Erin has been playing music since the age of four. At twelve, she was on stage with the local working musicians at The Scarlet Tree every Tuesday night. She has written music for and performed with many Seattle bands including: Wesafari, The Exploding High-Fives, People Eating People, and “Nouela.” Erin has worked as a hired studio musician since the age of 17 in Bellingham, Seattle and Los Angeles. Erin found her calling as a teacher in her early twenties and dedicated over three years at Westside Music Academy. She believes a healthy balance of technique, theory and arranging songs the child loves is the fast track to any student’s success in music lessons. Ready to go out on her own, she started Erin Rubin Piano Studios in the basement of her West Seattle home in 2010.
Erin teaches piano, guitar, uke, and voice on Wednesdays.
In 1978 Dick Cady attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, in the 2-year diploma program for writing and arranging. On returning to Seattle in the mid 80’s he studied with the storied jazz piano teacher Jerome Grey for 3 years. Since the late 90’s he has attended many of the Golandsky Institute summer seminars, first at Williams College and later at Princeton and studied with many of the staff including John Bloomfield and Kendall Feeney. In 2004 he began studying with Charlie Banacos for several years until Charlie’s death.
He was a regular on the Seattle music scene for many years doing club dates with his own group and many other instrumentalists and singers including Ernestine Anderson and Pete Seeger. He was the music director for the Orion Street Youth Theater. Providing instruction steadily for 25 years to all ages and levels.
Dick teaches piano on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Brandon is a working musician, producer, and engineer in the Seattle/Tacoma area for the past decade. He regularly plays in and around town, sometimes tours countries, and frequently collaborates with many professional musicians in the area. Recently, he’s played bass with prog-rock band Bone Cave Ballet and alt-rock band Starry-Eyed Samurai, and drums with both new-wavers Trick Candles and pop-fusion band Nitrogen Lion Society.
Brandon believes that consistency, versatility, and attitude are the traits that make great musicians. With his interactive-guidance teaching approach, the student controls the pacing of each lesson, which alleviates classroom anxiety and helps the lesson material become more comprehensible. With a heavy emphasis on creativity and technique, Brandon will improve the understanding of rhythm and ability to perform in many styles of music by sharing from his 20+ years of composition and performance experience.
Brandon teaches drums, bass, ukulele, piano, and guitar on Sundays and Tuesdays.
Nate Rogers has a diverse background in the arts, having worked on professional film sets and for literary journals, but music has been the constant throughout his life; his musical endeavors (and teaching) are informed by that multivalent background. His first and primary instrument is the piano, which he studied classically starting in the first grade and continued to do so actively through college. He also began playing in jazz combos and rock bands starting in middle school, the age at which he also picked up guitar and saxophone. An occasional DJ, Nate listens widely and loves drawing connections between diverse styles of music across the world, in his own playing and his teaching. He has played in numerous bands in Seattle, including Friends and Family, Pampa, ANDY, and The Quiet Ones, and they have played alongside such notable groups as The Polyphonic Spree, The Moondoggies, and Blitzen Trapper, both in the Northwest and on tour. He loves to instill the same diversity of interest in students that his teachers gave to him.
Nate teaches piano, bass, guitar and ukulele on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
Ricky has been studying, writing and performing music since his childhood, and has played guitar and piano for about 23 years. He works as a para-educator at the Academy for Precision Learning, and as a recording/touring musician. As a musician, he has put out three albums, toured the United States, and he looks forward to touring in Europe in the near future for the first time this spring. He is knowledgeable in a variety of styles on the guitar, but is most proficient in Blues, Rock n Roll, and Post-punk.
Growing up, he was instructed by a professor of music theory and history, on the piano; this education has formed the foundation of his knowledge of these subjects and informs his instruction in both instruments. Ricky also has quite a lot of experience working with students from a diverse range of developmental levels and is trained in methods intended to address the individual needs of neurologically diverse populations.
