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Our Music Lesson Program and Music Teacher Biographies

The Long Island Violin Shop is proud of our lesson program.  We offer in- person lessons in our comfortable, spacious lesson rooms at all three of our locations, virtual lessons, or a combination of both!


Our students range in age from Pre-Kindergarten through 80 years old!  It's never too late to learn to play an instrument. 

Our teachers are very experienced, and have attended name conservatories, universities, and music schools throughout the country.  They are passionate teachers as well as active performers.  
Call us to discuss your goals and we'll match you to a teacher and a program to ensure your success. 
Visit our Lessons Overview page to learn more!  
Monica Behler

Monica Capiral - Violin/Viola Teacher

Monica Capiral began her violin studies at the Port Jefferson Music Academy in 1998 (the founding year of the Academy) as a student of Sophie Arbuckle and Arik Braude. During that time, she was a member of the Academy's String Quartet which performed regularly at various local outreach events.

She later concurrently attended the Mannes College Prep where she was a member of the Mannes Philharmonic - Monica has also attended the Killington and the Green Mountain Summer Chamber Music Festivals. She began her collegiate studies of music at the Aaron Copland Conservatory of Music at Queen's College (CUNY) and is a violin student of Arik Braude.

Monica joined the Port Jefferson Music Academy faculty in 2008 and has since developed a vibrant violin & viola studio. In addition, she teaches music theory and Kindermusik classes.


Zachary Castro - Violin/Viola Teacher


Zachary Castro is a string teacher who specializes in Viola, Violin, and Guitar. He graduated from the Crane School of Music in 2020 with a Bachelor’s in Music Business and Musical Studies, with a concentration in Music Technology. Zach has performed viola with various groups at venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. He currently teaches strings while performing shows across Long Island and New York City as the guitarist of his pop-rock band Evil Sweet.


Louisa Feingold - Piano Teacher

Louisa Feingold started taking piano lessons at the age of 6.  She was the rehearsal pianist for her high school play Anything Goes.  She has an MA in Music from Hunter College, with a concentration in piano performance.  She also earned a BA in Liberal Arts from Hunter College, with a concentration in music theory.

Ms. Feingold is a versatile pianist with 16 years of performing experience, including 5 years as member of a chamber music string ensemble. She has performed 11 years as a solo pianist at coffee houses, senior citizen complexes, nursing homes and senior centers.   She is proficient at accompaniment and performing classical and popular music.

As a member of the chamber music group Extremely Festive Strings, Ms. Feingold performed Christmas and Hanukkah songs at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Stony Brook area during the holidays.                                                

Ms. Feingold has five years of experience as a private piano teacher, instructing up to 20 students per week. She specialized in classical and popular music and taught beginners through adults in students' homes.  She arranged lessons to accommodate each student's unique goals and interests and selected music from various genres for use as teaching pieces.  She established a strong music foundation with students by incorporating basic music theory into weekly lessons.

Anthony Klenke - Cello/Bass Teacher

Anthony was raised in North Babylon, where he started his music career at the age of 9. Starting on the cello and quickly moving to the double bass, Anthony initially was taught by his mother until he learned bass professionally with Canadian classical and jazz bassist, John Geggie at the Crane School of Music. With Prof. Geggie, Anthony increased his skill not only as a bassist, but as a musician, too.

Music has always been an integral part of Anthony's life. Along with teaching lessons at the Long Island Violin Shop, he also enjoys playing in pit orchestras for musicals and composing music of his very own. He even had the opportunity to write scores for a vast array of different independent projects.



Will Taylor - Cello Teacher

Will Taylor began his cello studies at the age of eight. From 2014-2018, he served as principal cellist of the Tallahassee Youth Symphony. In 2018, he won a position in the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Darko Butorac. In 2019, Will won first place in the Senior Division of the North Florida Symphony Concerto Competition, making his concerto debut in April with the Dvorak Cello Concerto. In addition, Will has performed in solo masterclasses with Colin Carr and Matt Haimovitz, as well in chamber masterclasses with Todd Philips, Philip Setzer, and members of the Dover Quartet. He has attended numerous summer festivals, including the Aspen Music Festival and the National Orchestra Institute.


Will attributes much of his success to the guidance of his primary teacher, Kim Jones. His other teachers include Mark Kosower, Richard Weiss, Greg Sauer, Felix Wang, Yves Dharamraj, and Colin Carr.  He received his Bachelor’s in Cello Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music and is currently pursuing his Master’s at Stony Brook University under Colin Carr, where he was a recipient of the prestigious Staller Scholarship.




