Dana Scofidio - Guitar/Bass/Ukulele/Drums
Dana Scofidio has been a professional guitar and bass guitar teacher since 1976. His recorded work includes CDs, videos, and studio recordings for a Nickelodeon television series. As a performer and composer, he is a founding member of the jazz organ trio In the Dream—which includes noted keyboard player Jerry Mack and former Andy Williams drummer Rosa Avila. Their debut CD, In the Dream, was released in 2010. Dana’s electric guitar work with the Doc Wallace Trio—whose unique blend of Texas-style fiddling and swing has been performed at Lincoln Center, Columbia University, and the La MaMa theater in New York—is featured on the group’s 2001 CD, Live at the Living Room. During the 2008–2009 school year, the group served as teaching artists with the Lincoln Center Institute, and during 2009–2010, they participated in Carnegie Hall Musical Connections—both of which are programs that bring music in an interactive and educational format to schools and other institutions throughout New York City. As a performer, Dana has also appeared in concert with the renowned musicians Bo Diddley and Jeffrey Osborne. He currently performs with In the Dream, the Doc Wallace Trio, children’s composer John Farrell, and appears occasionally with award-winning composer Daniel Eliot Levy as well as with recording artist Rick Massley. His guitar work is featured on the 2009 CD Erubescent Nights, by the contemporary composer Danny Gray. Dana attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and resides in South Salem, New York.
Chris Connelly - Guitar/Bass/Drums
Chris Connelly is a guitarist, bassist, and educator based out of Woodbury, CT. After years of playing in his high school rock band, Chris embarked on a journey of musical academia at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, CT. During his semesters working towards an Associate's in Arts concentrated in jazz performance, Chris had the pleasure of studying under applied instructors such as Dr. James Kerr, Chris Morrison, and Henry Lugo. Upon graduation in 2016 Chris had been awarded the Roy T. D'Arcy Memorial Musician of the Year Award in 2014 and the Testament to Creativity Recognition in 2015.
In the last several years Chris has amassed over 250 performances in every setting from solo jazz guitar to electric bass in his most group endeavor - 4 piece alternative R&B rock band Soul Case. Drawing from a long line of various projects during these years, Chris has been recognized for his guitar and songwriting contributions for Litchfield County based blues/rock/jam band Branchwater. The group was awarded “Best New Band in CT” at the 2014 CT Music Awards in Hartford, CT and nominated in the “Best Blues Band” and “Best Jam Band” categories in 2015.
James Kerr - Guitar/Bass/Banjo/Mandolin/Dobro/Lute
James possesses the rare ability to be equally at home in the worlds of classical guitar, jazz, bluegrass, and rock. He has performed at such New York area venues as Irving Plaza, The Knitting Factory, Gracie Mansion, Trinity Church, The Wetlands, Toad's Place, as well as the Juilliard School and Yale University. James attended the University of Michigan where he studied jazz, and received a master's in music education from Columbia University. He is currently working toward a doctorate in classical guitar performance at Stony Brook University. His primary teachers on classical guitar have been Kevin Gallagher and Jerry Willard. James has performed on guitar or dobro with such diverse artists as Mike Gordon (Phish), and as a soloist with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra Pops. He has performed at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, The Craftsbury Chamber Festival, The Long Island Guitar Festival, and the Battery Park Summer Concert Series in Manhattan. James has taught undergraduate musicianship and a jazz guitar ensemble at Stony Brook University and is currently Associate in Music Performance faculty at Columbia University, teaching both applied guitar and a bluegrass ensemble.
Kathleen Kruze - Guitar/Vocal/Songwriting/Piano
Kathleen Kruze is an accomplished Singer/Songwriter and Guitarist, have performed with world renown musicians for the past 25 years. She specializes in teaching classical guitar technique and piano. She has mentored hundreds of students over the past 35 years in all of those capacities, including vocal coaching and songwriting lessons. Kathleen holds a Bachelor of Science Degree with a Music Performance Major from Music Conservatory of Westchester, NY, and Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY where she graduated Magna cum Laude. Additionally, she studied Choral performance at the University of Bridgeport, CT.
Ms. Kruze has produced 3 CDs of her original music and her Night Owl CD is available on iTunes. Her music can be heard on radio stations throughout the US and Europe. She has previously taught guitar and songwriting at the high school level (2006-2015) at Kent School, Kent, CT, and currently is assistant to music director at South Kent School, CT, as Choral Director, Contemporary Band Director and Guitar Instructor. Kathleen looks forward to nurturing students in the Ridgefield area with all of her varied musical skills, knowledge and experience.
Lucas Brode - Guitar/Bass
Lucas Brode is a composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist from Upstate New York. Currently he plays guitar, glockenspiel, melodica and percussion in the collaborative instrumental rock group Hannibal Montana and leads his own modern ensemble. He has also performed many different styles of music at some of the area's most reputable venues including The Bitter End in New York City and The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY. Lucas has taught throughout New York State both privately and through local music schools since graduating Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Music from Skidmore College, where he studied Jazz Guitar, West African Drumming, Music Composition/Theory and Music Technology. He now lives in Westchester County, New York, where he composes, records and teaches private music lessons.
