Meet your instructors

Cicely Deaton
Michael Vybiral
Youngjae Lee
Bryce Louviere
Sofia Ciobanu
Cynthia Cooper
Natalie Baker
Kathy Kolesar, piano instructor for Harmony Lessons
Kathy Kolesar
Stephen Steele
Stephen Steele
Farshad Zadeh
Jacob Gray
Cassie Knoedl
Seth Zamora

Cicely Deaton

Piano Instructor

Round Rock
North West Austin

Cicely has been studying piano for over fifteen years and was classically trained under Melanie Karr Munro from 2003 through 2011. Cicely continued her musical career at The Academy of Art University in 2012 and studied music production and sound design for two years before going on to receive her Bachelor’s of Science in Music Business from the University of Colorado Denver in May of 2018. With a focus in piano performance, Cicely studied under Peter John Stoltzman and Gregory T.S. Walker at UC Denver, learning chamber composition and performance as well as composition techniques, commercial styles, and music theory. Cicely is devoted to helping her students receive the best musical foundation possible so their music capabilities can foster and grow. She brings an upbeat attitude to lessons and is patiently willing to work with every child’s learning needs. She is also committed to nurturing creative minds and teaching practical piano skills in hopes of developing a lasting enthusiasm for music. Alongside teaching piano, Cicely also enjoys sightseeing, taco tasting and a good live band; she plans to return to school in 2020 to study Music and Human Learning at the University of Texas at Austin.

Cynthia Cooper

Piano Instructor

Southwest Austin
Tarrytown
West Lake Hills

Cynthia began piano lessons at the age of 7 and studied with Adele Galanffy, Jim Dykes, and Sharon Wilson (Mary Hardin-Baylor). Cynthia attended Rice University studying with Adele Galanffy, and graduated with a degree in History and a Masters in Library Science. After time as a manager and consultant in libraries, she has returned to her first love, music education. Cynthia loves teaching all ages, and believes that the relationship between student and teacher is as important as the lessons themselves. She enjoys making lessons fun and exciting for each student, by including games and activities to reinforce what students are learning at the piano. She’s thrilled to return to her musical roots!

Farshad Zadeh

Piano Instructor

North West Austin
Round Rock

Farshad received his Bachelor’s degree in piano from Oberlin Conservatory, studying with Alvin Chow. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in performance at the University of Texas in Austin, under the tutelage of Anton Nel. Farshad has been teaching piano, in individual and group settings, for 5 years. He has privately taught young beginners at UT’s Piano Project, as well as group piano and chamber music at the Blue Mountain Festival music camp in Lancaster, PA. Aside from teaching and performing, Farshad enjoys biking, reading, and traveling. Farshad provides in-home lessons and teaches from his location off I-35 and 183.

Jacob Gray

Piano Instructor

North West Austin
Cedar Park
Leander

Jacob received his Bachelor’s of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in Music Studies. As a percussionist he had the opportunity to study under renowned musicians Thomas Burritt and Tony Edwards. At the University of Texas, Jacob participated in various ensembles including the Percussion Ensemble, Symphony Band, University Orchestra, and Pale Blue. A lifelong piano enthusiast, Jacob brings both his love of piano-playing and music-making to his educational approach. With years of individual and group-based teaching experience, both in percussion and piano, Jacob focuses on setting up students for success while ensuring that lessons are engaging, fun, and rewarding.

