Music School

Starting on September 1st, we will be raising our lesson rates to the below prices:

Our talented roster of 20+ instructors offer a wide variety of instrument lessons for all ages. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand your abilities, our teachers are passionate about working with you to meet your musical goals! Sign up now with our online form!

Lessons are available in-person or online. If you’d prefer your instructor to wear a mask, just ask!

Interested in learning more? Contact us at lessons@downtownsounds.com

Lesson Rates

Ongoing Weekly Lessons:
Paid one month in advance
$35 / 30 minutes
$52.50 / 45 minutes
$70 / 60 minutes


Single Fill-In Lesson:
Pre-paid at time of booking
$38 / 30 minutes
$56.50 / 45 minutes
$74 / 60 minutes

Music School Policies

Downtown Sounds Music School Policies


 
Email us if you need to cancel. The more notice the better! Absences with less than 24 hours notice to either the teacher or Music School are subject to charge.

• 2 excused (no charge) absences are allowed, per year. Credits are applied to next month’s bill.

• Teacher absences will be credited to the student’s account.

• If a student needs a temporary time-change, please consult our Music School director, or your teacher.  Make-up lessons are allowed if you are able to find a time that works within your instructor’s availability for the week.

• NO LESSONS: New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas.

Band Camp Information

Downtown Sounds Rock Band is a program for local teens to meet, play, and perform in-person with their musical peers.

Based in the rehearsal space of Downtown Sounds and lead by instructor Scotty Swan, the band learns and rehearse a collection of songs over the course of 5 sessions, culminating in a live performance.

We’re planning to bring back the rock camp this January! To stay in tune with our camp, and for up-to-date information on timing and prices, sign up through our form here!

shorturl.at/jszOP

Guitar Teachers

Jim Armenti

Guitar, Bass, Clarinet, Mandolin, Saxophone, Fiddle, Ukulele
Country, Folk, Jazz, Klezmer, Rock

Jim Armenti teaches guitar, mandolin, bass, clarinet, saxophone, and ukulele integrating music theory, instrument theory, songwriting and singing into lessons. Jim tailors his teaching also to specifically what the student wants to accomplish.

He has taught rock, folk, jazz, blues, rhythm, lead, flat picking and finger picking on strings. Classical, jazz and blues are genres that Jim can focus on or what cultural music experience the student is interest in. He has been teaching since 1979 and still gets as much enjoyment teaching beginners as professional players, noting that after 40 years of playing he still has as much to learn as a first time player, as musical learning is infinite and life long. Jim received his B.A. in Music and Anthropology from U Mass Amherst in 1981.

Jim Armenti has played in a number bands since the 1970’s in the Valley and is one of the pillars of The Lonesome Brothers, alternative country players of regional fame. He also plays with Klezamir and the Young at Heart Chorus. Jim also notes that if you live within ten miles of Northampton then you likely know someone who studied music with him!

Jim teaches in person or remote on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (2pm-6pm) and Saturday (8:30am-11:30am)

Robby Roiter

Guitar
Rock, Jazz, Folk, Blues & Music Theory/ Improvisation

Robby Roiter, another one of Downtown Sounds’ long standing guitar teachers has been at the Northampton store for years. Robby has a rich background teaching acoustic finger picking, electric rock, blues and jazz as well. Aside from guitar Robby also teaches bass and ukulele integrating music theory and improvisation as the students needs and demands dictate.

Robby is a very supportive teacher understanding that students come in with a wide range of learning abilities and skills already achieved. He customizes his lessons to make sure that every student gets the most out of their abilities and where they want to go as a musician.

Robby teaches remotely or in person Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday

Grant Wicks

Guitar
Bluegrass, Blues, Country, Folk, Jazz, Rock, Songwriting, Soul

Grant Wicks is a professional musician, producer, and audio engineer based in Western Massachusetts. He began playing guitar as a teenager, studying under celebrated guitarist Michael Daves and becoming the youngest member of the Hampshire College Jazz Ensemble. Grant currently runs his own freelance recording business, Uncanny Audio. He has played on, engineered, and produced countless records over the years, working with members of Wilco, The Black Crowes, and Mr. Airplane Man, among others.

Grant is experienced in teaching a wide variety of musical styles and techniques on guitar, as well as songwriting, composition, music theory, and production. He is well-versed in Rock ‘n’ Roll, Jazz, Soul, Delta & Gospel Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Folk, and various non-Western musical traditions. As an instructor, Grant works with students to develop individualized lesson plans designed to help each student meet their own unique playing goals, helping them to follow and further their creative passions.

Grant teaches remotely on Tuesday (12pm-5:30pm), Thursday (12pm-5:00pm) and Friday (10am-6pm)

Josh Gordon

Guitar, Bass, Violin, Mandolin, Hawaiian Guitar
Jazz, Western Swing, Blues, Country, Classical, Folk, R&B, Rock

Josh Gordon is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist of string instruments and has many years teaching at all levels and age groups, from beginners to more advanced players, and from children to adults. Josh is adept at teaching a variety of styles, be it roots Appalachian old-time tunes to classical violin & guitar, as well as various forms of jazz, blues, country and rock & roll. His one-on-one lessons combine humor and sensitivity to the individuality of each student.

