Faculty

Click on an instructor to see his or her biography.

Administration

  • Louis Caimano, Jr.DIRECTOR, WOODWINDS

    Lauret Du Conservatoire De La Region De Bordeaux, France; M.M., Woodwind Specialist, Saxophone, Flute, Bassoon, Clarinet, Oboe with Honors, Michigan State University; B.M., B.S., Michigan State University. Studied saxophone with Jean-Marie Londeix; flute with Maurice Prouvo and Andrew Lolya; clarinet with Yves Didier, Dan Trimboli and Les Scott; bassoon with Loren Glickman, William Scribner and Dr. Edgar Kirk; oboe with Mark Hill and Marsha Heller; improvisation with Phil Woods and Eric Kloss. Former Director of Jazz Studies, and Instructor of Saxophone, Flute, Bassoon and Theory at Bemidji State University; Assistant Director and Instructor of Saxophone, Michigan State University; Adjunct faculty, City University of New York – QCC; Instrumental Music Teacher, Harrington Park and Ridgewood NJ public schools. Composer/arranger of numerous jazz fusion, new age and commercial compositions, including “Manhattan Twilight” and “Dyad.” Performance credits include the Broadway orchestras of A Chorus Line, Baby, CATS, Dancin’, David Copperfield, Evita, 42nd Street, La Cage aux Folles, Mame, Manhattan Showboat, Woman of the Year and Shrek the Musical; as well as the Saxophonist “Salaire” at Grand Theatre de Bordeaux, Musique Municipal, Orchestre de Harmonie, and the Lansing Symphony. Performed on saxophone with such well-known acts as The Four Tops, The Temptations, the Mellow Kings, Gary Burton, Urbie Green, Jimmy Holmes, Arnie Lawrence, John Mahegan, Rita Moreno, Marvin Stamm, Larry Stuart, Enzo Stuarti, Clark Terry, Jerry Vale and Nancy Wilson. Appeared in the movies “Muppets Take Manhattan” and “The Juror.” Radio performances on “France Inter,” the French National Radio Station. Founded The Ridgewood Conservatory in 1998 after providing private woodwind instruction to more than 200 student musicians.

  • Jan King CaimanoASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

    Jan Caimano holds a degree in Elementary Education from the City University of New York – Queens College, with a focus in open classroom and non-traditional teaching techniques. After teaching in both NYC and New Rochelle, she spent thirty years as the Founder, President and Chief Copywriter of King Graphic Studios, an award-winning design firm specializing in helping not-for-profit and business-to-business ventures. Co-founder of The Ridgewood Conservatory, Jan is responsible for the educational components of the instrumental, Early Childhood Music, Dance and summer programs, special events planning, program development and advertising. In addition to her role as the Associate Director of The Conservatory, Jan is a hypnosis professional certified by both the American Academy of Hypnotherapy and the International Hypnosis Federation, specializing in helping clients of all ages overcome stress and anxiety, increase confidence and self-esteem, overcome fears and phobias, and deal more effectively with issues related to health and wellness.

  • Warren CarrADMISSIONS / OPERATIONS MANAGER

    Warren Carr brings just the right blend of musicianship and business expertise to The Ridgewood Conservatory. With a Masters degree in Music from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University, Warren is a brilliant tenor who has performed in both the operatic and musical theater genres throughout the US and Europe. As a voice teacher, he has taught students of all ages, many of whom have been awarded roles and been accepted into choral programs throughout New Jersey. Warren has also made his mark in the corporate world, holding positions of Administrative Manager at Design Strategy Inc and Sr. Staffing Agent with The Assurance Group, where he implemented his knowledge of business development, community engagement, contract negotiations and social media marketing. In addition to his responsibilities as our Admissions/Operations Manager, Warren is a valued addition to our Voice/Acting faculty, and is involved in the planning and implementation of a wide range of programs and workshops at The Conservatory. (See Voice / Acting for Warren’s performance credits.)

Woodwinds

  • Louis Caimano, Jr.DIRECTOR, WOODWINDS

    Lauret Du Conservatoire De La Region De Bordeaux, France; M.M., Woodwind Specialist, Saxophone, Flute, Bassoon, Clarinet, Oboe with Honors, Michigan State University; B.M., B.S., Michigan State University. Studied saxophone with Jean-Marie Londeix; flute with Maurice Prouvo and Andrew Lolya; clarinet with Yves Didier, Dan Trimboli and Les Scott; bassoon with Loren Glickman, William Scribner and Dr. Edgar Kirk; oboe with Mark Hill and Marsha Heller; improvisation with Phil Woods and Eric Kloss. Former Director of Jazz Studies, and Instructor of Saxophone, Flute, Bassoon and Theory at Bemidji State University; Assistant Director and Instructor of Saxophone, Michigan State University; Adjunct faculty, City University of New York – QCC; Instrumental Music Teacher, Harrington Park and Ridgewood NJ public schools. Composer/arranger of numerous jazz fusion, new age and commercial compositions, including “Manhattan Twilight” and “Dyad.” Performance credits include the Broadway orchestras of A Chorus Line, Baby, CATS, Dancin’, David Copperfield, Evita, 42nd Street, La Cage aux Folles, Mame, Manhattan Showboat, Woman of the Year and Shrek the Musical; as well as the Saxophonist “Salaire” at Grand Theatre de Bordeaux, Musique Municipal, Orchestre de Harmonie, and the Lansing Symphony. Performed on saxophone with such well-known acts as The Four Tops, The Temptations, the Mellow Kings, Gary Burton, Urbie Green, Jimmy Holmes, Arnie Lawrence, John Mahegan, Rita Moreno, Marvin Stamm, Larry Stuart, Enzo Stuarti, Clark Terry, Jerry Vale and Nancy Wilson. Appeared in the movies “Muppets Take Manhattan” and “The Juror.” Radio performances on “France Inter,” the French National Radio Station. Founded The Ridgewood Conservatory in 1998 after providing private woodwind instruction to more than 200 student musicians.

  • Gary HammeOboe

    M.M., Juilliard, B.M., University of Central Florida. Studied with Ronald Roseman at Juilliard. Founding member of the Artists International Competition-Winning Brioso Woodwind Quintent, leading to his Carnegie Hall debut and multiple return engagements. Performed with many notable orchestras including the Brooklyn Philharmonic, New York Chamber Symphony, New York Pops, Mostly Mozart Festival, New York Choral Society, Little Orchestra Society, Opera Orchestra of New York, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Jupiter Symphony Orchestra, National Chorale, Amor Artis Chorale Orchestra, Philharmonia Virtuosi, Soloisti New York, American Ballet Theatre and the American Symphony Orchestra. Affiliated member of numerous Broadway shows – including Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, Aida, Miss Saigon, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Ragtime, Titanic, Jekyll and Hyde, Cinderella, and Showboat.

