Our Teachers - Music Lessons Sunset Learning Studio

"Sharing the Joy of Music"
piano lessons, singing lessons, voice lessons, guitar lessons
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Our Teachers

Instructor: Michelle Valenzuela
Teaches: Piano and Voice
Styles: Classical, pop, R & B, etc.
Background: Michelle Valenzuela began singing and playing the piano at an early age. She studied both piano and voice while attending a performing arts High School in California. Her training continued at California State University, Fullerton where she studied Music Education and continued piano and vocal training.

It was at California State University, Northridge where she earned her BA in Music Industry Studies.

She is currently the Producer, Songwriter and Co-Owner of Monophonic Entertainment where she develops young talent in the Pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop genres.

As a vocalist, Michelle has sung back-up for artists such as Sheila E, All-4-One, Jamie Jones, and gospel singer Jonathan Butler. Most of Michelle’s creative work is spent behind the scenes composing music, writing, and coaching artists.

She has been teaching beginners and professionals for 10 years and not only provides students with great vocal and piano technique, but also helps build their confidence, self-esteem, stage presence, and overall musical knowledge.
Instructor: Alison Acaster
Teaches: Voice & piano & Baritone Ukulele
Styles: All styles.
Background: Born and raised in England, Alison was bitten by the performing bug at an early age. She grew up loving musicals and sang in the school choir from age 6. She played the violin in the school orchestra, unable (at that time) to read the music, instead playing by ear. She dabbled in many instruments from recorder, guitar, and piano but singing has always been her passion. Once a teen she enrolled in singing lessons and competed in local music festivals before moving to Los Angeles at age 22 and forming an original power pop band. Alison's music was featured in the movies Soul Mates, Geoff Shot His Car and in the MTV show Undressed. She played the clubs of Los Angeles for 10 years before shifting into acting gear.

Alison studied acting for 5 years with Jeffrey Marcus and graduated fromThe Second City, Hollywood, where she crafted comedy sketches through the art of improvisation. She has dabbled in many mediums including film, theatre, and stand-up comedy, and brings her love of music, laughter and performance into her lessons.

"My daughter's voice has already improved a lot since we started but most importantly her confidence has really grown. I am very grateful!!" K.A

"Thanks so much for being so good with Tegan. She loves (loves, loves, loves!) her voice lessons and she always has a lot of fun, and I think you strike a great balance between having her learning "how" to sing and still having her feel like its just a really fun time." J.A

Instructor: Camara Kambon

Teaches: Piano - Intermediate and Advanced students only
Styles: All styles.
Background: . Camara is an Emmy Award winning, Grammy-nominated composer, who’s spent the last 20 years writing and producing music for records, film and television. He initially began to study piano at the Peabody Preparatory School of Music and after graduating with honors in musicianship, classical and jazz piano, went on to attend and graduate from Berklee College of Music with a BA in Music Production & Engineering and Film Scoring.

While in college and for the next 20 years, he composed music for tv and worked with a variety of recording artists, from Mary J. Blige to Dr. Dre and Eminem. He has written and performed pieces for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, as well as studio movie scores and television themes for shows like the CW Network, “Girlfriends” and many more.  
Camara is not taking new students at this time.
Instructor: Charissa Saunders

Teaches: Piano and Classical Voice
Styles: Classical and All Styles
Background: Charissa Saunders is 3rd generation in her family teaching piano.  She is a California native who grew up with a love of classical music. She began taking lessons from her mother, who was a piano teacher, at the early age of 4. By the time she was 7 the whole neighborhood knew she had a natural talent for singing. Her father loved to listen to opera and as most children do she imitated the sounds she heard. At age 15 she discovered the organ and began taking lessons. In high school she had many roles in operas and musical theater performances as a soloist and ensemble member. She is a regular soloist and pianist for numerous churches in the South Bay and has been hired to sing and/or play for weddings, funerals, and other social events all throughout her life. She attended college at Bob Jones University in South Carolina as a Voice Performance major.  She has been teaching piano, coaching voice and performing for the past 10 years.

