Meet our teachers!

Piano – Amy Reiber

Amy has been playing piano for twelve years, the last seven of which have been spent teaching students of all ages. She studied piano under Leszek Bartkiewicz at Macomb Community College, where she graduated with an Associate of Arts and Music Performance. Along with reading music, students will be exposed to theory and ear training, though lessons are catered to compliment the goals of each student. Her teaching style differs from student to student, depending on each individual’s strengths and needs. Though proper playing techniques are highly valued and strived for, she also believes that music should be fun, and focuses on balancing hard work with enjoyment. The goal here is not to simply impart knowledge, but to teach others how to independently analyze, process, and practice music in a meaningful way.

Piano – Bradley Crooker

Mr. Crooker began his piano studies at Ardis Music in 1997, starting his teaching role in 2006. Mr. Crooker also studied clarinet and mallet percussion, playing for his high school marching band, East Side Fury, and the Wayne State University Wind symphony. In over a decade of teaching, he has had the opportunity to instruct students of all ages and backgrounds, many with no prior musical exposure.

Mr. Crooker believes a broader teaching of music parallels a sound piano training. Students learn fundamentals of music—learning to read the notes, rhythms, and methods to convey the expression—in addition to the techniques unique to the piano. He also recognizes that each student has his or her own ambitions behind the decision to journey into the world of music and supports each student to achieve his or her individual goals.

Outside of Ardis Music, Mr. Crooker offers his piano performing abilities as an accompanist for soloists and for special events. His interests include music theory and composition, and can often be heard learning new classical music at the piano. He holds a B.S. in chemical engineering and is a juris doctor candidate.

Violin and Piano – Janine Rossol

Mrs. Rossol has played the piano for 56 years and the violin for 50 with 25 years of teaching experience.  She has studied under DSO violinist Gaye Rose, and John Miller and Ramon Garza who are both violinists with several distinguished orchestras.

Her areas of expertise include classical, traditional, pop, new age, theory, teaching Sukuki and classical violin methods together. She plays: solos for weddings, parties, church, solo/ensemble at MSBOA and MMF competitions, accompaniment, and worship team. She has been a member of the Macomb Symphony Orchestra and Lake St. Clair Symphony Orchestra, Chamber groups and quartets.

Mrs. Rossol strongly advocates a classical approach to learning music with intentions of springboarding to all types of music.  Teaching/learning music is a very individualistic experience. Through interaction with the student, the best teaching methods are determined in order to best catapult the learning experience.

Percussion – Mike Walsh

Mr. Walsh has been playing percussion for sixteen years, and has been teaching for nine. Mr. Walsh has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Oakland University, and has studied music with notable artists Steve Adams, Nick Backos, and Ralph Biggs. He has been playing in bands since beginning his music studies, playing bass and tenor in L’Anse Creuse’s marching band, as well touring with Hollow Earth for five years. Mr. Walsh’s area of expertise is rock music, with emphasis on rudimental chops. He also has experience with recording in various studios and settings.

Brass – Thomas Haney

Mr. Haney has been playing brass for eleven years, and teaching for four. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Studies from Wayne State University. He plays trombone for Midtown Sounds, a jazz band of which he is a founding member. Mr. Haney has also performed with Wayne State University Big Band, as well as performing at the Detroit Jazz festival, and with greats like Danilo Perez and Joshua Redman. His area of expertise is brass instruments, particularly trombone.

Guitar, Banjo, Bass, Ukulele – Joe Pajakowski

Mr. Pajakowski has been playing guitar for forty-eight years, and teaching for twenty-five. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Communication, and a Master of Arts in Visual Communication. He has studied music privately for eighteen years, as well as playing in middle school jazz band, and in high school band. Mr. Pajakowski has performed as a solo acoustic artist for fifteen years, as well as playing in bands for special events. His areas of expertise include guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele, vocal instruction, music theory, and music writing.

