Every teacher on staff is a professional. Not only experienced, motivated teachers; they are all seasoned stage performers. Studying with a pro is difference you will notice!
Nick Jastrzembski – Guitar, Uklele
“Learning should always be fun- never a chore.” – Nicholas Jastrzembski
Nicholas Jastrzembski, professional guitar instructor, is a local singer-songwriter from Livonia, Michigan. With over twenty years of guitar experience, and ten years of professional guitar instruction, he has the knowledge and expertise to musically instruct people from all ages and backgrounds. Since the late 1990’s, Nicholas has performed professionally in rock bands, acoustic duos, and solo classical guitar performances at venues such as private weddings, parties, charity events, bars, restaurants, and even an outdoor music festival. Nicholas is skillful in a wide array of musical genres and styles including rock, blues, classical and folk. He also offers lessons in music theory, technique, and composition. Each music lesson is individually tailored to meet the student’s musical goals. Nicholas provides a relaxed atmosphere and fun environment that promotes learning and enjoyment during every session.
For some examples of Nicholas’ creative talent, please visit him on Youtube channel
Michael Curry – Acoustic & Electric Guitar (Classical & Metal Specialist)
Michael studied Classical guitar at the Santa Monica College with Arnold Lessing, and eventually was asked to become his assistant instructor teaching in the guitar program. He also played lead guitar with bands in the Los Angeles, California music scene for many years. He will teach you by focusing on technique, how to practice, song learning, creative conditioning, rhythm & lead techniques, music theory, ear training and music reading.
Michael is a songwriter, and is extremely knowledgeable in composition. If you want to learn your favorite songs, and sound like your favorite guitarist, Michael is your man for guitar lessons! He is a wonderful teacher, who can take you to levels of guitar playing that you thought you’d never get to.
Michael has instructed Grammy award winning artist, played with several groups nationwide, and has recorded as a studio musician. He has worked on collaborative efforts with several national artists, and brings 30 years of guitar instruction experience.
Having studied under the likes of Paul Gilbert, Chistopher Parkening, Christian Saggese, Matt Palmer, John Sutherland, David Brandon, Paul Wilson, and Willie Shay, Michael has accumulated nearly 30 years of music education, developing a background that is richly diverse, and specializing in rock and classical music. Bring your Electric or Acoustic Guitar; instructing in many different styles, he will focus on your short and long-term goals, and basically create your own personal course of guitar instruction through published books, high quality transcriptions for song learning, as well as his own masterclass workshops. A comfortable, relaxed, yet encouraging experience can be expected from him in our wonderful learning environment here at The Harris Conservatory of Music.
Wally Piotrowski – Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Jazz & Big Band specialist
Walter Piotrowski – Professional musician and guitarist for over 30 years. “In that time I have enjoyed teaching hundreds of students of all ages and ability levels. I was attracted to music at an early age while listening to records that my parents had. It didn’t take long to realize that I wanted to study the guitar. I am a graduate of the University of Michigan and have performed in many situations from solo to full Orchestra. I have toured throughout the United States and also parts of Europe. I am very happy to be at The Harris Conservatory of Music and I look forward to continue the many rewarding experiences of teaching music and the guitar.”
Alex Rahill – Electric and Acoustic Guitar, Ukulele
Alex has been playing guitar for 14 years, and teaching for 10 years. Alex started playing guitar at age 11 to help out at church, and then quickly grew from there to joining bands in high school, touring throughout college, and minoring in Music at Spring Arbor University. He then went on to help form the Indie Rock Band, The Timbre of Cedar, whom he currently tours regionally with.
As a teacher, Alex uses the songs you want to play to help teach you the scales, chords, music theory, songs theory, and ultimately, how to play the guitar. Each lesson is uniquely formed for the student and their interests. Alex’s philosophy is that every instrument exists to serve the song, which exists to connect with people about real life. His approach to teaching doesn’t just teach you how to play chords, but how to make music. Not only does Alex teach students how to use the guitar to serve the song, but also how to use pedals, effects, amplifiers, and tone to really make a moment special.
Alex provides a kind, familiar atmosphere where every student becomes known, nurtured and important as they become a musician.