Instructor: Shannon Howard

Teaches: Piano & Voice
Styles: All Styles
Background: Shannon grew up just north of Pittsburgh, PA, where she discovered her love for music at a very young age. As a teen, she was an active singer and piano accompanist in her school’s music programs and was accepted into the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music Summer Music Program for piano and voice. She went on to study music at Westminster College, where she earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree with an emphasis in vocal and piano pedagogy. Although she has performed extensively as a vocalist and pianist for the past 21 years, her heart’s passion lies in teaching. Shannon has taught private voice and piano for 14 years to students of all ages and abilities. Prior to relocating to California for her husband’s work, she also taught K-12 music for 9 years in the public school setting where she served as the director of choirs, directed musical theatre productions, and taught piano, voice, and theory. Her choirs consistently received superior ratings and awards at music competitions and many of her private students have gone on to successfully pursue careers as performers themselves. She continues to be an active member of the National Association for Music Education.

Shannon’s teaching philosophy is rooted in her belief that all students are unique with distinct goals. She strives to build students’ self-confidence while providing a fun learning experience tailored to each individual’s needs and aspirations. Her goal is to encourage every one of her students to sing, play, perform, create, grow, celebrate, and shine as their own unique self!
Instructor: Catherine Gardener

Teaches: Piano
Styles: All Styles
Background: Catherine began playing the piano at the age of 11 while studying under Ruth Morton of Chicago, a Carnegie Hall alum. Catherine studied music in college where she began tutoring students as a Teaching Assistant. She is very personable, fun and enjoys working with children as well as adults. Her mission is to nurture the love of music in students, spark their desire and strengthen their talents to grow to greater levels.

Instructor: Mary Pimentel

Teaches: Voice & Piano
Styles: All styles.
Background:  Mary Pimentel has been playing piano since the age of 9, and has earned a B.A. in Musicology from UCLA.

She currently is the lead vocalist in a LA based cover-band, and also regularly performs as a solo vocalist at live events.

Her love for singing originated from her college choir voice training during her time in school, where she also gained experience playing the clarinet, as well as participating in marching band and orchestra.

To Mary, music is one of life's greatest avenues of expression, that can be both free and structured at the same time. As such, she believes that music can be enjoyed by all people of all ages, and loves to share her knowledge of the fundamentals and enthusiasm to see music students grow.

Instructor: Sarah Rednour

Teaches:  Piano
Styles: All Styles
Background: Sarah Rednour began learning piano at 6 years old. Living in South Korea at the time, she took private lessons and was also mentored by her mother, who achieved a Bachelor’s Degree in the Arts and studied as a piano major in the Master of Music Program at the University of Memphis. Sarah became involved in a band in second grade, performing the violin, flute and French horn. She also joined her school choir in middle school, continuously studying and performing music throughout high school. Performing in 3 different choirs, Sarah earned certificates and awards such as the Tri-M Music Honor Society at PV Peninsula High School. She also earned awards in advanced piano competitions.

In college, Sarah began working at a SAT tutoring academy and taught English Verbal & Writing as well as college admission essays. She shifted from her music major and graduated from UCLA as an English major. She helped cultivate reading and writing skills in middle and high-school students through websites and private students through word of mouth. Sarah continues to play the piano as a hobby in different styles, including classical, jazz and pop. She strives for graduate school in the English Master’s Program the following year.

Sarah relentlessly believes in the passion of teaching for both academic and talent levels. She loves to also learn from her students and nurture their individual skills. She is a ball of joyful energy, positive encouragement and determination for her students’ future!
Instructor: Elena Chapovalova  

Teaches: Advanced Piano
Styles:  All Styles and Levels
Background: Elena graduated with her bachlors and masters from the prestigious Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory of Music in piano, vocal music and choral conducting . Her teaching experience includes piano, vocal, choral and music theory.   She is dedicated to enthusiastic and dynamic teaching as a means of creating and nurturing a lifelong love of music in children.

Instructor: Dan Jenks

Teaches: Piano, Guitar, Flute, Sax, Trombone and Euphonium
Styles: All Styles.
Background: Dan Jenks is the founder of Sunset Learning Studio.  You can read more about him under 'Our Founder'.

