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Teaching Artists

The Monmouth Conservatory of Music is comprised of professionals from around the world, including graduates of prestigious music conservatories and universities. Our faculty strive to maintain the mission and integrity of classical music training, theory and performance.


(CLASSICAL + FLAMENCO GUITAR) Mr. Appello has taught classical and flamenco guitar at Monmouth Conservatory since 1990. He served on the music faculty of Georgian Court University for ten years, and has studied guitar with Manuel Barrueco, Frederic Hand, Juan de la Mata, and Ana Maria Rosado, plus lute and theorbo with Pat O’Brien. Mr. Appello earned a B.M. in Guitar Performance from the Manhattan School of Music and a Masters in Performance from New Jersey City University. Amongst his accomplishments, he was co-winner of the Oscar Ghilia Guitar Competition and solo artist in the Master Class at the Aspen Music Festival, and served as the original solo classical guitarist for the famed “Cellar in the Sky” restaurant on the 107th floor of the World Trade Tower. His CD Reflections, a collection of Renaissance and early-Romantic music performed on historic instruments, was released in 2007. A second CD, The Last Rose of Summer was released in 2012, hailed as “delightful by its array of guitar techniques, idiomatically conceived for the instrument” by Early Music America.

Mark Edelstein


Mark Edelstein has been performing and singing since he was about 7 years old.

Mark holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the Department of music at Adelphi University on Long Island, NY. Currently, Mark is a Music Educator who teaches Band, Chorus, and General Music in Charles H. Stillman Elementary School in Plainfield, NJ. He is also a bilingual educator who can teach in both English and in Spanish. Mark plays a variety of instruments and is a trained professional singer in a variety of genres. In Middle and High School, Mark started singing in honors choirs like All State Chorus and the NAfME All-Eastern Chorus.

In college, he continued his journey of singing and took it all over the world. He has sung in NJPAC, Carnegie Hall, and in the Sydney Opera House in Sydney Australia with the Honors Performance Series Honors Chorus. Additionally, Mark performs in theaters in New Jersey and New York City where he has performed in Off-Broadway productions such as Footloose and the Final Days of Vincent Van Gogh.


(PIANO) Nicholas Filomeno began violin and piano lessons at the age of 5. Originally studying violin, Nicholas studied under Irina Kovalsky until age 10. That’s when he decided that piano was his true passion. He studied Classical Piano under Vladislav Kovalsky and Felix Molzer. At age 11, he began studying Piano under Dusty Micale of Music University who introduced him to jazz. Nicholas went on to attend Rutgers Jazz Program at Mason Gross School of the Arts, where he earned his Bachelor’s in Jazz Performance. At Mason Gross he studied personally with Jazz Legends; including Stanley Cowell, Eddie Parlmieri, Bill O’Connell, and Fred Hersch. Nicholas has also received 2 Golden Key Festival Awards for 2nd and 3rd place in classical piano. Nicholas now performs locally and teaches private beginner – advanced piano lessons at Victory Music School Staten Island NY. Nicholas also teaches at Rock’n Music Academy in Red Bank, Monmouth music lessons drive in and online teaching, and Lindsay’s Little Rockers in person and online where he teaches beginner-advanced level keyboard and also instructs the Jazz and classical portion as well in all schools he currently teaches.


(VIOLIN / VIOLA / CELLO / PIANO) Christopher Klaus is a graduate of Rutgers University with a B.A in Music. He studied under world renowned violinist Lenuta Ciulei. As a violinist he has performed in various ensembles including the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, Rutgers Philharmonia, New Sussex Symphony, Pocono Youth Orchestra and the Brook Symphony Orchestra. His musical interests included classical, rock, celtic, and bluegrass which are incorporated into his lessons. As a dedicated music educator he has over 16 years experience teaching violin, viola, cello and piano. His approach to teaching integrates elements of various string methods which include Essential Elements for Strings, Strictly Strings and the Suzuki Method. Each lesson is tailored to fit the students musical interests while fostering a creative and compassionate environment that supports basic fundamentals and reliable technique.


(VIOLIN) New York native violinist Raphael Klayman has been internationally praised for the beauty of his tone, the depth and flair of his musicianship, his vivid rapport with audiences, and his rare balance of virtuosity and sensitivity. He has shared these qualities with audiences through such media as radio, television, concerto performances with orchestra, and innumerable recitals – including a New York Debut at CAMI Hall and a European Debut in Geneva Switzerland, where he performed at the International Red Cross Museum and at the Palace of Athena. His Geneva Debut formed part of Concerts Atlantique’s 1990 European International Festival. Selected through competitive auditions, he was among 54 soloists or ensembles chosen to perform at the Festival from over 1,400 applicants and was one of only two solo violinists so chosen. Other solo highlights have included an appearance at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. He has also performed chamber music in a number of venues, including New York’s Merkin Hall. He has enlarged his repertoire in a personal way by composing many cadenzas, several short pieces, and making numerous arrangements.

