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Our Teachers

Zaneta Sykes

Drums, Percussion, Marimba, Piano, Music Theory, Songwriting

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Zaneta’s earliest musical memories include practicing drums in the park with her dad. Fast-forward 27 years, she still strives to keep the same spirit of excitement and love in every lesson. Since 2005, she has been teaching kids, teens, and grown ups alike how to have fun learning music.

“Playing music is empowering and builds confidence for life”

Zaneta has worked with students, teachers, and parents in some of the toughest public schools through award-winning programs, such as Girls Inc NYC, GO Project, and the Leadership Program. As a proud teaching artist, she has helped at-risk youth, young women, and special needs students, fostering positive youth development and character education through the arts.


Zaneta is an accomplished percussionist and educator.  As a diverse musician, she has performed with Alicia Keys to Michael Tilson Thomas at venues such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall and has even appeared on America’s Got Talent.  She holds a Bachelors degree in Percussion Performance from the University of Southern California and is a trained Music Together instructor.  She enjoys drawing, cooking, and general outdoor adventures in her free time.

Zaneta’s favorite musical activities

  • Making up fun songs about everyday life
  • Playing bucket drums in the Prospect Park
  • Transcribing and adapting West African kora music for the marimba
  • Jamming with students

Chris Dingman

Piano, Composition, Drums, Vibraphone, Improvisation, Music Theory
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At an early age, Chris was most enthralled by music of all kinds. Hearing his mother play piano during summer vacations attracted him to the instrument so much that he begged his parents for piano lessons!  The next step was the drums. He wanted to make music with other kids, and for that his parents wisely led him to the world of percussion.  While exploring rock, funk, jazz, soul, and hip-hop in high school, his curiosity about chords and scales brought him to improvisation and composition. Chris’s inspiration in music continued to grow when he combined his piano and drumming skills to learn the vibraphone. He continues all of these passions to this day, and Chris takes great joy in sharing them with students of all ages, levels, and interests.

“With each lesson, I always bring students back to the joy of simply playing and creating music. Students learn new techniques, use their minds in new ways, and then immediately apply that knowledge to the art of expressing themselves and making music together.”

In his 12+ years of teaching experience, Chris has presented masterclasses and workshops for general audiences and music students alike at primary schools from Los Angeles to New York, at jazz festivals from Vancouver to Oslo, and at music conservatories in the U.S., Europe, Vietnam, and India.  He has taught private lessons to students ranging from beginner to advanced, from ages 5 to 65, in New York City, California, Connecticut, and via Skype worldwide.  He has run his own summer music camp; led bands of students in gigs for charity events; rehearsed student bands for rock performances. He has taught countless kids how to read and write music, how to learn and play by ear, how to use their minds and how to follow their hearts through the joy of playing music.

Chris holds a B.A. with honors from Wesleyan University, and a Master of Music with honors from the University of Southern California (USC) and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance.

Chris’s favorite musical activities

  • Composing for his jazz group Waking Dreams
  • Accompanying students on extended improvisational jams
  • Playing vibraphone, drums, piano, and marimba.. at the same time!
  • Teaching kids how to be better musicians, students, and human beings