Our Teachers - Music Lessons at Sunset Learning Studio

"Sharing the Joy of Music"
piano lessons, singing lessons, voice lessons, guitar lessons
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Our Teachers

Instructor: David Morales

Teaches: Piano and Voice
Styles: All Styles.
Background: David Morales graduated from Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at  California State University, Long Beach, and holds a B.M. in Vocal  Performance and a B.M. in Music Education.

He is music director of Casa  de Oracion church where he leads the contemporary worship team in  addition to being a soloist and section leader with the chancel choir at  Bay Shore church. He is also an instructor in various other studios  teaching voice and piano.

As a classically trained singer, he has had  the opportunity to perform roles in opera, musicals, and tour with an  award-winning choir. He has even starred as a returning choir member in  the show Jane the Virgin. He is delighted to be working with Sunset  Learning, teaching and inspiring students about the art of voice, piano,  and music.
Instructor: Marcy Hokama

Teaches: Piano
Styles: All styles.
Background: Marcy started training in classical piano at the age of 4. She won her first major piano competition at the age of 7, and since then has won many awards and competitions onregional, state, and international levels. She completed her bachelor of arts degree in Piano Performance from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a concentrationin classical music.

She has been teaching for over 20 years, giving private as well as group lessons in which she has received certified training in giving group lessons for students from the age of four through nine at the Yamaha music school in Los Angeles. She has also taught at the elementary campus at Le Lycee Francais de Los Angeles for several years. Although a southern California native, she has also lived in Brooklyn, NY for ten years where she had founded her own piano school, and played in a band, Oh Halo, performing at venues all throughout New York City. She has also been involved inprojects composing music for short documentaries.

Her philosophy in teaching is by following the child's lead, learning their personalitiesand their abilities, and to support and guide them in a way where they can understand and flourish in their own unique way. She believes that being able to relate to each child on a personal level is just as important as teaching them piano skills, and strive for them to look forward to their piano lessons every week because they feel supported and safe intheir learning environment.

Instructor: Nisha Ram

Teaches: Piano and Voice
Styles: All styles.
Background: Nisha Ram is a California native. Nisha has been performing since the age of 4 and fell in love with music ever since. She began her formal training at the age of 6, and went on to participate in many well-known and prestigious music festivals and competitions both in the United States and around the world. Music was always an extremely vital part of Nisha’s life, and that is because she grew up in a family filled with musicians. Growing up Nisha would be exposed to a numerous amount of musical genres and music; Classical, Jazz, Broadway, Musical Theatre, Bollywood (Indian Music) and R&B to name a few. Having access to all these different genres shaped Nisha to be the musician she is toda

In middle school is when Nisha began to realize that music is her passion, and it was something she wanted to pursue for the rest of her life. It was during those adolescent years that she began to expand and further her knowledge of music to become a versatile musician. Nisha has studied under many well-known music instructors two of which were Julliard alumni. Nisha focused on perfecting her skills in Voice, Piano and Music during her education in both school and college. Nisha also has a vast amount of experience touring with music groups and performing in large venues with them. One of which being performing alongside classical vocalist Andrea Bocelli . She has also performed at the Sydney Opera House, and The University of Honolulu. Nisha has a knack for songwriting and studied it as well during her education. Nisha has an album which she Co Produced, Composed and Performed on.

Ms. Ram has had the pleasure of collaborating and working with several musicians throughout her career. Ms. Ram enjoys teaching children and adults of all ages, and levels. She has had experience teaching Classical, Jazz and Pop.

Instructor: Charissa Saunders

Teaches: Piano and Classical Voice
Styles: Classical and All Styles
Background: Charissa Saunders is 3rd generation in her family teaching piano.  She is a California native who grew up with a love of classical music. She began taking lessons from her mother, who was a piano teacher, at the early age of 4. By the time she was 7 the whole neighborhood knew she had a natural talent for singing. Her father loved to listen to opera and as most children do she imitated the sounds she heard. At age 15 she discovered the organ and began taking lessons. In high school she had many roles in operas and musical theater performances as a soloist and ensemble member. She is a regular soloist and pianist for numerous churches in the South Bay and has been hired to sing and/or play for weddings, funerals, and other social events all throughout her life. She attended college at Bob Jones University in South Carolina as a Voice Performance major.  She has been teaching piano, coaching voice and performing for the past 10 years.

