GUITAR INSTRUCTORS

RANDAL AMES

Group Rock Band | Guitar | Bass Guitar | Ukulele | Mandolin

ONLINE, LITTLETON STUDIO & CENTENNIAL STUDIO

Randal Ames has a B.A. from the University of Colorado, and has been playing guitar for more than 35 years. Mr. Ames has also played guitar, bass, mandolin and piano in the U.S. and Europe, accompanying such superstars as Sammy Davis Jr. and Jimmy Buffet. As a member of the 7th Army Chorus he performed as a singer, dancer, musician, and choreographer in five languages and eleven countries.

Here in Colorado he has written music, directed, and performed at the Colorado Renaissance Festival, Taste of Colorado, Boulder Shakespeare Festival and has been a member of the University of Colorado Jazz Chorale.

 

He has written over eighty songs and produced six CDs of music ranging from madrigals and Gregorian Chants, to Jazz, Country and Pop.

 

His hobbies include a life long interest in Martial Arts (has earned black belts in Tae Kwon Do, Aikido and American Free Style Karate), sword fighting (he has taught Elizabethan Fencing at Colorado School of Mines).

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NATALIE GALEY*

Voice |Piano | Guitar | Littletunes | Group Piano | Group Voice

ONLINE, LITTLETON STUDIO & CENTENNIAL STUDIO

Natalie Galey is a vocalist, guitarist, pianist and educator based in Denver, Colorado. She has performed and collaborated with numerous top-name performers and ensembles, including New York Voices founding members Peter Eldridge and Darmon Meader, and studied with jazz heavy-weights Theo Bleckmann, Dave Liebman, and Jim McNeely. She has performed in both the Chicago and New York jazz and pop scene, in venues such as Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Lincoln Center, Joe’s Pub, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, and Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field. She uses her background in jazz, blues, and rock to bring creativity and spontaneity into her classes and believes that music should be fun first and foremost. She carries her love of music into the classroom, and encourages play, growth, and creative exploration with every song, and strives to build community and friendships through song.

 

Natalie has an equal passion for educating and performing. She received her Master of Music in Jazz Performance degree in 2011 and her Master of Music Education at Columbia University in 2013. She has had the opportunity to study under Kurt Elling, Jane Monheit, Gretchen Parlato, Rodney Whitaker, and Sunny Wilkinson. Natalie was raised in a rich musical environment, playing guitar, piano, singing, and songwriting from an early age. Her compositions are an eclectic fusion of jazz, blues, rock, and soul. As a singer of wide-ranging styles, she has established a reputation as a flexible and talented soloist, as well as a creative and reflective educator. She relocated to the Denver area and joined the Forté Academy of Music Family in July 2019.

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CHRISTOPHER GANDARA

Guitar

ONLINE & LITTLETON STUDIO 

Christopher Gandara was born in Los Angeles, California and as the second youngest of nine siblings, remembers being surrounded by family and music at a very young age. Whether it was hard rock, traditional Mexican music, classical records, or jazz, he connected immediately with the rhythms of the music. At the age of 13, he began his formal training on guitar and music theory. He learned from four different teachers in the Denver area until finally being taken under the wing of flamenco master, John McCoy of Parker. From there, Chris became fascinated with classical music and began learning finger style techniques through Bach, South American Waltz, and Tango music. Chris then attended Metropolitan State College where he studied tonal music composition and the Berklee Methods of harmony and arranging. 

 

Through studying jazz theory books, listening to a steady diet of harmonically sophisticated music, and picking the brains of accomplished local and online musicians, Chris began to piece together a comprehensive model of chord-scale theory. He currently composes, arranges, produces and improvises music with his modal jazz combo as well as various other musical outlets. 

LOUIS RACICOT

Violin | Viola | Guitar | Ukulele | Mandolin

ONLINE, LITTLETON STUDIO & CENTENNIAL STUDIO

Louis Racicot is a professional violinist, composer and educator from Montreal, Canada. He has been recognized for his improvisational skills, versatility and unique playing style. Louis studied Classical Violin Performance at the University of Montreal and St-Laurent College from 2008 through 2013. Since completing his studies, he has had the opportunity to hold a number of professional roles including violin and guitar teacher, symphony orchestra player, and solo violinist for world touring shows. As of today he is a proud member of the prestigious Cirque Du Soleil Musicians and Artists bank, and is endorsed by NS Design Electric Violins and Remic Microphones.

 

Louis has recorded and toured all over the world. He has performed over 1200 shows in front of hundred of thousands of spectators, and was interviewed about his role as a touring musician by various TV and radio shows, including LA Fox News and the Grand Ole Opry radio station. Through these experiences, Louis has been fortunate enough to learn and work with renowned artists, musical director and composers from all around the world.

