Perry's Music has an outstanding, committed staff of professional teachers with years of experience learning, playing, performing, and recording music. Each teacher plays and teaches more than one instrument and has a multi-disciplinary background. We offer lessons 7 days a week, and all of our teachers work with students of all ages, abilities, and musical backgrounds. However, if you're looking to learn something really specific, check out their bios to learn more about them!
Click here for more information about group lessons.
Mike Kent Smith
Michael Kent Smith is a composer who uses guitar and dulcimer as well as a variety of folk instruments, performing on them and taping the various strands together into vivid, delightful music that is a blend of classical, folk, Celtic, Spanish and jazz. His has a relaxed, open rapport with audiences and keeps them engaged in his performances with stories of the origins of the music and anecdotes from his global travels.
Smith has toured Europe, Mexico and Africa and performs regularly around the United States with concerts at such notable venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the Chicago Cultural Center. On the global front he has performed in the Festival Cervantino in Guanajuato Mexico, the International Festival of World Music in Mexico City and the International Guitar Festival in Zihuatanejo as well as touring with the Tom Sank Festival in Paris, Rome, Mali and Burkina Faso.
He studied classical guitar with Denis Azabagic, fingerstyle guitar with Martin Simpson and Edward Gehard, jazz with Richard Medel, composition with Howard Krueger and flamenco with Manuel Lozano in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. He was the principal composer in Pong Unit, the ensemble fronted by poet Marc Smith, inventor of the Poetry Slam. In addition he has won the Outstanding Soloist award at the prestigious Midwest Jazz festival and was voted Chicago’s Best Guitarist in 1989.
Smith has released three CDs, “After the Harvest” in 2002, “Beauty Without Warning” in 2005 and "La Esperanza SIgue" in 2010. He has also appeared as guitarist on CDs by a number artists including Marc Smith, Steven Hashimoto, Joe Hasiewicz and Al Rose. Smith is also a painter and printmaker and his work can be seen on the covers of all of his CDs.
Jon Studtmann - Guitar / Piano / Theory
Specialties: • Classical Music • Pop/Rock • Classic Rock
Jon Studtmann is an accomplished teacher and performer who has taught thousands of lessons since becoming a member of the Perry's family in 1993. In addition to guitar and piano instruction, he also performs and does session work. His musical background stems from the classical discipline, having begun piano lessons at the age of 5 and later studying trombone for 7 years. A largely self-taught guitarist, his skill and mastery of the instrument can be attributed to his strong foundation in music theory. He has performed alongside Kenny Rogers as well as with Paul Freeman and the Chicago Sinfonietta at Orchestra Hall. In his free time, you'll catch Jon at the gym or riding his bicycle.
Hawk Dziatyk - Guitar / Bass / Piano / Banjo / Mandolin / Ukulele / Theory / Composition
Specialties: • Classical Music • Pop/Rock • Classic Rock • Metal
• Flamenco • Finger Tapping • Transcribing
Orest Dziatyk—or, as we like to call him, Hawk—possesses the experience you'd expect of any professional musician, thanks to years of studying the piano, harpsichord, clarinet and violin, ultimately specializing in classical and electric guitar. He attended the Guitar Institute of Technology and holds a master's degree from Roosevelt University. If you're interested in shredding, flamenco, or finger tapping, Hawk's your guy. He's studied with a number of greats including Preston Reed and has played with and opened for professional musicians such as Uli Roth, Iced Earth, and Stratovarius. Hawk is currently putting together an instructional CD-Rom on finger tapping. Check out this youtube video of him playing—it's insane!
Mike Semerau - Drums / Percussion / Theory
Specialties: • All Styles • Studio Production Mike Semerau redefined the standard for drum lessons when he came up with the innovative method of offering professionally recorded take-home videos to his students after each lesson. So if you forget that rhythm or technique, you can just pop in a video and Mike will be right there on screen to play along with you. His unique approach allows students to learn faster and more effectively, as they are able to check their progress and review what they learn in each lesson. His students have been so successful as to be featured on CLTV and, most recently, in the Lombard Spectatorand mysuburbanlife.com. Check out his youtube channel for student performances and sample lessons.