Ricky teaches piano, guitar, bass, and ukulele on Sunday, Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Erin Rae Murray has been singing her little heart out professionally for the last few years although her love for music goes as far back as she can remember. Her childhood was steeped in the rich four-part harmonies of the Mennonite tradition and the daily DJing her father did around the house. In elementary school, she sang in choir and fronted musicals, picked up the guitar in high school, and sang in gospel choir in college. After graduating, she spent her time adventuring and teaching around the world; from teen empowerment in the mountains of Guatemala, to preschool in urban El Salvador, to 6th grade English in South Korea, to Spanish at a Montessori school here in Seattle. All of which has brought her here to Mode, where she couldn’t be happier to finally combine her passion for teaching with her love for music.
Erin teaches voice, guitar, ukulele and beginning piano on Monday, Friday, and Saturday.
Eva Walker is a Seattle born rock n roll musician. She is the lead guitarist and vocalist for The Black Tones, which she co-founded with her twin brother in 2011. Her band has played venues such as the Paramount Theatre, the Crocodile, Tractor Tavern and notable festivals such as the first annual Upstream Music Festival, Capital Hill Block Party, Doe Bay, Timber Festival and many more. Opening for acts such as Death Cab for Cutie,Tacocat, Love Battery, have appeared on the Spud Goodman Show and featured on the televised show Band in Seattle on CW 11. Eva as herself and with the band, has been featured multiple times in AFROPUNK, KEXP and many other notable outlets.
Eva teaches beginning guitar, drums, piano, vocals and ukulele on Wednesdays.
A south Seattle local, Paul grew up and went to school in Burien where he began, like most students, playing in school band and taking private lessons. After catching the music bug that led him to organizing and performing in his own bands, he attended Washington State University where he earned his Music Performance degree. Since returning from school, Paul has played with a diverse collection of bands and recorded and toured both domestically and internationally. You can catch him performing in clubs all over the PNW, including next door at the Skylark Cafe! Paul also recently opened his own recording studio and sync licensing company called Hazy Bay Music where he composes and produces music for bands and multimedia purposes.
Paul brings a relaxed and focused atmosphere to the lessons, encouraging his kids to be enthusiastic about music education. He believes technique and fundamentals are important in helping students grow so they have the tools to collaborate with others and thrive in musical settings. Most importantly, he helps students to see how fun music is and how valuable music skills can be in everyday life.
Paul teaches drums, guitar, piano, ukulele, and bass on Sundays.
Brian is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who grew up in Seattle. He has been playing drums since he was 8, and touring for over ten years with a variety of bands. Currently, he is involved with projects including Isenordal, Endorphins Lost, and Impulse Noise. Brian volunteers at a local all-ages DIY venue, and loves encouraging and empowering young people to build their own joy, freedom, and culture through the egalitarian DIY approach that has always been so important to him. He is fun-loving, non-judgmental, and always curious to learn something new or share knowledge. He has a broad and eclectic taste in music, and is happy to dive into any style students are interested in. His personal favorite genres are death metal, grindcore, punk, doom metal, post-punk, classic rock’n’roll, goth, black metal, ’70s jazz fusion and prog, and opera. Outside of music, he enjoys writing lyrics, poems, and prose, travelling, vegan cooking, and a nice bike ride on a sunny day.
Brian Spenser teaches drums, guitar and ukulele on Fridays and Saturdays.
Caitlin started studying violin at the age of 2. Her first sentence was, “I ona pay a biowin.” (Translation: I want to play a violin.) Her parents listened, thus beginning Caitlin’s lifelong love of the violin. Caitlin studied the Suzuki Method with Mihoko Hirata. Mrs. Hirata was a student of Dr. Suzuki in Japan and was pivotal to bringing the Suzuki Method to the Pacific Northwest. In addition to private violin lessons, Caitlin also played with Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, sang with Seattle Girls’ Choir, and was a leader in the Mercer Island High School Orchestra and Jazz Choir Programs. Caitlin went on to study violin performance at DePauw University. Her early music career included two tours of Europe, a solo concerto performance, and recording experience.