For some samples of Alex’s guitar work, check out his band’s website, Facebook, or spotify: http://www.thetimbreofcedar.com
Dan Jones – Electric Bass (4, 5, and 6 string), Acoustic and Electric guitar
Dan Jones is a scholarship recipient and honors graduate of the Atlanta Institute of Music, prior to which he studied for several years with renowned Detroit-area bassist and educator Rich Kowalewski.
He has performed and recorded with several regional and Michigan-based rock, blues, jazz and world music groups before joining The Ragbirds in 2014. He has since been touring nationally with the group in support of their most recent release, “The Threshold & the Hearth” (Rock Ridge Music, 2016).
As the Ragbirds are currently on hiatus, Dan is available for lessons at HCOM. In addition to his esteemed bass skill, Dan is an experienced guitarist.
David Russell – Banjo
David Russell began his journey into the world of bluegrass banjo (aka, Scruggs Style) when he was 15 years old. It all started in 1975 when he went to see a bluegrass band perform live at the Motor Lodge Inn in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The banjo caught his ear that night and it’s been pedal-to-the-metal ever since.
His family comes from East Tennessee and Western North Carolina which gave him a direct connection in those early years to the world of bluegrass music and relatives who played guitar, banjo and fiddle.
His banjo teaching experience goes back to the late 1970s when he began teaching at the Gitfiddler Music Shop in Northville, Michigan. He continued to teach there until 1995. He lived in Atlanta, Georgia from 2009 until 2014 where he had over 40 banjo students and filled in for a number of Atlanta area bluegrass bands.
Since the late 1970s, David has toured with a number of local, Detroit area bands that include, The Sunnysiders, Blue Velvet, Timberline, Bluegrass Generation, John Hunley and the Kentuckians, The Mike Adams Band, Fox River, Lare Williams and New Direction, and Hardline Drive. He has played on venues with bluegrass legends like Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, Ralph Stanley, The Country Gentlemen, The Country Gazette, Doyle Lawson, IIIrd Tyme Out, The Lonesome River band, Rhonda Vincent, Mountain Heart, Cadillac Sky, and many others. David also had the honor of playing banjo with legendary mandolin player, Frank Wakefield, in a multi-state tour in 2000.
In addition to teaching banjo and playing gigs, David is also a published author of the very first biography on the life of banjo master, Earl Scruggs. He co-authored Earl Scruggs: Banjo Icon (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017) with his friend and former banjo student, Gordon Castelnero. He is currently working on his second book, Banjo Visionaries, which studies the evolution of the five-string banjo since Earl Scruggs.
David teaches Scruggs Style banjo, melodic style, and single string (aka Reno Style). Banjo influences include Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, J. D. Crowe, Sonny Osborne, Allen Shelton, Bill Emerson, Alan Munde, Bill Keith, Bobby Thompson, Terry Baucom, Sammy Shelor, Ron Block, Jim Mills, and too many more to list. He also loves Classical, Baroque, Ancient Choral, Jazz, Blues, and anything with feel and solid timing.
He has an MA in philosophy from the University of Detroit (Mercy) and a PhD in history and religion from Michigan State University. He occasionally teaches college level course in philosophy, religion and history.
Brian Harris – Drum Set, Marching Snare, Marimba, Hand Drums, Orchestral Percussion, Spoons
Brian Harris started playing drums in 1981 at the age of 11. And it just never stopped.
He did his undergraduate studies at Wayne State University under Sam Tundo, majoring in Percussion Performance, and performing with the WSU symphony, WSU orchestra, and WSU percussion ensemble. His drumset studies were primarily with Tom Starr, initially from 1981 – 1985, then again 1993-1997 focusing on Jazz, Latin, and Afro-Cuban applications for drumset.
For the last 30 years Brian has been an active performer in concert venues across the midwest, and a studio session player. He has extensive experience performing and teaching Rock, Jazz, Blues, Rudimental Snare & Drumline, Musical Theater Pit Orchestra, Classical Percussion, Afro-Cuban, Traditional Irish, New Age, Metal, Funk, and Pop. Lessons are available on Snare, Drum Set, Marimba, Congas, Bongos, Djembe, Doumbek, auxiliary percussion, and spoons.
