Alex Callenberger - Music Director | Curriculum Development
Professional musician and songwriter, Alex Callenberger is the Music and Curriculum Director for RiverCity Rock Star Academy. A multi-instrumentalist, Alex has been a music instructor for 10 years and has taught a wide range of styles including Jazz, Blues, Rock, Experimental and Folk music. Alex has vast experience teaching theory, harmony and composition to all levels of students.
Alex’s own music training includes three years of intensive study with Dave Brumbaugh, Director of the prestigious Uptown Music Collective (UMC) in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. After completing his training, Alex was selected to advance to an instructor level and became instrumental in the development and expansion of the UMC program.
In addition to his training with UMC, Alex enriched his passion for teaching and his love for musical expression through professional performance and recording projects. Alex demonstrates excellence in the performance of Jazz, Blues, Experimental, Folk and Rock genres. Alex has also lent his skills to over 25 recording projects as a session player and as a songwriter. Now living in Portland, Alex actively performs with his partner, Erin LaCerra (Clawfoot Slumber), teaches privately and also for reputable music schools including the Portland School of Rock and the RiverCity Rock Star Academy.
“Alex Callenberger is a warm, caring and dependable person with powerful musical skills that he loves to share with others. I have found him to be a passionate, knowledgeable and responsible teacher who is highly thought of by his students.” - Dave Bumbaugh, UMC Director
Todd Pease - TEACHER
As a child Todd remembers spinning LPs of the Beach Boys, Beatles and KISS. At around age 12 he began to teach himself how to play the bass, guitar and drums. He feels fortunate that he has always had the gift of rhythm, ‘ear for music’ and a strong passion for many styles and genres of music. Todd has been in numerous garage rock bands over the years. Todd believes “Music harmonizes with the soul and embodies emotional expression.”
Todd’s musical interest include Blues, Surf Music, Rockabilly, Rock n’ Roll of the 50’s, 60’s 70’s and 80’s, Punk, Southern Rock, 80’s Heavy Metal, Neo Classical Fusion, and Flamenco. Some of the many musical artists who have influenced him include Al DiMeola , Stuart Hamm, Stanley Clarke, Neil Pert, Albert King, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Alex Skolnick, Chet Atkins, Brian Setzer, Nikki Stringfield, and Nita Strauss.
Ethan Noll - TEACHER
As a young kid Ethan remembers discovering rock music on the radio. It was at that moment when he first heard the intensity of bands like Nirvana and Metallica and knew that it was something that he wanted to do one day. The more he listened the more he fell in love with the music and the idea of freedom that music created.
Ethan bought his first guitar when he was 15 and never looked back. He started building guitars back in high school and later on became an instrument repair technician to further explore the trade. Ethan is continually trying to learn and discover new instruments and musical styles to expand his musical horizons and vocabulary. The main instruments he plays include guitar, bass, drums, vocals, and cello.
Ethan has helped out with rock/music camps and programs out of the local area in the past, as well as given private instruction. As soon as he heard about RiverCity Rock Star Academy here in Salem, he knew he had to be a part of it. Now he’s using the opportunity to help give back some of the experiences he’s gained and share some of the lessons that music (and amazing people and musicians throughout his life) have taught him. Rock on!
Kevin Elmore - TEACHER
Kevin grew up breathing the music of Elvis, The Beatles, Beethoven, Handel, and Johnny Cash. Enamored with the idea of a single person on a stool with a guitar, he began playing the guitar at age eight.
Kevin’s musical experience includes composition, arrangement and sound design, including his music performed by the Willamette Falls Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Mark Perlman, and in Nuremberg and Berlin, Germany. He has been in several rock bands and played with and arranged for the Carroll Raaum Swing Orchestra in Portland, Oregon.
Kevin received his Bachelor of Music in Contemporary Music with Composition emphasis from Western Oregon University (WOU). He is currently working towards a Masters of Music at WOU.
Connor Soejoto - TEACHER
From a young age, Connor has been studying music with fervor and passion. From children's choirs to after school piano lessons, music has always been a part of his life. In high school, he worked with local theatre companies and performed in numerous musicals such as Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast, and Into the Woods. He also served as a rehearsal pianist for many of his shows and assisted the music directors in their teaching. Recently, Connor portrayed the role of Dr. Bartolo in Willamette University’s production of Le nozze di Figaro.
Connor loves music and loves educating young people. He believes that music education is essential to the well-rounded being, and that playing music with others fosters a meaningful sense of belonging. Further, Connor thinks all students have limitless potential and that music is for everyone. Diligence, practice, and patience are his mantra.
Connor recently graduated from Willamette University with a Bachelor's in Music Education. While at Willamette, he participated in the Willamette Chamber Choir, the Dramatic Vocal Arts (opera) program, and the Downbeat Award winning vocal jazz ensemble, the Willamette Singers. He has spent the last four years working with the choir program at South Salem High School where he privately teaches piano, musical theatre, classical voice, and jazz.
David Aizuss - TEACHER
A professional musician, David has taught students between the ages of 8 and 55 in his own private practice. He has also taught at music camps such as DayJams and has led his own guitar clinics. While guitar is his main instrument, he also plays drums and bass.
David was a student at the School of Rock in San Diego for five years and was a School of Rock All-Star for his last four years there. This allowed him to gain extensive touring experience while playing at events and venues such as Lollapalooza, Warped Tour San Diego and Red Rocks.
Although still young, David does not lack experience. He has been playing music since he was 11 years old, first starting with the trumpet. He uses his ability to relate to the younger students to help him teach.
