Fort Washington
School of Rock

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Our Experienced Music Instructors

School of Rock has experienced music instructors

Our Experienced Music Instructors

School of Rock Fort Washington’s music teachers are experienced musicians devoted to helping students attain musical proficiency. From singing to drums to guitar, our Fort Washington music instructors inspire and teach students to perform live.

Bass Guitar Teacher

Dave Whiteman Bass Guitar Teacher

Dave Whiteman has over 25 years of experience playing bass guitar in a variety of styles and situations. For the past 10 years he has anchored the low end with Drop Dead Sexy, one of the Northeast region’s best cover bands. With a performance schedule that averages 150 shows annually, Dave has played in top clubs to sell-out crowds from Maine to Florida and everywhere in between, including such high-profile venues as The House of Blues, The Pickle Barrel, Seacrets and Sloppy Joe’s. His bass playing has also appeared on hundreds of recordings spanning dozens of albums, including several national and international releases. A licensed, certified teacher in Pennsylvania, Dave holds a B.A. from Penn State University and a M.Ed. From Cabrini College. He has been teaching at School of Rock Fort Washington since the school opened in 2007 and brings to his students a unique combination of formal education and real world experience.

Darren Ellis Drums Teacher

Darren Ellis has been playing drums for over 20 years. He studied drums and percussion in college and his experiences encompass a wide variety of styles with many different people and bands in Ohio, Tennessee, New Jersey and New York. Some artists he has performed with include the Dave Landeo Band, Stonewater Groove, Jagstar, Jason Allen Phelps and Donald Brown. Darren has spent much time over the last two years studying at The Drummers Collective in New York City, where he continues to study. Drums are his primary focus, however, beginning in 1998 he worked as a systems technician for a pro concert sound company in the southeast. During this time he gained valuable experience in the music industry that he applies not only to his playing but everyday life as well. Darren holds a BSC in Audio Production from Ohio University.

Ian Krier Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher

Ian Krier, a New Jersey native, comes to School of Rock Fort Washington with many years of rock guitar “gunslinging” experience. As a self-taught guitarist at 12 years old, he started playing along with Guns ‘N Roses, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Metallica, Hendrix, SRV and many more. With the help of guitar magazines, he learned the basics of his instrument and practiced relentlessly. At age 14 he began giving private lessons after school.

Ian began playing in several east coast original rock acts such as FailsafeNation, Hydrus, Handful of Dust, Fur and others. In the summer of 2005, Ian was invited to meet with Chicago-based rock band Royal, who was in need of a guitarist/songwriter. He got the gig and moved to Chicago, and wrote and recorded tunes for Warner Bros. at the famous Groove Master Studio with Grammy-nominated producer Johnny K. (Disturbed, Alkaline Trio, Finger Eleven, etc.). When things didn’t work out, he moved back to the east coast and began writing his own material, which would become the first Star Killer EP. He then toured North America in support of Combichrist.

Ian continues to work with Star Killer in NYC, the Electric Boa and his new band, Thirteen Reasons, here in Philadelphia. Ian’s teaching style comes from years of learning, performing and being a “hired gun” in other people’s projects around the US.

Jessie Wexler Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher

Growing up in suburban Philadelphia, Jessie Wexler performed over 200 performances prior to starting college. Throughout his academic career, Jessie participated in many music programs. In this time, Jessie developed a skill for performance at a young age while studying various composers. Jessie composes and performs various styles of music including rock, jazz, film scores, Middle Eastern and world music.

At The University of the Arts, Jessie holds a Bachelor’s with honors in Music Composition. He has studied with some of the city's most talented composers and artists in college. Jessie focused on music production through classes and personal music projects, collaborating and composing music for animators, filmmakers, dancers and music business students. Jessie has performed with and produced for original bands in the Philadelphia area such as Seoul Delhi, Juice Wax and Breathing, collectively performing hundreds of shows and creating a fanbase in the Philadelphia area.

Jessie’s passion for music continued into education here at School of Rock Fort Washington. Through private and group lessons, Jessie is dedicated to teaching his students to learn their instruments and to play what they want confidently. Jessie is proficient at both production and performance, with a passion for writing high-quality content and performing at a professional level.

Mike Kiker Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Drums Teacher

Mike Kiker has been the organist for Philly psychedelic rock trio St. James and The Apostles since 2010 and is an occasional film composer. It all started for him at the age of four after finding out he had an ear for music by plucking out simple melodies on a beat-up Casio. During the latter half of grade school, he got more serious about music after picking up guitar, bass and drums. He took guitar lessons at the original School of Rock down on Race St. for one year. He soon moved on to working as a church organist, as well as joining the music program at Archbishop Ryan High School, where he graduated in 2005. At Ryan, he performed as a percussionist in the marching band and concert band, bassist in the jazz band, and played guitar, bass, keyboards and flute for school plays in the pit orchestra. He graduated in 2010 with honors from the Community College of Philadelphia with degrees in Music Theory and Sound Engineering, sang as a tenor in the school choir, and played as a bassist, drummer and vibraphonist in the college jazz ensemble. He runs a recording studio with the other members of St. James and The Apostles, and has engineered and produced for local artists around Philadelphia. Mike gave one-on-one lessons well before finishing high school, but ever since finishing college he has been teaching professionally at School of Rock Fort Washington in between gigs.