Michael Vybiral

Violin Instructor

Southwest Austin
Central Austin
North West Austin

Michael has been studying violin for 20 years, and has received training in country and folk fiddling by Brian Duckworth, the former violinist for Texas Songwriter Hall of Fame member Robert Earl Keen, and in jazz performance by Josh Davies, a two-time Grammy nominated artist. He began his teaching career in 2012 under an initial apprenticeship with Karen Vega. During his youth, Michael served as concertmaster and, on occasion, second violin chair for several seasons with the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio’s Philharmonic orchestra. From 2010-2012, he served as the first violin of the K Quartet, a Central Texas-based string quartet. Michael has worked with artists such as Troy Peters, Josh Prado, Robert Earle Keen, Jon Anderson, and Gustavo Dudame; and performed both at Carnegie Hall and Gruene Hall. In 2014, Michael received his Bachelor’s with a 4.0 GPA in Communications from Concordia UniversityTexas in Austin, TX, which allows him to effectively communicate in an engaging and understandable manner. Michael feels there are no one-size-fits-all approaches that will be effective when teaching – instead, each student deserves an individual program that gives them the best chance for success. To observe a student’s development over time from a novice to a true musician is the most rewarding part of teaching music.

Natalie Baker

Vocal Instructor

Northwest Austin
Southwest Austin
Central Austin

A native Austinite, Natalie Baker began taking voice lessons at the age of ten after memorizing an entire Liza Minelli CD. She then fell in love with the art of classical singing, the beauty and versatility of the human voice, and the process of learning to sing. In high school Natalie began taking piano lessons and continued in college, originally to support her voice studies, but she also now enjoys teaching piano as well. Holding a BM degree in Voice Performance from Gordon College where she studied under Heidi Clark. Natalie has performed in numerous masterclasses, choirs, chamber ensembles, and opera scenes and musical theater. Natalie has been teaching for over 3 years and is eager to share the joy of music with her students. She also teaches preschool music classes at Veritas Academy and Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Her approach to teaching is student-centered, building lessons around the student’s individual goals. When not singing or teaching, she enjoys hiking, thrift store shopping, and exploring Austin, TX.

Seth Zamora

Piano Instructor

South Austin
Central Austin

Joseph “Seth” Zamora is currently studying for his master’s in Piano Performance at the University of Texas, Austin. In his free time, you can find him composing. Several of his pieces have been premiered; he also composes regularly and is an actor with the Everyman Ensemble Theatre Company. His piano journey began as a freshman in high school. Two years later, he enrolled at the El Paso conservatory of Music where he studied with Dr. Esequiel Meza. In 2018 he graduated from New Mexico State University with his bachelor’s while studying under Dr. Laura Spitzer. Seth has competed in several competitions throughout New Mexico and El Paso. Some of his accolades include: second place in the Dennis Alexander 3rd Annual Piano Competition and the El Paso Youth Symphony Orchestra Inaugural Piano Competition; honorary mention in the Jackie McGehee Young Artists Competition; first place at the EPYSO Concerto Competition; first place at the New Horizons Symphony Orchestra Inaugural Young Artist Competition; first prize in the Third Annual UTEP Piano Competition. In 2017 Seth won the prestigious Theodore Presser Scholarship.

Sofia Ciobanu

Piano Instructor

Northwest Austin
Round Rock
Steiner Ranch

Sofia was born in the eastern European country of Moldova to a family of musicians. After graduation from C. Prumbescu Music High School, she moved to Romania for university studies. She went on to receive her Bachelor’s in Musicology and Pedagogy from G. Dima Academy of Music in Cluj-Napoca, Romania; and completed her Master’s degree in Musicological Synthesis in 2001. Throughout her studies, Sofia has been an avid performer in choirs and vocal ensembles across Europe. Her most recent collaboration was with the Calgary Philharmonic Choice of Canada, 2019. Relocating to the US in 2004, Sofia has over 20 years of international teaching experience, and is fluently tri-lingual in English, Russian, and Romanian. Sofia specializes in teaching voice, piano, theory, harmony, and music history to students of all ages and skill levels. Many of her students have gone on to receive Royal Conservatory of Music certifications. She joined the Harmony family in the Summer of 2018 and continues to follow her passion of guiding students on their musical journey.

