2018 Guest Teachers

Samantha Coates

Samantha Coates

Sight reading specialist

Samantha Coates is a professional pianist and teacher with nearly 30 years’ experience in both private and group tuition. She is the author and publisher of BlitzBooks, the music education series that has captured the imagination of students across Australia and transformed the teaching of music theory, sight reading and general knowledge.

Samantha’s ongoing dedication to making music education as fun as possible has seen her find many ways to engage students’ interest and enthusiasm. Her aim is to make music more accessible to all instrumentalists through a holistic approach to the teaching of music theory, sight reading, aural and general knowledge.

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Thomas Hoops

Thomas Hoops has over 25 years’ experience in the piano studio and has refined a method to keep the drive alive and the work fun. Hoops holds a B.A. in Music and M.M. in Music Education. He has won many awards and scholarships and is certified by the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (GIML) in Elementary Music level I. Thomas is a member of Music Teacher’s National Association (MTNA) along with state (CSMTA) and local (AMTA) affiliations. Thomas is in demand as a presenter and speaker on his unique approach to music learning. He also has experience with solo performance, rock/blues band, studio recording and sound engineering, and composition. An accomplished pianist, Thomas plays and teaches in all musical styles.

Co-founders and teachers

Leila Viss

I enjoy teaching music both “on and off the piano bench” using the latest iPad apps and simple manipulatives like bottles, buckets, boxes, erasers and more. Finding innovative ways to use household items and hip technology makes every lesson an adventure. As a classically trained musician, playing “off page” is a relatively recent acquired skill that has reinvigorated my teaching and personal musicianship. I firmly believe that teaching creatively and teaching creativity go hand in hand. Creativity is contagious and I am passionate about passing it along to others. 

Leila Viss

iPad and “Off Bench” teaching specialist

  • Author of The iPad Piano Studio: Keys to Unlocking the Power of Apps
  • Owner of an innovative, tech-savvy, creative-based independent studio in Centennial, Colorado
  • Full time church organist, pianist, accompanist
  • Coordinator of the Piano Preparatory Program at the University of Denver
  • Columnist for Clavier Companion
  • Blogger at 88pianokeys.me
  • Frequent presenter and guest artist at national, state and local conferences and associations
  • MA in in piano performance and pedagogy

Bradley Sowash

How I wish someone had shown me creative concepts and theory tools like chord symbols, lead sheets, and how to groove in popular styles when I was a student. My teachers explained how to read and interpret written music, but my understanding of how to create my own music was gained much more slowly through experimentation, copying recordings, attending live performances, begging more experienced creative musicians for tips and tricks, and reading everything I could get my hands on about improvising. I enjoy passing along the valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way so that you won’t have to go through the same long process of trial and error that I did. 

Bradley Sowash

Improv specialist

BRAVO. What you and Leila are doing.....don’t stop!
— Linda King, Founder of The United States International Duo Piano Competition