Our Arts & Culture Educators offer lots of great ways to enrich your life with Art & Culture.

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  • About the Collective

    The Daystar Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to building community around arts and culture. The Center’s Arts & Culture Collective allows for diverse educators, students, and friends to join in community and to promote arts and culture through private lessons and group classes in the facilities at 1550 South State Street. Together, the Collective seeks to promote the well being of members of the community who have few opportunities for learning, recreation, and enjoyment.

  • Chicago Film Club with Stephen Reginald

    Upcoming Screenings Click here for a full list. Calling all classic movie fans! If you love classic film and you love to see these classics on a big screen with others, this is the group for you.  Looking forward to meeting fellow classic film enthusiasts. Led by Stephen Reginald - Stephen is a freelance writer and editor. He has worked at various positions within the publishing industry for over 25 years. Most recently he was executive editor for McGraw-Hill’s The Learning Group Division. A long-time amateur student of film, Stephen hosts “Chicago Film Club” for the past three years. Stephen has also taught several adult education film classes at Facets Film School, Chicago. Check out Stephen's Classic Movie Man Blog. What makes it unique? It's a fun community of classic film fans where everyone's a critic and everyone's opinion matters. Viewing classic films helps us understand how the medium developed, who were the main players during Hollywood's Golden Age, and who were the people who influenced today's actors, directors, writers, and producers. To RSVP for an upcoming screening, click here.

  • Drums with Mike Podhaizer

    Mike Podhaizer (Percussion, Drum Set) Mike has been playing drums since age ten. During his school years he auditioned for and performed with the Vermont Youth Orchestra, the Vermont All State Band, and the All New England Orchestra. He has also performed with the Champlain Philharmonic, the Middlebury College Orchestra, the New York Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra, and the Bella Voce Women’s Chorus of Vermont (with whom he played live on Vermont Public Radio and on their 2007 album “Now Let Us Sing”). After graduating with an Economics degree and Physics minor from the University of Chicago, he taught English in South Korea where he formed the heavy metal band Erlang Kovata, whose 2014 album ‘Shattered’ was recently nominated for “Best Metal/Hardcore Album” at the Independent Music Awards. Since then Mike has turned back to his old hobby of composing, which allows him to utilize his own digitally produced tracks to aid in teaching percussion and drum set. What makes it unique? Diversity of Experience, Flexibility of Teaching Style, Customized Audio Practice Aids. When to take lessons? Afternoons and evenings Thursday through Sunday.  ***Electronic drum set on site for use during lessons!Complete the inquiry form here to be contacted by Mike.

  • Fine Arts with HamptonArts

    The Instructor: Luke Hampton


    I was always "good at art" from an early age. Drawing, painting, sculpting, photography, etc. I never found a medium or creative challenge I did not enjoy. Though, it was not until I was older that I better understood and appreciated the value of art making to provide self-discovery, develop a  creative process, and a means to explore and share our humanity.


    Art education was likewise a natural fit and calling. It allows me to stay active in the many artistic areas I enjoy, continue to discover new areas, and, through my instruction, lead students to their own valuable experiences with art making and their creative process.


    I gained teaching and cultural experience from students in the US and China, from kindergarten to college level, through art, technology, and ESL instruction, and various administrative roles. I stay engaged with the contemporary art world through research, venues, and being active as an art handler for my wife, Snow Yunxue Fu, a practicing internationally shown new media artist.


    After reflecting a great deal on my strengths, interests, and goals, I came to see private lesson instruction as a highly effective platform to accomplish my vision as an art educator, aiming to positively impact the lives of my students, teaching them to think critically and ask questions as they foster a creative lifestyle.


    Credentials and Experience


    HamptonArts Unique Qualities

    • Individualized instruction with collaborative course development
    • Create a course or join a current one
    • A wide verity of artistic areas to explore
    • Flexible class times
    • Group and One-on-one courses offered from 3rd to 12th grade
    • Portfolio Review for high school students"

    Learn More:

    • HamptonArtsChicago.com
    • Areas of Study
    • Registration and Admission
    • Tuition
  • Language Classes with Lango Chicago

    Thursdays & Saturdays

    Spanish for Preschoolers



    Must register in advance here.



