Music Lessons at the Putney School
The Putney School offers one-on-one instruction for students that would like to explore or deepen their knowledge of a musical instrument. The program is open to all students regardless of experience, and scholarship funds are available.
Hand Drums, Harmonica, Bamboo Flute
Steve (Stevo) Leicach has been drumming for close to 50 years. He is an expert in African and Afro-Caribbean hand drumming, and teaches lessons on a wide variety of ethnic instruments including conga drums, djembe, balafon, shekere, and talking drums; he also offers lessons in blues harmonica and instruction in bamboo flute. Steve has taught at schools, universities, and wellness centers throughout the Northeast.
Steve teaches people of all ages and abilities, from advanced percussionists to beginners, including children, senior citizens, and individuals with disabilities. As a teacher Steve’s focus is to empower his students in an environment that is supportive and safe, so they can freely express themselves; his emphasis, always, is on kindness. He also utilizes drumming as a vehicle for conflict resolution with people from war torn countries.
Steve apprenticed in traditional Tikar mask and drum carving in Cameroon, West Africa. He has also traveled to Ghana, Senegal, and the Caribbean Islands to research traditional music. Steve graduated from Tufts University’s joint program with The Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, with a major in fine arts and a minor in anthropology. His resonance with evolutionary anthropology and ancient primordial history is an interest that has informed his approach to life.
As a teacher, my highest priority is creating a supportive environment where students feel safe and relaxed, so they can fully be their authentic selves: kindness is everything.” — Steve Leicach
Rebecca Sayles caught the music bug as a young student at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has remained actively playing flute ever since. Later educated at Harvard College and Columbia University. Before moving to New Hampshire in 2018, she performed regularly throughout the New York area as a member of the Broadway Bach Ensemble, New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra, Rye Country Day School Festival Orchestra, St. Thomas Orchestra, and Wednesday Winds (quartets and quintets), and sang in an all-female, 16-member a cappella group. Rebecca is active with the Windham Orchestra, TUNDI Festival Orchestra, and Guilford Festival Orchestra in Vermont, and with the SONAD Festival Orchestra and Westmoreland Town Band in New Hampshire.
Rebecca serves in an administrative capacity as Development Officer at Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in Nelson, New Hampshire. Additionally, she writes about the arts–a recent article, “From Women’s Clubs to MeetUps: Social Influences on Amateur Music-Making in America,” is published in the October/November 2019 issue of American Music Teacher.
I love teaching —and learning from—Putney students, who are always curious to try new things and eager to grow as musicians and human beings.” — Rebecca Sayles
Rob Freeberg, trumpeter, moved to Dummerston, Vermont in 2012, after retiring from his position as Director of Bands at New Rochelle High School, NY, where he taught for 30 years. He has a B.A. in Music from Columbia University, and a M.A. in Jazz Studies from the Manhattan School of Music. Many of his former students have pursued careers in music as performers, conductors and composers. He also directed a community jazz band, the Rob Freeberg Big Band, and the Iona College Pep Band. Rob was selected as guest conductor for several all-county and regional music festivals in NY, and performed and recorded as a free-lance trumpeter in the metropolitan NY area. Since moving to VT, he has become active at the VT Jazz Center, directing the VJC Big Band for its annual Gala Concert and serving on its Board of Directors, and he performs with the Windham Orchestra. Rob directed jazz ensembles at the Putney School from 2013-2015, coaches chamber music ensembles and the jazz workshop at Brattleboro Union High School, and has taught a jazz improvisation class at Bellows Falls Union High School. He directed the Vermont District 6 Middle School Jazz Ensemble in November, 2015.
Although I have a solid background in classical music, and feel comfortable teaching all brass instruments, I have also developed techniques of learning jazz improvisation and music theory that can benefit all music students.” — Rob Freeberg
Jenna Rae was educated at Northwestern University, New England Conservatory and Longy School of Music. Trained first as clarinetist and music educator, she sang major works of the mezzo-soprano repertoire, notably Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and Kindertotenlieder. Now she is known and recognized as a Dramatic Soprano who has the large roles of Verdi and Puccini under her belt, also the great song-cycles of Brahms, Mahler and Strauss. She is co-creator with Hugh Keelan of Wolf, a children’s musical based on St Francis, and Boudica, a Grand Opera in which she will sing the title role of the Icene warrior queen from the first century, and the company TUNDI Productions, dedicated to the all-encompassing artworks of Richard Wagner. She is already an experienced Wagnerian with her signature Isolde, and is soon to be a fledged Valkyrie, Brünnhilde with TUNDI in 2022.Wherever Jenna Rae performs, there is beauty, rigor, generosity of emotion and an unusual ability to connect.
