Benjamin J. McClara
President CEO, Artistic Director, Founder
Guitar, Electric Bass, Double Bass
Mr. McClara Directs SPMA Guitar Projects at the Academy, including the SPMA 5 O’Clock Guitar Project Ensemble, and Directs off campus Guitar Projects in SCUSD.
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. Mr. McClara Founded and Directs the SPMA Guitar Project, The SPMA Guitar Project Ensemble, is The Executive Director at SPMA, and Directs and Organizes the Midtown Vanguard Jazz Series at CLARA
Beginner/intermediate piano, voice and bass
Casey Lipka is a vocalist, bassist and teaching artist based in Sacramento. Described as “an emerging talent” with “a lush, textured, and organic listen that’s all too easy to become infatuated with“. She performs locally leading her band as well as accompanies groups Sonic Drift, One Button Suit, Camellia Symphony, Ron Cuhna Big Band and Sacramento Women’s Chorus. She recently toured with the rock band CAKE.
As a teaching artist, she leads music classes throughout Sacramento City Unified School District and directs a children’s choir, “The Singing Cubs,” at Crocker Riverside Elementary School. She has opened for world renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and saxophonist Kamasi Washington.
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.”
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.
Ryan De Boer
Voice & Choral Director
“Ryan began his undergraduate studies at DePauw University and graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Vocal Performance. He then accepted a graduate assistantship at Penn State University where he received his Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy. His graduate thesis examines Yoga and Meditation as tools for reducing performance anxiety in the singer. Ryan is passionate about creating confidence in his students by providing a nurturing environment. He focuses on full body singing using the principle of appoggio and a strong connection to the breath. Ryan aims to create more mindful and compassionate humans through the vulnerable process of learning to sing.”
Mr. Zach Martin, recipient of Sac Prep Music’s iHeartMusic.Org – Resh Michael Scholarship Award for outstanding performance at American River College, is in the Applied Music Program and currently performs with the ARC Jazz ensemble. Mr. Martin specializes in Jazz, Classical, Blues, and Pop stylings. He has performed throughout Sacramento, and is available for beginning private lessons at SPMA. He loves to teach, perform, collaborate, and spread the joy of music.