Our Staff

*Jesse Berent- Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Applied Music Theory, Improvisation Rock, Blues, Jazz, Classical, Popular Styles

Jesse graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Guitar Performance from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music (1999-2003), and has been teaching music since 1998. He served as the Music Director for the International House of Blues Foundation (2002-2008), has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Craig Ferguson, Rachael Ray Show, The View, Live With Regis and Kelly, various MTV shows, and was featured on the cover of Musician’s Friend catalog (2007). As a guitarist he has toured internationally with various bands and artists including, “Aly and Aj “ (2007-2008 Hollywood Records), Katharine McPhee (2008 Verve Records), V.V. Brown (2010 Capitol Records), and Steven Roth (Independent 2011-present). Jesse is also producer and founding member of Rathole. Jesse
is a very supportve teacher who enjoys teaching students of all levels.

* Sue Bray- Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Banjo, Ukulele, Mandolin, Applied Music Theory, Improvisation Rock, Blues, Jazz, Classical, Fingerstyle, Country, Bluegrass, Hawaiian, Americana

After graduating from the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, Sue also became credentialed for the Charter School District. She started teaching when she was in high school and has been teaching and performing in the LA area for more than 25 years. She has performed in rock, blues, jazz, country, bluegrass and classical combos. Recognizing that much can be neglected in the world of music lessons, Sue bases her teaching style around filling the gaps that are so often present and unknown to the student and/or the student’s parents. In addition to her music degree, Sue holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Disorders and has worked in theraputic situations with children and adults (often involving learning issues). She has a Master degree in Audiology (hearing science) and is a licensed diagnostic audiologist.

*Lynn Fanelli- Voice Rock, Blues, Jazz, Popular, Classical

Lynn began her singing career at the tender age of 5 years old when she performed with her father on his record release. She has recorded and toured with Delaney Bramlett, who taught George Harrison to play slide guitar and Eric Clapton to sing and produced Clapton’s first album. She was on staff with record producer Ray Ruff at Oak Records, recording and arranging vocals for all of their country artists. While with this label, she sang background vocals and created vocal arrangements for Pat Boone’s CD Ready to Rock, among others. Lynn toured with movie actress Connie Stevens, sang with The National In Choir on the Oasis CD Dig Out Your Soul in 2008. She has toured, recorded and/or performed with Hal David, Jon Bon Jovi, Wild Cherry, Terry Ilous, Spencer Davis, Percy Sledge, Deniece Williams, Billy Paul and Taste of Honey, among many others. She has recorded with many renowned producers, among them Jim Steinman (Meatloaf) and Giorgio Moroder (Blondie) and David Briggs (Neil Young). Her voice has been heard on national jingles and television and movie soundtracks such as Nickelodeon, Melrose Place, Days of Our Lives, among others. Lynn performed with Jackie DeShannon on the heels of DeShannon’s 2010 induction into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. She was on board in the vocal section for DeShannon’s recorded performance for the Grammy archives in 2012. Lynn enjoys sharing her versatile singing techniques with her students to help them develop as singers and achieve their singing goals.

*Sergio Gonzalez- Drums, Latin Percussion

Both a pro musician and an excellent teacher, Sergio has played with numerous bands throughout his musical career providing the backdrop beat so important to today’s modern sound. He has performed privately for the Queen of England and the Sultan of Brunei. He has been on the Grammys and countless TV shows and movies. His most recent credits in this area is for his work on “Bringin Down the House” with Queen Latifah and Steve Martin. and Saturday Nite Live with Jennifer Lopez.
Sergio continues to make his mark in the music industry. He had the honor of working with John Powell on the Oscar award winning movie “Happy Feet”,and recording on “Keb Mo’s” new release “Suitcase”. Additionally, Sergio has worked with “Jessie” (Price Tag), Gavin Degraw and is currently recording for “Phineas and Ferb”.

