Our Instructors

 

We have some of the most respected local music educators available to teach all instruments in our fabulous studio space. Check out our lesson page here for a full list of all the instrument lessons available.  If you have any questions, please contact us at info@lamorindamusic.com or (925) 385-0963 or stop on by the store.

After teaching online for 15 months, our instructors are back for in-person lessons. All instructors are fully vaccinated. Check with them on any masking policy they may have during lessons.

 

If you want to contact an instructor directly, click here for PDF versions of our instructor summaries that also include contact info (email and phone number) for the instructors (when prompted, the password is "music")

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Michael Bang

Guitar, Ukulele, Piano, Drums, Mandolin, Banjo, Bass Guitar

Michael Bang received a B.A. from UCLA and an M.A. from San Francisco State University in music composition.  He has been teaching for over 15 years and is skilled at many instruments as well as subjects such as songwriting, home recording, and music theory.  His approach to teaching is all about the student.  Everyone learns differently, and Michael tailors his lessons to the idiosyncrasies of each person.  He encourages everyone to learn multiple instruments, especially very young students.  He teaches all ages, and restrictions such as genre, style, or method do not exist in his classes.  The goal is always to have fun and see improvement with each lesson!

Active in the local music scene, Michael plays with indie rock band The Riot Professor, garage rock band Tell Me Tell Me, organizes various jazz combos, performs his own solo avant-classical-folk material, and even writes classical chamber music.

 

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Mark Benjamin, guitar teacher

Mark Benjamin

Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Songwriting, & Music Theory

Mark teaches single and duo lessons on guitar, bass, ukulele, songwriting, & music theory in all styles and genres to ages 5 and up (no age limit), beginner to advanced. 

 

He has worked with dozens of special needs kids and adults, acquiring the patience and skills to also successfully teach those who consider themselves slow learners.
 

The focus of his instruction often involves teaching the student his or her favorite riffs and songs while simultaneously sharing the “ear training” skills which allow him or her to eventually solve the mystery of “self-instruction”. He can also accommodate the varying learning pace, needs, and desires of each student/client.
 

Mark has developed special drills for organizing left & right hands as well as unique methods for learning chord movements, strumming & picking patterns, and “intuitive memorization”.
 

This journey began in 1982 teaching guitar lessons out of his parent’s garage, continuing on and off on a part-time basis (adding bass and ukulele) until it became his primary source of income in 1996, one year after graduating from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, Cum Laude in 1995. He won a prestigious Evert B. Person music scholarship in 1994. 
 

Mark has been teaching, performing, and recording professionally (solo, duos, bands) for over 30 years all over the Bay Area, mostly with “cover bands” playing everything from classic rock and soul, ska/reggae, blues, jazz, folk to Italian festival music, World music, and so much more.
 

Please view his website (www.lessonsonstrings.com) and Yelp page (yelp.com/biz/guitar-lessons-by-mark-benjamin-lafayette) for more info, including an array of verified student/ client reviews, songs from student recitals and other performances, and his original music.

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John Blasquez

Fiddle/Violin, Mandolin, Ukulele, Guitar

John Blasquez has four decades of experience teaching fiddle, classical violin, guitar, ukulele and mandolin to children and adults. His instrumental expertise is matched by his remarkable gift and love for teaching, his ability of making music fun and accessible for the very young to the very young, and his knack for simplifying ukulele for beginners. 

 

John teaches styles ranging from popular and tradition to jazz and blues, and classical … with a deep love for Bach. A superlative, seasoned fiddler and mandolinist in bluegrass, old-time, and Celtic genres, John is also an extremely versatile guitarist, specializing in solo finger-picking.

 

His classical violin lessons focus on baroque music, from Albinoni to Zipoli, getting kids started with violin as early as age 4 1/2. He also teaches, old-time banjo, tenor guitar, and bodhran, plus a number of alternate tunings for guitar and ukulele. Please visit www.singingwood.com for information about lessons. 

 

Although John directs most of his energy to teaching private lessons he also teaches workshops, group classes, and coaches rehearsal and performance groups. For three years he was the director of the yearly fiddlekids camp, a program of the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, and was a staff fiddle teacher there for 15 years. Check out the wonderful weeklong fiddlekids camp at www.fiddlekids.com

 

John also develops music software … some of which you can use for free on his website. Go to www.theoreticallyCorrect.com for articles and musings on music, music theory, 

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Bobby Burch

Piano, Vocal

Bobby has been teaching voice and piano in the Lamorinda area for 14 years. She studied  at the Cape Cod Conservatory, the Boston Conservatory, the San Domenico Conservatory and the University of the Pacific.

