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Gonzalo Aguilar


Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance, University of Southern Mississippi

Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy and Performance, Westminster Choir College

Gonzalo Aguilar joined the New School in 2022 began taking piano lessons at 17 years old with Professor Larissa Belotserkovskaia, and graduated from the National Conservatory of Music in Lima, Peru, with the highest accolades. In 2013, Dr. Aguilar was invited to attend the Golandsky Institute Summer Symposium at Princeton University. 


Dr. Aguilar holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance in Piano Performance from The University of Southern Mississippi, with minors in collaborative piano and music theory. He was a student of Elizabeth Moak, and his dissertation is an analysis of folk elements found in three piano compositions by Peruvian composers.Master’s Degree in Piano Pedagogy and Performance from Westminster Choir College, where he studied with Ingrid Clarfield.


In 2016, Dr. Aguilar performed Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto in E flat Major with the Westminster Community Orchestra. He was also invited by Art Quitilinga to perform a recital in the Karl Richter Haus in Quedlinburg, Germany. In 2017, Dr. Aguilar performed a recital on Peruvian composers with oboist William Wielgus at the International Students House in Washington, D.C, and recently recorded music of Peruvian Composers with Wielgus for the Sono Luminus. Dr. Aguilar was also invited to perform a solo recital in Czech Republic, and gave a masterclass to two students of the Prague Conservatory.

Gonzalo Aguilar

Faculty and Administration

The collaborative spirit among our faculty makes NSMS a vibrant learning community for teachers and students alike. All members of our faculty are highly-educated, experienced pianists with a passion for teaching.


Marvin Blickenstaff

Faculty, Co-Director of PEPS Program

​Board Member and Past President of The Frances Clark Center

Master of Music in Piano Performance, Indiana University​

Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, Oberlin Conservatory of Music


Marvin Blickenstaff joined The New School in 1999, and serves as co-director of the PEPS Program. Mr. Blickenstaff holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Indiana University, where he received both academic and performance honors. He is well-known across the country and in Canada for his frequent presentations at state and national conferences. The Marvin Blickenstaff Endowment Fund was established in his honor by the Music Teachers National Association Foundation. In 2007 the online journal Piano Pedagogy Forum published tributes to Mr. Blickenstaff honoring his contribution to piano teaching in America. Also in 2007, he was named Fellow of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He was honored in 2009 with MTNA’s highest honor, the MTNA Achievement Award. Mr. Blickenstaff has served as chair of the piano departments at the University of North Carolina/ Chapel Hill and Goshen College (IN) and from 2000-2013 he was President of the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy.

Marvin Blickenstaff
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Kristin Cahill

Faculty, Junior PEPS Instructor and Theory Instructor​


Master of Music in Piano Performance, University of Houston 
Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, Bowling Green State University​


Kristin Cahill is on the faculty and is Coordinator of Enrichment and Outreach Programs at NSMS. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Bowling Green State University and a Master of Music in Piano Performance with additional studies in Collaborative Piano from the University of Houston, where she studied with Ruth Tomfohrde and Timothy Hester. From 2008-2013, Ms. Cahill lived in Barcelona, Spain, and extensively studied castanets and Spanish piano repertoire with Ludovica Mosca. At The American School of Barcelona, Ms. Cahill started and developed a group piano program in addition to teaching private lessons to students from all over the world. 


An active adjudicator, Ms. Cahill is a member of the Royal Conservatory of Music College of Examiners. In addition, she has published articles in Clavier Companion and has presented at the NJMTA State Conference, the MTNA National Conference, and the National Conference for Keyboard Pedagogy. Ms. Cahill is a member of Legacy Arts, where she co-directs the bitKlavier course for children in Princeton.

Kristin Cahill
Fiona Christano

Fiona Christano



Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy, Bowling Green State University

​Bachelor of Arts in Piano Pedagogy, Goshen College​

Fiona Christano initially joined NSMS as an intern in 2003 upon completing her Master’s in Piano Pedagogy from Bowling Green State University under the direction of Dr. Robert Satterlee. She became a full-time member of NSMS faculty in 2004 and taught numerous students until 2009. Prior to her study at Bowling Green State University, Ms. Christano completed her Bachelor’s of Arts in Piano Pedagogy from Goshen College under the direction of Professors Marvin Blickenstaff, Beverly Lapp, David Gross, and Matthew Hill, with a minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

During her time off from NSMS, Ms. Christano served as volunteer director of the children’s choir at her church, and provided pro-bono 3-month piano lessons to individuals with varying degrees of musical skills in her hometown of Kudus, Indonesia.

