One random post-pandemic morning in mid-2021, Mike woke up (figuratively and literally) and decided he needed out from his 22-year career as Director of Operations for a major distribution company. In his exact words, he was “bored, ignored, and tired of living someone else’s dream.” What he really aspired to do was open his own music school, so off he went in pursuit of musical happiness. It took a few more months, but upon discovering School of Rock, he knew he had found his destiny. Being welcomed into their family of owners has been the true highlight of his career.
Mike is a lifelong guitarist and product of the 80s, raised on large doses of hair metal. He’s pretty sure he was vaccinated with a phonograph needle as a baby because he’s been obsessed with guitar and music ever since childhood. He graduated with a business degree from Ramapo College and is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt…but really, who cares about all that? He is most proud of the 2-year stint he did with Berklee College of Music to gain a Master’s Certificate in Guitar. He obsesses over School of Rock from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed, much to his family’s chagrin.
Mike would rather watch ballet than football and he likes Chinese food, Halloween movies, Orange Theory Fitness, and Van Halen. (Note: his wife thinks he built the school to display his Van Halen stuff, and she’s not wrong.) When not working, he’s modifying guitars, playing in the NJ-based cover band Toy Canon, hanging with his wife and kids, and going to church.
Robin Cabana is a graphic designer, Star Wars enthusiast and Girl Scout leader who lives in New Jersey with her pug, Penny. She is an aunt to five awesome kids. Robin doesn’t play any instruments, but she’s not afraid to rock the mic at karaoke. Robin spent most of her career working in newspapers, until she started her own graphic design and social media business. She graduated from Rutgers University where she majored in history and one of her favorite classes was History of Rock and Roll.
Robin is a proud nerd, obsessing over Star Wars, Thor, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Supernatural, and too many other things to list. She reads about 100 books a year (seriously!) and loves building Legos and taking care of her succulent plants. Musically, Robin is a child of the 80s and teen of the grunge era who grew up listening to 60s pop. Her favorites include the Beatles, Springsteen, the Pretenders,U2, Depeche Mode, the Who, Bob Dylan, the Stones, the Killers, Madonna, Indigo Girls, Lady Gaga, and all the showtunes.
Chris is a lifelong music fanatic with an obsessive passion and encyclopedic knowledge of all things rock n’ roll. Chris is excited to share his passion with the next generation of rock and rollers and bring them up to speed on all things Aero-to Zep.
Favorite Colors: Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Moody Blues, Green Day and Pink Floyd.
Favorite Foods: Pearl Jam, Chili Peppers, Meatloaf, Bread and Cream.
Chris is married and has one teenage son that does NOT share his rock n’ roll passion, even though he tried very hard. When his son was 5 and asked him: “What’s heavier, a car or a tree?” Chris answered: “Black Sabbath.”
Music Director, Drum Teacher
Jacob has two degrees from Bard College, one in Mathematics and another in Teaching. He’s been drumming since he was 8 years old and firmly states that “the drums are indisputably the coolest instrument and anyone who says otherwise is lying to make themselves feel better about their non-percussive instrument.”
Jacob believes that music can bring out the good in people and inspire them to be the best versions of themselves. He says: “When people experience the joy of musical creation, they are more capable of loving themselves and the people around them. This makes way for the development of a helpful community and support group." Jacob is so excited to see School of Rock Maywood blossom into a home for its students and staff.
Self-taught Colombian guitarist Tom Abella started playing at the age of 18. Only 3 years later, he was already teaching guitar in an elementary school in his native Bogota. Around 1993, Abella put together his first cover band, and had already started making a living as a musician playing at bars when he won the first Electric Guitar Festival contest in Colombia. This award gave him the opportunity to be known in Bogotá’s music scene.
Tom Abella made his big debut in the first “Rock Al Parque” festival in 1995, quickly positioning himself as the first and then only guitarist with a Progressive Instrumental Rock proposal in Colombia. In 2000 Abella became the first electric guitar teacher at the National Pedagogical University of Colombia, where he worked as director of the electric instruments area until 2006 and simultaneously as a teacher at the District University until 2011. He also recorded an instructional DVD clinic called "Guitar Skills" in 2005 for "ArtefactoProducciones" in Bogota.
