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  • Teachers

    Below are our teacher’s biographies. All of us at SSM wish you to know a bit about us, whether you’re the student or the parent.

    Millie Thompson – Piano / Owner

    Bachelor of Music Degree from Manhattanville College
    Piano Pedagogy Certificate from Westminister Choir College

    Miss Millie has lived in Somerville for many years.  She and John Harrity purchased the school from Leo Gorny in 1980 and named it the Somerville School of Music.  She continues to study piano with Ena Bronstein Barton and voice with Gary Gavula.

    She currently has students from 5 to 92 and enjoys teaching all levels.  She sings with Immaculate Conception choir in Somerville, and Tim Keyes Consort based in Skillman.

     Les Sara – Guitar

    Les Sara studied at SSM with John Harrity for years playing in High School Jazz band, pit band, choir, and various rock banks.  He won the Somerville High School Louis Armstrong Award in 1988.  He attended Raritan Valley Community College and Rutgers, played on PH101’s indie release “Hostage Heart” CD, and worked at Gorny’s Music Shop for 8 years.  He’s played guitar and bass for many working cover bands and jazz sits.  He loves music, candlelight dinners, and long walks on the beach, and devotes his every waking thought around his beautiful daughter.

    Karen Kowalski – Piano

    Karen Kowalski, MPH, OTR, began as a student at the Somerville School of Music where she continues to take piano lessons and quite enjoys performing.  She is a pediatric occupational therapist whom also holds a masters degree in public health with a focus on health care administration.  She works not only at SSM but is also the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Instructor for the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program. Karen was previously employed at P.G. Chambers School as the Clinical Supervisor and Fieldwork Coordinator (1998-2008) and Children’s Specialized Hospital – New Brunswick and is currently employed on a per diem basis at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital – Somerset.  Karen specializes in teaching piano to students with disabilities at SSM and has served as a presenter (MTNA national convention 2009 and Westminster Choir College), published numerous articles and currently has a book on the topic available on Amazon entitled “Playing It Their Way:  An Innovative Approach to Teaching Music to Individuals with Physical and Mental Disabilities”.  Karen is a resident of Somerville with her husband and two adorable children Jack and Catie.

    Due to the high volume of requests Karen currently has no availability. Please feel free to contact us for future times but please be aware there will be a wait.

    Jim Manella – Guitar

    Associate of Arts in Music

    He writes and records original music.  He has 15 years teaching experience at SSM and 23 years playing guitar overall.  Jim is married and the proud father of a beautiful little girl.