Lesley O’Donnell: Voice
Lesley O'Donnell is a graduate of the Rome School of Music at Catholic University in Washington DC and has studied at NYU and TVI Actor's studio where she honed her craft under the guidance of broadway directors and musicians. Lesley's studies allowed her the opportunity to sing across the country on stages such as The Kennedy Center, Surflight Theatre and in the National Touring Companies of Camelot, School House Rock Live and If You Give A Pig A Pancake to name a few. Her musical experience is not limited only to the Broadway style. Lesley is trained classically and in modern pop styles as well. She brings her experience to the lesson room to aid students with audition preparation, sight singing, repertoire building and vocal exploration. Lesley's main goal as a vocal coach is to nurture a love of music in her students while giving them the tools they need to become confident and healthy singers!
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.
Serena Cushing: Piano
Serena Cushing was born in Seoul, South Korea, where she began playing the piano at the age of five. After attending a music school in Vladivostok, Russia for one year, she moved to Long Island, New York with her family. Jennifer continued her classical training in piano with Lisa Kim, a former Juilliard graduate and faculty at the Stony Brook Prep School. Later, she would study under Seunghee Pae, professor at the Manhattan School of Music. In 2010, she was accepted at Skidmore College as one of five Filene Music Scholars and began studying with Dr. Pola Baytelman. During her time at Skidmore, she was greatly inspired by her professors and decided to utilize her passion for music to educate and inspire others as well. Jennifer has been performing in numerous solo, chamber music and orchestral concerts throughout her musical career at various venues including churches, Carnegie Hall and City Hall of Vienna in Austria. She is always excited to bring every student the joy of learning music in the genre that is most comfortable for them. From beginners to advanced students, Jennifer wants to make the learning experience fun at Modern Day Music, all the while improving the student in his/her skills!
Katie Dill: Piano
Katie Dill is a pianist, organist, guitarist, and singer/songwriter. She began studying piano at age 10 and was blown away by how quickly she fell in love and advanced in her skills. Under the direction of Kay Kang, she entered multiple piano competitions and won a multi-instrumentalist competition at the New York Summer Music Festival. She went on to play with the Empire State Youth Orchestra for two years performing at halls including Carnegie Hall, Troy Music Hall, Proctors, and The Palace Theater. Katie then auditioned to study under Gioacchino Longobardi, and as one of only two accepted students, learned a different set of piano techniques originating in Naples, Italy where Gioacchino had trained. Having also received a Certificate in Liturgical Music from The College of St. Rose, she is currently an Associate Liturgical Musician and Choir Director at St. Mary’s Crescent. Katie enjoys many genres aside from classical, including pop, R&B, soul, and classic rock. Her favorites include Billy Joel, Elton John, and Sara Bareilles. Katie spends her weekends showcasing her original songs and entertaining crowds around the Capital District. Her talents led her to performing in major cities including Nashville, Washington D.C., and NYC. Well-versed in many genres, Katie can cater to any direction a student desires, whether it be to perform classical, accompany other musicians, or play classic rock and pop tunes for fun!
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. Wwhether 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!
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.
Stephen Struss: Drums/Studio
Stephen Struss is a drummer, percussionist and music producer from the Capital District of New York. An orchestrally-trained musician since middle school, Steve holds a bachelors degree in Music Business with a concentration on Performance and Production from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. With experience and a love for genrés ranging from rock and pop to hip-hop, funk and jazz, his already extensive performance career has taken him coast to coast playing with artists on some of the biggest stages; from SXSW, The Vans Warped Tour, Rockstar Energy Tour, CMJ Music Fest and many more. As an educator since 2008, Steve continues to help guide drummers, new and old, through their own musical path by focusing on musicianship, proper technique, introducing new and diverse music styles and of course, having fun!
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.