Josh’s background includes being a top session and performing musician in Chicago, Nashville, and New York, As instructional columnist and copy editor of Guitar World magazine, Guitar World Acoustic, Just Jazz Guitar and the Nashville-based Music City Bluesletter. Josh’s published works have improved the playing of guitarists all over the world. He has also performed and recorded on guitar, bass, fiddle, and mandolin with a wide spectrum of notable musicians, such as CMA vocalist of the year Sara Evans, Sam Andrew, the OK Club, the Drovers, and Muddy Waters Jr.

“How did we get so lucky to have you walk into our lives to introduce music to our daughter???“ – Shauna Redford, Sundance Foundation

“Josh’s teaching inspires joy! His connectivity with children and his ability to support their own musical exploration and talent is both natural and poetic.”  – Jane Sloane

“Josh had me playing a tune in my very first lesson. His respect for the healing power of music inspires me to learn more.”  – Blakeley White-McGuire, Principal Dancer, Martha Graham Dance Company  

“I have been surprised by the progress that I’ve made and only hope that the trend continues. There’s so much more to learn!  Josh has been fantastic, bringing some great perspective on music and technique.” – Aldo (current Downtown Sounds student)

“I am an adult learner, resuming the guitar after years of not playing.  My two years of lessons with Josh (classical and acoustic guitar) have been a magical musical journey.  Josh explains not just how to do something, but why.  He has a vast knowledge of all kinds of music, and shares invaluable tips and techniques.  Above all, the lessons are fun.   I highly recommend Josh as a teacher for any level guitar student.” – Cynthia Taylor 

“Josh had me playing a tune in my very first lesson. His respect for the healing power of music inspires me to learn more.” — Blakeley White-McGuire, Principal Dancer, Martha Graham Dance Company

“I have been surprised by the progress that I’ve made and only hope that the trend continues. There’s so much more to learn! Josh has been fantastic, bringing some great perspective on music and technique.” — Aldo (current Downtown Sounds student)

Statement from Josh: My goal in your lessons is to enable and equip you to express your own unique creativity. There’s plenty of fun to be had as we work together.

Josh teaches remotely on Tuesday (2:30pm-6pm), Wednesday (1-6pm), and Thursday (3-6pm)

Pamela Means

Bass, Guitar
Blues, Folk, Jazz, Rock

Pamela Means is an accomplished teacher and musician who lends her experiences at Downtown Sounds providing instruction in guitar, bass, music theory and songwriting. Whether it is jazz, folk, blues or rock, Pamela can instruct the student and have them love to learn. In time, her students will learn how to sight read and use the most proper and healthy techniques in playing music.

Pamela welcomes all students including the youngest of all levels. Pamela truly enjoys inspiring others through teaching music. Her extensive experience, including 25 years of private instruction, implementing and leading lesson programs in music stores from Boston and NYC to the Pioneer Valley, and teaching scores of students at regional music camps, allows her to use a well-honed special skill set and goal-based individualized approach to each and every student that helps accelerate, advance and solidify their own knowledge.

Pamela is a professional singer-songwriter and jazz musician with eight independent album releases and a lengthy resumé of cross-country and international tours.

“I like being confident in what I am doing. It is a joy knowing that I can help my students get better as quickly as their talent will allow.”

Sign up for lessons with Pamela and you will see why she is a sought after teacher!

Pamela teaches remotely on Monday (1pm-5:45pm) and Tuesday (3pm-5pm)
PamelaMeans.com

Max Wareham

Banjo, Guitar, Bass

Max Wareham has been teaching banjo in the Valley for over 6 years and has studied intensively with banjo greats including Bill Keith, Tony Trischka, Jayme Stone, and others.

He teaches both bluegrass and “claw hammer” styles. He also teaches various guitar styles and has studied at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC.

Max is also a performer, and can be found playing electric bass in Northampton-based band Sun Parade. Max’s versatility is astounding here at Downtown Sounds focusing first and foremost on banjo but able to also teach guitar and bass! Get to know Max and get started making music with him!

Max teaches on Monday and Tuesday

Nate Watson

Guitar, Bass
Rock, Folk, Pop, Funk, Theory, Songwriting, Recording and Production

Since graduating Cornell University with a BS in Environmental Science, Nate Watson has taught in a multitude of settings, including Deerfield Academy Summer Arts Camp, Nature’s Classroom, Boston Public School system, and the great outdoors. As a music teacher, he emphasizes developing technical skills as a means for self-expression through the instrument. Lessons often take the form of learning the theory and technique used in songs and styles of the student’s choice.

He can often be found writing, arranging, and recording original music in his home studio, though if there’s anything he loves more than that, it’s helping his students on the path of making their own music.

Nate teaches Mondays and Tuesdays, remote and in person.

Dave Trenholm

Bass, Clarinet, Flute, Guitar, Saxophone, Ukulele
Classical, Jazz, Rock

Dave Trenholm teaches guitar, saxophone, flute, clarinet, bass, and ukulele. He’s been teaching at Downtown Sounds for over 10 years. Dave teaches students of all ages and skill levels, with the goal of encouraging every student’s lifelong enjoyment of making music. He focuses on playing mechanics, music reading, ear training (and playing by ear), music theory, improvising, and learning songs, striving to tailor each student’s lessons to their learning style and musical goals.

