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.

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Elisa Aquino

Elisa Aquino (Cello) is a Guatemalan cellist and anthropologist. She graduated from the National Conservatory of Guatemala where she received several mentions for her outstanding performance, and also from the “Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala”. Elisa has been part of different orchestras and festivals including the National Symphony Orchestra of Guatemala and the Youth Orchestra of Central America and the Caribbean, playing in different scenarios around Mexico and Central America.  She has performed in master classes for international cellists conducted by Carlos Prieto, Alfredo Mazariegos, Emilio Colón, Robert deMaine, Anatole Wieck, Luis Viaba, Liina Leijala, Amparo Lacruz, among others.  In 2018 Elisa moved to the US to study her Master’s in Music in Cello Performance under the tutelage of Ovidiu Marinescu at the West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where for two years in a row she was awarded with the “Dean's Scholarship for Global Diversity & Academic Achievement”.  Simultaneously, Elisa is also co-founder of the International Chamber Music Festival in Guatemala, and the award-winning educational project “Puros Cuentos” (Just Tales).  For many years,  Elisa has taught private lessons to kids and adults of all ages. She was part of the faculty of the French Alliance Pedagogical Music Program founded by members of the National Symphony Orchestra in Guatemala. During her Master’s she was assistant to the cellist Ovidiu Marinescu, teaching cello to students pursuing a minor in Music.

 John Arrigo-Nelson 

John Arrigo-Nelson (Composition, theory, guitar, piano) has taught music in both the private and university setting for over 20 years. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education and a Bachelor of Guitar Performance from Rhode Island College, as well as a Ph.D. in Composition from Stony Brook University. Performing in both popular and classical styles, he has appeared with a variety of ensembles, and is currently a member of the contemporary music collective Alia Musica Pittsburgh. John’s compositions have been performed and broadcast throughout the United States and in Europe and he has received numerous awards and recognition, including Fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Wellesley Composers Conference. John has served on the adjunct faculty at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana University South Bend, Suffolk County Community College, and Stony Brook University teaching theory, analysis, and composition.  To learn more about John's work, visit

 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.

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Daniela Jofre

Daniela Jofré Arroyo (violin, viola) began her violin lessons at the age of 9 at the University of Talca- Music Conservatory in Chile. Years later, she would continue her undergraduate studies in the same institution, graduating as the best student of her generation. In 2018 Miss Jofré traveled to the USA as a recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to continue her graduate studies at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville where she earned a master’s degree in music performance with an Eephasis in Suzuki Pedagogy. She also served as concertmaster in SIUE Symphony Orchestra.  In 2020, Daniela traveled to Pittsburgh to start an Artist Diploma Program at Duquesne University.  There she studies with well known local violinist Charles Stegeman.  Miss Jofre has taught violin both in Chile and the US to students from 3 to 55 years old. She teaches the Suzuki method, having certification from Early Childhood through Book 8.

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.

Sarah Richards

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.