Music Lesson Instructors
Jim Blair - Guitar (Beginner to Advanced) *Virtual Lessons Only*
Jim has been a professional music teacher for over 25 years. Specializing in electric and acoustic guitar, he covers a variety of styles, including classic rock, metal, blues, and folk. Previously located in the Vancouver area, he has taught guitar in Nanaimo since 1996. In addition to basic and advanced guitar skills, Jim covers a wide range of relevant topics during lessons, including music history, songwriting techniques, guitar maintenance, and studio recording. A former Malaspina University/College student, he is also a producer and mix engineer, specializing in albums and demos for local artists. Jim also prepares students for entrance in music college.
I’ve been taking lessons with Jim Blair for 13 years. I started when I was 7 years old.
I love music and I love playing my guitar. I know I wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of the things I have done without Jim, because he doesn’t just teach you how to play the notes on your guitar. He teaches you how to be a musician. He’s taught me how to take care of my guitar; change the strings, fix the intonation, etc. He taught me how to prepare for recording sessions, what questions to ask, and what to expect when you are in the studio.
Something I found to be unexpected and unique was that he would be thinking about his students outside of his teaching hours. Every now and then he would bring in a video, a song, an album, or anything music related he thought might interest me. There hasn’t been one lesson with Jim where I haven’t learned something new.
I’ve played with 2 different bands now, “Systematic Dream” and “Mr. Goshness”, which have played many shows, and have each recorded an EP, thanks to Jim and his musical wisdom. These projects wouldn’t have happened without him.
Paul Cimolini - Guitar (Beginner to Intermediate) *In-Person Lessons Only*
Paul began lessons at age 12, studying under Jim Blair. He has been playing guitar professionally for 15 years and has been teaching since 2004. Paul enjoys teaching young beginners, specializing in classic and modern rock. He plays in the bands “Atlas Collapses” & “The Eggmen”. Paul has opened live shows for Alanis Morrissette, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Trews, and The Cowboy Junkies. He also teaches ukulele, bass & songwriting.
Edward Lee - Guitar, Ukulele (Beginner to Intermediate) *Virtual Lessons Only*
Edward Lee is a very talented guitar player/instructor and is the audio engineer/producer and owner of Broken Spiral Studios in Nanaimo. Ed teaches a very wide range of styles on both guitar and ukulele including metal, fingerstyle/slap guitar, rock, blues and pop. With extensive training in Jazz Studies at Mallaspina College, Ed also enjoys teaching jazz theory, improvisation and reading notation.
We are very happy to welcome Ed to our wonderful teaching crew!
Alan Medcalf - Guitar, Banjo, Dobro, Ukulele, Electric Bass, Lap Steel (Beginner to Advanced) *In-Person or Virtual Lessons*
A professional musician for his entire life, Alan has performed on stage, TV, radio and recordings. During the last 15 years he has also focused on teaching privately and for seminars and classrooms. Styles taught by Alan include classic rock, jazz, roots, country and classical, plus music history and advanced theory for all genres. Al has sat on many music industry boards & committees and has an extensive background as a production manager, adjudicator, audio engineer and artist manager.
Performance credits include country artists Patricia Conroy & Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Canadian folk icon Valdy and drummer John Densmore (Doors). Al has also recently played for several productions of the stage show “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline”. During this last summer he was the production manager for various concerts featuring Steve Miller, Bad Company, Chilliwack, The Odds & Doucette.
Michael Anderson - Guitar, Piano, Bass (Beginner to Intermediate) *In-Person or Virtual Lessons*
Michael Anderson is an active multi-instrumentalist, composer, and accompanist. He studied piano, composition, and improvisation for five years at Wilfried Laurier University, and has been mentored by some of Canada’s most recognized musicians, such as Don Ross and Adrean Farrugia. Michael casts his net wide, having worked most deeply in Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar, Jazz, Classical, and Electronic Music.
As a teacher, Michael adapts the curriculum to the needs of the student. He places a strong emphasis on good practice habits and understanding through play. Theory and ear training don’t have to be boring!
Anita Clarke - Piano (Beginner to Advanced) *In-Person Lessons Only*
She started learning the piano at the age of 6. She is actively involved in BC Music Education for over 30+ years, enjoys all ages + levels of learning. Her primary focus is piano but has taught other instruments within her career in Musical Education. She has taught at Arbutus for the past 4 years.