Instructor: Shannon Howard

Teaches: Piano & Voice
Styles: All Styles
Background: Shannon grew up just north of Pittsburgh, PA, where she discovered her love for music at a very young age. As a teen, she was an active singer and piano accompanist in her school’s music programs and was accepted into the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music Summer Music Program for piano and voice. She went on to study music at Westminster College, where she earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree with an emphasis in vocal and piano pedagogy. Although she has performed extensively as a vocalist and pianist for the past 21 years, her heart’s passion lies in teaching. Shannon has taught private voice and piano for 14 years to students of all ages and abilities. Prior to relocating to California for her husband’s work, she also taught K-12 music for 9 years in the public school setting where she served as the director of choirs, directed musical theatre productions, and taught piano, voice, and theory. Her choirs consistently received superior ratings and awards at music competitions and many of her private students have gone on to successfully pursue careers as performers themselves. She continues to be an active member of the National Association for Music Education.

Shannon’s teaching philosophy is rooted in her belief that all students are unique with distinct goals. She strives to build students’ self-confidence while providing a fun learning experience tailored to each individual’s needs and aspirations. Her goal is to encourage every one of her students to sing, play, perform, create, grow, celebrate, and shine as their own unique self!
Instructor: Catherine Gardener

Teaches: Piano
Styles: All Styles
Background: Catherine began playing the piano at the age of 11 while studying under Ruth Morton of Chicago, a Carnegie Hall alum. Catherine studied music in college where she began tutoring students as a Teaching Assistant. She is very personable, fun and enjoys working with children as well as adults. Her mission is to nurture the love of music in students, spark their desire and strengthen their talents to grow to greater levels.

Instructor: Mary Pimentel

Teaches: Voice & Piano
Styles: All styles.
Background:  Mary Pimentel has been playing piano since the age of 9, and has earned a B.A. in Musicology from UCLA.

She currently is the lead vocalist in a LA based cover-band, and also regularly performs as a solo vocalist at live events.

Her love for singing originated from her college choir voice training during her time in school, where she also gained experience playing the clarinet, as well as participating in marching band and orchestra.

To Mary, music is one of life's greatest avenues of expression, that can be both free and structured at the same time. As such, she believes that music can be enjoyed by all people of all ages, and loves to share her knowledge of the fundamentals and enthusiasm to see music students grow.

Instructor: Kristina Seelert

Teaches:  Piano
Styles: All Styles
Background: Kristina Seelert began taking piano lessons at the age of 6 from her Aunt who teaches piano and has followed in her footsteps. By the age of 18, Kristina started teaching piano privately at a music studio in Alta Loma and has been teaching ever since!

She has experience performing with concert bands, jazz bands, orchestras, musicals and even on stage with a local Cumbia band but her passion remains in teaching more than performing.

Although her teaching style primarily focuses on reading comprehension, theory, and classical repertoire; she always enjoys teaching pop, ragtime, cumbia, montunos, hymns and music from films.  "Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo  A quote that Kristina lives by and shares with her students.

Instructor: Elena Chapovalova  

Teaches: Advanced Piano
Styles:  All Styles and Levels
Background: Elena graduated with her bachlors and masters from the prestigious Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory of Music in piano, vocal music and choral conducting . Her teaching experience includes piano, vocal, choral and music theory.   She is dedicated to enthusiastic and dynamic teaching as a means of creating and nurturing a lifelong love of music in children.

Instructor: Dan Jenks

Teaches: Piano, Guitar, Flute, Sax, Trombone and Euphonium
Styles: All Styles.
Background: Dan Jenks is the founder of Sunset Learning Studio.  You can read more about him under 'Our Founder'.

Instructor: Tod McLeod

Teaches: Piano, voice, guitar
Styles: All Styles
Background: Tod McLeod is a teacher, composer, songwriter, session guitarist, vocalist and producer based in the Los Angeles area. He has composed and produced music for a number of companies, including Hyundai automobiles, Phantom 4 Music, MOD Entertainment, Level 5 records, and Surface and Dream Music.  Tod has performed professionally in major Las Vegas theatre productions, and has shared the stage with and opened for many musicians and artists, including The Black Crowes, KISS, Mishka, Darius Rucker, Melissa Ethridge, Matthew Sweet, Filter, Sugar Ray, Phil Jones (Tom Petty), Fritz Lewak (Jackson Browne, Melissa Ethridge), Jimi Paxson (Stevie Nicks, Ben Harper, Alanis Morissette), Francis Buckley, The Barenaked Ladies and many more! His enthuasiam for music and for LIFE is contagious!

