Our Faculty


Principal and Piano Instructor

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Yulia Rife has worked as a pianist, teacher and accompanist for more than 30 years.  She received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Piano and Piano Pedagogy in Russia before moving to the United States.  She is a certified teacher of the Kindermusic Institute and certified instructor of the nationally recognized music course "Harmony Road".  Yulia was recognized by Steinway & Sons, Steinway Piano Gallery-St. Louis as The Top Piano Teacher of 2016.  Additionally, she is a member of the National Guild of Piano Teachers, a division of American College of Musicians, and The Music Teachers National Association for twenty years.  Her students are participants of the District and State auditions and International Piano Competitions including yearly evaluations by the Royal Conservatory.  



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Alex Rife holds a Bachelor's degree in journalism and engineering and Bachelor's degree in economics.  He is an accomplished photographer/videographer with over 30 years of experience in the industry.  He has worked in broadcasting and television as a cameraman and editor all over the world including Azerbaijan, Russia, Germany, throughout Europe and The United States.  


Violin, Piano Instructor (private and group)

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Sharla Bender holds several degrees, including a Bachelor of Music from Huntington College and PhD of Musical Arts from University of Alabama. 

Sharla has 17 years of experience, teaching violin, piano and voice.

She performed in the Montgomery Symphony orchestra, as a featured soprano soloist with the Urshan College Chamber Choir.

She taught private lessons and group classes at Urshan College.

Sharla believes that music is meant to be shared and enjoyed.


Cello and Piano Instructor

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Julia Hornberger holds a Bachelor degree in cello and piano from University of Missouri and a Master degree in cello performance from University of DePaul.  Julia performed as a principal cellist in various symphonies in the United States and Europe, including Illinois Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, AIMS festival in Austria.

Michael Marciano

Guitar and Djembe Instructor

Michael Marciano, guitarist, composer, producer. 

Educated at the Crane School of Music in his native New York State,  NY. After graduating from Crane with a Bachelor degree in Musical Studies (Theory, Composition and Classical Guitar) he went to the island nation of St. Lucia to begin teaching at the St. Lucia School of Music, affiliated with the Royal Acadamie in London. 

Upon returning to NY, Michael continued to teach privately and in local music schools. He has collaborated with artists in NYC and was often hired to play on recordings and live performances, assist in productions as an instrumentalist and co-writer/producer, and performed regularly on his own and with a band. 

Jinhao Li

Guitar Piano and Voice Instructor

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Jinhao Li. I graduated from Saint Louis University in Music Education major. I am always looking for something that will approve how much work that I have achieved from the school and I am ready to use different teaching method to let students have a better understanding of music.


Suzuki Violin Instructor (private and group)

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David received his Master of Music in Violin Performance and String Teacher Training from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.  He studied with Dr. John Kendall and Ms. Carol Smith and completed all levels of Suzuki Teacher Training.  

Mr. Liu has taught students in Taipei, Houston, Saint Louis, and Chicago during his 37 years of experience.  His students have been accepted into various orchestras with excellent seats, including Concert Master.  

Mr. Liu enjoys helping students and parents become successful in their life through music education. 


Brass Instruments including Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone and Euphonium

Ilya Litvin is an experienced musician and educator.  He currently works as Band Director at the South City Catholic Academy, and Assistant Band Director at St. Joseph School in St. Charles.  He also teaches trumpet at the Webster University Community Music School. Ilya Litvin was a professor of trumpet at St. Charles Community College from 1999 to 2011.  Many of his students have distinguished themselves through local and regional awards and achieved positions in local and regional orchestras and bands such as St. Louis Youth Symphony Orchestra, St. Charles Youth Orchestra and Missouri All State Honor Band.   In addition, some of his students have received prestigious music scholarships at distinguished music colleges and universities such as Truman University, North-Western University, Yale University and Cleveland Institute of Music.  


Before moving to the United States in 1996, Ilya Litvin worked as a trumpet player with the Ukrainian Army Choir and Orchestra; the Gnessin’s Academy of Music Opera Studio, and the Moscow Brass Band. He received his Master’s Degree in Trumpet Performance from the Russian Academy of Music by Gnessin’s in Moscow and his Bachelor’s Degree in Trumpet Performance and Conducting from the Gnessin’s College of Music in Moscow. There, he studied with legendary trumpet player Timofey Dokshitzer , Vyacheslav  Prokopov  and Vladimir Shlepakov.


Ilya resides in St. Louis with his wife Alla Voskoboynikova, Director of Keyboard Studies at University of Missouri – St. Louis and their son, Boris.

Caroline Burton 

Harmony Road Instructor

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Caroline is currently a student at The University of Notre Dame pursuing a Bachelor's of Music with a concentration in Vocal Performance.  She plans to pursue a Master's in Music Education upon graduation.  Caroline was a student of West County School of Music for ten years, starting with the Harmony Road curriculum at the age of three and later studying with Yulia Rife, Sharon Kuhn and Jamie Graham Shaw.  In addition, she also studied Irish music for the past twelve years, and has qualified on several occasions to compete in the All Ireland "Fleadh"(the world championship of Irish Music) in flute, Irish Penny Whistle, vocals and band competitions.  We are thrilled to have her here with us!

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