WeBop Faculty Bios

Ms. Goussy – Teacher

Pianist, vocalist, composer and dancer, Goussy Célestin has been with WeBop since 2013. “What I love most about WeBop is the connection I get to make not only with families, but also the connection I witness within families, with music and movement as the focal point.” Goussy is also mother to two young WeBoppers- a 6 year old  and a “threenager”, who occasionally allow their mom be a part of their band. Currently, Goussy is an artist fellow with The Field and is a recipient of The Field Leadership Fund Grant, in support of her current music and movement project, Ayiti Brass. For more info on Goussy, visit www.goussycelestin.com

Mr. Sam – Teacher

From the foothills of Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains, Sam Farnum moved to New York in 2012 to attend Fordham University. While working towards a B.A. in English literature and music studies, Sam performed in various pit orchestras, pep bands, and jazz combos with his French horn and guitar. During this time, Sam received instruction from superb musicians at both the Juilliard School and here at JALC, solidifying his love, appreciation, and understanding of jazz music.

Now turning what was once a fulfilling summer job teaching music classes into a career, Sam is currently finishing his M.Ed. in early childhood special education at Hunter College while teaching preschool. Apart from providing private guitar instruction to students of all ages, Sam performs regularly at venues throughout the city and also curates a storytelling podcast project based on music listening experiences called The Song Says.

Mr. Tim – Teacher 

A two-time alumnus and Outstanding Soloist award winner at the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Festival, Tim Sullivan was 17 when he first took the stage at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Joining the WeBop faculty in 2009, Tim has led WeBop performances and teacher trainings throughout the country and overseas, and serves as a lead contributor to the program’s curriculum development. “Kids and jazz musicians are alike in so many ways. Whether in a sandbox or performing on stage, we share a common bond in our desire to imagine, create, and play.”
An accomplished performer, Tim has worked with a wide array of artists including Aretha Franklin, numerous NEA Jazz Masters, legends of New Orleans jazz and funk, and more. Majoring in Jazz Saxophone, Tim is a graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts (B.M.) and University of New Orleans (M.M) most recently, Tim graduated from the Music Education program (Ed.M.) at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Learn more about Tim at www.iamwhatiamnotyet.com.

Ms. Sofia – Teacher 

Originally from Córdoba, Argentina, Sofia Tosello is a vocalist, composer, and music educator living in NYC for now 20 years. Ms. Tosello is regarded as a cherished voice in the vibrant scene of New York City artists who are redefining Latin American song. Jazz Times notes, “The next wave in Latin-American jazz may well begin with Tosello.” Sofia has been involved in early childhood education for the past 15 years working for organizations and educational programs such as Carnegie Hall, Musica Para Mi, Arts Connection, One World Arts, Bash The Trash, among others. “I love teaching music to young kids, I believe that music transforms them in such a positive way, it makes them find their own voices, their own personalities!”

Sofia studied at City College of New York and received her MFA in Music from the Queens College Aaron Copland School of Music. Sofia has performed with her own projects and with other artists in renowned venues and festivals throughout the United States, Asia and Latin America.

Ms. Hannah – Teacher


After nearly a decade as a traveling singer-songwriter and performer, vocalist Hannah Hickok turned her attentions from performance to education. Drawing upon a lifelong love of kids and music, she is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Music Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, where she studies the pedagogical philosophies that underly the WeBop program. “In my experience,” she says, “there is nothing more beautiful than a child’s natural love of music and the connections that love inspires.”

Mr. Adam – Accompanist

Adam Platt is a pianist, composer, and educator who has been involved with WeBop since 2007. Adam began playing piano at the age of four and released his first jazz trio album at the age of fourteen. He performs regularly around the New York area with his trio, AP3 as well as nationally and internationally with a many different artists ranging in styles. Whether it’s jazz, electronic, rock, or various world musics, Adam always keeps an open ear and brings the ever evolving influences into his improvisations. Adam’s favorite aspect of WeBop is seeing how jazz can bring people of all ages and backgrounds together in a joyous celebration of community and individual expression.