 

Bobby has been a professional singer since age fourteen. She recorded for Warner Bros Records and Liberty/ UA Records and was nominated for a Grammy in the pop/jazz category. Bobby has performed all over the U. S. at major venues in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Nashville and Las Vegas. She has appeared on many local and national TV shows including The Johnny Cash Show, The Steve Allen Show, The Jonathan Winter’s Show, and the Dinah Shore Show. Bobby has performed in pop, jazz and cabaret venues all over the Bay Area and has won the San Francisco Cabaret Gold Award.

 

Bobby has also had a successful career performing on hundreds of radio and TV commercials including: The Gap, Honda Toyota, Bank of America, Visa, C&H Sugar, A&W Rootbeer, Rice-A-Roni, Safeway and Levi’s.

“In teaching both piano and voice I make sure the students receive all the basic fundamentals of music. Then I help them take these basic principals and apply them to various styles of music. We then begin to explore the emotional expression that brings music to life. I strive to make the student’s experience with me not only educational, but also enjoyable. I encourage them to take the love and pleasure of making music with them for life.”

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Jen Carne

Violin, Viola, Fiddle, Guitar, Old-time Banjo

Jen has been teaching at Lamorinda Music since it opened in July of 2009. For four years she assisted in the 4th and 5th grade strings classes at Lafayette Elementary School, Springhill, Burton Valley, and Happy Valley. She also worked as a sectional coach for the Acalanes Violists.

 

Jen has studied the violin and viola for more than 25 years with private instructors, group lessons, and orchestras.  She began with classical violin and in 2005 earned a degree from the University of Michigan in classical viola performance.  Since her graduation Jen has studied folk guitar with singing, old-time banjo, and a variety of fiddling styles including bluegrass, old-time, and Irish.  

 

In 2012 Jen received her California teaching certification and is qualified to teach music in the public schools from kindergarten through high school. Jen loves playing and teaching a variety of musical styles and instruments and believes in music as community building. Her goal is for each lesson to be fun, inspiring, and productive.  She is currently accepting private students ages eight and older and also does small group classes.

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Stevie Coyle

Guitar

Stevie Coyle (late of the whiz-bang string band The Waybacks) teaches fingerstyle guitar lessons to guitar players of all ages and experience.

 

Stevie is one lucky bum. His dad ran a radio station in southern California and brought home all the promo LPs that didn't fit the Spanish-language format. The Ventures' Guitar Freakout, The 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett and Alvin And The Chipmunks Play The Beatles' Hits all came home on a single fateful day.

 

Not even several years of playing Folk Masses every Sunday could quash his musical spirit, and in high school he began fingerpicking, inspired - as so many were - by that first Hot Tuna album. After securing degrees in Theatre and Theology at Santa Clara University he hit the road for 3 years with The Royal Lichtenstein Circus. Once back home, he signed on as actor and stage manager for The San Jose Repertory Company. He announced killer whale shows. His best friend was an elephant.

 

He and his good pal Roy Zimmerman have worked closely in several collaborations over the past 25 years, including folk tribute / parody band The Foremen and comedy duo The Reagan Bros. in Los Angeles, and while there, Stevie appeared on Cheers and in many television commercials and had a regular role on The Young And The Restless (which was utterly subsumed by then-daily broadcasts of the interminable Iran-Contra hearings).

 

He recently completed and released his first solo CD, called "Ten-In-One," produced by singer/songwriter and guitar guru Walter Strauss. Check out his website at steviecoyle.com for more info...

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Guido Fazio

Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Jazz Bass, Jazz Piano

Guido Fazio, performer, composer and educator, is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area conversant on saxophone, clarinet, and flute.

 

His studies in music include San Jose State University, Cal State Hayward, Chabot College, with private instruction from prominent woodwind teachers in the Bay Area: in saxophone, clarinet, and flute. His extended studies included jazz piano with jazz educator and author, Frank Sumares as well as jazz improvisation with jazz guitarist Warren Nunes.

Guido has performed with and backed entertainers and renowned jazz artists, including Steve Allen, Phyllis Diller, Mel Torme, Patsy Cline, Sarah Vaughn, Rich Little, Louis Bellson, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Bill Watrous, Phil Woods, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bruce Forman and Gordon Goodwin.

 

As a composer and arranger, Guido has written for big bands, small ensembles, duets, and solo pieces. His music literature includes classical, traditional/Dixieland, modern jazz classics, big band, The American Song Book, Afro-Cuban, and many other cultural styles.  He has co-authored a book with the late jazz guitarist Warren Nunes on jazz improvisation technique and is continuing a series of books on improvisation.

