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 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 Todd Lutes

For over 30 years Todd Lutes 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.

     
photo Jessica Vitalo

Jessica Vitalo is a NJ native and has been teaching Music Together™ for five years. Not a stranger to the performing arts, Jessica attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and New School University. She toured across the country in an IMPROV Assembly Group, The Cameo Cast, doing assemblies for schools K-12. In her early years she wrote, directed, and mounted many shows for Six Flags Theme Parks™, earning her over a dozen IAPPA nominations for North American Entertainment. She was the Director of Drama at Brick Memorial High school for four years, and worked as their choreographer and Assistant Director for six years. Jessica has taught ages 0-27 in the fields of music, voice, theatre, and dance. She most recently started an Assembly Company about leadership, mindfulness and acceptance called LEAD U, touring the NJ, PA, & NY School Systems. Jessica has performed all over the country, and is a Perry Award Winner for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Jo March in Little Women: The Musical. Her favorite theatrical roles have included Peter Pan (Peter Pan), Annie Oakley (Annie Get Your Gun), Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins), Dot/Marie (Sunday in the Park with George), Audrey (Little Shop of Horrors), Nellie Forbush (South Pacific), The Bakers Wife and Witch (Into the Woods), Squeaky Fromme (Assassins), and in both NJ Premiers of Avenue Q (Kate Monster) and Rent (Maureen). In her "spare time" she is on the Board of Team Rookenthal Foundation, a partner with Cycle for Survival and Memorial Sloan Kettering for rare cancer research! They have raised over $400,000 in only four short years! She currently works in medical management and is forever grateful to her husband, Bryan, for fostering her passion for music, theatre, and arts education. She loves teaching Music Together and is honored to be a part of a SCIENCE based program that really works, and creates such lasting education, friendships, memories, and community. 

     
photo Marjorie Monge

Marjorie Monge is originally from San Jose, Costa Rica. As a child, she completed her elementary and middle school years at the prestigious Conservatorio de Castella in Costa Rica, where she studied classical ballet, music, and drama. At age 19, Ms. Marjorie opened her own ballet academy and discovered her passion and love for teaching children. She has a Bachelors Degree in International Relations from the Universidad Autonoma de Centroamerica and an Associate Degree in Early Bilingual Pre-school Education from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. After moving to the United States, Ms. Marjorie continued teaching dance for Elise Klinger Dancers in New York and here in Tampa for the Palavi Patel Conservatory. In addition, she taught preschool at the Trinity School for Children, and taught preschool and kindergarten Spanish at Kids Stuff and Kids R Kids in Lutz. Ms. Marjorie says, "Knowing for a fact that the bilingual experience can only benefit a child, I felt the need to combine my love for dance, music and Spanish language with the love I have for teaching children and that is why I am so excited to be part of Music Together and the Spanish Music Together Program, Canta y Baila Conmigo®.”

     
photo Alex Gammon

Alex got his first guitar at age 13 just for show, but when his family thrust him into private lessons with Sarasota guitarist, Jami Gee, he centered his life around the instrument, learning jazz, classical and progressive rock pieces. As a teen, Alex played guitar in the Fogt's Junior All-Star Band, which performed at Sarasota retirement homes and blues festivals, covering old swing hits and dancey jazz tunes.

After studying Childhood Anthropology at Florida State and receiving his B.A. in International Affairs and English, Alex began to study childhood development autodidactically and became fascinated with children and driven by a desire to help them succeed. Finding that Music Together blended his passion for music and children, Alex became certified as a Music Together teacher in the fall of 2018 and now eagerly looks to help children (and parents!) realize their musical potential.

     
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!