I know about voice types and all their glories and quirks, and I want to find and release the authentic voice in you. I love introducing students to methods and repertoire that will give them artistry, expression, and solid technique. I will be teaching from home, so that we all remain safe while learning the superpower of singing!” — Jenna Rae
Hugh Keelan has conducted throughout the world, from the Residentie Orchestra (conducted by Toscanini) in The Hague, Holland, to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (in pioneering recordings of seminal American symphonies), the Saint Louis Symphony (with a world premier), and the Windham Orchestra (creating excellence and transcendence in community). He has collaborated with the great artists of our times, including Solti, Haitink, Sir Colin Davis, Shura Cherkassky, Maurice Sendak, Tom Stoppard. In the future are a Ring Cycle, 2022, with TUNDI Productions, and Boudica, all co-created with Jenna Rae. During Boudica audiences will learn Celtic war cries, and from their seats participate in battle scenes with the Roman occupiers.
For Maestro, ‘Life’ and ‘Art’ are not distinct, just different words for a committed exploration of beauty and transcendence. He has performed piano concertos by Brahms, Beethoven, Janáček, Jacob Mashak, Ravel and Rachmaninoff over the years, and is currently learning ‘the’ Tchaikovsky.
I am interested in students discovering music at a deep and unexpected level; listening, which starts with me listening to you, and what you are interested, and in giving you a particular gift: that immersing in music will illuminate your personal interests and life goals.” — Hugh Keelan
Saxophone & Clarinet
Growing up in Miami, FL in a musical family, Donna Morse’s music education began nearly 50 years ago with piano lessons. She started
clarinet in 6th grade, playing in Florida festivals, and in the Orange Bowl parade. After graduating from Bucknell University, Donna expanded her woodwind playing to flute and saxophone, studying flute with Shirley Gilpin and Julie Armstrong, saxophone and applied jazz harmony with Scott Mullett, John Mastriani, and Mark Pinto and jazz piano and harmony with Eugene Uman of the Vermont Jazz Center.
Classically, Donna is a clarinet/woodwind player in the Windham Philharmonic and a frequent lyric opera and pit orchestra player. As a jazz player, she has been the lead alto sax in the Keene Jazz Orchestra since 2003 and has performed with Boston’s White Heat Orchestra, East Bay Jazz Band, the Temptations, and the Les DeMerle Big Band, as well as many private gigs in the northern New England area.
Donna teaches regularly in Keene, Putney, and Bellow Falls. Her students have auditioned and have been accepted for NAfME All-National Honor Ensembles, NH All-state, NH Jazz All-State, VT All State, New England Music Festival, NH Honors Band, and the MA Central District Music Festival.
Although I love to perform music, I also love the rewards and challenges of teaching private lessons and tailoring those lessons to each student based on their level of mastery as well as their musical goals and interests. My approach to teaching is to first get to know my student and then decide how to help them get to where they want to go musically and then teach them how to go even further.”—Donna Morse
Draa Hobbs is a professional performing artist on the guitar, playing in clubs and concerts throughout the Northeast including Boston and New York. He recently returned from a tour of Germany and has also performed in Paris. Draa is a dedicated teacher, familiar with a variety of different styles from Rock to Jazz. He has played Jazz professionally for years, most recently at the Liliy Pad in Boston performing all original material with associates from the Berklee College of Music faculty.
I try to get my students engaged in a creative way with the instrument as they learn the nuts and bolts of music on the guitar. You can be creative and express yourself right from the start. Regardless of the style, at every level of development, what matters is personal expression.”—Draa Hobbs
Eric Mrugala is dedicated to making the arts more accessible to everyone. Mrugala enjoys sharing stories of musicians from different genres in traditional and non-traditional settings. He is the creator and host of the Everyday Musician Podcast, a podcast where he talks to local musicians doing amazing things in their communities. Mrugala is also the creator and host of the Violin Podcast where he invites violinists from around the world to discuss practice tips, music career advice, and how the violin has shaped their life.
