Our Biographies

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Inspiration for Mozart In Shape

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756 in Salzburg, Austria. He was most fortunate to have Leopold Mozart as his father and teacher who was able to develop and guide his son’s incredible natural gift.

As a child prodigy, Wolfgang gave his first public performance at the age of 6. Already at 7, the little Wolfgang had traveled to Germany, France, England and Italy, and performed his first compositions during his stay in Paris. His works included such sophisticated genres as sonata, symphony and concerto.

At the age of 13, Mozart occupied the prestigious position of Court organist and Concertmeister to the Archbishop of Salzburg. In 1781 he settled in Vienna and became the chamber composer to the emperor.

Mozart at 22 Years of Age

There are so many anecdotes about Mozart’s genius. When the 13 year old Wolfgang was in Rome, he heard Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere, a 12 minute-long piece for choir. The Miserere had been performed annually as an exclusive event for about a century in the Sistine Chapel, attracting pilgrimage from all over the world. Miserere was considered Papal property, and any copying of it was strictly prohibited. Mozart, however, did not break any rules when he wrote the whole piece from memory, after having heard it just once.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s tragic death at just 35 years of age due to uraemia cut his short yet unsurpassed career as one of the most beloved composers of all time. Today Mozart’s music continues to enrich people’s lives, minds and souls all around the world, as he continues to have many fans and admirers worldwide, with thousands of books in almost every language written about him. It is no wonder that one of the world's first and most prestigious music festivals, The Salzburg Festival, was dedicated to him.

Mozart's name is synonymous to all that is possible and associated with early achievement in life. It is precisely because of this connection that his name became the inspiration for our program. And it is in such spirit that through Mozart In Shape we are determined to bring about a healthy, productive and active life-style to children everywhere.

“Mozart is the greatest composer of all. Beethoven created his music, but the music of Mozart is of such purity and beauty that one feels he merely found it — that it has always existed as part of the inner beauty of the universe waiting to be revealed.”

- Albert Einstein


Aleksey Nikolsky

Creator & Founder

Aleksey Nikolsky is a Russian composer, musicologist, and specialist in psychoacoustics and developmental cognitive sciences. His life has been a unique combination of deep study and first-hand experience in making music of all kinds, including popular and folkloric music.

Aleksey singing as a child

This direction was set right from the start when Aleksey began playing the accordion at the age of 6. His teacher included the little Aleksey amongst his best students to play for live audiences in movie theaters. Inspired by this experience, Aleksey began to improvise his first compositions at the age of 7.

At 11, he began studying piano and composition. By the time he was 14, he had earned degrees in Accordion Performance, Piano Performance, and Choral Singing from the Igumnov Music School and the Shchedrin School of Music, both with honors.

Aleksey's experience in popular music continued along side his music education as he studied with the Soviet song writer Pavel Ayedonitsky, and Igor Yakushenko – one of the staunch enthusiasts of popular music in the USSR. For 2 years, Aleksey attended Yakushenko's Saturday Evening gatherings at the Moscow Central Musical School, a unique opportunity for teenage composers to play their works to one another, listen to new compositions from classical and popular fields, and engage in passionate discussions about them.

At 18, Aleksey received a Master's Degree in Music Theory, Pedagogy and Piano from the Moscow Schnittke Institute of Music, also with honors. This certified him to teach in primary music and general schools throughout the USSR, teaching the Kabalevsky Instruction Method in the general school system in Moscow.

He also attended classes in Popular Music Orchestration from the sister department of Popular Music – a top music school in the fields of Jazz, Rock, and other popular genres. Later, Aleksey took part in a folkloric expedition to Northern Russia where he had the unique opportunity to hear archaic samples of Russian polyphonic lyrical songs.

Aleksey at Age 17

Meeting Alfred Schnittke in 1978 changed Aleksey's life. Schnittke was quite taken by the similarities between the two of them: they both studied in the same school of music, and their first instrument was the accordion. Like Schnittke, Aleksey too ventured into composing modernistic music. Schnittke enthusiastically encouraged Aleksey to pursue a career in composition.

In search of a mentor capable of guiding him towards this goal, Aleksey was fortunate to find Edison Denisov. From 1979 until Denisov's tragic death in Paris (1996), they maintained a close relationship. For political reasons, until 1994, Denisov was disallowed to teach composition in the USSR, so he continued to give Aleksey private lessons, and suggested that he enter the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Roman Ledenev’s class.

Prior to entering the conservatory, Aleksey completed his mandatory military service where for 2 years he worked as the Artistic Director of the Music & Arts Club for his military unit. Responsible for organizing live entertainment and arrangement of popular music he also played the electric keyboard in a rock band. In 1982, Aleksey won a competition for best music ensemble in the Moscow military district. He also achieved some success in Urban Poetry with his lyrics that were used by popular rock musicians such as Vladimir Volenko.