Mr. Brad – Accompanist

Brad Whiteley is a New York City based pianist, organist, and keyboardist.  His debut jazz album “Pathless Land” was recently released on Destiny Records to rave reviews including 4 stars and an editor’s pick in Downbeat magazine. Brad has performed and recorded with many notable artists, including pop artists Regina Spektor and David Byrne and jazz artists KellyLee Evans, David Liebman, Lionel Loueke, and Grace Kelly. His television appearances include The Colbert Report, Letterman, and Leno. Brad recently composed music for, and appears in, the PBS Learning Matters show “School Sleuth.” He has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, the Sydney Opera House, The Beacon Theater, and jazz clubs including Smalls, The 55 Bar, Smoke, and The Jazz Gallery.  He received a Masters Degree from the Indiana University School of Music with further studies at the Mancini Institute in LA, The Banff Centre, and the Aspen Music Festival.

Ms. Caili – Accompanist

Caili O’Doherty, a native of Portland, Oregon, currently resides in New York City, has received national awards for jazz piano performance and composition from Downbeat Magazine, as well as an ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer award. She has performed with various jazz groups at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Kimmel Center, Panama Jazz Festival, Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, and UNESCO First International Jazz Day, as well as two US State Dept. supported tours to Colombia and Togo, and Benin in West Africa. Her 2015 debut album, Padme, was named NPR’s best debut jazz album and selected as a Downbeat Magazine Editor’s Pick. Caili has been a piano accompanist for WeBop for three years and teaches private piano lessons to many WeBop alumni. One of her favorite things about the program is watching the students grow, from first being exposed to jazz music in the classes and then learning to apply what they learn on an instrument.

Ms. Mika – Accompanist

Pianist and composer, Mika Nishimura was born and raised in Nagano, Japan. She started classical piano at age three. Having completed her studies at Tokyo University of the Arts High School for composition, she received a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston where she graduated with Performance Bachelor’s Degree. Mika was selected for the prestigious piano spot at the International Association for Jazz Education Sister’s in Jazz in 2007. They took her music throughout U.S. and South America where they performed with extraordinary trumpet player Ingrid Jensen and held clinics for young children. Soon after, she performed with her quartet to play her original music at Monterey Jazz Festival in Monterey, CA. Mika has also performed in various venues such as the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Apollo Theatre, Symphony Space, Harlem Stage, the United Nations and at the US open Tennis Championships in NY.

Mika has been part of the WeBop faculty since 2008 with great joy and enthusiasm.

Mr. Zach – Accompanist

A native of Vancouver, Washington, Zach Lapidus is a pianist, composer, and teacher currently based in Brooklyn, NY. A graduate of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, Zach studied jazz under pianist Luke Gillespie and David Baker. Zach completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Studies in 2008, and was awarded a Performer’s Certificate, the highest undergraduate honor. He was also awarded a fellowship at Ravinia’s Steans Institute for Young Artists, where he studied with Rufus Reid and James Moody. Most recently, he was named as one of five finalists for the American Pianists Association’s 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards. He was also selected as a finalist for their 2011 competition as well. His playing has been featured on broadcasts of NPR’s Jazz Set with Dee Dee Bridgewater and Morning Edition, as well as on Voice of America and WBGO. Among other musicians, he has performed with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wycliffe Gordon, Claudio Roditi, Rich Perry, Corey Christiansen, Bobby Watson, Derrick Gardner, Jon Irabagon, Ralph Bowen and Billy Drummond.

Mr. Dave – Accompanist

Dave Drake is a Jazz Pianist & Vocalist who moved to NYC from the UK in 2013. He received a full scholarship to study at the New School, a prestigious Jazz Program based in Lower Manhattan. (Fellow alumni include Brad Mehldau, Robert Glasper, Walter Blanding) Dave has always had a passion for creating varieties of moods & joys through improvising, and this is a great asset to being a part of WeBop as an accompanist.

Dave performs and tours with his own group “Dave Drake & Common Ground” as well as having performed alongside Theo Croker, Andrew Cyrille, Vic Juris, Seamus Blake, Dayna Stephens, Dave Glasser, Will Vinson, Lionel Loueke & others. As well as performing, Dave also works as a film composer, having composed for commercials + short films. Dave released his solo piano debut album “Live at Sussex University” in 2018.”