 

Louis now utilizes his experience and knowledge to educate and inspire a diverse group of students, from elementary school children to retired adults. His goal as a teacher is to instill a sense of music appreciation, while at the same time educating students about the technical aspects of music. Furthermore, he strives to expand his students' interests by increasing their knowledge of different genres of music, organizing concerts, and encouraging them to perform together in small groups. By utilizing these effective methods, Louis is able to connect with each student, introduce new concepts, foster a fun learning environment, and help his students blossom into confident, well-rounded musicians.

RICO SOUTHEE

Guitar | Bass Guitar | Ukulele | Group Guitar

ONLINE & LITTLETON STUDIO

Rico is a professional guitarist, music educator and independent recording artist from New York State who has been performing for over 30 years and teaching for more than 20 years.  He was a jazz, rock, pop, solo guitarist with the 502nd Air Force Band, Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi Mississippi from 1984-1986; the United States Air Force Europe Band, Einsiedlerhof Germany from 1986-1992; the 530th Air Force Band, Atlanta Georgia from 1994-1995; touring the southern United States, Dominican Republic, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Russia, Romania, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Crete, Portugal, Sardinia, Turkey and the Middle East.  He then moved to Florida from Germany and studied recording engineering at Full Sail University Orlando in 1993; jazz guitar performance with the famous jazz guitar educator Jack Peterson; jazz performance workshops with jazz musicians Dianne Reeves, Dave Brubeck, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, Kenny Burrell, Count Basie Orchestra with Frank Foster, Bunky Green and music theory at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville from 1993-1995 to include the Essentials Of PA Engineering at The School of Recording and Music Technology,  Surrey UK.

After leaving Florida, he moved back to Germany and then to England, working as a professional guitarist performing resorts, clubs, hotels, corporate events, festivals and concerts with jazz, fusion, funk, soul, pop and rock bands.  He was also the guitar instructor for the Ramstein Community Center, Ramstein Air Force Base Germany from 1995-2007; RAF Mildenhall Community Center and RAF Lakenheath Community Center England from 2007-2010 along with teaching private students at his home music studio.  As an independent recording artist, he has composed, recorded, produced and promoted four of his own CDs via performances with his band “Acoulectric” in Europe from 1998-2008. He then moved to Colorado Springs Colorado, working as a jazz and blues guitarist; taught students at Peterson Air Force Base Youth Center, the Colorado Springs Conservatory of Music, Lucci Music and again with his own private guitar students from 2010-2016.  In April 2016 he moved back to England to teach at the RAF Mildenhall Community Center, RAF Lakenheath Air Force Base Housing Community; perform and record music for future CDs and teach private students at his home music studio. In April 2019 he has once again moved back to Colorado from England to teach and perform here in the great city of Denver Colorado.

AIDAN PAGNANI

Piano | Guitar | Bass | Ukulele | Group Guitar

ONLINE & STAPLETON STUDIO

Raised by a family of Deadheads and music-lovers, Aidan Pagnani was born and raised in Connecticut. By the time he graduated high school in 2009, Aidan had performed weddings, plays, churches, parties, and venues throughout New England as a solo act and with numerous bands. While completing his degree at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, Aidan performed with artists like Robert Randolph and revamped a high school fusion/jamband project, Freddy & the Yetis, into an original music project arranged for a rock quintet accompanied by five strings and horns.

 

Aidan then spent the next four years in Boston studying with a professor at Berklee College of Music, teaching music, and performing with various groups in the jam, funk, rock scenes. In February 2018, Aidan moved to Denver, Colorado where he can be seen performing regularly with members of The Motet, John Brown's Body, Dopapod, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and many other Colorado legends. His instrumental cover band, the Aidan Pagnani Band, can be seen playing weekly in the Denver/Boulder area.

ALEX NEWTON

Guitar | Bass | Piano

ONLINE & STAPLETON STUDIO

Alex Newton teaches guitar, bass, and piano. He began studying and playing the guitar at 10 years old. Alex received his Bachelor's of Science with an emphasis in Jazz from the University of Colorado at Denver. Alex has performed all around Colorado with multiple bands, including headlining Denver's Jazz at the park with his band Emma Mayes and the Hip. His teaching goal is to show each student that music is fun and should hold an important part in their lives above all else. When not teaching, Alex enjoys recording music at home, reading, and getting out for a good hike in the beautiful Colorado wilderness!

ALEX TRUJILLO

Guitar | Piano | Ukulele

ONLINE & STAPLETON STUDIO

Alex Trujillo teaches acoustic/electric guitar, electric bass, ukulele and beginning piano. He began playing in his teens and has been playing the guitar for 20+ years. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Music from the University of Colorado. With over 12 years of experience as a professional musician, Alex has toured and performed throughout the US. He can teach a variety of musical styles including rock, pop, jazz, country and blues. Whether you're a beginner or advanced, Alex strives to help each student discover the joy in music! When not teaching, Alex keeps a busy performance schedule with a myriad of musicians and bands throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Alex also likes road trips, reading westerns and jogging in the park.

