Benjamin J. McClara
President, Artistic Director, Founder
Strings Teacher: Guitar/Violin/Fiddle/Double Bass/ Electric Bass, Projects Director
Mr. McClara teaches the Tuesday 4:15pm Violin Project, & the Thursday Guitar Projects at SPMA, including the SPMA 5 O’Clock Guitar Project Ensemble.
Mr. McClara is a Certified Teacher for Sacramento City Unified School District, & holds a Bachelor of Music Performance in Double Bass from California State University Sacramento. Aside from his private studio of string students, Mr. McClara Founded and Directs the Guitar Project, Guitar Project Ensemble, conducts the SPMA String Ensemble, and is Executive Director of SPMA.
Piano/Saxophone/Composition/Improvisation Michael Dale is a composer/improviser and multi-instrumentalist based in Sacramento. He earned his BM in composition and performance at CSU, Sacramento. He also holds an MA from Mills College in Oakland, where he studied with such luminaries as Fred Frith (composer for the films Rivers and Tides and Touch the Sound) and Roscoe Mitchell (founder of Art Ensemble of Chicago). Michael has an active performance schedule in many different musical styles, both as a pianist and as woodwind specialist. Michael teaches MIDI, Pro Tools, and Music Theory at Folsom Lake College, and is now proud to join the roster of Sac Prep Music Academy. His teaching style is based on a patient, supportive approach in which he works with each student to design a technique and repertoire that fits them best. He has developed a synthesis of the insights of his own teachers combined with his own intuitive discoveries from 20 years of teaching. Methodologies such as Suzuki, Waldorf education, and Orff have also been influential. Musical style is not as important as the combination of physical experience, intellectual understanding and emotional sensitivity which leads to true mastery. As the great Jazz educator David Liebman put it: “Hands, Head, Heart … but we start with the hands.”
Mrs. Taylor’s interest in string instruments extends beyond performance. For a three year period during high school, Taylor apprenticed under James Wimmer, a Santa Barbara based luthier of fine string instruments, learning the craft of repair and maintenance.
In 1998, Mrs. Taylor received a full scholarship to study cello performance at CSU Sacramento with Andrew Luchansky. During her Bachelors of Music degree, she received a grant to teach in the Strings Project at CSUS. The String Project is a program where undergraduates gain practical hands on experience running a string program under the guidance of a master teacher. This led to the creation of her own after school string programs at four public elementary schools in Sacramento where Taylor taught violin, viola & cello.
In 2006 Krystyna created The K Street Orchestra, an adult late-starters string orchestra, where she serves as conductor, director & instructor. In addition to CSUS Symphony Orchestra, Mrs. Taylor has been a member of Camellia Symphony, the West Coast Symphony, Santa Barbara Youth Symphony and associated outreach programs and many other orchestras around the California coast. She has performed in various pit orchestras around Sacramento such as Runaway Stage Theater Co., Sacramento Light Opera Co., B Street Theater, and VOX Musica.
Outside of the classical realm, Taylor has played with many local bands, and currently plays and collaborates with her husband in their band, Calling Tempo. Krystyna has recorded extensively serving as a session musician on more than 40 albums for artists such as Jackie Greene, David Houston, Chelsea Wolfe, Sea of Bees, Sister Crayon, Daisy Spot, Deluxe, Scott McChane, Alternative String Band, Autumn Sky and many others.
Cumulatively, through individual, group and small ensemble lessons, Krystyna Taylor
has been a musical educator of children, teens and adults for over 15 years and currently maintains a private studio of over 50 students.
Gabriel Nelson has been playing music for almost 40 years, with an emphasis on electric bass, guitar, and singing. He has toured the U.S. several times, as well as Europe, Australia, Asia, South America, Canada and Mexico for 20 years as a bassist with legendary pop band Cake, performing for audiences large and small. As an arranger he has composed not only basslines, but guitar, vocal harmonies, strings, horns, and keyboard music for their self-produced albums, some of which went gold and platinum, nationally and internationally. He has had thousands of hours performing live, on television, and in the recording studio as both a musician and technician.
In 2007, in between tours, Gabriel started teaching music and discovered that sharing his knowledge and experience is something he truly enjoys. His lessons focus on proper technique, music theory, sight reading, composition, and song.
Piano & Voice
Mrs. Perez’s teaching style is based upon her training as a sociologist and interested in exploring diverse musical pedagogies. She strives to teach clean technique and encourages musicality in a creative and supportive environment.
Mrs. Perez is an active musician in our local Sacramento artistic community. Performing regularly with the UC Davis Choir, Sacramento City College Jazz Band and the Sacramento City Vocal Ensemble. She holds a double B.A. from UC Davis and an M.A. from CSUS. Emily believes that musical growth and artistic exploration is a lifelong pursuit and continues her piano and voice studies with Sacramento Professors Dr. Lorna Peters and Daniel Paulson.
Guitar Lessons & Group Guitar Classes
Mr. Kuvakos began studying music and guitar in January 2007. He has been teaching private lessons since 2012, specializing in Jazz, Classical, Blues, and Pop stylings. He has performed throughout Sacramento, Minnesota, and Singapore, and is the recipient of the 2015-2016 Resh Michael Memorial Scholarship for Applied Music Students at American River College. Currently, Eric is finishing a Bachelors of Music in Jazz Studies at CSU Sacramento. He loves to teach, perform, collaborate, and spread the joy of music. Mr. Kuvakos will teach group guitar classes on the weekends at SPMA and is available for Private guitar lessons.