Our Tremendous Staff
Josh Neubarth - Piano, Guitar, Bands, Classroom
Asst. Music Director - 4S Ranch- Music Pillars, LLC
Josh is truly a "renaissance" man having a Master's Degree in Biostatistics as well as an impressive background on the piano. He is a graduate from San Diego State University and has "experience" (aka suffered) all of our early growth issues including when we used to write down the teaching schedule on a white board for the day! Josh has an ability to connect with young musicians in a almost magical way, and he cares deeply about their progress and their experience during lessons. He was gone from us for a year or so while completing his Graduate Studies, and we are absolutely thrilled to have him back, and parents and student alike that get to have Josh in their rotation absolutely love and adore him!
Rodney Loren PhD - Teacher Trainer and Mentor
teacher trainer and mentor
We are thrilled to have Rodney on staff to train and mentor our teachers. Rodney received his BA in music education from Olivet Nazarene University, his MM in Organ from Indiana University, and his PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rodney recently retired from full-time teaching in Wisconsin, and has relocated to San Diego. He has taught for nearly 30 years in K-8 General, High School, and also as a Faculty member (most recently at the Peck School of Arts at the UW-Milwaukee). Rodney’s distinguished career and experience is now being put to use in the training, educating, and mentoring of teachers at Music Pillars.
Gabriela Chevalier - Voice, Piano, Classroom, Early Childhood
Early childhood / VOCAL DEPARTMENT CHAIR
Gabby was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to the United States with her family in 2007. She speaks five languages, one of which is music. When she was younger, she performed in church, community events, and singing competitions. She also participated in recording a sacred album by her church and recorded radio advertising jingles. She found so much peace in music that she taught herself how to play the guitar before her hour long piano lessons! She received her associate's degree in Vocal Performance from Grossmont College and her BA in Music from the University of California Irvine under the tutelage of Dr. Darryl Taylor. As a soprano, she has performed with the UCI Chamber Singers, UCI Opera's production of Dido and Aeneas, and have workshopped with Dr. Morten Lauridsen for a performance of his art song collection titled A Winter Come. In 2016, Gabby led her own university funded research titled "Filipino Folk Songs and Art Songs: The Idiom of Filipino History and Experience." Since completing her degree, Gabby has been teaching over 40 students at a time in piano, voice, early childhood music, and choir. She served as the Lead Teacher at Irvine School of Music, and the Voice and Choir Director at FreshStart Music Studio in Irvine, CA. She enjoys preparing her students for performance with the belief that music is best experienced when shared with others in performance and collaboration. Outside of teaching, she enjoys making music with her husband (a fantastic guitar player), working out, and reading books on leadership.
Mikaela Holmes - Music Theater, Dance, Voice, Classroom
Vice President - music theater
Mikaela is an accomplished actress, singer, dancer, and model originally from New York, with a primary focus on professional musical theater. Previous credits include “Rent” (Mimi), “Murder Ballad” (Sara), “Beauty and the Beast” (Belle), “Aida” (Amneris), “Legally Blonde” (Serena), “Into the Woods” (Cinderella), “35MM” (Voice 1), “High School Musical” (Gabriella), “Footloose” (Urleen), “Seussical” (Bird Girl), “Grease” (Sandy), “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” (Marcy), and “Company” (Jenny) at various regional theaters around the country. Operatic work includes the original NY recording of “Callisto,” a New Italian Opera as Lead Soprano, and touring through Europe as a soprano with American Music Abroad (Luxembourg, Sweden, Belgium, France, Austria, Switzerland). Mikaela has also worked a great deal in film, commercial, and television, most notably including an upcoming feature film alongside Ben Affleck, and co-starring with Beth Behrs in a dance-based film soon to be released on Netflix. Music Video/Modeling/Dance experience includes projects with MTV, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Victoria’s Secret, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Ed Sheeran, Rachel Platten, and Sam Smith. Mikaela is also a certified yoga teacher and yoga therapist (E-200 RYT, C-IAYT). Mikaela is extremely passionate about music, theater, and working with children; Particularly combining these passions to create a safe, supportive, and artistic space for kids to learn, grow, explore, and gain self-confidence and life skills through a creative and expressive outlet. Students that get a chance to work with Mikaela receive the kind and patient care from her, but also the experience and background of a professional who has done many of the things that her students dream of accomplishing themselves!
Mark Boyce - Piano, Drums, Guitar, Bands
Native Philadelphian, Mark Boyce, brings a background of performance and music education to Music Pillars. After studying classical piano at Bryn Mawr Conservatory of Music, Mark went on to attend Temple University for music composition. As a recording artist, Mark has worked for Sony Music, Columbia Records, Geffen Records, and most recently Brushfire / Universal Records. He has currently recorded with G. Love and Special Sauce and Lucinda Williams for an October 30th release of “Love Saves The Day”. Presently, his jazz trio, Krass Bros., has been nominated for a San Diego Music Award for Best Jazz Artist. As an educator, Mark was a founding teacher at School of Rock working at the flagship school in Philadelphia.
Kia Portafekas - Piano, Voice
Kia is a musician, composer, teacher and author. She graduated from the famous "Fame School"-Fiorello H. LaGuardia HS of Music and Art in NYC. Kia also studied music theory and composition at Mannes Conservatory and received a BA-Music Major from Aaron Copland School of Music/Queens College/CUNY. She took Graduate courses studying Special Ed/Music Therapy at Lehman College, NY. After in depth research with creating highly motivational music programs for all ages, as well as children that had ADD, Autistic or Asperger’s, Kia was awarded a grant from the music Grammy's to write a book. She traveled to Europe and the Far East teaching creative music workshops.
