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About the New Jersey Academy of Music

Background   |   Faculty & Staff   |   Facilities


World-class faculty. High-quality facilities. A passion for music. A strong music community.

The NJ Academy of Music stands out amongst the very best music schools in the world. Our unique combination of dedicated, internationally recognized teaching staff, breadth of performance and teaching expertise, and versatility enable us to carve a path that can take students from beginner through advanced, career-oriented caliber of performance.

While classical music is one of the most demanding and challenging art forms, music enriches our lives and demands a level of self-discipline, attention to detail, and dedication that can enable all of us to achieve artistic excellence and share meaningful self-expression.

At NJAOM, we believe that students of all abilities and levels can be taught to play engaging music through a combination of focused ear training, disciplined practice, and musical education. Through group and private (studio) instruction, students increase self-confidence, gain musical instincts, and learn a true appreciation for music while acquiring performance skills and making musical friendships that will last a lifetime.

NJAOM’s students have been prize winners in regional and national competitions and earned recognition at major international competitions. Our students have also been invited to perform with notable U.S. orchestras and have attended pre-professional music festivals. We are proud of our students’ accomplishments and encourage all of our students to strive to exceed their musical goals.

Our approach to music education and performance

All students should be given the musical tools that will enable them to realize their full potential as musicians.

For young studio students, we ascribe to the philosophy of Shinichi Suzuki, who developed an unparalleled method — the Suzuki Method — to guide young students in learning music through a balanced combination of leveled achievement and ear development, alongside supplemental technical skill acquisition. Parent attendance at studio lessons and parent assistance during home practice are key elements to ensuring a young student’s ability to excel in music. This process will establish a focused work ethic and lay a strong foundation for the advanced player’s challenges that lie ahead.

For older children and adult studio students, a combination of Suzuki methodology and a traditional, individualized progression work well to establish routine and meticulous attention to detail.

Beginning students through intermediate students whose goal is to perform and share music with others obtain necessary skills to play together through group classes. Intermediate and advanced studio students collaborate with peers to hone their performance skills through chamber music, solo performance classes with peer critique, and orchestral studies.

For students who wish to learn more about particular aspects of music but for whom studio lessons are not practical, group courses can educate and enable a deep appreciation for the expanse of nuances that music provides. Through demonstrations, listening, discussion, and application, these group courses can engage students in a thoughtful, informed perspective about the many forms of music that we enjoy every day.


Faculty Biographies

Director, NJAOM | Department Chair, Violin & Viola Violin, Viola, Collaborative Piano, Chamber Music

The only U.S.–born Laureate of the prestigious 2001 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition and grand prize winner of the 1997 William Primrose International Viola Competition, Ms. Castelli has been a featured soloist with ensembles worldwide, including the orchestras of Cleveland, Atlanta, National, Seattle, Colorado, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and Alabama in the U.S., and the Belgian National Orchestra, National Orchestra of Colombia, and Chilean Regional Philharmonic overseas.

As a recitalist, she has appeared on concert series in nearly every major city in the United States, and has been presented in such prominent venues as Carnegie Hall, where she made her critically hailed 2004 recital debut. She has also been heard as soloist and chamber musician on radio stations around the globe. A teacher of award-winning violin students, Ms. Castelli is highly sought after as an instructor of children ranging from beginner to professional level. Some of Ms. Castelli’s students reside in other states and drive or fly in for lessons. Ms. Castelli has taught violin and viola for more than 20 years and has sent students to national and international competitions as well as major summer festivals across the United States.

Ms. Castelli began studying the violin at age three with Edward Kreitman, continuing her studies with Roland and Almita Vamos at the Music Institute of Chicago. She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard University and her master’s degree in violin performance from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Dorothy DeLay. She is the winner of the Juilliard Concerto Competition and recipient of the Schuman Prize, Juilliard’s only award for graduate students. Ms. Castelli resides in the New York City area with her husband and three children.

Director, NJAOM | Department Chair, Piano Piano, Collaborative Piano, Chamber Music, Piano Coaching

Pianist Grant Moffett has met with great success in his piano performances nationwide. Mr. Moffett has appeared with numerous orchestras in the United States, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Knox-Galesburg and Elgin Symphonies, and the Woodstock Mozart Festival Orchestra. As a recitalist, he has performed throughout the United States and in Russia.