Nikiya Exantus - Piano/Vocal/Songwriting/Composition
Nikiya is a professional singer/pianist/songwriter/ composer with over 20 years of experience. Nikiya always had a love and passion for music. Her parents are both musicians, but didn't have the opportunity to take music lessons. Nikiya’s mother vowed that her children would learn to play piano. Her mother taught Nikiya until age six, when she started private lessons and classes at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Inspired by her parents' experience and generosity, she started teaching musicians of all ages. At 12 years old, Nikiya embraced her passion for teaching and has been doing so ever since.
Nikiya’s goal is to teach her students how to be confident and creative by allowing them to express themselves through music. She teaches her students the language of music and how to use it, as well as how to connect with it. Her students enjoy learning music and look forward to lessons each week, growing a love for music and creativity! Nikiya caters to the individual needs of her students with her experience in music and psychology. She has enjoyed teaching a large age range of students, from two to seventy. You will be amazed at how much you can learn in just the first lesson!
Josh Karas - Piano
Peter Spear - Piano
Peter Spear has had a passion for music all his life. At an early age he was singing and performing in musical theatre. Having grown up locally, he had the good fortune of having George Trautwein as his Choral Teacher. Peter received his BA in Music from Duke University where he studied piano with Jane Hawkins and Randy Love; Music Composition with Pulitzer Prize Winner, Robert Ward, and Voice with John Hanks. In post-graduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, he was a piano major and studied with Frank Pittman and has studied piano at SUNY Purchase. Peter was certified in K-12 Band and Choir as well. He enjoys watching kids learn and sharing his own love of playing music with his students. He plays for various engagements where his blend of Classical, Jazz and Popular Music has been employed. He is a singer-songwriter and a member of ASCAP.
Leigh Tooker – Trumpet/French Horn/Voice
Leigh is a passionate musician who is deeply invested in cultivating musical experiences with others and crafting individual musicianship. She is currently a graduate student at New York University pursuing a Masters in Music Education, after earning a Bachelors in Music at Skidmore College. Leigh has been playing trumpet for 16 years, and enjoys playing all music, from classical to funk. In addition to performing with Skidmore College’s Concert Band, Big Band, Chamber Brass, and Orchestra on both the trumpet and French horn, Leigh played lead trumpet in the 12-piece funk band “Funkin’ Donuts” throughout college. She has also performed with the Connecticut Master Chorale, and studied privately with members of the Principal Brass Quintet of the New York Philharmonic. Deeply committed to working with fellow musicians, Leigh aspires to guide people of all ages on their musical journeys to forge meaningful and positive connections with music.
Lisa Dodakian – Violin/Viola/Piano
Lisa is a classically trained violinist for 28 years who began playing at the age of 3. She graduated from Vassar College where she studied Music and Economics. While at Vassar, Lisa played in local orchestras as well as teaching beginner through advanced violin students of all ages throughout her college career. Lisa’s passion for teaching and love for the violin brought her to teach full-time, along with session work and live performance. She combines tried and proven, old and new methods in her teaching and has produced overwhelmingly positive results. Her students learn the fundamentals as well as self-expression through improvisation and composition – this in turn enhances her students’ experience on their musical journey with the violin for generations. Lisa’s students learn, along with classical, many genres including rock, pop, blues and perform live on a regular basis at our school’s showcase. Lisa’s extensive live performance experience includes quartets, trios, orchestra, rock bands, and solo. She also plays and teaching piano.
Yuri Kharenko - Violin
Yuri Kharenko was born in Kiev, Ukraine. Graduated from Kiev Special Music School and Kiev State Tchaikovsky Conservatory. Was a member of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, then joined the Leontovych String Quartet, one of the leading quartets in the former Soviet Union.
Yuri performed widely as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the former USSR, Europe, USA, Canada, South America.
Participated in the world’s foremost music festivals, including the Newport Festival (RI, USA), Moscow Autumn (Russia), Kiev Music Fest(Ukraine), Music Mountain (CT, USA), Victoria International Festival (BC, Canada), Sao Paulo International Music Fest (Brazil).
Before his arrival to the US in 1991 was Professor of Violin and String Quartet at the Kiev State Tchaikovsky Conservatory.
Over the last 20 years Yuri was teaching violin at Ross school, East Hampton, NY; Community Music School of Springfield, MA; Hartford conservatory, CT and at his private studio.
Since 2004 – member of Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
Tyger MacNeal - Drums
Tyger MacNeal is known for his exceptional musical talent. He has over a 30 year span of performing with such notables as The Four Tops, Rosemary Clooney, The Fifth Dimension, Billy Eckstein, The Shirelles, and Little Anthony, to name a few. His resume highlights quality and diversity of musical entertainment.
In 1989, he joined The Average White Band, performing and recording with them throughout the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. By 1992, he had joined with seven-time Grammy award winning guitar legend, Jose Feliciano, touring the world wide as well as recording with this renowned artist, and with whom he continues to work with today.
Tyger has also enjoyed a home studio teaching practice and has shared his gift for music with dozens of students in middle school and high school. He annually conducts music sessions at the local elementary school, from teaching the history of jazz to providing a drum clinic to the young audiences.
Always developing and working on his craft, Tyger is a first call sub on the hit Broadway show, Mama Mia in New York City for the past five years.