  • Don MokrynskiCLARINET, BASS CLARINET

    M.M., The Juilliard School; B.M. Eastman School of Music. Studied with Herbert Blayman (former principal clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra); Stanley Hasty, Leon Russianoff, and Richard Waller. Principal Clarinetist with the national tours of Phantom of the Opera and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber starring Michael Crawford. Performed with the NJ Symphony, the New Haven Symphony, Solisti NY, and Orchestra New England, as well as the Jersey Lyric, New Haven and Connecticut Grand Opera companies. As an avid chamber musician, has performed with members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Mr. Mokrynski is a founding member of the critically acclaimed Palisades Virtuosi, performing in concert throughout the tri-state area as well as in Hawaii and Canada. The first five volumes of their New American Masters series has been named to Fanfare magazine’s “Most Wanted” lists. Attended the music festivals of Aspen, Waterloo and Heidelberg and has recorded for Albany, Koch International, Soundstream and Elektra records.

  • Margaret SwinchoskiFLUTE, PICCOLO, RECORDER

    M.A., Aaron Copland School of Music, CUNY-Queens College; B.F.A., B.A., Johnson State College. Studied flute with Edward Powell, Thomas Nyfenger, Sophie Sollberger, and Trudy Kane. Has taught flute privately to students of all ages and levels for over thirty years. Debut recital by Artists International at Carnegie Hall. Featured soloist at the National Flute Association Convention in the World Premiere of Leo Kraft’s “From The Hudson Valley,” and Richard Lane’s Flute Concerto with the Adelphi Chamber Orchestra. Has appeared as a concerto soloist with numerous orchestras, and has served as principal flutist with the Westchester and Harrisburg Symphony Orchestras and the Lancaster Festival Orchestra. Has performed regularly with the NY Gilbert & Sullivan Players, and with the Broadway orchestra of Phantom of the Opera since 1991. Formed the Legacy Duo with harpist Emily Mitchell, performing in concerts and on radio and televisions stations in the NY metropolitan area. As a founding member of the Palisades Virtuosi, has commissioned and premiered over 70 works for flute, clarinet and piano from such well-known composers as Paul Moravec, Melinda Wagner, Eric Ewazen, Carlos Franzetti, Robert Manno, Dan Cooper, Frank Ezra Levy, and Allen Shawn among others, playing concerts throughout the tri-state area and in Hawaii and Canada – with Volumes 1 though 5 of Palisades Virtuosi’s New American Masters series being named to Fanfare magazine’s “Most Wanted” lists. Ms. Swinchoski’s solo debut CD From The Hudson Valley garnered rave reviews from Fanfare magazine and American Record Guide. She can be heard on the Albany Records, Newport Classics, CRI, and High Point labels.

Strings

  • Louis DayViolin, Viola

    M.M. and B.M., Mannes College of Music. Studied with Karen Tuttle at Mannes College of Music, Wolfgang Krist at Wofgang Hoch Orchester Schule in Germany, and Bernard Kadinoff at Boston University. Performed with numerous orchestras in the tri-state area and abroad, including the American Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Virtuosi, Stamford and Fairfield Symphony Orchestras, New York Pops, Opera Orchestra of New York, Connecticut Grand Opera, New York Virtuosi and the Broadway orchestras of 1776, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, as well as with the Orquestra Symphonica Portuguesa’Sao Carlos Orchestra in Portugal, and the Orchestra Sinfonica de Sevilla and the New American Chamber Orchestra in Spain.

  • Natalie KrieglerViolin, Viola

    New England Conservatory; Manhattan School of Music – Violin/Music Performance. Studied with Raphael Bronstein, Arianna Bronne, Alfredo Cavalieri, David Nadien, Glen Dictorow, and Sam Kissel. Teaching credits include The Bronx House, The Riverdale Y, Montclair State University Preparatory Dept, and Westchester Conservatory of Music; former substitute teacher at the Preparatory Depts of Manhattan School of Music and Mannes College of Music. Critically-acclaimed violinist, has received numerous accolades in more than 40 years of performance. Appeared as a violin soloist with The Vermont Symphony Orchestra, The Amphion Chamber Orchestra, The Mohawk Trails Chamber Orchestra, and with the Capriccio Ensemble, where she is currently Artistic Director and first violinist. Has been a NYS-sponsored and featured recitalist at The Empire State Plaza on several occasions. Freelance credits include performances in Broadway shows such as Grand Hotel, Guys and Dolls, Hello Dolly, Damn Yankees, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables. Has performed in orchestras such as Music Sacra, served as concert mistress for The NY Gilbert & Sullivan Players and a run of My Fair Lady at The Westbury Music Fair, has been the concert mistress for Joel Grey, Bel Canto Opera, and has performed in concert with such well-known artists as Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Jay Black, Gladys Knight, Connie Francis, Mel Torme, Dionne Warwick, Smokey Robinson, Barry White, and Johnny Mathis. Commercial credits include performing the original string music for the Nickelodeon TV show Power Pets (later called Wonder Pets). Performed as part of a string trio at the wedding ceremony of Jerry Seinfeld and Jessica Sklar, has recorded for artists such as Billy Joel (An Innocent Man) and for Kiri Tekanawa (Kiri Sings Gershwin), and is in demand as a commercial recording violinist for television spots and advertisements, including the CBS Evening News, Coca Cola, Amtrak, AMC Classics, Volvo, Nickelodeon, and many others.

  • Diane MichaelsHarp

    B.M., Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. Studied with Alice Chalifoux, Joan Holland (Interlochen Arts Academy). Faculty member, Wharton Music Center. Orchestral credits include principal harpist with the Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea since 1993, Thoroughly Modern Millie on Broadway, and performances with the Queens Symphony, Metro Lyric Opera, the New York Verismo Opera Company, RTG Productions, the Garden State Philharmonic, and the Monmouth Symphony. Has performed with Tony Bennett at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City and was a member of the All American College Orchestra at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center, currently performs for tea at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, and has performed at New York’s most prestigious hotels and restaurants, including the Plaza Hotel, the Rainbow Room, the Waldorf-Astoria, the Ritz Carlton Hotel, and the Hilton at Short Hills. On the roster of Music for all Seasons, a non-profit organization through which she performs at numerous facilities including hospitals and shelters for victims of domestic abuse. Has toured with the NY Harp Ensemble in the U.S. and Italy,and with the Paulson Harp Ensemble in NJ and Ireland. A Masterwork Music and Arts Foundation Young Artist Recitalist and a four-time gold medallist in the harp division of the United Irish Counties of New York, Inc. Feis. As a winner of this competition, she appeared in the winners’ concert at Carnegie Recital Hall. Mid Atlantic Regional Director of the American Harp Society. Published arrangements for harp ensemble and a book for beginning harp students.