Mrugala appears with New England ensembles such as the Berkshire Symphony, Bennington Chorale, Keene Chorale, and Cape Ann Symphony. Mrugala has made appearances in Boston Symphony Hall, Sanders Theater, Kresge Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony Hall, Royal Concertgebouw Hall, De Doulen Hall, Smetana Hall, Dvorak Hall, UMass Amherst Concert Hall, and Bezanson Recital Hall. His recent engagements include collaborating with living composers and performing alongside members of the Fifth House Ensemble at Fresh Inc Festival. Other chamber music experiences include the Brancaleoni International Music Festival in Italy, and the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Burlington, VT.
Eric Mrugala received his Bachelor’s Degree at the Boston Conservatory, and completed his Masters degree at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Eric Mrugala’s previous teachers include Edyta Mrugala, Rictor Noren, and Elizabeth Chang.
My goal is to ensure that each student feels accomplished and successful after each lesson. It is my hope to inspire students and share joy for music in every lesson.” — Eric Mrugala
George graduated from Keene State College in 2012 and has remained in the Monadnock Region ever since, working as a drummer and educator across New England. He holds a Master of Music Degree in Drum Set Performance from UMass Amherst. Over the course of his career, George has had the privilege to play with world-renowned jazz musicians such as Gordon Goodwin, Frank Greene, Gary Smulyan, Steve Davis, Chris Potter, John Stowell, Bruce Gertz, John Mastroianni, Larry Pyatt, and Scott Mullett. He has been the drummer of the Keene Jazz Orchestra since 2009, and has played drums with the Amherst Jazz Orchestra since 2018.
As an educator, George maintains an active private teaching schedule out of his home studio, while also teaching music classes, lessons, and coaching ensembles at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH. Additionally, George teaches drum set lessons at Keene State College, Vermont Academy & The Putney School, and teaches music classes at Keene Middle School, Keene High School, & MoCo Arts in Keene, NH. When not playing or teaching music, George can usually be found with his wife Katie, as the two of them continue to devote themselves to their beloved golden retriever, Gussie.
I have so much fun playing music, and I can’t think of a greater feeling than sharing that fun with my students. I want to show my students the things I wish I’d have known how to do when I was in high school, because I think the more you know about music and your instrument, the more fun you can have listening to and playing it. I try to remind myself that’s why we all started playing in the first place: because it’s fun.”—George Robinson
Pedro Pereira grew up in Venezuela, and studied at Manhattan School of Music, graduating with a Bachelors in Double-Bass performance. After a few years in Venezuela, where he was a member of the Orquesta Sinfónica Venezuela, he moved to the US. Several years later, now living in Vermont, he switched to the cello, studying with Judith Serkin ’67. He is active in Southern Vermont and New Hampshire, and he is on the Board of the Windham Philharmonic. He has taught cello at Putney since 2012.
What drives me is a deep love and appreciation for how music expresses what it is to be human. Ensemble playing is for me a richly communicative and sharing experience. I practice and develop as a player so I can experience playing together at a deeper level. As a teacher, I try to help my students develop an effective approach to the instrument that sets them up for further development, as well as opening their hearts to the transcendent nature of music.” – Pedro Pereira
Sarah Carlisle began her musical studies on the double bass at the age of ten, and in 1998 attended the Peabody Conservatory on full scholarship. Having studied both classical and jazz music in college, she had the opportunity to perform with orchestras throughout Russia, Israel, and Brazil by the age of twenty. She spent her years after college primarily playing jazz in the Baltimore/DC area with such greats as Gary Thomas, Cyrus Chestnut, Eric Byrd, and many others. In 2009, Sarah was offered a full scholarship to attend a Masters program in Classical Bass at Temple University. During her years in Philadelphia, she toured and recorded with Sacred Chant Artist David Newman. From 2011-2018, she toured extensively and recorded with internationally renowned Kirtan Artist Snatam Kaur, including on her live studio album, Beloved, which received a Grammy nomination for “Best New Age Album” in 2018. Sarah has taught in various school settings, from the El Sistema-inspired programs Play On, Philly! and the Baltimore Symphony’s OrchKids to private and public schools at all grade levels. At The Putney School, Sarah teaches both upright and electric bass in all styles.
I love teaching at The Putney School. My students are all self-directed, enthusiastic and passionate learners, each with unique interests.”—Sarah Carlisle