Nathan Hurdle Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Vocal Instructor

Nathan Hurdle was a School of Rock Fort Washington student from 2008-2013, performing in many shows and as a member of the House Band. His personal influences include the likes of John Mayer, Clapton, SRV, Santana, Page, Larry Carlton, Jon Herington, Robben Ford and many others. He holds a bachelor's in Music from Goucher College in Baltimore, where he graduated in 2017. During his time at Goucher, Nathan was a member of the jazz band, guitar ensemble, chorus and an acapella group. Nathan currently plays in Philadelphia-based alt-rock outfit Goodthief. Teaching at School of Rock has been a fantastic experience for Nathan and he is excited to see what the future holds at School of Rock Fort Washington.

Robin Hallman Vocal Instructor

Robin Hallman’s personal singing experience spans 25+ years and began at the age of 14, when she sang regularly in choir and choral ensembles and then with her first rock cover band at the age of 16. She studied vocal technique for six years with private vocal training, and further developed her voice and singing style from working professionally on a variety of musical projects that included singing lead and backing vocals, performing up to five nights a week with a nine-piece Philly cover band and singing regularly with a wedding band. Currently, Robin manages and sings with her part-time rock and pop cover band, performing in the Philly suburbs.

Robin has taught vocal technique for over 13 years. 11 of those years have been at School of Rock Fort Washington. She obtained a certificate in General Music Studies from Berklee College of Music, which included the study of music theory, basic ear training and the Berklee keyboard method. She starts by teaching students traditional vocal technique along with basic ear training. Once the student shows a grasp of healthy vocal technique and pitch accuracy, she moves forward in coaching them through their tone development, vocal strength, range and style. She teaches this in conjunction with the School of Rock curriculum of shows. She coaches them in microphone technique and building confidence in performance with their assigned songs. She will assign students specific vocal exercises and songs that are best suited for the individual student's vocal development.

Sarah Bower Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Vocal Instructor

Sarah Bower has over 15 years of experience performing and playing on stage for audiences of all sizes. She enrolled at School of Rock Fort Washington at the age of 10, where she began learning vocals and playing keyboards. Shortly after, she added bass guitar. She now teaches all three at School of Rock Fort Washington. While attending School of Rock, Sarah performed in a total of 26 season shows. She was also a member of the House Band for four years and had the opportunity to go on four amazing tours that included performances at Summerfest Music Festival in Milwaukee and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Sarah's love for music and performing extended beyond School of Rock. She was an active member of her school’s theatre department, women's choir, chamber singers and jazz band. Sarah also participated in a program in which she shadowed band teachers. In this program, she learned many valuable teaching skills both in and out of music. Sarah is currently a student at Temple University. She is on course to graduate with degrees in both Education and Mathematics.

Eric York Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher

Eric York is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a dual major in Music Performance and Music Education. He was the recipient of the Berklee Entering Student Talent Scholarship in 1998. He has studied with Al Pitrelli (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Megadeth), John Finn, Joe Stump, Dave Fiucynski, Brett Wilmott, Mick Goodrick and Rik Alison. Teaching guitar since 1998, Eric is also a very busy session guitarist and has played with several bands over the past 15 years. Eric’s lessons include music theory, chord and rhythm studies, improvising, ear training, sight reading, scales and soloing, audition prep for music schools and classical guitar. He specializes in shred technique.

Chris Caulder Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Drums Teacher

Chris Caulder is a musical jack-of-all-trades. Starting his career as a drummer for the underground rock band Downside, Chris went on to play guitar and sing for several hardcore bands in Florida, including Signal 13 and No Way Out. Most recently, he played guitar, bass and piano in a downtempo electronic-based duo called Beauty’s Confusion. Currently, Chris is busy writing and recording music. He is working on his 14th solo project CD, currently entitled "The Surcharge."

To date, Chris has self-released 13 solo music CDs of various styles and sounds, all of which are available from his upstart record label Ousted Records. In addition to Chris’s live band and recording experience, he co-wrote a book about computer recording with author Michael W. Dean entitled “Digital Music DIY Now!” Furthermore, he has provided music for several video games and independent films, and has collaborated with and remixed countless indie artists' music, including Bitstream Dream, Buck 65, East Hundred and Lovespirals.

Chris listens to and loves every style of music under the sun, and some of his favorites include Jet To Brazil, Van Halen (only with David Lee Roth!), the Misfits (Danzig only), Queen, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Pink Floyd, Jimmy Eat World, Azure Ray, Julianna Hatfield, Minipop, Nada Surf, The Smiths and Metric.

Bailey Sakach Guitar Teacher

Bailey Sakach is a guitar teacher with over 10 years of experience playing in a number of styles with a primary focus on rock and jazz. A former student of School of Rock Fort Washington, Bailey is very familiar with the School of Rock curriculum, ranging from Rookies all the way up to House Band. When not focusing on the school’s curriculum, Bailey’s lessons focus on basic music theory and application, as well as improvisation and preparing for auditions. Overall, his lessons aim to build skills that will transfer over to any instrument, not just guitar.

Trisha Dasch General Manager

Trisha Dasch is a vocalist and self-taught guitar player who gets a lot of mileage out of a few chords, holding true to her punk roots. She was the singer for Atomic Age and has recorded and performed with Philly area bands Welter, The Noid and The Damn Dirty Apes. She has been playing shows in the Philadelphia area in bands as well as on her own as That Girl (covering her favorite obscure songs that you’ve never heard of) for 20 years.

She has a background in hospitality management and was most recently the Concessions Manager and Event Coordinator for the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA. In addition to 20+ years managing in the restaurant/hospitality industry, she has also worked in human services as a counselor and behavioral therapist for children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Her taste in music lies mostly in the punk genre but she listens to everything. Her favorite bands include The Cramps, Descendents, Dead Kennedys, Screeching Weasel and Wire.

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