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Our Experienced Music Instructors

School of Rock has experienced music instructors

Our Experienced Music Instructors

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

Douglas Appleman Guitar Teacher, Vocal Instructor, Piano Teacher

Douglas Appleman started playing piano and singing when he was a young child, and picked up the guitar when he entered high school. He began doing camps at School of Rock when he was 12, and has always been involved in some way with the school since then. While in high school, Douglas played in a jazz ensemble and took part in the School of Rock Watertown Performance Program. He then studied music as a Jazz Piano minor at UMass Amherst. Douglas currently plays in a band with fellow School of Rock alumnus and co-worker Jacob Seigel Zeserson, and some of his hobbies include listening to music, writing music and thinking about music.

Justin Hancock Guitar Teacher

Justin Hancock grew up in the South Shore region of Massachusetts and played the saxophone for about eight years before realizing that the guitar was his main instrument. His parents raised him on artists like John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, which instilled a passion for music in him at a very young age. After high school, Justin attended Westfield State University as a Music major for one year before transferring to Berklee College of Music in 2006.

During his time at Berklee, Justin formed a funk band with some friends and fellow students called The Actual Proof. TAP were fortunate enough to share the stage with world-renowned drummer Stanton Moore, record with Timo Shanko (current bassist of G. Love Special Sauce), tour the West Coast in the summer of 2007 and play the very first concert held at Berklee's Red Room at Cafe 939, which was featured on an episode of the popular New England television show "Chronicle." After graduating from Berklee in 2009, Justin began playing guitar with singer/songwriter Ann Driscoll, and also formed an original rock band called Ok Captain. As Ann's guitarist, he had the opportunity to perform at the 2010 SXSW festival in Austin, TX, and at Live! Music Festival in Cairo, Egypt. In addition to teaching guitar at School of Rock Watertown, he is currently the guitarist and songwriter for the popular Boston-based band Hayley Jane and the Primates. The Primates released their first album, "Color Me," in May 2012, and continue to tour the Northeast and beyond.

David Benites Vocal Instructor

David Benites is a Massachusetts native who has always had a passion for both music and voice. He has been singing his whole life, along with 13 years of classical and jazz training in voice and trombone. After graduating high school with choir, musical theater and solo performance experience he attended Berklee College of Music. David also has sang for many of his own musical groups in rock and metal. He has toured the country performing, and with his own group, Buried Electric, has opened for Rob Zombie, Mastadon, Five Finger Death Punch, Machine Head, Behemoth, Children of Bodem, Amon Amarth, Motionless in White, Attila, In This Moment, Norma Jean, Stick To Your Guns, Whitechapel and many more. Through teaching as a vocal instructor at School of Rock Watertown, David’s goal is to show his students the power of their own voice, to expand their abilities and to surpass goals that they thought were unattainable. With a focus on the human body and avoiding injury, he hopes to show his students the healthiest way to have their voice be heard over a band, over crowds and for generations to come.

Davidson Weston Studio Coordinator

A native of Atlanta, GA, Davidson Weston has been performing and writing music since his early pre-teen years. In high school, he began giving private instruction to the younger kids of his neighborhood, which led him all the way to the Berklee College of Music in 2010. At Berklee he majored in Songwriting while taking additional courses in arranging and production. Currently he’s involved in several projects, including Boston fuzz rock band Leaner and the group Billy Baldwin.

Joe Pessia Music Director, Guitar Teacher

Hailing from Boston, MA, Joe Pessia started playing guitar in his early teens after being inspired by The Beatles, AC/DC, Aerosmith and Queen. Playing in bands throughout high school led him to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he graduated with a degree in Professional Music. As a member of the bands Dramagods, Tantric and Hurtsmile, Joe has toured the US, Europe, Asia, India and Australia and performed on national television programs like "The Late Show with Craig Ferguson." Joe has shared stages with the likes of Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, Mike Mangini of Dream Theater, George Lynch of Dokken, Michael Anthony of Van Halen and Warren DeMartini of Ratt, and has opened for artists such as Alice in Chains, Sammy Hagar, Bret Michaels, Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck, YES and Judas Priest. Joe has also collaborated on various albums as a guitarist, bassist, co-writer, co-producer and engineer. His music has been used by ESPN, the NHL, the MLB and on the video game "MLB-2K10." Joe is a guitar teacher at School of Rock Watertown.

