Meet our Teachers

 Allison Wilkins, Center Director is passionate about music and the importance of providing a rich musical experience for young children and their caregivers. Ms. Wilkins implements the Music Together® philosophy that serving as the model to engage parents in participation will foster growth and musical behavior by their children at home - The very best teacher and model being mom, dad, grandparents and caregivers. 

She offers a creative, fun, informal, social setting that spurs engagement and supports each child's musical development.

 

photo Allison Wilkins

  Singer/ Songwriter and Center Director Allison Wilkins,  known by her students as "Ms. Alli" has been performing and singing with children since her childhood. Granddaughter to the late James Bridges (conductor and founder of the James Bridges School of Music in Pittsburgh), Allison adheres to the Music Together philosophy that children are naturally "musical" from birth and recalls her fondest childhood memories were centered around "music making". She studied drama and voice at the Pittsburgh Playhouse for the performing arts. She holds a degree in psychology with an emphasis in special education from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Her experience with children is extensive from raising her own children, to leading girl scout troops and working with children with special needs. Organizations that she has been privileged to provide classes for are the Manasota Buds, Special Olympics & Champions for Children in Tampa.  Allison completed the Music Together training program, developed by the Center for Music and Young Children in Princeton, New Jersey in 2001 and is a Certification Level I teacher of the Music Together program. Ms. Alli's new sing along story book, "Monsters are Afraid of Music", is now available for purchase. Her second book "Angels Watching Over Me" is scheduled for release  in December of 2016 and 3 additional books to launch in 2017. Ms. Alli's passion for music can be summarized in her philosophy that music empowers and is "the stuff of the soul", to be produced by the child within all of us.

     
photo Marzena Coughlin

"Miss Marzy", a lifelong resident of Tampa Bay, hails from a family of musicians and has been performing her entire life. Her passion for singing and love of children led her to pursue a Music Education degree and an Elementary Education degree from the University of Tampa. She is an accomplished singer, pianist and violinist and has performed for various local events, organizations and churches over the last two decades.  Her teaching experience is vast and includes a rewarding 12 year career teaching Elementary Music education for Hillsborough county students- Pre K through 5th grade and children with special needs. Miss Marzy fell in love with the Music Together  program when she enrolled her daughter in class in Hyde Park Village. Her enriching experience in class prompted her desire to complete the Music Together teacher training program and become a Music Together instructor.  As an educator, she has been able to witness first hand the tremendous impact early musical education has on individual ability and development. Marzena believes that the family and parent education aspect of the Music Together program are especially important upon witnessing the direct correlation between caregiver modeling and child learning. Allisongs for Tots is delighted to have Miss Marzy on our team of music makers in the fall of 2012!

     
photo Karen Claugherty

Ms. Karen, former center Director of Ditties for Kiddies in New Tampa, is a passionate teacher with a long history of working with children. Karen received Music Together training in 2002 and began teaching immediately. While teaching Music Together, Karen has spent the last 7 years working with special needs children through "Friend Zone", a respite program for parents  offered at St. James United Methodist Church. Ongoing she uses her education background working with both adults and children for over 23 years teaching group fitness. She holds a B.S. in Secondary Education and an M.S. in Adult Education from Old Dominion University. Her musical background is rooted in 6 years of clarinet study. Karen is passionate about sharing all that music can do to help children and families grow.

     
photo Sara Nelms

With a childhood filled with singing at the piano with her pianist mother and creating lush full family harmonies, Sara has spent her life creating as many musical moments as possible. With a B.A. in Music from Florida State University, Sara was classically trained in voice, and incidentally sang some backup vocals in a southern rock band at the same time. Don't tell the professors! She went on to sing and write country music in Nashville, pick up the guitar and ukulele, record a full original album in Florida, tour, and make her way to NYC where she is active as a local singer songwriter. Sara has always had a passion for working with children. As a former preschool teacher, preschool gymnastics instructor, and babysitter, she is so excited to combine her passions with Allisongs for Tots!

     
photo Jen Logan

Jen's love for music began in early childhood as her mother was a trained pianist who would play for Jen when she was dancing, drawing, or getting ready to go to sleep. A dancer until the age of 13, Jen always enjoyed singing and chose to attend the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School, where she began her dedicated voice training. She has studied Choral Music Education at the University of Colorado, and Music Performance at the University of South Florida.

Jen began teaching private voice and piano lessons in 2006, which blossomed into her current full-time career. Additionally, she writes and performs her own music and plays in various music projects with other professional musicians. Jen discovered Music Together in 2012 and hasn't looked back! She lives in St. Petersburg with the love of her life, Frank, and her two cats.

     
photo Todd Lutes

We are pleased to welcome the newest addition to our staff- music man extraordinaire Mr. Todd Lutes. 

 For the past 30 years Mr. Todd has been playing music professionally. Starting his professional career on drums at the ripe old age of 15, Mr. Todd quickly realized that music was his path. At 18 he was accepted into the Berkley College of Music but cordially declined to pursue his own musical endeavors.  After many years of playing drums and singing in bands such as Zepton Groove and The Brickyard Poets, Mr. Todd decided it was time to shake things up by switching to guitar. Mr.Todd taught himself guitar and for the past 10 years he has been happily playing solo and duo gigs with his duo Scratch & Dent. Mr. Todd caught the attention of Allisongs for Tots when he had a large gathering of children flocking around him at his Fresh Market performance in Hyde Park Village. His warm, engaging (and silly) style make him a natural fit for our team of music makers. Stay Tuned for  drumming, guitar and music classes that will be taught by Mr. Todd starting in September 2017! 

     
photo Hallie Chandola

Ms. Hallie grew up in a musical family where she learned first hand from every child's best teacher, her mother, who was also a  professional violinist. She quickly  learned how to play Suzuki piano at the age of three, and later  at the age of six, percussion and string instruments.  In high school  she  joined the band,  playing flute. Her passion for playing flute and piccolo blossomed so much that she decided to attend the  Interlochen Arts Academy where she excelled in performance. Later, Ms. Chandola went on to  study at the Prague Conservatory and Czech Budweiss Conservatory while playing in the Prague Film Orchestra. Recently, Ms. Hallie has been a  teacher for the Flutes and Strings classes at Unison World School in Dehradun, India. Her passion for children and music extends to her own family. She is mother to two active boys, ages 1 and 5.  She is passionate about music and children. Her  goal is to instill the  passion for learning into every one of  the students who are fortunate enough to call her teacher.  Ms. Hallie is a welcomed addition to our teaching team and will be joining us this fall!

     
photo Catherine Michelsen

Catherine Michelsen received music degrees from Florida State University, The Boston Conservatory, University of South Florida, and University of Arizona. She was drawn to Music Together through her son, with whom she has been attending Ms. Alli's classes since he was about two months old. Watching her son and the other children grow from one term to the next has been such a wonderful adventure that she now looks forward to continuing that adventure as a Music Together teacher. Catherine is an active educator in the Tampa area, teaching violin, viola, and general music and serving on the faculties of the Patel Conservatory and Hillsborough Community College. She has played with orchestras including the Sarasota Orchestra, Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, Florida Orchestra, Opera Tampa, and Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.