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Music Theory Instructors

Rachel Middendorf

Piano, theory, improv and song writing.

Rachel Middendorf started taking piano lessons when she was 5 years old. She comes from a very large and musical family who encouraged the importance of knowing an instrument and participating in public performances. She participated in many musical competitions as a child and teenager. Later she Graduated from College of the Ozarks where she studied Agriculture, Social work, and Music. Music remained a steady, beloved, constant throughout her life and studies.

Now, Rachel is a full-time mother to 3 children. She plays music very loudly throughout the house for her and the family. She has IPOD fights with her sons. They always default to Garth Brooks and Johnny Cash and she nearly always chooses worship, classical or jazz. She throws dance parties in the living room where her all-frills daughter happily participates. Her familys favorite time of day is when Mom plays piano for the kids to fall asleep.

Rachel sees teaching music as an honor. It is a way to gift someone with the ability to express themselves and share their gift with a world that needs so much. It is a way to literally develop their mind and offer up a challenge that is so worth all the effort.

Her life motto that applies to everything but especially music is this: One small step every single day.

Ashley Ourada

Piano, Vocals, Organ, Theory, improvisation, and Song Writing

Ashley grew up on a cattle farm in a small town called Lucan found in the southwest corner of Minnesota.

Ashley loves music, she has been taking piano and organ lessons since she was 7 years old and continued taking lessons until her sophomore year in college at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. During this time of lessons, she participated in solo performances, studio forums, and dozens of piano and organ competitions where she usually ended with a perfect or near-perfect score!

Ashley's main focus at college was to finish her Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science. But she also pursued minors in Animal Health, Biology, Chemistry, and Music. In addition to taking piano lessons at college, Ashley was also involved in the Women's Chorus for three of the four years at SDSU.

Ashley graduated from SDSU May, 2017. And she recently moved to Columbia to attend the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine to pursue her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree. Music will always be an important part in her life. Even while in college she has done everything from accompanying soloists (vocal and instrumental) and choirs, to playing piano/organ at various churches, to playing piano/organ in weddings!

Ashley is excited to teach students through A Major Music. Music seems to be a dying art, and she wants to keep the love music alive. She cannot wait to share her talents with the students and help them develop their own talent and passion for music.

Phiya Kushi

Piano, Guitar, ear training, music theory, arranging and improvisation

At an early age his older musical sister taught him to read music and he was immediately hooked. By age 11 he spent hours on the piano learning every song and style he heard and loved. In his teens, he was gifted a classical guitar and quickly developed the ability to learn songs and complex chord arrangements by ear on the guitar. Although he loves playing and teaching all different genres, his forte is classical and finger styles.

Professionally, Phiya is a macrobiotic educator and has worked in the natural and organic foods industry his entire life. Through the years, in his spare time and as a hobby, he strove to advance his musical skills whenever he could, focusing more recently on jazz piano improvisation and expanding his Brazilian, Spanish and classical guitar. Through the years he has met and been inspired by many musicians who sees music as the universal language that brings people together.

Phiya loves teaching music at A Major which combines his background in education and his passion for music. He looks forward to meeting and joining others on this amazing journey of discovery and exploration known as music.

Zack Hoff

Guitar, Saxophone, Banjo, Theory, improvisation, and Song Writing

Zack is a guitarist, saxophonist, and songwriter from De Soto, Missouri.  He started playing guitar at nine years old and sax when he was twelve.  He has performed with multiple music groups since his early teens, including jazz combos and rock/metal bands.

His favorite thing to do in his spare time is improvising guitar solos to popular songs.

In high school, Zack was the lead guitarist for his jazz ensemble, played the baritone sax for two years in concert and marching band, and also sang for three years in concert choir.

He is attending the University of Missouri for a degree in astrophysics and mathematics, but one of his greatest passions is teaching and playing music.

Matthew Johnson

Piano, Improvisation, Theory, and Song Writing

Matthew Johnson was raised in Columbia for all of his life, and began playing piano and reading sheet music since he was six.

He kept lessons going until he graduated high school and is now pursuing a musical and artistic career for movie production.

He is currently in college finishing his general education and is excited to teach music.

Matthew believes that any individual can learn anything, and loves helping others realize their dreams of becoming musicians.

Stephen Lavely

Guitar, Piano, Bass, Theory, improvisation, and Song Writing

Stephen is a guitarist and pianist from O Fallon, Missouri. He has been playing music every day for hours a day for over ten years. He studied music in college and is currently a senior at MU getting his bachelors degree.

