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.


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.




4 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!
    Josh Martin


    • 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.


  2. Jo Anne Crair November 8, 2018 / 3:44 pm

    do you have ukulele lessons? Cost? I have been a “beginner” for a few years!


    • uptownmusicwesterville November 12, 2018 / 9:09 pm

      HI Jo Anne!

      We do indeed offer ukulele lessons, and we’d be very glad to work with you and get you past the “beginner” stage:)

      Cost is $100 per month for 4 30 minute lessons, so it works out to $25 per lesson.

      Feel free to call or text and we can work out scheduling and details.

      Thanks for your interest!


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