In addition to his critically acclaimed concerto and recital appearances, Mr. Moffett has garnered prestigious awards from the Saint Louis Symphony National Young Artists Competition, Grace Welsh Prize for Piano, Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition, Concerto Soloists Young Artist Competition, and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Competition.

Mr. Moffett began his piano studies at age four as a Suzuki student of Virginia Burkhart and pursued additional studies with Theodore Edel and Donald Walker. He earned his master’s degree from The Juilliard School, where he worked with Jerome Lowenthal and studied chamber music with Rohan De Silva. Mr. Moffett holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard University.

Instructor Violin, Chamber Music, Alexander Technique

James Blumer is a Licensed Andover Educator, violin teacher, and a freelance violinist based in the NY metro area. His violin students have gone on to win numerous competitions and performed as soloist with orchestra.

Mr. Blumer has taught at numerous schools and organizations including the Manhattan School of Music, Ithaca College, and the Suzuki Association of the Americas National Conference. Mr. Blumer is sought-after as a clinician on the benefits of Body Mapping in performance and pedagogy, and offers Body Mapping lessons, workshops, and masterclasses to inform musicians on how understanding the body's natural design can improve movement, leading to performance enhancement as well as injury prevention.

Mr. Blumer completed performance studies at Montclair State University, the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Graz, Austria, and Ithaca College. While at Ithaca, he also completed long-term Suzuki training with Carrie Reuning-Hummel. James is currently undergoing the three-year teacher training program at the American Center for the Alexander Technique.

Department Chair, Composition Piano, Composition, Improvisation, Music Theory

A native of Siberia, Grigory Smirnov is an award-winning composer and pianist. His compositions have been performed around the globe in major venues, such as Lincoln Center, Tanglewood, Merkin Concert Hall, Moscow Philharmonic Society and The Copenhagen Opera House. Among his recent works is a large-scale song cycle Dowson Songs, commissioned by The ASCAP Foundation, premiered at Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center in New York and to be released on a CD by Naxos. Mr. Smirnov's music has been featured on WQXR, America's leading classical music radio station, and in a number of festivals worldwide, including Tanglewood Music Center (MA, USA), Brevard Music Center (NC, USA), ppIANISSIMO (Sofia, Bulgaria), Chamber Music Sessions (Kiev, Ukraine), CTAM Festival (Moscow, Russia), Blue Lake Summer Arts Festival (MI, USA).

Born in Novosibirsk (Russia), Grigory Smirnov studied as a pianist at the Novosibirsk Music College and as a composer with Yuri Yukechev at the Glinka Novosibirsk State Conservatory. During his years in Russia, he was he was awarded a composition prize at the IV Prokofiev International Competition and debuted as a composer of orchestral music with his composition Pastorale which was premiered by the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Orchestra. Since moving to the United States, Mr. Smirnov has received his Master of Music degree in composition from The Juilliard School, where he was a full scholarship student under the guidance of Christopher Rouse. His other mentors include John Corigliano, Richard Danielpour and Robert Aldridge.

Department Chair, Guitar Guitar, Chamber Music

Guitarist Alejandro Cote is a versatile performer who has an extensive repertoire as both a solo and chamber musician. Recent performances include recitals in Atlanta, Austin, Houston and New York City as well as solo and chamber performances throughout the southeastern United States. Additionally, he has performed at Carnegie Hall, Schwartz Hall at Emory University, La Belle Alliance in Curacao, and Cas di Cultura in Aruba. Mr. Cote has been a featured performer at the Amelia Chamber Music Festival, the Madison Chamber Music Festival and the Water Island Chamber Music Festival in the Virgin Islands.

Mr. Cote has released two recordings on the Artek label. His debut CD of Spanish music was released in 2008. New Classics said of the recording, “Cote’s accomplished playing is soulful yet always precise and in sympathy with the composers’ intentions. Highly recommended.” In 2012, he released his second album of contemporary American music and received a grant from Emory University to complete the recording and commission a piece specifically for the recording by John Anthony Lennon.

Mr. Cote studied at the Manhattan School of Music and at Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University. His principle teachers were David Leisner and Julian Gray. Cote has taught extensively and has experience teaching all ages and styles, including rock, classical and flamenco guitar. He has taught at Emory University, the Bloomingdale School of Music, and the NY Guitar Academy, and teaches young children in the New York City public schools.

