Santa Cruz Staff


Matthew Pinck

Music Director | Rock Band Teacher
Matt, fondly known as "Yoga Matt" on stage, has collectively studied music since the age of five and has been teaching in Santa Cruz County since 1998. Among his arsenal of music expertise are: guitar, vocals, composition, piano, electric bass and drums. His vast formal training has taken place in top schools, such as UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, and Cabrillo College, eventually earning his Bachelors in Jazz Guitar from Skidmore College in New York. Over the years, Matt has gained much professional experience performing in Jazz and Rock bands, as well as performing solo. Matt takes a unique and creative approach to teaching that engages students to bring out their best, learning theory as well as valuable performance techniques.
Sarah Newman

Sarah Newman

Music Instructor for Piano, Voice, Choir, Harp, Recorder, Clarinet & Saxophone | Rock Band Teachers (In-Person & Remote)
Sarah has been playing saxophone for well over fifteen years and has been teaching for Be Natural Music since 2013. She studied music at UCSC, earning a Bachelors in Community Studies with a minor in Jazz. Sarah has a special talent for working with young children, developing special rhythm exercises and games, making learning music fun. Everyone adores Sarah! Sarah teaches Saxophone, vocals, piano and Harp. Sarah also specializes in song-writing. Her creativity helps young children come up with lyrics and melodies all on their own! She guides her students through basic song-writing technique, while encouraging their creativity. *Sarah is also a Certified Sound Therapist
Andrea Urzua

Andrea Urzua

Guitar & Beg. Ukulele Instructor (In-Person & Remote) Bilingual English & Spanish
Andrea loves listening to all kinds of music but she specifically likes to play metal and rock. She teaches students riffs and solos by Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin, Metallica, Pantera, Slipknot, Polyphia, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd & Boston. When it comes to teaching, Andrea's philosophy is to teach techniques so the student knows their instrument, teach basic theory to implement creativity, as well as simply having fun by teaching songs that the student loves!

Malakai Lawton

Guitar, Piano, Voice, Beg. Ukulele & Trombone (In-Person & Remote)
Malakai has been playing guitar for 9 years and enjoys writing and performing original songs as well as performing with several local bands and being a radio DJ on KBCZ 89.3 FM Boulder Creek Community Radio! He enjoys discovering new music, however, he spends most of his time listening to classic rock and folk-rock. When he’s not playing guitar he enjoys playing other instruments such as piano, violin, and trombone; Malakai also enjoys hiking in the redwoods and looking after his Siberian Husky, Koda.

Meliza San Jose

Vocal Coach (In-Person & Remote)
Meliza San Jose is a singer-songwriter and music educator based in Santa Cruz, CA. She began singing at the age of five, and has been immersed in several performing ensembles throughout her life. Meliza has had the opportunity to tour domestically and internationally and has performed a wide range of repertoire from Brahms to Fauré and Etta James. She has been featured in several solos of contrasting styles, with genres ranging from classical to jazz and contemporary worship. She previously studied voice under baritone Dr. Joseph Han of Carnegie-Mellon and Stonybrook and contralto Mary MacKenzie of Julliard. Meliza enjoys teaching private lessons in voice, beginner piano and guitar, and music theory. She also regularly serves on the worship team at Santa Cruz Bible Church in vocals, keys, and guitar. Meliza recently graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education, receiving admittance to Phi Delta Lambda (top 15%) through Point Loma Nazarene University.
Rico Rushworth

Rico Rushworth

Drums & Beat-Boxing (In-Person & Remote) Bilingual English & German
Known as RicoR on stage, Rico plays with multiple bands around the Santa Cruz area. He enjoys the music life, meeting new people, and the social networking that comes with being a musician. Rico is also a beatboxer, and enjoys writing original songs with live looping and rapping. He is well versed in many genres, from rock and pop to reggae and jazz, and is happy to guide his students on whichever musical journey they want to go! As a teacher, Rico’s goal is to transfer his love of music onto his students. He thinks about music very holistically, and will help his students listen to every part of the song, and how these parts feed off the rhythm, in order to play the song well. As a drummer, the rhythmic foundation of the band, listening to all the other parts of the band is crucial to being successful. It also helps dynamics, timekeeping, and even solos come a lot easier. Rico lists Ringo Starr as one of his influences, because players like Ringo prioritize feeling the music and being steady rather than being flashy and showy. When he is not teaching or playing, Rico enjoys martial arts and writing. These help him constantly expand his musical horizons, and he loves sharing what he learns with any student that comes his way:-)
Chris Pict