Ms. Christano and her husband live in Princeton. She is a mother of two wonderful and lively children and enjoys knitting and baking with and reading to her kids.

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Allison Fog

Allison Fog


Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy and Performance, Southern Methodist University 

Bachelor of Arts in Music, Augustana University

Allison Fog studied Piano Pedagogy with Sam Holland, and Piano Performance with Alfred Mouledous at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. While at SMU she was elected to the national music honor society, Pi Kappa Lambda. From there, she began her teaching career at The New School for Music Study in 2000. While at The New School, she wrote the original curriculum for the school’s yearly performance and theory evaluations, called Piano Progressions
Ms. Fog left full-time teaching in 2007 to raise her family, but has stayed connected to The New School through volunteering and substitute teaching for both private and group lessons. NSMS will always have a special place in her heart, as she has watched her own sons grow up learning piano at the school. Ms. Fog feels there is no better place for a child to study music at the piano, and she is very excited to return to teaching at The New School. She believes that music study benefits our lives cognitively, emotionally, and physically, and is committed to the idea that there is music in every person.

Ms. Fog has served as choral accompanist to the Flemington-Raritan school district, and as pianist at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Lambertville, NJ. She lives in Flemington, and enjoys cooking, reading, exercising, and spending time with her family.

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Jason Gallagher

Jason Gallagher


Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy and Performance, Westminster Choir College​

Bachelor of Music in Music Theory, Ithaca College

Jason Gallagher received his Master’s Degree in Piano Pedagogy and Performance, with distinction, from Westminster Choir College in May 2014. There, he studied piano with Phyllis Lehrer. Mr. Gallagher also completed a rigorous, year-long internship with renowned teacher Ingrid Clarfield. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Theory, magna cum laude, from Ithaca College in May 2012. He studied piano with Dr. Jennifer Hayghe, and pedagogy with Dr. Deborah Martin.

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Amy Glennon

Amy Glennon

Faculty, Educational Director

Master of Music in Piano Performance, University of Louisville​

Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance/Bachelor of Science in Music Education, University of Connecticut 

Amy Glennon studied Piano Pedagogy with New School co-founders Frances Clark and Louise Goss, earning the Certificate of Professional Achievement in 1986. She then joined the piano faculty of Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, MA), where she remained for six years before returning to the New School faculty in 1996. During the following years, Ms. Glennon has served as Admissions Director and more recently, Educational Director. In her current position, Ms. Glennon oversees the New School’s faculty development program. Her articles have appeared in Clavier Companion magazine. She is the co-author (along with Ted Cooper) of four duet collections comprising the Side by Side series, published by Alfred. Ms. Glennon has presented at local and national music teachers conventions, including Music Teachers National Convention and the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. Ms. Glennon remains active as an adjudicator at local festivals and competitions, and serves as pianist and choir director at Lawrence Road Presbyterian Church. She holds two undergraduate degrees from the University of Connecticut: a B.M. in Piano Performance and a B.S. in Music Education. She earned her Masters Degree from the University of Louisville in Piano Performance, where she studied with Lee Luvisi.

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Derek Hartman

Derek Hartman


Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance, Yale School of Music, expected 2027

Master of Music in Piano Performance, Yale School of Music
Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, Northwestern University

Derek Hartman joined the New School for Music Study in 2023. He is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the Yale School of Music, at which he also received his Masters of Music in 2021 under the instruction of Boris Slutsky. He completed his undergraduate studies in piano performance and music theory at Northwestern University in 2019, whilst studying with James Giles. 


Mr. Hartman has appeared as a soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and he was awarded top prizes in the Music Teachers’ National Association Young Artist Piano Competition, the PianoArts North American Competition, and the Thaviu-Isaak Endowed Piano Competition. His performance engagements have taken him to such diverse venues as the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the Kravis Center of the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the Ruïnekerk in Bergen, The Netherlands. He is a recipient of numerous scholarships, including the 2023 Evelyn Bonar Storrs Scholarship, and he was awarded the 2023 Yale School of Music Alumni Prize and the 2020 Elizabeth Parisot Prize in recognition of his contributions to the Yale community. 