Caitlin returned to Seattle in 2003 and has since been performing and recording professionally with local bands. Currently she plays with Merchant Mariner, Olizar, and Casting Shadows. Caitlin is available for private violin lessons.
Caitlin Olive teaches violin, viola and cello, voice, guitar and ukelele on Sundays.
After being asked to sing with a contemporary music ensemble at church, an 8-year-old Lucas learned the thrill of performing. His first ventures into music were mostly at other churches, where he gained the confidence he needed to audition for community musical theater. Known for his singing ability, he won roles in a variety of productions and joined the Repertoire Touring Company, a musical theater troupe that performed for local schools. After many years of performing in musicals and with his school’s choral ensembles, he began writing his own songs, eventually performing them for local talent shows and showcases. Later, he attended and graduated from DePaul University in Chicago with a B.M. in Vocal Performance. This degree program included four years of classical voice training as well as music theory, music history, ear training, piano study, and music composition. Out of undergrad, he continued to sing classically, eventually coming back to songwriting. A new addition to the Seattle music scene, he has been frequenting open mics and finding opportunities to perform his music while also teaching here at Mode. He has years of experience teaching beginner to advanced voice students of all ages, and has developed his skills with teaching beginner to intermediate piano students.
Lucas teaches piano and voice on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays.
Marquetta teaches voice, piano, guitar and ukulele on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Jacqui has been teaching private lessons for over 15 years and has been a musician for going on 20 years now. She absolutely thrives on teaching and sharing her love of music with the next generation of musicians. She feels that it is very important to treat each student as a potential colleague.
Eliot’s excitement towards learning new songs is infectious, and he wants his students to work towards playing things that they will truly enjoy. He is friendly, super encouraging, and quick to pick up any song on any instrument that a student might bring in. He also has years of experience working with music equipment, recording, and songwriting. He understands that there are many different paths you could take on your musical journey, and he is here to help guide you!
Eliot teaches piano, guitar, ukelele, vocals on Tuesdays
Kevin first picked up the trumpet at age 10, as many children do in their 4th grade band class. But this was only the beginning as he would soon pick up guitar and start learning his favorite songs and writing his own. Soon he would perform and promote house shows with neighborhood friends. Trumpet is one of the most versatile instruments and can be found in almost any genre of music making it a great tool to cultivate lifelong relationships. It can be a challenging and frustrating instrument but its versatility is welcoming in that there truly is a style for everyone. Trumpet has provided Kevin with a great number of unique performance opportunities over the years including musical theatre, variety shows, blues/jazz/soul/r&b/indie/country/rock bands, festivals, street fairs, orchestras, brass ensembles, private/corporate events, and recording. He has had the pleasure of performing with great local bands such as Cooper Smith and the Vouyers, EXOHXO, KITHKIN, Ravenna Woods, Twilight Motel, and Vicious Petals. He also plays in the Seattle Rock Orchestra/Street Band/Social Club, West Seattle Community Orchestra/Brass Sextet, Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra, and recently sat in on a performance with Thalia Symphony Orchestra. Kevin is also involved in brass coaching with WSCO Debut and Intermediate Orchestras as well as the Michael J Owen Music Education Fund supporting local, under-served elementary school music programs. While trumpet is his main instrument, Kevin teaches beginning french horn, trombone, and baritone; focusing on breath support and fundamental tone production while connecting with a student’s musical needs and aspirations.
Kevin teaches trumpet, french horn, and baritone on Sundays.
James has been playing music since the age of six, starting with the piano. A Seattle local, he participated in the renowned Garfield High School Jazz Ensemble and continued to study music privately. James attended Berkeley School of Music and studied drum performance. He plays locally with Maiah Manser (a favorite Mode Music alum), blues-rock band C-Leb & The Kettle Black, psych-rock band Supermother and local country acts. James also has been working as a producer and engineer for the last five years and teaches production using Ableton Live and other programs.
James teaches drums, piano and audio production.