  • Piano with Ellena Chen

    Ellena Chen, NCTM


    (Piano, Flute) - Ellena started her first piano lesson at the age of 3 and has loved piano ever since. At age 15, she enrolled in the National Taiwan Academy of Arts, a prestigious arts school for talented students, and majored in piano and flute performance. Having aspirations in both music performance and arts management, Ellena received her Bachelors degree in Music Business with a minor in Marketing and a Masters degree in Piano Performance from Southern Illinois University. She studied with Dr. Sook-Ryun Park and Dr. Wilfred Delphin. In addition, she later earned a Masters degree in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago.


    Ellena has performed with Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Southern Illinois Flute Choir, University Wind Ensemble, Altgeld Chamber Players, and various chamber ensembles as well as given solo recitals. Ellena is an accomplished collaborative artist, accompanying for MTNA National Collegiate Artist Competitions, Suzuki Institutes, and musical productions. Her awards include the Fred Denker Scholarship, Underwood Flute Scholarship, Chuck Suber Scholarship, National Academic Honors, and Scholastic Honors.


    Ellena has taught college music courses and has been teaching private lessons since 1994. She did her Suzuki method teacher training with Rita Hauck and Doris Koppelman and is certified to teach Suzuki piano method. Ellena is also National Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) certified by Music Teachers National Association (MTNA). She is a former faculty member of the Music Institute of Chicago and Sherwood Conservatory of Music at Columbia College Chicago.


    In addition to teaching, Ellena has planned and managed numerous arts events. She has organized the Great Wall International Composition Competition for the Chinese Fine Arts Society in Chicago, Piano Fests for Sherwood Conservatory of Music, piano concert series and Schubertiade festival for the PianoForte Foundation, International Music Competitions for the Barnett Family Foundation, and fundraising events for various not-for-profit and arts organizations.


    Ellena is an active member of the following professional music organizations: Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), Suzuki Association of Americas (SAA), National Guild of Piano Teachers, National Federation of Music Clubs, Illinois State Music Teachers Association, Chicago Area Music Teachers Association (CAMTA), and American Symphony Orchestra League.


    What's unique about it?

    1. Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) certified by Music Teachers National Association (MTNA)

    2. 20+ years of teaching experience                                                        3. Belief in building strong foundation for lifetime enjoyment of music

    4. Incorporation of different methods and game activities to enhance learning              5. Participation in local competitions and festivals


    When to take lessons? Ellena teaches Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 3pm to 7pm and  Saturdays from 9am to 4pm.

    Complete the inquiry form here to be contacted by Ellena.

  • Piano with Holly Kennedy

    Holly Kennedy

    (Piano) Holly has been teaching piano for over 17 years.  Her students have gone on to major in music, join performing groups, and simply enjoy playing for themselves. She opened South Loop Piano Lessons for beginning through advanced students of all ages who love music and are passionate about achieving their potential in music and life. Her students say that she is: "fun, funny, and energetic."  She adds, "….especially after a double espresso! We work hard, but enjoy laughing together!"


    Holly's specialties include: Suzuki Piano, Piano Technique, Early Childhood Music, Performance Preparation and Anxiety, Adult Piano.


    Her Certifications, Honors and Leadership include:

    Suzuki Piano - 4 certifications

    Music Learning Theory (MLT) - 3 certifications from GIML

    Music Together - Licensed Director

    3 Grants from Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) for studies in MLT and Jazz Improv

    Presentation in Rome, Italy on application of MLT to Piano Teaching

    President of MTNA Local Chapter

    Vice President of MTNA Local Chapter


    Influential teachers have included: Concert artist Pawel Chenchinski, Pedagoge Jane Tan, Technique specialist Seymour Fink and Chicago Blues teacher Erwin Helfer. Holly also had the opportunity to study with Seymour Bernstein in New York and a UK Blues Pianist Tim Richards.


    In addition to music, Holly draws from a competitive background in ballroom & latin dance, body building, and public speaking to help her students develop a healthy, relaxed piano technique,musical expressiveness, and performance skills.


