Bios & details:

artists, coaches, workshops, services, etc.


Katie Agresta  -      is a legend in the music industry and known by many artists as one of the top vocal instructors in the world. Present and former students include: Jon Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews, Annie Lennox, Roger Daltrey, Joe Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, the Beastie Boys, Matthew Sweet, Steven Tyler, Cyndi Lauper and many, many more.


Jon Bon Jovi
“I've seen the light. I've gotten results [with Katie] like I've never seen with anything I've ever tried to do in my life. “

CNN News
“Katie's credentials are staggering. She is truly a master teacher.”

Annie Lennox
During 18 months of solid touring around the world, I warmed up with Katie Agresta Vocal Exercises before each show… and have to say that it genuinely kept my voice going for all that time”


Patrick Pfeiffer  


             In Pfeiffer's own words, he is both "100 percent player and 100 percent teacher." A much-in-demand bass instructor, Pfeiffer is highly-respected for his ability to guide musicians to the top of their talent. His gift for teaching attracts some of the world's most serious students. Simply look at the liner notes of U2's album, Pop, and you'll see a "thank you" from one of these pupils, U2's Adam Clayton. Other well-known students have included Alec John Such (of Jon Bon Jovi), Mark Wike (of Bogmen), Damon Martin (Naked). It's no coincidence that Pfeiffer is called "the professional bass player's bass teacher." 

   “Pfeiffer brings finely articulated grooves, thoughtful ballad work, and head-turning solos to his debut solo release.”              Bass Player Magazine

   “Patrick’s teaching method showed me how to connect the bits of technique I’d collected into a playing style”.         Adam Clayton (bass player for U2)



Harry Whitaker

   is a piano player, producer, composer and arranger who, at the age of 26, recorded Black Renaissance - Body Mind & Spirit” , a “holy grail” amongt collectors of soul-jazz and rare groove, the original 1976 recording being so rare that for many years it was virtually a myth to many and traded hands for upwards of $350 per copy!   With it’s recent re-release on Ubiquity Records, we now all have a chance to witness what jazz and rare-groove fanatics consider a work of genius and a highly praised tribute to its inspiration, Martin Luther King.

   An important member of the New York City jazz scene, Harry Whitaker has enjoyed a successful career as producer, arranger and composer, which began when he cut his teeth on the best of the Roy Ayers Ubiquity releases. Harry made a living working closely with Roberta Flack- as her musical director, counting among his gold records one for his work playing on her big  hit “I Feel Like Making Love”. He has worked with such artists as Alphonse Mouszon, Carter Jerfferson, Phyllis Hyman, Loredana Berte, Mtume, Lola Falana, The Spinners, Carmen Lundy, Stephanie Mills, Madonna and just about every jazz musician who has hit the New York City scene.  His work has been widely sampled by rap stars such as Mos Def.  A trip to Japan brings out screaming fans as he is well-known there for his work with the legendary jazz trumpet player, Terumasa Hino.

                                                             “A jazz-soul stunner” ...Free Form Jazz

          “A holy grail amongst collectors of soul-jazz and rare groove. Funk and Afrocentricity collide with tasty beats, super bad bass lines and one of the earliest examples of "rap" on a jazz LP. Recorded as a tribute on Martin Luther King Day 1976 "                                   ....KEYBOARD MAGAZINE 


Janet Lawson


Grammy nominated Janet Lawson is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, theNational Endowment for the Arts and the New York and Pennsylvania State Councils on the Arts. She is listed in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz and Leonard Feather’s New Encyclopedia of Jazz. Her first album was nominated for a Grammy ( Best Jazz Vocal Performance-Female), in 1981. She lost – to Ella Fitzgerald.

Janet Lawson is one of the finest jazz singers of our time. Her approach to music combines both the instrumentalist's concerns for sound and time with the vocalist's duty to communicate the meaning and message of a lyric...highly effective in private and clinical teaching environments.
DR TOM BORAS, associate professor, director of Jazz/Contemporary Music, NYU


Joe Magnarelli -                                                                       


   jazz trumpeter and Criss Cross Jazz recording artist Joe Magnarelli is a NYC legend through not only his own albums but also his work with such greats as Harry Connick, Jr, Lionel Hampton, Jack McDuff and many others

"Joe Magnarelli is one of the top five over 30 post be-bop trumpet players today."........DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE, MARCH 2000

"Magnarelli has all the essentials one looks for in the best jazz musicians - unshakeable time feel, bold tone and captivating, propulsive improvisations"  


John O. Reilly


Johns career and music business experience spans 35 plus years.Working with Grammy Nominated,Multi-Platinum Trans Siberian Orchestra,O'2L, Ritchie Blackmores Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult, Blackmores Night, Yoko Ono,Richie Havens, Westworld and many more 

            “One on One Drum Mentoring” - per call or yearly, full mentoring services by John or his partner in  mentoring, Liberty DeVitto of  Billy Joel’s band.