  • Bill MoringElectric Bass, String Bass (Double Bass)

    Indiana State University. Studied harmony and piano studies with Michael Moore, classical bass repertoire and technique with Homer Mensch (Julliard, NY Philharmonic), Gregory Dugan (Indianapolis Symphony), and Stuart Arfman (Principal, Indianapolis Symphony), jazz bass and sound reinforcement studies with Rufus Reid, jazz and classical bass with George Mraz. Currently on the faculty at Montclair State University, Sarah Lawrence College, and NJPAC’s Jazz for Teens. Has hosted an assortment of student clinics at various high school and college jazz festivals in the US and abroad; has worked with students individually and in groups at North Texas State, Rutgers, The New School, Jersey City State, Long Island University, and SUNY Purchase, among many others. A versatile bassist whose scope includes gigging with the big bands of legends Count Basie and Woody Herman, jammin’ jazz/funk and beyond with the Dave Stryker/Steve Slagle quartet, or stretching harmonic and rhythmic boundaries with John Hart and Chris Potter to performing in the classical vein as a freelancer or orchestra member. During his early years, played bass in cellist Hank Roberts’ group, was a member of the Indianapolis Philharmonic, worked with John Von Ohlen’s big band, and played with Dizzy Gillespie, Slide Hampton, and Cal Collins. Later worked with drummer Mel Lewis, toured with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd and the Count Basie Orchestra, and gigged with the Village Vanguard Orchestra and the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabakin Jazz Orchestra. Has performed with such renowned singers as Joe Williams, Mel Tormé and Susannah McCorkle, and with jazz legends Frank Foster, AI Cohn, Clark Terry, Mickey Roker, Tommy Flanagan, Junior Cook, Roland Hanna and Ray Barretto. Has performed and/or recorded with many contemporary artists including John Abercrombie, Gary Bartz, Manolo Badrena, Larry Coryell, Vic Juris, Dave Kikoski, Billy Hart, John Hart, Eddie Henderson, Joe Locke, Mulgrew Miller, Chris Potter, Dom Salvador, Dave Stryker, and James Williams, as well as on nationally aired jingles. Notable concerts and festival performances include Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall and Carnegie Hall in NYC; Monterey (CA), JVC Jazz (NY), Pori (Finland) and Winnipeg (Canada) Jazz Festivals. Former member of Intl Assoc. of Jazz Educators, current member of Intl Society of Bassists and Intl Federation of Musicians, Local #802.

  • Lanny PaykinCello

    M.M., The Juilliard School; B.A., Wesleyan University. Studied with Bernard Greenhouse, Harvey Shapiro, and Lynn Harrell. Recipient of the Juilliard Alumni Award and the Paderewski Foundation Award. Taught cello at Wesleyan University, Manhattan School of Music’s Precollege Division, and School for Strings; currently on the faculty of Montclair State University’s summer program at Stokes Forest. Orchestral credits include the New York City Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera, has appeared as the Principal Cellist for the New York City Opera, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Long Island Philharmonic and the American Symphony Orchestra, and as the Assistant Principal Cellist with the Adelaide (Australia) Symphony Orchestra. Member of the American Composers’ Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Westchester Philharmonic. Traveled throughout Asia with the New York Philharmonic with performances in Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, as well as at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. Professional credits also include various solo and chamber music concerts, numerous summer festivals including the Bard Music Festival, Manchester Music Festival, Philomusica at Dartmouth College, Aspen Festival, and the Paros (Greece) Festival, and recordings on the Premier Records, DRG and MMD labels.

  • Beverly SomachViolin, Viola

    B.A., Columbia University, graduated Phi Beta Kappa at age 19. Declared a “child prodigy” at age five, Ms. Somach was called “another Heifetz” by one critic, and later became Jascha Heifetz’s sole disciple. Former faculty member of Rutgers University Summer Arts Institute, Capitol University, Antioch College, Third Street and Henry Street Music Schools and the Harlem School of the Arts. International concert appearances in Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen Amsterdam, Brussels, Luxembourg, Zurich, Warsaw, Cracow, Szcezcin, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Curacao, Aruba, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Toronto. Concert appearances include Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, Town Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York City, as well as appearances throughout the U.S. and Canada including Washington, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Chicago. Solo appearances include Tanglewood, Woodstock, Waterloo, Music Mountain and Spoleto USA music festivals. Affiliated with the American and Rochester Symphony Orchestras.

  • Jacqueline SternCello

    M.M. Performance, Manhattan School of Music; B.M. Music Education, Ithaca College. Formerly an Artist-Fellow with the Bach Aria Festival and a full scholarship student at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies in England. Cello instructor, orchestra conductor and co-chair of the Music Committee at the Green Meadow Waldorf School. Conducts the Westchester Junior Strings of the Greater Westchester Youth Orchestras. An active orchestral and chamber musician in the tri-state area, performs on cello with the Stamford Symphony Orchestra, Westchester Camerata, and as a member of the Terzetta trio and the Spirit improv group, among other ensembles. Has performed on Baroque cello with the Artek Ensemble.

  • Marti SweetViolin, Viola

    M.M., B.M., Juilliard School. Studied violin with Oscar Shumsky. Classical credits include performances as a member of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, American Ballet Theater, and associated violinist with the Metropolitan Opera, performing under the batons of James Levine, Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, and countless other well-known conductors. In addition to her acclaimed career as a classical violinist, she has recorded and/or appeared live with celebrities of the pop, jazz and entertainment worlds, including Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Charles Aznevour, Michael Feinstein, N’Sync, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Britney Spears, Whitney Houston, Phil Ramone, Quincy Jones, Smokey Robinson, Sheryl Crow, Rihanna, Natalie Cole, Julie Andrews, Stephen Sondheim, Barbara Streisand, Phillip Glass, Peter Schickele (PDQ Bach), the New York Pops, Joe Lovano, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Jerry Lewis, Back Street Boys, Liza Minelli, Bernadette Peters, Carly Simon, Faith Hill, Reba McIntyre, Lou Reed, Rod Stewart, Burt Bacharach, Peter, Paul and Mary, Willie Nelson, Billy Joel, Michael Bolton and many, many more. She has performed for Presidents Reagan and Clinton. Marti and the Sweet Music Ensemble have played for the Grammy Awards, countless commercials, records and films such as Beauty and the Beast, Mission to Mars, Big, The Untouchables, Kundun, You’ve Got Mail and Analyze This. Marti is a founder of the Music Amici chamber ensemble, has toured throughout Europe, Japan and the Soviet Union, and has recorded for the New World Records, Arabesque, Helicon, GRP, Arista, Epic, Atlantic and Columbia labels. Her interest in performing jazz led to recording for the Angel/EMI label with guest artists Joe Levano and Randy Brecker. Marti currently devotes time to teaching young violinists and performing solo concerts.

Brass

  • Kathleen DitmerFrench Horn

    M.A., Western Illinois University; B.M., Hartt College of Music. Studied with Paul Ingraham, William Capps, James Jacobs. Former faculty member, pre-college divisions of Manhattan School of Music and Hartt College of Music. Currently teaches privately, at the Wharton School of Music, and at select summer band camps nationwide. Well-known French Hornist with a wide variety of solo, chamber music, orchestral, brass band and jazz band credits in New York and New Jersey as well as throughout the U.S. Extensive career includes performances with the Metropolitan Opera, American Ballet Theatre, Long Island Philharmonic, Queens Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Nashville Symphony, New Jersey Symphony and St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble. Broadway credits include Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. Recordings with Odyssey, Audio Media, Sound Stage Productions, LSI Studios, Nashville Sound Studios, and Opryland USA Show Orchestra.

