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  Piano Teachers  



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Sheila Vail
Academy Founder and Director

Sheila Vail earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the world-renowned Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland, where she studied with Lillian Freundlich and Leon Fleisher.

Following her studies at Peabody, Mrs. Vail performed and taught in the Montgomery County Maryland area for many years. Upon arriving in Cincinnati in 1990, Mrs. Vail taught on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music Preparatory Department from 1991-1995 before resigning to concentrate on her ever growing private studio.

In addition to teaching full time, Mrs. Vail is a frequent clinician and guest speaker at college and university pedagogy departments, teacher organizations and professional conferences on the topics of creating, establishing, and maintaining the professional private teaching studio as well as creative curriculum development for piano students.

As an Examiner in the Royal College of Examiners (Royal Conservatory of Music / Toronto), she travels throughout Canada and the US hearing exam candidates for the Royal Conservatory of Music Certificate Program. Mrs. Vail is also an RCM Certified Teacher, holding the title of Advanced Specialist in both piano and theory.

An active supporter of the Royal Conservatory of Music Certificate Program, Mrs. Vail is a US Ambassador and clinician for RCM, speaking to music teacher associations, colleges, universities and parent groups about this stellar program for students and teachers. The Indian Springs Academy is a US Founding School for the RCM Certificate Program. 

Active in the Ohio Music Teachers Association, Mrs. Vail currently serves on the OTMA Executive Board as the State Student Certificate Program Chair and liason for the RCM Certificate Program.

Mrs. Vail resides in Cincinnati where she maintains a private studio and is the owner and managing partner of the Indian Springs Academy of Music.

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Inna Terekhov, M.B., M.M. piano performance, piano pedagogy, accompanying, chamber music.

Born and raised in Kishinev, Muldova, Mrs. Inna Terekhov came to the United States in 1990. Her professional degrees include a Bachelors and Masters degrees in Piano Performance, a Masters degree in Accompanying, Chamber Music and Piano Pedagogy from and the Music College of Kishinev (1966-1971) and the State Conservatory of Music (1972-1977) Moldova, USSR.


Her post graduate studies include Piano Pedagogy from the Gnesin Music Institute of Pedagogy, Moscow, USSR. Mrs. Terekhov is also a Certified Suzuki Teacher of Piano. 


An active and highly respected teacher of piano, Mrs. Terekhov has many years of extensive teaching experience. She served on the Piano Faculty of the Kishinev Music College, Moldova, USSR 1970-1989; School of Creative and Performing Arts Cincinnati OH 1990-2007; College Mount

St. Joseph Preparatory Music Department 1991-1995; Wyoming Center for the Arts in Cincinnati 1998-; NKU Music Preparatory Department 1995 - ; Private Studio Teacher 1990-; Indian Springs

Academy of Music 2015.


Inna Terekhov is an active member of the OMTA and prepares her students for the RCM Certificate Program certificates of merit at all levels. Skilled at all levels of teaching, her warm and patient approach is ideal for beginners, and her exceptional performance background and artistry gives her the ability to confidently teach the most advanced levels of solo and chamber repertoire.


Annually, her students are recognized with exceptionally high scores in both national and local auditions such as the Junior Music Federation National Auditions, the Piano Guild, OMTA Auditions Festival and the Music Development Program (including state and national Gold medal winners).


Many of her students are top prize-winners in Local, Regional and National Competitions, such as the OMTA Buckeye, Heidelberg University Performance Competition, DePauw University Piano

Competition, Young Artists Piano Competitions, and local Concerto Competitions.


Mrs. Terekhov’s students are also active in community service projects. In collaboration with Mrs. Terekhov, many join the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce as part of a non-profit music organization, "Share the Music", founded in 2007. As part of this program, students perform throughout the Tri- State region at various retirement centers, nursing homes, hospitals and schools, receiving accolades for the high quality of their performance and their passion for music!


In addition to a very active teaching career, since 1998 she is the founding Director of the Summer Piano Camp and Ensemble workshops at the Center For The Arts in Wyoming, OH. She is also a sought after local adjudicator for numerous performance events and frequent Master Class clinician, including CCM’s Summer Institute. 


Mrs. Terekhov’s reputation as a professional teacher of piano throughout the Cincinnati area is superlative and her students praise both her dedicated and inspiring teaching. Mrs. Terekhov has

prepared numerous students for professional careers in Music, but her mission serves to create passionate musicians, each with their own individual musical talents, heart, soul and mind. She strives to instill a love for piano and overall appreciation for music through the beauty and breadth of the classical repertoire. Mrs. Terekhov won't allow her students to settle for less; on the contrary, she inspires them to be their very best! She works to ensure that every student develops confidence in themselves and their musical abilities, and experiences the pride of their accomplishments.

Inna Terekhov
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Nora Ayvazian

Ms. Ayvazian earned her Master of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Missouri-Columbia under the instruction of the late Jane Allen.  She studied with Ms. Allen for over ten years.  She was the state winner and west central division second place winner at the Music Teachers National Association Piano Competition and a finalist in the Young Keyboard Artists Association International Piano Competition.  At the Arnold Bullock National Piano Competition, she was a semi-finalist and the Klatzin Contemporary Award winner for her performance of Benjamin Lees Fantasia.    


