MusicFirst Staff

The MusicFirst team is made up of current and former music educators with decades of experience with integrating technology effectively into the music curriculum. Our staff is always available to answer any questions you may have, and can train you on how to implement any music technology tool into your teaching.

Michael Avery

Senior Product Manager

Dr. Keith Dye

Education Manager

Dr. James Frankel

Director, MusicFirst

Michael Avery

Michael Avery has 20 years experience as designer and producer of Education software. His work has received awards in many countries, including New Zealand, the USA, Switzerland and the UK, where has been a winner of the prestigious BETT award for best Educational software, content and tools.

Originally from New Zealand, Michael’s academic background is in Composition, Music Education and English Literature.

While lecturing in Audio and Music technology in Asia in the mid-nineties, he began creating electronic resources for his own teaching and for his students. Fellow educators were soon asking for software to enrich their music learning programmes. “I always did my best to listen to what music educators were asking for,” says Michael, “and that’s why I believe the software became so popular.”

Michael has since worked throughout North America and Europe, creating a suite of music education software titles. These included Sibelius Starclass, Instruments, Compass and Groovy Music, the latter of which he redeveloped as a Cloud based product for MusicFirst. More recently, he has driven the development of numerous Apps for MusicFirst, including MusicFirst Junior, several iOS Apps, and numerous integrations with external software tools and MusicFirst platforms.

Based in Berlin, Germany, Michael is a father, a producer of jazz and contemporary music. He loves travelling to exotic places with his family to enjoy the food, outdoor pursuits, music and arts of other cultures.

Dr. Keith Dye

Dr. Keith Dye is Associate Dean of Undergraduate and Curricular Issues for the College of Visual & Performing Arts and Professor of Music Education in the School of Music at Texas Tech University. He holds the Doctor of Education in College Teaching of Music from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY, a Master of Arts in Music Education from West Texas State University, Canyon, TX and the Bachelor of Music Education from Morningside College, Sioux City, IA. Dr. Dye's primary areas of research interest are music educator preparation and best practices and the effective use of desktop videoconferencing in delivery of music instruction. He has been published in leading journals and regularly presents nationally on these topics.

Dr. Dye is the current President of the Texas Music Education Association (TMEA), the world’s largest music education organization with over 12,000 members. In this capacity he serves on the Executive Board of TMEA and contributes a monthly column to Southwestern Musician.

At Texas Tech University, Dr. Dye teaches undergraduate classes in Band Techniques of Instruction and Brass Instructional Methods. On the graduate level, Dr. Dye teaches the Band Director Workshops, Applications of Technology in Music Education, Psychology in Music, Instrumental Rehearsal Analysis, and Teaching Music in College. Formerly, Dr. Dye was Assistant Director of Bands working with all aspects of the athletic and concert band activities at TTU.

Dr. Dye serves as an instructional consultant to school districts across Texas. Formerly a public school band director, he has more than 35 years of successful experience with groups on all levels of instruction. Dr. Dye's ensembles have earned numerous awards and a reputation for a consistently high level of musical excellence. He has presented clinics on instrumental music education techniques and strategies at state and national conventions and served as conductor of various regional and all-state ensembles.

Dr. James Frankel

Dr Jim Frankel is the Head of Digital Education for the Music Sales Group, and Director of MusicFirst. Previously, he was the Managing Director of SoundTree, and before that he was the instrumental and general music teacher for 15 years in New Jersey Public Schools. Jim is a widely published author in various state, national and international journals of music education. He is the author of The Teachers Guide to Music, Media & Copyright Law, co-author of YouTube in Music Education, contributing author for Critical Issues in Music Education and co-author of Making Music with GarageBand & Mixcraft. In addition to his writing, Jim is a highly sought-after clinician and keynote speaker in the local, national and international music education community. He is on the Board of Directors for TI:ME and is the past president of ATMI.

Robin Hodson

Education Manager

Joanna Huang

Asia/Pacific Regions Accounts Manager

Marjorie LoPresti

Digital Content Manager

Robin Hodson

Robin comes from a musical family; his Grandfather founded a Symphony Orchestra and Music Conservatory in Zimbabwe, and his Mother taught music for 50 years. An accomplished composer and performer, working in a variety of differing genres, he is also a recording engineer, songwriter and arranger. Robin received a Masters Degree at Magdalen College, Oxford, specializing in choral music. He moved to the US in 1999 and is now a US citizen.

He was with Sibelius/Avid for thirteen years, followed by three years with SoundTree. During that time, he became a well-known clinician, trainer and salesman for a wide variety of world class music software and technology products. He joined Jim Frankel and an accomplished team of people to start MusicFirst in 2012, bringing cloud-based music software to schools around the world.

He has authored many free guides/videos on how to use and learn all kinds of music software, and he has created a curriculum (published by Hal Leonard) for using Pro Tools in Music Education. He was also a joint author for the book/DVD/curriculum entitled Making Music with GarageBand & Mixcraft.

Joanna Huang

Joanna Huang is the Asia/Pacific Regions Accounts Manager for Music First. She is passionate about technology integration for music education, and her teaching experiences and knowledge of school systems in Asia brings her to join Music First.

