MEET OUR TEACHERS
Mike Anderson – Music Theory, Piano
Originally from New Jersey, Mike has studied the piano for over thirty years. He has degrees in music from the University of Dayton and Boston University where he specialized in performance, music composition and in music education. Mike has been teaching music in the Charlottesville area for just over 10 years, mainly focusing on developing young musicians with a strong understanding of the music they play.
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.
Alex Caton – Fiddle, Clawhammer Banjo
Alex Caton is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and music teacher who has dedicated her life to passing on the tradition of old time and Irish music. She teaches privately out of her home, in workshops, schools and camps throughout the States and plays with a wide variety musicians (including Pat Egan, Dick Harrington and Tom Marshall) across the globe. Alex’s recent CDs, that span from traditional Irish, Old Time to Early Country and Bluegrass sounds, have received many accolades and praise from reviewers of folk and traditional music worldwide. In 2009, at only 34 years of age, Alex was nominated for a Virginia Heritage Award for her dedication to the preservation and continuation of traditional forms of music. Alex also founded and still runs Mountain Road Traditional Music Camp, set in Monterey, Virginia every August.
Diane Cluck – Songwriting, Voice, Piano
Diane Cluck grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where she began studying classical piano at the age of seven. As a teen she accompanied her high school choir, sang in summer stock musicals, played in a goth-folk band and was a cantor for the Catholic church. Trained in theater arts at Hofstra University, she lived in New York City for nearly twelve years as an active participant in the downtown music scene. Diane has released seven albums to date, with song placements in TV and film. She regularly tours the US, UK, Europe and Canada, and has enjoyed Charlottesville as her home base since 2011.
As a musical guide Diane encourages creative expression alongside developing technical ability. Students have described her approach as “marvelously intuitive, knowledgeable, clear, precise, empathic and most of all, non-judgmental”, “using humor to dissolve my anxiety”, and “inventive, creative, and kind, with a focus on what is most important in music–finding your voice.”
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.
Matt Curreri – songwriting, guitar
Matt Curreri is a Charlottesville-based songwriter, band leader, and teacher. His “catchy rock-and-roll chanteys capture
Kayde Deardorff – Voice, Piano
Raised in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, Kayde started piano lessons on her grandfather’s organ when she was six, and studied classical piano, voice, and coronet throughout school.
After college, Kayde recorded an edgy folk/rock album as Violas Heartfull, and lived in intentional communities including Twin Oaks. In 2013, she moved to Charlottesville and began playing out with The Rung and Spoke. She released an EP as Fen Swale in 2014 which has been described as heartfelt, haunting and gorgeous, and is currently recording a full length album.
In addition to music study and performance, Kayde is also trained in dance, NIA, and herbal medicine. She teaches lessons that foster the mind-body-connection in music and expressive arts and offers a supportive and loving atmosphere for students to flourish. www.fenswale.com
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.
Spencer Gay – Ukulele
Spencer Gay Grew up in the hills of Northwest DC, and spent 30 years as a physician at UVA before coming to his current chosen profession. He now spends his time building ukuleles, arranging music for ukulele, developing music theory and instruction for ukulele students or teaching ukulele. As a certified ukulele instructor, and someone who enjoys teaching, Spencer shares his passion for this versatile, portable little instrument with which one can play any style of music. Learning ukulele is fun and can open the door to a whole new world of music.
Dinah Gray – Ballet
Originally from Los Angeles, Dinah Gray began her dance training with Yvonne Cusack. After graduating from Virginia School of the Arts, she attended Goucher College, where she earned her BA in Dance Performance and Choreography. She has danced with Ballet Theatre of Maryland, The Kimberly Mackin Dance Company, The Baltimore Opera, and Off Center Dance Theater. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and is currently developing Providence, an evening-length work of dance, poetry, and music to be presented in Spring 2018. She is on faculty in the dance program at the University of Virginia and is an Artistic Associate of Charlottesville Ballet, where she teaches dancers in the professional company and the trainee program.
