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Our Experienced Music Instructors

School of Rock has experienced music instructors

Our Experienced Music Instructors

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

Billy Smolen Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher

Billy is a North Jersey local, having lived and performed in the tri-state area his whole life. His drive and talent on both electric and acoustic bass has led him to perform with artists across many genres, including rock, funk, jazz and classical. He has performed everywhere from dive bars to concert halls with rock bands, orchestras, jazz trios and everything in between.

James Stivaly Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher

James Stivaly is an experienced session guitarist, producer and music teacher driven by helping artists at all levels become self-actuating musicians. He takes pride in providing the best possible guitar lessons and audio engineering services. As a musician his goals include showing the musical community around him how to use free expression to move themselves closer to their musical and life goals, and also helping artists make their vision a reality. In addition to his primary job functions, James Stivaly has been recognized by countless music news outlets for his extraordinary commitment to writing, producing and teaching. His writing is internationally lauded for its originality, without it losing the traditional nuances of its genre. Alongside teaching and performing, James is a producer at his own small recording studio, and an owner of his own music production company. James’ recordings have climbed up various types of Top 40 charts. His songwriting landed him on the back of one of the world's biggest metal music magazines. James is a guitar and bass guitar teacher at School of Rock Montclair.

Lewis Robinson Singing Teacher

Lewis Robinson never fails to captivate audiences with his warm, outgoing personality, extraordinary vocal skills and his compelling performance style. A specialist in vocal and stage performance for over 30 + years, Lewis brings his experience from theater and being a singer-songwriter to coaching and directing his students at School of Rock Montclair. As an educator in the Montclair, NJ elementary school system, he brings his love and knowledge of music and dynamic performance energy to the students and faculty alike. An accomplished and studied drummer, Lewis Robinson has also thrilled audiences worldwide as a lead vocalist with his own band singing jazz favorites, R&B and original compositions. He has also received directorial awards from Italy and has performed and recorded numerous radio and television ads.

Linda Everwick Singing Teacher, Piano Teacher

Linda Everswick is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Originally a student of saxophone inspired by soul music, Linda soon began studying voice, piano and guitar theory, and exploring different genres in order to further pursue her passion for songwriting. At age 16, Linda began performing original and collaborative compositions with various groups of different genres across NJ, PA and NY. She has since been performing regularly at different festivals and venues including The Knitting Factory, Index Art Center, The Bitter End and The Stanhope House. One of Linda's longest standing projects is piano-saxophone duo Bible Gun. In addition to performing and writing, she is an event organizer for art, music and spoken word events.

Vin Mott Drum Teacher, Singing Teacher

At age 7, Vincent Mott already knew he was destined for a life in music, taking drum lessons once a week, which lasted through his high school years. In seventh grade he and his fellow classmates formed a small pop-punk band called Let Me Down and enjoyed small but significant success. Vincent was involved with every aspect of the music department, which included concert band, marching band, jazz band and choir. He enjoyed the roles of drum line leader in marching band for two years and section leader in choir. He was constantly in and out of various local rock bands in the area, lending a hand when needed. Vincent further pursued his dream by attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, playing in various bands, including a popular jam band called Rack 'Em Let's Go. He graduated with a BA in Music with a concentration in Songwriting. In 2013 Vincent moved back to NJ and started his own band, Hott Mott's Rhythm Blues Band, singing and playing blues harmonica. He also freelances as a drummer with various singer-songwriters including Garrett Gardner of NBC's "The Voice."

Joe Billy III Drum Teacher

Joe has had a passion for music since he could remember, listening to his mother's classic rock n' roll and his father's smooth jazz, but his introduction to playing music wasn't sparked until the later age of 15. After getting bored of the video game "Rock Band 2," he decided to pursue drum lessons at our own School of Rock Montclair, where he found his love for the stage. After a few years with us, he went to school for Audio Engineering, and soon after contacted Matt Sandoski for some live sound experience. After a few gigs, Matt decided to bring him to the school where he now teaches drums, Rock 101 and Performance. You can also find him back-lining and doing sound for our live performances. Joe loves to write, record and perform music. He continues to play around the local music scene of NJ, drumming, engineering and joining mosh pits anywhere he can.

