Our instructors have performed in, and presented students in countless concerts throughout the years. All are experienced, professional, and friendly teachers. Highly educated and talented musicians with a love of teaching and dedication to music.
|Lessons on B Instructors, by instrument:|
|Clarinet: Lynne Funkhouser
Drums: Danny Descalzo, Matt Germano
Flute: Abigail Shen
Guitar: John K. Mello
|Harp: Erica Messer
Percussion: Danny Descalzo, Matt Germano
Piano: Stephen Austin, Cynthia Brown, Kayoko Kuchiishi, Vija Norkvesta
Sax: Lynne Funkhouser
Theory: Kayoko Kuchiishi, Vija Norkvesta
|Violin: Ashley Devine, Terrance Yan
Viola: Ashley Devine, Terrance Yan
Voice: Cynthia Brown, Kayoko Kuchiishi
Youth Classes: Cynthia Brown
Cynthia Brown is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education. She received her Master of Music at Wayne State University. Cynthia taught music in public and private schools at all levels, and is owner and instructor at Lessons on B. She has sung in various music groups including the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and Cantata Academy. While with the SF Symphony Chorus, Cynthia participated in the recording and subsequent winning of two Grammies, Brahms German Requiem under the direction of Herbert Bloomstedt and Mahler Symphony No. 8 under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.
She is currently soloist and choir director at Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. She is a member of Music Teacher Association of California and Early Childhood Music and Movement Association.
Cynthia is also a member of The Chorister’s Guild, Northern California chapter.
Vija Norkvesta is a graduate of the State Conservatory in Riga, Latvia. She has taught all her life, beginners to advanced, and is also proficient in accompanying. Miss Vija is a member of Music Teachers Assn. of CA and offers Certificate of Merit. She specializes in advanced students and gets excellent results in CM.
Erica Messer began playing at age seven, performing with orchestras and chamber ensembles and has now progressed into pop covers and new age music. Erica is an experienced, professional and seasoned performer. Erica is one of the only harpists that also sings, providing an interesting option for background music with the harp, or the versatility to move front and center with her soothing and strong vocal arrangements. Erica performs Nationally as a soloist and is involved in many music projects in the Bay Area.
Lynné Funkhouser has been playing the clarinet since she was eight years old. She began teaching after graduating from the Peabody Conservatory of Music/Johns Hopkins University in 1983. Since moving to San Francisco in 1987, Ms. Funkhouser has played clarinet professionally throughout the Bay Area. She is proficient in teaching beginning, advanced, and professional clarinet and saxophone students. She teaches both jazz and classical styles. Ms. Funkhouser holds a Full Matriculated Degree from North Carolina School of the Arts in clarinet, a Bachelor of Music Degree in clarinet from the Peabody Conservatory of Music/Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Arts Degree in clarinet performance from Brooklyn College (New York). She is a member of the California Music Educators Association and the International Clarinet Society. Ms. Funkhouser is currently a teaching artist with the San Francisco Symphony Opus Program.
Matt Germano received his Bachelor of Music Degree with an emphasis in Percussion Performance from California State University, Long Beach. In addition to private teaching, he currently serves as the Percussion Coach for the Peninsula Youth Orchestra, a position he has held since 2008, and teaches two Steel Drum Ensembles at North Shoreview Montessori. Currently he is a faculty member at “Lessons On B” in San Mateo, CA. In addition to teaching, he also serves as Principal Percussionist for the Peninsula Symphony, is founding member of the band Livewire, the SF Panhandlers, and performs with many other groups throughout the Bay Area. He has performed with Long Beach Symphony, Peninsula Symphony, Pacific Brass Ensemble, and the Saddleback Civic Light Opera.
Kayoko Kuchiishi has taught music all her life, beginners to advanced. She offers ABRSM, RCM, and Certificate of Merit assessment exam preparation. With decades of teaching experience, Kayoko has developed efficient and effective curriculums that students can learn how to play piano quickly and correctly. She is known as an enthusiastic, skillful instructor. Her mission is to maximize each student’s capability while building a solid foundation.
Kayoko started playing piano at young. She was selected as a TA for music classes at grammar school and middle school, and started teaching while at middle school. She was admitted to Kunitachi Music High School and graduated Kunitachi College of Music, one of the top conservatories in Japan.
While at college, Kayoko taught as a Kawai piano instructor while continuing private teaching, and was also trained to become a lead instructor at Yamaha Music School. During that time Kayoko also started performing as a singer pianist. She studied vocal jazz at Martha Miyake Jazz School, one of the top jazz vocal schools in Japan.
