MusicMakers International Academy

MusicMakers International Academy

5.0 (2)
10 employees
24 years in business

About this pro

Hello!  MusicMakers is a family owned and run business which was founded in 1996 by Paula Penna, MMed., BMus.  For the past 22 + years we have been the  staple of the Greater Hartford Area arts education sector, providing thousands of children and families with progressive music education.  Paula currently has a student on The Voice, many students working in music as professionals in performance, composition, songwriting, music business, and entertainment law.  

Our foundation is classical (since everything stems from here), which allows our students to explore any genre they want.  We instill passion and purpose in our students - THEIR WAY - out of our genuine love of music and our own passion for music education.  At MusicMakers, you won't find the typical "frustrated musician" who teaches because they need the money - we devote ourselves to the art of teaching music because this is what we love to do, above all else.  That comes out in our dedication to our students and their families who support them.  

A few important distinctions you may want to know (in other words, why hire US when there are so many choices out there?): 

1. We love people.  That's important!

2. We love children. That's even more important!

3. We know what we are doing - ALL MusicMakers certified teachers have studied HOW to teach music, and have a vast amount of experience honing their skills.  (did you know that in the state of Connecticut, there is NO licensing or certification required for private music educators?  So you actually don't know IF your teacher is really qualified, and even if they are safe to be around your child/you.  Yet we drop off our kids to a lesson where they are alone with this person...scary, isn't it??)  Our teachers have had thorough background checks by Paula herself - teachers interview a minimum of 4 times in a 4 tiered investigational process!  Paula is a mom herself - she would never hire anyone she wouldn't feel 1000000% comfortable being around her children.  The MusicMakers students are precious. 

5.  If you need to actually know anymore after #4, here are a few great facts about the quality of our lessons:  

 - We are the ONLY school in CT that is approved for the Royal Schools of Music (U.K.)'s prestigious examination program!  When a students is ready, we invite them to becomne involved in this prestigious program. You can't get that anywhere else

- We have won numerous awards for quality in music education including the ABC Award in Manchester, and the Wall of Fame award.  We were also GRAMMY Nominated music educators two years in a row. 

- We have programs that start at BIRTH - that's right, babies come to Mini MusicMakers with their parent or caregiver and so starts their musical journey.  Guess what?  MANY of those children have stayed with us until they go off to college.  WE have longevity and lifelong friendships here, folks - people TRUST US and they STAY WITH US for their entire childhood (Some of them even come back as adults to teach with us!).  That's important!

6) We assume EVERY student can become a musical genius, whether they pursue it or not.  Why? Because the bar is set high, the belief is set high, and we never want to skimp on our belief in our students (at any age!).  Now, this doesn't mean we "push" anyone, and no this is not a "tough" place to study music - its just an important mindset for us to instill in our students, one which allows them the trust and belief to go as far as they decide to go. 

7) WE SUPPORT THE PARENT!  Through many avenues including Parent Workshops, we make sure YOU the parent has what YOU need to support your children.  Not sure what's next? Worried about your child's practice (or lack there of?)?  Not sure how to best support them or what is "normal"?  We help you. Our job is to De-Stress YOU so that you can keep the peace at home.  Music lessons should never be "one more thing" on your plate. 

You can visit our Facebook Page at  

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Manchester, CT 06040
Email verified
Phone verified

2 Reviews


  • Brennan Spears

    Professional and friendly. Gets results

  • Rachel

    The teachers really love their students and pour belief into them, no matter their age or level.

Photos & Videos


What is your typical process for working with a new student?

The process really depends primarily on the student, their age, their level, their instrument, and their goals.  When I talk with a new student or their parent (in the case of minors), I ask about their personality, goals, needs, learning style, and other factors that help me determine if they are a good match for me.  If I don’t feel a student is a good match for me, I am honest about that. It is important that a student and teacher have a trusted relationship.