Chris Barnett Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher

Christopher Barnett is a bassist, composer, producer, music educator and publisher with ASCAP. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music (Jazz Studies) from Montclair State University. Chris has been playing bass professionally for over 25 years throughout the US and abroad. He has also taught music, as well as marching band in Paterson, NJ public schools. He continues to perform live music while also teaching bass, guitar and ukulele, and directing the House Band at School of Rock Montclair.

Stu Damm Drum Teacher

From Scarsdale, NY, Stu Damm started playing piano at age six, but after hearing rock and roll for the first time, he knew that was the music he wanted to play. From there on it was drums all the way. He started taking lessons, played in school bands and quickly found friends to play with. While in high school, Stu started playing local Westchester County and New York City gigs with local bands and friends while studying with the legendary Kenwood Dennard. Stu attended the University of Colorado as a Music Performance major where he co-formed a new band. The band, Steak, would go on to be a Boulder, CO favorite. They toured the country, put out several independent albums and they also had their song "Big Bear" on the soundtracks of the movies "Super Troopers" and "Super Troopers 2."

After moving back to New York with Steak, Stu started playing the NYC blues and R&B circuit with Michael Powers, The Slam Allen Band and many others. He also became the foremost percussionist in New York's most exclusive nightclubs, playing with John Popper, Tommy Lee and New York's best DJs. Stu then joined Threads of Scarlet, a Barbados-based band. They released an album and several videos, opened for Sum 41, Puddle of Mudd and Fuel, and were featured at South by Southwest. He moved to Hoboken, NJ and released an EP of his own works titled "DAMM." Playing again with Steak, Stu loves passing his music knowledge and experience to his students and is ready for the next chapter in a long musical journey.

Jon Caplan Singing Teacher, Piano Teacher

Jon is a vocal/piano teacher at School of Rock Montclair and he has a true passion for music. Playing piano from the age of eight and singing from as far back as he can remember, Jon is well-versed in music theory, and even better at sharing his passion for music with the kids that he teaches. Currently enrolled in William Paterson University's Music Program, he is striving every day to get an even better understanding of music himself. Jon is a performing musician in the New York/New Jersey area in multiple bands, so he know what it takes to get your kids on stage and playing with confidence.

Kevin March Drum Teacher

Kevin is a graduate of Berklee College of Music. He is currently the drummer for the critically acclaimed Guided By Voices. His vast professional experience includes being a member of The Dambuilders (Atlantic/Elektra Records), Shudder To Think (Epic Records) and Those Bastard Souls (V2 Records). He's performed on recording sessions for Jeff Buckley, The Breeders, James Iha (original member of Smashing Pumpkins) and A Camp (featuring Nina Persson of The Cardigans). He has also been featured on songs and scores for such films as "School of Rock," "Velvet Goldmine," "Boys Don't Cry," "The Woodsman" and "Tigerland." He also co-produced the 2013 album "Warned You" by NYC-based rock quartet The NowhereNauts along with Grammy-winning recording engineer Carl Glanville (U2, Jason Mraz, Billy Joel, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson).

Tom Nadolski Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher

Tom's love of music began as a diaper-clad toddler in Jersey City, listening to his dad play The Beatles on accordion. After years of attempting to wrangle the accordion he was fortunate to find an old acoustic guitar in the basement. Since then he has never put it down. Self-taught for the first five years (with the assistance of a single Mel Bay book) Tom enhanced his education at New Jersey City University where he studied classical guitar, jazz guitar, music theory, sight-reading, ear-training and music technology. From 1991 to the present he has been involved in numerous rock bands and has performed in clubs all over the New York/New Jersey area, including CBGB's and The Bitter End. No job is too big or too small for Tom, and he has played guitar in every conceivable situation, ranging from dressing up as a cow for Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream in NYC to playing at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina for 30,000 people. His love of music led him to the audio field, working as a live sound engineer and a recording engineer. He worked at the infamous Chung King Studios in NYC where he recorded countless artists, including Blondie, Talib Kwali and Mos Def. A full-circle moment occurred at Chung King where Tom had the pleasure of teaching Jack Black how to play "Stairway To Heaven" on guitar during a session for a commercial spot for the "School Of Rock" movie. Despite Tom's love for performing, few things can compare to sharing the gift of music and his 20 years of knowledge with anyone who is willing to learn. He thrives on the satisfaction of unlocking the joy of music for students, and specializes in turning mistakes, or 'happy accidents,' into teachable moments. Tom is thrilled to be part of School of Rock in Montclair, where he is part of a fantastic team that shares his love of musical gift-giving and strives to help each and every student find their own inherent and individual musical voice.