Aleksey at Piano

Aleksey then entered the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied for 5 years, majoring in Composition and Music Theory. A year into his studies, he participated in an expedition to southern Moldova to collect and research the music tradition of old Orthodox Christian settlers in Izmail. The material collected in this expedition served him well for writing a suite of a'cappella choirs.

Over time, Aleksey became increasingly more interested in other disciplines. The History of Fine Art instructor at the conservatory – Vladimir Semyonov – helped him conduct a research project on the connection between composition and painting in the early 20th century, at the State Tretyakovsky Gallery. He also had access to the State Institute of Art History's department of music, which had rare materials on modern aesthetics of arts and music. For a year, Aleksey attended lectures on Philology at Moscow State Lomonosov University. In 1988-89, he studied the music of the Far-east and Middle-east at the World Music Center, becoming very close with Givanni Mikhailov, its founder, who supervised Aleksey’s research in the anthropology of the US music culture.

In 1989, Aleksey graduated from the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory with honors, where he received numerous awards including 5 consecutive Khachaturian Composition Awards. In 1990, he attended the newly opened Moscow University of History of Culture. He was recommended by the department of composition for post-graduate studies, but half a year later, he instead accepted an offer to become the Composer in Residence of the newly founded Orquesta de Baja California.

In Mexico, Aleksey worked out an innovative method of ear training – putting it to test with local children. In 1993, he became interested in a unique program of systematic musicology at UCLA, which caused him to come to Los Angeles. Access to the UCLA library's newest materials led Aleksey to discover an emerging science of biomusicology. This prompted him to put a hold on composition, and to devote himself entirely to building a method of teaching music as a language system to capitalize on innate human abilities to comprehend music and to naturally acquire music skills. His experience with the Kabalevsky system in the USSR, and Yamaha method in the USA, helped serve Aleksey to formulate Synergo – his own method of teaching music, from group sessions in pre-school up to advanced piano performance.

Aleksey in Study

Aleksey’s extensive 12-year study of psychoacoustics, neurophysiology, sociology of music, children's epistemology, history of music education and performance practices, and especially his own experimental research in synesthesia on hundreds of children – all led to the establishment of a very successful private business in Los Angeles.

Guided by children's appreciation and hundreds of pieces composed for the Synergo Music Method (1995-2005), prompted Aleksey a direction towards more melodic and tonal-based style, breaking away from modernistic idioms. His first-hand experiences in making jazz and gospel music in black communities in Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Archdiocese for the first 5 years after he moved to the US, contributed to the democratization of his compositional style.

Aleksey was enthusiastic to invest the entire stock of his research which he collected throughout all these years, into the Mozart In Shape program, taking it as a challenge to once again verify the motivational powers of music. This program opens a new page in the growing body of research on the connection between music and the physiology of human kinematics.


Sheila Bazleh

Artistic Director

Sheila's Painting

As a child, Sheila Bazleh displayed multiple talents and interests. At the age of 6, without any prior piano lessons, she could play rather elaborate songs, entertaining family and friends, and leaving her first piano teacher at awe of her artistic gift. At 7, Sheila won the BOAC (now British Airways) drawing contest. As she turned 11, she discovered music composition, which became her life affection.

But there were more interests to pursue. At 12, Sheila already had clientele for her fashion designs, and at 19, she was accepted to the leading school of fashion design, Lucy Clayton, in London, England.

Hand in hand, went Sheila's interest in fine arts. Only 12, she drew annual summer comics that were rare collectibles highly sought after by her peers. And still more in demand were her paintings. As a fine artist, her portraits in oil, pastel and pencil, hang on many walls in the US, Italy, France, England, Russia and Iran.

Sheila Running Podium

Sheila's talent knew no bounds. By the age of 14, her athletic ambitions bore fruit when she took 2nd place in a long-jump competition in the province of Khūzestān. A year later, she became the champion, at first in the city of Abadan, then in the province of Khūzestān, and finally becoming Iran's national champion in 100m Dash and 400m Relay, breaking the Asian Olympic sprinting record. The same year she was pronounced "Sportsman of the Year" by the National Institute of Physical Education. Among Sheila's favorite sport interests were swimming, diving, waterskiing and tennis. Her affiliation with sports and fitness has since remained a life-long passion.

At 15, Sheila left for England to continue her general education and music training at Mickelfields, in Sussex, and later continued her advanced piano studies with Martino Terimo at the Royal Academy of Music, in London. It was Mr. Terimo’s recommendation that Sheila be awarded an overseas scholarship by the Persian Ministry of Arts and Culture.

Inspired by ideas of Western graphic design and Modernism, upon her return to Iran, Sheila took every opportunity to promote European artistic values. At 23, she took up a project to design the logo and stationary for the newly opened Iranian division of Merrill Lynch. It was around the same time when Sheila acted as Social Secretary to the Canadian Ambassador. In the same year, one of her compositions was nationally broadcasted on Iranian National Television. She was selected by the Oscar-winning director, Victor Stoloff, to represent Iran in his international series: “Women of the World” – in the segment: “Women of Iran”.

