Our Music Teachers
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Brandon Nowakowski (Saxophone)
Hailing from Western Massachusetts, Brandon Nowakowski is a classical saxophonist currently residing in Windsor, CT. He holds a M.M. in saxophone performance from the Hartt School where he studied with Carrie Koffman and a B.Mus. in saxophone performance from UMass Amherst where he studied with Jonathan Hulting-Cohen.
In 2018 he was a winner of the UMass Concerto Competition, performing Jacques Ibert’s Concertino da Camera with the UMass Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician, Brandon was the tenor saxophonist of the Ma’at Saxophone Quartet which performed Michael Colgrass’ Urban Requiem with the Hartt Wind Ensemble in 2019 and was a semifinalist in the North American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition in 2020. He can be heard performing Frank Martin’s Concert Suite from Ein Totentanz zu Basel Im Jahre 1943 as part of the Massachusetts Chamber Players on the album Frank Martin: Music for Winds.
As a teacher, Brandon seeks to highlight the relationship music has to students’ other interests in life and help his students deliver relevant and effective performances within their communities and beyond. He looks forward to working with the saxophone students at JC Music!
Brian Chrzanowski (Piano/Trumpet)
Brian started taking piano lessons at age four. He has been a school accompanist in elementary, middle, high school and college. Brian still plays for school concerts and trips, which include playing for adjudication’s in Virginia, Hershey (Pennsylvania), Toronto, and Epcott Center in Disney World.
Brian has a degree in music from Central Connecticut State University and also studied at Plymouth state College in New Hampshire. Along with the piano, he has been taking trumpet lessons since the 5th grade.
He has played lead trumpet in Symphonic and Jazz bands in both high school and college. Brian is enthusiastic and excited about instructing the serious student in the art of creating music.
Chuck Peterson (Drums)
Chuck Peterson has been involved in music since his early childhood. Following in the great footsteps of Jeff Porcaro, Steve Jordan, and Keith LeBlanc, he pours out energy and passion into playing a wide variety of genres such as rock, jazz, hip hop, country, funk, latin, r&b, reggae, and orchestral music.
Chuck has played and recorded with: Funkee Boy, Nic Gonzales (Salvador), Jean Sandoval, Jaeme Brennan, Mike Greca, Nekita Waller, James Chappell III, Darrell Evans, Driving Reign, Skip McDonald (Sugar Hill Gang) (Little Axe), Doug Wimbish (Living Colour), Tim Rouse, (Lauryn Hill) (Run DMC), Howard Hill (Charlie “Bird” Parker) (John Coltrane) (Art Blakey), Sugar Hill House band, Eugene Jacquescoley Jr., Who is related to hip hop artists Nate Dogg, Snoop Dogg and others. Chuck has also recorded with r&b group The Gablz for the music soundtrack to the Martin Lawrence movie, “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate,” under the band name Dark Complexion.
Chuck has also worked with several producers, including Vic Steffens (Snarky Puppy, Tony Levin, Steve Gadd), and Rob Treloar (Roberta Flack, Queen Latifa, Natalie Cole). Music that Chuck has recorded has been featured on the radio radio in the United States, Japan, Australia, England, Middle East, Italy, and France.
Chuck has toured the United States and Canada with a variety of artists. He also recorded for major labels such as Warner Brothers Records, Island/Def Jam Records, and International Records/Middle East. Chuck is also affiliated with The Motown Alumni Association, which became a direct link to the legendary Motown session group The Funk Brothers. The remaining legends heard Chucks drumming and enjoyed what they heard, dubbing him an honorary Funk Brother.
Donny Fortin (Drums)
Don graduated Berklee College of Music where he majored in Performance as a Drumset Principal. Don graduated from CCSU with a degree in Philosophy and a Concentration in Music.
Don has studied the drumset and percussion with many instructors including Casey Scheuerrell (Jean Luc Ponty), James Haddad (Dave Lieberman), John Ramsey (Jazz Messengers), John Hazilla, Dave Dicenso (Hiromi), Tom Melito (Jerry Bergonzi), Tom Dest, Frank Giguere (Street Temperature) Victor Mendoza (Papquito D’Rivera), Connie Coughlan (U.S. Coast Guard Band), Jim Clark, and was also one of JC Music’s first drum students when he studied with JC Caillouette (Owner of JC Music).
