Instructors

At the Friendly School of Folk Music, our instructors are those who continue to immerse themselves in the music community. They gig, they write, they record, they teach.

photo Rob Pierce

Rob Pierce is the owner of the Friendly School of Folk Music and the visionary behind the Friendly Community. A lifelong musician, Rob is available to teach drums, guitar, piano, banjo, ukelele, vocals, percussion, and harmonica.  Rob works with students of all ages, and loves to help each student find their passion with the right instrument and style of music.

     
photo Cheryl Tomblin

Cheryl Tomblin is revered as a multi-faceted singer/songwriter and known in the local music scene for her Pipes Project (described as "being dark and melancholy, holding the audience captivated by cyclic guitar riffs, poignant and unlikely orchestration with smoky vocal undertones"). However, this dynamic artist is currently receiving accolades for the music she composed for the Echo Theater Collective​'s presentation of BLUES FOR MISTER CHARLIE by James Baldwin (at the Madison Street Theatre​). As one of our instructors at the Friendly School of Folk Music​, we are especially proud to have Cheryl on stage at Friendly Folk Fest each year. Cheryl​ is available to teach the violin/fiddle, piano, guitar, and vocals.

     
photo Cliff Killion

Cliff Killion is a longtime Oak Parker with music roots that go back to playing string bass for the Irving School band and OPRF symphony orchestra. He’s been a guitarist or bassist in countless garage, basement, and working bands ever since. Cliff has recorded many original songs with various groups in studios and orchestras, and currently, he plays with the Packastanleys, Dukes & Pearls, and Blue Lincolns. With a gifted ability to play whatever he hears, he shares his talents through teaching guitar and bass at FSOFM.

     
photo Jon Williams

Jon Williams has been a gigging musician in Chicago for 24 years.  He’s played with dozens of groups, including Mount Pilot and Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire, and he currently performs with the Hat Stretchers, Mountainaires, and Peter Joly Group. Being proficient in traditional jazz, country, blues, bluegrass, and rock circa 1950-75, Jon is a highly respected musician and instructor. He shares the Friendly Tap stage every 1st Thursday with Rick Sherry and Kip Rainey, and every 3rd Sunday with Peter Joly Group.  Jon plays and teaches guitar, mandolin, fiddle, piano, and bass.

     
photo Maggie Dahlberg

Maggie Dahlberg has a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from Northwestern University.  She has been teaching piano lessons to students of all ages and levels for over 20 years.

     
photo Ryan Joseph Anderson

Ryan Joseph Anderson was the former frontman for the beloved Chicago garage-rock band Go Long Mule, which released two albums—2011’s Kissing The Gunner’s Daughter and 2013’s Albion—and carved out a touring niche in the Midwest before disbanding this winter. To record a new solo album, Anderson decamped to Nashville to collaborate with Andrija Tokic at the Bomb Shelter studio. On Weaver’s Broom, Anderson displays his lyrical songwriting gifts in stripped-down settings. The new album evokes the open-tunings of Nick Drake as well as the barroom howl of Tom Waits. - American Songwriter. See where Ryan is playing next and listen to his latest album at Ryanjosephanderson.com

 

 

 

     
photo Connor Ostrow

As the youngest instructor at the Friendly School of Folk Music, Connor Ostrow (the 2015 Illinois State Fair Fiddle Champion) is available to teach fiddle and violin. He is active in the bluegrass music scene, performing with award-winning teen performers through his Basement Bluegrass band. He also plays with local sensations like Ethan Kinsella and Matthew Francis Andersen, as well as the legendary Oak Park Farmer’s Market players, and most recently with the Gin Palace Jesters.

     
photo Carl Larson

Carl has a bachelors degree in music from Roosevelt University in Chicago Illinois. With over 20 years of teaching experience, he teaches as well as plays guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo and ukulele.