Craig Green – Ukulele
Bio coming soon
Thomas Gunn – Guitar, Bass, Piano, Theory, Songwriting
London-born Thomas Gunn has been a performing musician, songwriter, and music teacher for decades. A graduate of Berklee College of Music (’90), Thomas is fluent in all things folk. He’s played in Americana bands, Country, Italian folk, Portuguese Folk (Fado), Rock n’ Roll, and Jazz. He is an experienced songwriter, having released two critically acclaimed albums of his own, and producer. Thomas’ current projects include upright bass and acoustic guitar with the Michael Clem Trio, and acoustic and electric guitar with The Pollocks, where he shares songwriting credits with bandleader Jason Pollock.
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.
Andrew Hollifield – Bass
Andrew Hollifield is a Charlottesville-based bass player, composer, and performer who loves to teach and inspire students to build their skills and musical expression. Beginning with the clarinet and saxophone in grade school, Andrew eventually discovered the electric bass in middle school, and never looked back. While studying jazz under the influential Greg Thomas at Albemarle High School, Andrew joined multiple bands and began playing shows at clubs and venues across Virginia. After graduating high school, Andrew studied Sociology at James Madison University and continued to perform shows with various bands while pursuing his academic studies. Andrew is currently a full-time musician, lending his melodic grooves to multiple local bands, including the jazzy, soulful Adar, funk collective Choose Your Own Adventure with Gina Sobel, and rock-and-rollers Lord Nelson. If you’ve experienced a local show, chances are you’ve seen Andrew holding down the low end at some point. The bass is his greatest passion, and nothing makes him happier than seeing someone pick up the instrument that changed his own life.
Christen Hubbard – Fiddle, Guitar, Mandolin, Clawhammer Banjo
Growing up in Charlottesville, Christen would often fall asleep on some couch at an old time jam, with string band music lulling him to sleep. He played trumpet in middle school band, and around the same time discovered a dusty old guitar in his parents’ basement. Thus began a three-decade love affair with stringed instruments, as Christen began plunking out Jimmy Page riffs and chunking on Metallica power chords as a 13-year old rocker. As a deadhead in High School, he gained an appreciation of American roots music and improvisation. He got his first mandolin at age 19 and soon became obsessed with David Grisman, Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, and the rich musical history of Appalachian mountain music. A 2-year stint touring with The Larry Keel Experience provided a crash course in progressive bluegrass and exposed Christen to a wonderful array of influential musicians across the southeast. While living in Portland, Oregon he continued to perform while branching out into early country, blues and swing, as well as gypsy jazz. He began playing fiddle and clawhammer banjo, and returned to his native Virginia while returning musically to the string band music that continues to be his primary inspiration.
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.
Larry Kent – Piano
Larry Kent is a native of Albemarle County, where he had his first piano lessons and taught himself guitar. He played in a number of rock and rhythm & blues bands before heading off to major in piano at VCU in Richmond. After graduation he earned a master’s degree in piano at the University of Miami and a doctorate in composition and conducting at the University of South Carolina. Larry has spent most of his professional career in and around Tampa, Florida, where he founded and continues to direct and perform with Florida Pro Musica, a professional early music group specializing in chant and 16th century polyphony. He returned to Virginia in 2017, and continues to enjoy improvisation and popular styles of music, frequently sitting in with various groups in central Virginia, in addition to playing classical music for piano and harpsichord, both in solo and chamber settings.
As a teacher, Larry enjoys working with students of all ages, all styles, and at all levels. He strives to create a fun and creative atmosphere where students are encouraged to find their own voice to express their creativity through music. He is very excited to be a part of the Front Porch community.
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, Piano
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.
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.
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.
Wes Swing – Cello
Wes Swing is a singer, cellist, songwriter, and composer. His musical journey began as a four-year-old violinist when he developed a life-long appreciation for classical music. He later found his true musical love in playing and composing for cello and voice while studying classical studies in college. Wes currently tours nationally and internationally with his band, combining looping cello technology and voice with synthesizers and electronic beats. His music is featured regularly on NPR and by several modern dance companies.
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.
Becca White & Krisan Marotta – Clogging
Together, Becca White and Krisan Marotta are the primary teaching force for the local clogging team the Skyline Country Cloggers. Between them, they have over 40 years of experience teaching, choreographing, and performing Appalachian clog dancing. Their focus is on teaching at the beginner and intermediate level.