As a dedicated music educator, he has maintained a private teaching studio and served as a teaching assistant in the Analysis and Musicianship curriculum at Yale. Since 2018, Mr. Hartman has partnered with PianoArts of Wisconsin to design and present dozens of music educational programs across Milwaukee. Mr. Hartman is also an avid chamber musician, a harpsichordist and continuo player, and a music theory and analysis aficionado. In his free time, he enjoys watching Minnesota sports, and playing jazz.

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Esther Hayter

Esther Hayter


Master of Music Piano Performance and Pedagogy, Texas Christian University​​

Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, Washington State University


Esther Hayter joined the New School in 2017. A native of Washington State, she completed her undergraduate studies at Washington State University, where she studied piano performance and pedagogy with Drs. Jeff and Karen Savage. She then went on to complete a Masters of Music at Texas Christian University, under the guidance of Dr. Ann Gipson and Dr. Tamas Ungar. While at TCU, she taught class piano for the Pedagogy Lab Program, Extended Education, and undergraduate classes. She also taught private lessons for college elective students and through the TCU Preparatory Department. In addition to her duties at TCU, Ms. Hayter maintained a busy schedule of private students for studios in the Fort Worth area. One of her favorite aspects about teaching is building relationships with her students and seeing their growth, not only as musicians, but as individuals. She also enjoys performing in both solo and collaborative settings, and volunteers as a church musician. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, baking, reading, outdoor activities, hanging out with friends and family, and spoiling her nieces and nephews. 


Denise Isaac


Master of Music in Church Music, Westminster Choir College

Bachelor of Music in Church Music, Moravian University


Denise Isaac joined the New School in 2022. She holds a Master’s Degree from Westminster Choir College, where she studied with Ingrid Clarfield, and a Bachelor of Music from Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA. Ms. Isaac taught elementary school for several years in Trinidad and Tobago, her native country. She worked with the Eastern West Indies Province of the Moravian Church, serving as the Minister of Music. One of her responsibilities included coordinating choral seminars focused on the important role of the choir in leading the congregation in worship.


Prior to joining the faculty, Ms. Isaac worked with a non-denominational church with a K-12 academy where she was responsible for preparing students to meet rigorous academic standards. The program included specialty areas such as piano skills and curricula, and primarily focused on musical training and preparation. In 2020, Ms. Isaac completed the Comprehensive Practical Teaching Program through the Frances Clark Center at NSMS. 


Teaching is Ms. Isaac’s life goal, her passion, and her calling. She believes that teachers have the huge responsibility of shaping and molding the minds of the next generation, especially through the study of music. She is a success-driven educator with more than 35 years of experience, and a track record of developing an intuitive connection with students, tuning into their specific learning needs. In her spare time, Ms. Isaac is an avid runner, and enjoys baking and cooking to support her ketogenic lifestyle.

Denise Isaac
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Kairy Koshoeva

Kairy Koshoeva



Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance, University of Missouri-Kansas City​

Artist Diploma in Piano Performance, Oberlin Conservatory of Music​

Master of Music and Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, Gnessin Academy of Music in Moscow, Russia

Kairy Koshoeva earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Missouri, Kansas City.  She also holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Gnessin Academy of Music in Moscow, and an Artist Diploma certificate from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (OH). Dr. Koshoeva has garnered awards from around the globe, including the top prizes at the International Piano Competition in Vicenza, Italy, and the N. Rubinstein Competition in Paris; the Gold Medal at the 2004 Rachmaninoff Awards in Moscow; and first prize at the Chautauqua Music Festival concerto competition in New York. In 2003, her home country awarded her the prestigious title of Honored Artist of Kyrgyzstan. She has performed in Israel, France, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Switzerland, and the United States. In 2013, Dr. Koshoeva received the Marian Bowker Davidson Collaborative Pianist Award for her Kansas City performance of Bach’s  Goldberg Variations with the Owen/Cox Dance Group. She also garnered the 2015 Berta Eisberg Award for collaboration with Owen/Cox in a performance of Hindemith’s Ludus Tonalis.


She has studied with great musicians as Bella Zubok, Faina Kharmatz, Michael Burshtin (Kyrgyzstan/Israel), Vera Nosina (Moscow), Monique Duphil (Oberlin), and Robert Weirich (UMKC); and had the privilege of being coached by renowned pianist Lazar Berman in Weimar Master Classes.  

