About Common Time
Welcome to Common Time Music School! We’re Julia and George Chukinas and we’ve been involved in teaching students for 40 years. With degrees in music, Greek, Latin, and philosophy, we know the importance of music to promote tools such as discipline, confidence, coordination, and creativity that children and adults use to enrich their lives. Our goal is to instill a love of music in each student that lasts a lifetime. We want to give our students a great musical education at every skill level while encouraging a love and appreciation of all kinds of musical styles, from Bach to the Beatles. Common Time’s lessons are meant to be fun, but at the same time we strive to make sure our students have good musical foundations so they can play and appreciate music independently throughout their lives. After nearly 40 years of teaching and working in the music industry, it was only natural for Julia and George to open a music store, Calliope Music -- a place to buy sheet music and musical accessories, rent and buy instruments, find teacher referrals, attend free concerts, and network with the musical community. In a time of online shopping, there are fewer brick and mortar stores for music and books -- we would like to think that we are an alternative to online shopping that provides good customer service, musical knowledge, and advice from real musicians.
|Piano and Multiple Instruments|
|Lydia Bianchi (piano) started playing piano at age 7 when her parents discovered her tendency to sing in the shower. She has always had a fondness for all genres of music and appreciates how learning piano at a young age has fueled her current musical endeavors. While other instruments have become important tools in her songwriting, she still loves playing classical pieces highlighting the beauty of the piano. Through studying developmental psychology at NYU, Lydia connected with other local artists and formed an indie rock band, for which she still writes and records. She loves children and for over ten years has worked with students of many ages in the classroom, the home, and other learning environments. Lydia promotes a positive, encouraging attitude towards music education: she believes part of the magic of learning an instrument is the discipline it teaches but above all her main desire is to instill a love and appreciation for music.|
|Dr. Christopher Gage (piano, organ) is new to the Philadelphia area, having recently been appointed Director of Music at Overbrook Presbyterian Church, where he conducts the Overbrook Choir, Junior Choir, and Westminster Handbell Choir. He earned his Doctorate in Musical Arts in organ performance from the University of Kansas in 2016, and he holds additional degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Delaware. Chris believes that everyone has the potential to be a great musician and his teaching philosophy is to instill a love of music in his students and to equip them with the tools they need to realize their potential. In particular, he’s an advocate of guided improvisation, which affirms students’ strengths while challenging them to expand their musical horizons. With a background in classical, jazz, and pop, Chris helps students with a wide variety of preferences.|
|Kathryn Goldberg (piano) is an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College pursuing a degree in music and linguistics. While piano is her first instrument, she also sings and plays the clarinet. She's involved in a number of ensembles in the Bi-College consortium, including the Chamber Singers of Haverford and Bryn Mawr and the pit orchestra for many musical productions on campus. She also directs Bryn Mawr's official a cappella group, the Night Owls, and in her free time she loves to write arrangements for them to perform. With experience teaching both group ensembles and individuals, Kathryn is committed to inspiring a love for music of all forms in her students, while giving them the strong foundational tools for musical success wherever their lives take them.|
|James Guglielmo (piano) studied composition with Vincent Persichetti and Joseph Cataldo, classical piano with Clement Pertrillo for ten years, and jazz with Dennis Sandal on the East Coast. On the West Coast he studied orchestration with Albert Harris and conducting with Frederich Zweig. He was the pianist at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas and music director on various cruise ships as well as accompanist for numerous stars including Elvis Presley, Shirley Bassey, Rita Moreno, Henry Mancini, and many others. James is currently studying voice with Jeff Alani Stanfill in New York.|
|Erica Hess (voice, piano, other instruments) loves working with kids of all ages. She's a classically-trained voice instructor, performer, and pianist who has studied at the Boston Conservatory and Temple University for her BM in voice performance. She is pursuing her certification and Masters in music education for all standard instruments (strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion) as well as Orff-Schulwerk, Kodaly, Dalcrose, and Gordon’s music learning theory methods. She has been involved in performances with the Boheme Opera Company and Delaware Valley Opera Company as well as Boston Conservatory and Temple University performances. She was involved in many mainstage musical theater productions at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and Chestnut Hill College. Erica has had extensive instruction in teaching pop, jazz, classical, rock, and musical theater. Because every student is different, she develops individualized plans to help each student reaches full potential.|
