MEET OUR TEACHERS
Nick Berkin – Piano, Accordion
A Charlottesville native, Nick Berkin earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013, and has been a full-time musician ever since. Performing solo as well singing/playing in groups such as Andrew Thielen Big Band and, currently, Adar, Nick’s past work also includes piano bar entertainer for Carnival Cruise Lines and band leader for Holland America Line.
Marty Collin – Beginner Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin
With a borrowed guitar from a neighbor down the road and a library card, twelve-year-old Marty Collin taught himself how to play guitar, and his life long journey in acoustic music never faded. A life devoted to teaching, university and high school English instructor, theatre director, published playwright, that musical spark accompanied him on his journey from Cleveland, Ohio, to Haverhill, Massachusetts, to Durham, New Hampshire, to College Park, Maryland, to Amenia, New York, and to Hagerstown, Maryland. Newly transplanted to Charlottesville, Virginia, he has recently taught weekly mandolin, banjo, and guitar lessons and was the faculty advisor to the folk music club at Saint James School in Maryland. From the 2017 Saint James School yearbook, his former mandolin student, Martin McGuigan, Class of 2017, writes: And of course, who could think of Mr. Collin and not immediately hear music? He is by no means shy in sharing his love of music. As he integrates his passion into almost every facet of Saint James life, he shows the true extent to which he is a member of this community. Whether playing banjo as a crossing guard for home cross country meets, playing guitar in his classes, or playing mandolin with me and the rest of our Blue Chair bluegrass group every Tuesday, his dedication to music knows no bounds.
Malia Furtado – Bluegrass Fiddle, Classical Violin
Hailing from the Northern end of the Shenandoah Valley, Malia comes from a large family of musicians. Malia’s musical journey began at the age of 3 with classical violin lessons and took a turn, for better or for worse, with the discovery of bluegrass at age 7 when she attended her first festival, Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention. Since then, Malia has performed with a number of different groups, taken home a range of prizes, and graced the stage of numerous venues up and down the East Coast. Malia has given private lessons in both bluegrass and classical since 2006. Other teaching ventures include appearances on two Murphy Method instructional DVD’s and leading fiddle workshops at various festivals. She currently teaches adult continued education courses in bluegrass fiddle at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyer’s Cave, VA.
Craig Green – Ukulele
Bio coming soon
Jesse Harper – Songwriting, Guitar
Jesse Harper, founding member and lead singer of Old School Freight Train and current member of 80’s bluegrass super-group, Love Canon. He has toured and played with many of his musical heroes including David Grisman, Madeleine Peyroux, Josh Ritter and Ricky Skaggs. An active songwriter, Jesse splits his time between touring with Love Canon and writing and performing his original material.
Patrick Keese – Classical Violin, Bluegrass Fiddle
Patrick Keese is a classically trained violinist and traditional fiddle player who grew up in the heartlands of Virginia beneath the Blue Ridge Mountains. Patrick started playing violin at the early age of four, learning the instrument through traditional bluegrass and old-time fiddle tunes, and transitioned to classical study at the age of ten. Throughout high school he studied under Suzuki instructor Julie Wilkinson, and went on to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Patrick has played in many ensembles both classical and traditional, most notably the Castleton Festival Orchestra under the direction of the late Loren Maazel of the New York Philharmonic, the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra, and the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, among others. Today he lives in Charlottesville, where he is training in pedagogy with his former Suzuki teacher, and assistant-teaches with Laura Thomas of the Charlottesville High School Orchestra as he continues to work towards sharing his passion for music with others through one-on-one instruction and community involvement.
Rick LaRue – Bluegrass Ensemble
Rick is a violin graduate of the University of Miami School of Music and has performed with fiddle-legend Vassar Clements, jazz-great Ira Sullivan, Former Dizzy Gillespie bassist Chris White, and Grammy award winning country-rock band The Mavericks. He has performed and recorded with the Miami Symphony, the Florida International University Jazz Band, the Lynchburg Symphony, and the celtic-rock band The Volunteers. He also composed, arranged and recorded numerous classical, jazz, and fiddle pieces. Rick won the Northern Piedmont Regional Fiddle Contest in 1994. From 1990 – 2017 he directed orchestras and taught strings, jazz ensemble, guitar, improvisation, fiddling, and music theory in Florida, New Jersey, Virginia, and New York public and private schools. Rick currently performs with the Lynchburg Symphony, The LaRue Jazz Quintet, The LaRue/Donahue Classical Duo, The LaRue/Richardson Jazz Band and Classical Duo, The New High Street Bluegrass Band, and The Crosswalk Praise Band and Orchestra at Crozet United Methodist Church.
