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Our Experienced Music Instructors

School of Rock has experienced music instructors

Our Experienced Music Instructors

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

Ryan Schiff District Manager

Born and raised in Long Island, NY, Ryan began playing guitar at age 13 after seeing the movie "La Bamba" about rock legend Ritchie Valens. He studied with Grammy-nominated guitarist Steve Briody for several years before starting his own projects and soon became an instructor himself. While still in New York, his band Code Anchor independently released several EPs and one full-length album, "Rosada," while touring extensively nationwide from 2005-2009. A co-writer in the band, Ryan also played lead and rhythm guitar while singing lead and backup vocals. Memorable stages include the Vans Warped Tour at Nassau Coliseum and headlining bills at some of New York City's greatest venues like CBGBs and The Knitting Factory. It was during this time that Ryan began teaching at School of Rock in Melville, NY. Hungry to pursue new musical ventures, Ryan departed from Code Anchor and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. Since then, he's been busy writing, producing and performing with his newest project, Lou Pine. As a Sony/ATV artist, Lou Pine’s music has been featured on television shows like “Chicago Fire,” “Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word,” and “Food Paradise." Ryan enjoys playing every genre including jazz, funk, country and folk, but credits the blues and rock n' roll as his main influences.

Will McGrath Music Director

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, Will McGrath moved to Los Angeles to further his love for music and passion for teaching. Nicknamed the Jack of All Trades, Will is a multi-instrumentalist, proficient with the guitar, bass guitar, drums and piano. In 2007 at the age of 19, Will founded the band Jackal as songwriter and guitarist. Jackal went on to release six successful albums and extensively toured. With his knowledge from working in the music industry as a touring and recording musician, Will has helped numerous students with their own musical ambitions and goals.

In 2008, Will graduated university with a diploma in Contemporary Music and was awarded Best Instrumentalist of the Year. He then went on to start his own private music tuition business in Auckland, establishing a large clientele and offering lessons in guitar, bass, drums, piano and ukulele. Through Will’s study and love of all genres, he structures his lessons based on the individual's own interests and personal taste. This approach in his teaching results in continual growth, commitment and enthusiasm from his students.

Scott Mellis Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Singing Teacher

Scott Mellis started out playing in heavy metal bands in high school, sneaking into bars underage and carrying the gear of older band members. In his solo project he has opened for folk-rock icon Richard Thompson, Serena Ryder, Jeff Martin, Fink and Joseph Arthur. He was asked to open for Jason Mraz and Tom Morello after being spotted playing an impromptu acoustic set at a clothing store in Austin for SXSW.

T. Alex Budrow Drum Teacher

Alex Budrow started out in the basement with a passion at 11 years old, like many drummers, and has pursued that through today. He began playing professionally by age 17 and has been studying and playing music for 18 years. He attended The New England Institute of Art and McNally Smith College of Music and got a BA in Audio Media Technology and AP Percussion Performance. His experience as an educator began while still attending NEIA, guest lecturing on Drum Set Production and Performance, which led to teaching private lessons. A position as Music Director for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester in Boston, MA followed soon after. As a drummer pursuing his calling, Alex has performed countless shows, covering a vast spectrum of musical styles. His recording credits boast the same variety. Some of these recordings have even cracked local radio markets. These accomplishments only strengthen his commitment to the daily discipline of a professional musician. Alex believes the experience of music is for everyone. His approach to teaching is a balanced mix of inspiration and diligence designed to take the student where they want to go in their pursuit of a musical life.

Katie Henkel Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Singing Teacher

Katie began playing piano at the age of five and hasn’t stopped since. In 2009 she joined School of Rock as a keyboardist, bassist and vocalist and later became a School of Rock AllStar, playing venues such as Gathering of the Vibes, The Stone Pony and many others. She then studied at and graduated from Berklee College of Music, where she went on cross-country tours with bands she was in, as well as studied audio engineering. She’s played in venues all over the country, and engineers her own music and the music of other artists.

Abigail Miller Bass Guitar Teacher, Singing Teacher

Born and raised in Oak Park, IL, Abigail Joy Miller has always been an avid music lover. She started taking bass lessons at the age of 12 at a small, local music store. Shortly after, she found her people and passion at School of Rock in Chicago. After a year at School of Rock Chiago, her mom, an active member of the community, decided to open what has become the largest School of Rock in the country. In 2012, at 14 years old, she was the youngest member of a local punk band in the Chicagoland area and recorded a few EPs. In 2015 and 2016 Abigail was chosen to represent the elite top 1% of School of Rock students as a national AllStar, where she played and performed around the US including at places like Gathering of the Vibes, Lollapalooza, Riot Fest and Summerfest. When she was supposed to be going into senior year of high school, she instead joined Dalton Rapattoni as the bassist and a backup singer on The Inspired Attempt Tour. After tour she graduated early from high school and was already living in LA while her peers were going to prom. She is now attending the Musicians Institute for Bass Performance with a minor in Audio Engineering. Abigail has accomplished a great deal already at the young age of 19, and she's only just getting started.