 

Guido has been teaching for more than 30 years and has been a woodwind clinician for students from elementary school through college level, including jazz improvisation clinics at local college and high school festivals. He has been a private tutor for more than 30 years and has surpassed 3,000 students to date. He is currently performing with the "Fog City Stompers," a traditional style of jazz with the intent to preserve our national treasures art form. Their newest CD release is entitled "All Fogged Up".

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Todd Fortier

Voice

Todd holds a Masters in Vocal Performance and has been teaching voice for over 20 years. He works with singers of all levels in Classical, Musical Theater, and CCM styles. He is certified in Somatic Voicework Lovetri Method ™ The LoVetri Method Level 2 and also uses various body awareness modalities to help singers overcome vocal pitfalls that inhibit them from utilizing their most authentic voice.

 

He recently relocated to the Bay Area from the Midwest. He is a full member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). While in Wisconsin, Todd’s students were regular finalists and winners at both the State, Regional, and National NATS Auditions. His students also were accepted into the WSMA State Honors Choir, received Exemplary Soloist Awards in Classical and Musical Theater categories at the WSMA Solo and Ensemble Festivals, and have performed in professional local and regional theaters. His students have gone on to be accepted in top Classical and Musical Theater programs at Northwestern University, Indiana University, Carnegie Mellon University, and NYU to name a few. Todd’s approach is focused on helping the student to discover their truest, most genuine voice and expression. He teaches Classical, Musical Theater, and CCM(Contemporary Commercial Music) styles to all levels and abilities. He is certified in Somatic Voicework™The LoVetri Method Level 2.

 

Todd also enjoys working with singers to overcome vocal issues due to vocal trauma. He has helped many singers to overcome these deficiencies to be able to sing with ease and comfort again. 

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Joseph Hébert

Cello

Joseph is a cellist (classical and improvisational), choral director, educator, and music minister in the San Francisco bay area; he has toured Japan, Africa, and Europe as well as throughout the United States and has shared the concert stage and recording studio with hundreds of artists from the classical and popular music worlds including: Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, Placido Domingo, Ray Charles, Jesse Norman, and Marilyn Horne among many others.

 

Joseph is the Assistant Principal Cello of the Oakland East Bay Symphony, and performed with the Skywalker Symphony on numerous film and video recording sessions including the Grammy nominated CD compilation "John Williams Conducts, John Williams the Star Wars Trilogy/Skywalker Symphony." He has been described by the Oakland Tribune as “one of the most eloquently expressive cellists in the (San Francisco) Bay area.”

 

Mr Hébert is the Music Ministry Director at Corpus Christi Church in Piedmont. He has directed his choirs at the Vatican for the Pope as well as throughout Italy and Spain.

 

He served for over 15 years on the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley Young Musicians Program; while there he taught cello, coached string ensembles, directed the String Orchestra, and directed multiple choruses with the largest choir consisting of over 100 students. As a gifted educator, Mr. Hébert has given lectures and clinics to thousands of elementary through college age students locally and nationally.

 

Joseph Hébert’s music degree is from Cal State Hayward (Cal State East Bay) with additional studies at Stanford University and UC Berkeley; he studied graduate theology in Pastoral Ministry at Holy Names University in California.

 

Joseph is a voting member of the Grammy Recording Academy and has performed on many Grammy-winning and nominated recordings.

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Zac Johnson

Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute

Zac has received several music awards, including the Concord Pavilion's Dave Brubeck Scholarship and the Pacific Coast Jazz Festival Best Music Scholarship for saxophone performance. Zac earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in music performance on the clarinet from the California State University in Los Angeles in 1984.  As a freelance musician residing in the San Francisco bay area for over 35 years, Zac has backed up artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Huey Lewis, Eddie Money, and Billy Eckstein,  He continues to perform with numerous local bands and performers, and he has recorded with artists such as Steve Erquiaga, Stevan Pasero, Canoneo, and Christopher Spheeris.  Zac has also recorded with and currently performs most frequently with the band 'Tumbledown House'.

 

Zac has been an active private instructor for saxophone and clarinet in the Walnut Creek/Pleasant Hill/Concord area since relocating to the bay area in 1984.  He has taught students of all levels, from complete beginners all the way up to professional musicians.  He continues to be a regular faculty member at the Lafayette Summer Jazz Workshop.  

 

"Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching, I believe lessons should be designed around each student's individual needs and interests.  My goal is to continually help you build on your ability to play your instrument and to give you a greater understanding of music in general.  But I also believe it's equally important to keep the tone of the lessons enjoyable and personable.  In addition to what you play in band, I want to know what YOU are interested in musically.  If there are specific songs you would like to learn, I would like to help you make that possible."

