Music School

Our talented roster of 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!

For the safety of our students and our staff, all lessons are currently offered online! Until in-person lessons resume, online learning provides music education on your schedule.  

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

Lesson Rates

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


Single Fill-In Lesson:
Pre-paid at time of booking
$32 / 30 minutes
$48 / 45 minutes
$64 / 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.

Guitar 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!

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.

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.

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 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

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 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
PamelaMeans.com

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.

Bass 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!

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.

Jeff Fortier

Bass, Beginner Guitar
Blues, Rock, Classic Rock, Metal

Originally from Westfield, Massachusetts, Jeff Fortier started playing music at the age of 15, learning guitar with his dad and picking up the bass shortly after. He’s been actively playing live music ever since then, starting with youth groups all through attending high school in North Carolina.

In 2006 he moved back to Massachusetts and continued to play in worship bands. Then in 2011, he joined a local classic rock trio called Cold Shot, while also involved in multiple bands in Western Mass ranging from blues, classic rock, country and some metal.

“I have also been lucky enough to gig with, sit in with and study with some of the best musicians in the Pioneer Valley. I started teaching in 2017 and enjoy having students of all ages. I know each student is different and I try to make it as fun as possible from them to learn.”

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 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

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 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
PamelaMeans.com

Reed Sutherland

Bass
Folk, Funk, Fusion, Jazz, Pop, R&B, Soul

Reed Sutherland is a professional musician, composer and audio engineer currently residing in Northampton, Massachusetts. He is self-taught and believes that the path to a lifelong journey in music is one that is crafted by students & teachers together. Reed tours with multiple bands throughout the Nation playing electric bass, synth bass and upright bass. He has shared the stage with members of the Eric Krasno Band, Soulive, Snarky Puppy, Alan Evans Trio, Turkuaz, The Sweetback Sisters, The London Souls and many more.

“I think that Music is an art form that can be interpreted emotionally as well as theoretically. I believe that both of these approaches are valid and important to learn as listeners and musicians. I look forward to getting to know you and your music, see you in the practice room!”

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 Wednesdays and Saturdays

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.

Rudi Weeks

Bass
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.

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.

Leah Bowden

Drums/Percussion
Jazz, Latin, Pop, Rock

Leah Bowden is a drummer, percussionist and music scholar from the San Francisco Bay Area. She teaches all styles of drum set playing, including rock, pop, funk, latin, jazz and more. She also offers training in four limb independence, chart reading, rudiments and stick control for beginning to advanced students.

Leah earned a Bachelor of Music from UC Santa Cruz in 2010 and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from UC San Diego in 2018. She tours regularly with Baby Bushka, an eight-woman group dedicated to the music of Kate Bush, as well as Secret Drum Band, a psychedelic soundscape project featuring four drummers. As a freelance musician, she has worked with the William Winant Percussion group, red fish blue fish, Bang on a Can All Stars, Voices of Our City Choir, Kid Millions, Nicole Mitchell, Anthony Davis, Jason Robinson and many others. Leah’s current work as a band leader and music scholar is focused on Max Roach’s historic percussion ensemble, M’Boom. Her teaching credits include undergraduate music courses at UC San Diego, Percusiones de Las Californias Festival in Tijuana, México, and Cazadero Music Camp in Northern California.

A recent transplant to the area, Leah now co-operates a farm retreat and music studio in Conway, Mass.

Leah teaches on Mondays and Tuesdays.

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.

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 on Mondays and Saturdays.

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 Saturdays and Sundays

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 on Thursdays.

Isaac Richardson

Piano
Blues, Classical, Composition, Improvisation, Jazz, Music Theory, Pop, R&B, Rock, World

Isaac Richardson is a pianist and composer with a B.M. from Berklee College of Music. At an early age, Isaac started learning classical piano, but quickly got interested in composing and playing in other genres including blues, jazz, r&b, and world music. He got to explore and grow musically at Berklee, where he studied Film Scoring and Composition. For the past 10 years he has been composing for films and teaching piano lessons. Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, looking to learn classical, pop, rock, blues, or jazz, he’s your guy! Isaac tailors his lessons to each student, their level of experience, and what they’re interested in. He makes his lessons fun and challenging to help students improve while also keeping them inspired and enthusiastic. He also teaches composition, theory, and improvisation.