  • Rick HenlyTrumpet

    M.M., Northwestern University; B.M., Ithaca College. Studied with Vincent Cichowicz, Herbert Mueller, Dr. James A. Ode, Adolph S. Herseth, Armando Ghitalla, Roger Voisin, Samuel Krauss, William Vacchiano, Carmine Caruso, Valery Ponomarev. Formerly on the faculties of The American Conservatory of Music, Elmhurst College and the Preparatory Dept. at Northwestern Univ., continues to give solo demonstrations and clinics all around the country. Lead Trumpet on a dozen Broadway shows, including Miss Saigon, The Producers, Cabaret, The Music Man, Follies, Thou Shalt Not, 42nd Street, and the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra. Among a long list of big band, orchestral and chamber music credits, performed on trumpet with such notables as Shirley Bassey, Frank Sinatra, the NY Pops, American Symphony, Brooklyn Phil.; as a soloist for the Little Orchestra Society; as Lead Trumpet for Liza Minnelli, Dennis Edwards and The Temptations Revue, Michael Amante “America’s Tenor,” Charli Persip’s Supersound; and with a host of world-famous conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Sir Georg Solti, Claudio Abbado, Andre Previn, Pierre Boulez, Rafael Kubelik, Lukas Foss and Skitch Henderson. Has recorded on countless jingles and film dates; numerous times with the Chicago Symphony; on the original cast recordings of Gypsy and Me and My Girl; for television shows on ABC, CBS, WNET and PBS; as well as on two of his own CDs: Christmas Present and Love Like Fire.

  • Barry SachaisTrombone, Trumpet

    M.M. in Music Education and B.M., Manhattan School of Music; graduate studies in School Administration, Montclair State. Studied trombone with John Clark of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Over thirty years on the faculties of Hackensack and Dumont NJ school systems as an instrumental music teacher, as well as a Middle School and High School Band Director. Hold certifications in both teaching and school administration. Performed on trombone with the famous show band at Grossinger’s Hotel in the NY Catskills, and with such well-known acts as Martha and the Vandellas, Lou Christie and the late Gregory Hines, along with many others. In addition to performing since 2002 with the 1960’s classic rock ‘n roll group The Happenings, whose number one hit was See You in September, he currently freelances with numerous jazz and rock ‘n roll groups in the tri-state area. Founding member of the still active jazz quartet, Sirocco Jazz.

Percussion

  • Steve JohnsDRUMS, PERCUSSION

    New England Conservatory of Music. Studied classical percussion with Fred Buda and Vic Firth at the New England Conservatory, with jazz drummer and percussionist Alan Dawson, and with master drummer Bob Gullotti. Previously taught at the Vermont Jazz Center, the Jazz In July Program at the University of Massachusetts, the Thelonius Monk Institute in Aspen Colorado and Williams College in Massachusetts. Currently an Associate Professor at Montclair State University. Well-versed in any musical style, has worked in every conceivable setting from performing in such well-known big bands as the Count Basie Orchestra and accompanying singers like Jessye Norman, Helen Merrill, Diane Schuur, and Dakota Staton, to playing in more experimental settings such as the Thomas Chapin Trio and groups led by Marty Ehrlich and Mario Pavone, and rock performances with the Paul Butterfield Blues and Allen Toussaint bands. Toured worldwide as the regular drummer for Sonny Fortune, Benny Carter, Dr. Billy Taylor, and many other luminaries; worked, recorded and collaborated with Donald Byrd, Nat Adderley, Eddie Henderson, the Vanguard Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabakin Big Band, Benny Carter, Phil Woods, Illinois Jacquet, Michael Brecker, Stanley Turentine, Slide Hampton, Kenny Burrell, and many others. As the drummer for NPR’s Billy Taylor’s Jazz at The Kennedy Center, recorded 75 shows with guests including Wynton Marsalis, Nancy Wilson, Joe Lavano, Arturo Sandoval, Ray Barreto, Milt Jackson, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Grover Washington, Gary Burton, and Harry Sweet Edison. Appeared on over 70 albums by Leon Thomas, George Russell, Houston Person, John McNeil, Peter Leitch, Gary Smulyan, and Bob DeVos, among many others. Member of the collective group Native Soul, and has been co-leader on recording projects by that group (One Mind, 2012, American Showplace, Soul Step, Talking Drum Records), as well as on an album with saxophonist Peter Brainin (No Saints, No Sinners, Playscape). Recently released debut CD Family with son Daryl and wife Debbie, along with guitar greats Dave Stryker and Bob DeVos.

  • Scott W. SimpsonPERCUSSION, THEORY AND MUSICIANSHIP

    M.M., The Juilliard School; B.M., Hartt School of Music. Director of the NJ Youth Symphony Percussion Ensemble. Current faculty member Bergen Community College, William Paterson University, Juilliard Music Advancement Program, Music Outreach. Former faculty member, St. Thomas Aquinas College, Montclair State University, St. David’s School. Performed with such notables as Leonard Bernstein, Itzhak Perlman, Zubin Mehta, Andre Watts and Sal Mosca. Orchestral credits include the American Symphony Orchestra, New York City Opera, Grand National Opera, New York Grand Opera, Korean Ballet-Lincoln Center, Canadian Brass, Musica Viva, New Philharmonic of NJ, Frank Sinatra Jr., Westchester Symphony Orchestra and Aspen Symphony Orchestra. Broadway shows include Cats, Les Miserables, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show and Hercules; as well as Paper Mill Playhouse productions of Annie, A Chorus Line, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan and Singing in the Rain. Other credits include the U.S. National Tour of Starlight Express, and the Aspen and Waterloo Music Festivals.

Guitar

  • Chris AmelarGuitar, Electric Bass, Ukulele, Mandolin, Banjo

    B.M. Jazz Studies, Wm Paterson University – Magna Cum Laude with Honors. Studied with Rufus Reid, Vic Juris, Joe Lovano, Dave Samuels, Harold Mabern, Art Farmer, Percy Heath. In addition to teaching private guitar and electric bass lessons, conducted group classes and clinics around the country for The National Guitar Workshop, and founded ‘Jamming for Juniors’ pre-school music program used at schools throughout NJ. Performed for President Clinton, and with guitarist Andy Timmons (G3, Olivia Newton-John), singer/guitarist Glen Burtnik (Styx), Christian music legend Phil Keaggy, and various artists at BB Kings, The Bitter End, The Blue Note and The Knitting Factory in NYC, as well as at NJPAC, the JVC Jazz Festival, and Z100’s Zootopia Concert at the Izod Arena. Recorded all guitars on the CD Listen, and founded and recorded four CDs with the group 3D Ritmo de Vida, the latest of which was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award. Author of a long list of instructional books and videos, including Mastering Contemporary Rock (Alfred Pub), The Guitar FX Cookbook (Hal Leonard Pub), and Rock Guitar Jammin’ (Hal Leonard Pub). Contributing author of numerous articles, interviews and transcriptions for Guitar World Magazine and Guitar School Magazine.