Ms. Ayvazian was also a prize winner in both the Music of the Americas National Competition and the Dixie Gulick Bryant Piano Competition.  At the University of Missouri-Columbia, she was awarded the Jan Blankenship Memorial Piano Scholarship, the Jean McGregor Bower Memorial Piano Scholarship, and the Ella Ferguson Turner Memorial Piano Scholarship.

​Ms. Ayvazian has demonstrated her versatility as a performer by collaborating with various vocalists and instrumentalists on the stage over the years.  As a soloist, she has performed numerous times in Missouri and has given lecture/piano recitals in Miami and Los Angeles.  She particularly enjoys the lecture/recital format where the audience can connect both intellectually and emotionally to the music.

​Ms. Ayvazian has always devoted her time to teaching music.  At the University of Missouri-Columbia, she taught four levels of class piano proficiency to music majors and minors.  She also gave private piano lessons to University students as well as to children in the community at large.  Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Ms. Ayvazian moved to Los Angeles in August 1998 where she joined the piano faculty of Lark Conservatory, an Armenian music school for children.  


In addition to teaching private piano lessons, she also taught music theory and music history in the large classroom setting at Lark.   In 2010, Ms. Ayvazian moved back to St. Louis where she joined the piano faculty at the Community Music School of Webster University and also maintained her private studio.  Currently, she resides in Cincinnati, Ohio where she teaches both privately and at the Indian Springs Academy of Music. An active participant in the RCM Certificate Program, her students are frequent OMTA Gold Medal winners! 

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Rodrigo Vasconcelos holds a Master of Arts degree from Campbellsville University and a Piano Performance degree from the University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His piano teachers include Linda Bustani, Estela Caldi, Allan Hersh, and Wesley Roberts.

Mr. Vasconcelos keeps a healthy performing career as a choral conductor, pianist, and lecturer throughout the US, Germany, England, Czech Republic and Brazil, including appearances with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Vasconcelos serves as music educator for the Our Lady of the Visitation School, and on the piano, music history, and theory faculty of Indian Springs Academy of Music.

Mr. Vasconcelos is a Founding Teacher for the Royal Conservatory of Music Certificate Program and is an active member of both the National Association for Music Education and the Ohio Music Educators Association. An active participant in the RCM Certificate Program, Mr. Vasconcelos is also a member of the Royal College of Examiners, hearing candidates at all levels throughout North America. 

Rodrigo Vasconcelos
piano, theory, harmony, history
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Mengle "Kristi" Zhou,
piano, theory, musicianship

Mengle "Kristi" Zhou  was born in China and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Shanghai Conservatory of Music, one of the most prestigious conservatory in China, and her Master of Music degree from Boston University School of Music.

Mrs. Zhou  has a wealth of experience teaching piano, music theory, music history and appreciation to students of all ages and levels of accomplishment. An experienced teacher of piano, Mrs. Zhou  has also taught in classroom settings from kindergarten through high school, and taught Western music history and AP Music Theory for college preparatory students. Additionally, she has worked with students on choral rehearsals and performances, musical theatre productions, school musical productions and a variety of other activities. 


She is passionate about instilling a love of music in students of all ages and setting a solid foundation in their music education. She believes in developing the whole musician including ear-training, sight-reading, improvisation, composition, theory and creativity as well as superb technical abilities. To see the musical knowledge and appreciation accompany her students throughout their lives gives her the ultimate joy and satisfaction as a teacher of music.  

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Peter Oehrtman is an active performer and teacher in the Cincinnati area. A native of northern Ohio, Mr. Oehrtman received his Bachelor of Music degree at Bowling Green State University, his Master of Music degree at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at CCM. 


A student of Eugene and Elisabeth Pridonoff, Mr Oethrtman has won numerous scholarships and awards. His musical honors include placing in several piano competitions, including the Brevard Music Center International Piano Competition, the Marjorie Conrad Peatee Art Song Competition, and the Bowling Green State University Concerto Competition.


An active and committed teacher, Mr. Oehrtman serves as a teaching assistant under the direction of Dr. Michelle Conda at CCM. Comfortable teaching students of all levels and in a variety of formats, he teaches many CCM students through both private lessons and group classes. Mr. Oehrtman is also a faculty member at the Piano Camp of Summer Music Institute at Bowling Green State University and at the Indian Springs Academy of Music. 


Mr. Oehrtman is a member of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), and has presented many of his teaching ideas through presentations at the local, state, collegiate, and national levels. Most recently, he was invited to present a session entitled “Steve Jobs Meets Mitsuko Uchida: Applying Innovative Strategies” at the Young Professionals Track of the 2014 MTNA National Conference in Chicago. Among the other lecture courses, he teaches is a course titled "Practicing and Performing Strategies". 

An active participant in the Royal Conservatory of Music Certificate Program, Mr. Oehrtman successfully prepares students for both Performance and Theoretical certificate examination at all levels. Mr. Oehrtman is full-time faculty at the Indian Springs Academy.