Mike Woods Guitar Teacher

Although most notably known as the lead guitarist for the band Damone, Mike Woods was also the primary songwriter and co-producer on their critically acclaimed and commercially successful album, "Out Here All Night," as well as the follow-up record, "Roll the Dice." He has shared stages and recording studios with a large variety of successful artists, such as Andrew W.K., Candlebox, The All-American Rejects, and Juliet Simms to name a few. He has had his music featured in movies, television and video games. He is currently a guitar teacher at School of Rock Watertown.

Sebastian Kossak Drum Teacher

Sebastian Kossak started playing drums while working on his bachelor’s degree at Manchester University in the UK. Inspired by the music of The Stranglers, Flamin' Groovies and Eddie and the Hotrods, Sebastian relocated to Boston in the early 1980s and started playing with new wave bands at venues like The Rathskeller in Kenmore Square, Cantones and CBGBs in New York. Sebastian has worked with many Boston classic rock bands, blues bands and original artists, like Mike Nolan, Paul McQuaid and Conrad Warre. Sebastian has a love affair with the blues and jazz and works with his drum students as a drum teacher at School of Rock Watertown to gain an appreciation for and fluency in music forms such as Afro-Cuban, Latin, reggae and rock.

Chris Narainen Drum Teacher

Chris Narainen is from Mauritius, a little tropical island in the Indian Ocean. Self-taught since age 11, he played regularly in many rock/metal/fusion/prog rock bands growing up, and recorded numerous EPs. He simultaneously managed to go to college for Management and Finance, and as a result ended up transferring from the University of Mauritius to UMass Boston. Chris has played with numerous musical projects in Boston, including Blue Boy Productions, Veneer, Misty Blue Jazz, Rack 'Em Let's Go, The Thunder Squad, The MadMauritian and Jazz First.

Chris has a hands-on approach to teaching and enjoys preparing students for performance. Having been with School of Rock Watertown since the summer of 2013 as a drum teacher, Chris looks forward to strengthening and building the new era of modern drummers.

Silvia Beier Rookies Director

Silvia Beier’s background is in literature (she holds a PhD in German Literature and Languages from Columbia University in New York City), art (she initiated and co-owns The Corner Art Room in Brighton, MA) and music (after training as a classical violist, she is now learning electric guitar). She loves building and being part of creative communities and learning from and teaching people of all ages, most recently as director of the Rookies group at School of Rock Watertown.

Matt Sullivan Guitar Teacher

Matt Sullivan started playing guitar at the age of 12, and after high school he attended Musicians Institute, a private college of contemporary music in Los Angeles. He's had the pleasure of studying with instructors like Danny Gill, Scott Henderson and Joe Diorio, and has attended seminars with Joe Diorio, Al DiMeola and Steve Vai. Since graduating, he's taught music in Massachusetts for 21 years. He's done session work, international touring and plenty of local gigs, including the Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra. He is a guitar teacher at School of Rock Watertown.

Richa Saran Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Vocal Instructor

Richa Saran is a singer, pianist and guitar player hailing from Michigan and is a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music. In addition to teaching guitar, piano and vocals at School of Rock Watertown, Richa is the lead singer/songwriter and rhythm guitarist of a local alt/punk rock band named Why Try? that regularly gigs around Boston, Cambridge and Somerville. Despite starting out as a classical Indian vocalist, Richa's current musical inspirations and styles come from punk, metal, classic rock and even musical theatre. In upcoming news, Richa's band Why Try? will be recording a full-length album.

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