Carol Kessler, Piano and voice teacher

Carol Ann Kessler

Piano, Voice

Carol Ann Kessler, Soprano, has been teaching private piano, voice and theory in Lafayette for the past 18 years.  She is highly motivated to share the gift of music with anyone who has the desire to learn, whether young child or adult.  She is a member of NATS (National Associations of Teachers of Singing) and has judged the NATS SF Bay Area vocal competition for the past several years.  She has also worked as a vocal coach at Acalanes High School, where she frequently used her piano skills in accompanying and leading sectional rehearsals as well as accompanying auditions.  Her voice students also get the benefit of her being able to accompany their voice lessons, which adds to their enjoyment of singing, and helps them in their audition and performance preparations.  She has had students go on to study music in college and sing/play professionally upon graduating.


Carol grew up in a musical family, listening to her Dad practice his trombone for his performances, and her Mother sing professionally, teach voice and conduct adult and children’s choirs and ensembles, all of which continues today.
 

She began formal piano study at age 3, upon her mother discovering she had perfect pitch.  She sang in choirs and ensembles throughout her childhood in the Davis public school system, studied violin and played in the orchestra, and went on to Indiana University to study voice.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree from The Jacob’s School of Music at Indiana University, Bloomington, and upon graduating, joined the Roger Wagner Chorale, based in Los Angeles.  She twice toured to Japan and Korea as a soloist and Chorale member and also continued her musical studies at Cal State Northridge.  


New opportunities led her to the East Coast, where she concertized in the NY, NJ, Pennsylvania and Delaware area before moving to Germany.  She sang solo engagements throughout the southern region of Germany while attending the local Volkshochschule to further her German fluency.  She also began teaching piano at the request of some local residents.  
 

She now makes her home in the East SF Bay Area and continues an active private teaching schedule as well as professional singing schedule as a soloist and recitalist in and around the greater SF Bay Area, Davis and Sacramento area.  She always enjoys hearing how studying music enhances the lives of her students, whether it be in their successes in school performances, professional engagements, a job interview, or having increased confidence in standing before their class and reciting a poem or singing a song.  Music is fun and essential in one’s life and Carol is committed to bringing the joy of music to every one of her students.  She is excited to be joining Lamorinda Music!  

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Jonathan Knight

Trumpet

Those students who have attended Cazadero Performing Arts Camp will immediately recognize Dr. Jonathan Knight (though they would know him as "JK").

An accomplished trumpeter, conductor, and educator, Dr. Jonathan Knight studied music at U.C. Berkeley, New England Conservatory, and Stony Brook University. He is Assistant Camp Director at Cazadero Music Camp, professor of trumpet at C.S.U. Stanislaus, directs the Symphonic Band at Diablo Valley College, conducts the orchestra for Benicia Ballet performances, and teaches music theory and history at Los Medanos College. As a freelance trumpeter, Jonathan has performed frequently with regional theater companies, choral societies and symphony orchestras. He is principal trumpet of the Brazzissimo brass ensemble, and has been a featured soloist with the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra, the Solano Winds, and the DVC Philharmonic. 

Jonathan has been teaching privately in Lafayette since 1996. He is passionate about helping young trumpeters achieve their full potential as musicians, and accepts beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. Many of his students have won principal chairs in their school ensembles, have been accepted into All State and/or County Honor Bands, and participated in youth ensembles such as the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra, Diablo Wind Symphony, and the Berkeley Jazz School Studio Band.

While practice assignments and teaching approaches vary with the needs and interests of the individual student, Jonathan emphasizes essential building blocks to develop musicianship and artistry: establishing a relaxed approach to tone production and developing fluid technique, along with proficiency in aural skills and fluent music reading. With these skills in place, students can excel in any musical environment.
 

Scott Lindorfer, bass teacher

Scott Lindorfer

Bass, Banjo, Guitar, Ukulele, Mandolin

Scott Lindorfer was brought up in San Leandro, California and graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with his master's degree in Double Bass performance. He works full time as the String Specialist in the store at  Lamorinda Music both repairing string instruments and helping customers.
 

Scott started learning guitar at age 10 and soon after began bass. He attended Bishop O’Dowd High School, where he participated in classical and jazz ensembles. He went on to receive his Bachelors of Music from San Francisco State University in 2015, where he won the university concerto performance competition in both 2012 and 2014. Scott spent five seasons in the bass section of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, including two international tours and also participated in Young Peoples Symphony Orchestra. He participated in numerous collegiate level ensembles including jazz combos, big bands, chamber ensembles, wind ensembles, and orchestras at SFSU and SFCM. He studied with many teachers in different styles including Stephen Tramontozzi of the San Francisco Symphony and Fred Randolph.
\Since age 12, he has performed live extensively in different settings including rock, folk, jazz, and classical styles. Scott actively plays electric and double bass, banjo, guitar, mandolin, and ukulele and enjoys sharing his knowledge. He has a large (and growing) collection of instruments and has recently been learning violin.  

