art of opera technique, Ms. Austin has appeared in roles such as Poppea in Monteverdi’s L’incoronozione di Poppea and Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, as well as has been the soprano soloist for works such as Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis. Though primarily a classical singer, Ms. Austin also has training in other musical styles (e.g. musical theatre, jazz, bluegrass, country, etc.) and has performed the role of Cinderella in Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Last summer marks the second time she has sung on the stages of both Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Currently, she sings with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and has sung with New York Lyric Opera and Opera San Jose and will be singing with Phènix Opera Company later this year.
Stefan Barboza
Stefan Barboza’s Music career spans over 40 years. Born in London, England, music has been Stefan’s passion since he was a young boy. At the age of fifteen, Stefan played guitar in his first band for GI’s in Italy where his father was stationed. Over his career Stefan has been in multiple bands and was most recently asked to join “Afterglow,” an all original rock band that has been featured in a popular PBS television special.
He also works with the crowd-pleasing Sterling Silver Band playing throughout Northern California and Nevada. Live performance has led Stefan to share his passion for music by teaching music to both young and older students. He brings a warm and gentle strength to his classes. Stefan’s students develop skills that are directly associated with controlled performance. He has been teaching for the past 18 years.
Wanda Cook
Wanda Cook, founder and Artistic Director, has been teaching piano for over 30 years. As a fourth generation piano teacher, she brings a heritage of pedagogy and tradition into the present. Mrs. Cook received her piano training from her grandmother, Helen Genevieve Pinkstaff Spillenaar, a Julliard graduate from whom she learned to appreciate the way in which technical control empowers artistic delivery. She graduated from Simpson college with a degree in Business Administration and Biblical Literature. Although, at that time, she did not choose to study music, she taught piano lessons in her mother’s studio and found employment as a music and theory tutor in the Simpson music department. With strict application of tradition but with a fresh and inspiring manner, Mrs. Cook is credited with transforming hundreds of children into fluent and proficient pianists. Her students perform at the highest levels throughout Solano County and go on to pursue professional careers and college music degrees.
She has trained teachers to apply her methods with the aim to create pianists from a developmental model that addresses informed practice, applied technique, musical phrasing, tonal control, and empowered performances.
Lany De La Campa
Adriana De La Campa is a violinist, violist, and teacher, and has held the concert mistress position for Solano Community College Orchestra for the past three years. Adriana works to seek out various opportunities for her major passion, performance, and enjoys performing in local productions for various opera and theater houses. She values the importance of local productions and hopes to continue to be a part of making accessible the artistic beauty of music to Northern California.
She believes there is as much to learn from teaching as there is from being a student, and aims to teach problem solving and empowering students to find solutions independently, as she values problem solving as a life skill.
Casey Ellis
Lyric Mezzo-Soprano Casey Ellis completed her studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance under the tutelage of renowned Tenor and vocal pedagogue, Cesar Ulloa. She has performed lead roles in professional theaters all over the San Francisco Bay Area and has been nominated and received local theater awards for several roles portrayed.
Favorite roles include- Cherubino in Le Nozze Di Figaro, Lily in Secret Garden, Liesl in The Sound of Music, Johanna in Sweeney Todd, Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar, Nerone in l’incornazione di Poppea, The Witch in Into The Woods, and Jo March in Little Women.
Although trained operatically, Casey found her true passion to be with musical theater and loves teaching vocal students healthy and proper ways to get a Broadway sound using operatic techniques. She is a member of the National Association of Teaching Singing and is a Yoga Alliance certified Yoga Teacher.
She uses yoga techniques with vocal students for proper posture, breath control, performance anxiety and all around body awareness. In addition to teaching private voice with Solano Music Conservatory, she is the resident Music Director and Co-Director for Solano Youth Theater, vocal director for YACM’s rockbands TNT and M80’s, and teaches in Vallejo for YACM’s Music Matters programs. In her free time, Casey performs regularly in the Bay Area, teaches yoga in Vacaville and loves to write music and improvise with other local musicians.
Joseph Galamba
Joseph is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Gregory Fulkerson and David Bowlin. He graduated from Oberlin College with honors in physics, and the Jacobs School of Music under the instruction of Sigurbjorn Bernhardson. He is currently a member of the Stockton Symphony and is an active performer in Northern California. As a teacher, he is interested in applying an analytical approach to the repertoire, using a correct setup with the aim of preventing injury later in life. Wayne Gross
Wayne Gross plays saxophone in the regionally acclaimed band, The Time Bandits. He has been with the Conservatory since its beginning and enjoys teaching band and piano as well as Saxophone.
Mr. Gross received his education from Sacramento State, and is associated with Jazz bands from throughout Solano County. Mr. Gross conducts YACM’s performance concert bands. He has been teaching for 15 years and is passionate about positive performance experiences.
