West Seattle Music Teachers

All of the teachers at Mode Music Studios are working musicians getting paid to write, perform and record. Our teachers also have a passion for what they do. We feel fortunate to be able to pass that down to the younger generation and get them excited to play music in the same way we have been throughout our careers. All Mode teachers have passed a Washington State background check.
Erin Rubin
Piano - Guitar - Ukulele - Voice

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.

Gianni Aiello
Bass - Guitar - Piano - Drums - Ukulele

Gianni Aiello is a Burien born multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and performer. He is driven by a strong musical curiosity which has taken him from learning Beatles tunes on the piano as a child to touring across the country in his rock band Naked Giants. In addition to his bass work with Naked Giants, he has played guitar and piano with Car Seat Headrest on such stages as Madison Square Garden, the Tonight Show, and Primavera Sound in Barcelona, and he also plays drums in the Seattle-based band Pablo’s Legs.

The desire to be a lifelong student of music keeps Gianni reaching for the next steps, and he believes that same desire can be found in anyone. His lessons focus on exploring what excites each student about music - whether it’s personal expression through songwriting, intellectual development through theory and analysis, or just the sheer fun of jamming! While basic techniques are fundamental to any field, Gianni seeks to create a low-pressure learning environment where a student’s progress is determined not by their technical skill but by their enthusiasm for music.

Dick Cady
Piano

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.

 

Jacob James Hoffman
ONLINE Only - Voice - Piano - Guitar - Bass.

Jacob James Hoffman is a Pacific Northwest-based singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and producer. As a student, Jacob was awarded a full performance scholarship at The Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD where he studied French Horn and Recording Engineering. 


After school he settled in Seattle and began his career in music. As a member of The Lashes he released records on Sonic Boom Records, Lookout! records and Columbia Records. As a hired gun, he's sung, played live, and recorded with numerous local bands including Harvey Danger, Damien Jurado, Shelby Earl, Minus the Bear, Grand Archives, Thee Emergency and many others. 
 
Now Jacob is the pianist, organist, and french horn player for five-time Grammy winner Brandi Carlile, and has toured the world with her in support of her record "By The Way I Forgive You." As a member of Brandi's band, Jacob has backed up luminary artists such as Mavis Staples, Sheryl Crow, Tanya Tucker and Emmylou Harris at venues like The Gorge, Red Rocks, The Ryman and Madison Square Garden. 
 
Jacob started taking music lessons at five, and began teaching them at sixteen. A lifetime of amazing musical experiences has taught him that lessons should be fun, there's always something new to learn, and that the power of a great song is undeniable. Especially if there's a cool harmony part. 
 
Jacob teaches ONLINE classes only - Voice, Piano, Guitar and Bass.
Eliot Jones
Piano - Guitar - Ukulele - Voice

Eliot is a young, enthusiastic musician, born and raised here in Edmonds, Washington. His love for music started playing classical piano and singing in the choir at age 5. That later led to playing guitar and fronting a rock band, studying music in college, and becoming a gigging/session keyboardist around Seattle. 

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!

Brandon Bermudez
Drums - Bass - Ukulele - Piano - Guitar

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.

Nate Rogers
Piano - Bass - Guitar - Ukulele

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.

Ricky Claudon
Piano - Guitar - Bass - Ukulele

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.

Brian Spenser
Guitar - Ukulele - Drums

Brian is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who grew up in Seattle. He has been playing drums since he was 8, and learned from legends including Michael Shrieve and Jerry Garcia. He has been touring for a dozen years with bands including Isenordal, Impulse Noise, Endorphins Lost, Wilt, and Asymmetric Warfare, among others. 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 has worked with students from the ages of 4 to 64.

A lesson with Brian usually focuses on a song (or some parts of it) that the student has identified or expressed interest in. Brian loves the opportunity to help students connect not only with what an artist played, but also the music theory and culture that informs how and why they played it that way. During lessons, he often makes quick observations about the theoretical structure or cultural tradition of the song so his students are able to naturally pick up important music theory concepts from multiple different examples without feeling lectured. Brian has great success relating to and working with students who have attention disorders or learning disabilities.