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Frank Martin

Jazz Piano, Improvisation, Composition, Arranging

Northern California native Frank Martin continues a diverse career as a performer, producer and educator, and has performed and/or recorded with a wide variety of artists that include Stevie Wonder, Sting, Randy Brecker, Angela Bofill, Whitney Houston, Al Jarreau, Richard Bona, Shankar Mahadevan, Alex Acuna, Dori Caymmi, Larry Coryell, Flora Purim & Airto Moriera, Narada Michael Walden, Herbie Hancock, Pandit Ronu Majumdar, Tuck & Patti, Patrice Rushen, Wah Wah Watson, Robben Ford, Joey DeFrancesco, Lisa Fischer, Nguyen Le, Trilok Gurtu, John McLaughlin, Joe Farrell, Nishat Khan, Patti Austin, Steve Winwood, Santana, Abraham Laboriel, Chris Isaak, Anandan Sivamani, B.B. King, Larry Carlton, John Handy, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Botti, Jose Neto & the Netoband, Paul Simon, Patti Labelle, L. Subramaniam, Ramsey Lewis, Stanley Turrentine, Dennis Chambers, Alex Acuna, Kala Ramnath, and Steve Kindler.

For the past 20 years he has been a member of Sting’s “Rainforest Band” performing annually at Carnegie Hall  along with James Taylor, Elton John, Billy Joel and many others. 

 

Frank has traveled as Musical Director for recording artists Narada Michael Walden, Patti Austin, Angela Bofill, Roy Ayers. His arranging credits include Al Green, Dianna Ross, Turtle Island String Quartet, Steve Winwood, Chris Isaak.
 
Frank is currently on staff as an educator in the Jazz Department of the University of California at Berkeley as well as at the California Jazz Conservatory, and the Jazzschool in Berkeley, Ca. He served for 6 years as a Governor for the San Francisco Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. (NARAS) 

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Todd Minson

Trumpet, French Horn, Voice

Todd Royal Minson (trumpet, bass-baritone vocals, composer), a Bay Area native, has been a working musician for many years, performing with such groups as the Oakland Symphony, Opera San Jose, Berkeley Symphony, Berkeley Opera, Vallejo Choral Society, Solano Symphony, Diablo Theatre Company, Broadway By the Bay, Center Rep, SF Bay Area Chamber Choir, and Voices of Musica Sacra. He is currently a cantor at St. Augustine’s in Oakland, a position he has held since 2008. In addition to local performances, Todd has toured with choral, wind ensemble, and even rock and funk bands to venues all over the west coast, Washington DC, Austria, Czech Republic, and Poland.

 

In addition, Todd is a composer of works, both sacred and secular, for solo voice, as well as symphonic band, choral, orchestral, and brass literature. He has been commissioned to write works for chorus and orchestra. Some recent compositions have been performed to great acclaim, including his piece “Advent”, being described as, "...a delicate blend of impressionism, minimalism, and romanticism...simply gorgeous".Aside from his performing and composing duties, Todd is an active educator. Currently he is a Lafayette Partners In Education (LPIE) Arist in Residence, leading trumpet classes at Stanley Middle School and Acalanes High School.

 

He was also one of the vocal coaches on staff at Campolindo High School 2010 -2013. Todd has taught master classes at the high school and collegiate level, and has been an adjudicator for local honor bands. Todd also enjoys sharing his love of music with his large studio of over 45 voice, trumpet, and French horn students in Pleasanton and Lafayette. With over 15 years of teaching experience, he finds great pleasure in helping his students learn and grow into outstanding musicians.

Todd received his music education at CSU Hayward, where he was both a vocal and trumpet performance major.

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Dan Parenti

Bass

Parenti has been a top call Artist and Freelance Bassist since the age of 19, and has performed with some of the music industry’s biggest icons. Among those are Rosemary Clooney and Michael Feinstein. With Concord Records, Parenti was part of 5 full length albums, two of which were Grammy-Nominated. His endeavors don’t limit to only Jazz however, and in 2012 he decided it was time to create the D-Lucca Music Group. Playing everything from Rock, Jazz, R&B, Gospel, and everything else in between, Parenti dedicates himself fully in his craft and to constant study and training in his field. As a Composer and Producer, Parenti has created as well as assisted in many Original Performance Groups and Recordings.