Drew Vella - Violin/Viola Teacher

Violist and Long Island native Drew Vella delights in performing a wide-ranging repertoire throughout New York and the tri-state area: from Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Broadway - to the UN, cafes, salsa studios, and house concerts. Former violist of the Lehman String Quartet, Mr. Vella has also performed with the Turtle Bay Piano Quartet, the NY Chamber Collective, and has made frequent appearances at Concerts on the Slope. He has performed with the Manhattan Symphonie, the Symphony of Westchester, and Amore Opera. Mr. Vella has frequently been invited to be a fellowship artist at the Pierrot Chamber Music Festival and the Bennington Chamber Music Conference. He has played in masterclasses led by Victoria Chiang, Yizhak Schotten, Lawrence Dutton, Donald Weilerstein, as well as members of the Ying Quartet, Borodin Quartet, and Kronos Quartet.
An advocate of expanding the repertoire for viola, Drew is dedicated to finding fresh and dynamic ways of expanding the canon of music available for the viola. He enjoys pioneering contemporary pieces as well as personally transcribing and arranging classic works of literature and arranging them for the viola.
Mr. Vella has studied at the Eastman School of Music, Queens College, and Long Island University where he was a two time Concerto Competition winner, studying with George Taylor, Brett Deubner, Peter Slowik, and Veronica Salas.

Brian Anderson - Violin/Viola Teacher

Brian is a passionate musician and teacher, with an approach that draws from both acting and traditional music pedagogy.  Brian holds a Bachelor of Music from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, a Master's in Viola from Stony Brook, and is currently pursuing his Doctoral in Viola at Stony Brook.


"I strive to teach violin and viola in a thorough and thoughtful manner catered to each student, building up a deep understanding of concepts such as sound production, the grammar of musical phrases, and efficient, goal-oriented practicing. My advanced students frequently earn high marks at NYSSMA festivals, and I also take pride in having a high retention rate among my beginning students, helping them find joy in playing and learning music. I started on viola in my public school in Virginia when I was 9, quickly growing as a musician with the help of my private teachers. Now, as a first-year Doctoral student in viola at Stony Brook University, studying under the direction of Matthew Lipman and Lawrence Dutton, with additional studies in the Emerson String Quartet Institute, I am working towards a career of teaching viola at the college level and performing chamber music at every opportunity.

My current performance activities include concerts with the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, frequent appearances for the Music at the MART program at the Stony Brook Cancer Center, and freelance gigs throughout Long Island. I am lucky to have held fellowships at the Manchester Music Festival, Madeline Island Chamber Music, Garth Newel Music Center, and the Renova Music Festival, performing with artists such as Eugene Drucker and Andres Diaz, and I have also gotten the chance to play in masterclasses with world-renowned teachers including Kim Kashkashian, Ettora Causa and Misha Amory. While pursuing my Bachelor's at the Peabody Institute, I studied with Choong-jin Chang and Victoria Chiang. In my spare time, I enjoy playing soccer, competitive Scrabble, and playing in a jazz combo."


Annie Ding - Violin/Viola Teacher

Ms. Ding is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Stony Brook University under the tutelage of Laurence Dutton and Matthew Lipman. She’s a teaching assistant for the undergraduate orchestra, and chamber music at SBU. Before entering the DMA program at SBU, Ms. Ding received her Master’s degree from the prestigious Orchestral Performance Program in 2020 from Manhattan School of music, as well as a post-graduate Professional Study Certificate in viola performance in 2019. From 2017 to 2019, she studied at New England Conservatory for her first Master’s degree in viola performance. She received her BM degree from Mannes. Her principal teachers include Craig Mumm, Karen Dreyfus, Patinka Kopec, Dimitri Marruth, Daniel Panner, and James Dunham.

Ms. Ding is a prize winner in numerous competitions, such as Fuchs Chamber Competition and Widder String Quartet Competition at Manhattan School of Music, International Shining Stars Competition, International Virtuoso Competition, New York Artists International Competition, and New York International Music Concourse. She has performed at many festivals and concert venues, such as at Aspen Music Festival, Young Artist Program at Canada National Art Center, Music Mountain Festival, Mozarteum Summer Music Festival, Sarasota Music Festival, Heifetz Music Festival, Summit Music Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Maine Chamber Music Seminar. And different venues, such as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Jordan Hall, Merkin Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Symphony Space, Forbidden City Concert Hall, Beijing Concert Hall, and the China National Center for Performing Art. She has been invited to play several times at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Chinese foreign Minister and the Brazilian Premier, the Iranian Minister, the Korean Foreign Minister, and the Sri Lankan Minister.


