Valencia Music is proud to introduce their wonderful music teachers to the community! All educated and experienced, we are proud to have them as part of our team!
Jose Valencia – Guitar, Ukulele & Bass Teacher
Jose Valencia is Guitar Instructor and Co-Owner/Founder of Valencia Music. His background and influneces extend to the mediums of classical, rock, jazz, and blues. Jose began his musical training at the age of 14 under Jazz musician, Jerry Topinka. At the age of 21, Jose continued his musical training over at Kean University, where he studied with classical guitarists Chris Keniff and Brett Grigsby.
At Kean, not only did he grow as a guitarist, but as a musician being trained in Music Theory, Sight Signing, and Piano. He has performed at various venues throughout the New York and New Jersey area including the Blender Theater, Rockefeller Center, The Bitter End, Le Poisson Rouge and Maxwell’s among others.
He is involved in a number of personal side projects including “Audible Soul” and his cover band “In Living Cover”.
Zach Loss – Guitar Teacher and Guitar Repair Technician
Zach Loss is a guitar teacher at Valencia School of Music. At a young age Zach picked up an electric guitar and dove deep into discovering a wide variety of music. He received his education at Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, CA under Tommy Emmanuel and Carl Verheyan, among other noteable instructors. During his experience at the Musicians Institute, he spent time with some of the countries most respected musicians while developed his playing style and technique. Zach gained a vast knowledge of performing, composing, & producing music. While in Los Angeles he performed, recorded, and taught on a regular basis. Zach’s influences are a blend of Rock, Jazz, Blues, Funk, Fusion,and Pop music styles. Zach regularly attends clinics and workshops to continue his educational development, as well as his playing style.
While in LA, Zach taught for the Hollywood Schoolhouse Elementary School. He instructed both group and private guitar instruction to elementary aged students. During his time with Hollywood School House, he developed a love of teaching and sharing his passion for guitar and music with those around him.
As well as being an amazing musician, and instructor, Zach also handles all Guitar setup and maintaince repairs at Valencia Music. While living in Austin, TX, Zach spent time building, repairing and maintaining guitars with Moniker Guitars. He also currently works as a leading technician with Guitar Center in Totowa. If your Guitar, Bass, or Ukulele is having any intonation issues, fret buzz, fret wear, etc, contact us today and we’ll have Zach take a look at it.
You can find reviews of Zach on Google +
Jazz Improv Jam
Kelly Bennett – Voice Instructor
Kelly Bennett has been teaching private vocal instruction for over 7 years, with vocal experience in musical theater, classical music and opera, jazz, blues and contemporary rock and pop vocal music. She holds a BA in Music from Kean University where she studied under Kathy Harris. She then continued her vocal work under renowned vocal teacher Steven Schnurman.
Kelly currently teaches privately in downtown Westfield, and works with students ranging from classical to current pop/rock and more. She works with students to develop solid, healthy vocal techniques starting from any level. She also works with a number of students to prepare for professional and Broadway level productions and auditions. Kelly has participated as a judged adjudicator for the MAMTG competition, as well as presenting vocal technique workshops and offering critiques annually at both Union County and Somerset County Teen Arts Festivals. Kelly’s students have also been accepted to music programs at schools including Berklee School of Music in Boston, Montclair University, Kean University and Immaculata College. They have also been accepted into Paper Mill’s Summer Conservatory and have also performed in Broadway productions.
Kelly co-owns and teaches with Valencia School of Music in Westfield, where she also leads performance workshops, coordinates student recitals and oversees all vocal programs.
Kelly has a long history of professional performance in musical theater, classical music and contemporary pop and rock vocals as both a band front woman and a soloist.
You can find reviews of Kelly on our Google + page.
Video of Kelly Bennett’s student Dan K. performing “Razzle Dazzle” from Chicago at our annual Winter Recital.
Samantha Burke- Voice Teacher
Venezuelan-American Soprano and Violinist Samantha Burke, received her Bachelor’s in Music from Bard College where she studied classical voice with New York Times acclaimed tenor, Rufus Müller and violin with American Symphony Concertmaster, Erica Kiesewetter. She also studied closely with renowned
Hungarian musicologist Peter Laki, to develop a senior thesis on the opera Otello f rom Desdemona’s point of view and later, a concert lecture series focused on making opera accessible to audiences. She is a frequent scholarship recipient and has won awards in Georgia and New York competitions. Most recently Ms. Burke was selected as a 2016 Southeastern Regional Finalist in the NATS competition. In a 2016 NATS masterclass with The Metropolitan Opera’s Cynthia Lawrence, Samantha was awarded the Cheryl Boyd Wadell scholarship.
