Academy of the Arts

NSU University School provides extracurricular arts education for students and adults through the Academy of the Arts. Designed as an outgrowth of the school’s rich curricular programs in performing and visual arts, the program focuses on providing further enrichment opportunities after school.

Private music lessons are offered in voice, piano, guitar, ukulele, violin, viola, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. Group lessons are taught in digital photography, drawing/painting, ceramics, guitar, ukulele, and film/television. The instructors for each of these disciplines are either full-time members of our faculty or professional adjunct teachers. Their bios and photos can be found under the “Instructors” section below.


Sara Cowley (Brass, Percussion, and Woodwinds)

Sara Cowley (Instructor for Brass, Percussion, and Woodwinds) is the new Director of Bands at NSU University School. She earned her Bachelor of Music from the University of Miami Frost School of Music in 2009 with Cum Laude honors and was named the Most Outstanding Graduating Senior. She completed her Master of Music Education in 2012 from the University of Miami while serving as a graduate Teaching Assistant for the Music Education department. Upon completion of the student teaching internship at Miami Coral Park Senior High School, she earned the Excellence in Student Teaching Award from the University of Miami. Prior to joining NSU University School, she was the Assistant Music Teacher at her alma mater, Gulliver Preparatory School. Upon completion of her Master’s Degree, she taught for five years at Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School, during which she was selected as the Rookie Teacher of the Year. In addition to this role, she also directed the marching, concert, jazz, and color guard programs, and taught Dual Enrollment Music Appreciation through Florida International University. Under her direction, the marching band reached state finals for the first time in school history and the concert and jazz band programs were rebuilt and led to consistent Excellent ratings at Florida Bandmasters Association District Music Performance Assessments. Also, under her leadership, individual students were regularly selected to local honor bands, All-State Honors Band, and earned Superior ratings at District and State Solo & Ensemble. Several of her former students have gone on to study music at the collegiate level. Ms. Cowley currently performs with the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble and is an active member of the National Association for Music Education, Florida Music Educators Association, Florida Bandmasters Association, Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honor Society, and is a sister of Sigma Alpha Iota, women’s music fraternity. She has previously served as District 16 Treasurer of the Florida Bandmasters Association.

Bob Folse (Guitar and Ukulele)

Bob Folse (Instructor in Guitar and Ukulele) has been a professional guitarist for over 25 years and is a graduate of Berklee College of Music. He has opened shows for such artists as Tito Puente, Ottmar Liebert, and Acoustic Alchemy and has professional experience performing classical, jazz, rock, flamenco, and more. His passion for music includes his desire to teach and to help develop young talent through teaching.

Anya Fuchs (Piano)

Anya Fuchs (Instructor in Piano) was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and was surrounded with the arts from a very early age. She studied music in the prestigious Rimsky-Korsakov School of Music for 11 years, took classes in fortepiano, and graduated with honors. She then earned a Bachelor's Degree in Conducting Amateur Chorus from the Institute of Culture in the heart of St. Petersburg, Russia. Anya has been actively teaching music and piano for over 25 years and loves sharing her passion with young aspiring musicians. She is presently a Music Specialist at an elementary school in Hollywood.

Lori Gregory (Ceramics)

Lori Gregory (Instructor in Ceramics) is an artist who has won various awards and competitions throughout her career and continues to exhibit her work on a national level. She has recently been selected to showcase her ceramic sculpture at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale. Teaching has always been an inspiration to her own work. She has taught drawing, painting, art appreciation, ceramics, and sculpture in K-12 schools, colleges, and museum studios throughout Broward County for over 20 years. By teaching technique and facilitating creative problem solving, thoughtful design, and personal idea development in students of all ages, she is committed to motivating her students to develop their talents and passions. She currently teaches Drawing and Painting and Art Survey at NSU University School's Middle School.

Daniel Kammer (Film and Television Production)

Daniel Kammer (Instructor in Film and Television Production) is a filmmaker and scriptwriter who obtained his Master of Fine Arts in Scriptwriting and Directing from Rockport College in Rockport Maine. He was the Director of Television and Film for Hopkinton High School for 12 years, as well as an adjunct Professor at Northeastern University where he taught film and literature classes for over 18 years. His film work and documentaries have been featured at the Boston Film and Video Festival as well as the Woods Hole Film Festival and he was in the finals for an HBO series for a sitcom show, The 457, for which he won funding from Amtrak to produce and direct. Most recently, he produced two documentaries for the IMAX Corporation which were completely crewed by NSU University School Students who won a grant from IMAX last year.