*Richard T. Harris- Upright Bass, Double Bass, Electric Bass Classical, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Funk, Country, Bluegrass, Rockabilly, Hillbilly

A skilled and diverse player, Richard studied classical bass with LA Philharmonic 1st chair bassist Tom Pedrini. Richard has contributed his talent to Pasadena Community Orchestra, Glendale Collegre Orchestra and the Occidental College Jazz Band. He teaches the Simanadi method for orchestral bass, with emphasis on proper arco technique. Perfecting slap style bass, Richard skillfully executes a large repetoire of slap bass techniques for Rockabilly and Hillbilly. He has performed with the Rainwater Bluegrass Band and plays regularly with the western swing band the Backbeat Rhythm Boys. Richartd has performed with well known LA blues performers such as Lightnin’ Willy and the Poorboys, Jac Tanna, Blue like Jazz and The Ray Bandini Revue. Richard welcomes students of all levels to share his wealth of knowledge.

*John James- Drum Set, Congas, Timbales, Snare Drum, Marimba, Timpani, Classical Percussion All styles, ages and ability levels
John received his Bachelor of Music Performance in Percussion from West Virginia University. While in college, he started teaching at Fawley Music Company and quickly became one of the most sought after instructors in Morgantown, WV. An experienced teacher, John has placed students in various all-state bands and college percussion programs throughout the country. He has performed in many rock, pop, soul and jazz bands over the course of his career and enjoys an active performance schedule in the Los Angeles area. John enjoys helping his students develop musicianship and confidence through percussion. His love of teaching inspires him to continue to develop the next generation of musicians.

*Hope Kikuchi- Flute, Recorder, Clarinet, Saxophone Classical, Jazz

Hope received her Bachelor of Arts in Music from Cal State University in Los Angeles, where she also continued her post graduate performance studies. She studied teaching, performance and application techniques with master woodwind professor, Dr. Vito Susca. Hope has over 25 years of private teaching experience and over 23 years of teaching experience in public schools. She performs regularly in the Los Angeles area. Hope welcomes students of all levels and ages, emphasizing fundamentals in her lessons.

*Liam Lewis-Mandolin, Violin/Fiddle, Guitar (Standard/DADGAD), Piano, Voice, Reading Music Notation, Arranging, Composition, Improvisation, Celtic, Bluegrass, Old Time, Swing, Gypsy Jazz, Suzuki Method, Musical Theatre, Pop

Liam received his MA the Berklee College of Music in Boston, with an emphasis in mandolin performance and music business. Liam began violin lessons at the age of 4 with Paul Stein of the LA Philharmonic.  At a young age, Liam immersed himself in Celtic fiddle styles, traditional French dance tunes, and various other folk genres such as Bluegrass and Old Time. Under the tutelage of traditional folk icons John McGann, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Bruce Molsky, and Andy Statman, Liam deeply explored gypsy  jazz, swing, bebop, and classical brazilian music for the mandolin and violin. Liam has performed in prominent venues in Los Angeles such as the Hollywood Bowl, Glendale’s Alex Theatre, Luckman Fine Arts Complex,  Boston’s Berklee Performance Center and Club Passim.

With a love for teaching students of all ages, levels, and musical interests, Liam thrives on collaborating and delving into topics from advanced jazz theory to the construction of current pop arrangements. Liam feels it is important to determine what the student’s personal goals are in order to tailor an objective based lesson plan that feels more like a musical conversation and less like a class. “We can spend a lesson arranging a song for an acoustic band and the next week work on emulating horn players by transcribing notable solos. It all comes down to what the goals are for the student”.

*Mark Mekailian- Songwriting, Voice, Guitar, Piano, Bass, Didjeridoo, Drum Set, Mandolin, Banjo, Music Theory, Improvisation Jazz, Popular, Funk, Rock, Blues, Reggae, Country, Bluegrass, Classical

Mark Mekailian, is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and music arranger. He is an alumnus of the Popular Music program at the University of Southern California, and the Jazz program at L.A. County High School for the Arts.

Mark has studied under Grammy winning songwriter-keyboardists Patrice Rushen and Michael Boddicker, as well as widely-acclaimed vocal coach Jeffrey Allen. Mark’s TV debut was a duet with Josh Groban for CBS’s special feature, “Teachers rock”. He has worked as a writer, vocalist, guitarist, pianist, bassist, drummer, producer, arranger, and teaches all said crafts. Mark has closed out the Troubadour, has released a debut EP with his band Kinglii, and is about to release a live album from his latest project, “Mark Mekailian in Concert” for 23 musicians.