Edward Halback III
Ed Halbach is a classically trained baritone. He has extensive professional experience in operatic theatre where he has sung many lead baritone roles. He embraces all genres of music with an understanding that the classics have the power to stretch and empower the student to become more of what they can imagine. He studied voice with mezzon-soprano Edna Garabedian, Baritone John Robert Dunlap, and Dr. David Rohrbaugh. He holds a BA in Vocal Performance from San Jose State University. He has taught private voice and high school music classes for over 30 years. He is most dedicated to helping developing vocalists empower their music with attentive emotion and attention to musical phrasing.
Jack Hanes
Jack Hanes graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. After college, he served three years of active duty in the Army Band at the Presidio of San Francisco. He then attended San Francisco State University, where he received his California teaching credential, and went to Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and received a Masters Degree in Church Music with a concentration in voice. He plays trumpet in the Solano Winds Community Band, the Valley Brass Quintet, and occasionally with the “Generation Gap” Jazz Band.
Shari Hendrix
Shari Hendrix holds a music teaching credential. More about Shari coming.
Farida Isayeva
Farida Isayeva graduated the Music College, Music Conservatory, and State University in Russia. She has a Doctorate Degree and speaks English, Russian, Turkish, and Azeri. She has been teaching piano and music theory for all ages and all levels since 1984. Ms. Isayeva was Principal of a music school in Russia, but moved to the US in 1998. Since then, she has continued to teach piano privately, and has taught at music academies and music conservatories.
Ms. Isayeva’s style of teaching is creative and challenging. Her teaching methods are geared according to each student’s needs. She builds a lesson plan to create success in each of her students, and her students consistently achieve high scores in assessments. She uses a combination of lesson books and individual plans for each student. Ms. Farida encourages preparing students for a variety of performance opportunities such as recitals, competitions, festivals. Many of her students have won awards.
Hyungbin Lim
Hyungbin Lim is a composer and pianist, currently studying under a PhD course in composition and theory at UC Davis. Hyungbin is currently in charge of musicianship and piano lectures as a teaching assistant, and is an accompanist at a vocal studio.
He is also the conductor of KYDO US. Hyungbin obtained his Bachelor of Music degree at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, and Master of Music degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At UIUC, he studied with Stephen Taylor and Reynold Tharp.
Hyungbin has composed works for various genres including solo piano, chamber music, orchestra, and choral music and they have been played in many countries including the United States, South Korea, Japan, Austria, and Italy. His music is energetic and dynamic, but possesses warmth and sensitivity at the same time. Hyungbin believes that learning music should be an enjoyable and creative experience, and thus his teaching is focused on “enjoying and feeling” rather than merely “understanding” the music. This concept helps students learn how to feel the music in its whole, and express it into one’s own presentation.
For example, when he teaches piano, his teaching is not just restricted to the necessary skills and techniques but includes the background information of the piece, such as the details on the composer, the period of the music, the harmony, the rhythm, and the phrasing of the music, which explains why we should play some parts in certain ways. Such explanations help students perform and analyze music in a unique and excellent way. Through Hyungbin’s teaching, the students will be able to mature to become sophisticated musicians, excelling in both the sense and sensibility of the music they are making.
Sarah Lograsso
Sarah LoGrasso grew up with a musical background starting at age 3 learning piano. She advanced on to voice lessons and flute lessons before beginning harp lessons at the age of 15. She started under the tutelage of harp teacher Leila Ramagopal Pertl and later with harp teacher Molly Madden, while attending Parkland Community College in Champaign, Illinois. While in the college music program she received high marks in al of her classes and was an honor student.
In 2016, she graduated from the music program and received her Associate’s Degree in Music Education with Honors. During her time at Parkland she performed as the harpist in the Wind Ensemble and Orchestra, as well as a percussionist when needed. As part of the scholarship she received, she interned in her last two semesters as the conductor’s assistant. Sarah has enjoyed teaching private harp lessons to students for the past three years.
Melinda Packer
Melinda Packer is a multi-faceted musician originally from the East Coast. Primarily a Violist and Music Educator, Melinda is currently a music teacher in the Vacaville Unified School District, teaching at both the High School and Elementary school levels teaching string orchestra, concert band, choir, and woodwind classes. Melinda is a member of the Solano Symphony Orchestra and also performs with the Symphony Napa Valley and the Vallejo Symphony Orchestra. As a vocal percussionist and a cappella enthusiast, Melinda is a member of Bay Area based group Highwire a cappella and volunteers for the Women’s A Cappella Association as well as remaining an active clinician in the a cappella festival and music education conference circuit. Melinda holds Undergraduate degrees in Music Education and Music Performance, as well as a Masters degree in Viola Performance from UMass Amherst. Melinda enjoys playing any instrument she can get her hands on and loves to share her passion for music with students of all ages.
Isaac Pastor-Chermak
Isaac Pastor-Chermak is Principal Cellist of Portland Opera and Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony; Associate Principal Cellist of Stockton Symphony; and a member of Santa Barbara Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, and Dayton Philharmonic. He is the cellist of Black Cedar Trio, the only professional flute-cello-guitar ensemble in the country. Pastor-Chermak is Beelard Foundation Artist-in-Residence at Young Artists Conservatory of Music in Vacaville, CA; and a faculty member at Dominican Sisters School of Music in Fremont, CA.