He has played with choirs, jazz bands, rock bands, and many other types of bands. He has studied Jazz, classical, rock, country, folk, bluegrass, funk, experimental, and many other types of musical genres in the world.

He loves to jam with friends, improvise along with whatever comes on the radio, performing, and figuring out how to learn songs by ear. In his spare time, he reads all kinds of books including science fiction and history, and hangs out with his cat Jaspurr.

Kyra Jones

Voice and Singing, Saxophone, and Theory

Kyra Jones was born in Columbia, MO and has been singing and playing saxophone since the seventh grade. During their second year of studies at Truman State University, Kyra joined the vocal program and trained under Dr. Phyllis Robertson and Dr. Jeffrey Seppala; additionally, Kyra studied composition for a semester with Dr. Charles Gran.

Kyra also has a passion for German and had the exciting opportunity to go to school in Salzburg, Austria for a semester where they continued to hone their musical and compositional skills. Kyra is excited to pass musical knowledge on to others who want to learn more about music.

Aside from writing music and singing, Kyra spends most of their time caring for their three cats: Spectre, Bob, and Flash; and their snake, Arthur.

Josh Yantis

Gutiar, Improvisation, Theory, and Song Writing

Josh Yantis is a Southeast Missouri native who started guitar at age 13. With the guidance of local musicians and artists, he started down the path of learning different techniques and styles to become well versed in all genres and also craft his own sound for his original music.

At 15, he began performing on local and regional stages with groups of ranging styles and influences. His knowledge gained from a career in music combines the ability to play an instrument with the ability to craft an appropriate tone through the instrument and how it is presented through the live mix.

Now living in Columbia, he is pursuing a degree in forestry at the University of Missouri while keeping close to his musical roots.

In his free time, you might find him hiking local trails or spending time with his wife, Danielle, and their two cats.

Linnea Nixon

Piano, Improvisation, and Song Writing

Linnea was born and raised in Washington State. She took private piano lessons for 9 years, while also participating in her school's symphonic, marching, and jazz bands. She played the bass clarinet and snare drum, however the piano remained her favorite.

After graduating high school, she attended Washington State University to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Zoology. She loved playing piano and enjoying music as a stress reliever from school.

Linnea recently moved to Columbia, Missouri, to attend the University of Missouri's College of Veterinary Medicine. When not playing music, Linnea can be found studying or reading a large novel with her cat, Scout.

Brandon Tobin

Piano, Drums, Improvisation, Theory, and Song Writing

Brandon was born and raised in Columbia Missouri. His dad started teaching him the drums when he was around 8, and he started piano lessons when he was 12. He loved growing up playing music with his sister and dad.

He plays anything he can get his hands on, but his favorite genres are classical, jazz, rock, punk, funk and everything in between.

He has always wanted to teach and is excited to be able to help teach music to anyone who is willing to learn! Giving the gift of music is the best thing you can give someone.

Tyler Kemp

Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Improvisation and Music Theory

Tyler is a trained and professional guitarist who entered his six-stringed journey after a live album blew his mind. He has a specific taste for an overdriven blues tone, but loves all genres of music from acoustic fingerpicking to progressive rock. Years of vocal experience help give Tyler an ear for notes, and leads to some great jam sessions.

Born and raised in central Missouri, Tyler is a 2014 Mizzou Alum who has not missed many home football games since 1991. With a wide variety of hobbies and skills from working on cars to videography, Tyler is easy to get along with and a patient teacher you are sure to have a fun time learning from.

Owning a small business gives Tyler a fair amount of scheduling flexibility, you can schedule appointments with him during weekday afternoons and evenings. Fill out a contact form to get in touch!

Greg Allers

Owner of A Major Music

Greg Allers is an experienced instructor and founder of A Major Music Lessons and teaches Guitar, Bass, Drums, Vocals, Theory, Improvisation and Song Writing.

Greg has been playing guitar since he was 12 years old, comes from a musical family, has played in multiple bands during this time, and has a degree in music theory.

Greg has been teaching music professionally since 2008 and over the years he developed teaching strategies and values. Values as simple as always being friendly, caring about your students, teaching them what they want, being consistent, on time, and flexible!

Greg had to stop accepting new private lesson students since he graduated from MU with a mechanical and aerospace engineering degree in 2014, but he loves teaching and spreading the joy of music so he continues to do so by running A Major Music. He helps other teachers that he believes in by training them on his knowledge of music and tactics for teaching that he developed over the years. He holds those teachers to his standard of quality and helps them have the music career he feels so fortunate to have had.