Non-Credit Music Instructors

The Music School at Dutchess Community College is proud to offer individual and group lessons by some of the region's most accomplished musicians. Learn more about them, below.


Ariana Barkeshli, a native of Tehran, received her first music lessons from her father, Dr. Mehdi Barkeshli. She studied in France with Yvonne Loriod (wife of Messiaen) and received a Master of Music degree from L’Ecole Normale de Musique.

Since 1985, Ariana has lived in New York. At SUNY New Paltz, she obtained a master’s degree in piano pedagogy under Vladimir Feltsman.

Among her recital performances are The National Gallery of Art and a celebration of J. S. Bach’s 250th Anniversary. Ariana functioned as Artistic Director of the conference of the International Society for Iranian Studies in Toronto in 2008. 

Flute, Oboe, Chamber Music, Kindermusik

Lynnette Bennerbegan playing flute at the ripe old age of eleven. An avid horse lover she earned an A.A.S. Equine Science and worked in that field for eleven years while continuing to play and perform. Returning to college, she earned a B.S. Music Performance, Flute, from SUNY New Paltz. She studied with Marcia Gates, Lynn Cunningham, Sarah Trautman, and Gary Schocker.

Lynnette teaches Flute, Oboe, Chamber Music, and Kindermusik. She also can be heard on movie soundtracks and CDs. Lynnette lives in Millerton, NY with her husband, stepson, four cats, two horses, and two dogs (all rescues!).

Bass, Guitar

Best known for his signature bass solos in a variety of styles, from jazz to bluegrass, Rusty is in demand as a performer, teacher, songwriter, and session player in the Hudson Valley. Education includes: Studies at Berklee College of Music and a B.A. from the Evergreen State College.


Jeannie Kern Chenette teaches western classical harp and traditional ethnic harps. She draws from diverse musical styles including Classical, Celtic and Latin. Her teaching at DCC focuses on Celtic-style harps through small group classes and private lessons.

Jeannie currently performs in solo and chamber music venues throughout the Hudson Valley. She received a M.M. from the New England Conservatory and served as principal harpist of Orchestra Iowa. She has published four pedagogical solo books and a series of harp ensemble pieces. Former faculty positions include Iowa State University and Grinnell College.

Kindermusik, Voice

Katherine DeFiglio has been teaching Kindermusik since 2008.  She also teachesvoice classes and lessons.  She has a master’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Miami, and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.  A classically trained singer, she has performed throughout the United States and Europe.  She also loves outdoor activities such as running and skiing, which help her stay in shape for her high-energy Kindermusik classes.

Piano, Suzuki Piano

Richard Devens received his BS in Music Performance from Brooklyn College, where he studied with Augustin Anievas and Michael Rogers. He received his M.M. in Music Performance from The University of Arizona, where he studied with Nicholas Zumbro. Additional studies were with Richard Fabre.

Richard loves music from all periods, but has a special passion for Romantic piano literature and a particular interest in music for the left hand alone. He is active as an accompanist, as well as a solo performer. He has performed at Trinity Church, St. Paul's Festival of the Arts, Bargemusic, Alice Tully Hall, and in Russia.

Director of Summer Music Institutes
Kindermusik, Voice

Laura Doe has performed in over 30 theatrical and operatic productions. She has extensive experience in musical and theatrical directing, as well as teaching and administration in DCC's Summer Piano Institute. Laura holds a master's degree in Vocal Performance and a bachelor's degree in Vocal Music Education from the Crane School of Music. She also holds an associate degree in Performing Arts from DCC. Laura teaches "Kids and Teens Sing Musical Theater," "Intergenerational Women's Choir," "Kids Composition," Kindermusik, early childhood musicianship classes and voice lessons for all ages at DCC.


Sally Doe is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Mt. St. Mary's College. She has participated in musical productions with the Rhinebeck Center of Performing Arts and the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, and has sung locally with Bachfest Summer Choir and Cappella Festiva in Poughkeepsie. She has taught Kindermusik for seven years. 


