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 is an active vocalist performing music across a variety of genres and styles. He has experience singing background vocals for folk-artist and composer Moira Smiley’s 2018 EP release, indie-band Tune-Yards’ 2020 performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and most recently recorded vocals for the movie Space Jam: A New Legacy. As a choral and ensemble performer throughout Southern California, he currently performs with groups such as Tonality, Pacific Chorale, and L.A. Camerata Baroque.

He is a dynamic church musician serving as the music director at 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.

Throughout his undergraduate career David has had the privilege of touring with the internationally award-winning Bob Cole Chamber Choir and performing roles in operas, scenes, and musicals. Such roles and scenes include le Duc from Chérubin, Nanki-Poo from The Mikado, and Count Almaviva from Il barbiere di Siviglia.

David Morales graduated from the USC Thornton School of music with an MA in Early Music and the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSULB and holds a B.M. in Vocal Performance and a B.M. in Music Education. David began teaching in the midst of completing his undergraduate degree and has classroom experience, being a temporary assistant choir director at Bellflower Middle School. He believes that each of his students have the opportunity to become better musicians and in turn, better people. His teaching philosophy is rooted in promoting success for each student by having small achievable goals. He is delighted to be working with Sunset Learning, teaching and inspiring students about the art of voice, piano, and music.
Instructor: Mary Pimentel

Teaches: Piano, Vpoce & Clarinet
Styles: All styles.
Background: Mary Pimentel is a multi-instrumentalist, artist, and educator with a rich and diverse background in various genres of music. From classical repertoire, jazz standards, musical theatre to today's modern music, Mary is capable of teaching the different styles based on the student. She earned her B.A. in Musicology at UCLA, and currently teaches piano, voice and the clarinet family. She also coaches group ensembles as a technical coach at various music programs - choir, vocal clinics, and band classes.

On top of her teachings, Mary regularly performs at live events either as a solo artist or as the frontwoman of an LA-based coverband. From these experiences as a performing artist, she is able to pass down her skills and knowledge to her students who are also working on stage performances and auditions.

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 people of all ages, and will provide a fun and enthusiastic lesson while staying true to the necessary fundamentals that are required to see her student's musical knowledge grow.

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: Ashley Miner

Teaches: Piano & Voice
Styles: All styles.
Background: Ashley Miner is a performer and educator in the Los Angeles area. A performer since middle school, she has sung alongside Peter Eldridge from the New York Voices, Avi Kaplan from Pentatonix, and opened for The Real Group with the vocal jazz ensemble, Singcopation.

Ashley attended Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA where she studied classical and jazz voice and participated in their annual opera scenes, performing characters such as Prince Charmant from Massenet’s Cendrillon and Maria Stuarda from Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda. She sang in their vocal jazz ensemble, Singcopation, and performed at The Apollo Theatre and the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2013. She also sang in the Chamber Singers and performed at Carnegie Hall, two American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) conventions and competed in the 2012 Xinghai Prize International Choir Championships and 2015 European Choir Games and Grand Prix of Nations.

After her time at Mt. San Antonio College, she transferred to California State University, Long Beach where she studied classical and jazz voice. Ashley sang in the award-winning vocal jazz ensemble, Pacific Standard Time and performed at the Jazz Education Network (JEN) Convention in 2018 and at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2019. She also sang in the Bob Cole Chamber Choir and competed in the Internationaler Chorawettbewerb Spittal an der Drau in 2017.

Ashley has been a section leader and assistant director at both Mt. San Antonio College and California State University, Long Beach. She is currently an assistant choral director and private voice instructor at Fountain Valley High School as well as a voice and piano instructor at Sunset Learning Studio in Redondo Beach.
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: Malek Sammour

Teaches: Voice & Piano
Background: Malek Sammour earned his B. M. in Vocal Performance from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSU Long Beach in 2019. Studying under Timothy MacDougall and Katherine Rundus, he appeared as Marquis de la Force in Poulenc’s “Dialogues Des Carmélites”, Antonio in Mozart’s “Nozze di Figaro”, and Pangloss/Voltaire in Bernstein’s “Candide”.

Since graduation, he has been involved in ensembles such as the LA Master Chorale, Tonality, Westminster Chorus, and Miami Music Festival Opera where he was featured as Count Almaviva in “Nozze di Figaro”. He has recently done back-up singing for artists such as Sarah Brightman, Pete Townshend, Josh Groban, and Billy Idol.

Recent studio credits include singing for the score of “Space Jam”, and on the Kronos Quartet’s recent album release of “Long Time Passing”. Malek has been featured at sacred institutions such as Christ Parish Cathedral, St. Peter’s by the Sea in Palos Verdes, and St. Luke’s Episcopal in Long Beach, and continues to sing in professional ensembles.

