Teaching Artists

Music Faculty

Paul Byrne
Guitar, Ukulele, Improvisation

Paul is a native New Jersyian from Montclair. He got his first guitar in grammar school and has been hooked ever since. Paul studied classical guitar at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut with the dream of turning his passion into his career. He moved to Glen Ridge, New Jersey in the early 1990s.  Paul has dedicated his life to helping others discover their passion for music, teaching people ranging in ages between 5 and 75 years old. Paul teaches guitar, ukulele, and bass and has plenty of recommendations for other music teachers in the area. Besides teaching, Paul has an active performing life and runs his own high tech recording studio. Paul has been on the faculty of GRSA for over 10 years.

Erin English

Erin has a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She has been teaching both general and instrumental music in public school since 2002, as well as private lessons. She currently teaches elementary school instrumental, middle school jazz band, and high school marching band in Long Valley, New Jersey, where she has been teaching since 2006. Erin has been on staff at Glen Ridge Summer Music Academy since 2015.

Steve DeLuca
Vocal Music, Percussion, Drum set, Songwriting, Music Theory

Steve has been a professional musician and music educator for over thirty years. He has taught private drum lessons, percussion ensembles, vocal ensembles, music theory, and songwriting at The Glen Ridge Summer Music and Arts Academy for ten years. Additionally, he is the current percussion and pit instructor for the Glen Ridge Marching Band. He is the general music teacher and choir director at Maywood Avenue School in Maywood, NJ, where he has taught 4th through 8th grade for the past fifteen years. In 2010, the Maywood Board of Education bestowed upon him their Teacher of the Year award. He is currently adjunct faculty at Montclair State University, teaching the course Rock and Rap as Cultural Phenomenon. Steve is the author of several educational articles about drumming, as well as music history and philosophy, that have been published in Modern Drummer magazine and Tempo magazine, the publication of the NJMEA (New Jersey Music Educators Association) as well as presenting workshops at the 2015 and 2019 NJMEA Conferences. As a working drummer, he performs with the special event/wedding band Platinum and with various jazz groups. Steve’s private students have gone on to prestigious programs such as the Manhattan School of Music and Berklee College of Music. He has also indulged his vocal and acting chops a bit, performing the role of Caiaphas in the 2008 and 2010 NJ Theater Workshop’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Steve received his BM in jazz performance from Temple University and his MA in music education from Montclair State University. He lives in Glen Ridge with his wife and three children.

David Iacs (Iacoviello)

David is a performer and educator living in the North Jersey area. Music has been a huge component of his life since he began playing the trumpet in 3rd grade. He received his B.M. in Music Education/Trumpet from William Paterson University in 2012. Since graduating, he has been involved in many marching band programs such as Old Bridge, West Essex, Hanover Park, Mahwah, and Wayne Valley. He has also taught in Mahwah and Kinnelon school districts as a middle school band director. Outside of teaching, David has performed in many ensembles and musicals, such as Livingston Symphony Orchestra and Brookdale Community Band. He continues to teach both privately and in school systems throughout the North Jersey area.

Yves Obadia
Guitar, Bass guitar

Yves graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1985 and I has worked as a guitarist in a wide range of styles, as well as a free-lance composer/arranger. He has collaborated with guitarist Scott Woody, pianist/composer Frank Amsallem and multi-instrumentalist Mino Cinelu. In recent years, Yves has concentrated mostly on teaching. Former students include award-winning recording artists such as Del Marquis (lead guitarist for “Scissor Sisters”) and Kevin Lenear (of the “Mighty Mighty Bosstones”), as well as young talented Glen Ridge/Montclair and vicinity residents, some of whom are now pursuing degrees and careers in Music, and others of whom are pursuing music as a serious hobby. Yves has been teaching guitar at the RAS Discovery program and all levels of guitar and Rock Band at the Glen Ridge Summer Music & Art Academy since 2005.