  • Russ DeFilippisGuitar, Electric Bass

    B.M, Berklee College of Music. Studied guitar with William Leavitt, Mark Friench, Mick Goodrick, Charles Banacos, Dennis Sandole, George Benson, and voice with Margaretta Wolfe. Has taught acoustic and electric guitar, harmony and improvisation to children, teens and adults throughout the tri-state area, and at the college level at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Rockland Community College in New York, and Bergen Community College in New Jersey. Performs professionally in a wide range of musical styles, including jazz, blues, soul, R&B, rock, funk, classical, country, acoustic folk and roots music. Worked as a musician, musical director and conductor with such well-known jazz, rock and pop groups and artists as George Benson, Chuck Berry, The Drifters, Bo Diddly, Lil Anthony, James Brown, Bobby Rydell, Lou Christie, Martha Reeves and numerous other acts. Co-founded a jazz trio with fellow guitarist John Tropea in 2002; formed the group ‘rd3’ in 2003, producing the CD Calculations. His most recent CD, The Sorcerer’s Accomplice, on EverJazz Records was praised by George Benson as “artistry and taste combined.”

  • Sergio Garcia-MarruzGUITAR, ELECTRIC BASS, THEORY

    M.F.A. in Music, National School of Arst, Havana, Cuba. Baccalaureate, Pre-Universitario del Vedado, Saï– Delgado. Participated in Don Sebesky’s “Film Scoring Workshop,” the “Professional Composer’s Workshop,” and completed the “Paths’ Electronic Music Seminars.” Studied classical guitar with Isaac Nicola, Leo Brouwer and Martha Cuervo. Former lecturer-demonstrator for the Hispanic Academy of Media Arts and Science, composer/sound designer for Marymount Manhattan College, Music Instructor for Fieldston Summer Performing Arts Institute. Taught workshops in composition using computers, synthesizers, and MIDI technology. Began professional career as a performing guitarist of classical and popular music, then became in-house arranger for the Musicians’ National Union in Cuba. Currently composer-arranger for TV Radio commercials (SGM Music), as well as guitarist performing throughout the tri-state area.

Piano

  • Jeanette AufieroPiano

    M.M. and Artist Diploma, Cleveland Institute of Music; B.M. Manhattan School of Music; Juilliard Pre-College. Studied under Antonio Pompa-Baldi, James Tocco, Artur Papazian and Vladimir Feltsman, and was mentored by legendary Alexander Slobodyanik. Has performed at such venues as Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the New Jersey State Theatre, Steinway Hall in New York City, PianoForte in Chicago, and the Teatro Nacional Eduardo Brito de Santo Domingo. Recipient of many highly prestigious scholarships, including the Vera Blacker Scholarship, the Mary Eaton LeFevre Scholarship, the Larry Robinson Scholarship and a Gilmore Festival Fellowship; winner of numerous competitions including the New York Concert Artists’ Rising Artist Competition, El Primer Concurso Iberoamericano para Jóvenes Pianistas, the Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition, the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition, the Jacob Flier Intl Competition, the NJSO Young Artist Audition, and the Young Pianist Competition of NJ; and Arthur Loesser Memorial Award recipient. Praised by the New York Concert Review as a pianist of “warm lyrical lines and an enormous sound” whose performances are full of “contagious energy, ablaze with passion that threw caution to the winds.”

  • Juliana BrandnerEarly Childhood Music, Piano (ages 5-7)

    Eastman School of Music, voice and dance. Early childhood music specialist, professional vocalist and musician. Extensively trained in the Music Together® curriculum, teaching music to babies, toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners since 1999. In addition to teaching music and movement to preschoolers, teaches beginner piano and voice to young musicians in the Hudson Valley NY area. Experience includes teaching special needs children with learning disabilities, mental challenges and physical impairments, including Autism spectrum. Two-time winner on Ed McMahon’s Star Search, her professional credits have included performances in national and international music theater tours, off Broadway, four solo cabarets in New York City, radio jingles, and over 16 years as an alto in the professional choir at St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue in New York

  • Linda DeckerPiano

    Certified in Performance Piano, Mannes College of Music. Kean University, M.A. Education, University of Pheonix, B.A. Music Education. Taught music in Ho-Ho-Kus and Rahway public schools as well as directing and teaching at Musically Yours School of Music. She is on the faculty of the Pheonix Center, working with multiple disabled individuals including suffers of autism. Possesses 25 years of experience teaching, performing and accompanying on Piano. Won First Place in the Music Educators Council Competition and First Place in the Piano Teacher Society of America’s National Recording Competition, leading to her Carnegie Hall debut. Member of the Association of American Educators and Music Educators National Conference.

  • Ron LevyPIANO

    Oberlin Conservatory; Juilliard Preparatory School. Studied with Joseph Schwartz at Oberlin, Diana Arlyck, and Leland Thompson of Juilliard. Former Exec. Director of the Bergen Youth Orchestra. President of the Professional Music Teachers’ Guild. Currently chairs the Music Dept at Felician College, while maintaining active and ongoing affiliation with the Manhattan School of Music, Kean University, and the Juilliard Preparatory School. Regularly appears as a soloist and in partnership with many leading singers and instrumentalists, including more than four dozen artists on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera. Founding member of the Hudson Trio, Kaleidoscope, the New World Trio, the Manchester Chamber Players, and the Palisades Virtuosi; has been pianist and harpsichordist of the Oberlin Orchestra, the NJ Philharmonic and the Westchester Symphony and is currently keyboardist of the Manchester Music Festival, the Adelphi Chamber Orchestra and the Albany Symphony. Faculty and board member of the Manchester Music Festival. Composer of many works for voice and piano. Several prominent composers have written works for Mr. Levy, notably James Grant, John Lampkin, Richard Lane, Erik Nielsen, and David Sampson. Adjudicator, conductor, critic, lecturer and writer on musical subjects. Recordings by Mr. Levy are available on the Albany, Centaur, Eroica, Koch International, MMF and Summit labels.

  • Bob RodriguezPiano, Jazz

    Baldwin Wallace University, Modern Music School. Studied piano/composition with Manny Albam, Richie Beirach, Jim McNeely, Roger Kellaway; jazz piano with Hank Kaout, Bill Gidney, Phil Rizzo, Pat Pace. Has taught jazz piano at the Turtle Bay Music School in NYC since 1989, former jazz piano teacher at Houston H.S. for the Performing and Visual Arts. Worked with many famous artists, including Kenny Wheeler, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, and Billy Hart, and arranged for four hands with classical pianist Cathy Campbell. Performed at such well-known jazz venues as NY’s Blue Note, Birdland, Iridium, Sweet Rhythm, The Kitano, Cornelia Street Cafe, Trumpets, Cecil’s, and has played solo concerts at Gracie Mansion and broadcast performances on NPR in Texas, Maine and NY. As a composer/arranger, his catalog of work includes seven solo CDs. Recipient of 2007 commission by Chamber Music America to write a piece for Tina Marsh and the Creative Opportunity Orchestra. As an educator, Bob Rodriguez is a very much in demand clinician/instructor in the world of jazz and classical music education.

