Raj has been playing the drums since the age of twelve whilst attending Little Heath School in Reading.
Playing in a functions band ‘Jack in the Jukebox’ and the percussion group ‘L’esprit du tambour’, led by his drum teacher, has given Raj a lot of experience in many different styles of music including Rock, Pop, Funk, Samba and Blues. Raj is also fully trained Audio engineer and Currently regularly playing gigs all over the southeast with his band The Seasons in Shorthand.
Raj says “I was very shy as a young boy. Learning to play the drums gave me the confidence to believe in myself and come out of my shell whilst doing something I really enjoy. I’m looking forward to helping The Rock Project students have a similar experience.”
Drum Tutor Chris Merton
Having had a nationwide release in 2008 at the age of 18 with his album ‘Valour’, which also featured in Kerrang Magazine , it is clear that Chris has been a dedicated musician right from the start. He then graduated from the Academy of Contemporary Music in 2012 with a BA(Hons) in Professional Music Performance.
Since then he has played with top quality musicians all over the world and spent most of his time performing in house bands in luxury hotels all over the United Arab Emirates.
It’s fair to say that Chris has a vast amount of performing experience and a huge repertoire spanning over a wide variety of genres. Now, back in the UK, his concentration has moved to teaching and sharing his knowledge with the up and coming musicians of the new generation.
Guitar Tutor Naomi Di Cillo
Naomi Di Cillo, is a L.A.M.D.A grade 8 certified singer/actor and vocal coach with a HND in Performing Arts, from Reading who sings with the Pink Floyd tribute ‘Endless Floyd’ and function band ‘Strictly Commercial’.
A passionate singer from the age of six, she has vast experience in a multitude of singing styles having performed in countless musicals and productions, including Half a Sixpence, Evita, Pirates of Penzance, Guys n Dolls and Calamity Jane at The Hexagon and the lead role in ‘B Is for Black’ which showcased at Southstreet Art’s Centre Reading.
Naomi uses her vivacious character to encourage confidence and deliver fun informative sessions, whilst embedding practice of good vocal health and performance discipline.
She is enthused to be making her next step on her vocal journey and will be joining The Rock Project team this September.
Vocal Tutor Ben Forsey
Ben started playing Bass Guitar at the age of 13 years old and has played Bass and Guitar for numerous bands over the past 12 years in a wide variety of genres including Ska Punk, Metal and Rock. Currently he plays in an up and coming rock band called Big Gruesome, who will soon start gigging in the Reading and surrounding area.
Ben studied Music at GCSE, A Level and at University and since then has been teaching on and off in between band projects and passing on his experience to the new wave of young musicians in Reading.
“As a boy and in my early teen years, there was very little I enjoyed doing and I had no obvious talent for anything. But Music and Guitar completely changed my life and gave me a passion, a goal and a purpose. It is amazing when I see that same desire in young people.”
Guitar / Bass Tutor Marisa Rodriguez
Marisa has dedicated her life to music. She is a passionate singer and multi-instrumentalist with a love for all genres of music. She studied at the well-celebrated Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM, Guildford) where she completed her degree in Vocal Performance and Music.
Since then she has immersed herself into the music industry. She now teaches singing, hosts her own organised events, sings regularly at professional functions and studio sessions (e.g. adverts for companies such as “Coca Cola”), and also she writes and performs with her originals band Shaydes (genre alt/pop/rock).
Marisa is an experienced rock singer and singing teacher and excited to join the team at The Rock Project, so that she can help to bring out the best in our young singers and performers!!!
Vocal Tutor Rebecca Cooch
Rebecca is a classically trained soprano but is a versatile singer of many styles. She is the lead singer of local melodic metal band ‘Incarnadine Coven’ and sings backing vocals with Pink Floyd Tribute band ‘Crazy Diamond’.
Rebecca started taking lessons aged 14. This gave her the opportunity to explore opera as well as musical theatre; performing in numerous musicals and taking the lead role of ‘Lucy’ in Menotti’s operetta ‘The Telephone’, aged 16.