Abella has single-handedly composed and produced a total of 4 albums to date: Ragnarock (1997), Nacidos para la Batalla (1999), Tinitus (2005) and The Architect of the Universe (2016). He has been sponsored throughout his career by renowned brands such as Schecter Guitars, Fernandes Guitars, Laney Amplification, D'Addario Guitar Strings and EKO Guitars, which built him a signature model, the “Tom Abella Eko Fire".
After multiple years touring Latin America and the United States, he’s now residing permanently in New York City, where he has taught guitar and bass at renowned institutions like The School of Rock Queens and Rock Island Sound.
Little Wing Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Kristen Kajiwara has been a teacher working around the globe for over 25 years. Kristen is a certified K-6, Special Education, and English as a Second Language teacher. Studying music theory, piano/keyboard, and flute since childhood has led to many opportunities for her to teach music and to play concerts in places such as Wisconsin, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.
She is a fan of 80's rock music and of the strong female lead-singers of today including Pink and Lady Gaga. Kristen looks forward to sharing her love of music, rhythm, and song with young students who are beginning their musical journey at the School of Rock Maywood.
Chris has been teaching drums since 2001. He is a former Spaun Drum endorser and is featured on the Vic Firth Educational Program as an educator. If you love drums and metal, Chris is your guy! Past bands include Midian (thrash metal) from 1989-1991, Gomez’s Childhood (hardcore) from 1994-1996, and The Binary Code (Tech-metal) in 2015. Notable recordings include Wolf’s Blood EP (2020) and Tears Of Rain (single 2021). His current project is Beyond Shadows, a melodic death metal band. He is also the author of the book “Chris Who??!! The Writings and Ramblings Of An Unknown Musical Bore” available on Amazon.
Vocal Teacher, Keyboard Teacher, Guitar Teacher
Michael’s musical journey began at a young age while watching Steve Perry (Journey) sing on MTV and listening to all the classic rock records his dad would play. Ironically, he didn’t formally take music lessons until age 19. Prior to that, he spent time listening and hanging around jazz musicians, who would occasionally invite him to play with them. After only 3 months of taking lessons with an instructor, he was performing advanced Billy Joel songs at a recital. In his words: “All the experience I had being around musicians gave me a music education I didn’t even know I was getting, and when I started taking lessons everything just clicked.”
Now, with a B.A. in Classical Piano and over 20 years of music teaching experience in Rock/ Pop, Jazz & Classical, Michael loves sharing his passion for music with his students.
Whether you’ve never played a note or are looking to refine your advanced skills, Michael can help you unlock your musical potential through customized lessons in piano, guitar, and voice. Using ear training, composition, improvisation, music theory, and performance prep, he will help you identify your musical goals and overcome the mental roadblocks that are preventing you from playing your best.
Vocal Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Elana is an accomplished vocalist who has been singing and performing her entire life. She is currently enrolled at William Paterson University for Pop Vocal Performance. She loves creating and sharing her passion for music with others, and is excited to continue her music career as a part of the School Of Rock family!
Steve has been playing guitar for over 30 years in various bands and projects. He also has 15 years of experience as a bandleader and composer, performing in venues such as CBGBs, Mercury Lounge, and The Knitting Factory in NYC. He was educated in music theory and jazz improvisation at Pennsylvania State University. Steve specializes in funk and rock styles. He is also an avid record collector and DJ. He lives in Garfield with his wife and 2 young children.
Little Wing/Rookies Teacher, Guitar Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Rhonda Schuster is a published singer-songwriter, performer, musician, and the author of her first children's book, Oobba Dabba Wabba Chu. Rhonda's passion is singing in clubs, restaurants, and concerts, from the tri-state area to St. Barths in the French Caribbean, and performing all genres for all ages.
