Meet Our Instuctors

YACM aims to bring the highest quality music instructors into the life of your child. We are a group of musicians who care deeply about how each young person experiences personal success in their music lessons and home practice time. Our instructors are selected to teach at YACM because of their understanding of traditional comprehensive music education and their demonstrated outcomes in developing successful confident musicians. 

Wanda Cook

Executive Director, Piano, Theory, CORE-Arts,

Wanda Cook, founder and Executive 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

Violin, Beginning Piano, Early Child

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

Voice, Music Theatre, A Cappella, CORE-Arts, Director Solano Youth Theatre

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.

Kim Feeney

Cello – Solano Music Conservatory

Kimberly Cole Feeney holds a Bachelor of Music in performance from California State University, Sacramento, and a Master of Arts in Music Education and Cello Performance from California State University, Long Beach. 

 

She recently retired from 35 years of service as a string specialist in the public schools,   including 31 years with the Davis Joint Unified School District and previous years with the San Juan and Sacramento City Unified School districts. In Davis, she taught an average of 300 students per year, serving multiple schools and directing the “Davis All-City Elementary Orchestra” which she created in 1995. 

 

In 2015 she was presented with the “Outstanding Music Educator Award” from the Capitol section of the California Music Educators Association (CMEA) and in 2002 she was presented with the “Outstanding String Educator Award” by CMEA, Capital Section. 

 

Kim is currently serving her second term as State President of the California Chapter of the American String Teacher’s Association (ASTA).  She also serves as the California ASTA webmaster and liaison to CMEA. Over the past thirty-five years she has held numerous leadership positions with both CMEA and ASTA/NSOA (National Schools Orchestral Association) at both the local and state levels. 

 

In her spare time, Kim freelances on the cello, playing in her own quartet and with various orchestras in the Sacramento and Bay areas. She also serves as an adjudicator at both local and state events.

 

She is looking forward to a return to private teaching and expanded cello playing.

Kristopher Frankson

Percussion - Solano Music Conservatory

Kris Frankson is a Percussionist and teacher who graduated from the Musician’s Institute, with a certificate in Percussion Performance. Over the last 27 years, Kris has learned from, played with, and taught many outstanding musicians. He has benefitted from a well rounded musical education and has studied under Bob Gulotti at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. He has also learned privately from some amazing musicians, such as Gary Hess, Alex Jenkins and John Xepeoleas. 

Professionally, Kris has worked with a wide range of musicians in varied genres, including but not limited to funk, jazz, blues, orchestral, and rock. Currently, Kris plays drums with Sacramento based alternative rock veterans, Mikey LP and the Krooks. Kris brings five years of teaching experience to the Young Artists Conservatory of Music. He believes developing efficient practice routines and strong time management skills are the key to success.

Joseph Galamba

Violin – Solano Music Conservatory

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. 

Elena Gomez Ladron de Guevara

Suzuki Certified Violin Instructor, Classical Violin, Solano Music Conservatory

Elena Gomez is a classically trained violinist from Bilbao, Spain. Her credentials include degrees from Musikene in San Sebastian (Spain), Codarts in Rotterdam (The Netherlands), and University of Santiago de Compostela  in Santiago de Compostela (Spain). After finishing her Master´s Degree in orchestral music, Elena began pursuing a career in music education by enrolling in a teacher training program through the European Suzuki Association where she completed three years of intensive training to become a certified Suzuki Method instructor. 

 

After arriving in the Sacramento area, Elena discovered the Young Artists Conservatory of Music and found that her approach and understanding of music education aligned closely with that of the conservatory. Taken from her training in the Suzuki method, Elena believes that every child has the ability to play an instrument and that parental involvement creates a more successful learning environment for the students. She has specialized in violin education for young students, ranging in age from 3-14. What Elena loves most about being a violin instructor is the connections that she can make with each and every student. As a Spanish national, Elena is fluent in both Spanish and English. 

Wayne Gross

Saxophone, Clarinet, Concert Band, Piano, Theory - Solano Music Conservatory, Music Matters – Solano

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 Halbach III

Voice - Solano Music Conservatory

Ed Halbach earned his Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance at San Jose State University in 1982. He has studied with mezzo sopranos Irene Dalis, and Edna Garabedian, baritones John Robert Dunlap, Dr. David Rohrbaugh and David Burnakis, as well as soprano Jean Garson. He has sung in master classes with Giorgio Tozzi, Sherrill Milnes, and Jess Thomas. He has extensive professional experience in operatic theatre where he has sung leading baritone roles in Cosi fan Tutte, Le Nozze di Figaro, La Boheme, Gianni Schicchi, Manon, Don Carlos, La Cenerentola, Prince Igor, Tartuffe, The Scarf, and numerous other leading baritone roles in English, French, German, Italian, and Russian. He has performed many recitals in the same languages and has extensive knowledge of the classical art song repertoire. He has taught private voice for over 35 years, and has taught both choir and theatre arts for the Vacaville Unified School District. He embraces all forms of music with an understanding that the classics have the power to stretch and empower the student to become an artist of poise and dignity in any genre of music or theater.

Shari Hendrix

Clarinet, Flute - Solano Music Conservatory

Shari Hendrix holds a music teaching credential. More about Shari coming. 