Kia has been teaching piano and voice-beginner and intermediate levels for over 22 yrs. Teaching music is a way of life and she believes we are all creative individuals. The key is finding how to express ourselves fully through music and enjoy the journey as we learn and grow within our musical expression.
Kia is the author of Making Music With Your Child, funded in part by a grant from National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences,(Music Grammy's) and published by MMB Music.
Her teaching, book, and/or research has been featured/reviewed by The Music Educators Journal, Grammy.com, Symphony Magazine, American Music Teacher Magazine, the Orff Echo, The Arizona Republic, and many others.
Katherine Bailey - Piano, Voice, Early Childhood
Katherine learned piano from her mother starting at the age of three and has loved it ever since. She started teaching her first student at the age of nine (her four year old brother!) and took on a handful of her mother's piano students during high school.
Katherine has also performed lead roles in Musical Theater, and has worked independently as a vocalist and keyboardist. After discovering that she loved teaching and working with children, Katherine got her Associate's in Child Development from Grossmont College. She has spent time volunteering as a music teacher at elementary schools, and she has worked with San Diego Civic Youth Ballet as an accompanist.
Kathryn Lillich - Piano, Voice, Theater, Classroom
Kathryn is an active singer, pianist, and Celtic harpist. Her past performances include the role of Melissa in a new production of Handel's Amadigi, directed by James Darrah, Mary Crawford in Jonathan Dove's Mansfield Park, La Fée in Opera UCLA's production of Cendrillon, as well as a debut at Carnegie Hall as the soloist in Tarik O’Regan’s Triptych. Her professional choral work includes Pacific Chorale, Long Beach Camerata Singers, the renowned vocal ensemble Seraphic Fire, and San Diego Opera Chorus. Kathryn has worked with a number of notable conductors, composers, and stage directors, including Peter Kazaras, James Darrah, Daniel Beckwith, John Alexander, Jonathan Sheffer, Tarik O’Regan, Steven Stubbs, Ruben Valenzuela, Patrick Quigley, and John Williams. As a Celtic harpist and folk singer, and has played at such renowned festivals as the Irish Fair, Southeastern Harp Festival, NAPA Music Festival, and ACDA. Kathryn holds a BA in Music from Luther College where she studied both vocal performance and music education, and an MM in Vocal Performance from UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music. Her training in education includes Orff, Kodaly, and Dalcroze methods, as well as Alexander Technique. She believes all human beings are musical, and deserve the opportunity to discover and pursue their innate musicality to its fullest potential!
Damaris Trevizo - Early Childhood
“Driven by her passion for creativity, Damaris Trevizo dedicates her life to living as creatively as she craves to. Her love of music began at the age of two, when her father would play the guitar and she would sing along. Damaris began singing and dancing in public at the age of eight and continued performing in choirs throughout most of her middle school, high school and college years. Now, Damaris performs her own songs at open mic nights around San Diego and has begun busking at Balboa Park. She aspires to perform as a jazz singer, start a band, and someday be part of a Broadway Musical Tour.
As an advocate of living gently, Damaris believes that it is essential for people of all ages to express themselves through creative outlets as a way to alleviate tension, release emotions in healthy ways, and communicate confidently. She believes that providing people with tools to hone into their creativity is empowering and promotes healing. Her personal outlets include singing, songwriting, playing the guitar, poetry, acting, improvising, creating DIY projects, and interior decorating, and she has been focusing on cultivating her dance, sketch, and piano skills! Other outlets that she has found beneficial for her include meditating, playing basketball, running, hiking and writing in her daily journal.
With a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from San Diego State University, and a minor in Sustainability, Damaris focuses on holding herself accountable for her actions and reactions through ethical and mindful decision-making. She believes that cultivating our creativity and understanding that that creativity can allow us to deeply learn about ourselves, may be the key to a more mindful, courageous, and fulfilling life.
Scott Spurgiesz - Founder
Scott is committed to giving students and parents a world-class music teaching environment. He constructed and developed the "Pillars" of Music Pillars. This was developed by both experiencing the various schools of thought regarding music pedagogy, and then also working as a paid musician. Pillars is a fusion of Suzuki, Classical, Kodaly, and Jazz. He made a wonderful living as a pianist from the age of 15 until 25. Totaling over 3,000+ actual hours performing live (for all you math-scholars, that is the equivalent of being on stage 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 18 months). He was a Merit-based Buck Family Music Scholar from the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music. Because of that dual background in a formal classical conservatory, and also as a paid musician, Scott set out to establish music studios in the U.S. to teach "musicianship" rather than simply technical mastery on the piano (classical training) or cheapening music education by just learning a few "cool rock songs" and having that somehow equate to a musical education. He has a patent in Molecular Epidemiology for his pioneering work on VNTRs in M. Tuberculosis (patent link). Prior to founding Music Pillars, Scott founded Forte Commercial Cleaning and franchised the business through over 100 franchises in California, Utah, and Nevada. Scott received his MBA from UC Berkeley. He lives in San Diego with his wife Melissa, and their four children. When he isn’t working, Scott enjoys soccer, reading, running, boating, fly-fishing, market investing, and chess.
To read more about our teaching philosophy, please click here.
The Exceptional Former Teachers List
We are very particular about the teachers that we have at Music Pillars. We routinely interview, screen, and audition teachers. Less than 10% of those that apply make it to a second interview with us, and we hire a very small fraction from the total applicant pool. Some of our teachers stay with us for years, and some just for short season. Some have long-term careers at Music Pillars and are part of our long-term growth plan across multiple locations, and for some teachers we are a good 1-2 year hiatus from their performing/touring career.
Those teachers that have stellar track records from their time at Music Pillars, and completed their work and time at Music Pillars are featured below. We are proud to support the next phase or their careers, and we wish them continued success in their personal and professional lives.