Bel Canto Music Academy Faculty


Sladjana Saric

Piano , Voice and Flute Teacher
Sladjana Saric is the founder and director of Bel Canto Music Academy with both master's and bachelor's degrees in Flute Performance from the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Serbia. She is an accomplished opera singer and concert performer in both Europe and the United States, and is currently a member of the Grammy-winning Chicago Symphony Chorus and the Lakeside Singers. Sladjana earned her Master’s in Vocal Performance from the Faculty of Music in Belgrade, Serbia, and she earned a specialization degree in Vocal Performance from the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary in the class of opera star Eva Marton.

Denise Marguerite Trautmann

Piano, Voice and Flute Teacher
Denise Trautmann is a classically trained pianist, flutist, soprano and composer. She has performed as a soloist throughout Chicago, New York, and Japan. She has played flute with the Salt Creek Sinfonietta, Manhattan Symphonie, and the New York Opera Forum at Lincoln Center. Denise has also performed with the New York Opera Forum, singing roles such as "Papagena" from Die Zauberflöte. Denise's composition, "Mélodique" was performed by 100 flutes at the 100th anniversary of the New York Flute Club, directed by flutist Nicholas Duchamp. She loves to compose for students and encourages students to use their creative imagination to the fullest. Denise also speaks French and Japanese.

Nicholas Sanders

Piano Teacher
Nicholas Sanders first began taking piano lessons at the age of five and has ever since had a lifelong passion for music. Nic's youth saw him explore various different forms of music, from classical to musicals, as well as an array of different instruments. At the age of 18, Nic began his studies at Millikin University where he majored in Commercial Music and would go on to graduate Summa Cum Laude with his Bachelor's in Music degree. While pursuing his undergraduate degree, Nic found himself has a lead soloist in the top jazz band as well performing with a multitude of different ensembles including student lead commercial albums to being a keyboardist in the school's musicals. Nic has also received his Masters in Music degree from Southern Illinois University where he studied Music Theory and Composition. As a composer, Nic writes a for a wide variety ensembles and styles including solo piano works, choral music, as well as a one-act musical and more. At SIU, Nic was an instructor and graduate assistant of various classes, including teaching class piano and music theory. He was also an accompanist for a large number lessons and classes at the School of Music Nic's goals for teaching mirror his own experiences as a pianist. He strives to open his students to a wide variety of musical styles and techniques which he believes help cultivate a lifelong passion for music. Whether it be classical, jazz, or pop, Nic hopes to find the right styles for each student so that they can have the personalized learning experience they deserve.

Andrea Lara

Piano and Saxophone Teacher
I have a bachelors degree in music from Elmhurst College. I plan on continuing my education with a Masters in Musicology. My main instruments are saxophone and piano. I have experience teaching pre-kindergarten and young elementary students. I love the fundamentals of music and helping others express themselves with music.

Michael Coduto

Voice and Piano Teacher
Michael Coduto is an active and energetic tenor performing throughout the United States. He has pursued degrees in voice at both the Chicago College of Performing Arts and the University of Colorado at Boulder while singing for choirs such as the Boulder Bach Festival and Chicago’s Grant Park Chorus. He has been the winner of several prestigious competitions, including the Chicago NATS Competition. Michael likes to participate in church activities and volunteer for events during his free time while performing at various parishes throughout Chicagoland. He is extremely excited to bring a wide range of styles and expertise to the Bel Canto Music Academy!