  • Olga SedyciasPiano

    M.M. – Piano Performance, Webster University; B.M. – Piano Performance, University of Brasilia. Studied with Daniel Schene at Webster University and New Salgado at the University of Brasilia. Attended many master classes with acclaimed pianists such as Jane Solose, Ian Hobson, Cristina Ortiz and Paul Badura Skoda. Taught master class and adjudicated for piano competitions in the St Louis and Southern Illinois area. Has taught piano privately and in music schools at all levels both in the U.S. and abroad. Currently Adjunct Professor of Piano and Music Theory at New Jersey City University, formerly Adjunct Professor of Piano at Webster University. Ms. Sedycias has enjoyed a versatile musical career as a solo and collaborative pianist in South America and the U.S. As a soloist, has played with orchestras in Brazil and United States, performed solo recitals in Florida and Missouri, and accompanied opera singers in New Jersey and New York; was the featured artist in a recital in Holland (recorded live); won prizes in several piano competitions and performed chamber music recitals extensively throughout Brazil.

  • Pamela Ibeth VeraPiano

    M.A., Hunter College/CUNY, conducting and piano. B.M., Queens College/CUNY; Post Graduate Degree, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Professor of Music at Bergen and Passaic County Community Colleges; and faculty member of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Winner of the 1995 Herbert Rogers Performance Studies Award. Varied orchestral and choral conducting experience including Assistant Conductor of the Hunter College Symphony Orchestra, and Founder, Conductor and Music Director of the Maya Chamber Orchestra. Critically acclaimed pianist with numerous live, television and radio performances throughout New York and Ecuador, including performances at Lang Recital Hall, Weill Recital Hall, First Presbyterian Church of New York Choir, Queens College Concert Hall, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Recital Hall, City University of New York and Teatro Principal Centro de Arte.

  • John WardPiano, Organ, Voice, Composition

    Ph.D., M.M., Catholic University of America; B.M. Eastman School of Music. Additional studies at the Manhattan School of Music, George Mason University, Westminster Choir College, Lucy Moses School. Piano studies with Eugene List, Arthur Balsam, William Masselos, Bela Nagy; organ with Gerald Wheeler; singing with Leslie Luxemburg, Rosemary Houghton, Ann Mills, Marcia Gronewold-Sly. Organist, St. Peter’s and St. Mary’s, Haverstraw; Organist , St. John’s, New City; Sub-organist, St. Aedan’s, Pearl River. Representative for northern New Jersey of Trinity College London. Former faculty, Catholic University of America, Governor’s Magnet School for the Arts (VA), Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Private teacher of piano, singing, organ, music theory, musicianship, and composition. A freelance performer and composer, John has been involved in 250 concert performances as pianist, conductor, organist, singer, or promoter, and in over 100 theatrical productions from children’s theater to professional companies, as music director, composer or actor. Fellow of the Royal Schools of Music – Piano, Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music – Organ (with Distinction) and Singing, and Fellow of the American Guild of Organists.

Voice / Acting

  • Larissa Auble (aka Madysin Hatter)Musical Theater, Voice/Acting/Dance

    B.A., Music Theater, UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. Advanced studies in acting, singing and dancing at Ann Reinking’s Broadway Theater Project; studied dance at the NJ School of Ballet, Broadway Dance Center, The Edge. Private study in voice with Robert Marks, Adrienne Angel, Katie Agresta, Jeremy Mann, Linda Kerns; acting with Marilyn Fox, April Shawhan, Joe Olivieri; scene study with Peter Miner. Master classes with Gwen Verdon, Ann Reinking, Ben Vereen, Patti Lupone, Phylicia Rashad, et al. Mezzo-soprano performing in a wide range of styles (belt, legit, pop, rock, folk, country, and blues), with extensive training in acting, singing, and dancing (including ballet, pointe, tap, Fosse, and jazz), and appearances in countless national commercials, voiceovers, jingles, feature film loopings, music videos, and television shows. Originated the role of “Young Kim” in Hal Prince’s Broadway revival of Show Boat at the Gershwin Theater, appeared as featured performer in Broadway’s Nothing Like a Dame. Off-Broadway and regional theater credits include Annie Warbucks, Broadway with the Broadway Theater Project (BTP), Urinetown, Broadway Kids Sing Broadway, and Once Upon a Mattress (for which she received a Best Actress nomination by The PaperMill Playhouse Rising Start Awards committee for her role as Princess Winnifred in 2003); featured dancer in Papermill Playhouse’s production of The Nutcracker with the New Jersey Ballet. Television credits include performances in Gossip Girl, Rescue Me, As the World Turns, The Babysitters Club, Noel Animated Christmas Special; recurring sketch performances on the Rosie O’Donnell Show and the Conan O’Brien Show; featured performances on CBS This Morning and The Today Show; and guest starring performance on From B’Way: Big, The Musical. Recording and music video credits include Olsen Twins and Friends, Laurie Beechman No One is Alone, Musical Adventures of Peter Pan, and as a featured dancer in the MTV music video Foo Fighters’ ‘The One.’ As her alter-ego, Madysin Hatter, her rock band has played sold-out shows at the world-famous Whisky A Go Go on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip, opened for such legendary rock acts as Buckcherry, Winger, Cinderella’s Tom Keifer, Kix, Faster Pussycat, and played Vh1 Classic’s That Metal Show’s holiday bash. She has independently released seven albums, the most recent of which is “Lose Your Mind.” Member of SAG, AFTRA, Equity.

  • Jodelle BooradyVoice, Songwriting

    B.S., Communications from Ithaca College (concentration in Music and Media/TV/Radio/Audio Engineering and Electronic Music). Studied voice with Linda Benanti, and is a certified teacher of the Linda Benanti Vocal Technique™.  Performance coach, songwriting coach, and private vocal instructor, with many students who have earned roles in musicals, won awards and gone on to pursue careers in music. A well-known singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Jodelle performs original indie pop rock in various prestigious venues in the United States and Europe, including festivals (CMJ and SXSW), and radio and television appearances. Pianist, church cantor, backup musician and recording session musician; performs on accordion, melodica, glockenspiel, keyboards, and percussion. Songwriting credits include two CD releases of original compositions, The Adventures of Jodelle and Better Than OK, credits on several indie artists’ CD releases, various music industry compilations, as well as placements for indie film soundtracks. Songwriting awards and recognitions include the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, Billboard Magazine, Performing Songwriter and Keyboard Magazine.