As a young child, her love of music led her to perform in the Sydney Opera House with the Atlanta Young Singers. Ms. Burke has been a soloist with the American Symphony during the Bard College 2014 graduation concert, and has portrayed principal roles for the Miami Opera Institute and Bard College Opera Workshop.
During the 2016 summer, Ms. Burke was a Young Artist at the Le Chiavi Institute of Bel Canto hosted by the Texas Music Festival and the CoOperative Program at Rider University. Samantha has performed for numerous masterclasses and concerts in Atlanta and regionally including her 2015 fellowship as a Young Artist at Songfest held at the Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles. During the same summer, she was also a Young Artist at the Bay View Music Festival in Michigan under the baton of Maestro Chris Ludwa, and performed the role of Sarah’s Friend in Ragtime . Currently Samantha is the Soprano section leader and soloist for Eastminster Presbyterian Church; where she was the Soprano soloist for the 2014 Southeastern premiere of Alan Bullard’s A Light in the Stable oratorio.
Samantha loves teaching privately voice, strings, and piano privately, and is a frequent recitalist. This season, she will be studying with the Metropolitan Opera’s own Amy Shoremount-Obra and taking classes at the Juilliard School Evening Division.
Rebecca Chubay – Voice Teacher
Rebecca began her diverse musical experiences studying flute and dance, both classical and jazz; performing with NJ Youth Symphony and NJ Ballet Company. After landing many choir solos and leads in musical theatre, Rebecca studied classical voice at Bel Canto Institute in Florence, Italy, and jazz vocals in NJPAC’s “Jazz for Teens,” where she also performed at their special events.
Rebecca went on to earn Bachelors and Masters degrees from Berklee College of Music. While in Boston, she produced recitals, appeared in Maggie Scott’s Jazz Series, and performed in Jazz ensembles (where she discovered a special affinity for improvisation) ranging in style from Contemporary to Latin/Brazilian, Songbook, and Big Band; others in World Music from Balkan to Flamenco; and vintage Pop/Rock. Rebecca worked with Riverdance composer Bill Whelan, producer/performer Javier Limon, and artists Patti Austin, Patrice Rushen, John Clayton, Siedah Garrett, Tierney Sutton, Livingston Taylor, and Gretchen Parlato. Outside of Berklee, she toured the northeast with an indie rock band.
Rebecca performed in the international Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Terrassa Jazz Festival in Barcelona, and in other major events such as Igraj se z mano in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Berklee HS Jazz Festival, Boston, and the JEN Conference, Dallas. In 2014, Rebecca moved to Valencia, Spain, where she played the vibrant jazz scene in venues such as Jimmy Glass Jazz Bar, City of Arts and Sciences, Nova Jazz Cava, Café Mercedes, Bigornia Café Pub, Club Mya, and others, including special performances at the Valencia Marathon, Ajuntament de València, and Palau de la Generalitat. Rebecca now writes and performs originals, in which all of her musical influences are coming together into something new.
Rebecca has taught at the Yamaha School of Valencia as well as private lessons and sessions with groups of children at music days and festivals. She is excited to be starting at the Valencia School of Music this summer, where she hopes to foster in every student a passion for music as enduring as her own.
Piano, Voice & Brass
Nick Bucci – Piano, Voice and Brass Instructor
Nicholas Bucci has been studying music for over thirteen years, with a Bachelors in Music Education from Kean University. In recent years, Nick has broadened his focus from instrumental music to include voice in order to further his education in choral studies and vocal technique, while still maintaining his technique as an instrumentalist. While at Kean, Nick studied voice with Jin Hwan Byun. He has performed as lead tenor for the Kean University Chorus, Chorale, and Opera programs, as well as lead trumpet for the Kean University Wind Ensemble.
Along with trumpet and voice, Nick has also been trained in piano throughout his career towards his degree, studying under esteemed pianists such as Allison Franzetti and Myron Leshowitz. His goals as an educator are to always be supportive, precise, and beneficial to his students. As a certified public school teacher, Nick regularly participates in offering presentations for Teen Arts Festival for both Union and Somerset Counties. He believes in potential for any student, as long as they are passionate and dedicated to what they want to accomplish.
Nick Bucci’s Piano student Ben C. performing “The Pirates of the Caribbean” Theme.
Nick Bucci’s Trumpet student Aleks S. performing “Good King Wenceslas”.
Charles Bucci – Piano Teacher
Charles Bucci started piano lessons at age 5 and drum lessons at age 10. He played percussion in the school concert band from 4th grade until high school, including jazz band.