Elizabeth Gerbi is a frequent coach, clinician, conductor (100+ productions) and music educator/choral conductor at theatres and institutions across the country. She is also a versatile vocalist, having shared stages with Kenny Rodgers, Sutton Foster, and members of the City Opera. Liz recently completed training in Somatic Voicework: The Lovetri Method (tm) at Shenandoah University, an M.M. from Boston University, and is a current doctoral student of Vocal Pedagogy at Shenandoah Conservatory. Liz is a member of the adjunct faculty at DCC, where she conducts the DCC choral ensembles and teaches Vocal Repertoire, Applied Voice, and History of Musical Theatre.

Piano, Violin, Recorder

Rhonni Hallman, an Eastman School of Music graduate, has returned to this coast after an extensive freelance career in Los Angeles. 

Her teaching background includes winning curriculum competitions sponsored by Los Angeles Opera, and coaching chamber music for California Institute of Technology.

As a professional violinist, she was a member of Los Angeles Master Chorale Orchestra playing with the Los Angeles Opera, tango concerts in Mexico, major ballet companies, and “Phantom of the Opera.” She has toured and recorded with Frank Sinatra and Yanni. Currently you may see her playing with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and the Botticelli Chamber Players.


John Howell, tenor, has sung throughout the United States, Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, and Sydney, encompassing both opera and oratorio. He has performed with New York City Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Bard Summer Festival, New York Virtuoso Singers, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, The Philadelphia Singers, and Seraphic Fire. He is a regular member of the Choir of Men and Boys at St. Thomas Fifth Avenue in New York City. In 2005, he was a recipient of the prestigious J. William Fulbright Award and spent a year studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, Australia.

Musicianship Through Movement, Piano

Tomoyo Kawano has been awarded her M.A. in Somatic Psychology (Dance/Movement Therapy concentration) from Naropa University (Boulder), B.S. in Music Theory and Composition from SUNY (New Paltz) and Advanced Certificate of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music for Pianoforte (London). She is a board certified dance/movement therapist (American Dance Therapy Association [ADTA]) and has worked as composer, performer, teacher and therapist in a variety of venues and settings ranging from pre-schools, counseling centers, hospitals and theatre utilizing dance, movement and music. She was a presenter at the 2011 annual ADTA conference.


Dave Laks is a harmonicologist, saxophonist, flautist, and vocalist. Mr. Laks has been a certified music educator for over 28 years and is also a Board Certified Music Therapist.

Dave performs and composes for Band Zumbi Zumbi which incorporates the genres of blues, jazz, and some rock with a twist of samba, montuno, calypso, along with the street rhythms of Bahia, Brazil.

Dave Laks has been mentored by the likes of: Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Anton Kuskin, Yusef Lateef, Joe Allard, Lee Konitz, John Signorelli, David Barrett, Joe Filisko, Richard Sleigh and Dennis Gruenling.


Carol Vann Losee received her Bachelor of Music degree from North Texas State University. She taught public school music K-12 for six years. She received her Master of Arts degree from SUNY New Paltz in piano pedagogy. She has studied with Larry Walz, Vladimir Feltsman, and Eteri Andjaparidze.

Carol has taught piano for many years. She performs with Valentina Shatalova in the Two For You piano duo a well-known accompanist.

Carol is a certified NYSSMA adjudicator. She serves as organist for Trinity Lutheran Church in Walden. She has three grown children and lives with her husband Tom in New Paltz.

Piano, Recreational Music Making

Maria Peterson has studied at NYU and SUNY New Paltz and holds a B.S. in Music History and Piano Performance. She has been teaching since 1982 and is a life-long performer. She is currently the Music Director at the First United Methodist Church in Highland, as well as Director of The Highland Visual and Performing Arts Institute. In addition to individual piano lessons, Maria teaches Recreational Music Making, a group piano program for adults and senior adults.


Beverly Poyerd began her music training at age five and studied piano, performance and theory at the Henry Street Settlement School and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in New York City.

 After a career in the brokerage industry, she continued her musical studies, graduating Summa Cum Laude from SUNY New Paltz with a degree in Piano Performance in 2005. She performs as a soloist and accompanist in both the classical and jazz genres. She is a member of the MTNA, NGPT and Suzuki Association of the Americas.