Instructor: Tod McLeod

Teaches: Piano, voice, guitar
Styles: All Styles
Background: Tod McLeod is a teacher, composer, songwriter, session guitarist, vocalist and producer based in the Los Angeles area. He has composed and produced music for a number of companies, including Hyundai automobiles, Phantom 4 Music, MOD Entertainment, Level 5 records, and Surface and Dream Music.  Tod has performed professionally in major Las Vegas theatre productions, and has shared the stage with and opened for many musicians and artists, including The Black Crowes, KISS, Mishka, Darius Rucker, Melissa Ethridge, Matthew Sweet, Filter, Sugar Ray, Phil Jones (Tom Petty), Fritz Lewak (Jackson Browne, Melissa Ethridge), Jimi Paxson (Stevie Nicks, Ben Harper, Alanis Morissette), Francis Buckley, The Barenaked Ladies and many more! His enthuasiam for music and for LIFE is contagious!

Instructor: Nailah Middleton

Teaches: Piano & Voice
Styles: All Styles
Background: Nailah Middleton is a Caribbean-American musician and educator from Los Angeles, CA. She grew up singing in church, and after beginning her studies as a piano student at the age of four, Nailah continued on to study harp, guitar, and drum set. She discovered her passion for teaching music in high school and has been teaching private piano, voice, and guitar lessons ever since.

In recent years, she has taught K-3rd grade music lessons at West Creek Elementary School and began teaching beginner harp lessons with her Harpsicle Harp. Graduating with a BFA in vocal performance from the Herb Alpert School of Music at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), she sings in a variety of styles and languages including Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese, and Javanese. She has performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Troubadour, House of Blues Hollywood, and KCRW's Desert Nights at The Standard Hotel. Currently, she plays out around the city as a solo artist & with her harp and electric bass project, Bashful Creature.
Instructor: Ian Rico

Teaches: Guitar and Bass.
Styles: All styles.
Background: Ian Rico has been a guitar instructor since 2009, has been playing electric guitar and bass since 2006. As a student at Long Beach City College, Ian is majoring in music and has experience playing venues such as The Roxy, Saint Rock, and The Can Club. He currently plays guitar and sings for his band Carbonine. He can teach any style and enjoys teaching anyone and everyone. All the kids and parents LOVE Ian!

Instructor: Steve Ornest

Teaches: Guitar, Bass, Uke
Styles: All styles.
Background:  Steve attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston on scholarship, and has since had the privilege of working with artists such as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Pepper, Don Dokken, and many others. Along with being a high demand session player in the Los Angeles area, Steve also writes and produces music for television, as well as for other artists. His love and passion for contemporary music makes Steve a great fit for any student with a desire to learn subjects ranging from harmony/theory, composition, reading music, learning by ear, improvisation, finding a unique sound, and songwriting.

Instructor: Hugo Nogueira

Teaches: Guitar, Bass, Uke
Styles: All styles.
Background:   Brazilian guitarist Hugo Nogueira won the 2011 American Guitar Society competition. After attending three prestigious conservatories in Brazil, he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Composition in 2007 and a teaching credential in 2010. Hugo continued his studies earning his Master’s Degree in Guitar Performance at Azusa Pacific University. Additionally, he has had masterclasses with world class guitarists such as Ana Vidovic, Jason Vieaux, Scott Tennant, and Marc Teicholz. Hugo has also participated at guitar festivals such as La Guitarra in San Luis Obispo, Sierra Nevada Guitar festival, and New Mexico Guitar Festival. Awarded an assistantship in the fall of 2013, Hugo began to work on his Doctorate in Classical Guitar Performance at UNLV with the internationally renowned concert guitarist, Ricardo Cobo. In 2014 and 2015, Hugo was invited to be part of the guitar competition committee at the Clark County School District, Las Vegas Academy of Arts, and Junior festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. From 2013 to 2017, while working on his terminal degree (DMA), Hugo was teaching group guitar class, theory, private lessons, and guitar ensemble at UNLV. In the last few years, Hugo has been performing in different states across U.S. such as California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Michigan. In May 2017, Hugo graduated with a Doctor of Musical Arts.
Instructor: Eddie Robles

Teaches: Guitar, Bass, Uke
Styles: All styles.
Background:    Eddie started playing guitar at 14 and performed in bands through out high school.  He studied music at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and  then moved to Hollywood to study Music Theory at L.A.C.C. In 2012 he joined "The Dead Notes", a Hollywood based band.  And In 2015 he  attended the Musicians Institute of Contemporary Music to study Guitar Performance and Sound Production. At MI he has had the pleasure of playing  along side some industry professionals  like Brent Harding ( Bass, Social Distortion) and Ritchie Ramones (Drummer, The Ramones).
His guitar idols are John Frusciantes from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimmy Hendrix, & Eric Clapton. He is very versatile playing blues, rock, funk, jazz and even bossa nova. And he is currently part of a 11 piece band called "The Live Heavy Water Project".