Craig is transplant from San Diego where he played music for a living in casinos, bars and restaurants between tours, travel, and shows. He got his musical start singing in various audition choirs, competing in vocal competitions, and performing in musical theater. He started playing guitar in 8th grade and that began shaping his future path of songwriting and singing/playing guitar in a variety of bands. He currently fronts and tours with the indie rock band Happy Heartbreak, sings harmonies and plays lead guitar for local pop-soul/ R&B singer Young-Chhaylee, and plays lead guitar and performs harmonies/alt-voicings for emo-revival/post-hardcore band, Dearheart.
After several years of running education programs for students and teachers around the World, Craig has decided to settle in Seattle and re-focus his efforts on music and its local educational impact. He bases his teaching strategies in brain-based learning and finding simple connections between music theory and the joy of playing music. The ability to connect and express through music increases confidence and critical thinking. Strengthening these skills can also increase retention of information in other areas and improve quality of living. Music and learning should both be joyful experiences that encourage us to continue moving forward to connect, create and share.
Craig teaches guitar, vocals, ukulele, and beginning piano on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
Jonah Byrne has been playing violin for over 25 years, performing, recording, and composing in a wide variety of styles. He studied music composition at University of Colorado and has been active in the Seattle music scene for the past ten years. In that time he has played with country band Country Lips, experimental bands Beast Please Be Still and Snowman Plan, indie rock band Pilot Lights, and many others, alongside teaching and writing music. He believes a good ear and good technique are the foundation that lets us play and enjoy any kind of music there is.
Jonah Byrne teaches violin and viola on Mondays and Fridays.
Sphie is a singer, songwriter, pianist and music producer. Trained from age seven in classical opera, musical theater and piano, she also had a thriving curiosity in improvisation, songwriting and pop performance from a young age. Because of this, her teaching style compliments a multi-genre curriculum. She also intertwines traditional theory, technique and performance while accommodating individuality and creativity within each student. Sphie offers a fun, relaxed and creative approach to singing, piano, songwriting and music performance lessons. She believes that education is an individualized process and thrives on growing healthy minds through compassionate and interactive learning. She received an A.A.S. in Vocal Performance from McNally-Smith College of Music where she studied recording arts, songwriting, pop stage performance and music business.
In addition to private vocal, piano and performance lessons, she generates curriculum for inner-city music programs. These programs focus on generating compassion, self-confidence, communication and collaboration. Sphie is a solo recording and touring artist, dancer and music video producer. She is also a yoga & mindfulness instructor and vibrational sound therapist. Through these mediums, she also offers classes and workshops focused on healing trauma and bringing positive self-awareness to individuals and communities.
Sphie teaches voice, piano, guitar and ukulele on Mondays.
Matt Moore is from Austin, Texas. He picked up guitar at the age of 7. In middle school, he began with the saxophone. During high school, Matt learned piano and drums. Through college, he learned to play the clarinet and flute as well as perfected the rest of his instruments. Matt graduated cum laude from the University of North Texas at the Music School with a B.A. in Jazz Studies. From then, he has performed in many professional bands and formed his own groups, such as Circling Drones. Matt has a lot of experience in all the instruments he teaches.
Matt likes to combine what the students wants to learn with his knowledge of that particular style of music. He likes to integrate music theory lessons as well as teaching to read and write. Matt gives homework to allow the students to practice on their own at home. Most importantly, he wants the student(s) to enjoy learning everything they can about music.
Matt teaches saxophone (baritone,tenor and alto), clarinet, flute, drums, guitar, piano, ukulele and beginning bass on Saturdays and Sundays.
Natasha teaches piano and beginning guitar on Mondays and Fridays.
Jeff Tapia has been a working musician for 15 years, the majority of which were spent in Southern California where they attended The Culver City Academy of the Performing Arts. Starting with choral music in their youth, they later moved to musical theater and ultimately, into rock and roll where Jeff really found their voice. As a vocalist and guitarist for several projects in Seattle, they consistently perform around town, have appeared on several recording projects, and tour the United States.