Dave has been playing professionally in the area for over 20 years and has been a member of the bands King Radio, Free Range Cats, Soul Magnets and many others. He holds a BA in Music from the University of Massachusetts.

Dave teaches in person or remotely on Tuesday (2pm-8pm) and Wednesday (3-8pm)

Bass Teachers

Jim Armenti

Guitar, Bass, Clarinet, Mandolin, Saxophone, Fiddle, Ukulele
Country, Folk, Jazz, Klezmer, Rock

Jim Armenti teaches guitar, mandolin, bass, clarinet, saxophone, and ukulele integrating music theory, instrument theory, songwriting and singing into lessons. Jim tailors his teaching also to specifically what the student wants to accomplish.

He has taught rock, folk, jazz, blues, rhythm, lead, flat picking and finger picking on strings. Classical, jazz and blues are genres that Jim can focus on or what cultural music experience the student is interest in. He has been teaching since 1979 and still gets as much enjoyment teaching beginners as professional players, noting that after 40 years of playing he still has as much to learn as a first time player, as musical learning is infinite and life long. Jim received his B.A. in Music and Anthropology from U Mass Amherst in 1981.

Jim Armenti has played in a number bands since the 1970’s in the Valley and is one of the pillars of The Lonesome Brothers, alternative country players of regional fame. He also plays with Klezamir and the Young at Heart Chorus. Jim also notes that if you live within ten miles of Northampton then you likely know someone who studied music with him!

Jim teaches in person or remote on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (2pm-6pm) and Saturday (8:30am-11:30am)

Zack Bartolomei

Bass, Flute, Piano, Saxophone
Composition, Improvisation, Jazz, Music Theory

Zachary Bartolomei teaches saxophone and flute for all ages and experience levels, as well as beginner piano, guitar, and bass guitar. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies from The Hartt School’s Jackie McLean Institute, as well as a Master of Music degree in Jazz Composition & Arranging from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught jazz ensembles as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. He takes a holistic approach to teaching, giving a solid foundation in technique and theory while also emphasizing improvisation and creativity. He is an active performer across many genres in the Pioneer Valley and beyond, as a member of Shokazoba and World Eaters, as well as his own jazz and creative music projects.

Zack teaches on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Josh Gordon

Guitar, Bass, Violin, Mandolin, Hawaiian Guitar
Jazz, Western Swing, Blues, Country, Classical, Folk, R&B, Rock

Josh Gordon is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist of string instruments and has many years teaching at all levels and age groups, from beginners to more advanced players, and from children to adults. Josh is adept at teaching a variety of styles, be it roots Appalachian old-time tunes to classical violin & guitar, as well as various forms of jazz, blues, country and rock & roll. His one-on-one lessons combine humor and sensitivity to the individuality of each student.
“My goal in your lessons is to enable and equip you to express your own unique creativity. There’s plenty of fun and plenty of laughs to be had as we work together.”

Josh’s background includes being a top session and performing musician in Chicago, Nashville, and New York, As instructional columnist and copy editor of Guitar World magazine, Guitar World Acoustic, Just Jazz Guitar and the Nashville-based Music City Bluesletter. Josh’s published works have improved the playing of guitarists all over the world. He has also performed and recorded on guitar, bass, fiddle, and mandolin with a wide spectrum of notable musicians, such as CMA vocalist of the year Sara Evans, Sam Andrew, the OK Club, the Drovers, and Muddy Waters Jr.

“Josh’s teaching inspires joy! His connectivity with children and his ability to support their own musical exploration and talent is both natural and poetic.” — Jane Sloane

“Josh had me playing a tune in my very first lesson. His respect for the healing power of music inspires me to learn more.” — Blakeley White-McGuire, Principal Dancer, Martha Graham Dance Company

“I have been surprised by the progress that I’ve made and only hope that the trend continues. There’s so much more to learn! Josh has been fantastic, bringing some great perspective on music and technique.” — Aldo (current Downtown Sounds student)

Josh teaches remotely on Tuesdays (2:30pm-6pm), Wednesdays (1-6pm), and Thursdays (3-6pm).

Pamela Means

Bass, Guitar
Blues, Folk, Jazz, Rock

Pamela Means is an accomplished teacher and musician who lends her experiences at Downtown Sounds providing instruction in guitar, bass, music theory and songwriting. Whether it is jazz, folk, blues or rock, Pamela can instruct the student and have them love to learn. In time, her students will learn how to sight read and use the most proper and healthy techniques in playing music.

Pamela welcomes all students including the youngest of all levels. Pamela truly enjoys inspiring others through teaching music. Her extensive experience, including 25 years of private instruction, implementing and leading lesson programs in music stores from Boston and NYC to the Pioneer Valley, and teaching scores of students at regional music camps, allows her to use a well-honed special skill set and goal-based individualized approach to each and every student that helps accelerate, advance and solidify their own knowledge.

Pamela is a professional singer-songwriter and jazz musician with eight independent album releases and a lengthy resumé of cross-country and international tours.