Mark is a 2012 & 2013 National Grammy Choir alum, a 2013 Music Center Spotlight Awards grand finalist for non-classical voice, and a 2013 & 2014 National Young Arts Foundation Honorable Mention winner for Jazz Voice.

*George Malek- Bass Guitar, Electric and Acoustic Guitar Jazz Rock Raggae Funk Blues Country

George received his Bachelor of Science from Pennsylvania State University. Before joining our staff, George was a staff member of The Music Academy. A versatile guitarist and bass player, George has played in big bands, jazz combos, rock, funk and raggae bands. Some of his credits include working with Center Dimension, Tokyo Vertigo, Outgroove, STAQ, Juno Bass and the Jackson Bryne Band. George is an excellent instructor for both children and adults, teaching good technique for playing all styles.

* Joanna Malfatti- Drum Set, Hand Drums Jaxx Rock, Blues, Country, Afro-Cuban, African

Joanna recieved her Bachelor in Fine Arts and Master in Fine Arts from California Institute of the Arts where she studied with drum masters Joe La Barbera, Randy Gloss, John Bergamo, and Alfred Ladzekpo. She has performed with various jazz, R&B, rock, Afro-Cuban and African ensembles throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. Joanna is an experienced, patient instructor who teaches students of all ages and levels. She provides a positive learning environment while also challenging the student to reach his/her potential. Her students gain skills that reach beyond drumming, such as self-confidence, mindfulness, focus, how to set and attain goals and how to overcome negative thinking/behavior that impedes ones success.

*Timothy Maloof- Violin, Fiddle, Cello, Oud  Classical, Arabic, Bluegrass

An experienced musician, Timothy has been teaching, performing, and recording for many years. He currently teaches violin and coaches the youth orchestra string section at Los Angeles Music and Art School (LAMusArt). In addition, he teaches violin and cello as part of their Music Outreach Partnership Program (MOPP.)When he is not teaching he is performing, rehearsing or writing for one of several ensembles in which he is a member of leads; The Saffron Parade Arabesque Band, Kan Zaman Arabic Orchestra, Bedouin X, and his newest Jazz/Arabic project.His diverse musical experience includes performance in classical, jazz, rock, Arabic, and other world music. He has toured and recorded with national acts as well as numerous local bands and ensembles.Timothy holds Bachelor’s degrees in Music and Fine Art from Thomas Edison State College. Additionally, Timothy studied violin at the Colburn School of Performing Arts. Notable awards include the Elizabeth R. Mayer Memorial Scholarship (2001) for chamber music instrument as well as commendation from the City of Los Angeles and Bernard Parks for his work with The Rainbow Music Academy in 2004.Timothy is currently pursuing a diverse Masters Degree in Music (MM) which encompasses composition, arranging, performance, recording/technology, and conducting.

*Nipun Nair- Guitar, Piano, Ukulele, Voice Classical, Rock, Jazz, Fusion, Folk, Popular

Having started his musical journey at the ripe age of 6, is a gifted musician and composer, adept at playing multiple instruments and comfortable with a variety of musical genres. Nipun won “The Musicianship Scholarship” and completed his Associates Degree in Guitar Performance at Musician’s Institute in Hollywood. Together with his Diploma in guitar performance from The Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music, India, and private study with a long list of highly reputed musicians from all around the world, Nipun Nair has the tools and expertise to play almost any style of music.Nipun has had the privilege of working with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Grammy nominated and Multi Gold and Platinum ASCAP Award winning producer Rafael Esparza Ruiz, Rubens De La Corte, Ed DeGenaro, Lyndon Rochelle.As a teacher, Nipun has always paid attention to how a student grasps ideas, techniques and information, and caters his teaching style to each individual student. His teaching motto is that learning should be fun, and music should always be discovered.

*Pat O’Brien- Guitar, Harmonica, Lap Steel, Mandolin, Ukulele, Banjo, Balalaika, Autoharp, Mountain Dulcimer, Recorder All Styles

A truly versatile musician, Pat began performing in Pittsburgh clubs when he was seventeen years old. He has been working as a session/casual player in the L.A. area since the late 1970s. In addition to literally thousand of performances in the United States, Pat has toured Japan, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Spain and the Czech Republic. He has recorded with dozens of artisists ranging from Englebert Humperdink to fusion guitarist, Scott Henderson. His band is an icon in Arcadia, playing classics by Django Reinhart, Charlie Christian, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Johnson and The Rolling Stones. Pat is an experienced and patient teacher. He accepts students of all ages and levels.