|Steven Moyer (piano) is a student currently enrolled at West Chester University of Pennsylvania studying Piano Performance and specializing in classical repertoire. He is under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Bedford who doubles as his Alexander Technique instructor. Steven has had masterclasses with internationally regarded pianist such as Jon Nakamatasu, Sofya Gulyak, and Walter Hautzig. He has performed locally and at numerous universities statewide. He also works as a collaborative pianist with many vocalists, musical theater groups, and orchestras. Steven has a strong emphasis in music theory which plays a role in his teaching. Fundamentally, Steven believes that music learning should be curiosity-driven, active, enjoyable, and emphasize self-expression.|
|Geert Ruelens (piano) graduated in 2014 with a bachelors in music from Kutztown University where he studied with Maria Asteriadou. At Kutztown University, Geert was heard twice as a soloist with the University orchestra in a performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto in E Minor and Liszt’s Totentanz. He is a native from Belgium where he studied piano at the Royal Conservatory for Music. Geert is the organist and choir director at Nativity Lutheran Church in Reading, PA, teaches piano lessons and works as an accompanist. Geert is a student of Charles Abramovic at Temple University where he pursues a masters degree in piano performance and pedagogy.
|Austin Sbarra (piano, saxophone) is currently enrolled at Saint Joseph's University and is pursuing degrees in music and communication studies. He specializes in jazz piano, improvisation, and jazz theory but is also studying classical piano and classical theory. In addition, he plays with a variety of different musical groups in live settings, including musical theater and popular cover bands. He currently studies under Professor Daniel Green and Dr. Emi Kagawa. While piano is his main instrument, Austin also displays proficiency on saxophone as well. Self-taught from age 14, he currently plays saxophone (as well as piano) in St. Joseph University's Jazz Ensemble. Although music is his main passion, Austin has worked with children for over five years as a childcare attendant and summer camp counselor.|
|Clara Swartzentruber (voice, piano) is a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in music with a concentration in voice performance. In addition to being a classical singer, she has extensive training in classical piano and dabbles in jazz. During her time at Bryn Mawr, she acted as music director for the Looney Tunes, a Bi-College acapella group, and as vocal music director for three musical theater productions. Currently she’s a freelance ensemble and solo singer based in Philadelphia. In her free time Clara loves to arrange for acapella groups, cook, and bake, and she has a deep burning passion for zumba. She has experience both teaching and mentoring young learners; her focus is on providing a solid technical and theoretical foundation, transferable to any genre, within a fun and varied framework which will last any student a lifetime!|
Strings and Multiple Instruments
|Rich Galster (guitar, electric bass, piano) has over 15 years' experience teaching students of all ages in the greater Philadelphia area. A University of the Arts graduate, his versatility as a player allows him to bring a great deal of flexibility to his teaching approach. He encourages musicianship, creativity, and working diligently towards a polished sound. Whether a student is interested in reading music, learning by ear, improvising, writing, or diving deep into the realm of music theory, he allows his pupils to utilize their strengths while helping them to overcome struggles. As a performer since the age of 13, he has played everything from jazz, rock, and classical to mariachi-surf'n'western. Most recently with the film noir-inspired cabaret group Cast Shadows, he's pursuing a solo lounge bossa project under the name Richard Anthony Junior -- but you can just call him Rich.|
|Rachel Icenogle (strings) is a versatile string player with a mind for new and interesting sounds. Specializing in experimental music, she loves to explore the tonal palette of her instruments. She composes music for puppet shows with Compagnia Aiello and is currently a member of Philadelphia bands Upholstery and Cast Shadows. Past Philadelphia theater and dance collaborations include Ombelico Mask Ensemble, BRAT Productions, Transmissions Theater, SWARM, and Birds on a Wire. With a teaching style primarily focused on realizing musicality and expression through technique, Rachel is also a teaching artist at the Baldwin School and at Play On Philly.|
|Amber Kowal (upright bass, clarinet) is studying music performance on upright bass as well as philosophy at West Chester University, specializing in classical bass under the guidance of Peter Paulsen. She's assistant principal bass in the University's symphony orchestra and chamber orchestra. In addition to the bass, Amber has 8 years of experience playing clarinet and teaching beginner / intermediate lessons. Originally from South Jersey, Amber has played bass for the Atlantic City Ballet, local musical productions, churches, and community orchestras. She also studies Alexander Technique with Dr. Robert Bedford, considering it important for any musician to incorporate into practice and performance.|