“I like being confident in what I am doing. It is a joy knowing that I can help my students get better as quickly as their talent will allow.”

Sign up for lessons with Pamela and you will see why she is a sought after teacher!

Pamela teaches remotely on Monday (1pm-5:45pm) and Tuesday (3pm-5pm)
PamelaMeans.com

Nate Watson

Guitar, Bass
Rock, Folk, Pop, Funk, Theory, Songwriting, Recording and Production

Since graduating Cornell University with a BS in Environmental Science, Nate Watson has taught in a multitude of settings, including Deerfield Academy Summer Arts Camp, Nature’s Classroom, Boston Public School system, and the great outdoors. As a music teacher, he emphasizes developing technical skills as a means for self-expression through the instrument. Lessons often take the form of learning the theory and technique used in songs and styles of the student’s choice.

He can often be found writing, arranging, and recording original music in his home studio, though if there’s anything he loves more than that, it’s helping his students on the path of making their own music.

Nate teaches Mondays and Tuesdays, remote and in person.

Ronald Smith

Percussion, Bass, Saxophone
A Native of Memphis Tennessee, Ronald Smith has been in the New England Area since 1988 performing and developing music programs in both public and private schools. Currently, he is Director of Bands & Jazz Programs at Northfield Mount Hermon School.In his career music span, Ron has performed with such artists as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Nat Adderley, Wynton Marselis, B.B. King, and Paul Winter.

-Bachelor of Science in Music – Tennessee State University
-Music Production & Engineering Studies – Berklee College of Music
-Ethnomusicology Studies – Dartmouth College
-Semi-Finalist for Grammy Award Teacher of the Year

Ron teaches remotely on Wednesday (4pm-6pm) and Saturday (9am-12pm)

Dave Trenholm

Bass, Clarinet, Flute, Guitar, Saxophone, Ukulele
Classical, Jazz, Rock

Dave Trenholm teaches guitar, saxophone, flute, clarinet, bass, and ukulele. He’s been teaching at Downtown Sounds for over 10 years. Dave teaches students of all ages and skill levels, with the goal of encouraging every student’s lifelong enjoyment of making music. He focuses on playing mechanics, music reading, ear training (and playing by ear), music theory, improvising, and learning songs, striving to tailor each student’s lessons to their learning style and musical goals.

Dave has been playing professionally in the area for over 20 years and has been a member of the bands King Radio, Free Range Cats, Soul Magnets and many others. He holds a BA in Music from the University of Massachusetts.

Dave teaches in person or remotely on Tuesday (2pm-8pm) and Wednesday (3-8pm)

Rudi Weeks

Bass, Theory
Big Band, Blues, Classical, Funk, Jazz, Pop, R&B, Rock, Swing, World Beat

Rudi Weeks has been a professional musician and teacher of music for over thirty five years. He has performed with such 60s greats as The Contours, The Crests, and Ronnie Spector, and Folk and Bluegrass legends Tom Paxton and Tony Trischka. He also toured internationally with the Dirty Dancing Concert Tour.

His extensive freelance performance and recording experience includes projects with over sixty ensembles, performing almost every conceivable style of music. He served as a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts Performing Arts Division and as an adjunct bass faculty member for Amherst College. He currently teaches at Holyoke Community College Music Department, Downtown Sounds in Northampton MA, Guitar Center in West Springfield and at his home. He is an 8 year veteran of the popular Motown group Souled Out, Magic of Motown, and a 23 year veteran of the highly acclaimed Andean influenced world music group, Viva Quetzal.
Rudi has also published a thorough and well received bass instruction manual entitled “Encyclopedia of Bass Logic.” He graduated from HCC in June of 1978 with an Associate Degree in Arts / Music Education and from Westfield State University in May of 1983 with a Bachelor of Science.

Rudi teaches in person or remotely on Monday (2pm-6pm) and Tuesday (1:30-6pm)

Max Wareham

Banjo, Guitar, Bass

Max Wareham has been teaching banjo in the Valley for over 6 years and has studied intensively with banjo greats including Bill Keith, Tony Trischka, Jayme Stone, and others.

He teaches both bluegrass and “claw hammer” styles. He also teaches various guitar styles and has studied at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC.

Max is also a performer, and can be found playing electric bass in Northampton-based band Sun Parade. Max’s versatility is astounding here at Downtown Sounds focusing first and foremost on banjo but able to also teach guitar and bass! Get to know Max and get started making music with him!

Max teaches on Monday and Tuesday

Drum/Percussion Teachers

Dara Adams-Smith

Brass, Woodwinds, Drums, Percussion, Audio Recording

Dara Adams-Smith has been a free-lance trumpeter and a band director in the pioneer valley for twenty years. She is the director of bands and music technology at Hampshire Regional Middle and High School in Westhampton, and she has just completed her second year as the 4th-6th grade band director at the William E. Norris School in Southampton. She teaches digital audio recording applications such as Logic Pro X, very beginner piano, beginning woodwinds, brass, drum set, and mallet percussion, with extensive experience teaching beginning through advanced trumpet students. She holds a BM in Performance / Music Production & Engineering from Berklee College of Music and a Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Music Education from the University of New Hampshire.