In addition to his solo and chamber music activities, Raphael Klayman has played in the American Symphony Orchestra, the New York Pops and various fine ensembles in New York and New Jersey, frequently serving as Concertmaster. Always specializing in classical music, he has been very active in popular music as well. He has worked with Tony Bennett and was invited to be Concertmaster for a Broadway tour of “Miss Saigon”. He has served as Concertmaster for Ray Charles, Regis Philbin and Clay Aiken. He also appears in an award-winning music video with Rascal Flatts.

In earlier seasons, Mr. Klayman toured the U.S. three times as a member of the Goldovsky Opera Theatre. He also toured throughout Japan as a member of the New York Symphonic Ensemble, with whom he has also worked in New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall. He is Concertmaster and Personnel Manager of the Angelus Orchestra.

A graduate of the Mannes College of Music in New York where he was a recipient of several scholarships, he also holds a Certificat de Stage from the Centre International de Formation Musicale in Nice, France. His early studies were with two former pupils of the legendary pedagogue, Leopold Auer – Harry Fratkin and Vladimir Graffman. His later teachers included Regis Iandiorio, and he undertook advanced training with three of America’s most distinguished virtuosos – Glenn Dicterow, Aaron Rosand, and Charles Libove. His chamber music coaches have included Paul Doktor, Claus Adam, and Lewis Kaplan.

Raphael Klayman’s instruments include a number of fine and rare non-violin family and non-western instruments. His violins include three custom-made for him by Edward Maday and three violins custom-made for him by Vittorio Villa. His bows include woks of Simon, Bazin and E. A. Ouchard. His many non-musical interests include other aspects of the Arts and Humanities, reading, book and art collecting and Yoga. He has been listed in the Marquis “Who’s Who in Entertainment” and “Who’s Who in Emerging Leaders in America”, as well as the American Biographical Institute’s “International Book of Honor”. He also devotes a portion of his time to teaching.

Mr. Klayman’s solo CD’s are available on the GuarneriRecords label.


(VIOLIN / VIOLA) Mrs. Koch began her classical music training at the age of six. She received her Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College and completed her Master of Music degree in Viola Performance at Penn State, where she was also a teaching assistant. In that role, she worked with beginners taking strings methods, to more advanced players who studied privately with her. Mrs. Koch continues to perform classical music and is currently the principal violist of the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra.  She also teaches the after school String Program at Manasquan Elementary School.


(VIOLA / VIOLIN) Mikhail Kuchuk graduated from the Academy of Music in Odessa, Ukraine and completed his Master of Music and Doctorate of Music Degrees in Freiburg, Germany. His teachers have included Alexander Stanko, Wolfgang Marschner, and Felix Gottlieb. He has received numerous awards for his work; in 1990, Mr. Kuchuk was a winner of the Ukrainian National Violin Competition, the Carl Flesch Violin Competition (Hungary) in 1993, and the Baden Wurtemberg Violin Competition (Germany) in 1996. Other awards include receiving the David Oistrakh Scholarship in Odessa, Ukraine and the Rosenberg Foundation’s Scholarship in Freiburg, Germany. Mr. Kuchuk was a concertmaster of Odessa Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, where he toured as a soloist in Germany, Italy, and France. He also held a full-time position at the Odessa Opera House.

Since 1997, Mr. Kuchuk has been living in the United States. He was the solo violinist on Broadway in New York City, in the production of Forever Tango.  He has appeared as a soloist with the Manhattan Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, the Westchester Chamber Orchestra, St Peter’s by the Sea Symphony Orchestra, and the Bachanalia Chamber Orchestra.

From 1999-2009, Mr. Kuchuk was the leader of the Forte String Quartet, quartet-in-residence at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. During this period they participated in festivals throughout the United States including Maine, Washington DC, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Since 2009, Mr. Kuchuk has been a member of the Art-Strings Ensembles, which actively performs at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, David Geffen at Lincoln Center (formerly known as Avery Fisher Hall) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since 2004, Mr. Kuchuk has been a member of Tito Castro Tango Quartet and has participated at various locations in New York, including the Blue Note, as well as in Hawaii, Korea, and Japan.

Mr. Kuchuk is the Concertmaster of St. Peters by the Sea Symphony Orchestra in New Jersey and Principal Second at the Bachanalia Chamber Orchestra in New York City.  As an educator, Mr. Kuchuk teaches violin at Wharton Music Center in New Jersey, and he is a faculty member at the Prep Division at Rutgers University.


(PIANO) Ms. Lerner is a graduate of The Hartt School of Music in West Hartford, Connecticut. She holds an A.B. in Music from Barnard College, NYC and M.Ed. from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City. A member of Music Teachers National Association and New Jersey Music Teachers Association, Ms. Lerner has also served as an adjudicator for the Crescendo Music Festivals International for piano, voice and violin students. Her specialty is teaching young students to love music.