Brielle Liebman Guitar Teacher, Singing Teacher

Brielle Liebman is a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Wayne, New Jersey. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Popular Music from William Paterson University, where she studied songwriting and performance, as well as music theory, history and business. Over at the university, she was the chair of the Songwriting Guild and ran showcases and ensembles for her degree program. Her love for music began as a child, listening to The Beatles on vinyl with her father and sister as a weekend activity. She began singing and writing back then as well, writing lyrics and melodies that she and her sister would sing to entertain her family (though she will admit, her songs have since gotten more mature). Since then, she has written in many genres from hard rock to folk to jazz. She has played in her own band, as well as solo. Her most recent studio release, “Silver Lines,” gave her experience recording, arranging and producing as the project took many years to complete. She has played from New Jersey’s Stone Pony to New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall, as well as held residencies at restaurants.

Ben Saporito Drum Teacher

Since graduating with honors from the Berklee College of Music, Benjamin Saporito has enjoyed a musically diverse career as a performing drummer in the New York area. He has performed and/or recorded with Vintage Ego, V Blackburn, Vin Mott's Rhythm and Blues Band, The American Composers Orchestra, The New York Pops, The Metro West Symphony, Lezane Trapani, Craig Mitchell, Various Phillips Academy Broadway productions, the Boston Conservatory songwriter showcases, The New York Jazzharmonic Trio and The
Alfabet Jazz Trio to name a few. In addition to his career performing, Mr. Saporito has been teaching drum set since he was in the eighth grade. Since then, he has taught students of all ages and playing levels, and has
always loved helping his students improve their craft. His approach to teaching has always revolved around patience and understanding.

Maurice "Moe" Watson Drum Teacher

Maurice Watson is a diverse and talented drummer hailing from Newark, NJ. With 20 years of performing and recording experience under his belt, music has been a commitment in his life from a very early age and it shows. Cutting his teeth with family members in the Newark gospel music scene, he developed a polished, yet rough and hard-hitting style which has found him completely prepared to tackle ANY musical endeavor he has come across. He attended Franklin Pierce College (now University) in New Hampshire and began drumming for Metalblade/Blackmarket recording artists Deadwater Drowning as well as a host of other metal and hardcore punk projects all around New England. He rubbed elbows and played shows with many bands he loved and respected, such as Suicide Silence. It was during this time that Maurice took proper instruction from Brooklyn, NY's multi-instrumentalist Nathan Davis to sharpen his skills in jazz and other percussion. Years after graduating Maurice found himself back home in NYC/NJ with a new set of skills and ready to start work on rock/pop band Aliens with his long time cousin, best friend, guitarist and collaborator Mark Dollar. Maurice also found himself in session work for artists in the greater New York City area, sharing stages with the likes of Trey Songz, hellogoodbye, Keri Hilson, Ludacris and many more.

Apryl Chanco Vocal Instructor, Piano Teacher

Apryl Chanco is currently completing a Masters of Arts Teaching degree with a concentration in Music Education at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. She is a proud member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and was the Vice President of Montclair State University's collegiate chapter.

Apryl has performed alongside the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Princenton University’s Richardson Auditorium, Rutgers University’s State Theatre and at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. She has also sung at Madison Square Garden, where she performed in "The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Godesses," and at Carnegie Hall, where she participated in the New York Choral Festival. She is also no stranger to Towson University, University of Delaware and New Jersey City University, where she has participated in several master classes.

As a teacher, Apryl loves watching her students grow in their voice and piano techniques every week while cultivating their love for music. She is passionate about giving students the tools to be knowledgeable musicians and thoughtful artists/performers. She believes in teaching her students proper vocal health and piano technique throughout all different genres of music, all while using innovative and engaging pedagogy in each lesson.

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