Dara teaches remotely on Tuesday (5pm-7:30pm), Wednesday and Thursday (5pm-8pm)

Keith Levreault

Drums/Percussion
Jazz, Latin, Rock

Keith Levreault has been a highly sought after drum instructor at Downtown Sounds for over 20 years. Keith has over thirty years of playing experience, and is well-versed in many drumming styles including rock, jazz and Latin. Many of his students have gone on to become working drummers in the valley and beyond, and look back on their instruction here as an important part of their musical development.

Though Keith will focus on developing drum set technique and music reading skills, he is all about keeping it fun and helping students learn to play their preferred style of music. All student experience levels are welcome – from the beginner to most advance student; from the hobbyists to the more serious minded percussionist.

Some of the national and local artists Keith has played and recorded with include Kevin Salem, Blood Oranges, Freedy Johnston, ‘Til Tuesday guitarist Robert Holmes, The Lonesome Brothers and Klezamir. Keith has a Bachelors of Arts in Music from Westfield State University.

Keith teaches remotely and in person on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (2:30pm-8pm) and Friday (1:30pm-6pm)

Jeff Nissenbaum

Drums/Percussion
Jazz, Latin, Rock

Jeff Nissenbaum has been teaching at Downtown Sounds for over 20 years! Jeff has been a professional drummer for over thirty years playing with a host of bands representing different styles of music. He also plays piano, violin, guitar, bass guitar, and here specializes in the drum set.

Jeff’s approach is aimed at working with students to achieve their musical goals. “Every student, whether an adult or youth, has their own unique goals, musical preferences and background. I aim to be supportive and encourage a positive, fun learning environment.” Jeff responds to each individual’s needs with a result-oriented variety of proven teaching techniques, including incorporating one’s own favorite music as study and play-along material.

Playing the drums is lots of fun and is the key element for keeping time and rhythm for other musicians playing along in a group. Come on in and meet Jeff and go get started with him!

Jeff teaches remotely on Monday, Tuesday (2:30pm-7pm) and Saturday (10am-2:30pm)

Jacob Smith

Percussion, Drums
Jacob W.A Smith is an accomplished young drummer/percussionist based out of the Pioneer Valley. He has been a Music For All National Festival/ Honor Orchestra of America participant where he was the featured jazz drummer with the orchestra and a 2020 National YoungArts Foundation Honorable Mention Award recipient.

Most recently, he has just completed participation in the prestigious Vail Jazz Workshop in August 2020 where he studied with the renowned jazz drummer, Lewis Nash.

Jacob’s previous background includes several years of intense training using one of the most highly respected drum methods to date known as the Alan Dawson Method. Additionally, he has several years of experience in the art of hand drumming, which includes the following skills: hand positions (bass, tone, slap); African drum rhythms using the Bata technique (Afro-Cuban, Kakilambe’, Danza, and sabar); Latin rhythms (clave/bell/guiro); and various rhythm patterns (bossa nova, salsa, cha cha cha, samba, rumba, mambo, son, montuno, tumbao, bembe, wan wan co, etc).

Jacob is passionate about playing the drums and would love to share his knowledge with everyone!

Jacob teaches remotely on Saturday and Sunday

Piano/Keyboard Teachers

Kate O’Connor

Piano, Vocals, Blues, Chart Reading, Classical, Ear Training, Folk, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Sight Reading

Kate O’Connor has been a full time professional musician and music teacher for over 30 years. Kate teaches keyboards, vocals, and steel drum for most styles of popular music and beginning/intermediate classical piano. She also teaches music theory and song writing.

Kate performs regularly and has won best female vocalist awards in the Valley and Springfield Advocate’s readers poll for Western Massachusetts. Kate has recorded several CDs of her original music, and has sung on many other artists recordings including vocal demos for over ten years for #1 hit songwriter and gold record winner Tony Romeo (“I Think I Love You”).

Kate is an adjunct jazz vocal professor at Smith College. She studied music at UMASS, Ali Akbar College of Indian Music, and world music at Naropa Institute. “Creating and sharing music is one of the great joys of my life. I enjoy being able to share my passion and knowledge of music with my students and help them to further experience the joy, discipline, creativity, challenges, pleasures, and rewards of learning, communicating, and connecting with music.”

Kate teaches remotely or in person on Thursday (3pm-7:45pm)

Joel Helander

Piano

Joel Helander holds a B.A. in music from Clark University and has trained as a pianist across the jazz, pop, and classical styles for seventeen years. He is a self-taught guitarist and ukulele player of over a decade, a songwriter, and a composer. Over the past seven years, Joel has taught music lessons, classes, and ensembles at Worcester Music Academy, Easthampton Music Conservatory, the Hartsbrook School, and the Academy at Charlemont. 

As a teacher, Joel emphasizes the crucial balance between patient preparation and free improvisation. From day one, he strives to identify what specifically draws his students to music, and what rudiments they will need to learn in order to meet their goals. This approach combined with an equal focus on in-the-moment creative expression helps the student to see music not as a test or a stressor, but as a lifelong companion and expressive outlet. Whether you hope to learn jazz, pop, or classical, to work on ear training, sight-reading, improvisation, or theory, Joel is excited to share his knowledge with you in a fun and relaxed lesson environment.