Don presently teaches many students at JC Music, performs with Janie’s Junk Show, the Jay Bernard Band, and Soul Tsunami. He has performed as a drumset artist for Laurie Katherine Carlsson (Seattle) and Maggie Kim. Don has performed raggae with Marvin and the Sunrays and jazz with the Carl Knox Trio, Hail Bop Jazz Quartet and with performed with punksters Mute.
Ed Diaz (Guitar)
Ed holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Western CT State University where he studied with some of New England’s finest professors in both the classical and jazz genres. Over his many years of study, he has had private lessons with (in chronological order):
Pat Russo (rock/metal) Ron Stebbins (classical/jazz) Steve Famiglietti (jazz)Jamie Begian (jazz) Chris Morrison (jazz/fusion)
Ed has spent the past 7 years playing all over the state with his band Clearlight Industries whose latest album was called “engrossing……virtuosic ……and intriguing” by the New Haven Advocate. As far as the live show, Thomas Pizzola of the New Haven Advocate wrote that “Diaz is an accomplished guitarist, able to whip off ripping solos and make it look effortless”. Many of Ed’s students have gone on to form bands of their own and some have even pursued music at the collegiate level. He’s is an extremely versatile musician, having studied most every guitar style imaginable. He is comfortable playing anything from a classical to jazz to metal and everything in between. He keeps current in the latest guitar developments whether it be guitar-synth or fretless guitar. Ed’s guitar influences are too numerous to list but include (in no specific order): Adrian Belew , Robert Fripp, Buckethead, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai , Joe Satriani, Joe Pass, Kirk Hammet, Charlie Christian, and many others. He’s also influenced by lesser known musicians from the world music genre including: Ravi Shankar, S.E. Rogie, Ali Fraka Toure and others from Asia and Africa and South America.
When not playing guitar, Ed can often be found in the studio producing and engineering for himself and others. As the owner of a project studio, he keeps up on all the latest music-related hardware and software and even builds and configures computer audio systems for use as production stations. So, whether you’re a beginner looking for a proper foundation, a hobbyist looking to address specific areas of you’re playing, or an experienced player looking to take their playing to the next level, Ed likely has the knowledge and experience to help you get there.
JC Caillouette (All Instruments/Theory)
As a musician, JC has over fourty years of experience in playing and performing on musical instruments. He studied for six years with the late dr ummer Jim Roszelle from the Hartt School of Music and the group Spiral. JC then studied for six years with world renowned and internationally recognized jazz drummer Ed Soph. Ed has performed with Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Clark Terry, Eddie Daniels and countless others along with presenting master classes throughout the world. JC went on to study percussion for four years with Constance Coghlan, principal percussionist of the U.S. Coast Guard Band.
JC has performed with many area bands and has performed many shows as the former drummer for the “On Stage Performers.” JC is a former member of the “JC Lentini Band” of New Britain and the Rock/Blues band “TBC.” As a conductor, JC has been with the Augusta Curtis Concert Band since 2005.
JC obtained a Master of Music Education Degree from CCSU, where he received the President’s award for Academic Excellence in the field of Music.
Although JC is an accomplished musician and teacher on most instruments, he is presently JC Music’s faculty member offering specialized musical studies to those students seeking instruction beyond a musical instrument
Jeff Howey (Voice/Piano/Guitar/Clarinet)
Jeff has been teaching music since 1972, after graduating from The Hartt College of Music. He has taught in schools, and most recently retired from Hamden Hall Country Day School after 25 years of teaching. He has been a vocal soloist at several area churches, as well as a performer at many restaurants and parties. He continues to perform with his partner, Barbara in a group called Who Knew.
Jeff has also been seen on stage with Gilbert and Sullivan of Middletown, Aspen Dream Productions, Park Road Playhouse, and Mayfly 24 hour theatre.
Jeff has studied voice with Mary Mack and Dr. Peter Harvey, and Gerald Mack. He studied piano with Herbert Chatzky, Charles Gigliotti, and Bruce David Smith.
Jeff is an all around musician, and he really enjoys working with his students, making the process of learning and performing fun.