Chris Leva – Guitar
christopherleva.com Christopher Leva has enjoyed teaching guitar for 20 years in a variety of styles. He performs regularly in the area with Ragged Mountain String Band and Faster Than Walking, two of Charlottesville’s classic old-time bands. He also plays flatpick bluegrass and acoustic swing in GreenHouse and electric guitar with several dance bands.Focusing on the basics while introducing subtler aspects of musicianship and ensemble playing are the keystones in his class series, “New Old-time Guitar.”
John Ashley Murphy – Harmonica
John Ashley Murphy started playing harmonica in California during his teen years. When he moved to Virginia in his thirties, he gravitated to the old-time music scene and found himself playing fiddle music — on the harmonica. He’s been at it ever since, playing with the Faster Than Walking string band and with the whole cast of old-time pickers at music festivals throughout the region. John was also a founding member of the world music ensemble Baaba Seth. He recently released his first CD of fiddle-inspired original harmonica tunes.
Molly Murphy – Voice, Guitar
Molly’s love of music came at an early age, singing in choirs from age 4, participating in all the school musicals, and making music with her family for as long as she can remember. She attended Stuart Hall School in Staunton VA as a music student in the Visual and Performing Arts program from 1999-2003, and attended James Madison University where she continued to study music.
Her performing career in music began with her first band, The Bourbon Specials, based out of Charlottesville, VA in 2005. A few years later, she and a group of friends formed The Judy Chops, and have been performing regionally, as well as up and down the east coast since 2007. “Molly’s solid musicianship and dedication have been the background for the band’s solid arrangements.” She plays rhythm guitar, sings, writes, and arranges. Molly also performs in a duo ensemble, The Marvelous Murphy Sisters with her sister Sally Murphy, in which their mother (Lorie Lichtenwalner) and younger sister also occasionally join.
In September 2016, Molly opened her teaching studio Queen City Music Studios- A school of music for learning by ear. She offers private lessons in voice, and beginner guitar and piano, as well as Musikgarten from birth to age 5, and after-school aural music classes for elementary and middle school aged students in her Staunton studio. Molly also offers workshops for teens and adults in harmony singing, rounds singing, shape-note singing, jamming with other musicians, and live sound set-up through Queen City Music Studios.
She has performed and/or recorded with several musicians including Michael Glabicky of Rusted Root, Midnight Spaghetti and the Chocolate G-strings, Acme Swing Mfg. Co, Pete Stallings, Lost Indian, Sally Rose Band, Sarah Lynna and the Misfit Toys, Brian Patrick Band, Ludwell Joseph, and Den Fruman. She loves to share in making music as a jam host in Staunton, as well as in old time/ neo-trad gatherings such as at the Appalachian String Band Festival, and will be attending the Swannanoa Gathering as a camp counselor for the children’s camp for the first time this year.
Molly is thrilled to be extending her reach to Charlottesville with Front Porch, and continuing to share her love of music.
Debby Norton – Creative Movement, Instrument Exploration
Debby Norton has taught children in Charlottesville for 25 years. She holds an MEd from Loyola College in Baltimore with a concentration in Montessori education. She has AMI diplomas for 3-6 year olds and 6-12 year olds. She has taught at Mountaintop Montessori for ten years, where she has a class of 6-8 year olds where she has been teaching hula hooping and creative movement in after school programs and camps as well. She is certified in Orff-Shulwerk music and movement education Levels 1 and 2 and in Hoopnotica hoop dance. She is also certified as a 5 Rhythms Sweat Spaceholder and is in training as a teacher for 5 Rhythms dance, a movement meditation practice. Debby has facilitated movement for adults in the area for 6 years, teaches a class for adults in 5 Rhythms at the Front Porch, and loves to explore movement as an expressive medium.
Darrell Rose – Percussion
Percussionist, painter, and Charlottesville institution, Darrell is renowned for teaching many thousands of children over a long career in public and private schools in Virginia. As a drummer, he has been an Artist in Residence for the Virginia Commission for the Arts and performs in many rock, jazz, african, latin, and reggae configurations. He led Charlottesville’s Afrikan Drum Fest for many years. Darrell has shared the stage with many of the greatest musicians of our times, including Corey Harris, The Wailers, Greg Howard, Matthew Willner, The Wonderband (with Houston Ross and Johnny Gilmore), John D’earth, Bobby Read, and Jamal Millner.
John Spangler – Bluegrass Banjo
John took up the banjo at age 13, focusing on the hard-driving 3-finger style of masters such as Earl Scruggs and Sammy Shelor, as well as the melodic ideas of Bobby Thompson, Bill Keith and Tony Trischka. While traditional bluegrass has always been a passion, he also enjoys taking the banjo into genres where it is less well known. Over the years he has played with many bluegrass/americana bands most recently in Pennsylvania and Virginia, and previously in Europe where he performed in various countries and taught banjo at the ETM cole des Musiques Actuelles in Geneva Switzerland. He has been in opening acts for Tim O’Brien, Frank Wakefield, the Jerry Douglas Band, Bela Fleck, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops among others. Lately he has been onstage with the Staunton and Charlottesville bands Bourbon Barrel Congress, the Will Overman Band, and Gallatin Canyon.