Woodwinds and Piano – Jake Shadik

Jake earned his Bachelor’s in Jazz Studies from Wayne State and has studied under Rodney Whitaker, Kris Johnson, Chris Collins and more. He has been playing for 14 years and teaching for over 5. In addition to teaching he is a freelance musician working with many popular Detroit bands. His areas of expertise include Jazz, improvisation, and harmony.

Saxophone, Clarinet – Walter McCray

Mr. McCray has been playing woodwinds for 28 years, and has taught for twenty years. Mr. McCray studied saxophone and music education at Wayne State University, and has played in various pit orchestras. His areas of expertise are saxophone and clarinet, and he teaches at L’Anse Creuse High School.

Guitar, Bass, Ukulele – Tom Bartelmay

Tom is a freelance guitarist and bassist who has been playing for 6 years. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in jazz studies from Wayne State University. He has studied with Chuck Newsome, Steven Carryer and others. Along with continuing his education and teaching, Tom plays and records with many popular groups around the Detroit area. Tom’s areas of expertise include improvisation, blues, and jazz.

Piano, Flute, and Voice – Krissie Reardon

Krissie began studying piano in 1994 and loves playing other instruments as well, especially flute and ukulele. She double majored in flute and piano and earned her Bachlor’s Degree from Oakland University in Music Education (kindergarten – 12th grade) in 2010. During her stay at Oakland, she enjoyed participating in various ensembles, including the Flute Choir (flute and alto flute), Wind Ensemble (piccolo and piano), Brass Band (alto horn), and steel drum band (tenor pan). She also loves singing, karaoke and original compositions.
Lessons include strong foundation of Musical Literacy – not just reading, but writing music as well; with individualized supplemental exercises for each student’s optimal success. From the beginning, students are taught critical thinking skills and practice strategies that will serve them later in life, in many other disciplines. Krissie works as a preschool teacher (3 & 4s), and enjoys teaching students of all ages. As piano students become musically literate, we explore the harmonies and foundational chords to music, learning inversions, common chord progressions, and different grooves that enable students to quickly learn any song they like and begin writing their own.
Krissie teaches piano, flute, and vocal lessons, and also coaches ensembles for MSBOA Solo & Ensemble. She studied at Ardis Music years ago, and is excited to be back, and helping now!

Guitar, ukulele, bass – Niko Puzio

Niko has earned his bachelors degree from Columbia College Chicago In Contemporary Urban Popular Music. He teaches many modern styles of music from jazz, blues, rock, funk, R&B, and many more, as well as being trained in classical, jazz and pop, music theory and reading music. Mr. Puzio is also a signed, active performing, writing, and recording musician that has performed throughout the United States.  Niko also will teaches music theory, ear training and songwriting. He has a strong desire to teach and mentor young musicians in training.

Trumpet, Trombone, French Horn, Baritone – David Kocbus

David is a jazz/blues trumpet player whose forte is improvisation.  Classically trained, he has studied with Gordon Smith of the Detroit Symphony.  Mr. Kocbus also studied with Elmer Suveges, who played with Harry James He is a former member of the USAF Band of Flight, WPAFB  and has played and recorded with many Metro Detoit Area bands and musicians.  David is currently playing in the Smoke Jones Band and with Howard Glazer.

David holds a Masters of Education degree from University of Detroit Mercy and is retired from River Rouge Schools. He also has been a guest teacher to local area school band programs.  Mr. Kocbus teaches trumpet, trombone, baritone and french horn.

Piano, Voice – Elizabeth Malaga-Spica

Liz started her musical journey at the age of 6 on the accordion, and added piano, organ and voice soon thereafter. She attended Wayne State University and earned her degree there in Vocal Music Education. Liz has performed with many groups and has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Performing Arts Center. She is an experienced accompanist for MSBOA and MSVOA, and has accompanied several middle school and high school groups, been a church musician and singer for many years and has played for various community group musicals. Liz has over 40 years of teaching experience to all ages and all skill levels.  Many things are focused on in lessons including proper technique, theory, ear training, and proper breathing skills and technique for voice lessons. Lessons are tailored to fit the skills and interests of each student. Miss Liz enjoys passing on her love of music to each and every student that she teaches!

