Category Archives: Piano

Ethan Gray



Ethan Gray is a percussionist residing in Reno, Nevada. The art of percussion has taken him through multiple genres and instruments from Japanese marimba to Cuban hand drumming. He has performed professionally for the Billings Symphony in Montana, where he is from, as well as the Reno Philharmonic. He has a keen interest in the exploration of the percussive arts and its natural tendencies of experimentation and was recently commissioned to be the music director for the play Peter and the Starcatcher at Reno Little Theater, a project that required innovation and an unconventional approach to the stage.

Ethan is an educator in the local community where he teaches private percussion lessons, the UNR Marching Band, Applied Percussion, and Music Appreciation and regularly spends time at local schools working with young musicians.

Ethan holds a Bachelors of Music Performance with a focus on percussion from Montana State University-Billings and a Masters of Music Percussion Performance from University of Nevada Reno.

Joel Stevens


Joel Nice Pic

Joel received his degree in saxophone performance from Portland State University. During his undergrad career, Joel studied with many instructors for several instruments including George Colligan, Kerry Politzer, Yoko Miyama, and Loretta Keizer for piano; Rob Scheps, John Gross, Gary Harris, David Evans, Clark Bondy, David Valdez, and John Nastos for saxophone; Dr. Sydney Carlson, Gary Harris, David Evans, and David Valdez for flute; and Neal Grandstaff, Jack Hopfinger, and Erik Crew for guitar.

Other professors of music taught Joel various music related disciplines such as theory, history, composition, arranging, ear training, aural skills, and repertoire studies. These professors include Lars Campbell, Charlie Grey, Charlie Doggett, Tom Wakeling, Kevin Deitz, Darrell Grant, Derrick Sims, Dave Mills, and Dave Fleschner.

Alongside his collegiate studies, Joel also received instruction from the Alan Jones Academy of Music. His tuition was waived by earning a scholarship for inscribing Jones’ music into music notation software.

Joel has his own musical group known as The Joel Stevens Quartet but he is not limited to performances with just these members. Joel has been a sideman for many groups spanning over various genres including Tristan Selzier’s Jazz Syndicate, Hot Tea Cold, Space Leach, DTW, The Neal Stadley Group, The Dan Hess Blues Band, and The Hank Will Quartet as well as many others.

Joel’s philosophy on music teaching reflects his own history. Joel started music late in comparison to his peers thus having to work very hard to overcome the time lost from the lack of practice before going into music school. Joel played some guitar and saxophone in high school; however, his abilities were extremely limited showing zero promise or skill until later in his college career. He strongly believes that if he can do it anyone can and that talent is nothing more than a pursued passion. Utilizing the variety of teaching methods Joel witnessed firsthand from his many music teachers, he can accurately assess the needs of almost any student, young or old, and put them on a path to success.

Jen Slowey

French Horn, Trumpet, Piano, Flute, Clarinet

bio pic

Jen started her musical career at the age of 9, but couldn’t decide what to play, so just jumped right in to lessons on the french horn, flute and piano. Jen played in the high school jazz band, but they wouldn’t let her in as a French Hornist, so she also learned trumpet just to fit in. French Horn quickly became her passion, and she graduated from Ithaca College with a Bachelor’s degree in Music.
She spent several years living abroad and playing trumpet with a country bluegrass band in the French Alps, as well as playing horn with the local orchestra (which included 3 Swiss Alp Horns!). She relocated to Truckee in 2013 and has been teaching lessons here at Split Rock and playing with the Reno Pops Orchestra. She loves sharing her love of brass, and music in general with students and thinks the world is a better place with more cowbell.

Ellen Flanagan

Violin, Viola, Fiddle, Piano

Ellen Flanagan is a classically-trained violinist living in Truckee, CA whose mission is to spread her love of music as wide and deep as possible through teaching and live performance.

Originally from Hanover, NH, Ellen moved west to study at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Since moving to Tahoe in the winter of 2013 (she was missing the snow), she has been teaching violin, fiddle, and viola in Truckee and performing around the area with orchestras in Reno and San Francisco as well as a local bluegrass and country band.

Eric Johnson

Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, and Piano

1461529_10202857620860478_758944519_nEric Johnson is an Oregon native who’s first instrument was guitar, playing in rock bands through high school before studying Jazz Saxophone at the university level. Eric has a bachelors in Jazz performance from the University of Oregon and a masters in Improvisation from the University of Nevada Reno. While studying with Peter Epstein and Adam Benjamin from Kneebody, Eric recorded an album of original compositions that is due for release in October.

Eric teaches Saxophone (Alto, Tenor, Bari, and Soprano), and a variety of stringed instruments inlcuding Guitar, Bass, and Ukelele. His main musical interest is Jazz and traditional Jamaican music, but enjoys a wide variety of styles including rock, folk, and pop music.

John Bennum

john-bennumGuitar, Drums, Piano, Ukulele, Bass, Trombone, Euphonium/ Baritone

John is currently a student of the Jazz and Improvisational Music program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Previously he attended Northwestern University, where he studied classical trombone with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As a high school student he received numerous awards and accolades for his participation in Washoe County and Nevada State solo and ensemble competitions, and held the position of Principal Trombone with the Reno Youth Symphony Orchestra for four years. John has attended the internationally renowned summer program at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan on a full-ride Governor’s Scholarship.

An active member of the Reno-Truckee-Tahoe music scene, John plays trombone with the Reno Jazz Orchestra, and is in demand as a freelancer. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has worked with many different groups across all styles. He has an advanced knowledge of music theory, and draws on a wealth of experience working as a composer, arranger, and recording artist. John believes that music lessons should be fun first and foremost, and strives to tailor his lessons to the individual.

Mark Henasey

mark_henaseyBass, Guitar, Piano, Trumpet, Saxophone

Mark graduated with a Music Education degree from University of Massachusetts Amherst. He enjoys performing and teaching students of all ages. His teaching methods are diverse and oriented towards each student’s specific musical personality.

He spent nine years as a Faculty Instructor for the Summer Institute for the Gifted teaching music courses at Princeton University, UCLA, Drew University and Bryn Mawr College. He also worked as a high school music director for a private boarding school for seven years.

His original compositions have been featured on University of Princeton radio (WPRB 103.3) and his projects have opened for many international touring acts including Ween, The Wailers, Bernie Worrell (P-Funk and Talking Heads) and Vernon Reed (Living Color).

Mark is also the Split Rock Music School director.

Mark Sexton

mark sexton

Guitar, Piano, Ukulele, Voice

Mark is a professional musician with years of experience in teaching and performing music around the country. As a graduate of the University Of Nevada Reno, Mark studied under the jazz program’s top guitarists. He loves inspiring people of ALL ages and ability levels. Showing his students the techniques and tools to take their guitar and piano playing to the next level.

Ryan Taylor

ryan_taylorPiano, Guitar, Ukulele, Harmonica and Banjo

Ryan grew up in a musical family and began playing the piano as soon as he was big enough to sit at the keyboard.  He took piano lessons from the age of 4 to 16 and continued with guitar instruction through high school and while studying Music Education and Theory at the University of Southern Maine.

Ryan first began performing in jazz groups with his father and grandfather at the age of 12 and has never stopped being an active stage musician since.  He is currently a member of the national touring act the Mark Sexton Band and is a founding member of local groups Terraplane and Thick Newton.  He has opened for Modest Mouse and shared the stage with Karl Denson.

Ryan’s teaching style focuses on directing students down a path that will lead them to having a full and well-rounded musical education and possessing the technique necessary to play the music they want to play.