Sheila Conducting

In 1977, Sheila came to the States where she has since resided. She attended USC taking film music with the Oscar winning composer, David Raksin who turned out to become a good friend and a perfect companion for attending concerts. At UCLA, she took courses in conducting, acting and film music. She also attended Jack Segal’s songwriting classes, in Hollywood. In 1980 she won the “Best Original Film Music Award” at the LMU Film Festival.

Her CD of piano solo works, “Hidden Path to a Persian Garden”, has had international distribution through Tower Records and Virgin Records (1994-96), winning her the title “Artist of the Year” by the Kayhan International.

Sheila’s works have been acknowledged by Her Royal Highness Farah Pahlavi – the former queen of Iran. Her “Reflections Awakened” – a set of 12 songs for voice and piano, with the purpose to unite classical music and traditional Persian poetry, was praised by Lotfi Mansouri – former Artistic Director of the San Francisco Opera.

Sheila’s works include music written for various chamber settings and theater: “Do you Turn Somersaults?” – a play by Alexei Arbuzov, in Theater 40, Beverly Hills (1991). Her chamber works have been performed at Wattis Room of Davis Symphony Hall, San Franscisco Conservatory of Music, Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church, Cal State Northridge and UC San Diego, amongst other places.

Sheila has appeared as a guest on numerous national and international radio and television programs, including BBC International, Radio France International, Voice of America, Radio Prague International, SBS Radio Australia International, PBS San Francisco, KIRN, Voice of Iran, Pars International TV, National Iranian TV, Omid-e Iran TV, Jam-e Jam TV, Kayhan International News Paper, Javan Magazine and Way of Life Magazine.

Sheila Group Photo

In 1998, Sheila was invited by ACI, Koln, Germany, to present a lecture on Treatment of Poetic Text in the Traditional Iranian Music and German Lied. In 2000, she authored two columns on “Music” and “Mother” in the “Progressive Woman” section of Irandokht periodical – a branch of an independent media company dedicated to women of various ethnicities and nationalities.

Sheila’s extensive background in developmental choreography has won her much acclaim, appearing as a guest on Health Channel’s “1, 2, 3...Grow!” Sheila has worked at various schools in Southern California presenting children concert shows on numerous stages, such as Malibu City Hall. Her experience in working with children throughout most of her life, combined with enthusiastic feedback from children's parents, inspired her to help develop the concept of Mozart In Shape.


Andrew Zey

Executive Director

Andrew’s experience and knowledge in business, sports and music has made him an invaluable leader and member of the Mozart In Shape team.

Curious and ambitious from an early age, Andrew began his piano studies at the age of 7, and attended “highly gifted” schools up through middle school. At 15, he entered California State University, Los Angeles, where he studied Business Entrepreneurship, Economics, and Accounting. Andrew concurrently participated in Boy Scouts of America, where he held numerous leadership positions and organized community service projects. During his last years of studies at Cal State LA, Andrew worked for The Woven Company, an interior design service firm, as a print designer, website designer and network administrator. After 2 years, he went on to become the Marketing Director at The Woven Company. Shortly thereafter, Andrew partnered with his brother Arthur to create azeyDesign, a web and application development firm.

An excellent opportunity presented itself when Andrew first heard about Mozart In Shape. This startup relies on the attractiveness of music-based fitness exercises to pre-school age children. Mozart In Shape needed a leader familiar with business, fitness and music, who could relate to children’s way of thinking. Andrew’s age and experience in youth sports and as an amateur musician made him uniquely qualified for this position.

Mozart In Shape benefits from Andrew’s firsthand experience with exercise physiology, training methodology, and nutrition. Despite Andrew’s young age, his background in athletics has a long history. Andrew’s enthusiasm for sports began at the age of 5, playing AYSO soccer and earning numerous gold medals until the age of 13. He then went on to participate in the LA County Junior Lifeguards and Los Angeles Swim Team, until at 17, Andrew became interested in martial arts. He joined the Rickson Gracie International Jiu-Jitsu Center, and then began training at the Gracie Academy in Torrance, where he earned his Blue Belt, and where he continues to train today.

Andrew’s passion for teaching displayed itself very early when in middle school his aptitude for helping minors in sports earned him a special Honorary Peers Stewardship Award from his school district. Andrew was actively involved in counseling youth in Boy Scouts of America summer camps, every summer. In 2009, he volunteered at the Gracie Academy, teaching Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to children under 8 years old, which inspired him to earn his personal training certificate from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

For the past 2 years, concurrent with his work at The Woven Company and azeyDesign, Andrew has been studying nutrition and exercise physiology, and has privately trained several clients, including children. From his studies and private coaching with children, he has developed a unique system of training – incorporating elements of gymnastics, weight lifting, yoga, and traditional mediums of aerobic exercise such as running, rowing, and swimming. His innovative system has been valuable in formulating and refining the Mozart In Shape fitness methodology.