Elena Smirnova, Founder and ChAIRMAN
Born in Moscow and raised in Boulder, Elena's talent and ambition at the piano have carried her on an adventure that includes an orchestral debut at 17 years old, summa cum laude and magna cum laude degrees from the University of Colorado and the Manhattan School of Music, a coveted residency in Madrid with legendary pianist and former Juilliard Faculty Oxana Yablonskaya, performances at Carnegie Hall in 2008, 2009, and 2011, and a delightful array of outstanding students in New York City.
But her gifts don't end at the piano - she danced classical ballet for 16 years, having appeared on stage in productions like The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, and she won a State Championship in Tennis while still in High School. Today, she is also a very successful real estate agent in the shark-filled island of Manhattan, and in her free time she enjoys reading, painting, exploring New York's restaurants, and playing with her cats.
Abdiel Vazquez, Founder and Chief EXECUTIVE OFFICER
A seasoned concert pianist and rising orchestral conductor, Abdiel's upbringing in the industrial city of Monterrey, Mexico was anything but unusual until he decided to leave his career as an Engineer and focus full time on his instrument, a decision that brought him First Prizes in his country's major piano competitions and a National Youth Award from hands of the President. He then went on to tour the whole world, having performed in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Most recently he had a successful Carnegie Hall debut and became the winner of The World Competition.
Balancing an active concert career with overseeing long-term growth projects for Little Chopins, Abdiel still has some spare time to read anything from Shakespeare to Bloomberg Businessweek and to watch his favorite movies at New York's IFC Center. You can read more about him in his official website.
CLAUDIA MORGAN, CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
Claudia is a multi-talented artist and entrepreneur that joined the Little Chopins team the summer of 2017. She is a native of Monterrey, Mexico, where she obtained a bachelor's degree in Psychology and also studied contemporary dance. She later became a widely successful salsa dancer, winning competitions, teaching, and performing professionally in Mexico, the U.S., Japan, Hungary, Ireland, France, Curacao, Canada, Spain, and Estonia.
She founded her own company, Solseras, which now has branches in Monterrey, Mexico; Portland, Oregon; Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and most recently New York City. In Milwaukee she was also a successful TV host for Mundo Fox. Since moving to New York City in August of 2016, Claudia has been teaching Spanish at The Acting Studio, Spanish BlackBelt, and Casita de Arte, and is also delving successfully in the world of real estate.
Little Chopins was founded in 2012 on the principle that all children are born with a potential for artistic expression that needs to be nurtured and brought out from an early age in order to flourish. Our modern and dynamic music lessons are complemented with fun and creative enriching activities that inspire children to approach the fine arts in an imaginative way – all in the comfort of your own home, or a mentor’s studio. We have also expanded our reach to offer drama lessons, group music classes, group drama classes, and music or drama lessons to adults.
At Little Chopins we believe that having a well-rounded musical education means having knowledge of the arts. Learning the notes is not enough - music is so much more than that! There is character, color, form, language, style, and so many other qualities that can only be understood when one has been in contact with other means of expression. Our mentors guide their students through the exploration of all these means, finding coincidences and analogies with the music through fun and creative exercises. In addition, children will listen to and watch, with their mentor’s guidance, the recorded legacy of great performers, an inspiring activity that is sure to motivate them.
We have a strong conviction that every family needs to have their kids grow up in a culturally nourishing environment with lessons that are fun and speak to them in a language that is easily understandable in order to capture their attention and give them the confidence to develop their own imagination. This idea inspired us to create Little Chopins.
The vision of Little Chopins is to give every child the essential tools and confidence to find their own means of self-expression through music and the arts, improve their memory, language, and reasoning skills, make their minds bursting with creativity, and instill a love for the arts that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
We look forward to having you and your child become part of our program!