About Our Team

Melissa Sondergeld-Hood

Voice, Piano, Ukulele

 Introducing Melissa Sondergeld-Hood, a dynamic music and theater teacher at Confident Voice Studio, who brings the magic of the stage into every lesson she teaches. Melissa’s rich background in theater and music, coupled with her passion for education, makes her an invaluable asset to our team.

Melissa is a proud graduate of Warner Pacific University, where she majored in Music and Theatre Education. Her love for music began at the tender age of 10 when she learned to play the clarinet. At 15, she discovered her passion for theater, and by 19, she was expressing herself through song. These formative experiences have shaped her holistic approach to teaching, where music and theater are intertwined.

In addition to her role at Confident Voice Studio, Melissa is a sought after Theater teacher at local children’s theaters like Northwest Children’s Theater, Stages, and Metropolitan Performing Arts. 

Beyond teaching, Melissa is a professional theater artist active in the Portland area. She’s worked behind the scenes at the Portland Musical Theater Company, Nutz and Boltz Theatre Company, Profile, and Gresham Reader’s Theater  contributing her talents to the vibrant local theater scene.

Melissa’s performance credentials are equally impressive. She was most recently seen at Nutz and Boltz theatre’s Hello Dolly and Metropolitan Performing Arts’ The Merry Wives of Windsor.” 

She’s also a proud alumna of the Portland Musical Theater Company Emerging Artists program.

Aaron Carney

Voice, Piano, Songwriting

Meet Aaron Carney, a dedicated and passionate music educator at Confident Voice Studio. With a rich educational background and a diverse range of musical experiences, Aaron brings a unique blend of knowledge, skill, and passion to his teaching.

Aaron’s academic journey is impressive. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Portland, a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance, and a Performance Certificate from Northern Arizona University (NAU) and has almost completed his Master’s in Speech in Hearing Sciences. His deep understanding of music theory and performance is evident in his teaching style, which emphasizes technique, interpretation, and personal expression.

His organizational and communication skills are top-notch. Whether he’s coordinating schedules for theory tutoring, leading opera rehearsals, or arranging music for fraternity performances, Aaron’s leadership shines through. He’s also an experienced private voice teacher and accompanist, helping students apply technique into their vocal music and guiding them in art song interpretations.

Aaron’s musical leadership extends beyond teaching. He has composed and arranged music for various productions, including Portland Community College’s production of Act II of Arabian Nights and the University of Portland Lyric Theater Club’s Original Works Concert. He currently assists in leading and accompanying the adult volunteer choir and the seasonal children’s choir at St. Aloysius Church. His ability to lead rehearsals and performances showcases his commitment to fostering a vibrant musical community.

Palmer Haffner

Voice, Piano, Ukulele, Guitar

Introducing Palmer Haffner, an accomplished musician and educator with a passion for nurturing the next generation of musical talent at Confident Voice Studio. Palmer’s multifaceted musical journey and innovative teaching approach make him a beloved figure among our students and their parents.

Palmer’s academic credentials are impressive. He holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and With Distinction respectively. His thesis on the integration of music technology in the classroom underscores his commitment to modern, engaging teaching methods.

His teaching experience spans various age groups and settings, from elementary to middle school, and from general music classes to choral rehearsals. Whether he’s guiding sectional rehearsals at Princeton Day School or leading group piano courses at Hammarskjold Middle School, Palmer’s lessons are always infused with creativity, critical thinking, and a deep love for music.

Palmer’s tenure at Hollydale Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, further showcases his dedication to music education. As the K-5 General Music teacher, he developed standards-based lessons, organized music events, and fostered a vibrant learning community.

Beyond teaching, Palmer is a skilled audio and video editor, having produced virtual recitals and choirs for various clients. His administrative experience at Westminster Choir College has given him a unique insight into the workings of music education at an institutional level.

As a performer, Palmer has sung with esteemed ensembles like the Westminster Williamson Voices and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. He’s also a talented pianist with a decade of experience and a flair for diverse styles, from classical to contemporary.

Case Bontrager

Voice, Piano, Ukulele, Guitar

Meet Case Bontrager, a vibrant and dedicated music teacher at Confident Voice Studio. With a rich background in music and child education, Case brings a unique blend of creativity, leadership, and passion to our team.

Case’s journey began at YMCA Silicon Valley, where he served as a Director and teacher. Here, he honed his skills in creating engaging curriculums, managing groups of children aged 6-13, and supervising large field trips. His most cherished role, however, was teaching guitar to classes of 15-40 kids, where he discovered his love for sharing the joy of music.

His experience extends beyond the classroom. As a Mover, Driver, and Crew Lead at 2Brothers Moving and Delivery, Case developed invaluable skills in customer service, team collaboration, and problem-solving. He’s known for his impeccable communication and planning skills, which he applies to ensure every music lesson is well-structured and engaging.

As a busy professional performer, Case has mastered the art of multitasking and time management. These skills, while seemingly unrelated, have proven invaluable in managing the dynamic environment of a music classroom

Case holds an AA in Music from West Valley College, further solidifying his expertise in the field. He’s a proud graduate of Portland’s own Lincoln High School.

Deanna Maio

Founder & Director

Meet Deanna Maio, the visionary founder of Confident Voice Studio. With a lifelong passion for the performing arts and a deep commitment to education, Deanna has created a unique space where children can explore their creativity, develop their skills, and most importantly, build their confidence.

Deanna’s journey in the arts began at the tender age of two with dance, and it didn’t take long for her to fall in love with the stage. Over the years, she has honed her skills in voice, piano, ukulele, stage presence, and acting. She’s a versatile lyric soprano with a rich performing background, having graced stages across the country, including with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra.

As a Certified Professional Coach, Deanna brings a structured and supportive approach to her work at Confident Voice Studio. She guides her team of teachers and supports parents and students alike, ensuring everyone feels seen, heard, and valued. Her goal is to create an environment where students can set and achieve realistic goals, take meaningful actions, and continually learn and grow.

Deanna’s teaching credentials are impressive. She’s a certified associate teacher of the Blaylock Vocal Method, a systematic approach to vocal development. Her teaching experience spans private lessons, summer music camps, after-school programs, and specialty workshops.

Beyond teaching, Deanna is a successful performer and theater artist. She’s the founder, art director, and lead performer of the Portland Music Theater Company. She’s also written and produced five original musical shows and completed numerous acting roles in stage, film, television, and industrial settings since arriving in Portland in 1999.

Deanna’s love for music extends to recording as well. She completed her debut album, “Deanna & the Downbeats,” in 2008 and is a sought-after voice-over artist with over 100 voice-over recordings to her name.

At Confident Voice Studio, Deanna’s vision is to create a nurturing and innovative school where children can gain confidence through the power of music and performance. Her leadership, passion, and dedication are the driving forces behind our studio’s success. When your child joins us, they’re not just learning music—they’re becoming part of a supportive community led by Deanna’s inspiring journey.