Brian works closely with band programs at Plymouth-Canton HS, Northville HS, and Novi HS, and runs The Harris Conservatory of Music in Plymouth. He has been an active member of the Percussive Arts Society since 1989, attending eight of their international conventions. He is a contributing member of the Vic Firth PDT program.
Brian began teaching privately in 1989 at The Gitfiddler Music Store in Northville, MI. Since that time he has taught hundreds of students, many of whom have gone on to have careers as touring musicians.
Katherine MacKenzie – Violin
EDUCATION: M.M., Violin Performance, Bowling Green State University
B.M., Violin Performance, Wayne State University
Academic Honors and Awards: Music Education Teaching Assistantship and Stipend, Dean’s list, Pi Kappa Lambda induction, Alice R Lefevre Award, Wayne State Scholar, Mu Phi Epsilon Gordon Staples Memorial String Scholarship
PRIVATE STUDIES: Dr. Stephen Miahky, Bowling Green State University
Prof. Vasile Beluska, Bowling Green State University
Marian Tanau, Wayne State University
Violin private teacher, Music Authority, 2014-present
Dearborn Youth Symphony Mentor, 2014-present
Violin private teacher, Marshall Music, West Bloomfield, 2014-2017
Taught String Methods Course, Bowling Green University, 2014
Teaching Assistant for Strings Methods Course, Bowling Green State University, 2012-2013
Violin Private Teacher, Children’s Resource Center, Bowling Green, OH, 2012-2013
Music Plus Violin Instructor, Bowling Green State University, 2012-2014
Violin Private Teacher, Southland Music Co. and self-employed, Taylor and Dearborn, MI, 2008-2012
Detroit Civic Youth Ensemble Violin Mentor, 2010-2011
Power of Dreams String Project Substitute Teacher, Wayne State University, 2011
Violinist for Go4Baroque, 2012-present
Violinist for Trio Praeses, chamber music, 2016-present
Substitute violinist for Michigan Philharmonic, 2014-present
Free-lance violinist, 2005-present
Camp Counselor/violinist, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, 2010
Substitute violinist, Dearborn Symphony Orchestra, Lima symphony
Ana Andrade – Cello
Ana Karen Andrade Chavez was born in Mexico and began studying cello with Liparit Terzian, former student of the outstanding performer Mislav Rostropovich. She came to the United States at age of 14 and started taking lessons with Suzanne Smith. “That helped me a lot with fine points of technique that were passed on from master classes with Janos Starker” says Ana. Her undergraduate studies at Wayne State University, majoring in Cello Performance, have seen her blossom as a performer. Her private studies are with Marcy Chanteaux, former 1st chair cellist at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
“I love music and teaching! Surrounding myself with people whom share in the same passions is extremely fulfilling!” – Ana Andrade
Marlo Williams – Double Bass
Marlo Williams is an active performer, and experienced educator. Marlo has extensive orchestral experience, having performed with groups including the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Flint Symphony, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and the Fort Smith Symphony. She is a current member of the Jackson Symphony, the Dearborn Symphony, and an active chamber music and recording performer.
An experienced educator, Marlo has been teaching privately for 17 years. She completed her Bachelor of Music at Duquesne University in 2004, majoring in Double Bass Performance. Marlo came to Michigan in 2013 to do her Master’s degree in Double Bass Performance at The University of Michigan, and we’re delighted she stayed to share her talent with our community!
Peter Formanek – Sax, Clarinet, and Flute
Peter Formanek grew up surrounded by world-class musicians, thanks to his father, Michael Formanek, who is a world-renowned jazz bassist and composer himself. Having been immersed in music from an early age and encouraged to listen, improvise, compose, and pursue his own musical interests, Peter completely fell in love with music and he has never looked back since.
Peter began playing the saxophone in 2005 and picked up the clarinet and flute soon after. This quickly developed into a holistic embrace of an assortment of woodwind instruments, and a decision to develop his artistic identity as a performing multi-instrumentalist. This was further encouraged and developed during Peter’s time studying jazz saxophone at the University of Michigan with professor Andrew Bishop, who is a great multi-woodwind performer himself.