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: Elena Chapovalova

Teaches:  Advanced Piano
Styles: All Styles
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: Rachel Felstein

Teaches: Piano & Voice
Styles:  All Styles
Background: Rachel Felstein is a committed and experienced teaching artist who delights in  students’ progress and success. Able to be highly organized or  improvisational as the occasion demands, as a teacher she emphasizes  both professional conduct and creative joy. Comfortable with all ages,  Rachel utilizes knowledge gained from a wide variety of performance,  teaching, and training to customize learning and the creative process.
Rachel  grew up in New York City in a family of artists. Her father is a  professional pianist and music director, and Rachel began studying piano  and music theory when she was three. In addition to learning to read  and play music Rachel was always singing and acting. As she grew up  Rachel took private voice lessons and attended LaGuardia Arts High  School of Music and Art and the Performing Arts (the “FAME” school) in  Manhattan as a voice major. Rachel graduated high school and was granted  a number of awards, after which she attended Mannes College the New  School for Music and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music as a Voice  Performance major. She then spent the next few years singing opera and  operetta, acting in musicals, and teaching students of all ages  privately as well through several children’s music companies in NYC and  Rutgers/NJIT in New Jersey.While  living in Washington, DC from 2017-2022, Rachel earned an MFA at George  Washington University and established herself in the theater community;  acting in productions with esteemed companies such as Arena Stage.  During the pandemic shut down Rachel was a producer of a weekly concert  series from her home with numerous collaborators from the arts  community. In addition to performing as an actor and musician in plays  and musicals, Rachel is an award winning composer. She has written,  arranged, and music directed for multiple productions. As a singer  Rachel regularly performs in a wide variety of styles from rock and pop  to classical.Rachel  is an educator and performer who works with students of all ages. She teaches Piano, Voice, and  Guitar, and she embraces creativity in her instruction, as well as  customized theory and practical curriculums. As a goal, Rachel wants to  always make sure her students feel empowered by their lessons and that  learning an instrument is a positive experience.

Instructor: Nailah Middleton

Teaches: Piano & Voice & Harp
Styles: All Styles
Background: Background: Nailah Middleton is a Caribbean-American musician, composer, and educator from Los Angeles, CA.

Graduating with a degree in vocal performance from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), she sings in a variety of languages and styles, including classical, jazz, and experimental. She performs her music at special events all across the US, accompanying herself on harp and piano.


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: Travis Reaves

Teaches: Drums, Guitar, Bass & Uke
Styles: All Styles
Background: Travis Reaves is a multi-instrumentalist  originally from the San Francisco Bay Area.  In his 10-year teaching  career, Travis has taught guitar, bass, ukulele and drums to students of  virtually all ages.

His teaching style  is intuitive and practical and places student engagement above all else.  Travis believes in a fun, flexible curriculum of material.  He is well  versed an all styles so that he can teach according to the type of music  that speaks to each student.

Performance  credits include guitar work for regional theatre productions of “Spring  Awakening”, “American Idiot”, and “In The Heights”, on-stage credits  with various theatre companies across the SF Bay Area, Improvisational  musical accompaniment for Improv  groups across Los Angeles.

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: 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: Alejandro Acosta

Teaches: Guitar, Bass & Uke
Styles: All styles.
Background: Alejandro Acosta is a guitarist and a lutenist specializing in performing Renaissance and Baroque plucked instruments. He holds a B.M. from the National School of Music, UNAM. His devotion and passion for Early Music led him to study plucked instruments from the lute family. The Mexican Culture Foundation awarded him a scholarship to carry out master’s degree in early music at the University of Arts in Bremen, Germany. As a lutenist, Alejandro had participated in several early music ensembles in Mexico, Germany, and the US. He has performed in ensembles such as L.A. Camerata, and La Ciaramella Ensemble. As a member of the USC Collegium, he has participated in the Young Performer Festival organized by EMA.

Alejandro started his musical career because of his desire to play in a rock band. This love to rock and modern music led him to learn electric guitar techniques, making him a versatile musician able to play historical and contemporary instruments related to the guitar.

Alejandro is pursuing a Doctor in Musical Arts at the University of Southern California. His doctorate focuses on music technology and music teaching and learning. His over ten years of experience as a teacher have earned him praise from his students as one of the best teachers full of patience and teaching skills
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: Kai Kaner

Teaches: Drums
Styles: All styles
Background:  Kai began playing drums as a child after  his parents exposed him to live music and an extensive record  collection.  He started taking private drum lessons and reading music at  age nine, eventually playing with the concert, jazz, and marching bands  at school.  While attending Long Beach Poly he would compete annually  at the Reno Jazz Festival against other high schools and go on to win  several awards as part of Poly's prestigious music program.  After high  school Kai continued to study jazz music, classical percussion, music  theory, and music business while enrolled at CSULB, eventually earning  his degree and moving on to perform on cruise ships as a show band  drummer for Norwegian Cruise Line.  

Since  graduating from university and performing on cruise ships, Kai has  taught private lessons and continued to perform with various musical  groups, companies, and DJs as a freelance drummer, often playing a large  variety of musical styles.  His philosophy is that musical inspiration  can come from anywhere, and that without the drums nobody would be  dancing!

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: 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: 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: Ralph Watkins  

Teaches: Trumput, Trombone & Tuba
Styles:  All Styles and Levels
Background: Ralph Watkins is a long-timeresident of LA. Growing up in Torrance, Ralph began playing all forms of music, styles, and genres at 9.

He then attended El Camino for jazz applied studies as well as general music and taught for 7 years. He has been a part of marching bands, orchestras,
jazz big bands as well as combos on top of many other ensembles that garnished national recognition as well as worked with many well known artists such as Kamasi Washington and Ryan Porter of the West Coast Get Down, Aloe Blacc, Lenny Goldsmith of Tower of Power, Earth Wind and Fire and many more under the study of the great George Bohanon (of Motown fame).

Ralph’s emphasis is not only on the technical aspects of playing brass instrumental music, but also to expose students to the joys of music on the soul and
mind as an art, creativity and history to many cultures and backgrounds.

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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