Violin, Chamber Music

Born as a music loving native Korean, Heeja started violin in 5th grade and never stopped. She earned a B.A. and M.A. from Seoul National University, Korea, while playing as Assistant Concertmistress in The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

She earned her master’s degree in violin performance from Manhattan School of Music. Heeja has considerable solo and orchestral experience, including Radio City Music Hall, New York City Opera, Albany Symphony, Elmira Symphony, Down Town Singers, and Belleayre Summer Festival Orchestra. She served as Assistant Concertmistress of the Binghamton Philharmonic until 2008. She has always been an active chamber musician. 


Bob Renino holds degrees from SUNY Potsdam and Manhattan School of Music. He is a regular member of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and principal clarinet with the Westchester Camarata. He has performed at the Saratoga Festival, the White Mountain Festival under Gerard Schwartz, Music in the Mountains, and many other orchestras and chamber groups.

His teaching career has included clarinet instructor at SUNY New Paltz, instrumental instructor in the Spring Valley and Port Chester schools, and twenty-seven years in the Nanuet schools as music director. Bob has appeared as an adjudicator, clinician and guest conductor throughout the state.


Anna Mayta Ruhe is a dance improviser, choreographer and teacher. She graduated from Empire State College in June 2001 with a B.A. in Dance in Education. November 2008, she got a certificate to teach yoga from Svyasa Swami Vivekananda Yoga University in Bangalore, India. In 2006, she was awarded a dissemination award from the Dutchess County Arts Council in Poughkeepsie, NY. She has taught, choreographed and performed for programs, in Bangalore India, England, the National Ballet of Zimbabwe in Africa, all over the greater area of Boston, and upstate NY.


Janet Salt teaches piano privately and for the Music School at Dutchess Community College. She accompanies the DCC chorus, vocal repertoire class, and Suzuki recitals. She is part-time organist at St. Andrews.

She served as musical director and accompanist for Ninety Miles Off Broadway and the New Paltz High School musicals: Meet Me in St. Louis, Nunsense, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, Birds of Paradise, Pippin, and Footloose. With director Judy Elliot, she writes and directs original children's musicals each summer.                      

She studied with Harry Jensen at SUNY New Paltz. Other teachers include John Esposito and Eteri Andjaparidze.

Clarinet, Kindermusik

With over twenty-five years of working with students and educators in the public schools, Ms. Segnit is now lending her expertise to the youngest of learners, as well as those embarking on college careers. As a certified Kindermusik and private lesson Instructor for The Music School at DCC, it is her hope to share skills, concepts and the love of making music, with future generations of student musicians. B.M. SUNY Potsdam, Crane School of Music, M.A.Ed., Virginia Tech, C.A.S., Educational Administration, SUNY New Paltz.


Valentina Shatalova holds a bachelor’s degree from the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, and a master’s degree from SUNY New Paltz with a major in Piano Pedagogy. She has performed frequently as a duo-pianist, soloist, and accompanist in the NY Metropolitan and Mid-Hudson areas. She is a member of the “Two For You” piano duo, keyboardist for the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra, and co-director of the New Paltz Pianofest. Valentina maintains a full piano studio in New Paltz, NY and is an active member of both the National Piano Guild and Music Teacher’s National Association.

Jazz Violin

Michael studied with third-stream pianist Ran Blake at New England Conservatory of Music, attended Yale University as a music major, and later studied with jazz violinists Julie Lyonn Lieberman in New York City and John Blake in Philadelphia. He studied North Indian classical music on the sarangi at the Bhatkhande School of Music in Lucknow, India, and composition and jazz arranging at City College in San Francisco. He has been a member of a wide variety of musical ensembles—jazz, swing, country, bluegrass, classical, contradance, rock, fusion, blues, avant garde, tango, and more — and has taught privately since 1982.


Tim completed his Bachelor of Music in trombone and music education at the Eastman School of Music in December of 2008. He received his New York State teaching certification in June of 2009, later completing his Master of Music in trombone at the University of Akron. Tim has performed with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the Warren Philharmonic, the Nickel City Opera, and the Eastman Wind Ensemble. He has also recorded with various rock groups on drum kit, keyboard and vocals and is a frequent substitute teacher in local school districts. Tim has taught at The Music School at DCC since summer 2011. 