Peter started teaching music privately during his early undergraduate years, and since graduation has made teaching a focus along with his own creative work. His pedagogical approach is uncompromisingly catered toward each individual student he works with, and is informed by his years of studying woodwinds, the science of sound, his own spiritual pursuit of music, and the great musicians who inspired him and inundated him with their sounds and stories.
Peter has performed alongside a range of musicians of note, including Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Gary Burton, Steven Rush, Andrew Bishop, Tim Flood, Tim Haldeman, James Dapogny, Paul Keller, Paul Finkbeiner, John Douglas, Salim Washington, Tomeika Reed, Silvia Bolognesi, Mary Halvorson, Tomas Fujiwara, Tim Berne, Jim Black, Jacob Sacks, Michael Formanek, and many others.
Trumpet and Cornet
Dr. Randy Regal
Dr. Regal began serious pursuit of the trumpet as a sophomore at Redford Union High School. He took lessons from Irving Sarin, former first trumpet in the Pittsburgh Symphony under Fritz Reiner, throughout high school. Afterwards, he attended Boston Conservatory of Music (BCM), where he was first trumpet in the BCM Wind Ensemble his freshman year. Then, life took a turn, and he eventually decided to leave BCM and pursue a career in pharmacy and enrolled at the University of Michigan. He is currently an Associate Clinical Professor of Pharmacy in Adult Internal Medicine/Gastroenterology at that institution’s hospital and college of pharmacy.
His bio from his early years includes two years in the Livonia Youth Symphony, 2 years with the Stevenson High School Jazz Band, one year as assistant first trumpet in the Detroit Metropolitan Orchestra, and a featured co-soloist with the Michigan State Fair Honors Band under William D. Revelli. He currently plays with the Plymouth Community Band and gigs with a piano player named Emmon Scott as the A-dynamic Duo. The duo plays its own arrangements of popular music from the 50’s through today, as well as their own brand of rock, classical, and traditional pieces for cocktail hours and other events. “Eclectic tunes with forks and spoons”, as he puts it.
Dr. Regal loves teaching in both his profession of pharmacy and as a private trumpet instructor. “I have had the fortune of having great experiences and training in music early in my life , but then I spent many years away from music before I got back. I have always had many other commitments and responsibilities, so I think I’ve made more comebacks than Mike Tyson.”
“I feel that an extremely important component of any person’s education should include something in the arts, whether it be literature, language, dance, vocal, or instrumental music. That said, I understand the need for balance and perspective about life’s priorities. First and foremost, I want my students to have fun practicing and performing, and I individualize my approach to teaching based on each unique personality.”
Trombone – new instructor coming soon!
Justin has studied under Mr. Adam Unsworth and Mr. Bryan Kennedy at The University of Michigan, majoring in French horn performance. He has performed in the University of Michigan Symphony Band, University Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Lab Ensemble, as well as being active in multiple chamber groups. He has also attended the Kinhaven Young Artist Seminar, where he studied with professor Daniel Grabois.
Justin is an active performer in the metro Detroit and Ann Arbor area, as 3rd horn in the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra, a section musician for the Dodworth Saxhorn Band, and has played with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra.
Benjamin Gittens is an American-born pianist of Caribbean and Hispanic descent. He has been teaching piano for over nine years.
He has won numerous competitions and scholarship awards beginning in 2012; most recently he won First Prize in the Marjorie Neville Collaborative Chamber Music Competition and the Wyoming Music Club Scholarship in 2018; First Prize in the Auer Solo Piano Competition in Indiana, First Prize in the Young Artist Division of the Colorado Piano Festival, and Third Prize of the International Young Artist Piano Competition in Washington D.C. in 2017. He and his chamber group won Second Prize at the 2017 College-Conservatory of Music Chamber Music Competition and he was the First Prize winner of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Undergraduate Piano Competition for three consecutive years during his undergraduate studies (2015, 2016, and 2017). He makes frequent national and international solo appearances, performs collaboratively with instrumentalists and vocalists and he performs for schools, churches, community events, and at other venues.
Benjamin completed his Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati in 2018. He is currently studying at the School of Music, Theater, and Dance at the University of Michigan where he is completing two Master of Music degrees: his Master of Music degree in Piano Performance under the tutelage of Mr. Arthur Greene and his Master of Music degree in Chamber Music.