    What makes it unique? Holly is a patient, kind teacher who encourages and challenges her students to become their best through daily practice, performing regularly, and participating in annual Piano Guild Exams.


    When to take lessons? Weekdays 3-6pm.

    Complete the inquiry form here to be contacted by Holly.

  • Piano, Violin, Voice, & Acting with Sheila Fortson

    Sheila Fortson


    (Piano, Violin, Voice, Acting) - With 16 years experience teaching music lessons and 10 years of vocal coaching, Sheila's qualifications include extensive work conducting large choirs, small choral groups, vocal coaching for soloists, performing for large audiences with violin, piano and voice as well as recording several choral albums.  Sheila has an undergraduate degree in piano and voice from Moody and a Master’s Degree from Columbia College in Interdisciplinary Art.   As a private music teacher she helps mold the lesson experience to each students' needs.  “Because I see music as an art form, I’ve learned to follow the rules of music while always looking for ways to blend in ideas of learning through other art forms," like teaching her young violin students how to waltz so that they can learn to feel the music as they play.  In addition to teaching music Sheila studied acting for 8 years in Chicago, Denver and New York and coaches local actors privately.  She works as an actor in the Chicagoland area and has been seen in several commercials, films and plays in Chicago, Denver and Florida.  Sheila is a member of Music Teachers National Association and Chicago Music Teachers Association.   She teaches piano and violin only in traditional method.


    When to take lessons? Monday-Friday only.

    Complete the inquiry form here to be contacted by Sheila.

  • Piano with Tatiana Sorokina


  • Piano & Violin with Lipeng Chen

    Lipeng Chen


    Lipeng Chen is an experienced music educator who has been teaching for over 19 years throughout her time in China and the USA. She teaches violin and piano students of all ages; from early childhood and preschool through college, adulthood, and senior citizens. Lipeng approach each student as a unique and promising artist. She helps each student set individual goals, then plan and prepare lesson materials tailored for what he or she intends to achieve. She encourages students to work hard, dream big, and enjoy the rewards of learning and performing music.


    In addition to regularly teaching many private students, she draws from a diverse and wide variety of teaching experiences outside of the classroom and music studio. She designed and performed educational concerts and presentations for the Chicago Public Schools as a leader in the MusiCorps String Ensemble with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago; led in the educational outreach program for the Muncie Symphony Orchestra; coached rehearsals and performances for the Chicago Youth Orchestra, Chicago Youth Music Festival, and Chicago All-City Youth Orchestra; led and coached string sectionals for the BSU Symphony Orchestra; and much more. Her teaching experience also reaches into higher education, having taught undergrad students—including violin performance majors, music education majors, music minors, and chamber music—as teaching assistant at Ball State University.


    Complete the inquiry form here to be contacted by Lipeng

  • Piano & Voice with Olivia Doig

    Olivia Doig

    (Voice, Piano) - Soprano and voice/piano instructor Olivia Doig has been performing musical theater and opera professionally in Chicago for the past 15 years. She holds a bachelors degree in vocal performance from Wheaton College and a masters degree in vocal performance from Florida State University, where she taught private voice lessons within the FSU musical theater department. As a teacher, Olivia strives to teach each of her students to sing with healthy practice and performance habits, to broaden their musical understanding by introducing them to new styles, and to help them gain confidence in their individuality through the discovery of their unique sound.


    What makes Olivia's instruction unique:

    1. A specific emphasis on monitoring and improving vocal health.

    2. In addition to preparing students for performance vocally, Olivia's performance experience gives her the ability to provide dramatic coaching for auditions and performances.

    3. Olivia has experience performing and teaching in multiple genres including pop, musical theater, and opera.

    4. She began performing professionally as a child, and thus is familiar with repertoire appropriate for children and encourages age-appropriate singing technique.

    5. She believe students respond best when given encouraging feedback and when the lesson environment feels like a warm safe space.


    Ideal Teaching Times: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday afternoon

    Complete the inquiry form here to be contacted by Olivia.



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 1550 S. State Street - Chicago, IL 60605 - Send us an email.