Department Chair, Cello Cello, Chamber Music, Outreach

Cellist Wendy Law has appeared as soloist with renowned orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Russian Philharmonic, and Juilliard Orchestra. Ms. Law has performed throughout North America, appearing in such venues as Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the J.F. Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. and Jordan Hall, Boston. An active chamber musician, she has collaborated with the Borromeo String Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma and Pamela Frank among others.

In 2003, Ms. Law was invited by the office of the UN Secretary General to perform at the General Assembly of the United Nations in a memorial ceremony for the UN staff and family members of those who lost their lives in the attack on the UN compound in Baghdad, Iraq. A regular touring artist, Ms. Law has toured with “Musicians From Marlboro" and performed internationally in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Argentina, Chile, Canada, France, Switzerland, and Belgium.

Ms. Law has appeared on television and radio. Ms. Law has been featured on Japan's NHK TV documentary series "New York Streets," which was broadcast nationwide. She has also appeared on PBS TV's documentary broadcast on the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra's tour of Chile and Argentina. Ms. Law has recorded Wing-Fai Law's "Phantasm" with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra for the Hugo label.

A recipient of numerous awards, Ms. Law has received the Juilliard InterArts Award, first prizes in the Juilliard Cello Concerto Competition, National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, Kingsville International Competition, Fischoff National Competition (as a member of the Amaryllis String Quartet), the Harvard Musical Association Achievement Award, as well as local and national prizes in the American String Teacher's Association Competition and the Boston Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition.

Ms. Law began her cello studies with Ge Wu at the Hong Kong Academy of the Arts. At the age of 12, she moved to the US to study with Mark Churchill at Boston’s New England Conservatory Preparatory School as well as the Walnut Hill School. Ms. Law received her Bachelor of Music with Distinction from the New England Conservatory with Laurence Lesser, and her Master of Music and the prestigious Artist Diploma Program from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Joel Krosnick and Tim Eddy. In addition to her active performance schedule, Ms. Law is a Teaching Artist at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and founder and Artistic Director of Classical Jam.

Department Chair, Voice Voice, Choir, Ear Training, Chamber Music

Soprano Diana DiMarzio has appeared on theatrical and concert hall stages around the world. She was recently seen as Annie Dummermut on Broadway in The Visit opposite Chita Rivera and the late Roger Rees. Before her return to Broadway, she reprised her role as the Beggar Woman in the Virginia Opera's production of Sweeney Todd, directed by Ron Daniels. She sang the role with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester in Munich, Germany, in their 60th Anniversary Jubilee concert under the baton of Ulf Schirmer and starred on Broadway as the Beggar Woman in the critically acclaimed, Tony Award-winning revival, opposite Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris and directed by Tony Award winner John Doyle.

Following her Broadway appearance, composer Adam Guettel cast Diana as Signora Naccarelli in the first national tour of his Tony Award-winning musical The Light in the Piazza, directed by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher and produced by Lincoln Center. Recent stage engagements include the role of Aldonza in the national touring production of Man of La Mancha, with Jack Jones, and the mother in the National Tour of Evita, directed by Michael Grandage. Other roles include Donna Rafaella in White Widow at the Intar Theater, Mother Cratchit in A Christmas Carol with Shakespeare in the Park, and roles in Side by Side…by Sondheim, Showboat, and Desert Song.

Opera performances include Frasquita in a European touring production of Carmen and Sally in A Hand of Bridge. Ms. DiMarzio was also a featured soloist in a salute to Andrew Carnegie at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, featuring Andy Williams and Jerry Lewis. Orchestral and concert engagements include performances at Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, guest soloist with the Aegean Chamber Orchestra at Ephesus in Turkey and soloist with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony and Westfield Symphony. She has appeared on the television show The Sopranos and was cast by Sidney Lumet in his film Find Me Guilty starring Vin Diesel.

Ms. DiMarzio’s recordings include her debut CD including favorites from the classical and Broadway repertoire, demonstrating her versatility and vast range of interpretive skills. She can also be heard on both the German and Broadway recordings of Sweeney Todd as the Beggar Woman and can also be heard on the Broadway cast recording of The Visit. Ms. DiMarzio holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Vocal Performance from Carnegie-Mellon University and currently resides in New York City.

Party Coordinator

Coming Soon


The NJ Academy of Music is excited to share our new academy space with our community.

Our new, fully customized facilities include:

  • 5 studio rooms
  • 3 grand pianos (including 2 Steinways)
  • 4-hand piano capabilities
  • group room
  • performance space
  • lobby area
  • artist store