Daniel Stevens holds a master’s degree in classical guitar performance from SUNY Purchase and is an experienced teacher and performer of a variety of styles including electric, steel string acoustic, & classical guitar. Dan is the recipient of a 2011 Arts Fund Individual Artists Fellowship through the Dutchess County Arts Council. He has over fifteen years of performing and recording experience.


Jacqueline Venable Jordan holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music, and a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School.  She has experience singing with opera companies, dance companies, choral societies, and symphony orchestras. She has served on the faculties of Dutchess Community College, Berkshire Choral Festival, Georgia Fine Arts Academy, Russell Sage College, and Columbia University. Jackie made her operatic debut at the Spoleto Festival in Juana, La Loca, by Gian Carlo Menotti in a production directed by the composer.  Her Lincoln Center debut came in a critically acclaimed performance of Samuel Barber's "Andromache's Lament."

Cello, Fiddle

Jean Vilkelis (cello and fiddle) is a freelance musician who performs extensively throughout the Hudson Valley in orchestras, string quartets, and chamber ensembles.

Jean is also an avid fiddler, playing for local contra dances as well as traveling to folk festivals all over the North East. She began giving cello lessons in 2005 while still a student in high school. Jean is currently pursuing a dual degree in cello performance and philosophy.


Eric Wagner is a drummer and educator with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from the University of Connecticut. Eric performs in theatre pits, cruise ships, big bands, jazz, rock, country, and latin ensembles. He has performed with Joe Piscopo (SNL), Mark Small (Michael Buble), Chris Vadala (Chuck Mangione), John Mosca (Village Vanguard Orchestra), Joe Bouchard (Blue Oyster Cult), Jimmy Greene (Harry Connick, Jr.), etc. Eric teaches for The Music School at DCC, Trinity-Pawling Boarding School, Millbrook Prep School and privately. Eric is endorsed by Precision Drums & Silverfox Drumsticks.

Piano, Voice

Marta Waterman is a singer, pianist and composer with a background in classical studies and performance, as well as pop and jazz. A graduate of Philadelphia College with a major in vocal performance, she has taught music lessons ever since.

Marta teaches students to read music, play by ear, read chord charts, sing classical, jazz and pop styles, and compose their own music. She is an active performer and composer who enjoys sharing her love of music with her students.

Piano, Stage Fright Workshop

Julie Wegener, former Director of the Music School at DCC (2003-2014), began piano study at age six with Dr. David LeVita. She performed over WNYC radio and with the Symphony of the Air at age ten. She studied with Zenon Fishbein at The Manhattan School of Music and with Vladimir Feltsman and Robert Mumper at SUNY New Paltz. In 1996, Julie created her “Piano a la cart” project. With an acoustic piano mounted on a flatbed trailer towed behind her car, she surprised passersby with piano performances on rail trails and park preserves. Julie has taught piano for over twenty-five years and loves it.

Suzuki Violin, Suzuki Piano

Nettie West received her Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Music degrees from Skidmore College, and an MA in Humanities from the University of Buffalo. Continuing music studies at Vassar, she played in the Vassar, Bard, and Woodstock Chamber Orchestras. She studied the Suzuki method at Ithaca College, and completed the Apprentice program at The School for Strings with Louise Behrend in Manhattan. She studied with Dr. Suzuki at international conferences and in Japan. Piano training was with Carole Bigler and Valerie Lloyd Watts in Ontario. She taught orchestra at FDR High School, and continues to maintain a private studio.

Piano, Voice

Dennis Yerry is a musician, composer, arranger and musical director whose career has encompassed a myriad of musical genres.  

He composed and musical directed the theatrical production of “Black Elk Speaks” in Denver, CO and L.A., in which he also performed.  His film and TV credits include performances for the Ken Burn’s documentaries, “Lewis and Clark” and “The West”.

He is currently the musical director and composer for “Unto These Hills,” the outdoor drama in Cherokee, NC.

As a jazz pianist, he has performed extensively in NYC.

Dennis has been teaching at DCC since 2004.