Instructor: James Kennedy

Teaches: Voice, Guitar, Bass & Ukulele
Styles: All styles.
Background:  James earned a Bachelors degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Iowa in 2014.  While pursuing his degree, he played bass and guitar with several prominent Iowa artists including The River Monks and Katelyn Epperly (American Idol: top 10) and opened for popular rock group Manchester Orchestra.  He now sings and writes songs for his band Big Slumber.  James is equally patient and passionate about teaching and loves sharing the joy of music with others.

Instructor: John Nevolo

Teaches: Guitar, Bass & Uke
Styles: All Styles
Background: John has 15 years teaching experience in Southern California . He has worked with numerous professionals on tour and in the studio, such as Pop artist Tiffany, Helen Reddy, Stone Soul and also Entertainer/Actor Branscombe Richmond. John’s early musical education began at a age 10 in New Jersey. His instructors were Jon Harrington ( Steely Dan ) and Robert Aslanian ( Al DiMeola’s Instructor) as well as his father and brother Joe Nevolo. He furthered his education by relocating to California and graduating from Musicians Institute. John has a very innovative and structured progressive learning method he developed over the years of teaching. He prides himself on his ability to teach complex Harmony and Theory concepts in a very rudimental approach so anyone can learn how to compose their own songs. John teaches all styles of music on Guitar ( beginners through advanced ) . He also teaches Bass Guitar, and Beginning Drums.

Instructor: Donovan Jurich

Teaches:  Piano & Guitar
Styles: All Styles
Background:  Donovan started studing piano at the of age  7 under classical concert pianist,and Eastman School of Music  graduate John Reith, becoming his top student. He then took up  guitar learning and incorporating the styles of classical  guitarist Frederick Noad, rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix,and many jazz and  blues artists. He has recorded many albums, and has been recognized in VH1's  songwriting competition. He has also performed with some well known local  musicians such as Mike Watt, and George Hurley of the Minutemen, and Randy Stodola  of The Alleycats.

Instructor: Al Pimentel

Teaches: Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Euphonium, Tuba
Styles: All styles.
Background: Alfonso Manuel Pimentel Garcia (Al Pimentel) grew up in a family of musicians. He was exposed to many kinds of music such as Classical, Jazz, Pop, and Folk music. By age 12, music became his passion and he decide he wanted a career in the music industry. In high school he performed in several small venues from Santa Monica to Venice beach.  He also started teaching part time during the summer. He completed his formal musical studies at El Camino College. He studied other instruments as well that were not in the woodwind family such as trumpet Euphonium, Trombone, Tuba and Vocals. His primary instructor is renowned jazz saxophonist, Ann Patterson. He studied both Jazz and Classical saxophone and thanks to Patterson  is recognized as one of the best gigging Saxophonists to come out of El camino college.  Besides teaching, he can also be found playing not just Jazz, but other popular styles of music all over Los Angeles.

Instructor: Maximino Tovar

Teaches: Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Trombone, Violin, Viola & Cello
Styles: All Styles.
Background: Max became interested in Classical music at age 15.  The instrument he wanted to play the most was the violin. He finally got kis chance to learn violin in 9th grade. Since he didn't have any money, he made his own box violin so he could continue practicing and learning after school was over. Finally in High school his dream came true and he was able to get private lessons with the help of some generous individuals. Since 1998 he has been the concertmaster and assistant director of his church orchestra. In 1999, he went to LBCC where he got his AA in music and Certificate of Completing for Music Education. While he was there he played 2nd violin for the Long Beach City College String Quartet and played in many Chamber groups. He studied violin under Paula Fishman who was a violinist and high school music teacher from Texas. Her deep knowledge of the violin and teaching techniques really inspired him to become a music teacher. She also helped sparked his interest in Band and Orchestra instruments. Max later went to CSULB where he got his BM in Music Education. There he learned to play and teach all the band and orchestra instruments. He also did a lot of coaching of middle school and high school bands and orchestras. After graduation he bought as many band and orchestra instruments as he could and started studying each instrument in detail. He is an accomplished teacher in violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet oboe, saxophone, trumpet and trombone.  He has been teaching at the Downey Music Center since 2002.
Instructor: Jennifer Anderson