     
photo Nigel Mack

Chicago blues ‘triple threat’ (slide guitar, harmonica and vocals) Nigel Mack delivers a high-energy show that fuses blues classics with the punch of contemporary original blues. Seamlessly switching between instruments, Nigel Mack is equally proficient at them all. These are talents honed by years of relentless touring in support of his critically acclaimed CDs, Devil’s Secrets, Road Rage and High Price to Play. Nigel’s latest release, the award winning, all-original, Devil’s Secrets, was the #1 Canadian blues CD of 2012, nationwide in Canada on Galaxy Satellite radio. Mack’s original compositions have been featured on television sound-tracks ‘Dawson’s Creek’, ‘The Street’ and ‘Time of Your Life’.  Nigel is available to teach harmonica and guitar! Visit http://nigelmack.com

     
photo Gary Cleland

A lifelong Chicagoan, Gary Cleland is classically trained. He studied at the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University and privately with current and former members of the Chicago Symphony, as well as other noted professionals such as Warren Benefield, Joe Guasafeste, Jim Palacek, Brian Ferguson, Jack LaSpina. Early in his career, Gary performed in the Chicago Lyric Opera, Basically Bach, a number of the local symphonic orchestras, and various jazz groups, as well as in the pit for many of the musicals that came through Chicago’s top-rated theaters. He is sought out by singer-songwriters, folk and jazz groups for his versatility. As a founding member of CR6, he finds the array of international musical influences in the repertoire as an opportunity to draw upon the full range of his musical background. Gary is available to teach Upright Bass.

 

     
photo Jeff Burke

Jeff Burke has been a professional musician for over 17 years, specializing in mandolin, guitar, and banjo.  As half of the duo Jeff & Vida, he has performed thousands of shows across the US and Europe.  Jeff’s down-to-earth teaching style and positive approach to playing and learning music have endeared him to students in classes and workshops far and wide.  He has hosted regular classes and workshops at the Station Inn and The Country Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN and is currently offering lessons is association with the Friendly School of Folk Music.  He is a sought after sideman and currently performs with a number of touring and regional acts around the country. 


 

     
photo Hannah Rand

Hannah Rand earned a degree in Songwriting from Belmont University in 2016. Since then, she’s been writing songs and performing all over the country. She plays the piano and sings, and enjoys teaching music to young children. Visit hannahrandmusic.com to learn more.

     
photo Lexie Levy
Lexie Levy offers private lesson instruction and coaching in voice and piano, including: style, technique, theory, ear training, transcription (traditional notation & leadsheets), and songwriting, as desired. Her specialty is helping folks of all ages learn to sing while accompanying themselves on piano, with or without sheet music.  She would like to especially invite beginners of all ages to experience the joy of making music in a relaxed and collaborative environment, right here in Berwyn.
Education: 
Millikin University, Decatur, IL [Musical Theatre, Dance, Contemporary Music]
DePaul University, Chicago, IL [Jazz Studies]
3 years studying with vocal coach Ed Farran
     
photo Leah Egan

Early Childhood Music Specialist and Private Flute Instructor

Leah Egan has been joyfully singing, dancing and playing instruments with children in the Chicago area for over twenty years. She holds a degree in K-12 instrumental music education with a minor in flute performance. Leah is Kindermusik licensed and has taught elementary and middle school band in the public and Catholic school systems. She has two Kindermusik studios in Chicago and one in River Forest, and she is also a flute instructor who is thrilled about adding more students at the Friendly Music School. Bringing her early childhood music program to Berwyn and The Friendly Community is an exciting venture for the school and the instructor alike, as both hold a strong belief that music can change people's lives for the better. Leah Egan lives in Oak Park with her patient husband, four lively children, one naughty dog and two busy bunnies. 

     
photo Adam Brade

Adam Brade teaches guitar and bass.
He plays guitar and sings with the original project "The Birddogs" and he plays bass in a rock n' roll band called "MB and the Chargers."

     
photo Michael Henson

Michael Henson is a solo fingerstyle guitarist and guitar instructor in Oak Park who plays and composes instrumental acoustic guitar music in a variety of ethnic musical styles with influences from popular music and the American folk music tradition.  He has been featured throughout the Chicagoland area for many years as part of the Heartlands acoustic trio and as a solo artist, and he has performed original compositions at both faculty recitals and masters recitals in the area. He has performed at Fitzgeralds in Berwyn, the Heartland Café, and the Chicago French Market, and he was a regular performer for Sunday Brunch at Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park.

He has produced two compact discs of original guitar instrumental recordings, Flying Colors and Fingerprints, both of which are available for sampling and for download at www.cdbaby.com.