He is founder and principal conductor of Solano Junior Strings, the first youth orchestra in the city of Vacaville. Pastor-Chermak holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley (B.A.) and San Francisco Conservatory of Music (M.M.). He makes his home in North Berkeley, but is at home wherever the music takes him.
Linda Pedersen
Linda Pedersen is an accomplished Suzuki Strings instructor in Solano County. She brings her students over twenty-five years of teaching, and performing, experience.
Martín Purtill
Educated in the Davis/Sacramento area, Martín Purtill has an extensive history of working with youth and disabled persons. Mr. Purtill is an accomplished guitarist and vocalist and has an extensive background with bands and the music scene.
Arthur Roy Regalario
Arthur Roy has been a theory and piano instructor for over 25 years. He is currently teaching at Fiat Music Co. in Pinole, and at his own place in the city of Hercules. Roy received most of his music training and education at the Santo Tomas University Conservatory of Music where he earned his Bachelor in Music Theory degree. He started teaching freshmen and sophomore students in his junior college year as a volunteer tutor at the conservatory, helping them especially with their music theory questions. Here in the US, he worked in Catholic churches, at times as a music director and others as an accompanist. He is also a part of a jazz quartet group, which is currently building its repertoire. He continues to be highly inspired to teach because of the greatly uplifting and rewarding experience he receives from the joy he sees in students progressing through their musical goals.
Michael Santoni
Michael Santoni was raised in a very musical family where his parents and siblings played one or more instruments. In college he studied music theory, beginning piano, voice, and jazz improvisation, and has studied privately with many great drummers including John Xepoleas, Ken French, and Frank Giguere. With an impressive professional resumé, including tours with RMS and RWP and working numerous television and music studios in California, Michael comes to the Conservatory with a plethora of music education experience in the Vacaville area: the Will C. Wood High School Drum and Bell Corp earned 3rd place in the 68-school California State-Wide Drum Corp Competition competing a personally scored cadence, he plans to publish a drummer’s handbook in the near future, and he has coached 600+ drum students, some of them reaching international acclaim.
Drew Stassen
Drew Stassen is an accomplished musician and pianist with over 13 years of experience, and was a YACM Premier Performer. He studied music extensively at the Conservatory until he graduated high school. Drew spent almost two years overseas continuing his studies while working with a Child Development Center. In teaching, he strives to instill a love for music in each of his students.
Harry Stoddard
Harry Stoddard began playing music as a violist but at sixteen switched to electric guitar. Always somewhat dissatisfied with the restrictions of the pick, he discovered through Matthew Grasso the clarity and independence that the 7-string classical guitar offers, and since 2010 has studied under him. He now plays with the Trio Seven, an ensemble of three guitarists who play on seven-stringed guitars. His solo transcriptions include Bach’s Sarabande in Bm and Ravel’s Prelude (1917).
Matt Thomas
Matt Thomas graduated Cum Laude from Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education. He received the Young Artist Award each year he attended Ball State. He went on to receive an MM in Music Performance from Northern Illinois University.
He accepted a position with the United States Air Force’s Band of the Golden West, located at Travis Air Force Base. During his 11 years stationed with the band, he performed in venues throughout the West Coast and for many high-profile events, including 4th of July at the Hollywood Bowl with Vince Gill and the LA Philharmonic, President Reagan’s Interment Ceremony, and the Rose Bowl Parade. His teaching philosophy is focused on mastering fundamental techniques while also enjoying music performance. He believes that music should move the soul — and that goes for the performers too.
Arleen Wong
Arleen Wong comes to us with over 25 years of music education experience as a piano, school band, chorus, general music, and hand bell instructor. She graduated Cum Laude with Honors from Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI, in 1992 and received a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education with an emphasis in Piano. Arleen’s formal piano instruction began at the age of 4.
From 1st through 12th grade, Arleen participated annually in Piano Auditions for the American College of Musicians National Guild of Piano Teachers and received a High School Diploma. Her Audition programs consisted of 10 to 20 memorized piano selections that represented all periods of music. She currently serves as an Adjudicator for the Guild.
Arleen has been a member of the California Music Educators Association (CMEA) and has had her school bands and choirs participate in CMEA Festivals where her groups have been adjudicated receiving Excellent and Superior ratings. She has also been a member of NAFME National Association for Music Educators. Arleen directs chorus classes for our Music Matters in Vallejo Program. She has dedicated her life to the pursuit of instilling the love of musicianship in young people.
Eric Woodcock
Eric Woodcock is a trombonist and music educator. After growing up in Vacaville and participating in local, regional, and statewide honor bands, he moved to the South Bay to pursue a double degree in trombone performance and music education from San Jose State University. While at SJSU, Eric has performed with some amazing bands, orchestras, and conductors, including Dona to Cabrera, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Sir Simon Rattle with SFSYO, Joana Carniero with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, and Ed Harris with the SJSU Wind Ensemble.
He has also worked in an educational capacity with several highly-regarded organizations, such as the San Jose Youth Symphony, Cazadero Music Camp, and Silver Creek High School, where he was a contracted conductor for the school’s Concert Band.

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