Mei Mei Luo (Viola and Violin)

Mei Mei Luo (Instructor in Violin and Viola) is recognized as one of South Florida’s finest violinists. Until its closing, she was the assistant concertmaster of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, and served as concertmaster for the final concert in 2003. Mei Mei Luo is the founding first violinist of the acclaimed Delray String Quartet. As a soloist, she has performed the Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, and Bruch violin concertos and is concertmaster of Orchestra Miami, Boca Raton Symphonia, and the Miami City Ballet Orchestra. She has also been a regular member of the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival since 2000. Mei Mei has played as a member of the Philadelphia Concerto Soloists, has been an alternate for the Philadelphia Orchestra, and was the second prize winner of the National Youth Violin Competition of China. She has recorded Dvorak String Quartet and Piano Quartet with the Delray String Quartet on the Poinciana label, Kenneth Fuchs String Quartet No. 5 on the American Classics, and Alexander Glazunov String Quartet No. 5 and Cesar Franck Piano Quartet on Centaur. She also appears on the Klavier and Harmonia Mundi labels for the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival. Mei Mei Luo earned her bachelors degree from the Shanghai and Shenyang Conservatory of Music and is a graduate of the master’s program at the University of Miami.

Antonia Martinez (Digital Photography and Drawing/Painting)

Antonia Martinez (Instructor in Digital Photography and Drawing and Painting) is an artist and art educator who obtained her Master of Science degree with Specialization in Interdisciplinary Arts from Nova Southeastern University and is now working on her Educational Leadership Certificate. As an artist, she has created murals and various art pieces using a wide variety of art mediums. Throughout her career as an educator, Antonia has worked with public, private, and charter schools designing and implementing digital photography and art-based curriculum. Antonia has also worked with many community organizations using art as an educational tool for many students. Antonia currently teaches the fundamentals of art and design as well as digital photography and truly believes in the importance of using creativity as a means of self-expression.


Alyssa Mendez is the new Marketing Communications Coordinator at NSU University School and has been passionate about music and teaching it to others since she was in elementary school. Alyssa picked up the guitar in sixth grade, learning the basics on her grandfather’s vintage classical guitar from Mexico. She developed her skills through private lessons, self-teaching, and as a camper at the University of Miami’s Summer Guitar, Bass Guitar, and Drumset Camp, starting in their beginner group in 2005 and ending in their advanced small ensemble group in 2009. She also served as a lead guitarist and singer for her high school praise band and at her church’s Sunday services. Senior year of high school, Alyssa was named a Silver Knight nominee in the Music category for having developed a 50-page guitar curriculum called the “ABC’s of Guitar,” which incorporated Sunshine State Standards and used music she arranged to teach students in grades 3-6 the fundamentals of reading music, building chords, and improvisation on guitar – a project that also led to her being named a United Way Outstanding Youth Award Finalist. Little did she know that five years later she would return to the same school where she developed her curriculum and use it to teach Middle and High School students. As a music teacher at Miami Christian School, she also taught recorders, music appreciation, and chorus for students in grades K3-12, and programmed an end-of-the-year production called "Decade Drive" with more than 130 performers.

Alyssa was a longtime member of her school’s concert and symphonic bands as a trombone and euphonium player, earning ratings of excellent and superior at the District 20 FBA Solo and Ensemble festival and seats at the University of Miami Honor Band, Miami Dade College Honor Band, District 20 Honor Band, and the FBA All-State Band where she played among the best student musicians in the state for one weekend, learning and performing music they have never played before under the leadership of an esteemed guest conductor. Although she majored in public relations (PR) at the University of Florida, she made room in her schedule to play trombone in the UF Concert Band and filled the halls of her dorm with music on the guitar and ukulele, which fostered a sense of community among her floormates. Alyssa was able to utilize her PR knowledge and skills in the music sphere as an intern for ToneRite, a Gainesville-based start-up that developed a device that enables stringed instruments to reach their full tonal potential. Her position involved outreach out to fellow musicians and dealers via the company’s social media accounts and drafting creative content to connect consumers to the brand.

David Morse (Piano and Voice)

David Morse (Instructor in Piano and Voice) is a musician known to NSU University School as a piano accompanist and vocal coach, having worked with USchool teachers Tom Gress and Renee Hunt. He has an extensive background as a pianist and had his Carnegie Hall debut in 1982. With music degrees from the Hartt School of Music, he has developed teaching skills for voice, piano, and organ. He currently serves as music director for a local church where he leads choirs of all ages beginning at kindergarten.