Joel teaches Mondays – in person or remote

Woodwind/Brass Teachers

Dara Adams-Smith

Brass, Woodwinds, Drums, Percussion, Audio Recording

Dara Adams-Smith has been a free-lance trumpeter and a band director in the pioneer valley for twenty years. She is the director of bands and music technology at Hampshire Regional Middle and High School in Westhampton, and she has just completed her second year as the 4th-6th grade band director at the William E. Norris School in Southampton. She teaches digital audio recording applications such as Logic Pro X, very beginner piano, beginning woodwinds, brass, drum set, and mallet percussion, with extensive experience teaching beginning through advanced trumpet students. She holds a BM in Performance / Music Production & Engineering from Berklee College of Music and a Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Music Education from the University of New Hampshire.

Dara teaches remotely on Tuesday (5pm-7:30pm), Wednesday and Thursday (5pm-8pm)

Carolyn Dufraine

Trombone and trumpet

Carolyn Dufraine is a recent graduate of UMass Amherst with an M.M. in trombone performance, as well as a B.M. in music from Westfield State University in 2018. She has. been teaching trumpet and trombone since 2016, mentoring musicians of all ages at every experience level. She performs in several groups around western Massachusetts, as well as Boston and New York. As a passionate musician herself, she loves to share the joy of music as a teacher, performer and composer.

Jim Armenti

Guitar, Bass, Clarinet, Mandolin, Saxophone, Fiddle, Ukulele
Country, Folk, Jazz, Klezmer, Rock

Jim Armenti teaches guitar, mandolin, bass, clarinet, saxophone, and ukulele integrating music theory, instrument theory, songwriting and singing into lessons. Jim tailors his teaching also to specifically what the student wants to accomplish.

He has taught rock, folk, jazz, blues, rhythm, lead, flat picking and finger picking on strings. Classical, jazz and blues are genres that Jim can focus on or what cultural music experience the student is interest in. He has been teaching since 1979 and still gets as much enjoyment teaching beginners as professional players, noting that after 40 years of playing he still has as much to learn as a first time player, as musical learning is infinite and life long. Jim received his B.A. in Music and Anthropology from U Mass Amherst in 1981.

Jim Armenti has played in a number bands since the 1970’s in the Valley and is one of the pillars of The Lonesome Brothers, alternative country players of regional fame. He also plays with Klezamir and the Young at Heart Chorus. Jim also notes that if you live within ten miles of Northampton then you likely know someone who studied music with him!

Jim teaches in person or remote on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (2pm-6pm) and Saturday (8:30am-11:30am)

Zack Bartolomei

Bass, Flute, Piano, Saxophone
Composition, Improvisation, Jazz, Music Theory

Zachary Bartolomei teaches saxophone and flute for all ages and experience levels, as well as beginner piano, guitar, and bass guitar. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies from The Hartt School’s Jackie McLean Institute, as well as a Master of Music degree in Jazz Composition & Arranging from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught jazz ensembles as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. He takes a holistic approach to teaching, giving a solid foundation in technique and theory while also emphasizing improvisation and creativity. He is an active performer across many genres in the Pioneer Valley and beyond, as a member of Shokazoba and World Eaters, as well as his own jazz and creative music projects.

Jeff Fennell

Saxophone, Clarinet
Jazz, Big Band, Roots, Classical

Jeff Fennell moved to the Pioneer Valley in 2008 to attend Umass Amherst where he received a BA in Jazz Performance and a BA in Psychology. While there he studied the jazz and classical tradition, performing at such prestigious festivals as the World Saxophone Congress. He became part of touring bands, some in the big band tradition and others in the modern folk and jam band styles that provided many years of touring, playing large music festivals, concert halls, and intriguing clubs.

In 2015 Jeff began working for Sonido Musica, an el Systema based community partnership program that helps provide music education to public schools in Springfield and Holyoke, MA. The program has grown from it’s beginnings in three middle schools to now helping serve in over 20+ elementary, middle, and high schools providing an education for over 1,000 students. In 2018 Jeff was accepted into the META fellowship, which was founded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council as a community platform for teaching artists throughout the state to meet and discuss the needs of the communities in which the teachers serve. He along with other fellows created Mindful Music Matters, a resource website and community geared toward integrating the practice of embodied mindful awareness into the creative arts. In 2019-20 he completed his requirements for 300-hr Mindfulness Teacher Training through the Engaged Mindfulness Institute, along with becoming certified to teach the Mindful Schools curriculum.

Jeff continues to call the Pioneer Valley home and has a deep love and connection to the rich, historic yet ever changing music scene in the area. While not traveling he can be spotted playing in jam sessions and horn sections along with his three main projects, soul syndicate The Mary Jane Jones, Boston based R&B show band Miss Fairchild, and dub reggae group SoulTree. He currently lives in Easthampton, MA where he can be heard practicing way too late at night.

