Guitar Playing

Accent Music Academy is dedicated to the musical education and instruction

of our community's students.  As such, we are proud of our staff of superbly trained, experienced professionals who represent the diversity of the Pittsburgh musical scene.  Our instructors can be seen and heard regularly in the Pittsburgh area and beyond, in rock and jazz clubs, on the musical theater stage, and in classical concert halls.  They bring real-world experience and knowledge to Accent Music Academy's studios, and are committed to excellence in teaching.

Graham Albright, guitar teacher
Graham Albright

Graham Albright (Guitar, Electric Bass) is an Allegheny native who has been writing, arranging and recording music since 2011 and is a proud representative of a modern, constantly-changing creative industry. Having graduated Boston’s Berklee College of Music in 2018 with a degree in Contemporary Writing & Production, Albright has developed an aptitude for creative authenticity, willingly allying the promise one’s expression can be. Having annually toured the US East Coast before 2020 with alternative rock band, BILLY BALDWIN, Albright has seen the fruits of creative labor thanks to the approach he adopted as a working musician. As a contributing representative of artist conglomerate, Citizens Loft, Albright has collaborated with dozens of active performing musicians throughout the United States since 2018, namely Citizens Loft’s founding contributor and executive, Ben DeUrso. As students grow familiar with guitar, Albright’s curriculum incorporates Western music theory with contemporary tools for analysis. Just like learning a new language, he works intently with students to understand the sentences and phrases of music so they can develop their musical voice and apply it to their instrument.

David Cooke, Voice and Piano Teacher
 David Cooke 

David Cooke (voice, piano) has been featured in main stage productions with Pittsburgh Opera and Opera Theater of Pittsburgh in addition to performing in outreach programs for children. Past roles have included Little Bat in Susannah, Belfiore in La Finta Giardiniera, Edgar in Wuthering Heights and Lechmere in Owen Wingrave. Having held soloist positions in several area churches, he has performed a varied repertoire of sacred and secular music. David earned his undergraduate degree in vocal performance from Duquesne University, with his minor instrument being piano.  In addition he holds a Master’s in Arts Administration from Carnegie Mellon University, and has completed the equivalent of a Master’s in Vocal Performance.   With over twenty years of experience as a singer and educator, he has developed a unique approach to teaching that allows him to apply classical vocal technique to a wide variety of styles.  David also enjoys applying his knowledge of music theory and piano to teaching keyboard students of all ages.  In addition to teaching and performing, David has served as music director for hundreds of area youth in a multitude of fully staged productions, recitals and concert presentations.

Scott Delaney, Guitar, Piano and Bass Teacher
Scott Delaney

Scott Delaney (Guitar, Piano, Bass - electric and upright) took an interest in a variety of instruments from a young age. Starting on saxophone at age 9, he went on to gain experience performing on trumpet, tuba, piano, guitar, and electric & upright bass. Scott studied classical upright bass at Edinboro University where he received his B.A. in music.  Scott has performed professionally as a bassist for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines where he played with numerous guest entertainers including America's Got Talent winner, Michael Grimm, and American Idol 3rd place finalist, Lou Gazzara. While classically trained on bass, Scott has worked with several private teachers to gain a well-rounded understanding of many genres of music including pop/rock, funk, electronic production, and jazz.  Through this study, Scott has a solid understanding of guitar techniques including fingerstyle, picking/strumming patterns, and chord/scale shapes across the entire range of the instrument, as well as electric bass and piano. Scott has a passion for unlocking the creative application of techniques within his students' individual styles on any one of a multitude of instruments.

Zach Mathes, Drum Teacher
Zachary Mathes

Zachary Mathes (Drums, Percussion) was appointed Principal Timpanist of the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale in the spring of 2017. In addition, he plays as Principal Timpanist with the Butler County Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, and the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra. Since 2017, Zachary has been Adjunct Instructor of Percussion at Kent State University. A native of Charleston, West Virginia, Zachary received his Bachelor’s of Music Performance from Oberlin College and Conservatory. He then pursued his Master’s of Music in Performance at Sam Houston State University and continued his education in Pittsburgh, where he graduated in 2017 with an Artist’s Diploma. His primary teachers have included Michael Rosen, John Lane, Edward Stephan, Chris Allen, and John Soroka. Zachary proudly endorses Innovative Percussion sticks and mallets and Drum Dial.