Dr. Koshoeva enjoys a varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher.  While living in Kansas City, she taught music at a host of institutions of higher learning, including Avila, Park, and Rockhurst Universities, the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and the University of Kansas. In 2015 she joined the faculty of The New School for Music Study. Many of her students have won prestigious piano competitions, some leading to performances in Carnegie Hall.

Click here to read a recent article profiling Dr. Koshoeva.

Phyllis Lehrer
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Phyllis Lehrer

Senior Advisor of Teacher Education​

Phyllis Alpert Lehrer is known internationally as a teacher, performer, clinician, author and
adjudicator. She has given master classes, workshops and enjoyed an active concert career as a
soloist and collaborative artist in the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Asia and

Ms. Lehrer is professor emerita of piano at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in
Princeton, N.J. She now serves on the artist faculty of the Westminster Conservatory, the community
music school associated with Westminster. A founding member of Young Audiences of New Jersey
and the International Society for the Study of Tension in Performance, she has presented regularly at
conferences of the Music Teachers National Association, National Conference on Keyboard
Pedagogy, and New Jersey Music Teachers Association.

Her collaboration of over 35 years with duo piano partner, Ena Bronstein Barton, includes two CD’s
featuring duets of Mozart, Schubert and Debussy, and two piano works of Laurie Altman, Mozart,
Schumann and Rachmaninoff.

Recent publications include five volumes of the great piano repertoire, Classic for the Developing
, co-edited with Ingrid Clarfield, along with the Study Guides that accompany books 1, 2, 3, 4
published by Alfred, Inc. A fifth book, Study Guide 5 is available at Sheet Music Press. Personal
, five volumes devoted to keyboard theory, sight playing, technique and repertoire with midi
accompaniments, co-authored with Paul Sheftel, are published by YBK publications in New York
City. Mr. Sheftel and Ms. Lehrer also co-edited 10 books of intermediate to early advanced piano
literature with accompanying CD’s for Carl Fischer: Mastering Classic Favorites and More
Mastering Classic Favorites
as well as Debussy: An Album. Ms. Lehrer was author and editor of
Chopin: An Album, also published by Carl Fischer. She wrote the practice suggestions for the four
books of Piano Etudes for the Development of Musical Fingers selected and edited by Frances
Clark, Louise Goss, and Sam Holland. Among her other edited works are Fantasie-Variations and
Sonata, No. 2, Op. 31 by Dianne Goolkasian- Rahbee, Outside the Box by Kevin Olson and
Wynn-Anne Rossi, and Dance Preludes for Piano Duet by Timothy Brown, published by FJH.
Phyllis Lehrer has contributed several chapters to A Symposium for Pianists and Teachers:
Strategies to Develop the Mind and Body for Optimal Performance
and co-authored The Inner
Game of Music Keyboard Workbook
with Barry Green.

Ms. Lehrer received a B.A. with music concentration from the University of Rochester and Eastman
School of Music and an M.S. in piano from the Juilliard School of Music. Honored as a Music
Teachers National Association Foundation Fellow in 2007, Ms. Lehrer was voted New Jersey Music
Teachers Association Teacher of the Year for 2012-2013. In 2019 she received the Westminster Merit
Award from the Westminster Alumni Association. At the National Conference on Keyboard
Pedagogy 2021, she received the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy/ Frances Clark Center
Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding dedication to the field of music and piano teaching.

Teresa Lim

Teresa Lim


Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, Westminster Choir College

Master of Arts in Church Music, Santa Clara University


Teresa Lim joined the faculty of the New School in 2022. She holds a Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and a Master of Arts in Church Music from Santa Clara University, California. She also holds teacher diplomas and degrees for voice and piano from Trinity College of Music (LTCL), ABRSM in London, and a diploma and award for Excellence in Music Teaching from the Yamaha Music Foundation, Japan. In March 2006, Ms. Lim was recognized as a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) through MTNA in recognition of professional excellence in piano performance and pedagogy, theory/general musicianship, and for dedication to professional growth.

