Our Teachers 


David Paonessa


David is a musician from Phoenix, AZ.  After playing in piano and trumpet in grade school, David continued his passion for music at Mesa Community College and Arizona State University, studying with acclaimed pianists Nick Manson and Mike Kocour.   He can be found teaching and playing regularly at local venues throughout the Valley of the Sun. Career highlights include Orchestra musician for Phoenix Theater’s Production of Mama Mia, Orpheum Theater’s Director’s Choice Ballet, and sharing the stage with  nationally acclaimed musician Chris Mann at the Musical Instrument Museum.

Christina Lafferty

Voice, Piano

 Christina Lafferty began her musical career at Mesa Community College and continued her undergraduate at Grand Canyon University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Music. She has studied voice with Dr. Cathy Hauan and Carol Jennings. Christina also enjoyed the opportunity to perform as a Soprano in Dr. Craig Peterson’s Canto Vivo Chorale. She has been teaching since 2016, and in August of 2022, Christina took over as owner of Blooming Cactus Music. As an instructor in piano and voice, Christina focuses heavily on music theory and healthy technique. It is her goal as a teacher to help students realize that music theory is fun and exciting! Christina’s areas of interest are in music theory, vocal pedagogy, and ethnomusicology.

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Sungmin Kim 


Sungmin Kim is from New York City, where he attended Special Music School and Lucy Moses School at Kaufman Center and Stuyvesant High School. He received his B.A. in Music at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York and holds two M.M. degrees in Collaborative Piano and Organ performance at Ithaca College. He is currently pursuing a D.M.A in Collaborative Piano at Arizona State University. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, kayaking, and reading

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Amethyst Stark - music teacher

Amethyst Stark


Amethyst Stark has been a musician for over 25 years composing, performing, and accompanying regularly. She has studied in upstate New York with Mark Evans and at ASU with Dani Shraibman as well as attended masterclasses with John Kamitsuka. Her lessons emphasize safe, proper technique, music theory, composition, music history, performance, and ear training. Her teaching style is light and playful and she urges students to explore their own voice, the lives of our famous composers, and to generate a life-long love and appreciation of music. A mother of two, she is emphatic about family needs and dynamics which has helped her create strong and lasting relationships with her students and their families.

Louisa Gonzales


Louisa began her college studies for Piano Performance at Scottsdale Community College in 2014. Under the direction of Dr. Andrew O’Brien, she studied various types of music theory, aural perception, and studied many classical works such as Bach, Chopin, and Liszt. She received her Associates in Arts in 2017 and decided to pursue a Music Business degree. Louisa will be attending Arizona State University to pursue an interdisciplinary degree with the concentrations of Music and Business, Class of 2021. Originally a self-taught musician, Louisa learned styles of music from classical to rock on piano and cello. She enjoys learning and teaching music through theory and rote.

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Andrew Hughes

   Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Mandolin

Andrew Hughes began playing guitar in his early teens. His grandmother taught him how to play, going over gospel and classic country songs. With the basics in place, Andrew turned his focus to rock music, learning songs by his favorite artists like Led Zeppelin, Queen, and Guns N’ Roses. 


Andrew studied classical guitar at Reinhardt University with Dr. Matthew Anderson. Working with Dr. Anderson sparked an interest for teaching guitar, wanting to share the joy of creating music with as many people as possible. 


Andrew started teaching part time at Music Authority in Cumming, Georgia in August of 2019. He discovered how rewarding teaching was, and he was able to grow his studio large enough to teach full time. Andrew teaches guitar, bass, ukulele, and mandolin.