Jillian Caillouette (Voice/Piano)
Jillian Caillouette is an award-winning actress, singer, and dancer born and raised in Connecticut. Jillian is recent a graduate from Western Connecticut State University with a BFA in Musical Theatre under the direction of Broadway stars such as MaryAnn Lamb, John Hickok, Scott Wise, Elizabeth Parkinson and Janelle Robinson. Jillian is also a songwriter and released her first single “Cycles” this past March. She is in the process of recording a full length album to be released later this year. She is also a certified yoga teacher trained in the style of Aligned Vinyasa at Yoga Culture in Danbury, CT and loves to bring yoga into her lessons to help her students with their posture and breath.
In 2017, Jillian was the recipient of the National Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress through The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for her lead role of Janet Van De Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone.
This spring she received the National Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actress through The Kennedy Center for her role of Sonya in Uncle Vanya.
In 2013 and 2014, Jillian represented Connecticut as “Outstanding Leading Actress” for two consecutive years at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. There she placed as a top finalist and scholarship winner, making her Broadway debut at The Minskoff Theater. She has performed in other notable venues such as The Kennedy Center, The Gershwin Theatre and Feinstein’s/54 Below.
Jillian has received many opportunities to perform in concert with Broadway stars such as Linda Eder, Andrea McArdle and The Shapiro Sisters. Artists such as Frank Wildhorn, Andrea Burns, Jeff Whiting, David Norona and Michael McElroy have privately coached her.
Jon Noxon (Brass/Strings/Piano/Uke)
Jon Noxon is a classical tuba player from Connecticut. He has performed with many ensembles throughout the state including the WCSU Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and Concert Choir. He has also performed with the Augusta Curtis Concert Band in Meriden.
Jon graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a BM in Audio and Music Production in 2019. He currently attends the University of Bridgeport where he is working towards a Master of Science in Music Education degree.
As an educator Jon focuses a lot on musicianship and specific skills to go along with that including technique, musical literacy, and performance practices. Jon has many musical interests including pedagogy, technique, and music theory.
Jon Peckman (Drums)
Jon Peckman can be seen performing all over New England and beyond with various regional acts. He is also a published author of the instructional book ‘Picture Yourself Drumming’. His encouraging coaching style is perfect for beginners as well as advanced players in any style with a focus on rock and song-oriented styles. He can also accompany you on bass guitar in your lessons so that you can experience the fun of making music with others right away.
Keith Leblanc (Drums)
Keith LeBlanc started out as a session drummer with Sugarhill Records, early 1980’s. He formed the Sugar Hill House Band with fellow Americans Doug Wimbish (bass) and Skip ‘Little Axe’ McDonald (guitar), working with leading rap artists as The Sugarhill Gang (Rapper’s Delight) and Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel on The Message and Freedom. From his own Malcolm X No Sell Out, the first ever sampling record, on Tommy Boy Records (1983) to his involvement in creating the sound of funk noise giants Tackhead with Wimbish, McDonald and British dub producer Adrian Sherwood, he has gained recognition as one of the top and most innovative drummer/programmers around.
His landmark album Major Malfunction (considered to be the first Tackhead recording, although credited to LeBlanc solo) was of great influence to a whole generation of musicians. The album, a reaction to the 1986 disaster with space shuttle Challenger, started off a whole new genre of industrial music.
Apart from his work as member of the legendary On-U Sound posse, Keith LeBlanc has continued to experiment with new sound using his own Blanc Records as a base from which to release pioneering albums and push musical boundaries even further. Apart from that he made seven sampling CD’s so far for the Advanced Media Group with loads of drum samples and sound effects, free for anyone to use.
His writing and production skills have attracted the likes of Living Colour, Peter Gabriel, The Cure, Ministry, and Nine Inch Nails. As a drummer/programmer he has worked with everyone from James Brown to Trevor Horn, Seal to R.E.M., The Rolling Stones, Annie Lennox, Jalal (Last Poets), The Stone Roses, Robert Palmer and Bomb The Bass. He also produced Charles & Eddie’s hit record Would I Lie To You, along with Tim Simenon of Bomb The Bass.
More recent work includes sessions for Annie Lennox, Tina Turner, Brian Ferry, Sony artists Sunscreen, Babylon Zoo, Sussan Deyhim, Depeche Mode, Doug Wimbish, Sinead O’Connor, Little Axe and of course Adrian Sherwood’s solo project Never trust a hippy. ‘KLB’ is currently exploring the boundaries of jazz (an early love) with Manu Ventura’s band Boah Ground.
