OUR          FACULTY

& be prepared to be inspired!

creative, artistic, articulate

Musicians in the Making faculty members are

and highly accomplished individuals with exceptional performance and pedagogical training from the nation’s most respected music institutions.

Our  faculty members are

performers, composers,

authors, & community leaders

Our faculty members are competition winners in many capacities: concerto competition, and regional and state-level competitions.


With the latest insights on today’s teaching techniques, they are passionate pedagogues who love working with students! 




Director & Piano Faculty


Pianist and pedagogue Candice Choi is excited to bring her exceptionally unique East Coast musical training back to her hometown, San Francisco. Her imaginative and festive performance of Richard Danielpour’s Enchanted Garden crowned her the winner of New Jersey Music Teacher’s Association (NJTMA) Young Musicians Competition and her fervent interpretation of Saint Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2 awarded her the honorable 2009 Concerto Competition winner at University of the Pacific. As a former member of world renowned Westminster Symphonic Choir, Ms. Choi has performed prominent choral works at New Jersey Performing Arts Center, United Nations, Kimmel Center, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Princeton University Chapel with the Dresden Staatskapelle and many of the world’s leading orchestras.

Committed to giving back to her community, Ms. Choi has presented solo and collaborative recitals for educational outreach in Stockton Unified School District, academic scholarship fundraising for Now Generation Chinese, world-wide mission trips to Kenya and Haiti for NextGen Church, and for the elderly at Forrestal Pavillions Assisted Living and Atria Assisted Living.


With over 15 years of teaching experience, she is passionate about pouring her love and energy into her students at Musicians in the Making. Giving back to the community is at the core of Ms. Choi’s values. She believes that music is a gift to be shared with those around us. Her students love performing, composing, improvising, and getting creative with music! They have won Composition Contests in their age division, performed at Communiversity, a street festival in downtown Princeton and one student even won Miss New Jersey by performing her musical composition, “Peaceful Forest”! 

Ms. Choi earned her M.M. in Piano Pedagogy and Performance with distinction from Westminster Choir College of Rider University and her B.M. in Piano Performance from University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music. Ms. Choi has performed in master classes with Leon Fleisher and Richard Ormrod. Her former piano teachers include Ingrid Clarfield, Dr. Rex Cooper, Frank Wiens, Craig Nies, Mack McCray, and Eva Tang. She has studied piano pedagogy extensively with authors and pedagogues Ingrid Clarfield, Marvin Blickenstaff, Phyllis Lehrer, Paul Sheftel, Lillian Livingston, and Amy Glennon.  She recently co-presented a lecture entitled It’s Only Natural: Planting the Seeds for Growth in Elementary Teaching at The National Conference for Keyboard Pedagogy in Lombard, IL.

Ms. Choi has held former faculty positions at The New School for Music Study (a division of the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy) in Kingston, NJ, Westminster Conservatory in Princeton, NJ, Amabile School of Music in San Francisco, CA, Green Octave School of Music in San Carlos, CA, and Toones Academic Music in Foster City, CA. Ms. Choi is an active member of Music Teachers’ Association of California (MTAC) San Francisco Branch and California Association of Professional Music Teachers (CAPMT) San Francisco Branch, where she has served on the board of directors for both organizations.


Piano Faculty


Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, pianist Christina Mandasari has performed throughout the United States and in Indonesia and Malaysia. She has performed in collaborative recitals at Goethe Haus, Erasmus Huis Auditorium, Usmar Ismail Hall, Jakarta Art Building in Jakarta, Indonesia and the Burmah Road Gospel Hall in Penang, Malaysia.  One of her most memorable performances is performing Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise Op.34 No.14 in a four-hand recital at Carnegie Hall in New York City, USA. 


With a myriad of performing and teaching experiences, Teacher Christina draws her teaching style from Suzuki, Kodaly, and Dalcroze methodologies. She believes that every child is uniquely talented in music and that holistic teaching will help them discover their strengths and grow out of their weaknesses. 