David is able to play all styles of music. His forte has always been rock and metal, but he is also classically trained. He can play everything from classical to jazz and has extensive music theory knowledge as well. Most importantly though, David loves to teach. He loves the culture and musical home that RiverCity Rock Star Academy has brought to all of its students and is so proud to contribute to the program.
David is currently a junior at Willamette University as an Economics major.
Mikalah Barem - TEACHER
Mikalah has been singing ever since she can remember and started taking piano lessons when she was seven. Mikalah plays jazz piano and sings just about everything, although most of her training has been classical. She has taught piano and voice lessons for four years and has performed in choirs, bands, jazz bands, and jazz combos for the last nine years.
Mikalah enjoys and has been influenced by a wide variety of music including Fleetwood Mac, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Less Than Jake, Black Sabbath, Ray Charles, NOFX, Led Zeppelin, Bill Evans, Streetlight Manifesto, Billie Holiday, Billy Joel, Rancid, Pink Floyd, Big D and The Kid’s Table, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Nirvana, and The Ramones.
As a child that loved music, Mikalah is excited to work with children and teens that love music and to be a part of a program that exposes children and teens to some of her favorite music.
Mikalah is a junior at Willamette University as a Music major specializing in Vocal Performance.
Doug Hoffman - Teacher
Doug believes that actions speak louder than words. His dedication to musical endeavors runs deeper than any other passion. It began when he started playing drums over 25 years ago. This led him along the path from lessons and rehearsing alone, to school band and into the world of live performance, cooperation and the teamwork required to be in contemporary music groups. Some groups he’s formed and played drums for are The Widgets, Office Diving, Massive Moth, The Apheliotropic Orchestra, Kevin Rafn, Omegatone, Mouth, SDM, Monoplane, and currently City of Pieces.
Doug also has a Degree in Live Show Production and Touring from Full Sail University (fullsail.com). His focus is on producing live music performances, sound engineering, and promotions in Salem and the surrounding areas. Some venues and productions he has worked on and continues to work with include The Space Concert Club, The Great Idea at Enchanted Forest, Sons of Salem on KMUZ 100.7FM, Salem Sunday Streets, Cherry City Music Festival, The Grand Theatre, Gilgamesh Lounge, The Governor’s Cup, Brown’s Lounge, Kraftworks, Taproot Lounge & Cafe, Ike Box, Boon’s Treasury, and now RiverCity Rock Star Academy!
grace iyer - TEACHER
Grace grew up in a musical household with a dad who was a jazz/blues musician. Her parents encouraged her to play music and she started playing piano around the age of six. When she was 12 years old she started playing drums at a local music camp called Bay Area Girls Rock Camp and was immediately hooked. Soon after camp ended she convinced her parents to buy a drum set and started taking lessons.
She continued to attend Bay Area Girls Rock Camp for several years and eventually started working there as a drum instructor and band coach. There she developed a passion for teaching, especially teaching music, and the hope of pursuing a career doing so.
Grace is currently a freshman at Willamette University, double-majoring in Sociology and Gender Studies.
erin la cerra - TEACHER
Professional artist and musician, Erin LaCerra completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services with a minor in Psychology at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA. After the completion of her degree, Erin served as a children’s therapeutic support counselor and case manager, as a coach for the non-profit Girls on the Run, and as a grant writer for several non-profits including Habitat for Humanity. Upon relocating to Portland, Oregon in 2012, Erin served as a camp counselor for Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, directed a preschool music program for the Portland School of Rock and created Art Jam, an arts and music education program for ages 4-8.
In addition to teaching Art Jam classes, Erin is multi-instrumentalist specializing as a violist, vocalist and percussionist. She actively performs with her partner Alex Callenberger (Clawfoot Slumber) and with her sister Valerie LaCerra (Key of V). As a visual artist (E. LaCerra Art), Erin sells and exhibits her work to a national audience.
Erin’s professional experiences in music, art and human services, bright personality and creativity culminate in a fun and engaging teaching style. Erin is proud to infuse her experiences into the outstanding music program at RiverCity Rock Star Academy.
mark & Karen green - co-founders
Mark’s love and appreciation of music goes back as far as he can remember. From playing LPs over and over, to spending hours in records stores in Hollywood, to attending numerous concerts at small and large venues in Southern California and the Portland and Seattle area. Although he took up guitar when he was younger, he gave it up and didn’t pick it up again for another 30-plus years. Mark now loves to play guitar every day and has even performed with others in front of a live audience. He does admit he continues to learn and grow every day as an adult musician. When Mark’s not playing guitar, he’s a consultant, public speaker, author, educator, and researcher (markgreenphd.com) and (Pacific Family Business Institute).
Karen also grew up surrounded by music. She remembers the sounds of various genres of music playing while at home and in the family car, but she especially remembers the classic rock tunes of Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Wings, The Rolling Stones, and The Eagles. Although Karen appreciates all music and musical talent, her own musical experience is limited to her short stint as a guitarist in the family band. However, Karen’s non-musical professional experience includes marketing and promotions, public relations, writing and editing, and program coordination.
Both Mark and Karen know there is a tremendous amount of musical talent in the Salem and surrounding areas, but realized there were not many places for musicians in the area to come together, learn together and play together. They especially recognized this when looking for a place for their own teenage daughter and her friends to play together on a regular basis (besides the cramped basement or garage). RiverCity Rock Star Academy was created just for that reason!!