Our Teachers

All of our teachers are passionate about music and the development of children.

They create a fun, informal, social setting that spurs engagement and supports each child's musical development. All teachers who teach for First Notes have completed teacher training with Music Together®, LLC  headquartered in Hopewell, New Jersey.

Karen Sloneker

Karen Sloneker, teacher/director, has been teaching music for many years in a dizzying array of circumstances for someone who didn't think she would enjoy teaching! Karen’s approach to teaching families in her Music Together classes rests on nurturing families as they claim the joys of making music, using music as a glue to build family experiences and memories. Modeling this joy is paramount in her family classes, along with a fundamental respect for both parents and children. This respect extends to her older students as she supports their learning and skill acquisition. Her goal is to help students to become problem solvers and strategic thinkers, building musical and personal skills at the same time. Her philosophy as a teacher is in line with her parenting approach - she embraces the concept of giving students “roots and wings,” leading them to be secure and confident people. She values her connections with students of all ages, from the youngest learners through adults. 


The Director of Music Together with First Notes, she plays second trumpet with the Pittsburgh Ballet and Opera Orchestras and has performed extensively throughout the Pittsburgh region with a variety of groups, including the Pittsburgh Brass Quintet, Mendelssohn and Bach Choirs, Westmoreland Symphony, and the Pittsburgh Symphony. A member of the faculty at the Rogers Middle School for the Arts (now CAPA 6-8) for 28 years, she also taught music at Carriage House Children’s Center in Squirrel Hill and is a member of the faculty at Hope Academy for Music and the Arts. She  spent many years teaching in the Music Departments of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Seton Hill College. She has taught a variety of classes during her career, including brass methods for music educators, music theory, music history, world music drumming, and piano lab, in addition to leading a variety of ensembles. She holds Music Together Certification Level I and Orff Level I Certification. She attended the World Music Drumming workshop with Will Schmid, acclaimed author of the widely used World Music Drumming Curriculum, has been a presenter at the Pittsburgh Association of Educators of Young Children annual conference on two occasions, and has led many workshops with early childhood educators on children's musical development. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and studied with Charles Hois, Charles Lirette, Roger Sherman, and the Empire Brass Quintet.