SEE HIM PLAY! -benjaminsgittens.com
Tom Bankes – Piano
Tom Bankes began his studies on piano and composition, eventually expanding to incorporate organ and voice. He graduated from Walled Lake Northern in 2009 and went on to study at Oakland Community College before committing to music full time. He has studied with various instructors over the years, and currently is a long time student and apprentice of Maestro Gerald Goslin. His studies with Maestro Goslin make him part of a chain of teacher to student that goes directly back to Ludwig van Beethoven; Beethoven taught Carl Czerny, who taught Franz Liszt, who taught Emil von Sauer, who taught Mischa Kottler, who taught Gerald Goslin, who passes that legacy on to Tom Bankes. Come study with Tom and you will become part of that legacy!
Tom serves as Apprentice Music Director at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Livonia, and preforms regularly during their Sunday morning services. He has also participated in fundraising recitals for the Livonia Symphony Orchestra and St. Andrew’s Church.
Viviana Garabello – Vocal Instruction, Vocal Coaching, Sight Reading and Ear Training, Music Theory, Piano, and Film scoring.
Viviana was born and raised in Italy. In 2014, she moved to the United States of America (Michigan), with the purpose of expanding her professional career in Music.
Viviana has already accomplished many noteworthy achievements and awards, both in Italy and in the United States, during more than twenty years of experience in the music field. Being a recognized composer, a choral director, an awarded music teacher and vocal performer, Viviana is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Film Music Scoring at Madonna University, in Livonia – MI. She recently wrote the soundtrack for the movie #Enough, finalist recipient of the Liberator Students Award for the efforts in fighting Human Trafficking in the State of Michigan. One of Viviana’s film compositions has been selected for production by Robot City Studio in New York City. Her arrangement of the American National Anthem “The Start Spangled Banner” has been selected for performance at the Tigers Baseball Game in the Comerica Park Stadium in Detroit.
Viviana is also the founder, the director and conductor of the Italian American Chorale of Livonia (MI), for which she has written many SATB compositions that have been performed during numerous concerts. In 2016, Viviana founded her own music business company for music productions and music services. She is the President & CEO at ALive Music Productions, Inc. in the State of Michigan. As a vocal performer, Viviana has sung in many different roles, such as Frasquita (Carmen, Bizet), Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart), Musetta (La Boheme, Puccini), Giulietta (I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Bellini), Despina (Cosi Fan Tutte, Mozart), Norma (La Norma, Bellini), Elettra (Idomeneo Re di Creta, Mozart), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi, Puccini). Other relevant roles include Mrs. Fezziwig in the musical A Christmas Carol, by Disney A. Menken, the famous Ave Maria by Bach-Gounoud, Ave Maria by Schubert, Requiem by Mozart, Gloria by Vivaldi, Christmas Oratorio by Camille Saint-Saens, and the Messiah by Handel.
Viviana is a member of several honorary organizations, including the Verdi Opera Theater of Michigan, the Alliance for Women Film Composers, the American Choral Directors Association, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the Italian American Charitable Foundation, the Society of Future Teachers, and the Student National Association of Teacher of Singing. She has been twice a judge at the Verdi Opera Theatre Vocal Competition for Michigan High School Students, in cooperation with the nationally and internationally acclaimed tenor George Shirley, and the Associate Professor of Applied Voice, Lyric Theatre, Summer MT. M.M., Manhattan School of Music Barbara Wiltsie.
Viviana is a loved and appreciated music teacher. She teaches Voice, Piano, Composition, Choral Performance, Music Theory, Sight Singing, Ear Training, Italian and Italian diction. Her teaching experience includes many of the most prestigious music academies in the area, like the awarded Harris Conservatory of Music in Plymouth, Music Authority Academy in Dearborn Heights, and many others. Past experiences include student teaching in public schools like the Clarenceville Middle & High School, Ladywood High School, and Catholic All Saints Elementary School. Viviana also has many years of experience as private teacher, music tutor and vocal coach in Italy.
Viviana is fluent in Italian, English, French, and Spanish.
SEE HER SING one of her own compositions – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9muiUNosHAU