  • Warren CarrVoice, Acting (adjunct)

    M.M., Manhattan School of Music; B.F.A., Carnegie Mellon University. Studied voice with Andrea Hanson, Dr. Robert Page, Mildred Miller Posvar and Mark Oswalt, acting with Tony McKay and Gregory Lehane, and dance (ballet, jazz and tap) with Buddy Thompson. Teaching credentials include private instruction in vocal performance to children, teens and adults, many of whom have been accepted to choral festivals and have been awarded roles throughout New Jersey. Mr. Carr’s performances as a tenor, actor and dancer include both operatic and musical theater throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Europe. Operatic credits include: Lucia Di Lammermoor (Arturo) with the NJ Opera, Die Fledermaus (Dr. Blind), Street Scene (Mr. Buchannon and Sam Kaplan), Albert Herring (Albert), Alcina (Oronte), as well as performances with Pittsburgh Opera’s Billy Budd.  Musical Theater credits include: Cabaret (Earnst) with Skyline Theater, A Chorus Line (Al), A Little Night Music (Mr. Earlanson), Into the Woods (Rapunzel’s Prince), Bye Bye Birdie (Albert Peterson), and The Secret Garden (Archibald Craven). Awarded Sylvie Derdyn Scholarship for Musical and Academic Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University and Merit Scholarship at Manhattan School of Music.

  • Keaton DouglasVoice, Acting, Musical Theater

    M.A., Seton Hall University; B.S., Georgetown University. Studied voice and vocal pedagogy with renowned tenor  Dr. Stephen Oosting at Montclair State University; acting with famed actress Sandy Dennis at HB Studios in New York City, and with legendary classical actress and acting coach Francelle Stewart Dorn at Folger Shakespeare Theater in Washington D.C. Has taught vocal and performance technique to both aspiring and accomplished singers of all ages, many of whom have appeared on Broadway and in regional theater. As a singer and actress of unusual versatility, is equally adept at a Verdi aria with full orchestra, a jazz ballad with piano, a swinging chart with an 18-piece Big Band or performances with countless pop artists. Headlined in Las Vegas and beyond, and entertained at two presidential inaugurations with the inimitable Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians. Performed as the principal soprano with the New Jersey Pops at the PNC Bank Arts Center and Atlantic City’s Tropicana Hotel and Casino; concertized with various orchestras, performing operatic works as well as the classical Broadway repertoire. Equally well-known for her work as a swing and Big Band singer, has performed with Guy Lombardo’s Royal Canadians at Busch Gardens in Virginia, and throughout Las Vegas. Has appeared as a jazz soloist at Birdland in New York, Trumpet’s in Montclair, and various hotels and casinos in Atlantic City. Featured vocalist with the big band Somer’s Dream Orchestra, performing at MUSIKFEST, the nation’s most prestigious music festival in Bethlehem PA, and innumerable other venues throughout the state. Has performed on stage with Drew Carey, Nancy Wilson, Bob Newhart, Julius LaRosa, Jerry Vale, Joe Piscopo and many others. Veteran recording artist in various genres, including performing as a guest artist on  “A MidSomer’s Night Dream” with the Somers Dream Orchestra.

  • Rachel MaddockActing

    M.A. – Educational Theatre, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education; B.F.A. – Acting, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Additional studies at Circle in the Square Theatre School (NYU), and The Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts, London. Continuing and post-graduate studies in NY: Advanced Acting Technique, Improvisation and Clown at The Michael Howard Studios; Improvisation at Upright Citizens Brigade; Shakespeare with Joanne Zipay of The Judith Shakespeare Company; Classical Piano and Voice at Turtle Bay Music School; Jazz Dance and Ballet at New Dance Group, Broadway Dance Center and Musical Theatre Works. Held faculty positions in NYC at Repertory H.S. for Theatre Arts, Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, and William H. Carr J.H.S., where she taught both English and Drama and collaborated with The Creative Arts Team and WNYE Teen Talk Radio/After School Violence Prevention Program, The Roundabout Theatre, American Place Theatre and The Children’s Aid Society. Currently Program Director and Instructor for the Ridgefield Park Board of Recreation After-School Drama Program. Has performed as an actress in NYC theater productions of As You Like It, Macbeth, Scrambled Eggs, Hair of the Dog, Prime Intentions, Family of Horrors, Hecuba, The Shadow Box, The Seagull, After the Fall, and Romeo and Juliet; and in film productions of Love That Kid, Melody Next Door, and Ghost Child. Other productions include: Marat/Sade, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, The Skin of Our Teeth, Steps in Time at the 1840’s House: Living History Museum of Baltimore, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Directing and producing credits include Bye, Bye Birdie, How the Grinch Stole the Holidays, Yo-Yo, Where the Wild Things Are and Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Wrote and directed the play, I Am Esther, a student production in Teaneck, NJ.  Member of Actor’s Equity and Screen Actors Guild.

     

  • John WardPiano, Organ, Voice, Composition

    Ph.D., M.M., Catholic University of America; B.M. Eastman School of Music. Additional studies at the Manhattan School of Music, George Mason University, Westminster Choir College, Lucy Moses School. Piano studies with Eugene List, Arthur Balsam, William Masselos, Bela Nagy; organ with Gerald Wheeler; singing with Leslie Luxemburg, Rosemary Houghton, Ann Mills, Marcia Gronewold-Sly. Organist, St. Peter’s and St. Mary’s, Haverstraw; Organist , St. John’s, New City; Sub-organist, St. Aedan’s, Pearl River. Representative for northern New Jersey of Trinity College London. Former faculty, Catholic University of America, Governor’s Magnet School for the Arts (VA), Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Private teacher of piano, singing, organ, music theory, musicianship, and composition. A freelance performer and composer, John has been involved in 250 concert performances as pianist, conductor, organist, singer, or promoter, and in over 100 theatrical productions from children’s theater to professional companies, as music director, composer or actor. Fellow of the Royal Schools of Music – Piano, Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music – Organ (with Distinction) and Singing, and Fellow of the American Guild of Organists.

The Rock Shop

  • Chris AmelarRock/Jazz Guitar

    Chris Amelar has had a truly remarkable career as a professional guitarist, author and teacher.

    Chris began his studies on piano and trombone before eventually discovering the guitar at age 13. His early guitar influences were George Benson, Al DiMeola and Carlos Santana, but his composing spirit lies with strong melodic writers including the Beatles and Stevie Wonder. Chris graduated from William Paterson University, studying with jazz great Rufus Reid.

    Chris has performed with guitarist Andy Timmons (G3, Olivia Newton-John), singer/guitarist Glen Burtnik (Styx), and various artists at BB Kings, The Bitter End, The Blue Note and The Knitting Factory in NYC, as well as at NJPAC, the JVC Jazz Festival, and Z100’s Zootopia Concert at the Izod Arena. He has recorded all guitars on the CD Listen, and founded and recorded four CDs with the group 3D Ritmo de Vida, the latest of which was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award. Author of a long list of instructional books and videos, including Mastering Contemporary Rock (Alfred Pub), The Guitar FX Cookbook (Hal Leonard Pub), and Rock Guitar Jammin’ (Hal Leonard Pub), Chris is also a contributing author of numerous articles, interviews and transcriptions for Guitar World Magazine and Guitar School Magazine.

    Incredibly well-versed in all styles of contemporary rock and pop music as well as jazz and latin, Chris brings both his strong musical expertise and his wealth of performance and recording experience to our students here at The Rock Shop at TRC.