Jeff’s classes are taught in a low pressure and positive atmosphere with an emphasis on improvisation, finding one’s own voice, and highlighting strengths. They firmly believe that no voice is a bad voice, and that no stye is a bad style. This teaching experience stems from their volunteer work with Rain City Rock Camp for Girls, where creative self-expression is the key to self empowerment. Connecting with kids has always come easily to Jeff, and their outgoing personality and enthusiasm for the subject matter invokes excitement and attentiveness in their students.
Our most popular staff member…
Whisper exclusively teaches 16th century Harpsichord, but has recently started to appreciate some of Phil Collins works on laser disk. When not upstairs at Mode, Whisper enjoys traveling downstairs at Mode, where he gives back to the community by supervising the front desk in exchange for belly rubs.
In true Mode style, Whisper believes that every student deserves the chance to flourish. As a former shelter cat Whisper knows that it’s not about where you’re from but where you’re going.
Bess Hepner is a dynamic guitarist and multi-genre artist who can effortlessly hop between funk and classical, collaborating with hip hop artists, circus performers, and folk singer-songwriters. Bess began playing guitar at age 8 and started performing at age 12. From ages 15 to age 20, Bess played in the Western Massachusetts-based band Who’da Funk It?, a dance band that encompassed punk, funk, ska, afrobeat, soul, RnB, hip-hop, jazz, blues, rock, klezmer, bossa nova, etc. She studied classical guitar at Smith College with Phillip De Fremery 2012-2016. In 2016 Bess moved to Seattle and began pursuing her solo project bess hepner. In April 2019 she released her debut solo album 17-24, a coming of age album, which includes visual art and soundscapes. In addition, Bess is currently involved with Bess and Amber, a neo-soul Seattle duo. She plays bass for Erika Lundahl, guitar for Israeli/Russian jazz singer Alina Turnipseed and has done music for A Frayed Knot’s circus production “The Vivarium.” She led and instructed guitar club at Mary’s Place for elementary school students from 2017-2019. Bess also led guitar instruction, songwriting and band coaching at Girls Rock! DC summer of 2015.
Bess is available for guitar, bass, voice, ukelele and songwriting lessons.
Kevin Murphy picked up the guitar when he was 10 years old. At the age of 14, he formed his first band and performed around Seattle opening for established local bands, including Mudhoney. In 2006, Kevin formed the rock/folk band The Moondoggies which led to 4 full length albums on Sub Pop subsidiary Hardly Art. The Moondoggies have toured and performed alongside bands such as The Lumineers, The Cave Singers, The Head and The Heart, Blitzen Trapper and Dawes. Kevin has also shared the stage with legendary artists Robbie Robertson, CSNY, Brandi Carlile, Dave Mathews, and more.
Kevin’s teaching philosophy is based on learning the instrument in a fun, creative and personalized way connected to each individual student and their own mode of expression. He believes there are songs to be learned and songs to be written. Kevin’s goal is to ignite a fire in one’s self expression and confidence in playing that will remain with them their whole life, whether it’s onstage or in their living room. He feels music is incredibly valuable to communicate the feelings we can’t put into words and can rewire our brains for the better, especially in the minds of our young students. Kevin is the father to two wonderful young girls, Sonnie and Zuma.
Kevin teaches ukulele, guitar and songwriting.
Joe Ross was born in Las Vegas, Nevada but grew up in Sioux City, Iowa. He has been playing drums passionately for 25 years and has been working as a touring musician for over 20 years. He hastraveled all over the country with various projects and had the opportunity to tour Europe twice, and Central America most recently. Joe moved to Seattle about 6 years ago to seek more opportunities to play music. He is currently in 4 active bands and plays drums almost every day. He is passionate about continuing to learn more about his craft and truly enjoys sharing it with others. The musical styles he enjoys most are Rock, Surf, Punk, post punk, hardcore and metal. He has taught off and on for many years, including a brief stint at the Perkins school where he had the opportunity to teach youth. When he is not playing drums (which is rare) he enjoys spending time with his partner, Chani and their 3 dogs Tango, Isha and Lizard.
Rachel Ewen – Seattle musician