Rhonda has had her song, "We Might Never Feel This Way Again," featured in a segment on the CBS soap opera, As the World Turns. Her songwriting afforded her a position as a staff writer at Phantom Publishing. Rhonda has released four albums to date, and is currently recording her fifth album.
Rhonda specializes in music programs and performances for children from Pre-K to 6th grade, the YWCA of Bergen County, numerous hospital audiences, and treatment facilities for disabled patients. She creates a productive environment for group participation, physical movement, rhythmic play, and group singing, where freedom of expression and socialization is the key—which is what brought her to School of Rock!
Rhonda loves cupcakes and is a cookie dunker, which led to her writing a song about it. She loves to be spontaneously creative in humorous ways. Some would say she is a master at creating pipe cleaner animal figures.
Jim started disturbing his Mom’s peace with the sound of drums when he was eight years old. Thankfully, she supported him, and even took him to weekly drum lessons! And so, his rock and roll journey began.
He continued to bang away, trying to emulate his childhood idols - legendary rock drummers like Bonham, Moon, Ringo, Kramer, Peart, Gadd, and Seraphine, to name a few immortals. His high school band even won the school’s Battle of the Bands.
As a young teen, Jim traveled with his older brother’s show band, giving him the opportunity to spend time around working bands and professional musicians. This included one of the best time keepers on the east coast, and is how he developed a passion for tempo. A ‘less is more’ kind of drummer, Jim prefers a keep-it-simple style, playing the right parts, and playing in time. He appreciates all music but has a special love affair with rock and soul from the 60s through the 90s.
Sal Lano found his passion for the drums and music at a young age. Shortly after upgrading from cardboard boxes to a drum kit, his father signed him up for the School of Rock at the age of 11. Since then, Sal has played countless shows at numerous venues, including The Stone Pony, Mercury Lounge, The Knitting Factory Brooklyn, and Rockwood Music Hall. Sal uses his knowledge and enthusiasm to show how amazing a drum kit could make you feel while discovering all the different styles of music that are able to drive you to be your best. There's no greater feeling than playing the drums!
At 4 years old, Madeline’s musical career began when she would get up on the table at holiday dinners to serenade her family (complete with a spoon for a microphone). She now holds a degree in Music, specializing in Vocal Performance and Electronic Production from Bard College. Madeline’s singing style bridges rock, jazz, R&B, and pop music. She released a collaborative album, “Just Friends,” in 2022 and is releasing her first solo project, “Like a Dream,” in January 2023, songs from which she’s been playing at East Coast venues.
Singing has always been a source of joy and empowerment for Madeline, as well as a way to make lifelong friends and find a musical community. She is so excited to join School of Rock Maywood and work with students on developing their voices and finding the fun in singing!
After a long slumber (raising children) the Bass Hawk Returneth! Come one, come all and learn to be the foundation of this music we love and call rock! Al brings 30 years of experience combined with touring and playing legendary venues like CBGB's and Lamours. He’s shared the stage with Overkill, Biohazard and the Milwaukee Metal Fest to name a few. In his own words: “I’m looking for willing students who want to be the unsung heroes of any and all music outfits… I hope to see and hear you as soon as possible. Rock on!”
Keyboard + Piano Teacher
Yossi Shoham began his musical journey in childhood learning piano and clarinet. Jamming with his father, he developed a unique style that carried on to his own compositions. Playing in a duo and in several bands for many years, he truly enjoys live performances and collaborations. While currently working as a software engineer with an electronic engineering background, Yossi naturally connects technical music studio skills in recording, editing, and producing music, especially in the live performance area. In his own words: “Every day I cherish the moments of making music.”
Guitar Teacher, Keyboard + Piano Teacher
Rob is a musician with more than twenty years of experience playing all over the country. His primary instruments are the guitar and keyboard, and he brings a vast knowledge of music theory to his teaching approach. He’s currently the guitarist for the rock-jazz band Jupiter X-9, as well as a member of the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation. Additionally, his talent spans many genres, as he has directed film and theater and done video editing as well.