meet the team
meet the team
website
ariel horowitz
Founder & Artistic Director
Hi everyone - Ya’ateh! My name is Ariel Horowitz, and I am the Founder and Artistic Director of the Heartbeat Music Project. Heartbeat found me back in 2016 when I was in my junior year at Juilliard. My mom, who works as a curriculum consultant for Navajo Technical University, called me to ask whether I’d be interested in volunteering music lessons to Navajo (Diné) children over the summer. I said yes, went out to Crownpoint with my dear old friend Leerone Hakami, and had an amazing time sharing music with a group of five third-graders. Somehow, I blinked: four years later, here we are with nearly sixty students ages five through eighteen!

I could not be more proud of what my team and I have created through the Heartbeat Music Project: it is the pride and joy of my life! In four short years, we’ve cultivated an empowering atmosphere that allows for our students to gain confidence in themselves through artistic expression, as well as through traditional Diné teachings and learnings. Our students teach us so much more than we could ever hope to teach them. Through this work, I have deepened my understanding of resilience, empathy, determination, and I have learned to celebrate the incredible magic of beginnings. I cannot wait to proudly watch our students in the coming years as they hone their musical talents and explore their local and global potential as leaders and world-changers. 

When I’m not running the Heartbeat Music Project, I am a violinist, performing regularly as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to perform a lot of my own music in world-renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, as well as local hospitals, schools, and retirement communities, and this has been such a rewarding experience. I was recently appointed as Professor of Violin at Mount Holyoke College, and I’m working hard to complete my Master of Musical Arts degree from the Yale School of Music. In my spare time, I am an extremely amateur ballet dancer, a voracious reader, a loyal friend/ daughter/ sister/ aunt, and a curator of horrible jokes (believe me, you’ll be laughing AT me, not with me)! 