Brian has a broad taste in music--he likes everything from Brutal Deathgrind to Funeral Doom. Sometimes he even listens to music that isn't some obscure subgenre of heavy metal! Actually, Brian loves all kinds of music and is happy and able to dive into any style students are interested in. Some of his favorite styles include post-punk, black metal, '70s jazz fusion/prog, and modern opera.

Paul Davis
Piano - Guitar - Bass - Ukulele - Drums

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.

Lucas Van Linden
Piano - Voice

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.

Jacqui Sandor
Piano - Voice - Violin - Viola, - Cello - Bass

Jacqui is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist whose teaching mantra is "I am a coach, and I will help you grow into the musician you want to be at your pace." She has been a teacher for 15 years, is an advocate for LGBTQIA+ and gender equality, and has worked with neurodiverse students. She loves helping people work through their performance anxiety - getting past that has been a challenge of hers as well, and she knows all the tricks.
Growing up in Renton she was the principal bassist of the Renton Youth Symphonic Orchestra and studied bass with Chuck Israels and Ben Musa at WWU. In New Orleans she got her degree in String Bass Performance from the University of New Orleans. While there she studied with Harold Battiste who encouraged her vocal career, and has graced the stage both as a bassist and as a vocalist with many of New Orleans' best musicians on many of its biggest stages. She was the principal bassist of the New Orleans Civic Symphony for many years, and played bass in the pit orchestras in every musical theater house in New Orleans. She recently held the bass chair at the Tacoma Musical Playhouse.
She has performed professionally in various settings on violin, mandolin, tenor banjo, bouzouki, viola, and cello. Her folk music career, where she plays guitar and sings Irish and American folk and traditional music, has taken her on tours and residencies around the country. She is currently travelling, teaching remotely and offering her folk music knowledge through Twitch streams until we can all be together again.

Josh Russell
Piano, Drums, Bass, Guitar

Southern California native Joshua Russell is a multi-instrumentalist, session drummer, and songwriter. Having started on piano at the age of 3, Russell has a firm and structured musical history. During primary education the trumpet and flute were learned, before ardently diving into percussion. Within the Junior year of high school, the drummer earned a 3rd Place SCSBOA championship with the Lancaster High School Marching Band as well as taking fourth in Percussion overall, despite having no instructor at the time. Continuing with instruction from Tony Capko's School of Drumming and session artist Noah Hecht, Joshua began instructing professionally out of Mel booker Music in 2017 with 2 years experience teaching basics privately.

Pursuing the art in youth had brought forth plenty of creative ventures and outlets including planning live shows and concerts, theatrical productions, as well as record engineering and production. The artist also has a history doing well in teaching those with symptoms of autism and attention deficit disorder. Joshua is a Type 1 Diabectic and firmly believes that playing instruments is a healthy source of exercise. In 2018, the artist had begun frequenting and playing music in Washington state, eventually moving to Seattle the following year to further musical endeavors. Having performed in live settings, concerts, and shows for over a decade, Joshua takes patience and confidence with each and every forthcoming project.

Blake Madden
Bass - Guitar - Beginning Theory - Songwriting - Ukulele
Blake Madden has twenty years of experience composing, recording, and  performing music in New York and Seattle. He is the bass player and musical director for the Prince tribute band Purple Mane, and the bassist, lead singer, and principal composer for his own noir pop group, Hotels. Blake has performed live on KEXP, studied music theory and composition through the Pacific Northwest Film scoring program, and studied electric bass with Todd Kovell at Seattle School of Strings.
Kevin Slota
Trumpet - French Horn - Baritone

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.

James Squires
Drums - Piano - Audio Production

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.

Craig Suede
Guitar - Voice - Ukulele - Piano

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.

Jonah Byrne
Violin - Viola

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.

Matt Moore
Saxophone - (Baritone,Tenor and Alto) - Clarinet - Flute - Drums - Guitar - Piano - Ukulele

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.

