Katie Johnson: Voice

Katie Johnson is a graduate of The Greatbatch School of Music at Houghton College. She began singing at the age of seven, and has discovered her calling as a performer, singer-songwriter, musician and voice coach.  Katie received classical vocal training as a soprano as well as professional coachings in musical theater.  She made her debut with the Houghton Lyric Theater, starring as Christine Daae in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera and has performed on stages such as The Tri-Cities Opera, and as a featured artist in concert at the Terra Cotta.  Katie brings versatility and excitement in her approach to voice, offering styles from jazz to musical theater, and from classical opera to pop YouTube covers. As a self-taught guitarist and pianist, she encourages her students to follow their hearts - whether that means jamming out with friends for fun or becoming a professional musician.  Katie loves sharing her passion for music with her students and seeks to provide them with knowledge and vocal technique that will allow them discover their fullest potential as a vocalist!

Laura Beth Johnson: Voice

Laura Beth Johnson is a musician and vocal coach native to Clifton Park. She attended Shenedehowa where she started in Girls’ Choir at Okte Elementary and ended her high school career gracing the stage as Belle in Beauty in the Beast. She also performed as Madame Giry in Phantom of the Opera and Eponine in Les Miserables. Laura placed 1st in Shen Idol and numerous Clifton Park Winter Festivals. She went on to study as a classical soprano at Houghton College under Mitchell Hutchings. She earned a B.A. in Writing with a special focus in Songwriting. In 2016, she independently released an album of original folk music under the moniker, “The Sorrow Estate”.  Laura has performed in venues scattered across New York, Nashville, Indianapolis, and London. Her passion for songwriting and performing is only rivaled by her love of teaching.  Laura equips her students with the fundamentals of healthy singing while encouraging the realization of individual goals. As a mentor to young singers and songwriters, Laura challenges her students to consider not only how we sing, but why. Lessons with Laura provide the techniques, instruction, and encouragement students need to grow and advance each week.

Kayla Carknard: Voice

Kayla Carknard has studied voice fervently since a young age and began to gain professional coaching in classical and musical theatre genres in high school. Over the years, she has stepped into many vocally diverse roles such as Fiona in Shrek: The Musical, Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors and Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music. Kayla has gained exceptional direction, profitable knowledge and valuable experience from her studies at both SCCC School of Music and the Theatre Institute at Sage. Currently, she invests a great deal of her heart in the Worship Arts Ministry at Grace Fellowship, constantly growing in passion for music and people. With her exuberance and enthusiasm, Kayla’s coaching style is determined to help develop groundbreaking confidence and a new excitement in each student’s musical journey.  She is passionate in working with students to grow in loving their individual voice. Kayla's students are encouraged toward confidence and guided to continuously expand their musicality in a way that is captivating, rewarding and enjoyable.

Areli Mendoza-Pannone: Voice

Areli has studied vocal technique since she was fifteen years old, both privately and at the college level. In high school, she participated in various musical theatre productions in the tri-city area and interned as an assistant stage/music director in her senior year. She attended Russell Sage College, where she received training and experience in musical theatre with the Theatre Institute at Sage. She later transferred to SUNY Schenectady School of Music for her vocal performance degree. In this time, she was educated in opera and classical performance as well as touring with the barbershop quartet she leads, Vintage Harmonics. She has additionally travelled as a vocalist/keyboardist with The Fire Collective, a worship collective based in upstate New York. It is Areli’s desire to awaken a passion for singing in the hearts of her students, challenging them to discover the unique characteristics of their individual voices, as well as encouraging them to grow in technique and versatility.

Katherine Pohl: Piano/Voice

Katherine Pohl is a singer-songwriter who has been singing all her life, and writing almost as long.  Having been immersed in everything from musical theatre to The Beatles as a child, she found using her imagination to create her own compositions both a thrill and a challenge.  After taking up the piano and guitar, she began composing original songs.  She graduated the prestigious Berklee College of Music and independently released an album of original material, fondly titled "From Boston".  Katherine's lyrical prowess and dynamically gymnastic voice have granted her the ability to relay her experiences in a creative and emotional way to audiences throughout the northeast.  She hopes to continue sharing her music for years to come as a songwriter, performer, and teacher.  Katherine enjoys having the opportunity to instill a lifelong appreciation for music in all students, no matter their repertoire or goals.

Elena Karpoff: Piano/Voice

Elena Karpoff grew up in Syracuse, New York where she was raised by two loving parents; her father, a concert pianist and entrepreneur of the Entrada Piano Technique, and her mother, a classically-trained soprano and musical theater voice professor. As a youngster, Elena enjoyed improvising with her dad at the keyboard, and began taking classical piano lessons at the age of 6. Throughout her education, Elena sang in choir and participated in many extracurricular vocal ensembles. In her teen years, she spent much of her spare time learning her favorite songs (the likes of Queen, Radiohead, Stevie Wonder, and Joni Mitchell to name a few) by ear at the piano, and arranging them for her high school acapella groups. Meanwhile, through analyzing some of these songs, she became fascinated with music theory and studied for the AP exam independently. In May of 2019, Elena released her debut album “Artifacts,” a project she wrote, arranged, recorded, mixed, and mastered during her time at The College of Saint Rose. She subsequently graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Music Industry. In addition to piano and voice, Elena dabbles in a number of other instruments; she is self-taught on ukulele and guitar, and spontaneously took violin lessons in college (although this also helped her compose the string arrangements on her album!). In lessons, Elena is passionate about music-making and encouraging creativity at the keyboard.  At the same time, she works to teach a healthy, tension-free technique from the very beginning, understanding that students will enjoy playing and singing much more if they learn to do so with ease!