Prior to joining NSMS, Ms. Lim conducted pedagogy classes at the Yamaha Music Academy for Teachers in Singapore, and presented at the Music Teacher’s Symposium (1998) in the Asian Pacific region. Ms Lim also taught piano and music composition for Westminster Choir College’s Middle School Piano Camp, and was a guest lecturer for the Westminster Pedagogy Certificate Program, where she presented weekly pedagogy classes to intern piano teachers on the topic "Exploring Teaching Methods and Repertoire." Ms. Lim also taught private lessons and group classes at Westminster Conservatory of Music in the Young Artist Program in piano, music theory, ear training, AP courses, and early childhood music. Ms. Lim created the piano curriculum for “Piano and Pizzicati,” a course for children studying at Westminster Conservatory.


Ms. Lim specializes in preparing students for the RCM (Canada), ABRSM, TCM (UK), and YGE (Japan) international examinations. Ms. Lim was invited to join the Board of Examiners of the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) in June 2022. She is an active adjudicator for piano festivals, auditions, and competitions organized by MTNA and the American-Asian Fine Arts Association Piano Competitions (AAFAA).


Ms. Lim was recently featured in Princeton Town Topics. Her student, Pablo, received the highest score for RCM Level 6 Piano in the Northeast Region in 2019, and in 2020, received the highest score in the nation for Level 7 Piano. Ms. Lim has worked with Pablo since he was six years old. Many of her other students have performed in Carnegie Hall after success in competitions.


In addition to teaching, Ms. Lim has served as music liturgist, choir director, piano accompanist, and cantor in Catholic churches in the United Kingdom, New Jersey, and Singapore. In June 2011, Ms. Lim was invited to conduct a one-day music workshop on “Liturgy and Music in Ministry” for Catholic musicians and choir members from 30 churches in Singapore.

Ms. Lim looks forward to working with her new colleagues at NSMS, and continuing to help shape a new generation of young musicians. Aside from being a dedicated piano teacher and musician, Ms. Lim also has a passion in spiritual direction, a love for her dogs, Benni and Gus, and is a great chef. If music teaching is her first love, being a chef is a close second.

Qin Ling
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Qin Ling


Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Pedagogy, Texas Tech University 

Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy, The University of Georgia


A native of China, Qin Ling began her piano training at age 5 and was an active participant and prize winner of local and national piano competitions from a young age.


While at the University of Georgia (UGA), studying piano pedagogy with Dr. Pete Jutras, Dr. Ling was actively involved in the UGA Community Music School where she worked enthusiastically with children in both private and group settings in the “Keyboard Kids” program. She was also involved in an online piano program of teaching lessons to students at a girls’ school in Kenya. 


Dr. Ling completed her DMA from Texas Tech University (TTU) where she studied piano pedagogy with Dr. Carla Davis Cash and worked as a research and teaching assistant. While at TTU, Dr. Ling worked extensively with college music majors and adult amateurs. There, she also co-ran research studies examining such topics as Recreational Music Making (RMM), motor skill development in adult piano learners, and the effects of group music instruction on quality of life in high-stressed individuals. She has studied the phenomenon of flow and play in practice and performance, vulnerability and its effects on diverse piano learners, teaching piano to students with special needs, and the Kodály method. Dr. Ling’s work has been presented at the conferences of Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), and the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP).


Dr. Ling frequently performs as a soloist and collaborative pianist. She has played concert repertoire on a variety of stages across the United States and Europe. She was a first prize winner at the 2020 Charleston International Music Competition and has worked with distinguished artists such as John Owings, Mikhail Mordvinov, Dr. Geoffrey Burleson, Dr. David Fung, Dr. Liza Stepanova, and Gilles Vonsattel in masterclass settings. Her primary piano teachers have included Dr. William Westney, Dr. Martha Thomas, and Dr. Sergio Ruiz. 


Dr. Ling joined NSMS in 2021. She enjoys working with diverse learners, looking for the potential of music making in every individual, and inspiring love for and appreciation of music. 

Charl Louw

Charl Louw

Faculty, Co-Director of PEPS Program


Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance, University of Missouri-Kansas City​​

Master of Music in Piano Performance, University of North Texas

Charl Louw has taught and performed throughout the U.S. and South Africa as soloist, collaborative pianist, and with orchestras including the South African National Chamber Orchestra, Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, New Orleans Civic Orchestra, and University of Missouri Chamber Orchestra. He served as director of chamber music and pianist in residence for the Mid-West Chamber Ensemble and, as pianist of the Filamental Trio, collaborated on a recording project of newly commissioned repertoire by award-winning composers from Kansas City.