Musically, people had been taking notice of Daniel since the age of 12.

When a junior high school music teacher, impressed with his ability to read music, handed him a bass and said, “If you can learn to play this over the summer you can be my bass player in the jazz band.” And so he did. Over the next few years, a lot of hard work, lessons, and hours of practice kept him advancing through school music programs.

 

Inspired by amazing teachers and legendary artists like Rush and Michael Manring, Daniel began to focus his talents and by age 17, had become an accomplished jazz and rock bassist. After high school he attended Cal State University at Hayward and was selected as a freshman to play with Dave Eshelmann’s top Jazz Ensemble. With the CSUH Jazz Ensemble, Daniel had the pleasure of touring all over California and parts of Nevada, as well as a tour of Southern Brazil. By this time Daniel had discovered the amazing music of such artists as Jaco Pastorious, Weather Report, Dave Holland, and Squarepusher, which inspired him to begin to write and perform his own music. At age 19 he’d been tabbed to be the bassist for Matt Catingub’s “Copa Cat Pack Band,” with Concord Jazz Records. Daniel would go on to tour with several popular jazz artists, including, Rosemary Clooney and Michael Feinstein, as Bassist for The Big Kahuna and the Copa Cat Pack. With Rosemary and Michael, over a four year period, Daniel made several appearances on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” and “The View,” toured all over the continental U.S., Hawaii, Germany, and Canada, and performed at many popular Jazz Festivals, including, 2000 Stuttgart Jazz Open, 2000-1 Westbury Jazz Festivals, NY, 2001 Maysville Jazz Festival, KY, and also 2000-1 Human Rights Campaign, DC. With Big Kahuna, Daniel performed and recorded with the reputable Honolulu Pops Orchestra; and recorded four full length CD’s with Concord Jazz Records, two of which were Grammy Nominated. And, he still managed to help pay his college tuition and complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance and Composition at the same time.

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Gary Peare

Ukulele

Gary Peare has been teaching ukulele at Lamorinda Music for over eight years–almost as long as the store has been open. He caught the ukulele bug while traveling and performing as a professional clown with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, but has been playing "seriously" for nearly twenty years. He leads the very popular monthly Community Uke Class & Jam at Lamorinda Music on the second Saturday of each month, and teaches a series of group classes for a variety skill levels throughout the year. Beginning through advanced players will enjoy Gary’s flexible and accessible teaching style, with lessons tailored to their individual musical interests and learning pace.

 

Gary is a Level 3 Certified Teacher in the James Hill Ukulele Initiative method. His group classes are geared toward students ages 12 to adult. Individual lessons are geared for students ages 8 to adult. When not strumming his uke, Gary spends time as editor of Ukulelia, a weblog for ukulele enthusiasts, and has written for Ukulele Magazine.

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Adriana Ratsch-Rivera

Classical Guitar

Adriana was born and raised in Berlin, Germany of a German mother and American father who was stationed with the US Army and later in the Air Force. As a teen, she played guitar for fun but soon found out that she liked classical guitar when she heard Andres Segovia and Narciso Yepes at concerts playing the music of J.S. Bach. 

When her family moved back to the States, Adriana applied at colleges and was accepted at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where she became a guitar major. Her signature pieces for her recitals included J.S. Bach's Cello Suite No. 2, works by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Antonio Lauro and the Preludios Americanos by Abel Carlevaro. She also composed music for Shakuhachi and guitar and became interested in music history and ethnomusicology. 

 

After she graduated, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for more cultural and artistic opportunities. She performed classical guitar at many bay area venues, weddings and performed the Vivaldi Concerto for Lute in D Major at several places and performed at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston, Texas.  Being dedicated to education, she also found a full-time teaching position at a private elementary school, The Pacific Academy, where she was the Music Director and instrument teacher for eight years. 

 

She left her job to have time for her newborn daughter. When her daughter was four, Adriana went to graduate school at the California State University, East Bay to study music history and literature which now enhances her classical guitar teaching. After graduating with a Master of Arts in Music in 2004, Adriana first found part-time employment at Diablo Valley College teaching 4-9th graders during the summer months guitar in groups for 17 years. She also worked part-time at Contra Costa College teaching piano and music history, and more recently retired from Napa Valley College as Director of Guitar Studies. 

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Mike Rose

Trumpet

Mike Rose, trumpet player, composer, arranger, has been an active part of Bay Area music scene for the last 35 years. He has an extensive touring and recording history with R&B, Soul, Blues, Rock, Pop, and Latin.