Guitar, Ukulele, and Bass – Ian Blunden

Ian is currently studying Jazz Performance at Wayne State University and has studied under Chuck Newsome, Russ Miller, Vincent Chandler, Rob Pipho and Chris Collins. In addition to playing guitar for 11 years and teaching for 5, he also regularly performs around metro Detroit at venues such as Cliff Bells and the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. His areas of expertise include improvisation, music theory, sight reading, and composition.

Piano – Eli Bucheit

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Eli Bucheit is a keyboard player who resides in Detroit, Michigan. After earning his BFA in Jazz Studies from the University of Michigan, Eli moved to Detroit to continue his education as the Gretchen Valade Graduate Assistant in Jazz at Wayne State University. Eli enjoys listening to and playing all types of music, and is especially interested in finding common ground between the boundaries of genre. As part of his life in music, Eli enjoys teaching students of all ages, meeting them where they are in their music journey and building skill one step at a time.

Guitar – David Dunham

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David is a freelance guitarist who has been playing for over 20 years and teaching for 7. He teaches all ages, skill levels as well as all genres. David specializes in jazz, metal, improvisation, composition, and music theory. He received his Bachelors Degree in Jazz Studies and has studied under Chris Collins, Chuck Newsome, Steve Carryer, Russ Miller and others. David has played with many popular Detroit Jazz musicians such as Desean Jones, Michael Jellick, Leonard King, and others. He has performed at the Detroit Jazz Festival with Michael Jellick, Beartrap (a group he’s co-led with other WSU and U of M alum), and the Wayne State Big Band.

Violin/Viola – Stephanie Hooper

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Stephanie Charisse Hooper is an active musician who performs locally with various string
groups on violin and viola. Miss Hooper attended Macomb Community College to receive
her associates degree in computer science technology, and then moved on to study at
Oakland University towards a bachelors degree in music performance. While attending OU,
she studied under Elizabeth Rowin specifically for viola. She has recently earned her
bachelors from Indiana University of South Bend in general studies with a concentration in
arts (music) and sciences.

Miss Hooper has been involved in various orchestras including the Word of Faith
Symphony Orchestra, The Tabernacle Symphony and the Trinity Lutheran Orchestra. She
has also studied under Detroit Symphony Orchestral members Mrs. Caroline Coade and
Han Zheng while performing in the DSO Summer Institute and DSO Symphony Civic
Orchestra.

Stephanie has years of experience in teaching young adults and children how to learn to
play violin, viola, and cello. Based on providing a fun environment for learning, students are
always excited to learn under her instruction. She absolutely loves teaching music, and has
a great time doing it!!

Percussion – Brent Hilla

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Brent has been playing drums and percussion since before the age of 12. From a young age
he has had a passion for making music, particularly when it involves hitting things. He has
played in a variety of settings including marching band, competitive indoor drumline, hand
drum ensembles, as well as jazz, rock, and blues music involving the drum set. He has
performed with Eastside Fury percussion ensemble, made it onto the Eastern Michigan
University drumline, studied jazz drumming with Steve Adams, and spent many hours
practicing on his own and scouring any source he could get his hands on for more
information about drumming and music in general.

When it comes to teaching, Brent’s style is focused heavily on developing good
fundamentals and technique in order to generate great sound quality and utilize the
expression and musicality that can be achieved through playing drums and percussion. He
has taught drumline at various high schools for a number of years and has also offered
private instruction for students who wanted additional help with their development.
Proper body mechanics are taught to help students understand how to approach
drumming in a way that will produce the right sound while also preserving the health of
their hands and wrists. A strong emphasis is placed on developing a good sense of time
through various timing exercises, utilizing a metronome in a number of ways, and
understanding counting and rhythms from a theoretical point of view.

When he isn’t making music with an instrument, Brent also likes to explore the areas of
music composition and production. He can often be found at the recording studio trying to
soak up information from the friends and mentors he has found there. Besides
music, Brent loves dogs, volleyball, tacos, and having a good time. 🙂

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