Gaby Tortoledo (Voice and Acting)

Gaby Tortoledo (Instructor in Voice and Acting) was born and raised in Venezuela, where she received an extensive background in classical ballet, jazz, and urban dance. She discovered her love for musical theater in the U.K. while training at the City Academy London. She has been performing in South Florida for the past four years and is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Theater Performance from Florida Atlantic University and a Masters of Science in Education from Nova Southeastern University. She also has extensive vocal training, specializing in various singing techniques such as Musical Theatre, Pop, Rock, Classical, Latin, and even Reggae! When offstage, she rocks out with her band, Pain Index, teaches private voice lessons, and sings backup for international reggae artist Willy S. Saintidor. She is also a proud member of the South Florida Theatre League and an Equity Membership Candidate.

Spring 2018 Group Classes and Private Lessons

Ceramics Group Class

Students who take this class will enjoy a variety of clay projects including pottery, sculpture, and surface painting. Additional experiences include slab building, coil construction, and sculpture techniques. The class will further develop students’ creative abilities, improve their artistry, and enhance their creative thinking skills.

There will be 14 Ceramics group classes offered on Mondays from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. This class is available for students in grades 6 through 8.

Group classes are $42 per class.

Digital Photography Group Class

Students who journey through the Phenomenal Photography class will experience hands-on photography instruction. Students will gain knowledge of the various photography styles and form a deeper understanding of camera use, lighting, and the elements of photography. This class will teach students how to create portraits and give them familiarity with black and white photography, action photography, food photography, and much more.

There will be 14 sessions meeting once per week on Wednesday from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm. This class is available for students in grades 6 through 8.

Group classes are $42 per class.

Drawing and Painting Group Class

Students who journey through the Adventure of Art class will experience many artistic mediums, such as paint, charcoal, oil, pastels, and many more. Students will travel through history, exploring different cultures and countries, learning about various works including Egyptian etchings, Frida Kahlo self-portraits, Pablo Picasso collages, and Faith Ringgold freedom quilts, just to name a few.

There will be 14 sessions meeting once per week on Thursday from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm. This class is available for students in grades 3 through 8.

Group classes are $42 per class.

Film and Television Group Class

The Film and Television Group Class allows students a platform to express themselves and their stories though a shared visual medium. Students will learn how to use a variety of production equipment and post-production edit suites. They will also get an inside look at actors, musicians, and directors while learning the basic tools of the trade. This hands-on course is designed for the beginning to intermediate student. Although no experience is required, students who have already completed courses in Film and TV Production will continue to hone their skills. Students will take a project from script to screen including pitching an idea, creating a working script, designing cinematic shots, learning how to do basic editing on Adobe Premiere, adding an original sound track, and showing final work to an audience.

There will be 14 sessions meeting once per week on Monday from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm. This class is available for students in grades 8 and up, as well as adults.

Group classes are $42 per class.

Brass, Percussion, and Woodwind Private Lessons

Students will receive individualized instruction that caters to their personal ability level. They will focus on fundamental playing technique and build confidence in performance. Middle and Upper School students will also work on repertoire for the Solo and Ensemble Festival, along with any music for honor bands and/or college or university admission auditions.

Lessons are available in 30 or 60-minute sessions on Wednesdays from 3:30 pm until 5:30 pm for the following instruments:

  • Any level of BRASS for students in grades 4 and up, as well as adults
  • Beginning Woodwind and Percussion for students in grades 4 through 8, as well as adult beginners

Private lessons are $41.50 per 30 minutes and $83 per hour.

Guitar Group Class and Private Lessons

Students will start by reading notes on the instrument and learning some of the basic chords, strum patterns, and basic song accompaniment.

Guitar Group Lessons: There will be 14 sessions meeting once per week on Wednesdays from 3:30pm to 4:30pm. This class is available for students in grades 2 and up, as well as adults.

Group lessons are $42 per session.

Guitar Private Lessons - Private lessons (30 or 60 minutes) are available on Monday through Friday from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm. These are available for students in grades 2 and up, as well as adults.

Private lessons are $41.50 per 30 minutes and $83 per hour.

Piano Private Lessons

Private lessons in piano will give students the opportunity to learn various music styles, study music theory, and study hand/finger techniques including chords, scales, arpeggios, octaves, and more.

Lessons are available in 30 or 60-minute sessions on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 3:30pm until 6:00pm for students in grades kindergarten and up, as well as adults.

Private lessons are $41.50 per 30 minutes and $83 per hour.

Ukulele Group Class and Private Lessons

Students will start by reading notes on the instrument and learning some of the basic chords, strum patterns, and basic song accompaniment.

Ukulele Group Lessons: There will be 14 sessions meeting once per week on Mondays from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm. This class is available for students in grades 2 and up, as well as adults.

Group lessons are $42 per session.

Ukulele Private Lessons - Private lessons (30 or 60 minutes) are available on Thursdays and Fridays from 3:30 pm until 4:30 pm. These are available for students in grades 2 and up, as well as adults.

Private lessons are $41.50 per 30 minutes and $83 per hour.