Throughout his career, Dr. Louw has received prestigious awards and scholarships, including the Kauffman Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching, MC Roode Award, and Getrude Buchanan Award. He has been a finalist and top-prize winner in piano competitions, and regularly adjudicates for piano festivals. 

Dr. Louw currently serves as the Artistic Director of the Greater Princeton Steinway Competition and Co-Director of the Program for Excellence in Piano Study (PEPS) at The New School for Music Study. He has presented lectures and master classes in South Africa and the U.S., and completed his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, where he studied with Dr. Robert Weirich.

Morgan Murdock

Morgan Murdock


Master of Music in Piano Performance & Pedagogy, Samford University

Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, University of Idaho

Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts & Culture, New Saint Andrews College

Morgan Murdock joined NSMS in 2021. She received her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Idaho, and went on to finish her Master of Music degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at Samford University. She has passion for music education, and believes music should be accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds.


In addition to teaching, Ms. Murdock collaborates with fellow musicians, adjudicates festivals locally and regionally, and maintaining an active performance and presenting schedule. She made her concerto debut in 2018, soloing with the Slovak State Opera Chamber Orchestra in Bratislava, and also performed in Mozarthaus Vienna’s Bösendorfer Hall. In her spare time, Ms. Murdock might be found visiting the ocean, cooking, dancing, and finding ways to visit new places.

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Margie Nelson

Margie Nelson

Faculty, Director of NSMS Student Composition Contest

Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, Westminster Choir College


Margie Nelson came to The New School in September of 1993, and studied with the school's founders, Frances Clark and Louise Goss. Shortly after, Mrs. Nelson earned Master’s Degree from Westminster Choir College in Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy. Mrs. Nelson is the director of our annual Student Composition Contest. In addition to her work at NSMS, Mrs. Nelson teaches music at Saint Matthias in Somerset, Raritan Valley Community College, and also plays piano for her church.


About teaching, Mrs. Nelson says, “One of my favorite aspects of teaching is when students make their own realizations about music. I love when they share them with me. I love to laugh with my students because we are doing something so special and sacred with each other. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than collaborate about music.”

Outside of music, Mrs. Nelson enjoys spending time with her family and reading. She also stays active through swimming, biking, running, and shopping. 

Rebecca Pennington

Rebecca Pennington

Faculty, Administrative Director

Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music in Piano Performance, University of Kansas​​

Bachelor of Music in Music Education, Concordia College

Rebecca Mergen Pennington has been a member of the faculty of the New School for Music Study since 2007. She currently serves as Administrative Director. Dr. Pennington has been a frequent performer in faculty recitals,  and teaches the popular Piano Detectives Club class for kindergarten students. She holds a DMA and MM in Piano Performance from the University of Kansas, and a BM in Music Education from Concordia College. Previous teachers include Jack Winerock and Jay Hershberger. Dr. Pennington is a frequent presenter at local and national conferences.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her three young children.

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Savannah Royston

Savannah Royston


Master of Music in Piano Performance, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, Lipscomb University

Savannah Royston joined the New School for Music Study in 2023. Originally from East Tennessee, Ms. Royston began studying piano with her grandmother when she was only six years old. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Master of Music in May 2023 and a Bachelor of Music from Lipscomb University in 2021. Her former teachers include Paul Barnes, Jerome Reed, and Elisabeth Pridonoff. As a piano teacher herself, Savannah is honored and excited to have the opportunity to mentor her students on their journey to become excellent musicians. Beyond teaching piano, Savannah has extensive experience working in arts administration and is currently the grant writer for composer Victoria Bond.


Alexa Stier



Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance, Yale University, expected 2027

Master of Music in Piano Performance, Yale School of Music

Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Alexa Stier joined the New School for Music Study in 2023. Ms. Stier earned her Bachelor of Music degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she studied with Fali Pavri. She completed her Master of Music degree at the Yale School of Music, where she is currently a candidate of the Doctorate of Musical Arts program, studying with Professor Boris Berman and Professor Wei-Yi Yang. Ms. Stier is also the founder and artistic director of the ContemporArt Association based in Romania, which aims to contribute towards the cultivation of chamber music in her hometown through a concert series and a workshop program designed for local music students. 

