The faculty and staff of Northeast Arts Academy is dedicated to helping you achieve your potential in your creative arts chosen field.
Haley Kovach first embarked on music lessons as a second grader because playing an instrument sounded fun, only to discover several years later that music had become important enough to dedicate her career to it. A graduate of Whitworth University with a degree in violin performance and a teacher with several years of experience, Haley is now located in Columbia, SC, studying violin pedagogy at the University of South Carolina while playing in the USC Graduate String Quartet and in several regional orchestras. While available to teach all ages and ability levels, Haley especially enjoys working with children and seeks to promote a love for music in her students, so that regardless of skill level, students will find enjoyment in playing and listening to music and will become people who love and support the arts.
Dr. Robert Jones
Dr. Robert Jones is a state and nationally certified piano teacher and the organist for NEPC. He is the Arpad Darazs Singers accompanist, a Columbia community-choir. Robert holds a doctorate in piano pedagogy from USC. His degrees include a MA in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the Univ. of Georgia and BA of Music degrees in Piano Performance and in Music Education from Valdosta State University. Robert was formerly an Assistant Professor of Music at Thomas Univ. in Thomasville, GA. He was twice a State Finalist in the Georgia Music Teacher Assoc. College Piano Auditions. He is in Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges, The Nat’l. Reg. of Outstanding College Graduates, Pi Kappa Lambda, the national, music honor society of America. Robert is an experienced recitalist and soloist.
Matthew Jones received his Bachelor of Music from The University of South Carolina in Percussion Performance. With an infectious love for life and all things musical, he plays in the South Carolina Philharmonic and in the Augusta Symphony. Matthew plays in theaters and churches throughout the greater Southeast. He is a Professor of Percussion at Columbia College and Presbyterian College. Combining a love for God and sharing the sheer joy of making music, Matthew delights in teaching and playing.
Dr. Randolph Love
Dr. Randolph Love has been Professor of Music since 1979 at Columbia College and the Music Program Coordinator since 2011.Randy was awarded the Fred and Carolyn Parker Endowed Chair in Music in 2011, has been a member of the SC Philharmonic Orchestra since 1985, a partner in the Palmetto Brass since 1988, and instructor of trumpet within the Palmetto Center for the Arts at Richland NE High School since 2006. Accomplishments: Doctor of Music Arts in Composition, in 1978; MA of Music in Trumpet Performance in 1974, both at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music; graduated from Ohio State Univ. with a BA of Music in Trumpet Performance in 1972; Principal Trumpet in numerous symphony orchestras; and has founded several brass ensembles. He resides with his wife in Northeast Columbia.
Wm. Thomas “Tom” Smith, Jr. – author, editor, and former adjunct-professor at USC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications – is the editor and military technical advisor for THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, QUIET HERO by three-time Emmy winner Rita Cosby. Tom has written six nationally acclaimed books (two co-authored). His work has appeared in The New York Post, U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, USA Today, The Daily Caller, and others. A USC graduate (history), former U.S. Marine infantry leader and retired field-grade officer, S.C. Military Dept., Tom is a military technical consultant, national director of the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team and founding partner with NATIONAL DEFENSE CONSULTANTS, LLC.
Flute and Piccolo
Mitzi Vigrass has an Associate of Science from Gadsden Sate Community College in Elementary Education, with a Music and Art concentration. While at Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Mitzi played in the Concert Band. She was in community theater productions in Savannah, GA and has tutored students at E.L. Wright Middle School, lending her flute and piccolo expertise to their musical development. She plays extensively throughout the Midlands in solo and ensemble settings for weddings and church events. Mitzi is a charter member and founder of the NEPC Celebration Orchestra and is a loyal, contributing member of the NEPC Chancel Choir, Celebration Orchestra, and Joyful Bells. Mitzi and her husband Jim have two grown children and reside in Northeast Columbia.