At MusicMakers:  We pride ourselves on pedagogy, methodology, and flexibility.  We are one big family here, all faculty members work together beautifully and collaborate whenever needed.  When a new student comes in, the director has already gotten to know the parent/student, identified needs and learning styles, and matched that student carefully with the right teacher.  When the student meets the teacher, the teacher always spends time getting to know how the student learns best, and has the expertise and flexibility to gear their teaching methods, tools, materials to that specific student. We do not do "cookie cutter" lessons here! 

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I have been teaching music continuously for 31 years, and have owned/taught at MusicMakers International Academy for 23 years.  I hold a Masters and Bachelors degrees in Music Education/Music/Arts Administration.

About the teachers who work for me at MusicMakers:  We are college-educated, most teachers have a masters degree in music, music education, or music composition.  Every teacher has substantial experience which has been verified by the owner/director.  Every teacher is passionate about teaching and about music, and make it their life's mission to continually improve.  

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

Yes, but it depends on the students’ lesson length, whether they are in person or online, and which program they are enrolled in - the general program or the advanced program.  Also, depends on whether or not the student comes to my studio, or if I (or a teacher who works for me) travels to the student. 

How did you get started teaching?

I knew my entire life, even as a young child, that music was my calling and that I wanted to share that with other people.  I spent my entire childhood studying and performing, and then went on to college to study music and music teaching.  I started teaching music professionally while still in college, and then earned certification to teach PreK-12 music.  

What types of students have you worked with?

I have worked with a LOT of students. One of my students is now on this Season of The Voice, and I have had students on broadway, opera, and films.

I have over 50,000 hours of teaching/coaching experience teaching students from birth through senior citizens.  Although I do not believe that it is wise to expect every student to become a professional musician (just like we don’t only teach math to students who know they want to become mathematicians!), I actually DO have a LOT of students who have become professionals on Broadway, Opera, Pop, Country, Americana and everything in between.   For my more “serious” students, I have coached dozens of them on college applications, auditions, and the entire process which has resulted in ample scholarships and award money for them.  I have 5 students who all have gotten full scholarships to prestigious music colleges such as Berklee, University of Hartford, Michigan, and Miami amongst others.  

I never, EVER, pre-judge a child or person on whether or not they can “make it” at whatever level they want - it is not up to ME, that is up to YOU. I have seen many a student with moderate talent make it as professional musicians (performing, teaching, composing, etc) because HARD and SMART WORK always trumps innate talent.  If you are passionate about it, you’ll do it no matter what.  SO, I treat every student as if they COULD do music as a living, and then see as they grow up what they become passionate about and what they don’t.  

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

In 2019, both of my own daughters flew the nest and out on their own.  My oldest graduated Magna Cum Laude from University of Hartford with a degree in Music Business.  My younger daughter just moved to University of North Carolina where she is a film major, but is also very involved in their music program being she plays multiple instruments well and sings.  

Watching my very own student of 9 years on this season of The Voice has been thrilling - I am SO proud of her, and I know she’ll do well.  

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

My best advice is - there are a lot of good teachers out there, but there are far more BAD teachers.  Do your investigating - in the state of Connecticut and most other states, there is no required license or certification for private music teacher.  This is bad news for the consumer/parent because there is no way for you to truly know if the person you are interviewing to teach you or your precious child is actually the person they say they are. Are they safe? Do they hold the degrees they say that they do?  Have they ever been convicted of a crime?  Do they actually KNOW HOW TO TEACH?  They may be a good musician, but this does not mean they have done their due diligence in training to BE a teacher - this involves studying not just music but psychology, pedagogy, educational science, learning styles, etc.  A TRUE music teacher has studied all of the above, and continues to study their entire lives.  

What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

What are your goals? 

Why do you want to study music?

Why did you pick this particular instrument?

Will you make the time to practice? 

Do you have an instrument at home to practice on?

Are you willing to pay for an excellent teacher? 

Lessons offered