Described as “simply phenomenal” (New Britain Herald), Romanian-Hungarian pianist Alexa Stier has performed extensively in the United States and across Europe. She appeared as a soloist with orchestras such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (UK), the New Britain Symphony Orchestra (USA), and Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra (Romania). Ms. Stier received first prizes in many international competitions, such as the Sheepdrove Piano Competition (UK) and the Virtuoso & Belcanto Concerto Competition (Italy). She was the recipient of the “Maurice Ohana” Special Prize at the Orléans International Piano Competition (France), and in 2021, she was a Fellow at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. 

Alexa Stier

Malissa Tong


Doctor of Arts in Piano, Ball State University

Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, Ohio University

Bachelor of Music, SUNY Potsdam, Crane School of Music


Dr. Malissa Tong joined the New School in 2022. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Dr. Tong is a dedicated music educator and pianist with a wealth of experiences that contribute to her unique professional perspective.


Dr. Tong earned her Doctor of Arts in Piano from Ball State University with emphases in chamber music/accompanying and music education, studying with Dr. Ray Kilburn. She holds a Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Ohio University, where she studied with Dr. Christopher Fisher. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, and is a certified K-12 public school music teacher in the state of New York.


As a teacher, Dr. Tong has experience teaching students of all ages and levels for well over a decade. While completing her doctoral studies, she maintained a private studio of 15-20 students and taught general music, choir, and band at St. Mary school in Muncie, IN. Through her teaching internship at Ball State, she assisted professor Phoenix Park-Kim with class piano, applied piano, and piano pedagogy coursework at Indiana Wesleyan University. Additional pedagogical training includes an undergraduate concentration in pedagogy, numerous pedagogy seminars at the graduate level, and a case study in piano studio teaching for her doctoral dissertation. Most importantly, Dr. Tong loves teaching and is constantly striving to give her students the best she has to offer.


Dr. Tong remains active as a performer and presenter. She enjoys playing stylistically diverse programs, and her lecture recital focused on extended piano techniques. As a collaborative pianist, Dr. Tong recently played for approximately 20 violinists for the Indiana Federation of Music Clubs. Dr. Tong has presented and performed at regional and national conferences such as NCKP and MTNA, and presented at the 2022 MTNA National Conference. She adjudicated in the 2019-2020 National Federation Music Club Junior Festival, where she has been employed as treasurer for the junior festival since 2020. She also served as administrative assistant at the North American preliminary round of the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition from 2017-2019, and is currently the assistant director of the Carmel Klavier International Piano Competition, where she assists in organizing the annual competition for young artists.

Malissa Tong

Angela Triandafillou Jones

Faculty, Admissions Director​

Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, University of Oklahoma​​

Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Music Education, Ithaca College


Angela Triandafillou Jones holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance and Music Education from Ithaca College, as well as New York State teacher certification for K-12 music. She holds a Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma, where she was awarded a full teaching assistantship. She has spent summers at the Neighborhood Music School in Connecticut, the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan, and the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina.


Ms. Triandafillou joined the New School for Music Study in 2011, and serves as Admissions Director. Her students actively participate in local events, and regularly receive honors in the Royal Conservatory program. In addition to her passion for teaching group and private piano lessons to children and adults, she is active in teacher education. She has presented at the national and local levels, and serves on the board of the Piano Teachers Forum of Central New Jersey. She has adjudicated for festivals and competitions in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Ms. Triandafillou frequently performs as a soloist in the New School Faculty Recital Series, serves as a substitute church pianist throughout central New Jersey, and enjoys collaborating with her husband Christopher Jones, a violinist.

Angela Triandafillou

Gregory Worthley


Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, University of Oklahoma

Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, Evangel University


Gregory Worthley joined the New School in 2022. Mr. Worthley holds a Master’s Degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from Evangel University. While at the University of Oklahoma, Mr. Worthley was awarded a Graduate Teaching Assistantship and taught group and individual lessons to college students, in addition to teaching students of all ages at Norman Music Institute.

One of Mr. Worthley’s favorite aspects of teaching is helping students gain the tools to make music that is meaningful to them. In addition to teaching, he can be found performing and collaborating with other musicians in a wide range of settings, from individual soloists to choirs, jazz bands, and orchestras. Outside of piano, he enjoys reading, all things outdoors, and food.

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