About Us

Meet our STAFF

We have a wonderful and talented team of teachers that bring their own musical experience and talents. But what do we all have in common? We are grateful to have had parents and teachers who protected our musical educations and gave us this lifelong gift. It is now our pleasure to pass that gift to your family.

Marilyn O’Leary

Marilyn is the founder/owner of Piano Lab. She is a professional musician and a piano teacher with 25 years experience. Marilyn was a piano performance minor at American University. Since graduating in 1994 she has worked continuously as a professional musician including 3 years as the pianist for Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra and 15 years as lead singer for Chaise Lounge, a popular DC sextet. Marilyn was trained as a solo, classical pianist before entering the world of jazz and swing ensembles. It is the combination of these experiences that inspired the creation Piano Lab. Marilyn envisioned a learning environment that would create successful, well-rounded musicians who were not only comfortable at the piano, but had the skills and experience necessary to follow their musical inspiration, wherever it led them

John Hayes

John is the Studio Manager at Piano Lab. He is a Shenandoah Conservatory Graduate with a B.S. in Arts Management. John had a focus in Jazz Guitar as his instrument while attending Shenandoah University, but was also participating in group piano lessons, classical private lessons, & even classical voice lessons every year. His passion for teaching was also found in college when he was enrolled in a first year seminar course that required him to assistant teacher a fourth grade class at a local elementary school. In addition to Piano Lab, John performs regularly with his band Threesound which he has been a part of since 2011.

Travis Alexander

Travis has been teaching music since he graduated from Norfolk State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. In addition to playing and teaching piano, he also loves playing and teaching guitar.

Darrin Burrell

Darrin has been teaching music in the DC area since 2011, working as a private instructor and a group instructor with Music for Life Kids, Winterhalter Music, and Learn Now Music Inc. He graduated from Greensboro College with a BA in Music Performance and an MBA from Louisiana State University.

Darrell Payne

Darrell directed the Harlem Voices as they performed with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at Beacon Theater. He also sang background for Josh Groban at Madison Square Garden and on Good Morning America. As a performer, he has most enjoyed the role of Master of Ceremony for two wedding bands.

“I believe that part of my purpose is to help other people discover their unique skills. Those lightbulb moments are the moments I live for.

Piano Lab is an upbeat, very well planned, safe, clean, and exciting place for students to learn to play WELL, and for teachers to teach well. We get paid to do what we love as teachers @Piano Lab.

Something interesting about me is that I have perfect pitch, I love to arrange songs and six part harmony, and I love learning and discussing how music is influenced by nature.”

Carmen Sosa

Since childhood, I’ve been drawn to music, finding joy in its rhythms and harmonies. However, it wasn’t until later in life that I decided to pursue my passion more seriously. I studied in Italy, immersing myself in its rich musical heritage, and continued my education at Nova, Alexandria, where I refined my skills under esteemed mentors. Joining Piano Lab in August 2021 marked a significant milestone, allowing me to share my love for music with others and inspire them on their own musical journeys.

Susana Gallegos

Susana Gallegos was born in Granada, Spain.  After finishing her bachelor’s degree in her hometown, she decided to expand her knowledge and perspectives on music by studying in Freiburg, Germany with an Erasmus scholarship and studying her Master of Piano in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Her enjoyment of sharing the wonderful experience that music is has led her to develop a special dedication about working on projects in conjunction with other musicians, sharing chamber music performances and working extensively as an accompanying pianist and as a teacher.


Cherise Coutinho

Since childhood, Reese has been captivating audiences with her classical and jazz vocals, as well as her piano skills, through various talent contests and performances. Her dedication and talent shone through as she continued to excel, performing at district and state levels during her high school and college years.

Not stopping there, Reese’s musical ventures  around the world have given her excellent experience on stage. Growing up touring with her mom and dad who had their own band, she has shared the stage with them and carried on the family legacy of music, enriching audiences with their harmonious melodies for six unforgettable years.

Reese’s commitment to music education is truly commendable. Spending years teaching piano at her family’s piano school in New Jersey while also teaching one on one private voice and piano lessons, she has left an indelible mark on her students. Her involvement in various plays and theatre productions further demonstrates her multifaceted talent and passion for the arts.  
What sets Reese apart is her genuine love for teaching. Her favorite part? Witnessing the joy and sense of accomplishment in her students’ eyes when they master a new song. It’s this heartfelt connection with her students that truly makes her teaching journey fulfilling and rewarding.

Ava Newburn

Ava is a former piano student of Marilyn’s and was also a teaching assistant at Piano Lab during highschool. Since her time at Piano Lab Ava has also attended Berklee School of Music in Boston and is pursing a career in music production. She is an enthusiastic teacher who loves to problem solve in the classroom and is eager to make every student be the best musician they can be!


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