Alec Feldges

Guitar Teacher
Alec is a passionate and dedicated guitarist, composer, and teacher, who’s “depth of musical sensitivity is allied with technical clarity, coupled with warmth and generosity” (Ken Sugita, Violinist French National Orchestra-Lille). A winner of the 2016 MU Emerging Artist Competition, Alec has performed solo concerts all over the world including the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He gave his international debut in 2015 when he was invited to perform and give master-classes as a guest artist at the Zobel Gitarrenschule in Bad Nauheim Germany and his performance at The Benton Club in St. Joseph Missouri was critically acclaimed to be “a highlight of the concert season, [and] a resounding success” (President, Missouri Music Hall of Fame). Alec received his Bachelor in Music from the University of Missouri where he attended as an Evans Scholar and studied under Anthony Glise. He completed his Masters in Guitar Performance from McGill University in Montreal, QC, where he studied with world-renowned guitarist Jerome Ducharme. Additionally, throughout his formal years, Alec has attended and performed in countless master-classes where he took lessons from some of the world’s leading guitarists including David Russell, Jason Vieaux, David Leisner, Jorge Morel, and Martha Masters. A dedicated teacher, Alec has accumulated over 10 years of experience both as a school teacher, and a private guitar instructor. Teaching students of all ages and skill levels, Alec is devoted to bringing inspiration to all his students through sharing his knowledge and love of music.
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Scott Gryffin

Guitar/Drum Teacher
Scott Gryffin is a prominent multi-instrumental music educator and performer in the Chicagoland area. By the age of 19 Scott performed in over 14 states and Canada with various rock and jazz groups. He regularly performs with his cover band “The Axxidentals” and with many other performing groups in the Chicagoland area. Scott received both of his degrees in Music Education and Percussion Performance from Illinois State University. Since then, Scott has spent the past 10 years serving as a public high school teacher where he taught Band, Music Production, Percussion, Guitar, and served in building and teaching the high schools first ever Orchestra program. His primary instruments include: classical percussion, drum-set, guitar, bass, and piano but spends his free time learning new instruments such as cello and violin. He has over 15 years of musical experience as an educator, performer, producer, and writer/arranger.

David Gillette

Guitar/Drum Teacher
David Gillette is a musician with a lifelong passion for music. He began his musical journey playing the Cornet in High School and later experimented with various instruments including drums, saxophone, guitar, and piano. Although he enjoys playing all instruments, David's true joy is found in playing guitar and performing live. As a teacher, David's philosophy is to combine deliberate practice with playing for pure enjoyment to keep his students engaged and motivated in their musical pursuits. His friendly and approachable demeanor, coupled with his extensive knowledge and expertise, make him an excellent mentor for anyone looking to improve their musical skills.

Lois Shive

Voice/Piano Teacher
Lois is a lifelong learner and musician. She started piano lessons and singing at a young age. By 8 th grade, she knew she wanted to be a voice teacher. In college, Lois was a member and soloist in all the school choirs as well as a soloist for the school’s orchestra, performing all over the country. She was an adjunct voice teacher her last 2 years of college. For the last 30+ years, Lois has taught voice and piano lessons in the Chicago area and in Augusta GA. She’s also worked as a vocal coach and accompanist for several schools in the area. She’s sung with numerous groups and choirs, often as a soloist. Lois also worked as a music minister/worship leader in her area churches as well as directing children’s and adult choirs. Lois has been the soprano soloist for Chicago Bach Chamber Chorale as well as singing and soloing with Acappellago in the Western Suburbs. She also sings with Moraine Valley Community Choir and Moraine Valley Chamber Chorale. Lois enjoys sharing her love of music with her students and help them explore their instrument/voice. Until recently, she studied Alexander Technique and continues to use what she’s learned to help her students find ease in their music.

Matt Piet

Voice/Piano Teacher
Matt Piet is a pianist, vocalist, composer, and music director. He was raised in Palos Park, IL, and began playing piano at age ten. By his teens he was an active professional vocal accompanist, actor, and cocktail pianist. After his studies in straight-ahead jazz at Berklee College of Music in Boston MA, Piet shifted gears and began playing mostly improvised music, while maintaining his devotion to teaching as a piano instructor and youth musical theatre director. An active participant in Chicago's vibrant jazz and improvised music scene, Piet has recorded extensively since his return to Chicago in 2015, four of which have been awarded “four stars” by DownBeat Magazine.