Julia studied music at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, OH, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education. A vocal primary at the Conservatory of Music at Baldwin Wallace, she studied voice at the collegiate level for four years and was a four-year member of the traveling, selective, Motet choir. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Music Education at the University of South Carolina where she is a graduate assistant at the School of Music. Julia teaches Elementary General Music and early childhood music at an elementary school and multiple preschools in the Columbia area. She also leads community music classes on Saturday mornings. Julia directs the K-2 grade children's choir at NEPC. Aside from directing the NEPC children’s choir, she is also a member of chancel choir and REACH Band at NEPC where she sings and plays the keyboard. Part of her duties as a general music teacher include using the ukulele to accompany her while she sings and teaches. Julia has had experience teaching beginning ukulele to people of all ages. Julia is an active researcher in the field of music and music education having completed a research thesis regarding parents’ observations of music behaviors. Julia finds joy in using her vocal music and music education experiences to help people of all ages find their voices. Julia lives in Columbia with her husband and dog, Dwayne.
Oboe, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone
Erica Rhodes is the oboist for the 282nd Army Band at Ft. Jackson, SC. She grew up in Fayetteville, NC, where she attended First Presbyterian Church. Erica graduated from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC with a Bachelor’s in Music Education and a K-12 Music teaching license. Erica primarily studied oboe, but she also studied flute, voice, piano, and conducting. Erica joined the Army Band in 2016, and arrived at Ft. Jackson in March 2017, after extensive military and musical training at Basic Combat Training and the US Army School of Music at Virginia Beach, VA. At Ft. Jackson, she regularly performs rigorous music with the Woodwind Trio and the Woodwind Quintet. She also plays piccolo in the Marching Band.Erica loves to serve and worship by using her musical gifts. She recently started attending Northeast Presbyterian Church and participating in the orchestra. She is thrilled to have found a church home and an opportunity to worship with a wonderful community. Erica is excited to begin teaching woodwind lessons at Northeast Arts Academy. She lives in Columbia with her husband Matthew, who is a trumpet player in the 282nd Army Band, as well as their dog, Denver, and cat, Jackson.
Nastaran Kazerounian brings creative artistry to life on canvas, through mixed media, and in endless creative ways. Sharing her faith in God, she enthusiastically and energetically brings art to life while teaching students from school age and beyond.
Born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, Brent Hooper began learning piano at the age of five, and then viola at age eleven. Brent says, “I always strive to make my lessons a positive and fun, yet educational environment that will leave students wanting to come back for more. My lessons are judgement-free zones in which I only help the student achieve success to the best of their ability.” He was a strings and piano instructor at Sounds of Carolina Music Academy in Anderson from 2017-2018.Brent received a Bachelor of Music from Anderson University in 2017. He is pursuing a Master of Music degree in Viola Performance at the University of South Carolina. Brent was a member of the Anderson Symphony Orchestra from 2010-2018, and became a member of the Greater Anderson Musical Arts Consortium (GAMAC) Chamber Orchestra from 2017. Brent was a member of All-Region and All-State Orchestras from 8th grade through 12th grades, and earned Principal Viola in both. Brent was also Principal Viola in Anderson University String Ensemble and Violist of the Anderson University String Quartet for four years. He is the violist of a self-formed group, the Upstate Strings Trio, active since 2013. The Trio stays very busy playing for weddings, receptions, and parties all across the Upstate of SC. Brent grew up at Concord Baptist Church where he came to faith at the age of ten. Brent has been a member of Concord Baptist Church orchestra since 2009, and now plays in the Shandon Worship Orchestra at Shandon Baptist Church.Brent’s notable performances include being a featured soloist with the Anderson Symphony Orchestra in 2013, 2015, and 2017, playing the Bach/Casadesus Viola Concerto, the Forsyth Viola Concerto, and the Walton Viola Concerto respectively. He was a featured soloist with the Anderson University String Ensemble in 2014, performing the Stamitz Viola Concerto.He believes music is a gift God has given us all and that there is a strong spiritual connection in playing or listening to it. He is a strong believer that having a talent requires you to strive to do your best in bringing glory to the One who gave it you.
Donna comes from a musical family and has been playing the piano as long as she can remember. She earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Bob Jones University where she studied with Anne Morton and Joan Pinkston and studied piano pedagogy with Jean Cook. She later earned a Masters in Music History from USC. She has been teaching piano for twenty-five years and continues to further her own music study by taking piano lessons at USC, attending recitals and master classes. She has accompanied soloists and choirs, instrumentalists and bands, and sung in choirs and ensembles but her love of piano and teaching remains a favorite part of her music education. Donna and her husband Jim have two sons, both in college.
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