top of page


Our mission is to inspire and advocate for the creative potential in all learners and to provide professional development for music educators in the Southern New England region. We have recently been able to expand our professional development offerings to teachers across the United States and globally, which has deeply enriched the fabric of our chapter.

Our chapter was founded in 1972, fifty years ago by a group of dedicated Orff inspired music teachers. We have grown into a dynamic chapter, inspiring a new generation of passionate music educators locally and internationally.

            For information about our fabulous 2022-2023 season, please see our “Workshops Page”

Black Lives Matter

CTAOSA firmly stands with Black Lives Matter and against racism.  We resolutely denounce the injustices imposed on our black communities.  We acknowledge the deep and enduring contributions that Black people have made to American music, and it is our responsibility to ensure that musical materials are being presented within a cultural context.  We are obligated to go beyond simply teaching music and movement, and we commit to evaluating our educational programs and practices to dismantle racial injustice.

We vow to work together as educators, on behalf of children, families, and communities, to open our hearts and begin to move the mountain of inequity.  We will actively reflect on our past practices and acknowledge our shortcomings.  We will learn, grow, adapt, and share.  To accomplish this, we commit to broadening representation through our:

  • Clinicians

  • CTAOSA Board Members

  • General Membership

  • Repertoire

  • Cultural teaching approach

To quote the great Avon Gillespie, “In Orff Schulwerk, nothing is ever finished.”  We have work to do.

Board Members

Screen Shot 2022-06-28 at 2.03.24 PM.png
Screen Shot 2022-06-28 at 2.09.37 PM.png
Colleen CN.jpeg
Matilda Bio.jpeg
Rachel Gibson.jpeg
JCV_bio pic.jpg
Sax headshot.jpg

President: Magda O'Brien

Magdalena O’Brien is thrilled to serve as the President of CTAOSA for the 2022-2024 term, and is extra excited to be leading this great organization into its fiftieth year! Inspired by her Elementary Music Methods professor at Western Connecticut State University, Dr. Wesley Ball, she has been an active member in the organization since she began teaching in 2012.Since then,  she has been a member-at-large, media secretary, and Vice-President. Magda completed Orff Level 1 training at the Hartt School of Music, studying with Meg Tietz, Ashley Woodside-Brown, and Julie Blakeslee. The Orff-Schulwerk has deeply influenced her teaching, and every unit she has designed for her students has been touched by some element of the workshops and conferences she has attended. She was initially attracted to the Orff approach because of its focus on creation, improvisation, movement, and its ability to reach the whole child. Much of Magda’s research for her Master’s Degree in Multiple Intelligences (University of St. Joseph) focused on this.


Magda currently teaches K-3 general music in Rocky Hill. She resides in South Windsor with her husband (also a music teacher!), son, and two cats. When she is not working, she enjoys musical theatre, ballroom dancing, reading, crafting, and playing make-believe with her son. 

Vice President: Anna Cairnduff

Anna Cairnduff has been the vocal general music teacher in East Hartford at O’Connell Elementary School for twenty years.  She also taught at Norris Elementary School in East Hartford for ten years.  Mrs. Cairnduff has a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Central Conn. State University and a Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory in Boston.  She has her Orff Level I from CCSU and her Kodaly Level I from the University of Hartford.  Mrs. Cairnduff serves on the Executive Boards of the Connecticut Chapter of American Orff-Schulwerk Association, East Hartford Summer Youth Festival and the New England Chamber Choir.  She was named O’Connell School’s Teacher of the Year in 2007.

Past President: Alice Unschuld

Treasurer: Nicole Ferrall

Nicole Ferrall has been teaching general music to students in grades Pre-K through 5 in Southington, CT for the past five years and is currently in her tenth year of teaching music. She graduated from UConn in 2009 with a B.A./B.S. in Music Education and is currently working towards getting her Masters in Music Education from CCSU. She has been a member of CTAOSA for the past two years and recently presented at the Chapter Share session. Nicole resides in Middletown with her husband, three children, and two cats. She enjoys spending time with family, singing in an all-female a cappella group, and traveling. 


Membership Secretary: Jennifer Thiemann

Jennifer Thiemann is an elementary music specialist. She has over twelve years of experience teaching general and instrumental music in public schools in New York and Connecticut, grades Pre-K through grade 8. Jen has most recently taught in the Wilton and Westport Public School Districts, and she will be joining the music faculty at New Canaan Country School in Fall 2022. Jen completed her Orff Level 3 in Portland, Oregon and has studied pedagogy with Michael Chandler, Don Dupont, Brian Hiller, Roger Sams, and Katie Traxler.    

Recording Secretary: Giselle Ziegler

Giselle Ziegler has been a PK-6 music educator at Webb Elementary in Wethersfield for the past ten years and has been a CTAOSA member throughout this time. She is certified in World Music Pedagogy and attended JaSeSoi Ry's World Music Village in Finland for Orff training. Giselle holds a B.S. & an M.S. from CCSU and a sixth year degree from UConn. She looks forward to contributing as a CTAOSA board member!