Teaches: Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Guitar & Ukulele
Styles: All Styles.
Background: Jennifer Anderson learned guitar as a child and studied classical guitar while in high school. She studied music at the University of Illinois, Laney College, Oakland Ca, and Los Angeles City College. She then studied saxophone with Phil Sobel, famous for television and film work. Her playing experience ranges from classical ensemble, big band, jazz ensemble, studio recording, and is lead player of the retro-rock combo Jetpack. She is a teaching professional having taught music with Arts Alive since 1998, Ladera Music Academy since in 2012, and also currently teacher and musical director at Saint James School K-4 in Torrence.
Instructor: John Vandenberg

Teaches: Trumpet
Styles: All styles.
Background: Known to the Music-loving community as Johnny V, John Vandenberg has been hittin' the notes and playin' the riffs for more than 30years all over the world in the hottest clubs and concert halls with the likes of: Bill Medley, Otis Brown, Slash, Sam Moore (Sam & Dave) Percy Sledge, Eric Clapton, Ernie Watts, The Daddy O's,  Drifters, Coasters, Boxcar 7, Chevy Chase, Other musical accomplishments include: Musical Director for Otis Brown (formerly of The Drifters),TV commercial for Zima (Adolph Coors Corp.), solo performance on Film soundtrack ("Saturday Night Special"), and TV's "Guiding Light". Johnny can also be heard in MATTEL TOYS BARBIE'S “My Size Throne”
John Vandenberg’s musical journey began at the young age of 9. Although He’s always loved to play and practice the trumpet, he credits his parents with helping him to stay committed to lessons by providing him with the tools he needed to succeed. Johnny Is from Long Beach Ca. and attended Cal State University of Long Beach.
Instructor: Colleen Montgomery

Teaches: Art Classes.
Styles: All styles.
Background: Colleen Montgomery has a Bachelors in Fine Art as well as a Teaching Degree from Alfred University School of Art & Design in New York.  She has experience teaching both Elementary and High School.  Best of all, she's fun, personable, and great with kids!

Instructor: Josie Boyer

Teaches: Cello, Violin, Piano
Styles: All Styles
Background: Josie has been playing cello since she was six years old.  With the  help of her mother, a musician as well, she picked up violin and piano  along the way.  She studied for her Masters of Music in cello  performance at the Chicago College of Performing Arts after getting her  Bachelors of Music from CSULB.  While in Texas, Josie won a section  cello position with the Round Rock Symphony.

She has been teaching for  nine years throughout California and Texas.  She is particularly  interested in teaching young children as she feels she has a personality  that would engage and inspire a young beginner.  However, she is  capable and willing to teach all ages.
Instructor: Suzanne Haitz

Teaches: Violin & Piano
Styles: All Styles
Background: Suzanne Haitz recently graduated with a BM in Violin Performance, and a BM in Music Education from Chapman University's Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music. Suzanne has studied with renowned performers & string pedagogues Robert Becker & William Fitzpatrick. She has been a private violin instructor, and a freelance musician for the past seven years in Southern California.

Suzanne specializes in teaching pain-free playing techniques, which will allow students to attain their full potential. She is very passionate about bringing music to people of all backgrounds and ages, as well as teaching life skills through the mastery of an instrument. With a strong background in both performance and music education, Suzanne is fully equipped to help students reach their musical goals.

Instructor: Joe Turner

Teaches: Drums
Styles: All Styles
Background: Joe has been playing drums for over 25 years.  He started taking private lessons in 4th grade.  During his pre-college years, he was involved in every music program offered at his school in Michigan.  This included Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Pit Band, and back up for the Choir.  After high school, Joe turned his focus to writing and performing original music while attending Michigan State University.  After working with many different groups and multiple nation wide tours, he moved to California to pursue music full time. Joe's positive energy and enthusiam for music and playing the drums is contagious with all of his students!

Sunset Learning Studio  
(310) 749-7099
1203 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
612 Meyer Lane #9B, Redondo Beach, CA 90278
Our Online App is HERE
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