Chris Soriano

Guitar, Bass & Ukulele Instructor (In-Person & Remote)
Musician, Music Educator, Artist and Luthier Chris Soriano has been studying and playing music for over 20 years. He graduated from the University of North Florida with an Art degree in 2003. Using his knowledge and skills acquired as an Art student, he started building/designing guitars shortly after graduating and eventually ran a stringed instrument repair shop part time in Florida. After working as a part time Luthier and a full time commercial sign maker for over 10 years, he went back to UNF to study in the Music Technology program for three years to pursue a music related career. He worked as a full time music instructor and musician playing guitar/bass in various local Jazz, Blues and Latin bands in Northeast Florida. Chris moved to Santa Cruz, California in 2019 and currently teaches Guitar, Bass & Ukulele where students learn Basic Music Theory, Rock, Latin and Jazz Improvisation. He also works at The Santa Cruz Guitar Company and plays gigs regularly around the Santa Cruz area.
Barbara Martin

Barbara Martin

Music Instructor for Drums/Percussion, Voice, & Piano | Rock Band Teacher (In-Person & Remote) Bilingual English & Spanish
Drummer and Multi-Percussionist Barbara Martin is originally from Guantanamo City, Cuba. She went to Vocational School of the Arts in Guantanamo, then Professional School of the Arts in Santa Clara, and eventually attending the University of the Arts in Havana, Cuba as a Percussion Major. During her studies, she had the opportunity to perform with the Harvard Symphony Orchestra and was also the lead percussionist and Timpanist in The Santa Clara Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band for more than 9 years. She has played with various bands in Cuba playing popular and traditional music of Cuba like Rason, Ella's Son, Elizabeth and Razones, Cadencia, and Alter Ego. She eventually taught percussion at the schools that she went to as a student. In 2012, she relocated to Doha, Qatar to play nightly as a percussionist and lead vocalist at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for four years. Upon arriving in the United States, she took on the Drummer and Lead Vocal positions in several bands performing in different genres-Jazz, Latin, Pop and Rock in bands like Catch the Groove, The Integral Latin Band, Barbara, and the Boys, Bomba Jazz, Barbara Martin Group, Alma Rumbera Band, Modern Groove Experience Big Band, Martin/Soriano Duo, and various solo projects. She teaches voice and piano but is a specialist in percussion. Her primary instrument is Latin Percussion-Timbales, Congas, Bongos, Cajon Flamenco and Minor Percussion. Her formal Classical training makes her equally adapted to teaching and performing with the Vibraphone, Marimba, Xylophone, and Timpani. She focuses on making music learning a fun and engaging endeavor where students get to learn their favorite music, as well as get some introductions to new and exciting instruments and music genres that they may not be familiar with. Students will also learn Basic Theory, reading music notation, performance techniques, and making the best out of every performance situation.
Damon Orion

Damon Orion

Guitar Instructor (Remote Teacher Only)
Damon Orion is a guitar instructor who specializes in rock, blues, classical, metal, folk, country and many other styles. Along with being a graduate of Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, he studied music theory, classical guitar and piano at U.C. Santa Cruz. Damon believes that music should be a pleasure for students, not a chore. He strives to make his lessons fun while also giving his students a solid musical foundation based on proper technique and a well-rounded knowledge of scales, chords, arpeggios, etc. His lessons are tailored to the specific needs and goals of his students, whether the focus is on theory, note reading, improvisation, technique, ear training, songwriting or simply learning songs.

Matt Kaminski

Bass Instructor (In-Person & Remote)
Matt started his musical journey on piano at age 5. At age 14, influenced by artists like Flea and Les Claypool he began studying bass guitar. A Jazz History course in college brought influences by players such as Jaco, Mingus, and Marcus Miller. Thus starting his study on the Upright Bass. By his mid 20’s Matt decided to perform as much as possible to gain experience across all genres. Performing with punk, Funk, Jazz, New-Wave, Blues, and rock bands. He says; “Through my travels, I’ve always found a way to the stage. I’ve found that music has been a common language that allows me to play, and connect with players all over the world.”

Lupe, the all-around musical kitty!

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