Ms. Ding's article, "Charles Loeffler's Two Songs with Viola and Piano Accompaniment and Their French Influence", won second prize at American Viola Society's David Dalton Viola Research Competition and her article will be featured in their upcoming peer-reviewed journal.


Ms.Ding is a Teaching Assistant at Stony Brook University Orchestra and coached undergraduate chamber music. She’s also teaching on Long Island area preparing violin/viola students for NYSSMA and ABRSM exams.



Erica Garcia - Violin / Cello Teacher

Erica Rose Garcia is currently a senior at the Cleveland Institute of Music studying under Richard Weiss majoring in Cello Performance earning her minor in Suzuki Pedagogy.  


Ms. Garcia is a registered Suzuki teacher with the Suzuki Association of the Americas. 


Her multiple musical accomplishments include being selected for the Sphinx Performance Academy at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied under MaryAnn Ramos. She was also chosen to attend the New York State Summer School of the Arts School of Orchestral Studies (NYSSSA) where she studied with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra in Saratoga Springs, New York. She is a three-time first place winner of Gemini Youth Orchestra’s Concerto Competition and has performed numerous times as a soloist. She was selected for All-State Orchestra, All-Eastern Symphony Orchestra, and has performed as principal cellist for the Long Island String Festival Association Orchestra and Gemini Youth Orchestras.


Ms. Garcia has received The Sphinx Fellowship Award, the Edward Miller Memorial Scholarship, the Kevin Cruz Scholarship, the Sylvia and Louis Osler Music Scholarship, the Long Island String Festival Association Studio Award and Antonina G. Nigrelli Memorial Award. Recently, Ms. Garcia was a cello instructor for Through the Staff, an organization dedicated to making classical music education more accessible. She maintains a private cello, violin, and piano studio and enjoys watching her students grow.   



"I'm a teacher, too, and Erica does all the teaching things right." - Joe M. 

"Patient and thorough!" - Evan M. 

"Erica is articulate, focused, amiable, and polished.  She has a pleasant manner and addresses my issues and needs." - Jill B. 


Joanne Nastasi - Piano Teacher

Joanne Nastasi began piano studies at age five, majored in music at Hunter College, and to date continues working with a coach because learning never ends!  As a Common Branch teacher in NYC, since 1969, her additional responsibility was to produce seasonal music programs for grades 3,4,5, and 6. The last several years in NYC schools were devoted exclusively to music, for which she developed and taught a diverse program for grades K-5. Through the years, she taught piano privately to children and adults using the knowledge gleaned through service as a NYSSMA piano judge to guide instruction.  After 2011 an opportunity to create and teach a music program at The College of Staten Island’s Options Program proved quite interesting. Classes focusing on understanding, comparing, and critiquing piano performances were offered for several sessions. Rudimentary components of composition were introduced, the complexity of technique, and the importance of expression and emotion were the basis of critical evaluation. 




Nicholas Siconolfi - Violin Teacher

Nicholas Siconolfi began his musical studies of the violin at the age of 3. For over a decade, he had pursued a Suzuki intensive education and is proficient with the content of the Suzuki curriculum. He received his undergraduate degree in string-focused pedagogy from the Whalen School of Music at Ithaca College and seeks to help students connect with music in meaningful ways.

In college Nick was principal stand in the Ithaca College Symphonic Orchestra. He also played in four chamber ensembles, two collaborative pianist workshops, and a jazz ensemble. This was over 50 ensemble performances in three and a half years.

Always looking to expand the range of his skillset for his students along with Nick’s 19 years of violin experience he also pursued an education in Cello, Bass, and Viola. Nick implements strategies that appeal to different types of learners and help facilitate those who may have been struggling with content while challenging students who are ahead of their peers. By adapting and integrating the curriculum, it keeps his students engaged and excited with the lesson's content. He loves working with students and make it a point to ensure they have the opportunity to interact with music that resonates with them. He understands the importance of shaping young minds and allowing them to succeed through an inspired education. During his formal education, Nicholas studied under the instruction of Ani Resnick, Alejandra Mahave, Anton Polezhayev, Susan Waterbury, Kyle Amrbrust, and Guillaume Pirard.



Connor Leaf - Cello Teacher

Connor Leaf graduated from Skidmore College where he majored in Mathematics and minored in Cello Performance.  While at Skidmore, Mr. Leaf student taught a chamber music group.  He actively plays cello in community orchestras in the Metropolitan area, including the Plainfield Orchestra in New Jersey.  He also enjoys chamber ensemble playing and performing.  A passionate teacher by nature, Connor works with Special Education students, is a math tutor, and provides tennis lessons.  He is currently pursuing a career in education.