Teaching Staff & Bios


banjo-player-apple-butter-festival-iphoneography-10-5-2014-0116Gary Puckett


Gary has been a professional teacher and musician for decades.   His speciality is American Roots music, which covers bluegrass, old time, blues, country, ragtime, and early jazz.  Gary is the leading banjo instructor in central Ohio.  He’s an expert three-finger and clawhammer style picker and teacher.  He’s also gained the reputation as a talented and prolific composer of instrumental music.    He teaches most acoustic and electric guitar styles, specializing in traditional fingerpicking.   Other instruments include ukulele, mandolin, dobro, and dulcimer. Here is Gary’s philosophy about teaching: “Music is a huge topic, and over the history of mankind we have played every conceivable kind of instrument, from hollow turkey bones to immense and complex organs, even gourds with hide stretched over them (i.e. banjos!)  It’s been played by people with PhD’s, and by people who can’t read. There is no single approach to music that is always “right.” Each person who comes to music has their unique abilities, challenges, perspectives and aspirations.  Some people will be thrilled to be able to strum a few chords, and others have the potential to become world class players. A good teacher understands the student’s aspirations and abilities and adjusts their teaching style for each student. Generally speaking, I approach learning music by working with the student in 4 broad categories: 1) The unique physical requirements of your instrument. This means getting your hands to do what they need to do. 2) Understanding how music works. “Music theory” can sound intimidating, but it’s really not. 3) Building repertoire. Actually have a collection of songs you can play. 4) The social aspects of music. Music can be a private pursuit, but it can also be shared and experienced with others. Being able to play music with other people is an important and fun part of becoming a musician.” .

debbie_2Debbie Zimmerer


Debbie Zimmerer is a performer, music therapist, director, arranger, and a vocal and guitar instructor. She studied classical guitar and music therapy at the University of Dayton, and has since been a performer for over thirty years where she exercises both her strengths in traditional and contemporary music. Working with memory care patients for the past twenty years, Debbie has used music as a means to connect and communicate with those who may have lost the ability. She has also directed and arranged music for ensembles ranging from eight to forty people. These include the St. Paul Contemporary Ensemble, Amplify Youth Band, Our Lady Help of Christians, and the Queen of Apostles Choir, which consisted of over thirty vocalists and a full backing band. Most importantly, though, Debbie had taught guitar and vocals at McCutcheon Music for four years and has been teaching at Uptown Music for six years where she has become an integral part of Westerville’s music community.

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daveDave McCombs


I have a B.A. in Music Education with guitar as my Major instrument. I began playing professionally (jazz, Brazilian, pop and classical) and teaching when I was 15 years old. I have performed solo as well as with instrumental duets, guitar and vocal duets, and quartets through full 20 piece jazz bands. I have been playing guitar for 50 years and have over 30 years of teaching experience. I teach all types of guitar; Acoustic and Electric steel string, Classical (nylon string) guitar, Music Theory, and guitar arranging. With a focus on proper technique and facility, the “how” part of learning to play; learning correct fret hand position, fret finger placement and proper use of the pick or finger position for finger style playing. My experience has shown me it is easier to learn to play correctly from the start than it is to correct established bad habits; but they can be corrected with exercises geared to particular problems. The “what” to play depends upon your interests once the basics have been mastered. I prefer to teach from the stand point of reading musical notes to enable you to converse with other musicians knowledgeably and understand the theory of music and chords. I also incorporate the guitar TAB method so that you know how to read it and use it to aid in your musical education. Everyone learns in different ways and we will approach the way that best works in your particular course of study and make sure to have fun doing it.  My students range in age from 5 to 75 currently and abilities are from beginner to advanced. My lessons are once per week for 30 minutes at a regular agreed-upon meeting time. If you have questions or would like to discuss lessons call or text me at 614-404-3180.

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JennyJenny Hulett


Hello! My name is Jenny Hulett. I have had the privilege of teaching violin in Westerville alongside the Uptown Music instructors for over 10 years. I received my undergraduate degree in Education from OSU, and studied classical violin with Winifred Shera, who was the longest standing member of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra! During my instruction, I played in the Columbus Cadet and Youth Symphony Orchestras. In total, I have played violin for 33 years. I enjoy playing music at my church, for weddings and other special events. It has been a joy to meet so many wonderful students of all ages– children and adult– during my time at Uptown Music, and I look forward to meeting many more. If you are interested in beginning to intermediate traditional violin instruction and/or beginning fiddle lessons, I am happy to teach you!

