Vashon 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.
Sarah Howard
Voice - Piano - Ukulele - Guitar - Songwriting

Sarah Howard began singing and playing piano in church at age 8. By 14, she was playing guitar and writing songs. Sarah was playing live in and around her native North Carolina by the time she was 18 and by 21 had traveled across the US playing music. Working as a songwriter and hired studio singer in Los Angeles eventually brought her to the NW in 2009. She has written and performed with many Seattle bands including Roxbury Pound and Carnival Knowledge. Also a dance teacher, Sarah is a self-confessed rhythm nerd and combines theory and technique with a practicality that keeps music fun and easy. Her teaching style approaches each student individually and gives them a broad picture of what music can be. She is still traveling, playing music and teaching down the west coast and Mexico.

Mike Dumovich
Guitar - Songwriting

Born and raised on Vashon Island, Mike Dumovich is a songwriter/composer who has been writing and performing in the Northwest for 25 years. He has recorded 4 records with notable producers like Tucker Martine, Karl Blau and Martin Faveyear. Musicians credited on his albums include Bill Frisell, Eyvind Kang, Laura Veirs, Shana Cleveland, Karl Blau, Phil Elverum and many others from the Seattle area and Vashon Island. He approaches music from an intuitive base and believes songwriting methods should change with each song, utilizing writing exercises, improvisation, and focused rehearsal to create space in the process and outcome. He focuses on techniques and autodidactic methods of letting the song or composition emerge as though it was something already there the writer is simply there to remove the clutter until it reveals its proper tonal structures, cadences and lyrics.

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.

VENMO: @Brian-Spenser

Matthew Chaney
Piano - Guitar - Bass - Ukulele - Audio Production

Matthew was born in West Seattle and raised in the fabulous PNW. He moved to Vashon Island ten years ago after raising a family of 3 boys while spending two decades in the insurance industry and is happy and blessed to return to his true passions — playing and teaching music. Matthew has been playing piano since age 7 and has taught himself to play a myriad of other instruments. He attended Seattle Pacific University and earned degrees in Music and Communication, appearing on the dean’s list every quarter for outstanding grades and performance. Upon arriving on Vashon, Matthew joined Americana band Gregg Curry & Ragged Glory and played piano with the band for two years. Most recently, he’s spent the past two years backing up retro-chic female trio The Curvettes. He’s made folks smile and dance at The Red Bike, Snapdragon, Black Cat Cabaret, Sporty’s, Vashon/Maury Golf & Country Club, Kathryn L. White Hall, Strawberry Festival, Feedback Lounge, and Café Racer. Matthew has a well-developed awareness and understanding of individual learning styles and is a highly effective communicator. Expert at motivational skills, he is positive and flexible. He offers a comprehensive curriculum, including music theory, music history, repertoire, sight-reading, and composition.