GUITAR LESSONS AT OCTOPUS
Guitar lessons at Octopus Music School are taught using our proprietary OPUS curriculum (Octopus Poly-Instrumental Units of Study). OPUS consists of ten grade levels, each with a requisite assessment and certification. Unlike many other schools, Octopus teaches guitar students to read notes and interpret sheet music the same as a student studying the violin or piano. Tablature and chord charts are not a substitute for reading notes on the staff and students taught purely using those methods will ultimately not understand the music they are playing.
With consistent practice at recommended intervals, our carefully designed curriculum prepares students to quickly advance from day one by equipping them with the necessary tools and scaffolding to build a comprehensive understanding of the guitar. In addition to learning note-reading, rhythm interpretation, and proper technique, students are exposed to theory, aural training, music appreciation, and collaborative courses with peers to help cultivate an immersive environment in which to thrive.
Lessons are still tailored to individuals' unique learning needs, and repertoire remains flexible so that students are able to learn music which interests them, however the core content and benchmarks have been standardized to ensure fast and steady progress for students of all ages and skill levels.
James holds a BM in Music Theory/Composition from Westminster Choir College of Rider University. He has been playing guitar for over fifteen years, with experience playing multiple styles including: jazz, blues, rock, folk, pop, and classical. In addition to his experience as a guitar teacher, James also teaches piano and other fretted string instruments. James applies his knowledge of music theory to foster a unique foundation on which the student can comfortably grow as a musician and player. Outside of his career as an instrumentalist, James has been a member of several prestigious choral ensembles including The Westminster Symphonic Choir, The Westminster Williamson Voices, The Same Stream Choir, and St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish where he serves as the cantor/guitarist.
Josh began his teaching career while still a young student of the guitar. He went on to graduate cum laude with a degree in Studio Music and Jazz from the prestigious Frost School of Music at the University of Miami where he was the recipient of multiple awards and scholarships including the Dr. Duncan A. Nelson Memorial Scholarship as well as the UMFS Scholarship for Music and Academic Performance. In addition to his rich experience as an instructor, Josh has also enjoyed an accomplished career as an audio engineer and worked on albums with such world-renowned artists as Nora Jones and The Civil Wars. A consummate performer, he is currently the musical director and lead guitarist of NYC-based gospel group, The Bliss Jockeys. Students of Josh will benefit from his expansive knowledge of a multitude of styles including jazz, blues, funk, rock, and pop and his many experiences as a working musician on and off the stage.
A true multi-instrumentalist, Michael holds a BM in Classical Performance from Utah State University and a MA in Jazz Studies from Rutgers University. Studying and teaching classical and jazz on a variety of instruments (woodwinds, guitar, piano, etc) gives Michael a unique perspective beneficial to those learning multiple instruments. He also performs up and down the east coast playing everything from jazz clubs, Oktoberfest polkas, and rock shows/festivals.
Students studying with Mort will benefit from his extensive (over 20 years) experience in teaching Classical/Fingerstyle Guitar and pedagogy. For his Masters in Guitar, he attended Webster University in St. Louis and studied under Jeff Noonan and John McClellan. Mort's wealth of performance experience includes a current engagement with the NYC Classical Guitar Orchestra, an elite group that performs and records commissioned works for classic guitar in an ensemble setting. He also has over 30 years’ experience in the discipline of Ki- Aikido, a martial art that teaches calmness and confidence. His teaching focuses on techniques that help students of all ages apply their skills to a wide variety of music styles, and together with his fun, socratic teaching style, helps students become lifelong learners.
Robert studied guitar with international performing artist Anna Maria Rosado and composition with American composer Annette Le Siege. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Guitar Performance from New Jersey City University, and has performed extensively in small venues throughout Vermont. He was a house musician for several seasons at the Yosemite Theater in Yosemite National Park, California. A true pedagogue, Robert has been performing and teaching numerous instruments including guitar, piano, strings, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, mountain dulcimer, and brass & woodwinds for over 20 years. Notable performances include a guitar trio led by Dr. Rosado at the 2011 NJMEA conference in East Brunswick, and several trips to Carnegie Hall as a member of the NJCU Choir. His focus is on creating individualized lesson plans that address the students particular interests and needs.
Rodney holds a Bachelor’s of Music in Classical Piano Performance. He studied jazz piano with Blue Note recording artist Harold Mabern and classical piano with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music, where he received the Eubie Blake scholarship for ragtime piano. From 2008 to 2011, Rodney was musical director for the famed Second City improv theatricals boat co. out of Chicago and now regularly performs improvised musicals at The People’s Improv Theatre, The Magnet Theatre, and Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York.
Sarah received her Bachelor and Masters degrees from Manhattan School of Music in Classical Guitar Performance. She has performed as a soloist for years concerts as well as playing rhythm guitar in an eclectic array of music groups. She began teaching through the world famous Boys Choir of Harlem where she started as a music theory teacher and eventually was promoted to Assistant Girls Choir Conductor. However, it is the guitar that Sarah is most passionate about and has the deepest knowledge of pedagogy. Her focus for the past 10 years has been implementing guitar ensemble programs in public school districts and bringing a conservatory approach to the curriculum she implements. Sarah has an uncanny ability to style and tailor curriculum to each individual student.