*Tsuzumi Okai- Piano, Bass Guitar, Classical, Rock, Rock, Blues, Heavy Metal, Popular, Applied Music Theory, Improvisation Languages Spoken- English and Japanese

Born and raised in Tokyo Japan, Tsuzumi started playing piano at the age of 4. Two years later she began her study of classical music at Kunitachi Elementary School of Music Conservatory in Tokyo, continuing at the conservatory for 15 years. She is an outstanding classical pianist. At the age of 16, she also began studying bass guitar. Tsuzumi moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams. She has toured in the US and in Europe, and has recorded with numerous musicians whom she has admired for years. She has performed with musicians such as Dizzy Reed (Guns and Roses), Ray Luzier (Korn, David Lee Roth Band), Johnny Kelly (Danzig and Type O Negative), Eric Dover (Slash’s Snake Pit, Alice Cooper, and Jelly Fish) Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), Jimmy Coup (Andrew W.K.), Michael Bland (Prince), Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden), Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, David Lee Roth, Niacin, and The Winery Dogs), Vinny Appice (DIO, Heaven & Hell), Steven Adler (Guns N Roses), Matt Sorum (Velvet Revolver, The Cult, Guns N Roses)) and more. Her original band The Binges, had their single ‘Motorcycle Song’ played on the television show HOUSE M.D. ‘Upside Down’ was played on the soundtrack for the movie The Last Call, starring Christpher Lloyd. Her self-titled album was recorded by John Fields (Producer of Jonas Brothers, Switchfoot, Pink, Andrew W.K., Miley Cyrus) She is very passionate and dedicated to music. Her goal is to share her knowledge of music with her students so that they may experience the joy and value of having music in their lives.

*Brianna Rancour-Ibarra – Voice, Piano, Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Songwriting  Classical, Jazz, Rock, Popular

Briana graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a Bachelor of Music degree in Commercial Music, emphasis in Composing and Arranging. She began teaching voice, guitar, piano and songwriting at the age of 15, while also performing in vocal  jazz ensembles at LA County High School for the Arts and continuing on at Azusa Pacific. After graduating from APU, Brianna toured France and Germany during two international choral competitions.

Brianna has toured with the Next Generation Jazz orchestra at the Montreal Jazz festival and Monterey Jazz festival. An experienced choral singer, she has sung under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel and John Williams for the opening gala at Walt Disney Concert Hall, John Sutton (Angeles Chorale), Zanaida Robles (LA Master Chorale and SGV chorus), and Michelle Jensen (APU Chamber Singers).  She performs in Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley as “Brianna Ibarra” singing and playing her original songs, which are in the soul/jazz and folk genre. Brianna currently works in Los Angeles as a freelance arranger, composer, bassist, keyboardist and singer.

*Sharon Ray- Violin, Viola, Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Applied Music Theory, Improvisation

Sharon A. Ray graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music with a Performance Diploma in Viola. Before Curtis, she studied violin, viola and timpani at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. In Philadelphia,she performed with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera Ebony, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, the New Jersey Symphony, Donna Summer, Teddy Pendergrass, Kool and the Gang, Stevie Wonder, and the Delaware Symphony. Since moving to Los Angeles, she is currently affiliated with the Southeast Symphony, New Valley Symphony, Riverside Symphony, Center Stage Opera Company, San Bernardino Symphony, and the Santa Monica Symphony. In 2014, she performed on the American Music Awards Show with Rhianna and Ricky Minor, and has appeared with Four Play; Bob James, Nathan East, and Harvey Mason. As a bassist, she performed with Keb Mo, Bill Frissell, John Pettucci, Duke Robillard, to name a few. She is the author of three bass guitar method books for Alfred Publishing, and served on the faculty of the National Guitar Workshop for 16 years. Most recently she was on the faculty of YOLA at LACHSA, and the Renaissance Arts Academy, where she taught violin, viola, theory and the double bass.