Dana Rizzo
Vocal Music, Piano

Dana is an elementary general music teacher in Tenafly, NJ as well as having an active private piano studio. She graduated from Montclair State University with a Bachelor’s degree in music education and an M.A.T. in music and teaching students with disabilities. While she is primarily a pianist, Ms. Rizzo also enjoys playing violin, guitar, ukulele, and singing. Ms. Rizzo has performed at a variety of venues both singing and playing piano. Some of these venues include local churches, pit orchestras, the NJPAC, coffee houses, and Italy. Ms. Rizzo is very excited to be joining the GRAA team for the first year and can’t wait to make music with everyone!

Billy Smolen
Guitar, Bass Guitar

Billy is a professional bassist, educator, and multi instrumentalist working in the NYC music scene. He is a graduate of the prestigious William Paterson University Jazz Studies program, having earned a B.M. In Jazz Studies and Music Education. At home in near any style of music, Billy has played with everyone from Darryl McDaniels of RUN DMC, to Broadway Icon Kyle Taylor Parker (Lola, Kinky Boots). His favorite credits as a bassist include: Playing live on CBS during the PRIDE NYC 2017 parade, Kinky Boots at the legendary Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine, and the MekoRock International conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, as a featured clinician and performer. Billy maintains an active touring, performing, and teaching schedule, seeing 30+ students a week throughout the tristate area, as well as weekly gigs, residencies, and tours across the country. He has been teaching at the GRSAA since 2013.

Theatre Faculty

Nicole Garamella
Theatre, Voice

Nicole is an actor, singer, and costume designer from Caldwell, NJ. She received her BFA in Acting from Marymount Manhattan College, where she also minored in Drama Therapy and Musical Theatre. Nicole considers herself a lifelong student of theatre and the lessons it teaches, and is currently pursuing her MA in Marriage and Family Therapy and her RDT in Drama Therapy. Since 2017, she has been the resident costume designer and dialect coach for the fall dramas at Rahway High School, and has consulted for a number of other schools in Essex and Middlesex counties. Nicole has also taught acting and voice for the Musical Theatre Conservatory of Livingston and the Storybook Theatre Arts Camp for Rahway schools, while also teaching a number of private voice students. She is a member and former president for the International Thespian Society, and participates in various performance ensembles and theatrical productions. Nicole hopes that her students will learn the joy and healing that comes from the community and collaboration of storytelling, and recognize the power and potential that theatre can create.

Visual Arts Faculty

Evan Fredriksen
Arts Exploration, Advanced Art Concepts

Evan is an artist and alumni of GRHS and RISD (Rhode Island School of Design). He has been teaching at the GR Summer Arts Academy since 2015, offering a variety of classes including Comic Drawing, Still Life, Collage, Puppetry, and Painting. During the rest of the calendar year, Evan works as a video editor, animator, art handler, and gallery assistant. His favorite projects involve students observing nature and creating environments for characters to explore.

Oliver Rubidge
Arts Exploration, Advanced Art Concepts

Oliver is a play-based educator, visual artist, martial artist, musician, and dancer based in Brooklyn, NY. He is an alumni of the Rhode Island School of Design (Department of Furniture Design, 2017) and has been working in childcare and arts education for the past two years. He has taught in Brooklyn at The Maple Street School, a cooperative pre-k, and at PS-20’s Mosaic after school arts program for elementary school age children. He is particularly interested in an exploratory, multidisciplinary approach to art, and works to cultivate a classroom environment where children can feel free in their creative process and experience the joy of bringing their ideas to life.


Kristy Burja

Kristy grew up in central Florida exploring the woods, swimming in springs, and making day trips to the beach. Through these experiences, she developed a deep love for the natural world and decided to pursue a degree in Biology at Florida Gulf Coast University. After graduating, she joined the Peace Corps and served in rural Kenya as a Science teacher.  After returning to the US, Kristy joined AmeriCorps and started her career as an environmental educator in Western North Carolina. She’s been educating youth about the natural world across the southeastern US for the past 10 years. In 2014, she decided to return to school. She attended the University of Florida and received a master’s degree in Ecology.  She focused her studies on environmental education, tropical conservation, and sustainable development.