|Ronald Lipscomb (cello) started his cello lessons in the Philadelphia School system and Settlement Music School where he studied with a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ronald then attended the Manhattan School of Music to study with Bernard Greenhouse of the Beaux Arts Trio. After four years he began to work professionally in New York City, playing as substitute for the New York Philharmonic and touring to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Scandinavia, and Russia. He also attended the Marlboro School of Music for two summers where he played in a Master class for Pablo Casals. Since returning to Philadelphia, Ronald has played with the Fairmount String Quartet, taught at area universities and privately, and worked with the Lower Merion summer strings program. Ronald is dedicated to inspiring and teaching young students to play and love the cello for a lifetime.|
|Walt Plumlee (guitar) started piano lessons at six years old but soon took up the guitar, inspired by his father's love for alternative rock and bluegrass music. Walt graduated from Haverford College in 2018 with a degree in philosophy and now is guitar and bass instructor at The Baldwin School in addition to working with Common Time Music School students. Walt believes that the habits of discipline and problem-solving formed by learning an instrument carry over into approaching other life endeavors successfully. His favorite part of teaching is helping students develop their own unique musical interests. Walt is also able to teach music production and engineering techniques, in addition to rock pop and jazz styles and music theory.|
|Annie Pulaski (violin) holds a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College, a master’s in violin performance from the University of Massachusetts, and a professional studies diploma from Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music. Her teachers include William DePasquale and David Arben of the Philadelphia Orchestra. She has performed with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the Delaware Symphony, among other groups. She has also performed with the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in Italy and the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. Annie was Director of the Haverford Conservatory and string orchestras at The Haverford School and has taught at the Agnes Irwin and Baldwin Schools. She was a faculty member at Temple Music Preparatory Division and has taught and coached on the faculty of the Strings International Music Camp in Bryn Mawr. Annie is a certified Suzuki violin instructor, plays bluegrass and fiddle as well as electric violin, and has worked with many master teachers, including Linda Fiore and Ronda Cole. In 2009, she piloted a violin program for ESF Dream Camp at Girard College.|
Woodwinds and Multiple Instruments
|Michael Hudson-Casanova (sax, flute, clarinet) is from the Detroit area and began playing saxophone in the 5th grade. Throughout high school he studied saxophone, flute, and clarinet with some of Detroit’s most in-demand performers and teachers. In 2016 he graduated from Western Michigan University with his Bachelors of Music in Education and Jazz Studies and he’s now working toward his Master of Music in Jazz Performance at Temple University. Michael has taught private lessons for over five years. He loves helping students develop a personal relationship with music and their chosen instrument. Using his own practice materials as well as method books, Michael also encourages students to bring their own music. Having performed theatre productions, concert bands, chamber ensembles, blues and rock groups, and small and large jazz ensembles, Michael can guide a student in whatever musical direction they wish to pursue.|
|Sam Mayer (percussion) is a drummer, producer, and songwriter. Sam's roots are in drumming for live jazz, R&B, pop, and rock groups, but his current practice is focused on the studio setting. He has worked as a session drummer, engineer, and producer at Headroom Studios as well as in his own home studio in Philadelphia. In addition to teaching music, Sam has worked in public schools, as a youth worker, and as a private tutor. In his lessons, Sam helps students develop technique and musicianship while creating a space where students can explore their own lifelong creativity.|
|Henry Nye (percussion) is a Brooklyn-based drummer with a passion for jazz and Afro-Cuban music. His early favorites like Led Zeppelin and Neil Young have been augmented with Mark Guiliana, Antonio Sanchez, and Ken White. Henry has played continuously in ensembles since age ten. He’s now collaborating with Haverford College's Bi-Co Jazz Ensemble as well as fellow Common Time teacher Walt Plumlee. Henry has received offers to work with Philadelphia-based funk band Bazmati Vice as well as members of Bronx rap collective Slums. He has taught children extensively and loves watching his students grow. He emphasizes proper drumming technique, vital to achieving a relaxed and natural approach. Henry is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics from Haverford College.|
See our Facebook Page for upcoming performances and events!