Chelsea Johnson: Piano

Chelsea Johnson began playing piano at the age of six. She studied piano through high school and played in several bands as well as competing and placing in NYACS Fine Arts competitions in the classical and sacred piano categories. After high school, Chelsea studied Music Industry: Recording and Engineering at Herkimer College. While there, she continued studying piano as well as recording and engineering. After graduating with an A.S. in Music Industry, Chelsea moved on to graduate with a B.S. in Music Industry from the Greatbatch School of Music at Houghton College. She studied classical piano under Dr. William Newbrough, a Steinway Artist who studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. Chelsea has been involved in many musical endeavors such as being a member of an a cappella group and performing Mozart's Requiem with the Houghton College Choir at Carnegie Hall. She was on staff with Koinonia, a student-led worship experience in which she led worship on piano with a band for the student body on Sunday evenings. Since graduating, Chelsea has recorded piano and background vocals for a few different projects, such as Sorrow Estate's The Happy EP (put out by vocal coach Laura Beth Johnson).  She currently performs gigs periodically with family members and is a part of her local church's worship team. Chelsea is a passionate musician and pianist.  Whether a student wants to learn classical music, pop music, chord charts, or how to play and sing just for fun, she's got you covered!

Deb Hedley: Piano

Deb Hedley is a classically trained pianist who has been studying piano for over 14 years. She grew her passion for music within Shenendahowa’s phenomenal music program as a part of their choir, wind ensemble and jazz band. This provided Deb with a well rounded musical background and progressed her overall interest in piano.  She went on to study music at Florida Southwestern State College and Ave Maria University with a concentration in piano and continues to further her music education to this day. Deb has taught private piano lessons for the past 4 years in both Florida and New York and although classically trained, she enjoys many styles and genres, including; pop, classic rock and everything in between. She has provided piano accompaniment for many churches and school choirs and enjoys attending concerts and writing music in her free time. From beginner to advanced, Deb loves to teach all styles of music to students of all ages.

Tony Garza: Guitar/Bass/Ukulele

Tony Garza has been playing and writing music for most of his life starting at age 8 with the trumpet.  At age 13 he got the rock and roll bug, picked up the guitar and has never looked back. Tony attended SUNY Fredonia to study Music Education where he mastered Music Theory, Aural Skills. and many different instruments. Throughout his journey he has studied various styles of music including Rock, Blues, and Jazz.  Tony has performed throughout the Northeast from Rhode Island to Vermont and also produced his Hip Hop influenced group T-KA 6. Coming from a very diverse background he has a unique perspective on music and applies that in his teaching. His youthful approach makes lessons both fun and educational. Tony enjoys working with the wonderful staff at MDM and aims to help his students achieve their goals with a smile from ear to ear.

Gabe Stallman: Guitar/Bass/Ukulele

Gabe Stallman is a musician to the core, having been drawn to instruments (guitar, bass, keyboards, voice) as far back as he can remember. As a formally trained graduate of the SCCC School of Music, Gabe approaches teaching like a musician, believing that the most important part of playing is identifying, developing and enhancing a love of the music. Gabe has been playing out professionally since the age of 16 having toured the northeast playing original music with his acclaimed band, Ampevene. You can hear his music on popular local radio stations like WEQX and WRPI. Gabe believes that the educational experience should be as exciting as the music itself. In lessons, Gabe works with students to identify the music they love from all genres, to understand the theory that explains why they love it, and to help them develop the auditory and technical skills to play and create the sounds that drive their passion. Gabe is excited to be teaching with the family at Modern Day Music, and seeks to give his students the best education they can get.

Mike Malatino: Drums/Studio

Mike Malatino is a drummer, producer and audio engineer hailing from Saratoga Springs, New York. He holds a Bachelors degree in Music from Albany State University with a concentration in Electronic Music and Media. Mike is also a certified audio engineer from The Audio Recording Technology Institute in Orlando, Florida. His playing styles include Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal, Rock & Roll and Pop. He has been fortunate enough to study under some of the greatest drum educators such as Dom Famularo, Larry Levine, Aldo Mazza, Jeff Queen, Daniel Glass, Sergio Bellotti, and Rich Laplante. Mike's main focus for his students is a combination of knowledge, skill and fun!