Natasha Lumba
Piano - Guitar

Natasha started playing piano at age 4, before getting a scholarship at age 8 to the French-American Conservatory of Music. There she studied classical piano for 10 years, performing at many prestigious venues across New York such as Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall, Weill Recital Hall, The Colony Club & The Ukrainian Institute of America, to name a few. Her classical training was very structured, but she was always a rock & punk musician at heart. While attending college in LA, she picked up guitar, and started playing in bands. Functioning primarily as a lead vocalist & keyboardist, she has performed in bands in Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco & Seattle. Currently, Natasha plays keyboard & synth for local Seattle band, Razor Clam--a 5 piece femme band, described as "goth glam" & "mermaid dream punk" whose ethos strives to increase inclusion & representation for women & marginalized communities in a male dominated music industry.

Natasha uses both her childhood background in a rigorous musical setting, and her experiences in adulthood as a performer to inform her teaching style. She aims to marry the necessary musical skills & knowledge with the freedom of expression not always present in classical schooling. Most importantly, she wants to foster a love of music in her students, and empower them to create. But she also wants them to practice. A lot.

Celeste Felsheim
Voice - Guitar - Drums

Celeste Felsheim started singing in choirs and musicals in elementary school, when she also started playing cello, and later string bass, in the school orchestra. She then got interested in guitar and bass through classic rock, and became a part of Rain City Rock Camp for Girls and School of Rock. After spending high school playing in orchestras during the week and in rock n roll bands on the weekends, she now attends Cornish College of the Arts and is pursuing a Bachelors of Music in Composition, as well as fronting her punk band King Sheim.

She has performed in bands as a vocalist, guitarist and drummer for about 10 years, and currently plays with her band King Sheim and with her roommate's bands, Amy Hall and Xeno.

Jeff Tapia
Voice - Guitar

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.

Grant Mullen
Guitar, Bass

Grant is a young Seattle native musician with a lot of professional experience touring and recording in both his rock band Naked Giants, and as a member of indie rock band Car Seat Headrest.  Holding down the Guitar and Vocals as well as songwriting, he has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, toured through the USA, Europe, and Australia, and played notable festivals and venues such as Primavera Festival, Bumbershoot, Austin City Limits, SXSW, Sydney City Limits, Firefly Festival, Madison Square Garden, and many others.  He is a multi instrumentalist, and takes a personalized approach to each student and their individual needs.  He chooses to prioritize their growing relationship with their instrument of choice, and meet them where they are at while giving them the skills to steadily progress as their own autonomous musicians.

Isaac McDonald
Bass

Hi my name is Isaac and I have been playing bass for over 10 years. I have had several years of private instruction from renowned local musicians and I recently graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in American Music Studies. I have experience playing many different genres and I also have over 5 years of teaching experience, working with all ages.

Bess Hepner
Guitar - Bass - Voice - Ukulele - Songwriting

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.

Daisy Sky
Cello - Violin Viola - Voic - Beginning Piano

Daisy Sky grew up immersed in music. Her father, George Shangrow, was a prominent figure in Seattle’s classical music scene and there were always rehearsals, auditions, and post-concert parties happening in her home. Her mother, Julie Reed, is an active cellist and singer, so Daisy Sky was enveloped in the vibrations of cello and voice before she was even born. Daisy Sky started on violin and piano before she even started kindergarten, but realized within a couple of years that she was truly born to play the cello. She studied privately with Mara Finkelstein for nearly ten years, and she played in the Seattle Youth Symphony, Young Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Seattle, and in several school orchestras and chamber ensembles growing up. Daisy Sky also is an avid singer, previously leading sections in Northwest Girlchoir and the Amherst College Choir, as well as singing with the Seattle Chamber Singers and for years in church and school choirs. She studied music theory, ear training, music history, performance, and creative expression at the Seattle Conservatory of Music, and spent a summer at the distinguished Meadowmount School of Music in New York. Now, Daisy Sky has expanded her musical ventures and is singing and playing cello with Wolfchild, a Seattle-based indie band. She hopes to support young artists in developing the foundation to fully express their creativity in any style of music they want to play.

Whisper Dorian Mode

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.

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