He has a bachelor’s degree in Music Industry/Technology from Mercy College in NY which included at least 3 semesters of music theory, piano being the main instrument. He also studied digital production, live sound engineering and music business.
He writes original music and loves to learn and improvise existing music by ear, along with his knowledge of chord structures and scales.
Casey Kurfehs – Piano Teacher
Casey Kurfehs is a percussionist of 14 years and a pianist of 7, currently finishing her music education degree at Kean University where she studied under Jim Thoma, James Musto, and Myron Leshowitz. She has been studying music since the age of 9 and has played in many orchestral, marching, wind, and jazz ensembles including the John P Stevens Wind Ensemble and the Kean University Choir, performing alongside members of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. She also has vocal experience from performing in choirs and in musical theatre.
Currently Casey is the acting social media coordinator for the New Jersey collegiate board of the National Association for Music Education. In the summer of 2016, Casey participated in Hill Day, and event in which advocates attend meetings with congress on Capitol Hill in order to advocate for music education.
Casey’s goal is to help her students enjoy music and to give them the tools to succeed in all aspects of their lives.
Drums and Percussion
Ben Cureton – Drum Instructor
Ben Cureton is an active performer in New York City and New Jersey. In 2015 Ben co-founded the jazz-rock group re: Groove in which he fills the drum chair and contributes compositions. In October 2015 Ben released his debut record with the group titled ‘Opening Statement’. He can also be heard playing drums with the Bill Henry Trio and various groups in New York and New Jersey. In addition to performance, he is also an active private teacher in Central and North Jersey, providing lessons in percussion, drum set, and piano.
In 2014 Ben received his Bachelor of Music degree from Baylor University. At Baylor he studied classical and chamber percussion with world-renowned performer and teacher Dr. Todd Meehan. He had the opportunity to perform in a myriad of different ensembles such as the Baylor Symphony Orchestra, the Baylor Jazz Ensemble, and the Baylor Percussion Group. In addition to studying classical percussion he studied jazz drums with performer, composer, and theorist Dr. Edward Taylor. Through his studies of jazz and numerous performance opportunities he developed a passion for jazz. Following his studies at Baylor University he decided to further his music education in and around the New York Metropolitan area.
In 2016 Ben graduated with his Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts. While at Rutgers, he studied drum set with jazz drumming legend Victor Lewis, jazz improvisation with world-renowned saxophonist Ralph Bowen, and composition with composer and performer Marc Stasio.
Joseph Miller – Woodwinds and Piano Instructor
Joe Miller is a Woodwinds and Piano Teacher at Valencia School of Music. Joe has been playing the Alto Saxophone from 9 years old, and has been playing for over 12 years. Joe has studied at multiple universities with a handful of esteemed professionals, including Andy Fusco, Walt Weiskopf, Greg Grispart, Ralph Bowen, Bryan Murray, Chad Smith and Harry Searing, at Rutgers University, Kean University, and currently at Montclair State University. He is currently working towards a Masters Degree in Arts and Teaching, with an additional certificate in Teaching of Students with Disabilities. Joe is the recipient of numerous awards as a musician, such as the Time-2-Shine Foundation Award for overcoming extreme adversity in music, the Louis Armstrong Excellence in Jazz Award, the Tulio “Cappy” Capizola Award, and the SPHS Music Boosters Award.
As a performer, Joe has been featured as a soloist for various student and professional groups, including, but not limited to, the Hoarfrost Jazz Collective, the Rutgers Youth Jazz Ensemble, and the Kean University Jazz Ensemble. He is a well-versed musician in the styles of bebop, funk, and salsa on the saxophone, taking influences from the likes of saxophone greats such as Eric Marienthal, Stan Getz, and Charlie Parker. He is also an experienced performer on the Bassoon and Clarinet. He takes major influence from various musical styles, including Pop, Punk, Hardcore, and Rap music in both his playing and teaching, with a strong belief that current music holds just as much importance to the growth of a musician as the critically acclaimed classics.
Instructor Joe Miller’s Saxophone student Kevin S. rocking a solo on “Old time Rock and Roll”.
Instructor Joe Miller’s piano student Daisy M. performing “Jingle Bells” at our Winter Recital.
DJ & Music Production
Vincent Pagano – DJ and Music Production Instructor
A former Marine who began his teaching career as a Marine Corps Water Instructor, Vincent is an experienced NJ based DJ and Music Production professional. Vincent is currently completing his education with the acclaimed SAE in Manhattan. He has performed as a DJ and producer in both New York and New Jersey.