Our faculty are a diverse group of exceptionally talented individuals who bring years of teaching, recording, and performing experience to the table.
Rich Bennett is a mulit-instrumentalist, composer, producer, recording engineer and co-founder of Acme Hall Studios. Rich began playing guitar at the age of 12 and won a Bertelsmann award for composition as a high school senior, sending him off to NYU, where he graduated with a degree in Jazz Guitar performance. A decade of performing and writing saw Rich on tour internationally with a number of bands and as a solo artist. Some of his production credits include gothic metal group Sabbath Assembly, dream pop outfit Monocle, electronica artist Morgane Lhote (Stereolab, Hologram Teen), and singer/songwriter Rebecca Pronsky. Rich currently plays guitar in the newly reunited outsider/60s proto-punk group The Shaggs. His compositions have been featured on MTV and The Discovery Channel. In his nearly 20 years of teaching in New York City, Rich served on the guitar faculty at the prestigious Third Street Music Settlement and was the guitar instructor at PS 41 The Greenwich Village School for a decade before opening Acme. A student band he recently coached was featured on NPR’s Studio 360.
Rebecca Pronsky is an accomplished vocalist, songwriter, performing artist and co-founder of Acme Hall Studios. She is also a Park Slope native. A singer since she could talk, Rebecca was involved in rock bands, musical theatre productions, and choirs growing up in New York City. She spent her college years at Brown University earning a degree in Ethnomusicology and studying jazz voice. Over the last decade, Rebecca has released 4 full length albums of original music and toured extensively in the US, UK and Europe, sharing stages with Grammy winners like Shawn Colvin and Loudon Wainwright III. Rebecca’s songs have been featured on NPR and BBC Radio and on television networks such as the CW and TLC. Rebecca has been teaching voice for over 10 years. Prior to starting a private teaching practice, she taught through the Berkeley Carroll School, Willie May Rock Camp for Girls, and National Guitar Workshop. She is currently working with an all female band on a concept album about Hillary Clinton.
Juliet Strong grew up in the San Francisco folk scene, and was exposed to many traditional styles of music and dance including Balkan, Turkish, Flamenco, Americana, Irish, Scottish, Indian and Brazilian. Juliet has a background in classical and jazz piano and earned a degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Oregon. She has also received theatre training from the California Shakespeare School and Berkeley Rep School. She has been seen on stages with the Oregon Festival of American Music, Shotgun Players, A Traveling Jewish Theatre, Bootstrap Theatre Company, and in Yosemite National Park. Juliet has taught privately for many years as well as through the Williamsburg School of Music. As a teacher, she is heavily influenced by Hatha Yoga and meditation, with the focus being on creating body awareness, proper alignment, and freedom from tension for both singers and pianists. With younger students she employs imagery and story telling in lessons. Juliet performs original music at clubs and concerts in New York City and tours on both the east and west coasts.
Dave Richman is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, and has played professionally since 1989 on thousands of gigs with bands of all stripes: rock, jazz, heavy metal, lounge, punk, fusion and who knows what else. Dave is perhaps best known for his drumming with the Original Punk Rock Heavy Metal Karaoke band, a much-loved New York institution, now in its 15th year. In his capacity as drummer for the group, Dave has backed up everyone from rank amateurs dragged onstage from the bar to Ryan Adams, Britt Daniel (Spoon), Jimmy Fallon, Craig Wedren (Shudder to Think), Robbie Williams, Ween, the Beastie Boys and more. An accomplished studio drummer, Dave has played on album projects with Century Club, Mac Randall, and Bunny Jammers. As a drum teacher, Dave stresses fun while instilling necessary technique and timekeeping knowledge, along with drum and music history. He is currently writing and recording with doom metal band St. Bastard.