Christina loves to share her knowledge by presenting in music seminars. Her most recent seminars are “The Art of Piano Practice”, “Aural Training in Piano Lessons”, and “Teaching Piano Technique for Beginner and Intermediate Level.” Visit her YouTube channel “Christina Mandasari” to see her teaching demonstrations and performances! 


Christina holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Individual Teaching from UPH Conservatory of Music and the Master of Music in Piano Performance from University of Kansas under the guidance of Dr. Scott McBride Smith. She has formally served on the faculty of SPH Lippo Village-Karawaci and UPH Conservatory of Music. 


Teacher Christina is thrilled to join the Musicians in the Making faculty this Fall 2020! She believes that making and teaching music is a lifetime adventure. It is always evolving, it makes us grow, and there are unlimited ways to tailor the approach to fit each student! Her teaching is guaranteed to inspire! 


Piano Faculty


Joy Chiang "plays with poise and color", "an extreme sensitivity", and has an "excellent musical maturity with a strong sense of style". She began her lifelong journey with music at the age of five, and fell full-force into a life of creating, understanding, and developing this art.

Ms. Joy is excited to join the inspiring faculty at Musicians in the Making. With two decades of piano experience, she hopes to foster a love of music-making and collaboration through performance and teaching. One of her favorite quotes is from English composer Malcolm Arnold: "Music is the social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."

She earned her B.M in music performance, piano concentration, and music therapy along with a psychology minor at the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music. At the Conservatory, she studied piano with Dr. Sonia Leong and Frank Wiens, and had masterclasses under the instruction of globally-renowned musical artists such as Andreas Klein, Gabriela Martinez, Jon Nakamatsu, and received coaching under the Baton of Larry Livingston and Midori. In addition to solo performance, Ms. Chiang enjoys performing in
chamber groups and is also a cellist, vocalist, and guitarist.


Ms. Joy is currently an M.A. postgraduate student at the University of Sheffield— a top world ranking research University in England, and is excited to teach piano from wherever she is located around the globe. She is the recipient of numerous scholarships and grants for excellence in music and education, most recently designated as an alternate for the world-renowned Fulbright program and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities scholarship award. Her current research interests surround musical creativity and music performance anxiety (MPA). She loves to bridge her passions for music performance and psychology to explore ways that musicians can better learn and thrive. Ms. Joy believes that every student has a unique and beautiful musical voice to be developed personally, cultivated in community, and shared with the world. She hopes to inspire her students to see how a music education is valuable both within and outside of the classroom setting.

 Piano Faculty

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Michelle DiBona Trefren, conductor/pianist/organist/vocalist, is a music educator with a passion for music literacy and artistic music making.  Inspired by her Orff Schulwerk, Kodaly, and Musikgarten training, Michelle focuses on drawing from the students’ inner creativity and innate musicianship. 


Having worked with students of all ages (birth through the wise ages) in public, private, and sacred institutions, Michelle has encountered a myriad of abilities and experiences. Some of her favorite moments are in the silent awe and joyful laughter of her elementary classes at the Yokohama International School in Japan, leaps and bounds of music literacy in the private piano studio, laughter and bonding in early childhood Musikgarten classes, moments of accomplishment in group piano and voice classes at the Cumberland Valley School of Music and Carlisle Regional Performing Arts Center in Central PA.  Her teaching sparks inspiration when she sees the breakthrough vocal accomplishments of her high school and adult performers on stage!


The Zimbabwe saying, “If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing,” rests at the core of Michelle’s teaching. She can help you find that skill you never knew you had! Ms. Michelle is thrilled to be on the Musicians in the Making faculty! 


Ms. Michelle earned a M.M. in Conducting with distinction from Westminster Choir College studying with Dr. Joe Miller, Dr. James Jordan, and Andrew Megill, with vocal studies with Mark Moliterno, and a B.M. in Piano Performance magna cum laude from Syracuse University, studying with Dr. Fred Karpoff, Steven Heyman, and Michelle Rénoul at the Strasbourg Conservatoire, with organ studies with Dr. Kola Owolabi and conducting studies with Dr. John Warren. 