After graduating from a conservatory, she was awarded the top position at the Prince Hotel Sun Shine City, once the hottest place in Tokyo. Later, she was selected to perform in the U.S., and settled in San Francisco. She continued to teach. She also studied jazz at Berklee College of Music, the top jazz school in the U.S. Besides piano and vocal, she enjoys playing violin, flute, and synthesizer. She plays classical, jazz, pops, and electronic music.
She teaches at Lessons on B Music School, San Mateo Piano, Challenge School, and Bay Area Learning Center. She was the finalist in 2013 Burlingame Idol competition.
John Mello has been teaching music for more than 25 years. He has taught hundreds of students, at all levels, from the very beginner, looking to just enjoy playing some of the music they love, to advanced students, coming to him to fine tune their playing skills. From 1985 to 2006 John was also the full time Manager of Wollmer’s Music, one of the oldest full line music stores in California.
While attending Musicians Institute’s Guitar Institute of Technology (or GIT for short) John decided he wanted to experience and teach a wide variety of guitar styles. After graduating with the Gibson Guitar sponsored Outstanding Student Award he has continued to broaden his musical experience by attending educational workshops and retreats with the likes of Tuck Andress, Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Joe Pass and many others.
John went on to become one of the core faculty members at the Bay Area’s Guitar Activity Center, a teaching and live performance workshop program for adults. GAC, with campuses in Mountain View, Berkeley and Sacramento, was the creation of one of John’s favorite GIT teachers, Vic Trigger.
Beginning in 2006 Baywood Elementary School in San Mateo invited John to conduct the School of Rock seminars at their annual Art & Science Day. These are informal demonstrations showing how Rock musicians interact while performing and the role each instrument plays.
Summer 2011 John taught at College of San Mateo Community Education’s College for Kids program. Cool Guitar, was a three week long course for 5th to 9th graders helping them discover the skills that all bands use to create music.
John continues to stay current and involved with the music industry by maintaining NAMM membership, attending trade shows and music festivals.
Lessons On B in San Mateo is where John’s teaching studio is located. His goal is to continue to introduce his students to the enjoyment and inspiration that comes from playing music.
Abigail Sten is an active performer and instructor in the Bay Area. Hailed by the Santa Barbara News-Press as a “strong and focused” artist and praised by CASA Magazine for her “sensitively realized” performances, she has performed music of varying styles in a wide range of venues, from the pubs of California to the palaces of Austria and Italy.
Sten is an Artist-in-Residence with the San Mateo-Foster City School District, where she works with nearly 200 flute students in the district’s 16 schools. She is currently on the San Francisco Flute Society’s Board of Directors. Previously, Sten had held the position of second flutist with the Channel Islands Chamber Orchestra in Ventura, California, as well as with the YMF Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles. She can frequently be found performing with traditional Irish dance music ensembles.
Abigail Sten holds a Master of Music degree from UC Santa Barbara and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music. Her principal teachers include Sharon Perschke, Beatrice Rentsch, George Pope, Alberto Almarza, and Jill Felber.
Ashley Devine started playing at age six through the Suzuki Method (a school of music based on the idea of learning through imitation and training the ear). She continued with this method through high school. Upon graduating in 2002, she began to study under the direction of Zak Grafilo and Fred Lifsitz of the Alexander String Quartet at San Francisco State University, where she graduated in 2008.
Accomplishments include performances with the 2002-2007 seasons of Peninsula Symphony Orchestra and 2008 season of Symphony Parnassus. Ashley has also performed in various musicals and operas around the peninsula, including Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast, and Madame Butterfly with Golden Gate Opera in 2006.
Most recently, Ashley has taken a break from orchestral playing to focus on her true passion, chamber music. She can be found sitting in at various Classical Revolution performances in San Francisco.
Danny Descalzo has been playing and teaching professionally for over 30 years and brings passion, experience and knowledge to his practice. He has a strong sense of the skills required in the “real world” to help his students achieve their goals. He is an endorsed artist/educator of the Vic Firth company, the largest stick manufacturer in the world.
In addition to teaching at Lessons on B, Danny is currently a faculty member and drumline instructor at Crocker Middle School in Hillsborough, CA. Previously, he has been a drumline instructor at Central Middle School in San Carlos, CA and a drumline technician at Philip Burton High School in San Francisco, CA. He has also been a guest educator for the Peninsula Youth Orchestra and School of Rock in San Mateo, CA.
In 2009 he created and still distributes a personal annual drum scholarship which offers tuition-free lessons for those who might otherwise not have access to private studies.
Discography includes 5 Gold Records with world renowned Norteno artists Los Tigres del Norte, including their Latin Grammy winning album Herencia de la Familia.