My deepest held belief as an artist is that music is for everyone. It is one of the beautiful aspects of humanity that we all can share and participate in, regardless of race, gender, culture, sexual orientation, religion, or ability. While I acknowledge that the global issues facing us are far more severe than what a simple song can fix, there is innate power in music which cannot be described with words that makes life worth living. However, there are so many barriers of access to participation in music at a high artistic level. My goal is that through Heartbeat, through increased efforts to bring Western classical music into the 21st Century, and through so many other avenues yet to be explored, this belief can become a reality worldwide - maybe not in my lifetime, but in the lifetimes of my students and their students.
website
Sharon Nelson
Executive director
Hello! I am Sharon Nelson, and I serve as Executive Director for the Heartbeat Music Project. Prior to this position, I also served as a Recruiter and Assistant in 2016 and as Project Director from 2017-2018. In the current capacity as Executive Director, I oversee the program at the Navajo Technical University (NTU) campus in Crownpoint, New Mexico. This involves synchronizing NTU Departments so that Heartbeat functions effectively. Most importantly, I ensure NTU provides a safe and culturally relevant space for Teacher Artists and students to make intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and musical connections. Heartbeat has given underprivileged and underserved Diné children the musical opportunity to convert their own vibrations of thought, heart, and soul using western instruments, allowing them to become centered and explore endless possibilities. In addition to my work with Heartbeat, I am Diné and teach at the Navajo Technical University as Assistant Professor of Diné Culture, Language, and Leadership. Tódích’íí’nii nishłį̨́, Ta’neeszahnii baa shishchiin, Tótsohii da shicheii dóó Tł’ááshchí’í éídah shinalí (I am Bitter Water clan, born for Tangle Water clan, Big Water are my maternal grandfathers, and Painted Cheeks are my paternal grandfathers).
website
Delbert Anderson
Teaching Artist
Delbert Anderson is a Navajo/Diné trumpet performer, composer and educator. Anderson attended Eastern New Mexico University studying Music Education and Performance. In 2013, Anderson started the Delbert Anderson Trio and began to create educational courses for the San Juan Community. Delbert has created music programs for the Boys & Girls Club Farmington and Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock, NM. Anderson has been known for his creative and experimental education courses. Anderson is the Jazz Director at San Juan College and now performs with his group D’DAT. Anderson is recognized nationally as an educator, leader and ambassador of Native American Music. Anderson has been featured on NPR, TedX, Sirius XM, Yahoo, Mic.com and received the Western Arts Alliance Native Launchpad Award in 2019 and the Doris Duke Access Award in 2020. Anderson continues his mission of creating opportunities within the arts, educate Native American youth and share messages of hope, life and positivity.
brian bibb
Teaching Artist
Brian Bibb is a professional musician and music educator based in New York City. He recently graduated from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music with a degree in Jazz Saxophone Performance, and has performed with symphony orchestras, jazz orchestras, on cruise ships, and in coffee shops. As a passionate teacher, he has taught music theory, saxophone, guitar, and piano, and has been a teacher at the Heartbeat Music Project 2018 and 2019 Summer Sessions.
Arjun Ganguly
Teaching Artist
Violist Arjun Ganguly is currently studying at the Yale School of Music with Ettore Causa. Arjun completed his undergraduate studies with a degree in Statistics from the University of Minnesota while studying viola with Korey Konkol and Sabina Thatcher. He has attended programs and masterclasses at the Aspen Music Festival and School, Music Academy of the West, and Accademia Isola Maggiore. Arjun also enjoys teaching and has worked with The Heartbeat Music Project in New Mexico and Morse Academy in New Haven, Connecticut. He has received first prize in young artist competitions from organizations including the American String Teachers Association, Schubert Club, Thursday Musical, and the Minnesota Sinfonia.
Zoie Hightower
Teaching Artist
Zoie Hightower joined the IU Jacobs School of Music String Academy as a student of Dr. Brenda Brenner and Mimi Zweig, and was a member of the IU Virtuosi for six years. Zoie has been a featured soloist and ensemble performer in America, Europe, Canada, and South America. She has soloed with the New World Youth Symphony Orchestra, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, South Shore Orchestra, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. In 2013 , she performed with the IU Virtuosi at Carnegie Hall in New York City on both violin and viola. Zoie recently graduated with a major in violin (with Danielle Belen) and viola (with Caroline Coade) performance at the University of Michigan, with academic honors, and was selected principal viola (2016-2017) and concertmaster (2018-2019). She is now working in Applied Behavior Analysis therapy with special needs children.
Noah Kay
Teaching Artist
Noah Kay joined the Colorado Springs Philharmonic as its principal oboist in 2017. He has toured and performed with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Germany; the Czech Republic; Washington, D.C.; and Warsaw, Poland, where they recorded an album of Mendelssohn’s piano concerti with soloist Jan Lisiecki on the Deutsche Grammophon label. Most recently, he joined the group for a premiere of a new arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Kay has also performed with the Colorado Symphony, Princeton Symphony, ProMusica Columbus, and Symphoria. He appeared as a fellow of the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado in the summer of 2018. Other summer festivals include the Manchester Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Sarasota Music Festival, and Cape May Music Festival.
website
gregory lewis
Communications Director
Hello everyone! My name is Gregory Lewis, and I am thrilled to serve as Communications Coordinator for the Heartbeat Music Project. My primary duties include maintaining our website, managing social media, and publicity. Prior to this, I was a Teaching Artist at the Heartbeat Music Project 2018 Summer Session and 2018 Winter Workshop. On the side, I also play the violin! I’ve had the opportunity to perform throughout North America and Europe as a solo, chamber, and orchestra musician, appearing with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, Consortium Aurora Borealis, Colburn Academy Virtuosi, and the University of Manitoba Symphony Orchestra. I hold degrees from the University of Manitoba and Yale University, and currently live in Los Angeles, where I attend the Colburn Conservatory. You can usually find me in a corner with a good book and dark coffee, taking breaks to play Scrabble with anybody interested in challenging me.
Samuel Walter
Teaching Artist
Samuel Walter received a B.A. in music at Haverford College, and recently completed an M.M. degree at the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Paul Watkins. Samuel has studied with renowned teachers such as Ralph Kirschbaum, Aldo Parisot, Jonathan Koh, Clive Greensmith, Ole Akahoshi, and Priscilla Lee. He has had masterclasses with Lynn Harrell, David Geber, and Constantin Negoita. He has soloed with several symphony orchestras, including the Lansdowne Symphony orchestra, Warminster Symphony Orchestra, Old York Symphony Orchestra, the Independence Sinfonia, and the Bi-College Orchestra in Philadelphia. In addition to performing, Samuel has worked extensively as a teacher. In addition to running a private studio, in 2017 and 2018 he worked as a teaching assistant at the Meadowmount School of Music, and worked as conductor and cello instructor at Yale’s Morse Academy during the summer of 2019.
Renata Yazzie
Teaching Artist
Renata Yazzie, Tó'aheedlíinii born for Kinyaa'áanii, is a Diné classical pianist presently residing in Albuquerque, NM. Renata has been playing piano since she was 3, and currently studies with Prof. Falko Steinbach at the Univ. of New Mexico where she is pursuing a Master of Music degree with dual concentrations in Piano Performance and Musicology. She also holds an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from UNM. Renata seeks to Indigenize classical music, reclaim pieces from the Indianist Era where European composers heavily appropriated Indigenous music, and hopes to improve music education for Indigenous students. While Renata began strictly as a performer, she has composed for a variety of projects including film and theater and enjoys arranging various songs for piano. A scholar of Indigenous music, Renata has presented original research at various academic conferences. She remains an advocate for Indigenous women in STEM, music as medicine, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
advisory board members
Natasha Brofsky,
Cello Faculty at the Juilliard School
Dr. Wesley K Thomas,
Retired Graduate Dean of Navajo Technical University
Jennifer Kaskalla,
Assistant to the Dean of the Navajo Preparatory School
website
natasha brofsky
Cello Faculty at the Juilliard School
dr. wesley k thomas
Retired Graduate Dean of Navajo Technical University
jennifer kaskalla
Assistant to the Dean of the Navajo Preparatory School

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