Instructor: Nailah Middleton

Teaches: Piano & Voice
Styles: All Styles
Background: Nailah Middleton is a Caribbean-American musician and educator from Los Angeles, CA. She grew up singing in church, and after beginning her studies as a piano student at the age of four, Nailah continued on to study harp, guitar, and drums. She discovered her passion for teaching music in high school and has been teaching private piano, voice, and guitar lessons ever since.

In recent years, she has taught K-3rd grade music lessons at West Creek Elementary School and began teaching beginner harp lessons with her Harpsicle Harp. Graduating with a BFA in vocal performance from the Herb Alpert School of Music at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), she sings in a variety of styles and languages including Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese, and Javanese. She has performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Troubadour, House of Blues Hollywood, and KCRW's Desert Nights at The Standard Hotel. Currently, she plays out around the city as a solo artist & with her harp and electric bass project, Bashful Creature.
Instructor: Ian Rico

Teaches: Guitar and Bass.
Styles: All styles.
Background: Ian Rico has been a guitar instructor since 2009, has been playing electric guitar and bass since 2006. As a student at Long Beach City College, Ian is majoring in music and has experience playing venues such as The Roxy, Saint Rock, and The Can Club. He currently plays guitar and sings for his band Carbonine. He can teach any style and enjoys teaching anyone and everyone. All the kids and parents LOVE Ian!

Instructor: Matthew Hill

Teaches: Guitar, Bass, Uke
Styles: All styles.
Background:  Matthew Hill has been teaching music for over 11 years. Before Sunset, Matthew has taught with the School of Rock in Orange Country, CA serving as guitar instructor, drum instructor, bass instructor, and Show Director. Matthew has taught children ages 7-18 in over 25 professional productions, such as A Tribute to the Rolling Stones, The Best of the 1980’s, A Funk & Reggae Spectacular, the best of Led Zeppelin and many more with the School of Rock.

Matthew has taught over 400 students, 150 of them from their very first note, and he has helped more than 75 prepare for music university entrance exams. Matthew has expertise in the fields of advanced music theory, in-hand instrument education, peformance coaching, group mentoring, special production oversight and can play a wide assortment of styles, from jazz to rock, from motown to metal.

Before the School of Rock, Matthew was Music Director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach, serving for 3 years, helping to design and implement a one on one lesson as well as group managing and mentoring.

Matthew studied Music Education and Performance at California State Univeristy Long Beach as well as Audio Production at Long Beach City College. Matthew is excited to bring his fun and enthusiastic approach to learning music to Sunset Learning Studios!

Instructor: Hugo Nogueira

Teaches: Guitar, Bass, Uke
Styles: All styles.
Background:   Brazilian guitarist Hugo Nogueira won the 2011 American Guitar Society competition. After attending three prestigious conservatories in Brazil, he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Composition in 2007 and a teaching credential in 2010. Hugo continued his studies earning his Master’s Degree in Guitar Performance at Azusa Pacific University. Additionally, he has had masterclasses with world class guitarists such as Ana Vidovic, Jason Vieaux, Scott Tennant, and Marc Teicholz. Hugo has also participated at guitar festivals such as La Guitarra in San Luis Obispo, Sierra Nevada Guitar festival, and New Mexico Guitar Festival. Awarded an assistantship in the fall of 2013, Hugo began to work on his Doctorate in Classical Guitar Performance at UNLV with the internationally renowned concert guitarist, Ricardo Cobo. In 2014 and 2015, Hugo was invited to be part of the guitar competition committee at the Clark County School District, Las Vegas Academy of Arts, and Junior festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. From 2013 to 2017, while working on his terminal degree (DMA), Hugo was teaching group guitar class, theory, private lessons, and guitar ensemble at UNLV. In the last few years, Hugo has been performing in different states across U.S. such as California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Michigan. In May 2017, Hugo graduated with a Doctor of Musical Arts.
Instructor: Eddie Robles

Teaches: Guitar, Bass, Uke
Styles: All styles.
Background:    Eddie started playing guitar at 14 and performed in bands through out high school.  He studied music at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and  then moved to Hollywood to study Music Theory at L.A.C.C. In 2012 he joined "The Dead Notes", a Hollywood based band.  And In 2015 he  attended the Musicians Institute of Contemporary Music to study Guitar Performance and Sound Production. At MI he has had the pleasure of playing  along side some industry professionals  like Brent Harding ( Bass, Social Distortion) and Ritchie Ramones (Drummer, The Ramones).
His guitar idols are John Frusciantes from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimmy Hendrix, & Eric Clapton. He is very versatile playing blues, rock, funk, jazz and even bossa nova. And he is currently part of a 11 piece band called "The Live Heavy Water Project".

