About Us

ToneRow is an online community for teaching and learning music, and inspiring music-making around the world.

Cultivating Your Inner Musician

We believe musical talent is innate. Music-making likely helped us evolve as a species by enabling us to communicate and cooperate to form communities. Even two-day-old babies show a preference for some music over others, and within their first year, children spontaneously break into song.

The sheer joy of producing beautiful sound is a powerful motivation to learn to make music. Yet a majority of students, whatever their age, quit lessons within a year of beginning an instrument. What enables some students to persevere and flourish? The most crucial factor is the quality of the student-teacher relationship.

Our purpose at ToneRow is to connect aspiring musicians with great teachers around the world, no matter what your ultimate goal and no matter where you live. We help you cast the net much wider… search the globe, even... to find that perfect combination of skill, temperament, and understanding. We want to revive the joys of music-making and all the benefits it brings.

Why ToneRow?

ToneRow is more than an online video platform: we bring the means to developing your artistry right into your home. We’ve created an intuitive, integrated user experience and developed technology to enhance musical instruction with seamless tools to record lessons, annotate videos on the screen, and rotate the screen to enable closer examination of techniques. We’ve also incorporated a quick and painless means to pay for lessons.

Because we’re musicians ourselves, we’ve worked hard to develop the best sound possible. Given the constraints of the average home broadband connection, there will still be some limitations in sound quality; but this will not hinder the discussion of other important elements of music making, such as phrasing, rhythm, posture, and interpretation.

Last but not least, we have adopted some of the best features of social media to strengthen the relationships among teacher, student, friends and peers. We are building an online community in which students and teachers can share tips, practice techniques, and resources.

With ToneRow, all you need is desire, determination, and an internet connection.

The Birth of ToneRow

In my fifteen years on the faculty of a major conservatory in New York City, I have taught students from many backgrounds and striven to meet the particular needs of each personality. Teaching can be a magical experience for student and teacher alike; it’s marvelous to see new possibilities take root and blossom in someone’s playing. I had never wondered whether this same kind of catalytic relationship could occur online until I began coaching a very gifted fourteen-year-old pianist whose dream was to attend Juilliard. She was so determined that she uprooted herself from halfway around the world to move to the U.S. for private lessons. I admired her courage, but I questioned whether such family sacrifice was really necessary or even beneficial. I began to think about an “online conservatory” connecting teachers and students throughout the world.

I began coaching online and encountering the same challenges that face everyone else who tries to use Skype for lessons. I knew there had to be a better way and decided to make ToneRow a reality. I enlisted my sister, Ju-Ping, who is also a pianist and seasoned educator, and Lisa Raggiri, an experienced entrepreneur, good friend, and classmate from business school. In David Ogunrinde and Steve Spurgat we found great partners in design and web development. In the early stages we also recruited two engineers—friend and Stanford classmate Lily Koessel and her colleague Mahesh Kodli–to develop a prototype. We’re proud of what we’ve created and urge you to explore all that ToneRow has to offer.

– J.Y. Song, founder

Our Team

J.Y. Song, Co-Founder. Raised in Switzerland, J.Y. earned her BA in Music and BS in Microbiology & Immunology with honors and distinction from Stanford, her DMA from Juilliard, and more recently an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business.

She has taught piano at Oberlin Conservatory and is currently on the piano faculty of Mannes and teaches Leadership & Innovation at Juilliard. As a performer, J.Y. was recognized by the APA Fellowship Award, the International Pro Musicis Award, and the Petschek Award from Juilliard. Her recording of Debussy Etudes received a Diapason d’Or and was designated a “Desert Island Selection” by Gramophone’s International Piano Quarterly. She sometimes wonders whether she should have become a scientist (but then remembers that it involves lots of grant writing). She is an avid Roger Federer fan, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of a very sweet shih-tzu.

Lisa Raggiri, Co-Founder. With a JD from Villanova and an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business, Lisa has acquired over ten years experience with technology start-up companies.

In addition to her executive role at Apriva, she has served as a Board Member of ScholarFund.org, is an adviser of Kairos, and has provided mentoring to entrepreneurs through Endeavor Miami. Lisa was inspired by the idea of providing access to high-quality music instruction to every corner of the globe. When not traveling for work, Lisa enjoys the cooking of her chef/restaurateur husband.

Ju-Ping Song, Co-Founder. Having pursued both literature and music as an undergraduate at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Ju-Ping went on to earn a MM in Music Performance from Manhattan School of Music and a PhD in Music from NYU.

She has taught at Hunter College and New York University and has an active piano studio. As an avid promoter of new music, she founded and directs NakedEye, Inc., a Lancaster-based contemporary music organization that commissions and performs works by living composers. Her work has taken her to Darmstadt Contemporary Music Workshop, Tanglewood Music Center, Akyoshidai New Music Festival in Japan, among others. She is a dedicated cyclist, gifted photographer, and is another wholly owned subsidiary of the same shih-tzu.

Asuka Qin, Co-Founder. A globe trotter with dual MBA and MPA degrees from New York University, Asuka brings both public and private perspectives to ToneRow. 

With a background in business partnerships at Google, business consulting at McKinsey & Company in New York and investment banking for J.P. Morgan Singapore, Asuka has also worked for the United Nations Department of Public Information. She is the co-founder of Zhaodao Technology, an online Enlgish education platform in China, and has brought her enthusiasm and broad experience to other NYC-based startups in their early stages. A serious pianist, Asuka cultivates her passion for music and moonlights as a comedian.

Steve Spurgat, Tech Partner. Managing Director at Big Human, a top digital product design and development studio in New York. Clients include Time.com, 1stDibs, Foursquare, Michael Kors, Fortune, TD Ameritrade, FTI Journal, Gilt and Samsung.

Founder/CEO of Vyou and formerly CEO of urbis.com, a social network for writers, Steve has extensive experience growing tech start-ups. Formerly an actor and playwright, he remains a devotee of good theater.

David Ogunrinde, Marketing. A highly regarded freelance Creative Director, David also teaches an immersive course in Visual Design for User Experience at the Graduate School at Rutgers University.

David has devoted his career to developing an intuitive and user-centered approach to branding and design. He has worked in both agency and corporate in-house environments and has broad experience serving corporate, non-profit, and start-up clients. When he’s not designing and making beautiful things that people love, he is spending time with his lovely wife, mentees, and godchildren. If you ask his nieces, he reigns as the “world’s most coolest uncle!” #fact.

Brendan Fallis, Business Development. One of the most sought-after DJs in the world, Brendan provides music for Maserati, GQ, Louis Vuitton, among others. He has been the face of Banana Republic and Revlon’s “The Power of Color” global campaign. He is a partner in the talent management firm PRE.VEYOR and two startups, NMRKT (blogs & magazines) and RentCheck (real estate rating system). With eight years of Suzuki piano training, an extensive music knowledge base from five years of dj’ing and having worked in music management for four years, he brings a deep passion to ToneRow.