Piano Teachers | The Music Shoppe of Normal

Learning to play piano is one of the most rewarding experiences for musicians of any age. Our teachers begin students from 5 to 105, and they teach a wide range of ability levels. Whether it’s your first time playing the piano or you are looking to take your playing to the next level, we have the teachers to help!

If you would like more information, please use the contact form to get started.

Robert Nakea
Piano Lessons

Robert teaches piano at The Music ShoppeRobert Nakea is originally from Hawaii. He started learning piano at age six, and by age 15 made his solo debut with the Honolulu Symphony. He is a two-time laureate of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition (1988 and 1994), and was the winner of the Joseph Fisch International Piano Competition in 1986.  He has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe, performing in such venues as the Bergen International Music Festival in Norway, the Eisteddfod Festival of Wales, and Operafestival di Roma.  An active concert pianist, Mr. Nakea enjoys teaching young musicians of all skill levels, instilling in them a love for music and for the instrument.

Afrim Shabani
Piano Lessons

Afrim teaches piano and compositionFaculty member at Illinois State University and Heartland Community College, member of the American Composers Forum.

Sarah Strand
Piano Lessons

Sarah teaches beginning pianoSarah has a Bachelor’s of Music Education degree from Illinois State University where she graduated with departmental honors.

Along with teaching piano for 30  years, Sarah has also taught high school choirs and music appreciation classes.  Sarah comes from a very musical family and herself has enjoyed playing piano since the age of 5.  Sarah’s specialty is teaching children of all ages and being able to share the world of music with them.

Sarah Idleman
Piano Lessons

Sarah has been playing music her whole life!

A mother of 2 boys, she holds of Bachelor of Science in Music Business from Illinois State University. She has studied percussion, piano and voice at the colligate level. Sarah has been working with children professionally for over 15 years and has specialized education and experience working with “children from hard places.”

In addition to her extensive musical training she is trained in Therapeutic Relational Intervention (Texas Christian University), Therapeutic Crisis Intervention ( Cornell University), as well as Love and Logic. Sarah has worked in many fields to strengthen families, in the roll of ministry leadership, family therapist and in-home consultation.

Sarah believes that music builds brain connections, strengthens confidence, builds communication skills and fosters resiliency in both children and adults.

Jennifer Booker-Smith
Piano Lessons

Jennifer Booker-Smith teaches piano lessons at The Music Shoppe of Normal.I have over 15 years experience teaching students from ages 5 – high school. I am a member of Orpheus Club, (the Bloomington/Normal chapter of the National Federation of Music Clubs), the Peoria Area Music Teachers Association, and the Music Teachers National Association. I enjoy playing keys in the worship band of a local church, and also play keys and sing with a local cover band. I also dabble in guitar and bass.

I really enjoy encouraging my students to pursue their own interests. Some students love to compose and create their own pieces, some love classical, others prefer hymns or popular tunes. Whatever the case, I try to teach in a way so that they will develop a life-long love of piano and music, and that they will be able to continue teaching themselves as they grow.

I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Illinois State University in 1994, graduating Magna Cum Laude and with University Honors. I earned my teacher certification from University of Houston, Clear Lake in 2000. In addition to teaching piano, I have taught art in public schools for 5 years, and Spanish for 2 years.

As for my family, I am mom to Calder, Christina, and Feifer.

Heidi Brooks
Piano Lessons

Heidi Brooks teaches piano lessons at The Music Shoppe of NormalHeidi Brooks began studying piano at age six and by 16, gave her first solo recital at COFAC hall at Western Illinois University. In 2008 she earned a B.M. in Piano Performance from W.I.U. Heidi continued her piano education in 2009 studying briefly with Stefan Kutrzeba in Rzeszow, Poland. Under Kurtzeba’s continued tutelage Heidi now teaches piano according to the revolutionary Chopin Method.

Heidi worked as accompanist for Rami Solomonow’s viola studio at DePaul University in Chicago from 2008 to 2009 and more recently accompanied at Illinois Wesleyan University from 2014 to 2017. Currently she is a stay at home mother to her three children and organist at St. Matthew’s Church.

Since 2007, Heidi has built vibrant piano studios in the various places she’s lived. Heidi has taught successful students in Macomb, Lincoln, Chicago and the Chicagoland area.