Youngjae Lee

Piano Instructor

North Austin
Round Rock
Leander
Cedar Park

Youngjae graduated from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Film Scoring and as a Piano principal. She has been working as a film composer and piano instructor for over 10 years. She was twice nominated for the “Best Score” category at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival, and she also won the award for “Best Music Score” at the Wide Screen Film Festival in Miami. She enjoys working with children, and sharing her passion for music with her students.
Kathy Kolesar, piano instructor for Harmony Lessons

Kathy Kolesar

Piano Instructor

North Austin
Cedar Park
Round Rock
Tarrytown

Katherine has been playing piano since she was six years old. Katherine majored in Music and English at Texas State University and has a passion for sharing her love of music with her students. Katherine enjoys sharing music with her students as a fun and fulfilling pursuit and an engaging, fun way to tell a story. She enjoys bringing lots of energy and creative tools to her students and looks forward to helping her students achieve their musical goals, from learning Mary Had a Little Lamb through Beethoven’s Sonatas.

Bryce Louviere

Voice Instructor / Piano Instructor

North Austin
Cedar Park
Round Rock
Central Austin

Bryce Louviere is a classically trained singer who recreationally studies many vocal genres, with an emphasis in Broadway style. In college, he majored in Music Education, Worship Leadership and Vocal Performance. 
He is a professional improvisational pianist, playing in churches, weddings, funerals and special events, however, teaching and directing are his great passions.
Before moving to Austin, Bryce owned a private music school in Louisiana along with being a voice coach and musical director in collegiate and local musical theater productions. 

Cassie Knoedl

Piano Instructor

North Austin
Round Rock

Cassie is a passionate music educator who has over 13 years experience creating positive musical learning opportunities for students. She earned her Bachelor’s of Music degree at the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY. Cassie loves getting to know her students so that she can customize lessons to match the interests and abilities of each young musician she works with. Whether she is teaching voice or piano, Cassie enjoys helping students develop a strong understanding of their instrument so they can feel confident and find joy in music making, even when the learning process becomes difficult. In addition to teaching music, Cassie is a singer/songwriter and has had the opportunity to perform at various venues across Central Texas, both as a solo artist and as a member of the band Tubalele. When she is not making music, she loves to read and practice yoga.
 

Stephen Steele

Piano Instructor

North West Austin
South Austin

Stephen Steele is a homegrown Texan, raised up near the Red River where he first began taking classical lessons at a young age. Growing up he enjoyed traveling for different festivals, workshops and competitions related to the piano, one of which he met the late pianist John Shelton at, who later trained him as well. Steve continued his creative pursuits in an adjacent field, graduating from Texas State University in 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Theatre with an emphasis in dramatic writing and direction. His performance and production focused track allowed him to explore different methods of acting, improvisation and vocal training, which he incorporated into his musical endeavors any chance he could. Plays, musicals, elaborately choreographed dance fights – you name it, he probably helped to score one! Post graduation, Stephen moved to Dallas where he worked behind the scenes for productions with Flexible-Grey Theatre Company, and began teaching piano through Guitar Center in Spring 2020. Stephen brings a great attitude to the piano bench, and he enjoys being able to cultivate a comfortable environment in which students feel permission to be inquisitive and unafraid to make creative choices. Outside of music, Stephen’s hobbies tend to stay outside. He enjoys gardening, listening to the radio, and walking, sometimes bringing along two very reluctant cats. His unique combination of training and experience compounds with nearly twenty years of study with the piano to provide a wide-ranging palette to students who are interested in the many practical, creative, and rewarding real-world applications of learning to play the piano.

Kristen Smith

Founder

Meet our Founder Kristen Smith is the studio founder and director of Harmony. Kristen has a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in piano pedagogy and has studied with Dr. Beth Quillian (Dallas Baptist University), Sheila Page (Taubman instructor), and David Renner (University of Texas at Austin). Kristen has been teaching children ages 3 and up for over 14 years and loves introducing students of all ages to the joy of music. After teaching for many years Kristen decided to expand Harmony to serve families in need of high quality in-home lessons. In addition to teaching private lessons, Kristen designs and leads the summer music camps, group classes, theory classes and recitals that the studio offers. Her organizational skills, creative materials, and commitment to hiring skilled teachers who embrace the studio’s philosophy have cultivated the success of the studio.