Kenji Higashihama - Piano Instructor

Kenji is a native of Detroit, MI where he grew up singing and playing gospel music. Throughout his career he has had the privilege of music directing a number of shows and groups in Michigan, Illinois, Hawai’i, and California, Hope Galas for the American Cancer Society, assistant music directing for a national tour of The Music Man, and working with wonderful talent from Broadway’s Wicked, Newsies, and Phantom of the Opera. He did his undergraduate studies in music at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and holds certification in Chinese-Mandarin from the Defense Language Institute. He has been at TRIS since 2014.


Tim Vaughan – Drum Set Instructor

Tim was born in Buckinghamshire, England. Tim Vaughan studied drum set with George Marsh at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and went on to perform with both local and national acts, in jazz and blues festivals, at venues including the LA Greek The­ater, the Santa Bar­bara Bowl, and The Warfield Theatre. In the 1990s, he began teaching drums and has found it to be the truly joy-filled part of his life. He had the honor of serving as drum coach for “We’re the Superhumans,” an inspirational trailer for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In addition to giving private drum set lessons, he has taught group classes for the National Guitar Summer Workshop, and, as the snare drummer for the famed Green Street Marching Band, has reached out to and mentored several local high school drum sections. He has played in numerous theatrical productions throughout the Bay Area, including the long-running Avenue Q at the New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco. He has been teaching at TRIS since February 2010.


Emanuela Nikiforova - Violin Instructor                                                                                                       

Emanuela was born in Varna, Bulgaria. She graduated from music middle and high schools in Varna and Sofia, Bulgaria. She has a Pedagogy diploma from the International Menuhin  Music Academy in Switzerland, a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Music Performance from LSU, Baton Rouge, and The San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Emanuela is a member of the Oakland, Berkeley, Marin, Santa Rosa and Silicon Valley Symphony orchestras, and a music director of the formation Antika Slavic Strings. In her spare time, she likes to be outdoors, do yoga, and, teach violin! Emanuela started teaching at TRIS in January of 2014.


Cathy DeVos — Flute Instructor

Cathy DeVos is a native of St. Louis, MO and received a bachelor’s in music edu­ca­tion from the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­souri at St. Louis. She moved to San Fran­cisco in 1981 to study for her master’s in flute per­for­mance at the San Fran­cisco Con­ser­va­tory of Music. She has been an instru­men­tal music teacher in the Pied­mont Uni­fied School Dis­trict for 28 years and is cur­rently the orches­tra direc­tor for stu­dents in 4th-​12th grade. She is a mem­ber of the Holy Names Orches­tra and teaches flute in the Prepara­tory Music Depart­ment at Holy Names University.


Thomas Griesser — Sax­o­phone & Clar­inet Instructor

Tom Griesser grad­u­ated from Stan­ford with a Bach­e­lor of Arts degree in Polit­i­cal Sci­ence in 1989. Since then, he has been a pro­fes­sional musi­cian for 20 years, per­form­ing with groups such as the Mar­cus Shelby Jazz Orches­tra, Brass Mon­key Brass Band, and the New Morty Show. His pri­vate teach­ers were Richard Joiner on clar­inet and Art Bou­ton and Hal Stein on sax­o­phone. Cur­rently, Tom per­forms in a vari­ety of groups around the Bay Area. Tom started at TRIS in 2014.