At the age of 16 Mike was playing professionally in R&B and top 40 bands often spending the breaks in the back rooms of a bar not being allowed near the drinking. In 1989 Mike recorded on Todd Rundgren’s Nearly Human album, performing on this Fantasy Studios “live session” with Prairie Prince, Vince Welnick, Randy Jackson, and Bobby Womack. Mike also performed live with Todd at the famed Filmore West.

 

Most of the 90’s was spent as a road musician touring the United States with several different bands including; Buddy Ace, Johnny Hernandez, The Dynatones, and Lydia Pense And Cold Blood. Also doing some International traveling playing in the Atlantis Showroom Orchestra for Carnival Cruise Lines.

 

Mike has worked as a freelance trumpet player with groups such as; Lenny Williams (Tower Of Power), Jimmy Mckracklin, Syl Johnson, Otis Clay, Sir Mac Rice, Little Anthony And The Imperials, The Shirells, The Coasters, The Drifters, The Mighty Sam Mclain and many more.

 

In 2006 Mike was awarded the Bay Area Blues Society Trumpet Player Of The Year. He’s recorded on dozens of C.D.’S for labels from Blind Pig records to Warner Brothers Recording. His studio work includes commercials for McDonalds and the video game Madden 2004.

 

L. Michael Rose was born in San Diego and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He played lead trumpet at Pleasant Hill High School and also at Cal State Hayward where he studied classical and jazz performance.

 

Mike’s teaching experience includes the Walnut Creek Civic Arts And Education as the Jazz ensemble director, Jazz Theory instructor and private Trumpet teacher. He served as the trumpet section coach at Diablo Valley College, and in 2011 directed the College Park High School Jazz Ensemble. Presently Mike is continuing to freelance, teach, write and arrange music and is now certified in Pro-Tools Digital Recording. For his most recent project Mike is excited to be reforming the RJ records group Soul Inheritance, and is looking forward to writing and recording their second album soon!

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Allan Smith

Guitar, 5-String Banjo, Electric Bass

Allan Smith has been a guitar teacher in the Bay Area since 1972 and has been a resident of Lafayette since 1984. He teaches all levels of the guitar as well as the occasional 5-string banjo student, and has mentored the guitar players in the Jazz program at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette for the past 4 years.

 

Allan taught guitar while studying architecture and music at UC Berkeley. He has studied with Brad Buethe, Paul Mehling, and Brian Pardo, and still performs in the Bay Area.

 

Allan's approach varies according to the needs of each student, and he focuses on keeping the student engaged through the study of music they enjoy, developing a strong sound through proper technique, as well as study of the theoretical knowledge that will allow students to continue to pursue the lifetime art of music-making on their own, in the style they choose.

Bob Athayde, Director of Music Education at Stanley, says of Allan, “He is an engaging teacher who connects immediately with each student, giving them specifically what they require. Whether they are a beginner or advanced guitarist, Mr. Smith gets right to the heart of their needs”.

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Rachel Smith

Guitar & Ukulele

Rachel Smith teaches electric and acoustic guitar to guitar players from beginning to intermediate levels, as well as a few ukulele and mandolin students.  She has studied with Mary Birch (guitar) and Colin Botts (bass, mandolin).  

 

Rachel’s teaching approach is flexible, fun, and accessible. She focuses on understanding the student’s individual learning style and developing a plan for success that will allow them to achieve their musical goals.  Rachel is also a vocalist, and performs regularly in the Bay Area as a vocalist and guitarist.   When not teaching or playing music, Rachel is head of the digital design department at Solano Community College, where she is an instructor of graphic design, animation, and illustration. 

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Chad Somers

Voice

Dr. Chad Somers holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance and Literature and Vocal Pedagogy from the Eastman School of Music. He is a full member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), has sat on the board for the NATS—San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, and serves as an Adjunct Professor of Music at San Joaquin Delta College. Chad’s students are known for their technical abilities and artistic expression. They have placed first in competitions (SFBAC-NATS, Lamorinda Idol), sang in major productions with professional companies, and have been accepted into the All-State California Honors Choir. Chad seeks to inspire authentic artistry and to uncover students' authentic voices, which leads to one-of-a-kind performances. He teaches classical and musical theater styles to wide-ranging age groups and from a variety of backgrounds. His studio is marked by its love of music, the joy of performing, and warmth as a community of learners.

Chad continues to perform on the opera, concert, and recital stages across America. He has premiered award-winning operas, collaborated with major composers, won competitions, appeared in recital, and sang as a soloist with orchestras and chamber ensembles. When not singing, you can find him hiking throughout Brines Regional Park with his wife and two children. Follow him on Instagram @chadsingsthings.