Farida Isayeva

Piano – Solano Music Conservatory

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.

Jaymes Kirksey

Piano, Violin - Solano Music Conservatory

Jaymes Kirksey, a native of Oklahoma, and a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, has won numerous prizes for both violin and piano at several national and international competitions including the Margaret Gutthman Piano Competition in Atlanta, the Baylor University Music Competition and the Juanita Hubbard Invitational Piano Competition. He is an active performer around the US and Europe.

Jaymes made his professional Oklahoma debut at the age of 13 performing Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.

The Daily Oklahoman described Jaymes as having an "outrageously mature playing style with exceptional control" and "a truly unstoppable future." He later performed Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto with the Hays Symphony Orchestra of Kansas.

Jaymes made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2006 with the National Festival Orchestra led by Maestro Benjamin Zander and became the first African American and Oklahoman chosen to perform with the orchestra in its history. Jaymes studied piano with Dr. James Breckenridge, Valery Kuleshov and Nellie Asaturyan and violin with Bettina Mussumeli, Peter Nguyen, Robert McDuffie and Kare'n Khanagov.

He is currently the Music Director and Maestro of the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra in Berkeley, the only choral orchestra in the country. He has guest conducted the Golden Gate Symphony in ther performance of Brahms Fourth Symphony and has performed Beethoven's Violin Concerto and Lalo's Symphonie Espagnol with the orchestra. For more information, visit youngmusiciansco.org/teachers.

Thomas Molina

Piano, Violin - Solano Music Conservatory

Thomas Molina was born in Fairfield, grew up in Vacaville and has been performing music professionally in the area since 2003.  

 

Playing in NorCal and North Bay Honor bands throughout middle school and high school before graduating from Will C. Wood in 2005.  After studying trumpet under North Texas State University Graduate and Yamaha Recording Artist Rocky Winslow at Chico State University,, Thomas was awarded a substantial scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2010.  

 

In 2014, Thomas graduated from Berklee with a Bachelors in professional Music with an emphasis in education.  After graduating, Thomas returned to Vacaville to pursue a career in Special Education where he worked in various facilities and age groups before leaving in 2017 to begin a career as a music educator.  Currently, he is the Brass instructor and Director of the Winds Ensemble at Valle Vibes Orchestra in Sonoma, and leader of a performance collective based in Solano County.

 

As a graduate with a Bachelors in Music from Berklee, Thomas was required to complete 4 years of brass instruction and two years each of vocal instruction, harmony, composition and education coursework.  This wide ranging experiential background helps  aspiring musicians of all ages and skill levels achieve an understanding of their voice or instrument in the context of harmony and literacy in music notation..  Additionally, his 4 years working in public schools in special ed classrooms and running his own Classrooms  for two years has given him the necessary experience to create a relaxed atmosphere conducive to learning in a group or individual setting.  

 

Trumpet/ Brass, Voice, Beginning Piano, Audition Prep, Home Studio, Tonal Harmony, Jazz/Pop Theory, Composition and Songwriting.  

Melinda Packer

Viola,Violin, Solano Junior Strings – Solano Music Conservatory

Melinda Packer is a multi-instrumentalist and educator, originally from New Jersey, and currently residing and teaching in Solano County, CA. Melinda is a full-time music teacher in the Vacaville Unified School District, teaching strings and winds at the High School as well as beginning Elementary strings at five schools in the district. She is the director of the Solano Symphony Orchestra’s yearly Young Artists’ Concerto Competition, as well as a member of the Symphony, sitting as Principal Violist. Melinda also performs actively as a Violist and multi-instrumentalist with Bay Area orchestras and local theaters as well as with the Solano Winds community concert band. 

 

As a vocal percussionist and a cappella educator, Melinda is a regular clinician in the a cappella festival and music education conference circuit. She has presented at the National A cappella convention for the past two years as well as at the California, Massachusetts, and Florida State Music educators association conferences and other regional and national a cappella festivals. This year, Melinda will also serve as the education coordinator for the 2020 Los Angeles A Cappella Festival, curating all of the educational offerings. Melinda Packer holds degrees in Music Education and Viola Performance and teaching certifications in both Massachusetts and California.

Matt Thomas

Drums, Percussion, Theory - Solano Music Conservatory

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.

Lee Bob Watson

Music Teacher, Guitar Instructor

Lee Bob Watson is a teacher, songwriter and performer based in Northern California. He has taught for o ver 15 years in private individual and group settings, as well as in private and public schools. He has produced 10 albums of original music and has performed extensively in the US and in Europe. He is well versed in popular, rock, jazz, soul, country and folk forms. At YACM, he will be teaching guitar at all levels (non-classical). 

Kimmi Wang

Piano, Theory, Composition - Solano Music Conservatory, Music Matters – Solano

Kimmi has been teaching piano and theory to all ages for over 20 years since obtaining her degree in composition and piano from the prestigious National Taiwan University of Arts. With a focus on the students abilities she imparts her love of music while inspiring the students to achieve their targets.  

Her students have accomplished great results in all their examinations and goals whilst they are enjoying the pleasant and creative teaching methodology. 

She composes and performs regularly in diverse forms from classical to jazz.

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500 Davis St.

Vacaville, CA 95688

707-451-7200

info@youngartistsconservatory.org

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