James Johnson: Studio

James Johnson is an audio engineer, baritone, and instrumentalist from Clifton Park, NY.  He is currently finishing his degree in Music Industry at the College of Saint Rose and can be found performing on different stages throughout the Capital Region. James is passionate about recording and mixing in studio as well as at live concert events. He has worked beside artists such as Toby Mac, Tenth Avenue North, Good Fiction, and Sorrow Estate. He is proficient on digital and analog consoles and holds Dante level 1, and Pro Tools Operator certifications.  At Modern Day Music, James is thrilled to combine his technical skills with his musicianship through recording, mixing, and producing professional studio recordings.


Custom Music Education!
  • Private Lessons
    • Piano
    • Guitar
    • Ukulele
    • Bass
    • Voice
    • Drums
    • Classical
    • Jazz
    • Rock
    • Blues
    • R&B
    • Metal
    • Country
    • Hip hop
    • Bluegrass
    • ...and more!
  • Recording
  • Composing
  • Improvisation
  • Playing in a Band
  • Ear Training
  • Music Theory
  • College Prep


1673 RT9 (Healthplex)
Clifton Park, NY 12065

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Cailin Burke: General Manager

Cailin Burke oversees the daily operations of MDM. She enjoys working with both coaches and students to give them the best experience possible when beginning their journey in music. Cailin seeks to make sure students are paired with a coach that best fits them and is excited for their lessons each week. She also works to ensure that the tight-knit MDM staff is well equipped to provide exceptional teaching in a relaxed and fun environment. Her love of music started at a young age as her mother was a piano instructor and taught her to play. She then transitioned to singing where she joined several select children’s choirs and performed in her school’s theater program. Although she comes from a musical background and is a big fan of the local music scene, her creativity is shown through photography and videography, which she pursues in addition to her work at MDM. Cailin graduated with a degree in Communications, Sports Journalism, and Art & Advertising Design from Marist College.

Michaela O’Donnell: Administrative Assistant

Michaela O’Donnell is an aspiring musician who is passionate about sharing her love for music with all of the students at MDM. She enjoys helping students make music a part of their life and assists with the daily operations at MDM. Michaela graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a degree in biology but soon discovered her passion for creating and expressing herself through music. From a very young age, music has always been a part of Michaela’s life. She has been playing the violin since age 9, beginning with classical violin and later focusing primarily on Irish and Scottish fiddle. In high school, she was a member of her school’s orchestra and chorus, and also participated in a number of school musicals. More recently, she started taking bass guitar lessons at MDM and loves every second of it! Michaela also enjoys singing and hopes to showcase her voice more through the various opportunities that MDM offers for students.

Paul Benedetti: Owner

Paul Benedetti began his career in music more than 30 years ago. He started out playing saxophone for 9 years, added guitar in high school along with a little singing and took piano as well. Realizing his true calling was as a lead vocalist, he studied classical voice with various teachers for many years throughout high school, college and beyond. He then began to teach others in the rock/pop field using an applied song based method just like what Modern Day Music does today. Paul played in a local rock band in the 80's, often opening up for various national bands including the classic rock group Foghat. During that time he also honed his skills as a producer/engineer in the studio, as well as doing live sound engineering for hundreds of bands. Paul has since been very fortunate to work with some incredible artists. He recorded and mixed projects from the 70's southern rock group, the Outlaws, to numerous CDs for hardcore favorites One King Down and Stigmata, all the way to engineering the CD, On My Way To You, for the legendary Tony and Emmy award winning star Leslie Uggams. Paul has also engineered cast albums for the Tony nominated broadway musical, Anna Karenina and the off broadway musical, Thunder Knocking On The Door with music by Grammy award winning artist Keb' Mo'. In addition to working with hundreds of musicians, Paul has also done editing, mixing, and mastering for independent films such as, The Last Round, featuring X-Files star William B. Davis, Hobo Heyseus starring Raymond Turturro and Kenneth John McGregor, and many others... Paul opened Max Trax Recording Studios located in Albany, NY, in June of 1994 and it soon became one of the areas premier music studios. He has since produced, engineered and mixed projects for hundreds of up-and-coming musicians and voiceover artists, including NBC's The Voice Top 20 contestant, Moriah Formica and American Idol's 3rd place, Madison Vandenburg. Paul is a respected veteran of the music industry and is known for getting the best sound out of the people he produces, records, and mixes. His experience and talent are essential to the quality of our operations and to the support of our studio. Paul's main objective for Modern Day Music, as it is with all ventures he is involved with, is to provide unparalleled value, education and ongoing support.

Marilu Benedetti: Financial Administrator

Marilu Benedetti, wife of owner, Paul Benedetti, handles all financial related tasks for MDM. Marilu has many years experience running a multi-million dollar company. Retired from her full time management position to raise her children, she then came to Voices For All to oversee and assist with all things behind the scenes.  Now she does the same for MDM. Marilu is fastidious in all that she does, and is very conscientious of not only our team members and the company as a whole, but also of each and every vendor we work with. Everyone is very appreciative of Marilu's attention to detail and her quest to do things in the most ethical way. It is so great to have her as a part of the MDM family.


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