Hayley Plauger, saxophone, clarinet and brass teacher
Hayley Plauger

Hayley Plauger (Woodwinds and Brass) Saxophonist, educator, and Maryland native, Hayley Plauger now resides in Pittsburgh, where she teaches K-8 General Music at Propel Hazelwood. As a passionate educator, Hayley strives to give equal opportunities to anyone who wants to learn an instrument, regardless of their age or ability. In previous years, she taught high school students woodwind and brass lessons through the BGSU Music Plus Program and gave masterclasses throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio. Hayley volunteers her time adjudicating Solo & Ensemble Festivals, leading Woodwind Sectionals, and helping with local instrument petting zoos. As a performer, Hayley has given recitals along the East Coast and has performed at various venues including the LAMP NOW Festival in Nova Scotia, the Navy Saxophone Symposium in Washington D.C., the 40th Annual Bowling Green New Music Festival in Ohio, and the PASSHE Women’s Consortium Conference in Pennsylvania. Hayley holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s of Music in Saxophone Performance from Bowling Green State University under the direction of Dr. John Sampen. During her time at BGSU, she was also able to study Jazz and Improvisation with David Bixler. Previous mentors include Dr. Keith Young, Dr. Jim Flowers, and Tedd Griepentrog. Throughout her education, Hayley has performed with a Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, a Gamelan Ensemble, various Saxophone Ensembles, Jazz Bands, Wind Ensembles, and Marching Bands.

Sarah Richards, Piano and Voice Teacher
Sarah Richards
Tommy Starr, Drum Teacher
Tommy Starr

Sarah Richards (Voice, Piano) is an active vocalist in the Pittsburgh area and holds a Master’s degree in Early Music Vocal Performance from the IU Jacobs School of Music, where she studied baroque and renaissance vocal repertoire with Steven Rickards and Dana Marsh, as well as piano, harpsichord and organ. She actively collaborates with instrumentalists on recording projects and has performed opera roles such as Ms. Pinkerton in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief at West Virginia University, where she received her Bachelor’s in Vocal Performance in 2017, and roles in operas by Cavalli and Monteverdi at Amherst Early Music Festival and International Baroque Academy in Oberaudorf, Germany.  While at WVU, Sarah studied piano pedagogy with Julianna Contreras in addition to her vocal studies.  Currently, she sings in the newly formed vocal trio, Halcyon Voices, and teaches voice and piano to students of all ages, as well as accompanying for student recitals. Sarah strives to inspire confidence in all students and to help them reach their own unique goals as musicians.

Tommy Starr (Drums/Percussion) is a current freelance composer and percussionist, residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A recent graduate of Youngstown State University, he received his Bachelor of Music in Composition with Honors. In addition to studying Music Composition, Tommy received training in classical percussion and jazz studies. In Youngstown, he also served as a bass chorister in the St. John’s Episcopal Chancel Choir, under the direction of Dr. Richard Konzen. Currently, Tommy works as a private percussion and drum set instructor with the Varsity Tutors platform, where he instructs K-12 and adult students in percussion techniques, sound production, and music reading. He has been an active member of St. Paul’s Episcopal for twenty-two years. At an early age, he participated in the Canterbury choir, was part of the Confirmation Class of 2010, and served as the drummer for the 8:45 AM contemporary ensemble for eleven years.​

Nikki_Thomas, Violin Teacher
Nichole Thomas

Nichole Thomas (Violin, Viola, Piano) began studying violin at age 12, taking private lessons with Nancy Zachary.  As a high school student, Nichole was a member of the PMEA orchestras, and in 1981-82 was invited to perform with the American Youth Symphony.  Through this opportunity, she traveled to Europe, performing in Switzerland, Austria and Italy. Nichole was a member of the Three Rivers Training Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra and the McKeesport Symphony, all prior to graduating from West Miflin Area High School.   After High School, Nichole earned a B.S. in Music Education from Duquesne University in 1991. While at Duquesne, Nichole studied with Alan Grishman and Ruth Osgood. While still in university, she began teaching private violin, viola, piano, and beginning cello lessons at a local shop and from her home.  Nichole has been a member of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, JSO, for 30 years and recently performed at Shanksville on the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Nichole also played as music director/organist at the First Presbyterian Church of Boston, Pa from 2009 to October of 2019. Recently, Nichole was hired as a string teacher for the Summer Music Program at West Mifflin Area School District.  Nichole has been loving teaching and playing music for 33 years and counting and is thrilled to join Accent Music Academy!