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John Speers

Flute, Piccolo, Oboe, Clarinet, Saxophone

John Speers grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he played in the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Young Peoples' Symphony Orchestra in High School.

 

He graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelors Degree in music performance. Following his graduation, he returned to the Bay Area and received his Masters Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

 

After graduating from the Conservatory, John decided to take his love of teaching music to a higher level and received his music teaching credential from Saint Mary’s College. He now teaches elementary school band and general music full time in the Lafayette School District and continues to teach privately outside of school.

 

John loves to share his passion for music and inspire his students. He is committed to making private lessons both fun and productive at the same time. Being a public school teacher, he believes in fully getting to know his students so that he can create enjoyable, but productive lessons based on their individual needs.

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Tom Stone

Piano, Trumpet, Trombone, Baritone, Euphonium

Tom Stone, a native of England and now a resident of Walnut Creek, has a bachelor’s degree in Music and Education. He has over 35 years experience in teaching and performing music. Tom has a holistic approach to teaching, and believes lessons should be designed around each student’s needs and interests. He works with students that range in age from elementary school to adulthood, including those with special educational needs, and from beginners through to advanced players.

 

He believes the essence of music is in the enjoyment of it - that it should be fun and interesting, while also at the same time building a solid foundation in the fundamentals of music. Tom is also very passionate about helping his students achieve their full potential in music and music-making.

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Tina Strance

Piano, Voice

Tina has a Master's Degree in Vocal Performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She also enjoys working with local musical theatre and opera companies. Tina has been helping student's age 10 and up learn healthy vocal technique in a safe and nurturing studio environment for the last ten years. All skill levels are welcome! Come learn to sing, build confidence and have fun!

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Mayumi Takarabe

Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano

Mayumi, a native of Tokyo, Japan, has been teaching music in the East Bay area for over 20 years. Her music education took place in Tokyo throughout her childhood ranging from private lessons to group playing such as youth orchestras and school bands.

 

Her interests in the English language, music, and early childhood education brought her to California, where she studied to become a preschool/kindergarten teacher, took various college-level music classes, and joined both professional and community orchestras.

​She teaches Suzuki-style beginning and intermediate violin, viola, and cello lessons but is open to more traditional methods as well. With her orchestra and band musician background, she is also interested in developing a student’s playing skills in a group set-up such as an orchestra or a chamber music group.
For Piano, she enjoys teaching beginning and intermediate levels using mostly Piano Adventures series and beyond.


Mayumi currently plays the violin and the viola professionally and she is a member of the American String Teachers Association.

Her main focus of teaching music is for the students to foster a love of music while building a solid foundation. Music learning has to be fun and she wants to share it with the students.

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Danielle Aversa Thomas

Private Voice, Group Voice,  Monologue/Audition prep, and Alexander Technique

Danielle has been teaching private voice lessons and theater for 6 years in the Lamorinda Area. As a teacher, she strives to create a fun and dynamic environment to help students develop their confidence, performing skills, and musicality in a supportive and nurturing space. In addition to private lessons, she teaches group classes for young singers. She studied at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts and at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and is a member of NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing. In addition to her voice studio, Danielle is a AmSAT certified Alexander Technique teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and teaches Physical Acting at the Academy of Art University. 

Danielle believes that vocal sounds authentically represent the body that creates them. Her approach explores the full body and mind of the singing artist. Together we will explore exercises of awareness, alignment, strength, and flexibility. When the body and mind become coordinated then the voice begins to function optimally, and the sound becomes a vivid experience for the singer and audience. Her goal for each student is for them to discover ownership of their personal singing technique so lessons become a satisfying and creative endeavor!

https://vividvoicestudio.mymusicstaff.com

 

Not a vocalist and interested in learning more about the Alexander Technique? Danielle works with all kinds of musicians and instrumentalists to adjust their posture for peak performance. In AT lessons, students will learn to organize themselves effectively to avoid injury and to identify and correct problem-causing habits related to repetitive movements. Helping musicians refine the quality of the physical movements, naturally results in improved musicality and quality of the music itself. 

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Liz Whitney

Voice

Liz has a masters degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado. She teaches Body Mapping - a technique that enables performers to adjust their bodies to find better balance and alignment - to her students, ages ten and up. Liz brings the practice of mindfulness into all she does and encourages her students to do the same. She holds multiple recitals and master classes a year, teaming up with colleagues and guest teachers to ensure that her students are always stimulated and challenged. She looks forward to creating music with you!

www.skylarkvoicestudio.com

We are OPEN Monday-Friday, 9:30 AM-6 PM and Saturdays from 10 AM-5 PM.