Born in Chicago and raised in Taiwan, Joanna completed a dual degree in Music Education and Germanic Studies from Indiana University Bloomington and a master’s degree in Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her teaching experiences range from elementary to high school orchestra, band, choir, and music theory.

Outside of teaching, Joanna enjoys playing in chamber performances and off-Broadway shows as pianist or violinist.

Marjorie LoPresti

Marjorie LoPresti is Digital Content Manager for MusicFirst. She has over twenty-five years experience teaching elementary and secondary general/vocal music, piano, music technology, theory, and composition.

Marj was a pioneer in the use of technology to support music instruction, assessment, and creativity in the nationally recognized East Brunswick Public Schools. A frequent workshop presenter, Marj leads technology sessions for musicians and for the wider educational community. She has extensive experience in curriculum development, instructional design, and standards-based assessment.

Marj holds a Bachelor of Music and an M.S. in Educational Technology, serves as NJMEA Technology Chair, and is honored to have been named NJMEA Master Music Teacher and TI:ME Music Technology Teacher of the Year.

Larry Marchese

Education Manager

Julianna Mateyko

Director of Support and Training

Mike Olander

Education Manager

Larry Marchese

Larry Marchese has been using music technology since 1978 and has extensive experience in all areas of Music Technology. He has provided hundreds of technology clinics and worked with schools across the USA.

In addition to four years as music educator, Larry has worked for Peavey Electronics, Passport Software, Sibelius Software, Avid Technology, and MakeMusic.

Larry’s musical activities include playing oboe (and percussion) for the Cedar Creek Community Band (Nashville, TN) and Boulder Concert Band (Boulder, CO).

Julianna Mateyko

Julianna Mateyko is the Director of Support and Training for MusicFirst. Born in Southern Maine, she completed a bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Syracuse University and a master’s degree in Music Education at New York University. Julianna’s teaching experiences range from first grade general music to high school marching band with much in between. As a researcher, she focused her energy on community in the music classroom. She believes strongly in the integration of technology in the classroom and knows it can be used in a variety of ways to support community during and after school hours. As a classical saxophonist, Julianna enjoys playing in ensembles of varying sizes and specifically loves saxophones in consort. Other interests include arranging Beethoven symphonies and music education philosophy.

Mike Olander

Mike Olander joined the MusicFirst team in August 2017 as an Education Manager. For two decades, he has partnered with schools across the country as a trusted advisor for music programs and technology implementations, working for Wenger Corporation, MakeMusic, Music Prodigy, JAMF Software, and Edmentum.

As he leads the New Orleans-style Jack Brass Band, plays in his community band, and volunteers as truck driver and “pit crew” for the High School Marching Band, music is clearly his passion.

Jason Panucci

Education Manager

Richard Payne

Education Sales & Marketing – UK

Bradley Smith

Project Manager

Richard Payne

Richard Payne has worked in the Music Education Industry for 13 years with experience including music technology training, software product management, music technology reselling into education, and music publishing.

His previous roles working for Sibelius & latterly Avid Technology involved running inset days for both classroom and instrumental teachers as well as presenting regularly at shows such as BETT and other educational music conferences introducing Sibelius and other Primary and Secondary music software products to promote best practice use of music technology in schools.

Richard is now responsible for managing MusicFirst in the UK as well as the Sales and Marketing for Musicroom.com and Rhinegold Education.

Richard studied at Bristol University gaining a BA (Hons) in Music specialising in composition. He is now a published composer, pianist and trumpet player, involved in local orchestras and groups around London.

Bradley Smith

Bradley Smith is the Project Manager for MusicFirst. Bradley worked as Technical Support Specialist and Market Development Manager for SoundTree, educational division of Korg USA, Inc before joining the MusicFirst team. In addition to his work in Music Technology in education he also worked as music director for the past two years at his church in Pittsburgh, PA. He holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Music in Music Technology & Performance from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.

Jason Panucci

Jason is the National Sales Manager for MusicFirst. With over a decade of music technology experience, Jason has served the educational market as a consultant and trainer for schools wishing to integrate technology into their music programs. Jason earned his degree in Music Business from State University of New York, College at Oneonta.

"What inspires me are the teachers in the music classroom, working very hard to cultivate a classroom filled with music lovers - and not necessarily musicians. This alone drives my passion to educate teachers and help support their mission to offer the most engaging classroom experience possible."

Roger Williams

Director of Sales and Marketing

Roger Williams

Roger Williams is the Director of Sales and Marketing for MusicFirst. Previously, he was the Sales Director for MakeMusic, driving sales of Finale and SmartMusic world-wide. Before that time, he taught instrumental and general music in multiple public schools in Minnesota. For 15 years he was music director of a large local church choir and orchestra and for 17 years was the founding director of an internationally acclaimed men’s barbershop a capella chorus, the Great Northern Union.

In his early years, he played trumpet and was a vocalist in stage shows at Valleyfair Theme Park in Shakopee, MN. He has served as a clinician and on the faculty at the Barbershop Harmony Society’s Director’s College and on the Board of Directors for TI:ME. On days off, he enjoys woodworking, hiking and photography.