Jeff teaches remotely or in person on Tuesday (2pm-5:30pm) and Wednesday (2pm-6:15pm)

Ronald Smith

Percussion, Bass, Saxophone
A Native of Memphis Tennessee, Ronald Smith has been in the New England Area since 1988 performing and developing music programs in both public and private schools. Currently, he is Director of Bands & Jazz Programs at Northfield Mount Hermon School.In his career music span, Ron has performed with such artists as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Nat Adderley, Wynton Marselis, B.B. King, and Paul Winter.

-Bachelor of Science in Music – Tennessee State University
-Music Production & Engineering Studies – Berklee College of Music
-Ethnomusicology Studies – Dartmouth College
-Semi-Finalist for Grammy Award Teacher of the Year

Ron teaches remotely on Wednesday (4pm-6pm) and Saturday (9am-12pm)

Dave Trenholm

Bass, Clarinet, Flute, Guitar, Saxophone, Ukulele
Classical, Jazz, Rock

Dave Trenholm teaches guitar, saxophone, flute, clarinet, bass, and ukulele. He’s been teaching at Downtown Sounds for over 10 years. Dave teaches students of all ages and skill levels, with the goal of encouraging every student’s lifelong enjoyment of making music. He focuses on playing mechanics, music reading, ear training (and playing by ear), music theory, improvising, and learning songs, striving to tailor each student’s lessons to their learning style and musical goals.

Dave has been playing professionally in the area for over 20 years and has been a member of the bands King Radio, Free Range Cats, Soul Magnets and many others. He holds a BA in Music from the University of Massachusetts.

Dave teaches remotely or in person on Tuesday (2pm-8pm) and Wednesday (3pm-8pm)

Orchestral/String Teachers

Josh Gordon

Guitar, Bass, Violin, Mandolin, Hawaiian Guitar
Jazz, Western Swing, Blues, Country, Classical, Folk, R&B, Rock

Josh Gordon is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist of string instruments and has many years teaching at all levels and age groups, from beginners to more advanced players, and from children to adults. Josh is adept at teaching a variety of styles, be it roots Appalachian old-time tunes to classical violin & guitar, as well as various forms of jazz, blues, country and rock & roll. His one-on-one lessons combine humor and sensitivity to the individuality of each student.
“My goal in your lessons is to enable and equip you to express your own unique creativity. There’s plenty of fun and plenty of laughs to be had as we work together.”

Josh’s background includes being a top session and performing musician in Chicago, Nashville, and New York, As instructional columnist and copy editor of Guitar World magazine, Guitar World Acoustic, Just Jazz Guitar and the Nashville-based Music City Bluesletter. Josh’s published works have improved the playing of guitarists all over the world. He has also performed and recorded on guitar, bass, fiddle, and mandolin with a wide spectrum of notable musicians, such as CMA vocalist of the year Sara Evans, Sam Andrew, the OK Club, the Drovers, and Muddy Waters Jr.

“Josh’s teaching inspires joy! His connectivity with children and his ability to support their own musical exploration and talent is both natural and poetic.” — Jane Sloane

“Josh had me playing a tune in my very first lesson. His respect for the healing power of music inspires me to learn more.” — Blakeley White-McGuire, Principal Dancer, Martha Graham Dance Company

“I have been surprised by the progress that I’ve made and only hope that the trend continues. There’s so much more to learn! Josh has been fantastic, bringing some great perspective on music and technique.” — Aldo (current Downtown Sounds student)

Josh teaches remotely on Tuesday (2:30pm-6pm), Wednesday (1pm-6pm) and Thursday (3pm-6pm)

Folk (Banjo Ukulele, Mandolin) Teachers

Jim Armenti

Clarinet, Guitar, Mandolin, Saxophone
Country, Folk, Jazz, Klezmer, Rock

Jim Armenti teaches guitar, mandolin, bass, clarinet, saxophone, and ukulele integrating music theory, instrument theory, songwriting and singing into lessons. Jim tailors his teaching also to specifically what the student wants to accomplish.

He has taught rock, folk, jazz, blues, rhythm, lead, flat picking and finger picking on strings. Classical, jazz and blues are genres that Jim can focus on or what cultural music experience the student is interest in. He has been teaching since 1979 and still gets as much enjoyment teaching beginners as professional players, noting that after 40 years of playing he still has as much to learn as a first time player, as musical learning is infinite and life long. Jim received his B.A. in Music and Anthropology from U Mass Amherst in 1981.

Jim Armenti has played in a number bands since the 1970’s in the Valley and is one of the pillars of The Lonesome Brothers, alternative country players of regional fame. He also plays with Klezamir and the Young at Heart Chorus. Jim also notes that if you live within ten miles of Northampton then you likely know someone who studied music with him!

Jim teaches remotely or in person on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (2pm-6pm) and Saturday (8:30am-11:30am)

Robin Hoffman

Ukulele

Robin Hoffman teaches all types of ukulele including baritone and can teach you to read sheet music and tablature. She had a nineteen-year-long professional career in ballet, and her teaching style draws on that experience with careful attention to establishing good body mechanics.

Robin Hoffman performs locally on ukulele and vocals with the Sugarloaf String Band, The Ukulele Scramble, and has performed all over New England and New York City with the Well Tempered Ukes. She studied ukulele with Broadway composer/performer/writer Doug Skinner in NYC.