Instructor: James Kennedy

Teaches: Voice, Guitar, Bass & Ukulele
Styles: All styles.
Background:  James earned a Bachelors degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Iowa in 2014.  While pursuing his degree, he played bass and guitar with several prominent Iowa artists including The River Monks and Katelyn Epperly (American Idol: top 10) and opened for popular rock group Manchester Orchestra.  He now sings and writes songs for his band Big Slumber.  James is equally patient and passionate about teaching and loves sharing the joy of music with others.

Instructor: Darius Scheider

Teaches: Guitar & Bass & Ukulele
Styles: All Styles
Background: Darius Scheider has been a guitar instructor since 2006. He has been playing guitar, and electric bass since 1998.

Originally from France he learned to play guitar practicing the music of Django Reinhardt, know as gypsy jazz.

He  also attended the conservatory of music of Lyon where he studied jazz  guitar and electric bass. Since he moved from Paris, France to New York  City, Darius  Scheider's has performed about 200 shows a year and given hundred of  classes to kids, teenagers, adults and even professional musicians.

Darius Scheider is specialized in blues and jazz but can teach any  styles, and he enjoys teaching anyone and everyone. All the kids and parents LOVE Darius!

Instructor: Donovan Jurich

Teaches:  Piano & Guitar
Styles: All Styles
Background:  Donovan started studing piano at the of age  7 under classical concert pianist,and Eastman School of Music  graduate John Reith, becoming his top student. He then took up  guitar learning and incorporating the styles of classical  guitarist Frederick Noad, rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix,and many jazz and  blues artists. He has recorded many albums, and has been recognized in VH1's  songwriting competition. He has also performed with some well known local  musicians such as Mike Watt, and George Hurley of the Minutemen, and Randy Stodola  of The Alleycats.

Instructor: Al Pimentel

Teaches: Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Euphonium, Tuba
Styles: All styles.
Background: Alfonso Manuel Pimentel Garcia (Al Pimentel) grew up in a family of musicians. He was exposed to many kinds of music such as Classical, Jazz, Pop, and Folk music. By age 12, music became his passion and he decide he wanted a career in the music industry. In high school he performed in several small venues from Santa Monica to Venice beach.  He also started teaching part time during the summer. He completed his formal musical studies at El Camino College. He studied other instruments as well that were not in the woodwind family such as trumpet Euphonium, Trombone, Tuba and Vocals. His primary instructor is renowned jazz saxophonist, Ann Patterson. He studied both Jazz and Classical saxophone and thanks to Patterson  is recognized as one of the best gigging Saxophonists to come out of El camino college.  Besides teaching, he can also be found playing not just Jazz, but other popular styles of music all over Los Angeles.

Instructor: Maximino Tovar

Teaches: Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Trombone, Violin, Viola & Cello
Styles: All Styles.
Background: Max became interested in Classical music at age 15.  The instrument he wanted to play the most was the violin. He finally got kis chance to learn violin in 9th grade. Since he didn't have any money, he made his own box violin so he could continue practicing and learning after school was over. Finally in High school his dream came true and he was able to get private lessons with the help of some generous individuals. Since 1998 he has been the concertmaster and assistant director of his church orchestra. In 1999, he went to LBCC where he got his AA in music and Certificate of Completing for Music Education. While he was there he played 2nd violin for the Long Beach City College String Quartet and played in many Chamber groups. He studied violin under Paula Fishman who was a violinist and high school music teacher from Texas. Her deep knowledge of the violin and teaching techniques really inspired him to become a music teacher. She also helped sparked his interest in Band and Orchestra instruments. Max later went to CSULB where he got his BM in Music Education. There he learned to play and teach all the band and orchestra instruments. He also did a lot of coaching of middle school and high school bands and orchestras. After graduation he bought as many band and orchestra instruments as he could and started studying each instrument in detail. He is an accomplished teacher in violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet oboe, saxophone, trumpet and trombone.  He has been teaching at the Downey Music Center since 2002.
Instructor: Jennifer Anderson

Teaches: Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Guitar & Ukulele
Styles: All Styles.
Background: Jennifer Anderson learned guitar as a child and studied classical guitar while in high school. She studied music at the University of Illinois, Laney College, Oakland Ca, and Los Angeles City College. She then studied saxophone with Phil Sobel, famous for television and film work. Her playing experience ranges from classical ensemble, big band, jazz ensemble, studio recording, and is lead player of the retro-rock combo Jetpack. She is a teaching professional having taught music with Arts Alive since 1998, Ladera Music Academy since in 2012, and also currently teacher and musical director at Saint James School K-4 in Torrence.
Instructor: John Vandenberg