Isaac teaches Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

Ayla Stabile

Ayla Stabile is a creative young musician based in the Pioneer Valley. Originally from the broader Washington DC area, they began learning classical piano at an early age, but were always drawn to other musical explorations, songwriting, and production. Since then, they’ve been in various choirs, learned to play guitar, bass, and drums, and studied jazz, with keyboard remaining as home-base. Over the years, Ayla has developed their own process of creating songs and soundscapes, with a passion for harmony and spontaneity. Most notably, their atmospheric recordings released as Unstabile have garnered praise.

Regardless of skill level, whether you want to learn basics, learn to play songs you love, or explore your own creative process, Ayla is happy to help! They value prioritizing the student’s interests and self expression, offering a personalized and caring approach.

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.

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!

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.

Clair Cangialosi

Bassoon, Oboe, Woodwinds
Bassoonist and educator Clair Cangialosi is at home in a wide variety of musical settings ranging from orchestra to wind band to chamber ensembles.

A native of White Plains, New York, she began her musical training at the age of nine by playing clarinet in her school’s band program. She fell in love with wind music, and with the encouragement of her high school band director, switched to bassoon at the age of fifteen.

A decade later, she enjoys an active career as an educator and performer in the Pioneer Valley. Clair has performed at festivals such as Rocky Ridge Young Artist Seminar(CO), and DECODA Skidmore Chamber Music Institute (NY), as well as regionally and internationally with the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Graduate Wind Quintet Fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is passionate about working with current and future music educators in public schools, and teaching students of all ages. Clair holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education (’17), Professional Performance Certificate (’18), and Master’s degree in Bassoon Performance (’20) from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her primary teachers are Janet Grice, Stephen Walt, and Remy Taghavi.

Clair teaches on Thursdays and Fridays

Justin Esiason

Trombone, Trumpet
Jazz, Swing

Justin Esiason graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz and African-American Music Studies as well as a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science. Before graduating University, he studied music education for a year. While studying trumpet under Professors Eric Berlin and Jeffrey Holmes, he surmised that many musical styles depend on, and are deepened by, a knowledge across all different genres.

Justin is a professional trumpet player, having shared the stage with musicians such as Robert ‘Sput’ Searight, Aron Hodek, The JLS Experience, and Doobie Powell. Along with his many other engagements, he plays regularly in 30’s swing band Dan Gabel and the Abletones, as well as local wind ensemble The Valley Winds. Justin is also a professional music composer and arranger. He has written and arranged music for UMass Jazz Ensemble 1, UMass Trumpet Ensemble 1, and video game Project Borealis.

Justin grew up in Warren, MA and now lives in Worcester. He loves teaching and playing music in his community, and joined the Downtown Sounds faculty in 2019. His teachers include Chris Glanville, Chris Beaudry, Rob Raymond, Lucy Colwell, Tony D’Aveni, Eric Berlin, Jeffrey Holmes, Felipe Salles, Tom Giampietro, Fumi Tomita, and Cathy Jensen-Hole.

Justin teaches Mondays – Thursdays

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 Tuesdays.

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 Wednesdays and Saturdays

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.

Amarie King

Flute

Amarie King graduated with her Masters of Music from Boston Conservatory at Berklee in 2019 and has since been working as a teaching artist with the Empire State Youth Orchestra. She is now pursuing her Teaching Licensure in K-12 music at Umass Amherst, with the aspiration of becoming a classroom music teacher.