Robin teaches remotely or in person on Thursday (3:30pm-6pm) and Friday (3pm-4pm)

Dave Trenholm

Bass, Clarinet, Flute, Guitar, Saxophone, Ukulele
Classical, Jazz, Rock

Dave Trenholm teaches guitar, saxophone, flute, clarinet, bass, and ukulele. He’s been teaching at Downtown Sounds for over 10 years. Dave teaches students of all ages and skill levels, with the goal of encouraging every student’s lifelong enjoyment of making music. He focuses on playing mechanics, music reading, ear training (and playing by ear), music theory, improvising, and learning songs, striving to tailor each student’s lessons to their learning style and musical goals.

Dave has been playing professionally in the area for over 20 years and has been a member of the bands King Radio, Free Range Cats, Soul Magnets and many others. He holds a BA in Music from the University of Massachusetts.

Dave teaches remotely or in person on Tuesday (2pm-8pm) and Wednesday (3pm-8pm)

Max Wareham

Banjo, Guitar, Bass

Max Wareham has been teaching banjo in the Valley for over 6 years and has studied intensively with banjo greats including Bill Keith, Tony Trischka, Jayme Stone, and others.

He teaches both bluegrass and “claw hammer” styles. He also teaches various guitar styles and has studied at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC.

Max is also a performer, and can be found playing electric bass in Northampton-based band Sun Parade. Max’s versatility is astounding here at Downtown Sounds focusing first and foremost on banjo but able to also teach guitar and bass! Get to know Max and get started making music with him!

Max teaches on Monday and Tuesday

Josh Gordon

Guitar, Bass, Violin, Mandolin, Hawaiian Guitar
Jazz, Western Swing, Blues, Country, Classical, Folk, R&B, Rock

Josh Gordon is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist of string instruments and has many years teaching at all levels and age groups, from beginners to more advanced players, and from children to adults. Josh is adept at teaching a variety of styles, be it roots Appalachian old-time tunes to classical violin & guitar, as well as various forms of jazz, blues, country and rock & roll. His one-on-one lessons combine humor and sensitivity to the individuality of each student.
“My goal in your lessons is to enable and equip you to express your own unique creativity. There’s plenty of fun and plenty of laughs to be had as we work together.”

Josh’s background includes being a top session and performing musician in Chicago, Nashville, and New York, As instructional columnist and copy editor of Guitar World magazine, Guitar World Acoustic, Just Jazz Guitar and the Nashville-based Music City Bluesletter. Josh’s published works have improved the playing of guitarists all over the world. He has also performed and recorded on guitar, bass, fiddle, and mandolin with a wide spectrum of notable musicians, such as CMA vocalist of the year Sara Evans, Sam Andrew, the OK Club, the Drovers, and Muddy Waters Jr.

“Josh’s teaching inspires joy! His connectivity with children and his ability to support their own musical exploration and talent is both natural and poetic.” — Jane Sloane

“Josh had me playing a tune in my very first lesson. His respect for the healing power of music inspires me to learn more.” — Blakeley White-McGuire, Principal Dancer, Martha Graham Dance Company

“I have been surprised by the progress that I’ve made and only hope that the trend continues. There’s so much more to learn! Josh has been fantastic, bringing some great perspective on music and technique.” — Aldo (current Downtown Sounds student)

Josh teaches remotely on Tuesdays (2:30pm-6pm), Wednesdays (1-6pm), and Thursdays (3-6pm).

Jamison Maloney

Ukulele

Jamison Maloney is a recent graduate from Pioneer Valley Performing Arts in South Hadley. He is currenting studying music composition at Westfield State University.

Jamison started playing the ukulele over five years ago, and had kept on playing. He likes to take the ukulele to new heights by playing in his high school’s Orchestra and rock ensemble. Additionally, he started “The PVPA Ukesters” at his former high school. He believes the ukulele has no boundaries. “Playing the ukulele can be fun for all ages and skill levels. Let’s find out what you want to do with ukulele and make it a reality.”

Jamison teaches remotely on Tuesday and Wednesday (3pm-6pm)

Vocal Teachers

Kate O’Connor

Piano, Vocals, Blues, Chart Reading, Classical, Ear Training, Folk, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Sight Reading

Kate O’Connor has been a full time professional musician and music teacher for over 30 years. Kate teaches keyboards, vocals, and steel drum for most styles of popular music and beginning/intermediate classical piano. She also teaches music theory and song writing.

Kate performs regularly and has won best female vocalist awards in the Valley and Springfield Advocate’s readers poll for Western Massachusetts. Kate has recorded several CDs of her original music, and has sung on many other artists recordings including vocal demos for over ten years for #1 hit songwriter and gold record winner Tony Romeo (“I Think I Love You”).

Kate is an adjunct jazz vocal professor at Smith College. She studied music at UMASS, Ali Akbar College of Indian Music, and world music at Naropa Institute. “Creating and sharing music is one of the great joys of my life. I enjoy being able to share my passion and knowledge of music with my students and help them to further experience the joy, discipline, creativity, challenges, pleasures, and rewards of learning, communicating, and connecting with music.”

Kate teaches remotely or in person on Thursday (3pm-7:45pm)