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SDYS’ ChIMES Teaching Artists make every class engaging, dynamic, and full of learning opportunities for little ones and their parents and caregivers.

Meet the ChIMES Teaching Artists

Mr. Charlie

Born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, Charlie Perkes comes from a strong musical family. He was accepted into the United States Army Band as a bassist and while in the Army, he studied at the Department of Defense School of Music.

After completing four years in the Army Band, he joined his wife in the Navy Band, where they completed a four-year tour of duty performing all over Europe and Africa. His next tour to Japan was for four years, performing all over Southeast Asia.

Charlie plays the bass, cello and ukulele, and has been teaching ChIMES classes for several years. He also works as a Strings Teaching Artist for SDYS.

Miss Kat

Kat Fitzpatrick has a BA in Child Studies and an AS in Early Childhood Development, and over 30 years of early childhood teaching experience. She has taught preschool at both private schools and at CVUSD. Kat also ran her own business teaching music and drama enrichment classes for young children and performing for children all around San Diego.

Her other passion (besides the little ones!) includes musical theater and performance. Kat has won awards for her own original preschool song recordings and also for performing; she has been in many San Diego productions, most recently Sister Act at SDMT and The Addams Family at Lawrence Welk Theater.

Miss Michelle

Michelle Caravia began playing the piano at a very early age and has a Bachelor of Music with a major in vocal performance. She has taught private piano and voice lessons as well as improvisational acting and group singing classes. She was a substitute teacher and paraeducator with the Orange County Department of Education for 6 years in the special education classes.

Michelle is passionate about performing and enjoys everything from singing to acting to improv. She has sung with Opera San Luis Obispo, Miami City Ballet and New World Symphony. She has performed in improv festivals around the country and, most recently, performed in an interactive theater production at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Florida.

A daughter of Cuban immigrants, Michelle grew up in a Spanish-speaking household and she is excited to give ChIMES families exposure to Spanish language through songs and other musical activities.

Miss Mariana
Mariana (Mari) Jones began working with SDYS in 2022 as an Opus Program Assistant and ChIMES Teaching Artist. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Mari came to San Diego to receive her BA in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies from the University of San Diego, where she pursued a minor in Comprehensive Music, and spent much of her time singing, playing piccolo, dancing baile folklórico, and acting.
Over the last few years, Mari has been working in music education and devoting her time towards connecting with her Mexican heritage, and her passions for applied theatre and border advocacy. She has been studying and practicing theatre of the oppressed and community music applications to connect and work with those affected by the border crisis in Tijuana and San Diego.
Mari has always looked up to her mother, who works in early childhood education, and she is excited to be following in her footsteps and teaching with ChIMES.

Mr. Thiago
Thiago is a charismatic, family-oriented multi-instrumentalist who performs and teaches in multiple languages and genres. Starting at age 8, he began studying piano and trombone, which would provide a foundation for learning many other instruments. His formal studies included earning a Guitar Performance degree from Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA, and studying Brazilian percussion, drum set, cavaquinho, arrangement, and 7-string guitar in São Paulo, Brazil.
For the past 17 years, Thiago has been performing, teaching, recording, and writing music in styles ranging from Bossa Nova, Nueva Trova, North American and Latin American Folk, reggae, rock, and blues. For years he performed with Chilean singer Angela Roa. He also helped develop a music program in Los Angeles to promote language development, literacy, and movement with the support of the Hope Street Family Center.
He is currently establishing his musical roots in San Diego, playing capoeira, and helping raise his twin daughters.

Meet the ChIMES Administrative Staff

Kate Battenfeld – Early Childhood Program Manager

Kate joined SDYS in 2020 and oversees the ChIMES (Childhood Introduction to Music Education, with Smiles) parent-child program and early childhood school and community outreach programs.

She taught general music in the Carlsbad Unified School District for 11 years and owned and operated an early childhood music studio for over 20 years. Kate is also a writer and editor, covering topics related to early childhood music education and parent education. 

Additionally, she is an accomplished vocalist and has performed in various locations around the country. Kate received her M.Ed. specializing in arts integration from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In her spare time, you can often find her performing locally as part of her acoustic band, The Bad Carls.  Want to learn more?  Check out this recent article in SDVoyager about Kate’s story.

Sarah Williams – Early Childhood Program Coordinator

Sarah has been working at SDYS since 2018, helping run the ChIMES (Childhood Introduction to Music Education, with Smiles) parent-child program and early childhood school and community outreach programs.

Growing up, she studied piano from elementary through high school, and also played violin in the San Diego Youth Symphony for several years. She is thrilled to be back at SDYS now as a staff member so she can help more children experience the joys of music through SDYS programming.

After earning her BA from UCLA and MA from University of Westminster in London, Sarah spent 10 years managing tourism marketing campaigns in San Diego and London. She has also worked as a piano accompanist, piano instructor, and taught early childhood music classes. Sarah enjoys spending time with her two young boys, as well as reading and exploring nature.

Dr. Fil Starostka – Early Childhood Program Assistant

Fil joined SDYS in 2022 as the Early Childhood Program Assistant. Fil is a freelance trumpet performer and teacher from Rochester Hills, Michigan. He received his doctorate of musical arts in trumpet performance from Louisiana State University and completed a minor in music history, where he researched under-represented Polish composers from the 19th century.

Prior to his studies at LSU, Fil completed his masters in trumpet performance at Michigan State University and his bachelor’s in trumpet performance at Oakland University. Fil previously performed with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Symphony Orchestra, Constantinides New Music Ensemble, Oakland University Brass Band, and Musique 21.

During his free time, Fil loves hiking and being outside, and is looking forward to exploring more of Southern California.

Kevin Urzua – Early Childhood Admin Assistant

Kevin joined the ChIMES team in 2023 and will be helping with Saturday classes in Liberty Station. Originally from Ensenada, Baja California, Kevin migrated with his family at a young age to the south bay where he first encountered the trombone at his middle school music program. Kevin went on to graduate from SDSU with a major in Chicana and Chicano studies and a minor in music. He then worked with middle school students through Barrio Logan College Institute.

In addition to the ChIMES admin role, Kevin also works for SDYS as an Opus Project Community Program Assistant. In his free time, you can find Kevin playing trombone with local reggae, salsa, jazz, and wedding bands in the Tijuana-San Diego region.

San Diego Youth Symphony