Naiim Wilson Guitar Teacher

Naiim Wilson was born in Arizona and raised in California, where he took up the guitar at the age of 12. Inspired by bands such as Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, he joined School of Rock as a student at 13, honing his skills through relentless practice, private lessons and show performances. After having performed at venues such as The Troubadour, The Joint and The Whiskey-a-Go-Go, Naiim was placed under the tutelage of Emmy-nominated conductor Michael Bearden and continued to perform on his own, as well as with other acts. In 2017, Naiim returned to School of Rock as a guitar teacher, guiding the younger students through their journeys as young musicians. Naiim plays a plethora of different styles, including rock, funk, jazz, blues, folk, and raga, with rock being his leading style.

Drama Wyatt Drum Teacher

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California in a musical family, Drama has been around music her entire life and started playing guitar at the age of eight. However, it was when she was 14 years old and started playing the drums that she found her true passion for being a musician. She started taking lessons and enrolled at School of Rock West LA, and has been playing ever since. School of Rock has given her many amazing opportunities, such as learning how to play and interact with other musicians, as well as the chance to play legendary venues including The Whiskey a Go Go and The Troubadour with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Jackson Browne. Now at the age of 18, she currently attends Musicians Institute in Hollywood, has played in several bands, currently plays drums for various singer-songwriters around town and writes her own material. Drama appreciates an array of genres, but prefers to play hard rock and alternative rock. Some of her favorite bands include The Foo Fighters, The Strokes, Royal Blood and Marmozets. She continues to strive to be a better musician everyday, and works very hard towards her goal of becoming a nationwide touring musician.

Joe Conner Drum Teacher

Joe Conner is a multi-talented musician hailing from Philadelphia, PA. A drummer and percussionist trained in the classical and Latin genres, Joe began playing drums at his father’s church at the early age of seven. With success coming early on, by the age of 12, Joe began sharing his skills by giving lessons to beginner students as well as some of his peers. His formal study began at the Settlement Music School with Philadelphia orchestra percussionist Susan Jones. He subsequently continued his training under the tutelage of great veteran drummers such as Craig McIver, Skip Hadden, Bertram Lehman and Casey Scheuerell. Through his vigorous training and study, he has become an extremely skilled musician on timpani, congas, bongos, cajon, vibes and marimba. Joe was rewarded a scholarship to attend The Berklee College of Music, where he graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Music Business and Management but not before managing backing bands he played in. He's worked with a long list of esteemed artists that includes "American Idol" finalist John Stevens, Jordin Sparks, Problem, Noel Gordin, Bobby McFerrin, Jessie J, Mickey Factz, Bilal, Jordan Knight, Meshell Ndegeocello, Walter Beasley, Rhythm Monks, JoJo and Sammy Adams, who he’s toured extensively with.

Scott Warren Piano Teacher

Scott Warren was the latest keyboardist for heavy metal band Dio and Heaven & Hell. Scott is a self-taught keyboardist and began playing at age six. Later he trained professionally at Dick Grove School of Music. He was a member of the groups Warrant, Keel and Berlin. Today Scott is part of Dio Disciples, which includes surviving members of the final line-up of Dio, along with former Lynch Mob vocalist Oni Logan. He also plays in the band Hellion, alongside fellow Dio Disciples member Simon Wright. His most notable work with the band would have to include his keyboard solo on the recent "Killing the Dragon" album on a track titled "Before the Fall."

Alyssa Robertson Assistant Music Director

After seeing My Chemical Romance on the 2011 Honda Civic Tour, Los Angeles native Alyssa Robertson knew music was what she wanted to do with her life. Within a year of taking guitar lessons, Alyssa soon found herself wanting more to sink her teeth into, and did so by walking through the doors of School of Rock West LA. In addition to participating in the Performance Program while at School of Rock, she was also a vocalist in West LA’s House Band, which gave her the opportunity to play gigs all over town, including alongside Brad Wilk and Danny Carey, and with the House Band on Conan O'Brien's show. While growing as a musician during her tenure at School of Rock, Alyssa became interested in songwriting, and has been doing so for five years. Alyssa has also played in many bands, and has played at venues such as The Whisky A Go-Go, The Troubadour, Amplyfi and DiPiazza’s. Her main influences are Nirvana, Hole, My Chemical Romance, Placebo, No Doubt, Sleater Kinney, Bikini Kill, Paramore, Streetlight Manifesto and The Smiths.