Heather Wagner is a Jersey girl who has been living in New York for almost 30 years and has been pounding the skins for about that long too. Heather has traveled the world playing drums with anti-folk artist Jeffrey Lewis, noise rock duo ps xo, and oddball indie rock band Morex Optimo. She also plays with the legendary Peter Stampfel (of the Fugs and Holy Modal Rounders), the Walking Hellos, Ghostwise, country outfit The Gentlemen Callers, and occasionally fills in with Dolly Parton cover band, the Doll Parts. Heather is a member of the drum faculty at the Willie Mae Rock & Roll Camp for Girls. She is also a certified Eden Energy Medicine practitioner and has a deep interest in exploring the connections between music and the healing arts.
Marcio Garcia began his musical studies at age seven at the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica in his hometown of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. His talent brought him to the US where he received a degree in Classical Piano Performance from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, followed by a Masters in Jazz Performance and an AD in Jazz Studies from SUNY Purchase Conservatory. Marcio has performed at the Stanford Jazz Institute, 2016 Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival, Five Points Jazz Festival, and, in NYC at The Blue Note, Birdland, and live on WBGO Jazz 88.3. He has collaborated with renowned jazz musicians Ann Hampton Callaway, Ignacio Berroa, Jon Faddis, Ingrid Jensen and Steve Davis, as well as with DEVO co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh for the original project “Myopia” , salsa ensemble “Los Lunaticos”, and with singer Viktor Kiraly (NBC The Voice 2015 – Top 24). Marcio is bilingual in Spanish and proficient in both Portuguese and German.
Joelle Lurie is a powerhouse vocalist who has spent the last decade in NYC singing everything from opera to pop to jazz to musical theatre to ad jingles. She holds a degree in Voice Performance from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts and also received training at NEC’s preparatory jazz program. Joelle has appeared in productions such as the Broadway community’s 24 Hour Musicals, Jerry Springer The Opera (Speakeasy Stage Company), and as a soloist with the Boston Holiday Pops. She has entertained audiences at The Wendy Williams Show, The James Beard Gala & Awards, and at NBC’s Annual Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony. Her band Joelle & The Pinehurst Trio has performed at Lincoln Center, The Rainbow Room, Birdland Jazz Club, and Top of the Rock. Her children’s band JoJo & The Pinecones is currently a Lincoln Center Kids Resident Artist and has performed at Lollapalooza. In addition to her teaching at Acme, Joelle is also a voice instructor at the Bank Street School. Joelle was recently featured on NPR’s Song Travels with Michael Feinstein.
Michelle (Shelly) Girolami has been singing for as long as she can remember. A Montana native, Shelly moved to New York to attend NYU, where she earned a degree in Music Education with a concentration in Classical Voice. During her time at NYU, she had the pleasure of student teaching voice at LaGuardia High School and also served as a chapter vice president of the National Association for Music Education. Shelly is an accomplished commercial and theatrical actor. She has appeared in several national advertisements for brands such as Starkist, Verizon, and Citizen’s Bank, and has appeared on many New York stages including The Beckett Theatre, The York Theatre, and The Barrow Group Main Stage Theatre. Shelly is also one-half of the Brooklyn-based musical duo, Shelly + Spence and is currently in the midst of producing and starring in the short film “Winning Friends”. In her teaching, Shelly aims to create a safe, serene space for vocal exploration. She encourages learning through positivity and self-discovery.
Serena Jost is a Swiss-American cellist and composer who comes from a family of musicians. She grew up playing classical music with her family, doing string trios and quartets in the living room. She soon felt the urge to break out and do her own thing, frustrated by the restrictions of classical music. Serena began to bring her cello into many unconventional contexts. Serena has collaborated with poet Dan Machlin (Immanent Audio, Ugly Duckling Presse), and numerous dancers, including Douglas Dunn and Kathryn Sanders (Wally Cardona). Serena is also an original member of the celebrated female alternative cello group Rasputina. As a solo artist, she is a unique performer and writer whose music moves from spare art songs to whimsical ballads to cello-led rock. She is a regular performer around the city at Joe’s Pub, The Living Room, and Barbès. Serena’s recently recorded a voice and cello album live inside the spectacularly reverberant St. Peter’s Church.