AMY ALSINA

Violin | Viola | Cello | Bass | Piano | Guitar | Group Piano

ONLINE & STAPLETON STUDIO

Amy Alsina teaches violin, viola, cello, bass, piano, and guitar. She began her music career playing Viola at age 11. She received her Bachelor's in Music Education from the University of Wyoming and currently holds a professional teaching license in the state of Colorado. Amy has been teaching in the Denver area for 7 years. Amy currently teaches elementary music for Denver Public Schools in addition to Stapleton Music Lab. She is the principal violist for the Aurora Symphony. When not teaching, Amy loves to crochet and hiking with her husband and dog.

BRANT WILLIAMS

Guitar | Piano | Ukulele

ONLINE & STAPLETON STUDIO

Guitarist, pianist and composer Brant Williams (b. 1988, Wesbster City, IA) graduated from Iowa State University in spring 2011, earning a B.A. in psychology. Williams has studied jazz and composition with John Albaugh (Guitar Institute in Hollywood), Dan Schwindt (Denver University) and Fareed Haque (University of Chicago) as well as taken private lessons with Dweezil Zappa (Zappa Plays Zappa), Mark Lettieri (Snarky Puppy) and Chris McQueen (Snarky Puppy). Since 2009, Brant has been teaching Jazz and Rock to students of all ages throughout multiple states, and has played many styles -- including Rock, Reggae, Jazz, Punk, Classical -- professionally for almost 10 years, touring nationally and also taking the stage at local Colorado venues such as The Ogden Theatre, The Gothic Theatre, The Fox Theatre as well as performing in several festivals like Wakarusa (AK), 80/35 (IA) and the Bella concert series (MN). Brant is currently crafting new music in several groups: notably all star funk group Judo Chop and the nationally touring rock/fusion group The Workshy.

FELIPE CANTUARIA

Guitar | Bass | Ukulele | Group Rock Band

ONLINE & STAPLETON STUDIO

Felipe is an enthusiastic instructor whose passion for teaching shines clearly through his lessons. With a B.A. in guitar performance under his belt, he has been teaching full time for the last 5+ years. Basing his curriculum around each individual student, lesson plans are completely tailored to the student’s goals. From beginner to technically advanced technique, introductory and more complex music theory, Felipe can send you in the direction you’d like to go in. His demeanor and knowledge makes Felipe a great teacher for all ages!

 

Originally from Maryland, he moved to Colorado in late 2018 to pursue his music career. “I love the sense of community the city of Denver offers! I’ve felt welcome by my peers since the day I arrived… it's unlike any music scene I’ve experienced before”. You can catch Felipe performing regularly around the Denver area, or by reaching out to the studio and booking a session with him at Stapleton Music Lab. “Come hang out! I’d love to join you in your musical journey!”

JAKE STANBRO

Bass | Guitar | Piano | Voice | Ukulele

ONLINE & STAPLETON STUDIO

Jake is a bassist, singer and harmonica player. New to Denver in 2019, he is experienced in a broad variety of music performance avenues, from pit orchestra to stage opera, playing bluegrass to leading corporate jazz gigs. Jake received a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from the University of Iowa in 2013. While at the university he was part of a number of published recordings as a bassist and as a singer. He also played lead and chorus roles in the opera program, and recently appeared in the chorus with Opera Colorado for two productions.

WILLIE GALEY

Guitar

ONLINE & STAPLETON STUDIO

Willie is a self taught, multi-instrumentalist who teaches guitar out of Denver, CO. He has been playing guitar for over 40 years, and teaching guitar for over 20 years. Willie grew up in a musical household with Dad’s classical music on the “hi-fi” system every night of the week. He developed an ear for music early on and started by learning Beatles tunes on the piano. At age 15 he began playing guitar. He was inspired to pick up the guitar by acts such as The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton and of course, The Beatles, as well as many other great players from the sixties and seventies.

 

Professionally, Willie has played and recorded with numerous acts and projects in the Chicago area as well as Denver. He was a leading member in the Chicago blues rock band “Voodoo Pilot” for 12 years. Currently, he plays rhythm guitar and keyboards with Denver’s premier Led Zeppelin tribute, Ten Years Gone. His orchestral touch on the keyboards and acoustic guitar is paramount in the recreation of Led Zeppelin’s music. He leads the band through epic show stoppers such as “Kasmir” and “Rain Song.” The band plays top notch venues throughout Colorado as well as southern Wyoming.

 

Willie has a unique and very student centered approach to teaching guitar. He helps students develop a firm foundation on their instrument while allowing them to pursue their own musical interests; and focuses on instilling a love of music in his students. Willie has inspired students of all ages and abilities utilizing a variety of styles from beginner folk songs to advanced slide guitar techniques

*Denotes teachers that donate lessons for our Scholarship Program. 

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