Piano Faculty

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Bhakti Chan graduated from University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA with a degree in Piano Performance. She has a passion for learning, and strives to share and foster a love of learning, questioning, and enjoyment for music with her students. She enjoys finding music that her students like and adapting it in an accessible yet educational way. 


Bhakti believes that each of her students has a unique learning pace and style, and she aims to convey musical education to them in a way that each individual student will be able to understand a concept. She also believes that every person has the capacity to develop their talent for music -- no matter the differing lengths of time it may take them -- as long as it is something they wish to strive for. The exploration of musical creativity is something that Bhakti encourages thoroughly.


Having grown up and lived in Malaysia for many years, Bhakti is accustomed to diverse cultures. Her background is mainly in classical music, although she often listens to an eclectic mix of genres ranging from jazz to heavy metal. In her free time she likes to play the violin, sing in professional chamber choir, cook, play the Nintendo Switch, and read graphic novels. 


Violin Faculty


A native daughter of the genre-bending West Coast music scene, U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion Ms. Caroline McCaskey is equally at home in the traditional, improvising and classical music worlds. Ms. Caroline holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Music Composition and Music Performance from University of the Pacific and University of Denver and she has a long-standing history performing with Alasdair Fraser and the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers for over 20 years.

In high demand as a teacher of both traditional and classical music, Caroline can be found teaching and performing at camps throughout the U.S. and Canada. She is certified by the Suzuki Association of the Americas to teach Violin books 1-10 and she has taught exclusively online since 2017. Also a curriculum author, Caroline released the second edition of her well-regarded AltStrings Fiddle Method for Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass Books 1 and 2 in early 2020.

Caroline’s teaching philosophy is simple - no matter their age or skill level, people should do more of what they love. The Suzuki philosophy of “Every Child Can” is central not only to her approach to teaching both children and adults, but also to her belief in the potential of each human to make the world a better place.


Guitar Faculty


Mr. Lindsey Boullt has devoted his entire career to building excellence and community in the music world.  As artist & performer [Gibson Brands signed artist 2013 | Billboard Magazine artist 2008-2012] and instructor – Lindsey has taught 1000’s of students of all ages, some of whom have gone on to be accepted to top music schools such as Berklee College of Music in Boston, University of North Texas, Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, and New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.

25 years ago, Lindsey founded the “Musicians Showcase“, a highly respected forum for up-and-coming performers, future-signed bands, and world famous guest artists. From 1998 to current day, he tirelessly dedicates his efforts to the advancement of the arts in San Francisco, additionally producing artist showcases, underground bauhaus events, music/tech festivals, master artist series, recording projects, kids festivals, bay area global cause performances, and avant-garde theater including the ChaoticArtCircus  which employed 100 Bay area performers, artisans and vendors.

A late bloomer to guitar music, Lindsey first picked up the guitar at 21 years old.  3 ½ years later, Lindsey received his music degree on scholarship at the University of Texas in Arlington (Dean’s List, 1st chair guitar in Jazz Orchestra & Traveling Band).  In 1987, he graduated with honors from the Musicians Institute/Hollywood, CA at age 27, and later served as an instructor at Musicians Institute from 2005-08. 


Mr. Boullt has been part of the Musicians in the Making faculty since 2018. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Julnar.

Off-Site Music Faculty

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Lucia Pontoniere began playing violin at the age of 6. After pursuing classical violin seriously for 10 years, she began to explore other styles of music and instruments, picking up guitar and singing as well. Lucia graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Violin Performance and American Roots Music. During and after college she toured the country and recorded albums with her band The Ladles, a space where she began to explore writing songs and playing the guitar. For the past 8 years, Lucia has been teaching all styles of violin as well as guitar, voice, ukulele, songwriting, and beginner piano. She teaches all ages and levels, and enjoys teaching group classes as well. Lucia has taught early childhood music classes at schools in Oakland, in addition to multiple locations in San Francisco through Blue Bear School of Music. She structures her early childhood music classes with an emphasis on educational songs, rhymes, and dances from the American Roots tradition.She loves teaching and her music philosophy is built upon the idea that we should always follow the spark of our creativity.