Whilst at university in London, Rebecca performed in and choreographed the musical ‘Chess’ and she took the role of ‘Hodel’ in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at Portsmouth University during her Masters. She joined Masquerade Musical Theatre Company when she moved to Reading and was in Reading Phoenix Choir from 2006 to 2014.
Rebecca has built up considerable solo repertoire and experience; performing in numerous concerts and large works such as ‘The Messiah’, participating in local festivals and presenting classical recitals. She has won the Borough of Basingstoke Cup at Basingstoke Music and Arts Festival twice and is the current holder of the Norman Morris Recital Trophy from Woodley Festival for the second year running. She achieved distinction in grade 8 singing in 2014 and is now working towards the Licentiate of Trinity College London Diploma in Musical Performance as well as becoming a singing teacher.
Rebecca is delighted to join the Rock Project team, to work with and inspire young singers and to be able to turn her passion for singing into a new career.
Vocal Tutor Aaron lley
Aaron started learning guitar at the age of 13 inspired by all the bands his parents had taken him to see at a young age.
Aaron’s first band as a teenager peaked playing a sold out show at the Hexagon in Reading to over a 1000 people. Post teenage metal band, Aaron has toured the UK with his former band pop-rock ‘Echoic’ playing at 02 Academies, Sub89 and Dingwalls in Camden as getting featuring in/on Kerrang Magazine, Kerrang Radio, Rock Sound and BBC Radio 1 to name a few. Currently Aaron plays with Jazz-pop group ‘Khamsina’ and Alt-Rock band ‘InAir’ as well as doing sound in various small venues across Reading.
‘The best moments in my life have come playing in bands on stage or in the studio with like minded people. I would find it sad to think that other people haven’t found that sense of fulfilment in their life. Those visceral moments of joy are worth living whole life times for.’
Guitar Tutor Emile Watters
Emile has been playing the guitar since the age of 12 (2002) and at the age of 17 gained a place to study at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance but decided to turn his attention to playing live across the country in the metal scene supporting a number of successful acts including Devil Sold His Soul and The Arusha Accord. After a couple years of performing Emile turned his hand to teaching and obtained grades in guitar and drums.
Guitar Tutor Chris Allum
Chris is a highly active musician and has been gigging for the last 9 years for a variety of acts performing anything from jazz to rock. Currently he is playing with his professional cover band “Daft” who can be found gigging on a weekly basis at weddings, corporate events and parties all around the county. Chris’s main instrument is the bass guitar but he also plays the guitar and the drums making him a very versatile musician.
Having achieved a national diploma and a degree in music performance at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music Chris has got a good understanding of music theory, song arrangements and of the music industry. Chris has also been teaching privately and in local school for the last 3 years which has fuelled his enthusiasm of effectively passing on his knowledge and passion of music to young aspiring musicians.
Bass Tutor Jo Alden
Jo is a local musician who has been playing bass for 5 years. Originally a guitarist, Jo specialised in bass and has played in a wide variety of bands on a weekly basis for the last 5 years, particularly at Christian conferences, festivals and church services.
Jo studied music at GCSE and gained a National Diploma in Music Practice at college, before heading up the development of young musicians at St Paul’s Church in Weston-super-Mare for several years.
Jo is passionate about music, performance and sharing her musical expertise with young people, and loves that she has the chance to inspire the young people of Berkshire.
Bass Tutor Marcus Bjoro
Marcus started playing at the age of 11. He has studied music at Reading college and then at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM).
He has been playing in various bands since the age of 16 performing all around the UK with cover bands and original projects with plenty of experience in the recording studio, most notably having released a full length album with thrash metal band ‘Kremated’.
With over 4 years teaching experience as well as other experience in working with children he has both the knowledge and capability to give aspiring musicians what they need for success.
Bass Tutor Tony Stanley
Tony started playing guitar at age 12; inspired by the virtuosity of guitarists like Jimmy Page, Ted Nugent and Ritchie Blackmore. He soon was playing and writing material for school bands and pub rock bands before going off to university. He Continued playing guitar and gigging in local bands through student days and beyond. As a student, he first began teaching guitar in schools and developed a love of teaching.
Largely a self-taught musician, although he did study A’level music, he has a solid back ground in blues, rock, old-school metal and Classical guitar. Currently he devotes his time to teaching guitar and is a member of the Registry of Guitar Tutors (RGT).