Rob Wilkinson - Piano (Beginner to Advanced), Ukulele (Beginner to Intermediate) *Virtual Lessons Only*
Rob Wilkinson has been in one band or another starting from around the time he was in middle school. Since then, he has done several years of study with the Royal Conservatory of Music and completed his second year of Jazz studies at VIU. He currently performs regularly with the Erika Phillips jazz quartet, the hard rock band The Body Politic, and pop-rock group Ah, Venice. In addition to the hours of practice and performance time on the piano, Rob also fronted the pop-rock group Sound and Science, and he plays the guitar and sings in his spare time. Whether it’s following the Royal Conservatory methods of learning, improvising over chord progressions, or even just learning your favorite song; Rob’s wide variety of playing experience allows him the means to help you become a better player, using whatever genre or method is best for you and incorporating all-around musicianship in the process.
Brett Attig - Drums (Beginner to Advanced) *In-Person Lessons Only*
Brett has been playing since 2000 and is enthusiastic about sharing his craft. Whether it’s rock, metal, funk, playing along to your favorite songs, stick control, limb independence, or double bass, Brett can help you master these skills. He enjoys teaching all levels from beginner to advanced.
Rachel Dzbik - Drums (Beginner to Intermediate) *In-Person or Virtual Lessons*
Rachel is a graduate of the Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies at VIU. She has been playing drums since the age of 12 and started teaching private music lessons in 2015. In addition to playing drums, she also has played piano for most of her life and has taken classical vocal lessons. Ever since high school she has been involved in the local musical community, hosting jams and playing in big bands, jazz combos, and dance bands. She is grateful for the drum teachers that have helped her along the way, including Hans Verhoeven, James McRae, and Phil Whipper.
Her favorite part about teaching is seeing the progress each student makes and their sense of accomplishment that comes with it. She is passionate about exploring different styles on the drum kit and helping her students pursue any genre they like. She believes that with a good technical foundation in drums, the possibilities are endless!
Teighan Couch - Vocals (Beginner to Intermediate) *Virtual Lessons Only*
Daniel Fortier - Vocals (Beginner to Advanced) Guitar (Beginner to Advanced) Songwriting *Virtual Lessons Only*
Professional musician (guitar,vocals) and songwriter. Has numerous top 20 hits on Canadian country radio as a songwriter and performer and won numerous SCMA Awards as a founding member of the band WYATT. He recently branched off on his own to explore his roots/blues side and has been covertly corrupting audiences with his guitar-driven, soulful blues/rock inspired sound by a diverse collection of artists like The Black Keys, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Prince and Stevie Wonder!
In between writing, performing, touring and raising his young family Daniel has been inspiring students of all ages to explore their musical talents for over 10+ years, tailoring lessons to individual student goals and tastes.
Hilary Whelton - Vocals, Piano (Beginner to Advanced) *Virtual Lessons Only*
Hilary holds both a Bachelor of Music Diploma (Classical) and an Associate in Music Diploma (Jazz). She is the Vocal Director for the Bard to Broadway Theatre Society and is the Administrator and Instructor for Bard to Broadway’s Performing Arts Education Series.
Hilary has appeared as mezzo-soprano/alto soloist for Handel’s “Messiah”, Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” and Vivaldi’s “Gloria”. She has also appeared as the aging courtesan, Aunt Alicia, in “Gigi”, and as one of the ensemble cast of “A My Name is Still Alice”.
Hilary teaches in Nanaimo at Arbutus Music and also in Qualicum.
Vivian Woodward - Violin/Fiddle (Beginner to Advanced) *Virtual Lessons Only*
Vivian has been studying violin for 15 years and has been classically trained through RCM. She also enjoys playing folk and contemporary music and can teach any genre. She has years of experience playing in bands and performance groups.
Oldrich Zitek (OZ) - Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Theory (Beginner to Intermediate) *Virtual Lessons Only*
OZ has been an active musician for over 30 years. Originally from Vancouver, OZ moved to Nanaimo 11 years ago and has enjoyed the slower pace of family life, yet keeping strong ties with the Vancouver music community. A graduate of UBC (1993) with a Bachelor of Music, OZ continues to pass on the wealth of knowledge from the days of music academia, along with years of practical application in the various performance groups. His dedication to furthering the understanding of music outside of the mainstream, particularly world music and improvised music, keeps ideas fresh and exciting.