Meet the Teachers of Music and Movement of Newton

Our teachers come from all sorts of backgrounds, but they’re united by a common passion: Sharing the joy of music with children and families in and around Newton.

All teachers have successfully completed the live Music Together® Teacher Training, which is built on research in early childhood and music development. Our Canta y Baila Conmigo® teachers are trained by Maddie Welch herself. We keep our skills fresh through workshops every semester and advanced trainings offered by Music Together Worldwide. 

We love to take each other's classes and we sub for each other when necessary. Demo classes are sometimes team-taught by two or even three teachers. It's a great chance for us to make music together with each other. . . which is what we love best!

Julia Priest, Director

Julia Priest has been teaching Music Together and directing this organization in Newton since 2001. She came to early childhood music and movement teaching through her own son's toddler years when she discovered that the Music Together curriculum was richer and more satisfying than any other mommy-and-me class she could find.  She has degrees from Yale, Boston University, and Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions, including a Masters of Music and a Masters of Science; she also holds certifications in Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Orff Schulwerk, and Music Together Teaching Mastery, Level II. She trained in the HealthRhythms(R) protocol for therapeutic drumming in 2017 with its founder, Christine Stevens! In class she plays guitar, recorder, or drum; voice is her primary instrument. As Julia keeps on improving her Spanish language proficiency, she also periodically subs for Canta y Baila Conmigo classes. For fun, Julia knits baby hats and dances Lindy Hop, Blues, Argentine Tango, Salsa, or any other social dance that presents itself. Just ask, she'll teach you to knit or drag you out dancing too.

Julia's review of recent research on how babies hear and remember even before birth!.

Read more articles and handouts by Julia.

Visit Julia's personal website for a list of other performances and jam sessions which are unrelated to Music and Movement of Newton.

Maddie Welch, CyBC Creator

Maddie Welch plays guitar and piano and sings gorgeously. She is a composer, arranger, and recording artist as well as teacher-trainer and curriculum designer. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Maddie is completely fluent in both Spanish and English. After graduating from Princeton University, Maddie received her Masters in Bilingual Education from Boston University in 1998 and embarked on a career as a bilingual educator at the elementary and early childhood levels. She has always infused her classroom teaching with her passion for the performing arts, from leading school-wide preschool sing-alongs to using drama for teaching content-area to bilingual 3rd graders. Maddie first fell in love with the Music Together curriculum when she brought her daughter to class in 2003. She trained and became a registered Music Together teacher in 2008. When she is not teaching, Maddie is busy raising two musical, bilingual children and working on the latest production of Needham Community Theatre.

Maddie teaches both regular Mixed Age Music together and also Canta y Baila Conmigo / Sing and Dance With Me: Spanish Musical Culture, for which Maddie wrote the curriculum and recorded the CD. This class is ideal for families with a Spanish-speaking parent or nanny, or raising a child bilingually. This class is also priceless for those who want to give their family's beginner Spanish-learning career a jumpstart.

What families say: "Maddie was fantastic! She made the party a very special event for us! All of the kids had a blast, especially Olivia! We were so thankful to have Maddie there to lead our song & dance!" "It is fun to see around 14 children age 18 months completely absorbed, jumping around for 45 minutes."

A.B., Comparative Literature, Princeton University.
M.Ed., Bilingual Education, Boston University.
Certification, Commonweath of Massachusetts, Elementary (1-6); Early Childhood (PrK-2); Transitional Bilingual Education; English as a Second Language (PreK-9).

Rhonda Matson

Rhonda found in Music Together what she desired for many years, the opportunity to marry two great loves: working with children in early childhood, and doing it through music. Rhonda has been involved in music her whole life, but had never quite witnessed children learning music in the non-formal, participatory fashion that Music Together encourages. She says, “Finding this program was kind of like finding home: it spoke to the child within, and immediately I felt thrilled to have the opportunity to share music in this way with our community.”

Rhonda has been formally trained in voice and has participated in many dramatic productions. Rhonda has led various children’s programs and even entertained as a clown. She has also worked in early childhood education as a preschool teacher.

In March 2006, Rhonda was awarded Music Together Certification Level I for outstanding achievement in teaching, musicianship, program philosophy and parent education. In the summer of 2005 she received her Certification I from the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association, an international organization of professional music educators. She is also a member of The Children's Music Network and has studied Dalcroze Eurythmics at the Longy School of Music

Barbara De Freitas

California-born Barbara de Freitas grew up in Rio de Janeiro with her Brazilian family. Music has always been part of her life: singing in the school choir and spending long afternoons sitting at the piano with her grandfather. She started her music studies at Antonio Adolfo Music School in Rio, taking guitar and voice lessons. Her love of music led her to the USA in 2000 where she formally started her studies at the Santa Barbara College. In 2004 Barbara relocated to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music, earning her Bachelor’s in 2007. During her years in Boston she has been a vocalist in an acoustic ensemble playing Brazilian music around New England, including rhythms like Bossa Nova and Samba. Barbara has also taught voice and basic keyboard lessons to children. In her free time she loves to be involved in athletic activities such as long runs by the Charles, spinning rides, yoga, and dancing, but also singing and relaxing along with good friends.

"I would describe my teaching style as fun, caring, and flexible, with attention to the ever-changing needs of children and their families. I encourage participants to express their feelings in the form of music and movement. I believe that in a classroom we are all learning together as we share our experiences: children, parents, caregivers, and teachers, too. I began my music career as a singer. As a Music Together teacher I am able to sing and share my love for music with children every day and watch them expand their creativity, social skills, sense of self, sense of time and space, and even their intuition. Teaching early childhood music is a delight!"

Karina Daza

Miss Nina has been teaching Music Together since 2012, and Canta y Baila Conmigo since 2018. A bilingual musician, she studied vocal performance and psychology at Fordham University and the Juilliard School. She then combined these interests to pursue a Masters degree in Music Therapy. Karina completed her Music Therapy internship in the Pediatrics and Neonatal Intensive Care units of Mount Sinai Hospital. Miss Nina has also  provided music classes and music therapy at various schools,  with both typically developing children and children with special needs. When Karina is not leading music sessions, she can be found performing in music festivals or hiking trails iwth her dog, Jazz.