Jake Furgason Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher

Jake Furgason began his music career at age 10 after picking up a guitar to play in a local band with some friends. He is originally from Littleton, CO, where he was one of the first students at School of Rock Denver. He is also a former School of Rock AllStar. His experiences as an AllStar and a member of the Denver House Band have given Jake many incredible musical opportunities, including playing with the likes of Josh Kilnghoffer, Vinnie and Carmine Apiece, and Andy "ROK" Guerrero in venues all over the country, including the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater. In 2012 he was accepted into the Berklee College of Music in Boston and studied there for four years, earning a degree in Music Production and Engineering as well as a minor in Acoustics and Audio Electronics. After leaving Boston he came to Los Angeles to further broaden his musical horizons. An avid tinkerer, he is often modifying his guitars or creating guitar pedals and microphones for his own personal use.

Natasha Ostapovicz Guitar Teacher, Singing Teacher

Tash is a vocal and guitar instructor from Boston, MA. She studied Vocal Performance at Berklee College of Music and holds both a BA from Berklee and a BBus from MIT. The songwriting prodigy of Paula Cole, Tash toured the country singing backgrounds for the Grammy-winning artist's 10-year anniversary of album "This Fire." She has traveled to Kenya, Uganda and South Africa with music education outreach programs, and performed with countless artists in countries across the globe. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2016, Tash has worked with multiple major labels as a ghost writer, receiving a Grammy nomination for one of said works. She has been writing, recording and performing her own music for the past eight years and is currently hard at work in the music scene in LA. Tash has been teaching since 2012 and is constantly honing her own skills as a musician.

Adrian Flores General Manager

Adrian Flores is a scholar of music. A former college radio DJ of WLIU Southampton, Adrian credits music with helping him navigate the twists and turns of life. The son of two middle school teachers, Adrian has lived in and around educational settings since before he could walk, and has the somewhat rare experience of having seen school from both sides of the teacher's desk. The insight this affords him makes him uniquely suited to acting as a liaison between students, teachers and parents. Adrian is a true believer in School of Rock's mission, and it shows.

Evan Kolesar Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher

Evan Kolesar is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and engineer from Los Angeles, California. Picking up the guitar at the age of seven and touring by age 15, he quickly learned music was his true passion in life. Fast forward to today: after graduating at the top of his class at the Musicians Institute — where he earned his degree in Guitar Performance and was awarded Outstanding Player of the Year — Evan has become a true player in the industry. He has enjoyed playing guitar, bass and drums on numerous recordings, producing and engineering local artists, and working with companies to develop new products. Evan is currently playing lead guitar in the Los Angeles-based band Seneca and The River.

JJ Brown Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Drum Teacher, Vocal Instructor

J.J. Brown is a multi-instrumentalist who's been playing since age eight and touring since 12. Proficient in guitar, drums, vocals, keys and bass, if you've got a student, J.J. can teach them. J.J.'s first touring experience came in 1982, when he was invited by Lola Falana to join her tour as a percussionist. Shortly after, he supplied music and voiceovers for Hanna Barbera cartoons, before playing extensively around LA with Lula and Afro Brazil, and joining metal outfit Civil Rights in the '90s. Over the course of his career, he's opened for B.B King, played with Marco Tulio and performed at the Latin Grammys. Along with all this, J.J. has over 20 years of experience teaching music, holds the spirit of music education in his heart and is thrilled to be a part of the School of Rock Venice family as a guitar teacher, bass guitar teacher, vocal instructor, piano teacher and drum teacher.

Doña Oxford Vocal Instructor, Piano Teacher

Producer, composer, songwriter, singer, keyboardist and teacher, Doña Oxford is an extraordinary, soulful and passionate musician. As a keyboardist Doña has played with many rock and blues legends, including Keith Richards, Van Morrison, Roger Daltrey, Ginger Baker, Albert Lee, Julia Fordham, Buddy Guy, Bob Weir, Levon Helm, Son Seals, Hubert Sumlin, Lonnie Brooks, Jimmy Vivino, Steve Lukather, Leland Sklar, Harry Shearer and her idol, the former Chuck Berry sideman and father of rock and roll piano, Johnnie Johnson.

Doña has toured over 22 countries. In addition to recording five albums of her own, she also finds time to play on numerous Grammy and Emmy-winning albums, TV and movie scores, including the Eddie Murphy box office hit “Norbit," the Martin Lawrence film “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins,” “Senior Skip Day” and the soon to be released Kevin Hart feature, “Night School.” With over five million hits on YouTube, her “Boogie Woogie” performance video is a sensation. Golden Globe nominee Ewan McGregor called her the next big thing in music. She is a vocal instructor and piano teacher at School of Rock Venice.

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