​Piano has been a passion of mine since I was a little girl. I began taking lessons when I was 5 years old, and I participated and placed in many festivals and competitions while growing up. I graduated from Houghton College in New York with Bachelor’s degrees in Music and English Literature, and I have been teaching piano for more than 22 years and at MECA for 8 of those years. I love working with students of all ages and levels one-on-one and helping them meet their individual goals. While I enjoy playing and teaching all types of music, my love is classical music. In addition to teaching, I also enjoy accompanying classical instrumentalists on the piano. I live in Chicagoland with my husband and 9-year-old son.


Barbara Lewis is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago. There she studied music business and obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Arts, Entertainment, Media Management. Starting piano lessons at 8 years old she knew that music was going to play a big part in her life. Barbara played in various bands growing up as well as attended the Larkin Visual and Performing Arts Academy during High School. Barbara’s approach to lessons is all about having fun while learning. The environment in her studio is about finding what specific teaching approach will work the best for each student. She incorporates theory, history and other various skills that useful for any musician. Barbara also runs our Rock-Band Program every Summer called MECA Creates. You can find Barbara attending concerts/live music on almost every weekend and hanging out with her friends and family.

Barbara also teaches vocal lessons.


Kyle is a Chicago-based pianist and composer. He has been teaching private lessons in piano, music-theory, and composition for over six years. Kyle holds Bachelor’s Degrees in piano performance and composition from Northern Illinois University. Upon completion of his degrees at NIU, he was awarded the NIU School of Visual and Performing Arts Dean’s Award for outstanding artistry, contributions, and academic achievement. Kyle has recently completed his Master’s Degree in music from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Pulitzer-prize winning composer Kevin Puts. Kyle is dedicated to helping his students learn about all aspects of music alongside their chosen musical focus.

KATHY DIEM (Beginning & Intermediate Piano)

Kathy has been playing piano for over 40 years and teaching for over 20. She is very active in her church choir and orchestra as an organist accompanist.


Nicholas is a 2017 graduate of Roosevelt University – Chicago College of Performing Arts with a Bachelor of Music – with vocal performance emphasis; Honors Program.  He also has an Associates Degree from Elgin Community College. He has been teaching piano and vocal since 2012 and has created a well-rounded curriculum background for all skill levels. Nicholas is a Franklin Honors Society inductee, Founder of DJEMBE (a drum oriented educational movement) and a Founding Member of T.E.A. – a teaching advocate group. As a musician and performer, Nicholas has several roles, concerts and ensembles as part of his resume'. His musical experiences are extensive and continuing.

Nicholas also teaches vocal lessons.

AARON MARSALA (Beginning & Intermediate Piano)

Aaron is a multi-faceted percussionist as well as pianist. His study of music has taken him down many paths.  Aaron obtained his Music Education and Music Performance degrees at the University of Kentucky.  This was followed by a Master's program in World Music Performance at Northern Illinois University. Aaron's passion towards learning the music of different cultures has resulted in studies and performances in many countries around the world. His life was changed for the better through music and the schooling of his teachers and he strives to do the same for all of his students.  He is excited to be teaching a variety of instruments at MECA and working with wonderful students and families in our community.

Aaron also teaches drums & percussion and steel drum lessons.

ZAK REITER (Beginning & Intermediate Piano)

Zak has played the guitar for over 9 years and classical guitar technique for over 5 and has been teaching for over 5 years. Zak has a degree from Judson University where he performed, among others, for the Judson Guitar Ensemble and continues his own training both guitar and piano. He has played piano for several years with 3 years of piano study at Judson University.

His passion is music…….and it shows.  He is fun, compassionate and a great communicator, and we are happy to have him back at MECA after a short hiatus while he explored the West coast of America. Zak prides himself in establishing a strong chemistry with his students.

Zak also teaches guitar, ukulele and vocal

KASEY PENNINGTON (Beginning & Intermediate Piano)

Kasey is currently a Music Education major at Northern Illinois University and a member of the NIU Concert Choir.  She was a 2019 graduate of Genoa-Kingston High School where she was an active member of the band, chorus and theater programs. She has always loved music and received piano lessons since the age of 5.  Kasey was a percussionist in her high school band for 8 years and was awarded the Semper Fidelis for Musical Excellence as a senior.  She was also in the ILMEA District 8 Choir for 4 years and a member of the All State Honor Choir in 2018. Kasey is excited to be teaching at MECA and working with wonderful students and families in our community, and we are proud to add her musical talents to our teaching staff.

Kasey also teaches vocal

DYLAN EMPLEO (Beginning Piano)

Dylan is an Upper-Class student at Burlington Central High school where he participates in jazz lab band, concert band, marching band, and the soccer team. Dylan has been taking private piano lessons at MECA for over 7 years and continues to advance his piano skills.....he is a phenomenal player.  Dylan also likes to play guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, and clarinet. In his free time, he plays soccer with his friends and learns new and challenging musical pieces. Dylan has participated in multiple recitals and MECA CREATES events. He loves to challenge his students with new and exciting selections and to watch them grow musically.

MINH NGUYEN (Beginning Piano)

Minh is a gifted classical pianist who has been performing and studying for over 12 years. His repertoire includes works from Liszt, Chopin, and Beethoven. He is currently a junior at Hampshire High School and also works as an accompanist for his local church on the side. When he’s not in school or teaching, Minh spends his free time practicing and studying to improve his musical technique and expand his repertoire. For such a young gifted musician, Minh has an unbridled passion for the piano and desires to instill this passion in his students…..with fun.

DYLAN DUFFY (Beginning Piano)

Dylan is a Junior at St. Charles North High School where he plays in the Senior Wind Ensemble, Senior Jazz Workshop, and Marching Band.  He started playing the piano when he was 5 years old and has been taking lessons from the beginning. Throughout his middle and high school career, he has picked up other instruments like drums, guitar, bass, and harmonica, along with many percussion accessory instruments.  He has also been a performer at many MECA recitals and was a participant in Jazz IMEA. Dylan loves mentoring and providing feedback to young players and is very eager to help his students with their piano journey.  Dylan plans on pursuing music in college and onward.

DHAIRYA MEHTA (Beginning Piano)

Dhairya is a student at Burlington Central High school where he participates in Concert Band, Jazz Band, Drumline and the soccer team.  As part of the music program at Burlington, he won an Award of Excellence from the school band. Dhairya has been taking private piano lessons at MECA for over 9 years and continues to advance his piano skills.....he is a phenomenal player.  He has participated in several Meca Create events and recitals. 

In his free time, he plays soccer and plays challenging musical pieces at home. He loves to challenge his students with new and exciting selections and to watch them become the best pianist they can be.


Elizabeth is a graduate of Simpson College with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education - Magna Cum Laude. After graduation, Elizabeth worked for the Cardinal Community School District in Eldon, Iowa as a middle school and high school choir director. Now back in Illinois, Elizabeth is sharing her talents as a vocal and piano instructor with students here at MECA.

Elizabeth also teaches vocal lessons.

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