Peter Oehrtman
piano, theory
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Christina Tan.jpeg
Dr. Christina Tan
piano, theory, harmony


Pianist-Composer Dr. Christina Tan holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance, Theory cognate from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music where she was invited by concert pianist Béla Siki to study. At CCM, she earned her Master’s and Bachelor of Music degrees while on various scholarship awards and teaching assistantships. Her teachers include James Tocco, Eugene & Elizabeth Pridonoff, Frank Weinstock, and Béla Siki. Representing Singapore in the 1991 Robert Casadesus International Competition, she clinched the top prize and awards at several local and international piano and composition competitions, including the 1986 Diners Club Pianist of the Year Award.  


Having played with orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic, The Lexington Herald-Leader writes,  “Tan always seemed to be gauging her performance to suit the needs of the moment, and such intelligent playing is as welcome as it is rare.”  The Straits Times describes her music, “Spirited piano piece a winner...21st-century music does not need to be inaccessible to be taken seriously” On her performance, “Tan’s artistry shone through with utter clarity, humor, and beauty…There was much poignancy to be had in the familiar preludes...sheer poetry reigned ...a captivating performance on the whole.”

An enthusiastic educator, collaborator/chamber musician, and adjudicator, she has served on the music faculties of the University of Akron, Hiram College, Asbury, Transylvania, Northern Kentucky, Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne, and Winthrop Universities. In 2010, she was invited to teach at Singapore’s School of the Arts ~ SOTA. In 2014, she also began teaching at the LASALLE College of Arts’ School of Contemporary Music and NAFA ~ Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts' School of Music.  She has been invited to give master classes both in Asia and the US. She has also always served as an organist-music director at a local church. Passionate about music making and education, she is the current Vice President of the Singapore Music Teachers’ Association.


Christina’s students have been national and international level award winners in solo, chamber and composition competitions.  Equally at home with both beginning and advanced levels, her intrinsic desire is to impact a student’s life by instilling a lifelong passion for learning in a stimulating while nurturing environment for her students of all ages. It is the supreme joy of awakening the wonder of creative expression, heightening aesthetic awareness and growth in others that fuels her passion for her calling.

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Dr. Polina Bespalko  

Polina Bespalko earned her Masters degree from the Moscow Conservatory and her Artist Diploma and Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.


Described as an “amazing virtuoso” by the world-renowned Nikolai Petrov and having a “complex, vigorous and demanding energetic attitude at the piano” by Brazilian newspaper Correio Brasiliense, Ms. Bespalko is rapidly establishing herself as one of piano’s brightest stars.


Ms. Bespalko began her performance career at the age of 8. Throughout her years at the Moscow Central Music school, she appeared regularly in the most prestigious venues in Russia - including performances in Bolshoi Hall and for the Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II at the age of 13.   Her career continued after her acceptance to the Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory, where she was personally requested by the Minister of Culture to perform in every major cultural center in the region. Ms. Bespalko made her American debut in 1998 as an honored member of the Russian-US Cultural Music Exchange.  This launched a period of intense U.S. concertizing, with performances as varied as Cincinnati’s Matinee Musicale, concerts at The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., to Salt Lake City, where she twice performed at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. 


During her time at CCM, Ms. Bespalko won the CCM Concerto Competition, thus performing Rachmaninov’s 3rd Concerto with the CCM Philharmonia under Mark Gibson.  This was followed by a string of domestic and international successes on the competition circuit.  A winner of the Silver Medal in the 2001 Wideman International Piano Competition of Louisiana, Ms. Bespalko went on to become a medalist in the 2005 World Piano Competition and the Gold Medal winner in the Rachmaninov Concerto Competition in Catania, Sicily. While studying with Nikolai Petrov, Ms. Bespalko’s performance with the Moscow Philharmonia Society resulted in her appointment as a resident soloist immediately following her graduation.  She returned to Moscow every year from 2001 through 2008, giving highly acclaimed solo and orchestral performances.  Concurrently, she toured internationally in Sweden, Sicily, and Brazil, returning on three separate occasions to Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.  So popular was her first performance at the Claudio Santoro Theater in 2005 that she was invited back in 2007 and 2008 for both a solo performance and a nationally broadcast radio engagement on Super Radio Brazil.


In 2007, at the impressive age of 28, Ms. Bespalko was appointed to the Piano faculty at Xavier University as Coordinator of the Piano Department. Balancing her performance schedule with her teaching and administrative duties at Xavier University, Ms. Bespalko continues to maintain an active performance profile with numerous domestic and international engagements.


Ms. Bespalko is currently a full-time professor at Xavier University in Cincinnati and serves as the Director of the Xavier University Music Series.


“As a musician and an artist, it is my goal to provide a transformative experience for my audience. As a teacher, I am an advocate and champion for all developing artists and my motto is to help every student to find and develop their unique voice.


Through creative and mindful repetition my students solidify their skills at the piano, allowing the body and mind to become engines of expression. In my studio, I strive to create an atmosphere where we can work together to search for keys to genuine and communicative performance so as to deepen the soul of the performer and audience alike.”  Polina Bespalko

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