Media Secretary: Emily McMinn

Emily McMinn has been a member of CTAOSA for the past 17 years and has assumed various roles as vice president, president and media secretary. She has completed Orff Levels I and II. Mrs. McMinn received her B.S. and M.S. in Music Education from Western Connecticut State University. For the past 8 years, Mrs. McMinn has taught general music to students in grades K - 5 in Stonington, CT. She is currently in her 18th year of teaching. When she is not in the classroom, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter in Norwich, CT. 


Colleen Casey-Nelson

Colleen Casey-Nelson is rooted in a curiosity for learning and sharing music from a global perspective. Her teaching arc ranges from elementary through graduate levels. A Montessori Music Guide, Colleen teaches grades 1-9 at the Montessori School of Greater Hartford. As an adjunct professor at Central Connecticut State University, Colleen teaches courses in World Music, Arts Integrations, and Music Education. Presentations span regional and national conferences, including AOSA, OAKE,  and NAfME.

 Matilda Giampietro

Matilda Giampietro, Ph.D. is Music Director, Teacher, Choral Director and Specialists Coordinator at Washington Montessori School, New Preston CT.  She holds Orff Schulwerk Levels I and II certification. She has written Montessori Music & Movement Teacher Training syllabi for courses in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hanoi, and Washington Montessori. She taught the music course at CMTE for 15 years.  Matilda performs as a soprano with Wykeham Consort and made 4 albums. She serves on CTAOSA board.

James Allen

 Rachel Gibson

Dr. Rachel Gibson is a Professor of Music at Westfield State University in Massachusetts, coordinator of music education, and an active local, national, and international clinician. Her book ¡Canta Conmigo! Songs and Singing Games from Guatemala and Nicaragua (Oxford University Press, 2021) is a comprehensive teaching resource that includes songs and singing games she learned while living in Central America. As a Fulbright Global Scholar (2021), she taught and researched at Universidad de Málaga in Spain and travelled throughout the country learning children’s songs from local musicians. Dr. Gibson is president of Kodály Educators of Southern New England (KESNE), member-at-large for Connecticut American Orff-Schulwerk Association (CTAOSA), serves on the Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE) National Board of Directors, and on summer faculty at the University of Montevallo Kodály Institute in Alabama (UMKI). Prior to her current position, she taught K-6 general and choral music for 15 years in New York, Connecticut, and Washington State and maintained a piano studio where she taught lessons to children and adults.


Colleen Sprague Bretthauer

Colleen Sprague Bretthauer is a PreK-2nd grade general music teacher at Colchester Elementary School, Colchester, CT. Formerly she taught Music and Movement in Early

Childhood at Capital Community College, Hartford, CT and was a Certification Level I

teacher in Music Together. She began her career directing vocal groups at Rivier

University and as a high school choral director at Enfield and Fermi High Schools,

Enfield, CT, followed by K-5 general music in Glastonbury Public Schools. In addition to this, she spent 15 years as Coordinator of the Summer Music Institute at Central Connecticut State University. She holds a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire, Post-B.A. Certification in Music Education and a M.S. from Central Connecticut State University. She has presented to classroom and general music teachers since 2003 including the Vermont and Connecticut Music Educators Association(s), two International Conferences for the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association, Stamford Public Schools, Head Start of Manchester, Colchester and Meridan, CT, and St. Joseph University’s Math and Science Symposium (Music, Math and Movement, Oh My!/Singin’ and Swingin’ Into Science). Through music integration she connects to classroom transitions, developing creative ways to integrate math, science, reading, music and movement for the elementary classroom teacher. Her philosophy is “teach all children all subjects through joyful, developmentally appropriate practices.”

 Juliana Cantarelli Vita

Juliana Cantarelli Vita is Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School. Blending her interests in music education and ethnomusicology, she has published widely on children’s musical cultures, community music, world music pedagogy, and feminist spaces for music-making. She serves on the editorial board of The Orff Echo. Prior to teaching in academic spaces, Juliana was a K-7 general music teacher for a decade, both in Brazil and the United States.


She has given keynote addresses and has been a guest speaker at a number of selected universities and conferences around the world. She is the recipient of the Elizabeth May (Slater) Award from the Society for Ethnomusicology, and was nominated for the 2021 Distinguished Dissertation Award at the University of Washington. As a clinician, she has given workshops in the United States, Abya Yala/Latin America, and Europe. Juliana Cantarelli Vita earned her Ph.D. in Music Education with an emphasis in Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington, and has been part of the Smithsonian Folkways Certificate Course in World Music Pedagogy at West Virginia University, University of Washington, and directs the recently-launched course at The Hartt School.

Website Manager: Emily Lombardo

Emily is a general music and chorus teacher at Har-Bur Middle School in Region 10 Schools, Burlington, CT. She graduated from Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH with a Bachelor's degree in Music Education and a minor in Spanish. On weekends, she serves as the music director and organist at the Congregational Church of Burlington, CT. She enjoys cooking, being outdoors, and playing gigs on saxophone, flute, clarinet, guitar and piano.

bottom of page