Marla Moore boasts a vibrant history spanning a decade as a seasoned musician and voice instructor. A proud alumnus of the University of Illinois, she earned her master's in voice performance, a foundation that fueled her passion for the stage in musicals and bands. However, as time went on, Marla found her true calling in education and mentorship. This passion steered her towards growing a successful personal studio and eventually starting the Ann Arbor Music Academy, where she continues to inspire and cultivate young musicians every day.
Larry Roy Sumner Jr. is a singer, songwriter/composer, multi-instrumentalist, music educator, music director, and band leader from South Central Michigan. He gave his first public performance at age three and has been making music ever since! He currently serves as the Minister of Music at United Peoples Community Church, the Music Director for the Concord Area Players, a teacher at the Ann Arbor Music Academy, and leads his own band, B!G L & CODE BLÜ. He also plays with the Jack Pine Savages and Mixed Flavors. A huge fan of musical theatre, Larry has served as the vocal director/pit orchestra conductor for a variety of shows including Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Balancing Act, The Drowsy Chaperone, Spring Awakening, Shrek the Musical, The Sound of Music, The Addams Family, The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof, and many more! Larry Teaches Jazz Piano/Keyboard Techniques, Guitar, and Bass.
“The most beautiful gifts are meant be shared”
As Elena would say, sharing a story with the stage is one of the most beautiful gifts someone could give. Elena has been privately teaching for over thirteen years. With a Vocal Performance degree from Central Michigan University. Ranging from operatic, jazz, musical theater, spiritual, pop, country and baroque. With an extensive background in large ensemble work and small, elena is all about allowing their students to find their true voice. She also teaches basic piano and believes it’s important for proper practice techniques. When it comes to helping master her students’ craft each student is different. Not everyone learns the same. Part of the fun is figuring out what works best for each individual. When the mind can only take in 10-20% audibly, it’s important to narrow down the most important parts to concentrate on during lessons. As a mezzo, she has an understanding of the lower voice as well as the high. She understands the voice with both ranges and is able to pick appropriate repertoire for each range. When it comes to memorization and becoming one with the music, elena is all about internalization through movement of the body. When the mind and body can connect, the music can feel easier to sing rather than feeling stagnant and disconnected.
Whitaker Finberg's musical journey began at a young age, inspired by his brother's songwriting and band tours. Although he started with the cello, Whitaker's true passion lay in the guitar and songwriting. Self-taught initially, he dove deep into formal music education, spending time at the Chicago College of Performing Arts studying jazz guitar. Yet, Whitaker's drive for live performances and songwriting brought him back to Michigan, where he toured with several bands and released multiple records. Teaching guitar at an Ann Arbor music store, he discovered a profound joy in mentoring aspiring musicians. After a brief stint in the recording gear industry, Whitaker established his own home studio, Square Lake Sounds. Partnering with the renowned Ann Arbor Music Academy, Whitaker is eager to guide students in realizing their unique musical visions.
Philip Rinke studied double bass for over two decades now. An accomplished bass player, Philip studied music education at Eastern Michigan University and was the principal bassist of the EMU symphony orchestra his entire time there. Philip has a passion for music theory and excelled in advanced theory coursework. Philip has taught numerous double bass sectionals to schools such as Ann Arbor Skyline High School, DCO, Saline high school, and more. Philip was also selected as Skyline high school’s regular bass instructor for their summer orchestra camp at Interlochen. Philip enjoys staying active and playing many gigs which include playing in musical theatre pit orchestras, jazz ensembles, and with the Dexter Community Orchestra. Philip is also a wealth of instrument knowledge having spent quite a bit of time working in violin and guitar shops.
Carlos Taboada is a composer, producer, saxophonist, & pianist. He has premiered works in Ann Arbor, MI and Dallas, TX, and he has uploaded original music, film scores, and saxophone covers online. Carlos has performed saxophone with the U-M Jazz Ensemble and Ann Arbor’s Big Band Theory. A Wolverine at heart, Carlos Taboada holds a BM in Composition and a BFA in Jazz Studies from the University of Michigan and is currently pursuing an MM in Composition at U-M.
Alexia Benson is a composer, pianist, and vocalist with a passion for guiding her students towards their musical voice. Her teaching style takes the approach of building the entire identity of her students into musicians, artists, and people with a love for the creative process.
Ryan DeHues is a world class crooner and we are lucky to have him as operations manager at AAMA. It was while growing up in his small hometown that DeHues developed an appreciation of big band jazz and such legendary crooners as Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, and Jack Jones. Pat Boone's record company, Gold Label, sponsored a national contest for America's Next Great Crooner, which resulted in DeHues taking the top prize and receiving a recording contract with the label. June of 2001 saw the release of DeHues' debut album, My Dream Come True, which was produced by David Diggs and David Siebels, and featured a dozen standards (tops being a reading of George Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me," sung as a duet with Debby Boone), as well as a 30-piece orchestra. Check out Ryan's latest album Private Parlour (bossa vibes) on all major platforms
Michael Lamentola is an experienced Audio engineer, Video Producer, and Marketing expert helping us share our music and passion through various mediums online. Michael is the owner of Michigan Media House, a resource and network for local businesses such as AAMA.