Voice Private Lessons

Voice lessons always begin with a warm up - your instrument is very valuable and should be treated with the utmost care. After that, it is really up to you! You can work on songs you already know or your instructor can suggest new repertoire that is based on your range and musical preference. In either case, the most important thing to your instructor is to help you grow as a singer and feel confident about yourself.

Voice lessons are available in 30 or 60-minute sessions, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, from 3:30 pm until 6:00 pm, for students in grades kindergarten and up, as well as adults.

Private lessons are $41.50 per 30 minutes and $83 per hour.

Viola and Violin Private Lessons

Students will study important basic techniques from scale to solo pieces, detail of rhythm, and counting. This will enable the student to prepare and understand orchestra music, as well as solo music, which makes the ensemble work easier to master.

Lessons will be available in 30 or 60-minute sessions on Mondays from 3:30 pm until 5:00 pm for students in kindergarten and up, as well as adults.

Private lessons are $41.50 per 30 minutes and $83 per hour.

Policies and Procedures

Commitment to the Program

Private Music Lessons
Students must come prepared. This includes bringing any music, instrument, or supplies needed for the lesson. If the student is not prepared for the lesson, the instructor is not obligated to teach the lesson, nor is he/she obligated to reschedule the lesson. If a student arrives late or unprepared for lessons on a regular basis, the instructor has the right to remove the student from his/her roster, and no refund will be issued.

Group Classes
Students need to be prepared for each group class. Each instructor will provide a list of supplies, if needed, that should be brought to each class. If a student arrives late or unprepared for class on a regular basis, the instructor has the right to remove the student from his/her roster and no refund will be issued.

General Information

All lessons are taught in the NSU University School Center for the Arts on our campus from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students currently enrolled in NSU University School's Lower School will be picked up ten minutes prior to their lesson and brought to the Center for the Arts, unless the parent prefers to bring the student themselves. If their lesson ends prior to 5:30 p.m., they will be returned to the Lower School and signed in to After Care. Students whose lessons end after 5:30 p.m. will need to be picked up from the Center for the Arts. Middle and Upper School students are expected to arrive at least five minutes prior to their lesson start time. Late arrivals will lose the time missed. Any students not in After Care must be picked up within ten minutes of the completion of their lesson to avoid additional charges. Parents are welcome to wait in the Student Lobby of the Center for the Arts while their child is in their lesson. If you would like to observe a lesson, please contact the instructor directly.


The Spring 2018 group class and private lesson schedule runs from January 8 through May 20, 2018. Click here to view the Spring 2018 calendar. Lessons are not taught on weekends, holidays, or during school vacations.

Billing and Payment

Instructors will bill each family directly through PayPal. The invoice must be paid in full through PayPal prior to the first lesson. One trial lesson is included in the package. If after the trial lesson it is decided that the instructor/student fit is not optimal, parents should notify the instructor of the situation at least 24 hours prior to the second scheduled lesson, and a full refund will be issued. After the second lesson, no refund will be given.

Cancellation and Make Up Policies

If a lesson needs to be canceled or rescheduled, the instructor must be advised at least 24 hours prior to the beginning of the scheduled lesson. If your child experiences a sudden illness on the day of the lesson, please notify the instructor as well as the Academy of the Arts immediately. An attempt will be made to reschedule the missed lesson, but please note that it is not guaranteed. If no notification is received, then the lesson will be forfeited. Cancelling or missing lessons on a regular basis will result in the student being removed from the instructor's roster, and no refund will be issued.

Lessons canceled by the instructor, as well as any cancellations due to unexpected NSU University School closures, will be made up at a mutually agreed upon date and time.

All missed lessons must be made up in the season in which they were missed. Lessons do not carry over.

With the support of the Academy of the Arts administration, the instructor reserves the right to terminate a student’s session(s) due to excessive absenteeism and inappropriate behavior.

Contact Information

Academy of the Arts Assistant Coordinator
Karen Reynolds

Associate Director of the Arts
Danny Swerdlow

AutoNation Center for the Arts Receptionist
Shirley Brody

Director of the Arts
Dan Bishop


Click here to complete the online registration form. Please note that each child should be registered separately. Additionally, if you would like to sign your child up for more than one class, you will need to complete more than one registration form. Once you have completed the registration form and clicked on the "submit" button at the bottom of the form, you should receive a copy of the registration form for your records.

For private lessons, the instructor will contact you to set up the time of the lesson. Once a time is selected, you will receive an invoice directly from the instructor. Your space will be held for 24 hours; however, if the full payment is not received within that time frame, the space will be released.

For group classes, the instructor will contact you to confirm your registration and will send you an invoice, which must be paid in full before students will be registered for the class.