Common Time Recital (March 2018)
Piano and cast
Elliot's 5 year old hand position
Download our policies Location: Our teachers travel to the students’ homes. It is important that the student be ready for their teacher as all lessons will end promptly. Please respect the teacher’s time as she/he likely has a full schedule. On occasion lessons will be held in the store. Trial Lessons: We highly recommend a trial lesson before you make a decision about taking lessons. It is important that the student feels comfortable with the teacher and that the teacher feels it’s a good fit. And don’t forget that the parent needs to like the teacher too! The trial lesson fee is for a 30 minute lesson. Rates: Please call or email us for the school’s current rates: (610) 649-8842. Fees and Payments: Monthly (please pay in advance) invoices will be sent to you via email at the beginning of the month. All checks should be written to Common Time Music and given to your teacher or sent to Calliope Music, 4 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, PA 19003. Please pay on time. There is no administrative fee and no fee for recitals. Absences: 24 hour notice is required for absences; however, there are exceptions especially when a child suddenly becomes ill. Please call the teacher as soon as you know there is a problem. Every scheduled lesson must be paid for. Any lesson missed for sickness will be made up within the month of the absence if possible. On rare occasions you might have a substitute teacher in case of teacher illness or vacation. You will be told in advance. A 2 week notice is required should you decide to discontinue lessons. We reserve the right to terminate lessons if a student is disruptive during lessons or not attending regularly. Commitment: Commitment is very important. Your teacher will emphasize the importance of making a commitment to your music lessons. Learning anything new can be challenging especially in this day of instant gratification. Some things require patience and perseverance and music is one of them – another life lesson that music gives the student.
Preparation: Please make sure your child has his/her music books / instrument each week. It is also important that they have their assignment books. The assignment book reminds the student what he / she needs to work on but also it means the teacher has a record of what has been done. Consistency for student and teacher is very important. Practicing -- this is an open-ended subject! Depending on how long the student has been taking and the level, practice time varies. It can also vary depending on the family’s schedule. Ideally, the student will practice every day working through the assignments in his / her books. Realistically, encourage them to “play” as much as they can. There are reward methods which we would be happy to discuss with you if you want some ideas. Every family has individual considerations and we would never assume to have the answers to how a family copes with practicing. We can only make suggestions. It is important to keep open communication with the teacher who will let you know if there needs to be improvement. If you feel uncomfortable talking to the teacher, please feel free to contact Julia or George to discuss things with us. Instrument: It is always an advantage to have a decent instrument to play. This doesn’t mean you need a 9 foot Steinway grand piano. However, whatever instrument you use should be in good working order. We supply rentals for string and band instruments and can give ideas about how to go about buying instruments. We also have a list of piano tuners if you need one – yes, they have to be tuned regularly. Recitals: Each teacher will decide about recitals but generally we recommend that each student play in at least one recital (informal) per year. Recitals are meant to be a fun experience for both student and parent – a chance to share their accomplishments. However, we take the performance seriously, and expect the student to as well. This is a life experience. What they learn at the recitals they will apply to other things they do in life. It is preparation for many, many things in their future. Memorizing the piece, perfecting it (sometimes playing it until the parents can take no more!), bowing when they finish, looking physically good, all these things can be applied to future accomplishments. There is nothing more challenging than getting up before an audience and performing. But also, there is nothing more rewarding than the feeling after you have finished. It is a natural high that stays with you for a lifetime. Additional Policies: Some of our teachers may have additional policies. Please remember that we are always open to discussion about lessons and teachers. If you have any questions or concerns, please first speak with your teacher. Then feel free to email us. Updated September 2015