Teaching Specialties: Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Drums, Music Theory
Style Expertise: Classic Rock, Grunge, Pop, Punk, Modern Funk-Rock, Modern Blues Rock
When he was just 10 years old, James put on a record to listen to because of the cool album cover. That record was Led Zeppelin I and it changed the course of his life. Today, after years in the music business as a professional guitarist, bassist, recording engineer and teacher, James calls Westwood Music home.
A graduate of Musicians Institute (Guitar), UCLA Extension’s Film Scoring Department and with an Associate of Arts degree in music from Santa Monica College, James happily shares his knowledge and experience with students from the beginner to the advanced in guitar, bass, ukulele and drums. His style expertise includes classic rock, grunge, pop, punk, modern funk-rock and modern blues-rock. In addition, James teaches music theory, as applied to guitar and bass, and loves helping students discover their own personal creativity on their instrument.
Teaching Specialties: Guitar, Beginner Guitar, Beginner Ukulele, Piano
Style Expertise: Blues, Classic Rock, Fingerstyle, Pop
Jonah Rivera has been a Westwood Music staff member and music instructor since 2006. His guitar playing, songwriting and singing can be heard on Seneca Hawk’s 2010 album, which charted on the CMJ Top 100. He has a background in classical piano and trumpet, and played professionally as a drummer while studying creative writing at Cornell University.
Teaching Specialties: Guitar, Bottleneck, Mandolin, Lap Steel/Dobro Ukulele, Banjo, Music Theory
John is Westwood Music’s utility teacher. He knows his way around a variety of stringed instruments. Whether you are a beginner or a pro, John can take you through the fundamentals, and all the way to the specific styles and techniques. He also has a formidable knowledge of applicable music theory, otherwise known as “on the job smarts.” His over 30 years of experience includes: film and TV music composer, arranger, producer, multi-instrumentalist, session player, sideman, and music director for a long list of bands and singer-songwriters in the LA area.
Teaching Specialties: Ukulele, Drums, Vibraphone
Style Expertise: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Hawaiian
Abe Lagrimas, Jr. is a versatile multi-instrument and professional musician on the drums, ukulele, and vibraphone. The Hawaii-bred 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition semi-finalist attended Berklee College of Music as a drum set principal.
As a ukulele player, Abe has performed at ukulele and jazz festivals throughout the world and released multiple albums in the United States, Japan, and Korea. His album “Solo Ukulele – The King of Pop” pays tribute to the music of Michal Jackson and has been awarded in 2011 by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts (HARA) Na Hoku Hanohno Music Awards.
His ukulele repertoire include jazz, Hawaiian, pop, rock, and original music. An active educator, Abe has written instructional ukulele books for the Berklee Press and Consonus Music Institute.
In addition to teaching privately and presenting workshops locally and internationally, he is also an educator with the Los Angeles Music Center for their annual programs “Ukule-Along” and “Ukulele Christmas Orchestra”. Abe endorses Koolau Ukuleles, Kaminari Cables, and Fusion Bags.
Teaching Specialties: Vocal Technique, Piano, Performance
Style Expertise: Musical Theater, Pop, Voiceovers
Toni-Lynn serves as a Vocal Technique Teacher, Piano Teacher and Performance Coach following an extensive performing career since the tender age of 6. She has appeared in Off-Broadway, Regional theatre, featured in daytime and prime-time television, commercials, voiceovers and in film.
Toni-Lynn has trained with the Orange County High School of the Arts, The Young Americans and has obtained her University credentials in Music Performance. With students appearing in countless Off-Broadway shows, National Tours, Film, Television and music industry projects, she desires to continuously inspire this generation to be the best story-tellers through the art of singing, acting and playing music.
Toni-Lynn is dedicated to helping singers, musicians and actors of all levels achieve their goals by de-mystifying the act of singing and playing piano from basic technique-building to meeting the challenging demands of rigorous rehearsal and touring/playing schedule. Specific approaches to repertoire and performance practice techniques are explored in both private lessons and group classes.
Teaching Specialties: Upright Jazz Bass, Classical Double Bass, Bass Guitar, Songwriting,
Style Expertise: Jazz, Classical, Rock
Kevin has been playing bass guitar since middle school when he and his friends formed a Green Day cover band. This introduction to the bass evolved into a complete fascination with the instrument, which branched off into a study in classical and jazz bass at the University of Southern California with bass legends John Clayton, and Alphonso Johnson.
McPherson was enrolled at university and playing anywhere he could when he was asked to join the touring band for Demi Lovato, who was slated to support the Jonas Brothers’ 2008-2009 world tour. After two album cycles with Miss Lovato, Kevin joined up with Australian indie-rock outfit and Warner Bros. Records artist Atlas Genius to complete their touring quartet. (Yes, he eventually graduated). Atlas toured relentlessly for two years supporting their debut album, playing all major network talk shows, and dealing with the occasional difficulties of being a vegetarian band on tour in America.
When Atlas Genius went on hiatus to work on their second album, Kevin was asked to join Lana Del Rey’s band ahead of her 2014 release Ultravoilence. Since then, he has been performing with her at festivals and headline performances all over the world. In this new syndicate, Kevin performs bass guitar, double bass, keyboards, and vocals.
Teaching Specialties: Guitar
Style Expertise: Gypsy Jazz/ Swing Guitar, Solo Guitar, Blues, Classical
While studying composition at the California Institute of the Arts, Stan fell in love with swing music, especially Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France. He went on to write books on Django, Charlie Christian and Benny Goodman. He has performed with Texas R&B singer Delbert McClinton and was co-musical director (with Danny Elfman) of the original “Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo”. Stan served as Orchestral Supervisor for Rod Stewart, Page and Plant and The Who. He conducted a chamber orchestra for Heart’s concert video “The Road Home” on Capitol Records. He has been the musical director for a series of projects featuring Roger Daltry of The Who, and has worked as arranger for songwriter David Baerwald (David+David, Sheryl Crow). Stan also accompanied Monkee Mickey Dolenz at The Rock ‘n Roll Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
Stan is the leader of “Dream Street”, a contemporary jazz chamber group featuring violinist Sid Page and vocalist Bobbi Page. He was also the leader of “The Snapdaddys”, a modern swing group.
Teaching Specialties: Guitar, Music Theory
Style Expertise: Rock, Metal, Classical Fingerstyle, Sight Reading
Max Sindermann is a guitarist and composer from Los Angeles, CA. Trained in classical music, beginning with the occasional piano trifle from a very young age, Max went on to formally study Music at Cal-State University Northridge.
Being initially drawn to the heavy metal genre, Max began studying modern guitar as an adolescent, where he went on to play with several local bands around Los Angeles. A few years into his studies, Max took a strong interest in classical music, which he used to develop a unique hybrid style of playing which blends contemporary guitar with classical fingerpicking techniques. His passion for heavy metal and classical guitar led him to start his band Event Horizon, a local progressive metal act that fuses both styles by utilizing Max's innovative approach to the instrument.
In addition to his band, Max acts and plays guitar in Bataré, a theatrical performance that brings together traditional Japanese taiko drumming and modern progressive rock. He currently works as a professional musician around Los Angeles, contributing to many projects as well as teaching and inspiring young students.