Teaches: Trumpet
Styles: All styles.
Background: Known to the Music-loving community as Johnny V, John Vandenberg has been hittin' the notes and playin' the riffs for more than 30years all over the world in the hottest clubs and concert halls with the likes of: Bill Medley, Otis Brown, Slash, Sam Moore (Sam & Dave) Percy Sledge, Eric Clapton, Ernie Watts, The Daddy O's,  Drifters, Coasters, Boxcar 7, Chevy Chase, Other musical accomplishments include: Musical Director for Otis Brown (formerly of The Drifters),TV commercial for Zima (Adolph Coors Corp.), solo performance on Film soundtrack ("Saturday Night Special"), and TV's "Guiding Light". Johnny can also be heard in MATTEL TOYS BARBIE'S “My Size Throne”
John Vandenberg’s musical journey began at the young age of 9. Although He’s always loved to play and practice the trumpet, he credits his parents with helping him to stay committed to lessons by providing him with the tools he needed to succeed. Johnny Is from Long Beach Ca. and attended Cal State University of Long Beach.
Instructor: Colleen Montgomery

Teaches: Art Classes.
Styles: All styles.
Background: Colleen Montgomery has a Bachelors in Fine Art as well as a Teaching Degree from Alfred University School of Art & Design in New York.  She has experience teaching both Elementary and High School.  Best of all, she's fun, personable, and great with kids!

Instructor: Josie Boyer

Teaches: Cello, Violin, Piano
Styles: All Styles
Background: Josie has been playing cello since she was six years old.  With the  help of her mother, a musician as well, she picked up violin and piano  along the way.  She studied for her Masters of Music in cello  performance at the Chicago College of Performing Arts after getting her  Bachelors of Music from CSULB.  While in Texas, Josie won a section  cello position with the Round Rock Symphony.

She has been teaching for  nine years throughout California and Texas.  She is particularly  interested in teaching young children as she feels she has a personality  that would engage and inspire a young beginner.  However, she is  capable and willing to teach all ages.
Instructor: Suzanne Haitz

Teaches: Violin & Piano
Styles: All Styles
Background: Suzanne Haitz recently graduated with a BM in Violin Performance, and a BM in Music Education from Chapman University's Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music. Suzanne has studied with renowned performers & string pedagogues Robert Becker & William Fitzpatrick. She has been a private violin instructor, and a freelance musician for the past seven years in Southern California.

Suzanne specializes in teaching pain-free playing techniques, which will allow students to attain their full potential. She is very passionate about bringing music to people of all backgrounds and ages, as well as teaching life skills through the mastery of an instrument. With a strong background in both performance and music education, Suzanne is fully equipped to help students reach their musical goals.

Instructor: Joe Turner

Teaches: Drums
Styles: All Styles
Background: Joe has been playing drums for over 25 years.  He started taking private lessons in 4th grade.  During his pre-college years, he was involved in every music program offered at his school in Michigan.  This included Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Pit Band, and back up for the Choir.  After high school, Joe turned his focus to writing and performing original music while attending Michigan State University.  After working with many different groups and multiple nation wide tours, he moved to California to pursue music full time. Joe's positive energy and enthusiam for music and playing the drums is contagious with all of his students!

Instructor: Dylan Johnson

Teaches: Drums
Styles: All Styles
Background: Dylan has been deeply moved by music for as long as he can remember. He started playing guitar at age 8, but became obsessed with playing drums at age 12. He took private lessons, practiced daily, and began playing in church. In high school, he studied privately with several drum teachers, joined the school jazz band, and played in bands with friends.
In 2011, Dylan earned a bachelor's degree in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During college, he continued to study the drums in both private lessons and in school. He developed an eclectic skill set through playing various styles of music, including reggae, folk, rock, and jazz.

After college, Dylan continued to study privately with some of the world's top drummers, and also began to share his knowledge and experience with others through private lessons. He loves breaking the art of drumming down to its simplest parts, to make learning the craft accessible and fun. Currently, he teaches lessons, plays drums with several LA-based artists, creates electronic music, and also composes music for a variety of projects.

Sunset Learning Studio  
(310) 749-7099
1203 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
612 Meyer Lane #9B, Redondo Beach, CA 90278
Our Online App is HERE
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