Our Tremendous Staff
Mark Boyce - Piano, Drums, Guitar, Bands, Classroom
Music Director - 4S Ranch- Music Pillars, LLC
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.
April Drury-Sas - Piano, Voice, Bands, Early Childhood, Classroom
Partner, Vice President - Early Childhood Education
Born and raised in Northern California, April was raised singing in choirs from the age of 8 to college graduation. 3rd in the lineage of family pianists, she continued piano lessons from the age of 10 on. She has a B.A. in Piano Performance from Cal State East Bay with a minor in Early Childhood Development. She was licensed with Kindermusik in 2004 and has a passion for Early Childhood Music Education. Her vision is to create programs that meet the developmental needs of the young child while exposing them to the genres of Jazz, Pop, and Rock. April has created and authored our fantastic Early Childhood Curriculum at Music Pillars.
April is completing yet another fantastic Early Childhood Music Album! Check out her project and support it/line up to purchase her album by going to her Indiegogo page here!
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!
Josh Neubarth - Guitar, Piano, Bands, Classroom
Assistant Music Director
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!
Gabriela Chevalier - Voice, Piano, Classroom, 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 fiance (a fantastic guitar player), working out, and reading books on leadership.
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.
Rachel Hosmer - Piano, Voice
After seeing a string quartet perform in elementary school at the age of five, Rachel knew she wanted to play an instrument. In its own way this one performance changed her life and lead her down the road to discovering her lifelong passion for the piano and music. Because of this, she knows what a difference music can make in a young person's life.
Rachel was fortunate to be the student of Vera Rathje, who was taught by famed concert pianist and Julliard teacher Rosina Lhevinne (1880-1976) and concert pianist Eugene List (1918-1985). It is from her lessons with Mrs. Rathje that Rachel learned the principles of musicality, individuality, technique, and tone for which Rosina Lhevinne and the "Old" Russian School of Piano Playing are known.
Rachel truly enjoys helping her students grow as musicians and find their own unique musical expression.
Melanie Williams - Piano, Voice, Theater, Classroom
Melanie grew up in rural Greenford, Ohio, just outside the hard-working Rust Belt city of Youngstown. Her love of music and dance began at the age of 5 when she started piano and dance lessons. Soon after, she found her singing voice and began voice lessons and participating in choirs. At the age of 13, she discovered her love of performing on stage, and has continued performing in community and regional theatre in Ohio and San Diego since 1998.
Melanie graduated from Youngstown State University in 2008 with a B.A. in Liberal Studies with focuses in Music and Psychology. She is a CA certified Massage Therapist, graduating from the International Professional School of Bodywork with 850 hours and specializing in therapeutic deep tissue and Thai Massage. Melanie obtained her RYT 200-hr from Reach Yoga in 2016, and studied with Little Flower Yoga in conjunction with UCSD Center for Mindfulness to obtain her 95-hr children's yoga teacher certificate. She has also taken trainings with Rainbow Kids Yoga, mini yogis, and Mindful Schools.
Since 2012, Melanie has continuously taught group music, play, dance, yoga, and theatre at several
area studios, schools, and companies including Star Theatre, Christian Youth Theatre, Gymboree, Evolution Dance, North County School of the Arts, San Diego Jewish Academy, and CBC Movement. She has also taught private piano lessons, choreographed youth musicals, and been a choir accompianist and church pianist. Combining all these interests, experience, and education drove Melanie towards the dream of creating her own center for youth. Here she could offer multiple types of classes all grounded in connection, mindfulness, and proactive life skills. She hopes she can cultivate that dream here in North County.
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 Jacob, Joshua, Addison, and William. When he isn’t working, Scott enjoys soccer, volleyball, running, boating, fly-fishing, 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.
Kristi was an American idol Season 11 contestant at the age of 18 which propelled her professional singing career and opened the door for many opportunities to perform all over the states in a myriad of music venues. She received her degree at BYU Hawaii in vocal performance. She has also been in several musical productions including most recently as Cinderella in the production, “Into the Woods.”
Kristi’s soulful music is inspired by her love for the beach culture, love, and experiences. When she is not playing music she can usually be found in the ocean, surfing, or songwriting. Check out some of her songs and music videos here.
We loved our time with Kristi, and we wish her continued success in her song-writing, performing career as she moves to Nashville!