  • Madysin HatterRock Vocals

    Madysin Hatter and her rock band has taken both the east and west coasts by storm – playing sold out shows at the world-famous Whisky A Go Go on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip, opening for such legendary rock acts as Buckcherry, Winger, Cinderella’s Tom Keifer, Kix, Faster Pussycat (to name just a few), as well as playing Vh1 Classic’s That Metal Show’s holiday bash.

    Madysin manages every aspect of her music career, and continues to push the envelope of what an independent artist can achieve with hard work, talent, and hustle. She has independ-ently released seven albums, the most recent of which is “Lose Your Mind.” Her unfiltered, infectious energy is best captured in her live performance…and with the professional theatrical credits she has racked up, it is no wonder. Madysin began her professional acting career (under her real name, Larissa Auble) at the age of two, starring in a national television commercial for Tide. Before graduating high school, Larissa had achieved what most actors hope to achieve in a lifetime – appearing in countless national commercials, voiceovers, jingles, feature film loopings, music videos, television shows, and more. She originated the role of “Young Kim” in Hal Prince’s Broadway revival of Show Boat, and never missed a single performance in the production’s almost three year run. She has extensive training in acting, singing, and dancing (including ballet, pointe, tap, Fosse, and jazz), and holds a BA in Theater from UCLA.

    In addition to rocking out like it’s her job, Madysin Hatter is a professional songwriter. She also has her own music column called “Madysin Hatter’s Song of the Week,” in New Jersey’s entertainment bi-weekly magazine, Steppin’ Out Magazine, where she features national and local acts. We’re enormously proud that Madysin has agreed to coach our aspiring rock singers here at The Ridgewood Conservatory!

  • Steve JohnsDrums, Percussion

    Master drummer Steve Johns has worked in every conceivable setting from rock performances with the Paul Butterfield Blues and Allen Toussaint bands, performing in such well-known big bands as the Count Basie Orchestra and accompanying singers like Jessye Norman, Helen Merrill, Diane Schuur, and Dakota Staton, to playing in more experimental settings such as the Thomas Chapin Trio and groups led by Marty Ehrlich and Mario Pavone.

    Steve has toured worldwide as the regular drummer for Sonny Fortune, Benny Carter, Dr. Billy Taylor, and many other luminaries. He has worked, recorded and collaborated with Donald Byrd, Nat Adderley, Eddie Henderson, the Vanguard Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabakin Big Band, Benny Carter, Phil Woods, Illinois Jacquet, Michael Brecker, Stanley Turentine, Slide Hampton, Kenny Burrell, and many others. He was the drummer for NPR’s Billy Taylor’s Jazz at The Kennedy Center in which he recorded 75 shows with guest including Wynton Marsalis, Nancy Wilson, Joe Lavano, Arturo Sandoval, Ray Barreto, Milt Jackson, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Grover Washington, Gary Burton, and Harry Sweet Edison. Steve has appeared on over 70 albums by Leon Thomas, George Russell, Houston Person, John McNeil, Peter Leitch, Gary Smulyan, and Bob DeVos, among many others. Steve is also a member of the collective group Native Soul, and has been co-leader on recording projects by that group (One Mind, 2012, American Showplace, Soul Step, Talking Drum Records), as well as on an album with saxophonist Peter Brainin (No Saints, No Sinners, Playscape). Steve recently released his debut CD Family with son Daryl and wife Debbie, along with guitar greats Dave Stryker and Bob DeVos.

    In addition to his work as a performer and recording artists, Steve has long been active as an educator. He has taught at the Vermont Jazz Center, the Jazz In July Program at the University of Massachusetts, the Thelonius Monk Institute in Aspen Colorado and Williams College in Massachusetts, and is currently associate professor at Montclair State University. Equally well-trained in classical and jazz, Steve studied with master drummers Alan Dawson and Bob Gullotti and attended the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied classical percussion with Fred Buda and Vic Firth.

    We are so delighted to announce that Steve has agreed to share his many diverse skills as a musician and his considerable expertise as a performer and recording artist with our students at The Rock Shop and The Ridgewood Conservatory.

Dance

  • Crystal Ann BennettEARLY CHILDHOOD DANCE, BALLET, TAP, HIP-HOP, JAZZ/CONTEMPORARY, MUSICAL THEATER (BROADWAY)

    B.F.A. – Fine Arts, Keane University. Trained and performed in workshops with Broadway veterans including: “Acting Through Song” with Thom Warren (The Lion King), “Musical Theater Workshop” with Laura Osnes (Cinderella, Bonnie and Clyde), “Shakespeare” with acclaimed actor Steven Davis. Studied voice with Sharon Reynolds and Valerie Van Hosen. Has taught many styles of dance including, but not limited to, ballet, hip-hop, modern, lyrical and jazz at the Hillsborough Dance Academy to students ranging in age from three year olds to college prep dancers. Choreography credits include co-creation of Rent the Musical and other musical reviews at Raritan Valley College, as well as many solo works. As a singer and actress, musical theater credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Carrie: The Musical, Footloose, Green Day’s American Idiot, Peter Pan, and Lucky Stiff; additional theater credits include It’s A Wonderful Life, Almost, Maine, Julius Caesar, and Private Eyes.

  • Sabrina MayoEARLY CHILDHOOD DANCE, BALLET, TAP, HIP-HOP, JAZZ/CONTEMPORARY, MUSICAL THEATER (BROADWAY)

    B.F.A. – Dance Education, Montclair State University. Continued studies at Broadway Dance Center in NYC. Has taught dance to students ranging from toddlers to pre-college and choreographed student performances in a wide variety of dance genres, including ballet, contemporary, jazz, musical theater and/or hip-hop, for Anita Ehler’s Dance Extensions, DDA Dance Academy, In The Spotlight Studio, Glenfield Performing Arts Middle School, Loving Touch Nursery School, Hillsdale Summer Camp. As a performer, Sabrina has won numerous awards such as Teen Ms. Dancers Inc 2010, Senior Ms. Access Broadway 2012, Senior Ms. Dancers Inc. 2013 as well as many first-place overall solo and group routines throughout her career. Performed on stage in such pieces as Journey Draft EMIA by Fedrick Earl Mosley, In the Eyes of Luna by Alenka Cizmesija, Dystopia by Christian Von Howard, and Olympian by Damani Pomps.

Early Childhood Music

  • Juliana BrandnerEarly Childhood Music, Piano (ages 5-7)

    Eastman School of Music, voice and dance. Early childhood music specialist, professional vocalist and musician. Extensively trained in the Music Together® curriculum, teaching music to babies, toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners since 1999. In addition to teaching music and movement to preschoolers, teaches beginner piano and voice to young musicians in the Hudson Valley NY area. Experience includes teaching special needs children with learning disabilities, mental challenges and physical impairments, including Autism spectrum. Two-time winner on Ed McMahon’s Star Search, her professional credits have included performances in national and international music theater tours, off Broadway, four solo cabarets in New York City, radio jingles, and over 16 years as an alto in the professional choir at St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue in New York