Our Founder & Faculty
We are pleased that we are able to offer training taught by the most qualified and experienced instructors in the area.
Janis Palmore Afotey
An appreciation and love for music began very early for our founder, Janis Palmore Afotey. For her, there is no greater joy than to see the pride of accomplishment on a beginning student’s face when they have learned their first song or performed in their first recital. She began formal piano lessons at the age of eight and continued with voice lessons in high school. Attending the first performance arts high school in the country and discovering a passion for the classical arts encouraged her to continue studies at New England Conservatory of Music and Boston University School of Fine Arts. After a number of years of performing as a concert soloist, she has returned to her love of teaching.
Darius Johnson, Ph.D.
Director and Instructor
Areas of Instruction: Beginner, Intermediate, & Advanced Piano
Education Morehouse College - BA, Piano Performance Washington Univ. in St. Louis - MA, Musicology National Louis Univ. (Chicago) - MAT, Elementary Education Michigan State Univ. - PhD, Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education Music Certifications & Professional Affiliations - Royal Conservatory of Music, Elementary Piano Specialist - Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) - Georgia Music Teachers Association (GMTA) - Decatur Music Teachers Association (DMTA) A Dekalb County native, Dr. Johnson’s aptitude for music was first discovered as a 7th grader at Wadsworth Elementary School, where he would often stay for hours after school to teach himself piano by ear. When the school music teacher realized he was playing Beethoven sonatas, she recommended that he apply to the DeKalb Center for the Performing Arts (now the DeKalb School of the Arts). Within two years, he was the first-place prize winner in the Greater Atlanta Music Alliance Bach Piano Competition. Soon after, he relocated to Atlanta where he studied at the North Atlanta High School for the Performing Arts. As a high school student, he represented North Atlanta in many GMEA (Georgia Music Educators Association) auditions and performances where he consistently received superior rankings. He spent several summers studying (with pianists Drs. Barbara Lister-Sink and Lita Guerra) and performing at the prestigious Brevard Music Festival and Summer Institute. After four years of formal piano study, he was awarded a full Presidential music scholarship to attend Morehouse College where he studied piano with Dr. Jefferson Ethridge and performed with the Morehouse College Glee Club, Morehouse Jazz Band, and the Morehouse-Spelman String Quartet. Dr. Johnson has participated in masterclasses with renowned pianists such as Awadagin Pratt, Andre Watts, and George Francois. He was a multi-prize winner in the James A. Heffner Piano Competition. As a music educator who believes in continuous learning, Dr. Johnson currently studies with internationally acclaimed pianist, Julie Coucheron. When he is not teaching piano, he’s working to educate the next generation of teachers as an assistant professor of education at Georgia State University. Dr. Johnson enjoys supporting the arts, spending time with his wife and kids, and engaging in community service with his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Areas of Instruction: Beginner & Intermediate Piano
DeVonté Taylor has been playing the piano since the age of seven. Initially encourged to play by his mother, his love and passion for it grew quickly. DeVonte's love for teaching began in 2013 with the company Skilled Musician. It was then, that a newfound passion for teaching music was discovered. Starting off as a teacher helper in 2013, he is now Lead Teacher for in-person learning at Skilled Musician. DeVonté strives to become one of the best there is; not only when it comes to teaching piano, but also when it comes to building the relationships needed to help people achieve their goal of learning to play the piano.
Areas of Instruction: Beginner, Intermediate, & Advanced Piano
Alicia Taylor has been playing piano since just prior to her fourth birthday. She grew up in a very musical family, and her parents were music professors at the University of Arkansas, Missouri Southern State University, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Louisiana at Monroe, William Carey University, and Auburn University, among others. Alicia has served as a church musician since the age of 12. Her first compensated position was playing piano and accompanying the choir in a small Baptist Church in Monroe, Louisiana. Alicia also learned to play violin and flute quite proficiently (principal second violin with the Auburn University Symphony Orchestra while in high school and as a flute soloist with the Seattle Symphony while in high school), but piano has always been her primary instrument. She has twice sung in Carnegie Hall, performing the Robert Ray GOSPEL MASS under the baton of Dr. Eric Nelson, Director of Choral Studies at Emory University; and performing The Sounds of War and Peace: A Great and Glorious Victory under the baton of Jonathan Willcocks, the son of Sir David Willcocks. Alicia has served churches all over the country (Washington, New York, North Carolina, and Georgia). Since moving to Georgia in 1995, she served as a part-time staff singer at various churches in Metro Atlanta and full time as Director of Music at Norcross Presbyterian Church, Director of Worship and Arts at Johns Creek Presbyterian Church, and most recently as Director of Music and Worship Arts at Covington First Presbyterian Church. She is now serving as the pianist/accompanist at Wesley Methodist Church in Covington, Georgia. Alicia maintains a small piano studio at Johns Creek Presbyterian Academy of Fine Arts, a ministry she founded in 2009. She also teaches privately in Covington and teaches group piano lessons at Lou Walker Senior Center and Central DeKalb Senior Center, as well as in the Newton County Afterschool Program. She has been teaching piano for nearly 30 years and loves to share the joy of making music with students of all ages. Alicia is the mother of four grown children and grandmother to her first grandson. She resides in Covington with her dog, Molly.
Areas of Instruction: Beginner & Intermediate
Demi Willis began classical piano lessons at eight years old and throughout childhood performed in numerous GMEA (Georgia Music Educators Association) piano adjudications receiving consistent superior ratings. She also performed in numerous talent shows in Atlanta. At 16 years old, Demi was named overall winner of the Atlanta Parent Magazine talent showdown competition where she wrote and performed an original song. Demi went on to continue her passion of music after receiving a presidential scholarship to attend Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida. There she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Music Business and graduated with honors. Demi has worked with children of all ages in teaching them piano basics and instilling a love of music. She also continues to work in the entertainment industry where she has been apart of various business deals. In her spare time, Demi enjoys spending time with her fur baby and getting out into nature.