Guitar Tutor Rob Barnes
Rob has been passionate about music since a young age, learning the keyboard from the age of six. Since then, he loves to play any instrument he can get his hands on. At age 12, he discovered rock music and picked up the electric guitar.
Since then, Rob has successfully studied up to grade 8 guitar with Rockschool, and taught many more guitarists to do the same
Rob enjoys listening to, and playing, a wide range of musical styles. He has been teaching guitar and bass privately since 2009, and has also run online courses and published guitar instructional books.
More recently, he has been working in primary schools with a wide range of instruments (hoping to inspire a whole new generation to enjoy music as much as he does!).
Guitar Tutor Gary Cubberley
Gary Cubberley studied drums. percussion and piano at Trinity College of Music London and has a professional career as a session drummer and educator spanning 30 years. He has performed and recorded all over the world and for the last 20 years has worked on numerous major musical theatre productions in London’s West End, including Billy Elliot, Les Miserables, The Producers, Miss Saigon, Singing in The Rain, Tonight’s the night, to name but a few!
Drum Tutor Ben Thorogood
Originally a Drummer, Ben found his feet as a musician by always providing a reliable groove and always keeping time, no matter his role in a band. Ben has played in a multitude of different bands and settings and has been known to be pushed far out of his musical comfort zone and still perform to a high standard.
Ben’s influences include Michael jackson, Quincy Jones, Bernard Purdie, Danny Carrey, Paul McCartney and many more.
Ben is a graduate of The Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford where he studied Professional Sound Production. With his new partnership with The Rock Project Berkshire, Ben is very excited to get the opportunity to show the younger generation how fun and rewarding playing an instrument can be and hopes he can inspire people in the same way he was when he was younger.’
Bass Tutor Mark Vincent
Born in Reading, Mark took up drumming at the age of 4 and began private lessons through the Berkshire Music service from 7 years old. At the same time as also taking piano and recorder lessons, drumming quickly turned into a passion through his inspiring teachers Michael Creech and Hamish Stewart. His parents also surrounded him with all the genres a young motivated drummer needs; from Phil Collins, Deep Purple and Buena Vista Social Club, to Yes, Weather Report and Dave Brubeck.
As a teenager Mark grew into heavier styles such as Punk and New Metal and at 13, this lead to the formation of his first band (and his first experience of a recording studio) which went on to record 2 EPs. This band then transformed into the 6-headed Metal group Mark is renowned for drumming with – The Arusha Accord. With multiple releases through Basick Records, the band has toured extensively throughout the UK and across Europe sharing stages with Napalm Death, Meshuggah, Tesseract, Sylosis and Architects to name a few, having gained fans worldwide with their virtuosic and extremely technical sound.
Mark was able to stretch his potential even further by graduating in 2015 with a BA (Hons) in Music from Oxford Brookes University, where his gift to move between genres fluently with different projects and musicians has been strengthened and used to its best ability.
His entire musical past has helped shape Mark into the player he is today: A hugely driven musician who has acquired an arsenal of experience in all areas of drumming as an independent musician.
Drum Tutor Stuart Barker
Stuart has worked on the UK jazz, rock and pop scenes ever since 2007 and has toured Europe and on occasions worldwide with various bands.Stuart completed the Jazz Ba hons course at Birmingham Conservatoire and left receiving the Course prize in 2014.
He has performed at countless well known venues such as Ronnie Scott’s, the 606, Barbican, Southbank centre to name a few.
Stuart has performed with artists such as Andreas Bochelli, Clark Tracey and Simon Spillett and supported Laura Mvula, The Blockheads and Snarky puppy as well as appearing on TV shows such as Made in Chelsea. Stuart was also chosen without audition to play in the prestigious Queen Mary 2 cocktail bar.
He has been involved in teaching for the last few years, working for companies in Birmingham and Berkshire as well as workshops in Europe.
Stuart is a keen composer and arranger of music as well as double bassist, guitarist, bassist and loves to play drums and piano when he gets the chance. He also promotes his own monthly gigs and has an avid interest in the music industry.