Devon Sproule – Songwriting, Guitar, Performance
Devon Sproule grew up at Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, VA. She moved to Charlottesville as a teenager, busking on the downtown mall and making friends within the local music world. Now a professional touring musician, Sproule plays regularly in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Her releases have garnered praise from Village Voice, New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Observer, Guardian, and have featured collaborations with (among others) fellow Virginians Mary Chapin Carpenter and the late Jesse Winchester. As a teacher, Devon’s specialty is one-on-one “musical mentoring,” helping people young and old improve their playing and singing while learning to process life’s joys and pains creatively, through songwriting. She also offers guidance in performance and music business, if desired. In general, Devon’s approach is intuitive and revolving around ear and feel, with a dash of basic music theory. The 34-year-old, in addition to being a musician, is a bird enthusiast, doula, and a student of Deaf Culture and sign language. She has been married to producer / videographer Paul Curreri for 11 years.
Gina Sobel – Flute, Sax, Guitar, Voice, Songwriting, Jazz Studies
Gina Sobel is a genre chameleon and a devoted multi-instrumentalist on flute, voice, sax and guitar. She has taught music in the Charlottesville area for seven years on all of these instruments, as well as improvisation and songwriting. Gina’s composition takes two main directions; she writes songs with piercing lyrics and expansive vocal melodies, as well as jazz tunes that bring in elements of funk, modal jams and found sounds. She pulls these two sides together with her rock band Gina Sobel and the Mighty Fine. Gina also leads a jazz quartet (the Sobel 4tet) and plays as a solo artist and in a number of other groups, really, as many as she can. Playing in different kinds of bands keeps things fresh – and every genre informs every other one.
Jay Starling – Dobro
As the son of founding Seldom Scene member John Starling, Jay Starling had music in his bones from the start. From classical piano (he began at age seven) to delta blues and electric guitar, he was fascinated. By high school, he was reaching further, experimenting with drums, keyboards and electric bass. Nurturing a love for funk and fusion. After earning a degree in Psychology from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, Jay took off north to study drums at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston where he earned a B.A. of Professional Music.
Ali Sullivan – Spanish
Ali Sullivan is a native of Bogota, Colombia, where she graduated from college with a degree in journalism. Ali has a certification from the North American Montessori Center and a certification for teaching Spanish as a second language from the Universidad Externado de Colombia. She began teaching Spanish in 1994 at the International School of Indianapolis and also worked at the International School of Charlottesville for seven years. Ali currently teaches at Mountaintop Montessori. She is a huge fan of the full immersion process, believing it is the best and most efficient way for young children to learn a language. She uses singing, dancing, storytelling, creative movement and games to keep the children interested and involved in learning Spanish.
Andy Thacker – Mandolin and Guitar
Andy is an accomplished and flexible strings musician. He has played the mandolin in a variety of different musical styles from traditional Bluegrass and Old Time to Jazz and Rock. Andy has performed with Love Canon, Walker’s Run, Irish guitarist Ryan McGiver, and in many other lineups over the years. Andy understands the musical roots of the mandolin, but challenges the instrument in a wide range of genres. He also likes beer, beaches, and delicious foods.
Pete Vigour – Fiddle, Mandolin, Guitar, and Clawhammer banjo
vigourmusic.com Pete is a familiar face at jam sessions, concerts, and music classes around central Virginia; if string music is on the menu, you’ll probably find Pete nearby, serving up a tune on the fiddle, banjo, or guitar. He also enjoys making music on other instruments, and regularly teaches mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, and ukulele. Pete first taught music as a teenager in Waynesboro more than forty years ago, and now teaches full time, including guitar and string band classes at several local schools. He keeps a busy performing schedule as well, with the bands Uncle Henry’s Favorites, Zuzu’s Hot 5, the Lovell Coleman Band, the Hintonaires, and in a duo with his wife Ellen, a fine mandolinist and dance caller.
Larry White – Bluegrass Banjo
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Larry has performed and recorded with some great bands over the years whose members included: Stacy Phillips, Lou Martin, John Cadley and Rick Shubb. Larry has also appeared on the NBC Today Show with his former Portland-based band Dr. Corn’s Bluegrass Remedy. Locally, he has been a member of the Crozet-based Grit City Grass band and now takes joy in teaching bluegrass banjo to beginning through advanced students.