Paul Kamenitsky (Perussion/Piano)
Paul attended Eastern Connecticut State University and graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor’s in Music Performance, specifically mallet percussion. He has been a percussionist since age 8 and a pianist since age 14. Paul has played with the Hamden Symphony Orchestra, the WesWinds Ensemble at Wesleyan, and the Augusta Curtis Concert Band in Meriden.
Ryan Bisson (All Brass)
Ryan Bisson grew up in Berlin, CT. While living there he was an employee of JC Music. After high school he moved to Massachusetts and got a Bachelor of Music in Trombone Performance at UMass Amherst, and later got a Masters of Music in Trombone Performance at Boston University.
While studying and living in Boston, he played many shows in the city and throughout New England. He has played in many orchestras including: Albany Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Vermont Symphony Brass Quintet, and Glens Falls Symphony. He has also had success as a soloist and chamber musician, winning the American Trombone Workshop nation bass trombone competition, and coming runner up with his trombone quartet the Rhombus Quartet.
He recently has branched out and began playing trombone, and tuba in musical theatre productions of Les Mis, and Showboat. Ryan also currently works as an educational assistant, tutoring music theory and ear training, at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury.
Shawn Matyasovszky (Guitar/Theory/Piano)
Shawn Matyasovszky is an American classical guitarist from Connecticut. He has performed with various groups at and around Central Connecticut State University including the CCSU Guitar Ensemble, the Hartford Classical Guitar Ensemble, as a soloist with the CCSU Sinfonietta, and as a soloist with our local Augusta Curtis Cultural Band.
As a solo performer, Shawn has interests in Baroque and Renaissance era music. Shawn trained as a classical guitarist with CCSU and Hartt School of Music professor Christopher Ladd. He holds a BA in Music from Central Connecticut State University.
As an educator, Shawn has a strong focus on musical literacy and ensemble playing. He has been active in the classroom guitar programs in both Plainville and Bristol Central high school, as well as the After-School Program at the Middle School of Plainville. Shawn teaches students of various age groups.
Sierra Manning (Voice)
Sierra Manning is currently earning a B.S. in Music Education at Central Connecticut State University. As a vocalist, she performs regularly with the CCSU University Singers, where she is Soprano section leader. Also at CCSU, Sierra serves as the President of the school’s chapter of the National Association for Music Education, as well as the Secretary for the American Choral Directors’ Association.
Outside of CCSU, Sierra has performed with the Simsbury Light Opera Company (SLOCO), and CT Lyric opera. She has also participated in countless musicals throughout her musical career. Sierra is also the director of the Musical Theater camp at the Meriden YMCA.
Sierra is excited to share her passion of music with her students!
JC Music offers lessons year round! We are proud to offer a wide variety of music lessons for voice and most instruments. Our focus on students and education has led us to become a leader in music education in Connecticut. JC Music works closely with CMEA and the Yale School of Music’s “Music in Schools” Initiative. We have highly qualified music teachers and are happy to work with you to find the most compatible match in both musical expectations and personality between the teacher and prospective student.
It is our goal at JC Music to make the learning of an instrument an enjoyable and educational experience. We offer bi-annual Student Showcases to give our students live performing opportunities. We also offer Summer music camps to keep our students inspired all year! Many former JC Music students have gone on to audition at prestigious universities and have successfully gained entry into elite music programs. Some have received scholarships, while others have even returned to JC Music as part time faculty members!
Teaching music was once an unconventional career choice, but it has now become quite popular. Many people from all over the world are taking up music as their career choice. An increase in the number of music reality shows has also helped to make the profession more popular than ever. JC Music’s combination of private instruction and live performing opportunities has made it a very popular choice for pursuing one’s musical interests and career ambitions.
Many of our former students have also joined the music industry as teachers, composers, professional musicians and professional singers. JC Music has a proven track record over its 25 year history of providing an unrivaled private educational program. Our serious standards, which are focused on having each student reach their potential though reading music, learning theory, and developing stage presence, have led and inspired many of the most talented musicians known in Connecticut today!