Elisa Hale   

music & entertainment producer, Elisa Hale is also an accomplished  recording artist, singer, ASCAP songwriter, musician, actress and dancer.  The multi-talented Hale  has worked with some of the top names  in the entertainment industry - (Bill Hickey, Vicky Sheer, Harry Whitaker, Steve Holley, Gene Paul etc.) and in some of it’s best venues - (Carnegie Hall, Madison Sq. Garden, on & off Broadway, New School University Jazz , Electric Lady & The Hit Factory studios etc) Although her credentials include work in film, tv, recordings, radio & video, she is most proud of  her students , many of whom have gone onto successful carreers themselves 

 “New York City’s rock poetress !” ....... - CUE MAGAZINE

...."the debut performance of The Montereys renewed my faith in female vocalists-songwriters-musicians.  Before we go any further, let me point out that there is only ONE woman in this group - they don't need any more!  ELISA HALE is the composer of all the tunes, lead vocalist, and plays a mean keyboard to boot.  Her vocal expertise is superb. The last number, "Why Can't You Be Like Other Girls" left me thinking one thing - thank God she's not!"
                                                                                 .........  - THE MUSIC PAPER


  Nina  (Nina Tolins) 

   Nicknamed “The Voice” by  clubowners in NYC, Rocketeria Records recording artist and ASCAP songwriter, Nina, has worked with some of the top names in rock, jazz, and r&b - Pattie LaBelle, jazz legends Marion McPartland, Harry Whitaker and Myron Walden, Steve Holley (of Paul McCartney & Wings), and John O. Reilly (Blue Oyster Cult) among others.

  Nina, Nina, Nina….Lord have Mercy! Did you hear that girl’s pipes!?  I’m afraid of that Lady!
                            (PATTI LaBELLE to her back-up singers after calling Nina onstage at Ceasar’s Palace, Atlantic City.  Nina sang “At Last” a’capella – and brought the house down. Then to Nina, Patti continued:) “I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a hard life.  But you? You, Miss Nina do not let anybody or anything get in your way!”

 “I've produced over a dozen Broadway and off-Broadway musical productions and have been a League member and Tony-voter for 10 years.  I see great talent every day and I can state with complete conviction that Nina is such a talent." 

JEFF ROWLAND (Broadway producer: Rent, Victor Victoria, PBS:  3 Mo Tenors, Julie Andrews)


Ross Haines 


  - received his Masters Degree in Acting from the world renowned ACTOR’S STUDIO and trained extensively with LEE GRANT, ARTHUR PENN and ALVIN AILEY STUDIOS.  He has appeared in many movies and theater productions including 3000 MILES TO GRACELAND with KEVIN COSTNER & CRISTIAN SLATER, ALI with WILL SMITH and in the SPIKE LEE movie, BAMBOOZLED.


Ally Lamaj

- actor Ally Lamaj received his degrees in Drama and Directing at CUNY and has trained with the best of the best - HB STUDIOS, STELLA ADLER, HAL HOLDEN & MICHAEL BECKETT to name a few. A protégé’, student and, eventually, close friend of Oscar-nominated WILLIAM HICKEY; Lamaj was also trained by “Bill” in his world-famous coaching techniques and has been dedicated to carrying on Hickey’s legacy since his death.

In addition to being a highly accomplished acting coach, Ally has appeared in many plays and films such as ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, FIVE FINGER EXERCISE, THE MARATHON MAN, KING KONG and THE WARRIORS.


The Performing Option:  Madelyn Burns Casting

       MADELYN BURNS  has been an accomplished Casting Director for many years, lending her talents to stage and screen (both big and small) .  Her Chelsea studio is constantly abuzz with preparations for commercial shoots and television scenes.  Noting the naivete of many stage actors as to the very different aspects of acting  before a camera and armed with an amazing  textbook she authored on the subject, Madelyn created The Performing Option.; a school  created to specifically deal with teaching actors the correct techniques to land  that camera assignment.   

  The program has thrived for many years, garnering  sucess  because of its unique teaching staff, for classes are taught by currently involved casting directors and talent agents.  With their fingers literally on the pulse of “who is looking for what” at any given time in the entertainment industry, these coaches are especially skilled at preparing their students for the reality of seeking acting work in the major entertainment markets.  

   Their tips and insights have brought many a sucess to the students of The Performing Option and, in response to requests, they have added an additional couse “The Business of Your Acting Career which covers everything from head-shots and resumes to how to handle not only rejection, but acceptance as well.

   At the end of each course semester, students perform in showcase for currently active casting directors and talent agents - many going on to television and film work as a result of this wonderful exposure opportunity.