*Mark Ross- Piano, Keyboard, Theory, Composition Jazz, Classical, Country, Blues, Rock

Mark received his BA for studies in Piano Performance and Composition from The Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Ca. He studied film scoring at UCLA. Mark’s musical credits are abundent: 2005 Emmy Awards nomination for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition for a Dramatic Series, 2007 and 2008 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition for Dramatic Series (Guiding Light- Composer). His credits for television scores and additional music include: Guiding Light, Extra, Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, Celebrity Justice, Bedtime Stories with Shelly Duvall, Spin City, Boston Public, Six Feet Under, The Bachelor, Felicity, The Young And The Restless, Days of our Lives, One Life to Live, The Bold And The Beautiful, The Jamie Foxx Show, The Tyra Banks Show, Judging Amy, The Chris Isaak Show, 20/20, Dateline, Candid Camera, Roswell, 3rd Rock From The Sun, Home Improvements, Dr. Phil and the film, Stir of Echoes. His recording credits as composer / producer include Dream Patrol/ Phoning The Czar, CBS-Pash Records /An American Tail, A Musical Adventure with Fievel And Friends, Dare to Fall in Love, MCA Records-Brent Bourgeois/ Dare to Fall In Love, Charisma Records/ Hello I’m Shelly Duvall, Sweet Dreams, Merry Christmas, Kid Rhino Records-Mark Almond Band/Best of Live, Pacific Arts Records/The Animal Express, MCA Records-Keyboards (performance and/or recording) Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Brian Wilson, Brenda Russell, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Delbert McClinton, Ronnie Laws, Mark Almond Band, Stephen Bishop, Rick Springfield and Roger McGuinn. Last year, Mark released a CD entitled “Petals and Thorns” with singer/songwriter Ann Kelly. The CD features songs written by Mark and Ann and was produced and arranged by Mark. It has been receiving airplay on radio stations across the United States. A second CD with their combined efforts will be released in April. Mark welcomes students of all ages and playing abilities.

*Jeff Stetson- Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Electric Bass, Mandolin, Music Theory, Improvisation Rock, Jazz, Blues, Pop,
Folk, Gospel, Country, Bluegrass

Jeff received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music at Cal State Los Angeles, and has been teaching for over 30 years. He has performed with the Drifters, Tower of Power, Brenda Davis and jazz trumpeter Bobby Bradford. He has also lead bands that have included alumni from such luminaries as Stevie Wonder, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Chaka Kahn, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, Gladys Knight, Foreigner, Harry James, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joe Sample and the Jazz Crusaders, Yanni, and Even Englebert Humperdink! He teaches a wide variety of musical styles and caters his lessons to the wants and needs of the individual student. He has the knowledge and experience to increase your knowledge of music and greatly increase your technique. Jeff’s dedication to his students is very evident from the first lesson onward.

*Anja Wade- Guitar Ukulele, Piano, Voice  Jazz, Rock, Blues, Soul, Pop, Latin, Classical, Popular

Based in Los Angeles, California, Anja Wade is a professional guitarist with a dynamic sound. Anja began studying classical piano at the age of 7. She first picked up the electric guitar as a teenager and immediately fell in love. Anja studied guitar in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with Mark Koch (Pat Martino) and R.J. Zimmerman (Aaron Shearer).

Subject areas may be combined given the student’s interests and needs. In addition to years of instrumental study, Anja has studied different methodologies and pedagogical approaches to music education. These include but are not limited to: the Kodály Method, the Orff-Schulwerk approach, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, and Gordon Music Learning Theory. Anja strives to foster student-centered learning and creative freedom.

*Jim Youngstrom-Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Brass, Improvisation Classical, Jazz, Rock, Country, Blues

Jim Graduated cum laude with a Bachelor in Music from CSU Northridge. He studied with David Howard
and Charles Bay. He studied flute with Bill Calkins and sax and improv with Don Raffell. Jim tours internationally with the Brien Setzer Orchestra. He has recorded with Steely Dan and LeAnne Rimes. He has appeared on many television shows including Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno and David Letterman. He has accompanied Jerry Lewis on two U. S. tours. Jim is an excellent and experienced teacher who works with all ages and levels of students.