Amarie has worked with many celebrated flutists over the years and has taken lessons and performed in masterclasses with Lorna McGhee, Ann Bobo, and Carol Wincenc. In 2016 Amarie traveled to the beautiful oasis of Domaine Forget, a flute festival that takes place in the moutains of Quebec, CA. There she had the opportunity to work in masterclass with world renowned flutists Emannuel Pahud and Denis Bouriakov, as well as Canadian flutists Susan Hoeppner and Camille Churchfield.

Some notable achievements for Amarie include her work as a substitute with the Glens Falls Symphony, performing at Symphony Hall with the Boston Conservatory wind ensemble, and winning Concerto competition at the College of Saint Rose with her solo of the Nielsen flute concerto.

Amarie hopes to foster a love for music and artistic expression in her students and is thrilled to join the team at Downtown Sounds.

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 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Ucee Nwachukwu

Violin

With her charisma, persistence, and passion for chamber music , Ucee has been heralded as a stand-out performer amongst rising professional violists. Starting her studies at the age of 12, Ucee has taken the challenge to become the best strings specialist she can possibly be. In addition to performing, Ucee is an upper strings specialist and works with private students of all ages and levels. 

Ucee’s musical journey began promptly after her audition and acceptance into the D.C Youth Orchestra. As principal violist of the Junior Orchestra and Youth Orchestra she has performed at the Chilean Ambassador’s Residency, Side by Side with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, National Gallery of Art, and The National Cathedral. With Chamber music being her driving passion, Ucee has spent many summers involved in music festivals and intensives, such as Summer Strings at NYU, Corcoran Chamber Music Summer Institute, and “Now Orchestra” Summer Festival. She has performed repertoire such as Zoltan Kodaly Serenade Op.12 for two violins and viola, Maurice Ravel String Quartet in F minor, Dvorak Bass Quintet in F, and much more. 

Along with being a passionate performer Ucee loves teaching private lessons of all ages. Her path as a strings specialist began with her giving violin and viola lessons to her nieces and nephews, which led her to continue teaching private lessons in college. Ucee is a substitute viola/violin instructor at Catoctin School of Music and was a viola sectional teacher for Camp Bernstine (ages 5-12), at Blue Lake Fine Arts . Besides being a sectional teacher at Blue Lake Fine Arts, she held the positions of a unit counselor, the violist of Blue Lake’s Staff String Quartet, and a member of Blue Lake Fine Arts Festival Orchestra. In her free time at Blue Lake Ucee also gave private lessons to students. One of Ucee’s greatest joys in life is seeing her violin and viola students grow through their instruments overtime. Her teaching philosophies are “if you can sing it you can play!” and “ With some patience, positivity, and practice anyone can learn and enjoy music!” 

Ucee is a Shenandoah Conservatory graduate, studying under Doris Lederer. With the help of Doris Lederer Ucee has been able to master and create fun pedagogical techniques to learn how to play upper string instruments with ease. This has allowed her to be innovative and find different techniques to help her students individually. Ucee hopes to create her own permanent chamber ensemble in the near future, as well as continue to support her studio of private strings students. To Ucee, the greatest gift of all is sharing her love of music with others.

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!

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 on Thursdays and Fridays.

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.

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 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

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.”

Vocal Teachers

Laurie Ellington

Jazz, pop, Broadway, classical, improvisation, ear training, sight singing

Laurie has been teaching voice for over 20 years and uses her deep knowledge of healthy vocal technique and experience in many musical genres to tailor the experience to each student’s needs, no matter where they are on their musical journey.

She received her Bachelor’s from Harvard and her Masters in Music Education from Boston Conservatory of Music. A certified music teacher, her greatest joy is in making connections with students and helping them gain musical confidence and life-affirming skills.

As a singer, she has performed extensively in Boston, New York and throughout Europe, singing rock, pop, and folk with bands big and small, with a special emphasis on a cappella. She has appeared on stage with La Bouche, James Brown, and Joe Cocker. She studied voice with Craig Wich, Maitland Peters, and Judi Vinar and improvisation with Rhiannon and Bobby McFerrin.

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 on Thursdays.