(BRASS / WOODWINDS) Mr. Luckenbill started his musical career on piano at age 5. In high school, he was selected to the McDonald’s All-American Band, All- Eastern and first chair in the NJ All-State Bands. He received a music scholarship to Michigan State University, where he was section leader in the wind-ensemble and symphonic band and received his BA in Music Education and graduated with High Honors. He is presently the conductor of the Asbury Concert Band and John Luckenbill Pops Band, professional bands which perform on the boardwalks in Asbury Park and Belmar and various towns around the shore area. Mr. Luckenbill has performed with and is the personnel manager for the Orchestra of St. Peter, which has done concerts at Carnegie Hall, Claridge Casino, Philadelphia Academy of Music, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tillis Center in Long Island, and as a back-up orchestra for both Marvin Hamlisch and Ray Charles.  He has performed as the official bugler at Monmouth Park , Philadelphia Park, and the Meadowlands, and has played on “Good Morning America”, ABC-TV and “Good Day New York” on FOX. He has performed with the Lansing Symphony, Trenton Symphony, Staten Island Symphony and Delaware Valley Symphony.

Mr. Luckenbill has been the Talented Theme Magnet Program Team Leader in the Long Branch Public Schools, where he is also an instrumental music teacher. This is his 40th year of teaching in Long Branch, where he was Teacher of the Year in 2012 as well as receiving a Master Music Teacher award from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.  He was also named Arts Educator of the Year in Monmouth County from the Algonquin Theater in 2015. Many of his students have won positions in high school and junior-high All-Shore, All-State Region and All State bands and orchestra.


(VOCALS) Deb Lyons has starred on Broadway and London’s West End in Smokey Joe’s Cafe (including the DVD). She portrayed “Lucy” in the 1st National tour of Jekyll & Hyde. She has worked with Tony Award-winning directors, Jerry Mitchell, Jerry Zaks and Richard Maltby Jr. Her theatrical credits include Next to Normal, Hairspray, Ring of Fire, Side by Side by Sondheim, Swing, and The Last Goodbye (Romeo and Juliet). Off-Broadway she worked alongside Grammy-winning songwriters Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil.

In addition to her theater work, she toured the world for 5 years as a member of the legendary pop group The Mamas & The Papas with original Papas, John Phillips and Denny Doherty. She’s sung in concert with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and shared the stage singing duets with Rick Springfield, Ben E. King and Mary Wilson. She’s also sung backup for Carrie Underwood, Lee Ann Womack, Roseanne Cash, The Chieftains, Martha Reeves, Frankie Avalon, Lesley Gore and Donna Summer.

She has over 20 years of experience in the recording studio singing with major artists, singing jingles & recording voiceovers. Trained by Tony Award-winning renowned voice teacher, Joan Lader, NYU vocal coach, Andrea Green, and HB Studios, Deb has been teaching vocal technique and performance for 15 years. One of her students was a Top 10 finalist on the X Factor!


(PIANO, Voice) Born and raised in the United States, Julia Muench is a music educator and professional pianist, teaching piano, and voice. Julia has been on the faculty of the Monmouth Conservatory since 1997. With a master’s degree in music, Julia is a highly experienced teaching professional, working with students of all levels, ages and backgrounds. Julia’s vocal training, performances and experience include: choir director for several Monmouth County choirs, accompanist/performer to professional broadway and classical vocalists, vocal training workshops, and more recently: producing, arranging and performing the vocals for: The Wolverton’s (song duo) show, Songs of an Inspired Era in NYC, Red Bank, New Jersey and Seattle, Washington. Julia is excited about adding vocal students to her teaching class.

Julia’s goals in teaching music students are: encouraging the continued love of music, building confidence, and helping students of all ages and levels, to reach their own musical goals.

Additional: In 2013, Mrs. Muench won first place Audience Award for her composition Nautilus Dances at the Sub Tropics Music Festival in Miami, Florida. Nautilus Dances and many of her original compositions and piano artistry may be followed on her Youtube channel. Her actual sheet music scores and arrangements may be downloaded at

Invited in 2018 to perform her original works in New Orleans, LA, Julia continues to compose and give live music performances. Classically trained, Muench holds a B.A. and M.A. in Music and Applied Piano from the University of Miami, under Teresa Escandon, Robert Floyd and Maxwell Lepper.


(PIANO) Born and raised in Germany, Mr. Nowaczyk studied privately with Rhandi Haiberg-Druckenbrodt and Erika Haase at the Conservatory of Hanover, Germany, later receiving his degree in piano performance from the University of Ashland, Ohio, where he was a student of Elizabeth Pastor, Regius Professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Mr. Nowaczyk has appeared in solo and chamber music recitals throughout the United States and Germany, including a memorable performance of Schumann’s Piano concerto with the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank. His work as a vocal coach with emphasis on the French and German repertoire and his extensive experience as a choral conductor has made him highly sought after by musicians and vocalists alike. Mr. Nowaczyk has been a member of the piano faculty of the Monmouth Conservatory since 1995. He also holds a degree in Romance Languages and Literature and German Philology from the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

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