Tim C. Jones - Guitar / Bass / Mandolin / Ukulele / Banjo Specialties: • Bass Guitar • Pop/Rock/Alternative • R&B/jam
• Funk • Jazz • Folk / Bluegrass Tim is an accomplished bassist from a musical family who has played and recorded with several groups in and around the Chicago area. At Elmhurst College Tim earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts, became an Illinois State Certified Teacher in the Arts, and was inducted into Lambda Sigma Psi (Music Honor Society). He believes his success as a teacher is directly correlated with the success of his students and calls himself as an "edu-tainer" because of his friendly, energetic teaching style. He plays weekly at church and with local bands throughout the week.
John Selden - Guitar / Theory (private and group)
Specialties: • Pop/Rock • Classic Rock • Indie • Electronic
•Music Production/Recording •Country •Blues •Punk
In addition to teaching private lessons, John—our Music Education Director—has overseen 17 crowd-pleasing Rock 'N' Roll University sessions (and counting!) over the last 4 years. John formerly worked as a DJ and has experience with electronic music production, theatre sound design, radio show production, sound recording, and playing with local bands. His relaxed attitude, creativity, and openness to take his students in the direction they want to go has given him the leadership qualities that make him such a great instructor in our Rock 'N' Roll University program.
Jim Kraus - Guitar / Bass / Banjo / Mandolin / Ukulele / Theory
Specialties: • Pop/Rock • Classic Rock • Country • Bluegrass
• Contemporary/Smooth Jazz
Our resident guitar and amp technician Jim Kraus is an expert repairman who has recorded, produced, performed, and taught music for over 30 years. Having owned his own amplifier company, Afterburner Industries, he is knowledgeable about the technical side of guitars and amplifiers and can help you find that perfect tone. Jim wrote and produced the original music streaming on our home page, and you can buy his album at our store! Check out the full album at JJALAN.com.
Rob Gurka - Guitar / Bass / Basic Theory, Composition, and Songwriting
Specialties: • Classic Rock • Pop/Rock • Country/Folk • Blues
Rob Gurka, owner of Perry's Music for over 35 years, enjoys breaking away from his managerial responsibilities every now and then to get involved with our lessons program. Although his availability is limited, Rob really enjoys teaching, and his patience combined with his passion for everything musical has made him a great teacher and mentor for students of all ages and interests. A curious spirit, Rob likes to read, frequent used bookstores, and play music with his friends in his free time.
John Maher - Guitar (acoustic and electric)
Specialties: -Classic Rock -Rock -Pop -Country -Blues
John has been around the local music scene and a member of the Perry's family for most of his life. He is an amazing rock player and great singer songwriter as well. He has a fun and thoughtfully put together curriculum to help you get the most out of your instrument. As a working guitar player and singer in the band Second Hand Static, John has and is out playing constantly. He is a great teacher for all level of players from beginner to advanced. You can check out some of his bands music at www.secondhandstatic.com
Rob Snyder - Guitar (Acoustic and Electric) / Bass / Music Production & Recording / Theory/ Composition / Songwriting
Specialties: • Pop/Rock • Classic Rock • Alternative • Punk • Metal • Fingerpicking
• Electronic Music • Industrial • Jazz • Indie Rock • Session Playing • Studio Production and Recording
Rob Snyder began learning music at the age of 13 starting with guitar, bass, and vocals, then later picking up piano/keys/synthesizer, drums, hand percussion, and how to program and record music before he turned 18. He is capable of a playing a wide range of styles which has allowed him to perform everything from pop punk to death metal to avant-garde jazz throughout the Chicagoland area, and does session and remix work from his ever-evolving home studio. He has been teaching music for over 10 years before joining our teaching staff, and also became the co-director of our Rock 'N' Roll University program.
For general lesson information, click here.
For information about group lessons with our Rock 'N' Roll University, click here.
Andrea Pokrefke - Voice / Beginner Piano
Andrea has been performing and teaching in the Chicagoland area for the last 13 years. She actively sings professionally in all genres of music with groups such as The Morning Choir of Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, The Kevin Cline Jazz Trio and Standing Room Only Wedding Orchestra. She also sings with Pettycash (Tom Petty/Johnny Cash tribute) and The Sheriffs, a local bar cover band. Andrea was also the hostess for the award winning Durty Lounge Lizards, Chicago’s first live karaoke band that started at Durty Nellies in Paletine and entertained Chicagoland for 10 years. You will not only learn how to sing or play properly with the right techniques but also to have a good time doing so! Let Andrea help you find your voice and your talent as a singer and musician!
Andreas website: o2bandrea.com
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