Heather Gifford
Heather GiffordMusic Teacher

Heather Gifford currently serves as the Music Chair at The Academy, and has been a part of the MSA
music faculty since 2013. Originally from Alexandria, VA, she graduated from James Madison University:
Bachelor Degree in Music Industry, with a Vocal Performance concentration.  After graduating, she
performed professionally for 10+ years: Harrah’s, Las Vegas: Legends in Concert; Tropicana, Atlantic City:
Havana After Dark; Holland America Cruise Line; Main Street Theater, Myrtle Beach: Tribute in Concert.
She has prior experience in entertainment and event management: Venetian/Palazzo and Planet
Hollywood Resorts in Las Vegas; Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor MD. She has
Music Directed for ACCT: Seussical the Musical & Guys and Dolls. Heather enjoys performing locally
when time allows: Keegan Theater: Chicago (Annie/Velma us); LTA: Legally Blonde (Brooke Wyndam).
Heather is honored to be able to share her love for the performing arts and encourage the next
generation of performers.

Jon Hamilton
Jon HamiltonMusic Teacher

Jon Hamilton, an Erie PA native, graduated from Allegheny College with his Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance in 2007. After graduating, Jon worked in campus ministry for the Coalition for Christian Outreach, partnering with Waynesburg University where was the Resident Director and worked in Student Activities. He spent the next 3 years at Edinboro University, where he earned his M.Ed. in Education .

Upon graduation Jon began work as the Music Teacher (K-12) for Erie First Christian Academy and Music Director for Erie First Assembly. In these roles Jon has educated and conducted choirs, instrumental groups, music ministries, and ensembles ranging from ages 5 to 70+. Jon also directed the Young Adult Worship Ministry which consisted of 20+ different worship bands and teams from around the greater Erie PA area.

Jon has performed as pianist and vocalist with many organizations including: The Alexandria Singers, The Erie Philharmonic Choir, The Young People’s Chorus of Erie, as well as many churches and schools around the Erie PA area. With the Erie Philharmonic Choir and YPC Erie, Jon has performed in the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building, the US Capitol Building, Carnegie Hall in New York City, and other concert venues across the east coast. In 2012 Jon competed with the Young People’s Chorus of Erie in the 2012 World Choir Games in Cincinnati, Ohio, for which they won two gold medals and one silver medal.

Jon moved to Alexandria, VA in 2014. He currently serves as a Music Teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools in Falls Church, Virginia. Jon teaches General and Choral music to elementary students grades K-6. Here Jon has served at Title 1 Schools as a teacher and mentor to students, inspiring young minds to become great people and great musicians.

Since moving to the DC metro, Jon has performed in many different venues as pianist, vocalist, worship leader, and other performance roles in the area. Jon also works for the Metropolitan School of the Arts in Alexandria, Virginia. MSA is a uniquely innovative arts education establishment located just south of Washington DC. Here Jon serves as a private vocal and piano instructor to middle and high school students.

Crystal MosserMusic Teacher
Matthew Nall
Matthew NallMusic Director

Matt Nall is originally from Dallas Texas. He received his Bachelor of Music from Texas Tech University and his Masters of Arts from New York University. In New York, he was a professional actor and appeared regionally as Gaston in Beauty in the Beast, Curly in Oklahoma, and Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol as well as others. In 2006 Matt accepted the position as Baritone Vocalist in the United States Army Chorus. For six years he has performed all over the country and for various dignitaries and ambassadors, as well as every living President. Matt has been the Music Director for Metropolitan Fine Arts Center for 5 years.

Julie Navarette
Julie NavaretteMusic Teacher

Julie Payne-Navarrette hails from Hartselle, Alabama, where she studied classical piano for ten years and also took voice lessons. She received a Bachelor of Arts in music from the University of North Alabama in 1996. While attending college, she sang in the University Collegiate Singers, served as an accompanist in the music department and for local community events, and also taught private voice and piano lessons at The Linda Young Music Studio. After moving to Washington, D.C., she was interim music minister at National Church of the Nazarene for a year. In 2002, she became a licensed Kindermusik educator and taught for the private music lesson program at The Potomac School in McLean, Virginia until 2006. She was musical director for Metropolitan
Performing Arts Theatre’s first performance, Honk, and taught Music Together at MSA for 3 years.

Jarrett Nicolay
Jarrett NicolayMusic Teacher

– Founding / Current Member of Washington DC Bands Virginia Coalition / Astra Via / My New Mixtape”

– Head Engineer at Georgetown Preparatory School North Bethesda MD

– Head Producer / Engineer at Underwater Wonderland Alexandria VA

– I’ve also had music featured in recent films such as “Blue Ruin” and “Waiting: A Documentary”.

Rosemary Perticari
Rosemary PerticariMusic Teacher
Maia Rodriguez
Maia RodriguezMusic Teacher

Maia Rodriguez, graduate of Syracuse University in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program, studied theater, music and dance under Rodney Hudson, Gerardine Clark, Lizzie Ingram, David Wanstreet, Marie Kemp and Anthony Salatino. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she was a student of piano for 12 years with the Cleveland Music School Settlement under Mary Louise Emery and vocal performance with the Cleveland Singing Angels, traveling all over the world from the age of 13. She has worked professionally as a singer with Cirque du Soleil, Universal Studios Hollywood & Florida, and Tokyo Disney Sea. Maia has written her own original musicals, Evernight, which has been produced at the San Diego Star Theatre, as well as the Hack & Slash Comedy Christmas Special at the Chesapeake Arts Center. She is honored to serve in the United States Navy Band Sea Chanters as an alto vocalist, and-during her quarantine time-recently received her Yoga Teacher Training Certification after many decades of practice. Maia lives in Waldorf, Maryland with her husband and two children, both of whom have been active participants in the MSA homeschool program under Barbara Schwartz and Diane Spinelli. She believes that fundamentally that all children’s lives can be changed through the arts, and is proud to help facilitate that commitment with MSA’s core values.

Sara SheffieldMusic Teacher
Abbey Smith
Abbey SmithMusic Teacher

Abbey was born and raised here in Northern Virginia. Music is a huge part of her family’s history and was a huge part of her life growing up. She started playing the piano when she was about six years old. Abbey was so curious to learn that she actually took her brother and sister’s books and taught herself. Abbey did have many years of lessons and continued to play through high school and college. She also had a great interest in musical theater and had the opportunity to take voice lessons her senior year of college. She was fortunate to have a great teacher and after that she was hooked. Abbey majored in voice in college and minored in theater.

The passion she has for music and theater has been channeled into the desire to teach. She has been very lucky to have some great teachers in her life and it’s their inspiration that drives her to be a great teacher and to give her students a good foundation so that they can further their studies with confidence. She have the opportunity to teach music and piano at MFAC as well as to music direct the MPAT production of The Flight of the Lawnchair Man. She love music and theater in all its forms. It’s such a powerful and moving art form. At its heart theater is story-telling.

Favorite Quote: a good story arouses in us sensations we have never had before as though we had broken out of our normal mode of consciousness….It gets under our skin, hits us at a deeper level than our thoughts or even our passions, troubles our oldest certainties till all questions are reopened, and in general shocks us more fully awake than we are for most of our lives.” – C.S. Lewis

Thanks for your time and don’t forget to practice, practice, practice!!