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jim volkJim Volk


Jim Volk’s masterful yet whimsical performances have spellbound audiences of all age groups and backgrounds for three decades. His fiery, melodic hybrid style of picking has incurred countless comparisons to Kottke, Keaggy and Tommy E. His solo release, “Blue Wheels…and Other Guitar Favorites” has drawn much critical acclaim and award nationwide. The new instrumental CD, “Past Atmospheres-Present States” was released 2014. Volk artfully incorporates traditional fingerstyle and electric guitar techniques and devises for a truly “Modern Acoustic” presentation while keeping the traditional essence intact. Jim Volk’s critically acclaimed and award winning solo guitar work draws from traditional and contemporary styles around the world. More like a bird’s eye journey of the world of music rather than focusing on one specific style. He will go from the 16th century to ’70s rock then swing it Like Chet meets Django within a measure; and oh the fun listeners have trying to count the number of themes he has woven into that 10 minute medley. And of course, plenty of classic favorites that span a few decades and as well as delightfully quirky moments of musical entertainment; Bluegrass Ukulele ?… Short Attention Span Guitar Theater?! and yes, Volk sings. Jim conducts guitar clinics as well as individual classes and workshops at Uptown Music in Westerville Ohio. Please visit his website at http://www.jimvolk.com for more information.

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Tom Bowling


I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to play guitar. I first began learning by watching Laura Weber’s guitar class on WOSU. My parents loved music and knew most of the popular artists. My father knew the names of many of the guitarists in the bands and would point them out to me. As a child I took lessons and jammed with friends. By the time I was in my teens, I was in the musicians’ union playing in several bands and teaching. It was a great way to make money playing guitar! Later on I studied jazz and classical guitar at OSU. I have been a working musician most of my life and a full time guitar teacher for the last 28 years. I have taught guitar in Westerville for the last 14 years. I have prepared countless students for college, as I have extensive knowledge of music theory and guitar technique. I enjoy playing in different styles, and I like helping people realize their dream of playing guitar and becoming a better musician.

David Puckett


David on Stage

At the age of 18, David began his career as a musician and started to tour internationally full time. Although he is a young 25, by 2014 he had toured the United States upwards of 20 times as well as Europe, Canada, South America and Australia. Towards the end of 2014 he had become fully endorsed by the top companies in the drumming world; Tama percussion, Meinl cymbals, Remo drumheads and Vater drumsticks. He also has multiple albums out that have charted on the Billboard Top 40.
Having spent years touring internationally full time, learning from drummers all over the world, and countless hours of studying the theory, psychology and physiology of drumming, David decided to join the Uptown Music staff to help others discover their passion, cultivate their talent, and craft their art of drumming. His approach to teaching is quickly being recognized as one of the most effective methods nationwide, and is unique to each student. It can be summed up as follows;
“Every person on earth is wired differently. They perceive reality differently, they experience things differently, they process things differently. Music is not an exception to that universal truth. When teaching, one must identify how this person perceives music, how they experience music, and how they process music in order to develop a personalized lesson plan that is molded to strengthen their weaknesses while simultaneously building on their strengths. Drumming is 85% mental, and when one can realize that, they can quickly develop skill that they never thought possible. My hope and goal in teaching is to help people in their journey of playing music as an expression of their own uniqueness.”
David teaches all age groups(his current students range in age anywhere from 7 to the mid-40’s), and also offers lessons online via Skype for those unable to make it to Westerville on a weekly basis. Feel free to email him with any further questions!

uptownmusicdavid@yahoo.com

2 thoughts on “Teaching Staff & Bios

  1. Josh Martin December 22, 2015 / 1:06 pm

    Do you do lessons at your facility with your equipment? I have a nephew i am looking into getting drum lessons for. He lives in Westerville and is new to drumming and does not yet own a set.
    And once we establish that, I would like to discuss session, dates, times, and rates!
    Thanks!
    Josh Martin

    Like

    • uptownmusicwesterville December 23, 2015 / 6:53 am

      Hi Josh!

      We do indeed offer drum lessons. We have a lesson room dedicated to drum, with a full kit with pads in place. If you need advice about getting a drum set we can help you with that too. Please contact our drum teacher, David Puckett, to discuss scheduling, rates, and any other questions you might about about getting your nephew started. Thanks for your interest, and we are very happy to help you.

      David’s number is 614-557-3844. This is his cell: texting is the best way to contact him.

      Like

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