INSTRUCTORS

All of Instructors have been teaching for several years or more and are active performing musicians in the local music scene!

Meet the Owners

Jenny Richardson

Owner/Instructor

Guitar, Uke, Bass, mandolin

Co-owner of Blue Raven Music.

 Her love for music extends beyond the guitar to include the mandolin, fiddle, banjo, ukulele, piano, singing and upright bass. Jenny is always ready to help her students discover their passion for music and often has students learning more than one instrument!

Two of her bands have placed 1st at the Tallgrass fiddle and band contest. She currently plays Upright Bass and sings with the Midnight Wanderers

Matt Richardson

Owner/Instructor

Guitar, uke, banjo, bass, mandolin

Co-Owner of Blue Raven Music Studios.

Matt has been teaching & playing acoustic and electric guitar for almost 30 years in the Lincoln community.  Matt has studied guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin and Ukulele.  He currently plays electric blues  & rock guitar with Big Daddy Caleb and the Chargers and Banjo and guitar in the Midnight Wanderers.

Two of his bands have placed 1st at the Tallgrass fiddle and band contest. He has been hired by the Lied center and Playhouse for shows.

Want to hear more about how Blue Raven began or Jenny and Matt's philosophy behind the studio? Then take a listen to the podcast episode with Lo on #SupportLNK!

Meet Our Instructors

Meet our other instructors

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Alicia Opoku
Piano and voice

A Nebraska native, Alicia Opoku, has 45 years of global musical experience. She began playing for worship services at age 12 in her country church, outside of Central City, Nebraska. After graduation she went to UNL for 2 years before heading out to San Diego, California. There she worked the local nightclub scene for 11 years by playing keyboards and singing with an eclectic variety of jazz musicians and bands.

She was commissioned to sing at the opening a of new club in Seinajoki, Finland, in 1991. Since returning home she has held Director of Contemporary Music at Saint Paul United Methodist Church for the past 15 years. She directs bells choirs, vocal choirs, band ensembles, & children’s choirs. She is very involved in the musical community here in Lincoln, and loves being a part of the rich local music scene.

She is a proud mom of Malcolm

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Colten Welch
Guitar & Uke

Longtime student of owners Matt and Jenny Richardson, Colten has 10+ years of guitar experience spanning many genres, most notably blues, rock, jazz, and bluegrass. Colten loves to learn and perform music and has been playing in bands since the age of 13.

Colten placed 1st in the 2019 flatpicking contest at Nebraska Folk and roots. His band also placed 2nd at the Homestead fiddle and band contest.

He currently attends UNL and plays and writes with his bassist brother Braydn in the group Peachie.

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Levi Gerlach

Piano

Levi was introduced to the piano twenty years ago and ever since has felt connected to the instrument. He earned a degree in music performance in 2011 at Doane College, where he dedicated his time to musicology, piano composition, and vocal performance. After graduation, he expanded his livelihood in performance to rock, folk, ambient noise, and improvisation, as well as continuing his classical practice as an accompanist. He has played with local projects  including The Gems, Sun Day, Mildred Bonk and Leaves Brown. He continues to collaborate with local musicians and artists and believes exploring new territory is important.

 
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Kellyn Vuchetic

Violin, viola, voice guitar

Kellyn is a 2020 graduate of NWU, where she double-majored in Vocal Music and English. At Wesleyan, she was a member of Lincoln Civic Orch, University Choir, performed in 3 NWU operas and 2 opera workshops, and worked as a music theory tutor.

In the past, she has participated in both All-State Choir and All-State Orchestra and performed with the group The Prairie Creek Ramblers, A Blue Raven Music project. She has been involved with local musical theatre productions at the Lincoln Community Playhouse and Pinewood Bowl. When she’s not playing music, she loves to dance and read.

Kellyn is a former student of the studio

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Andy Vagailis
Piano, Guitar, Drums

Andy is a multi-instrumentalist who prides himself on versatility. Whether he’s playing folk and 

americana tunes with The Wildwoods, R&B with Wick O’rya, funk jams with the Jack Rodenband or jazz with combos at UNL, his ultimate goal is to serve the sound at hand. As well as playing with various groups around town, Andy is currently attending UNL majoring in music composition with a minor in guitar. He’s been teaching lessons for roughly 10 years now, focusing on finding the aspects of music that bring about the most passion from his students. Letting them have just as much if not more input on the curriculum at hand as he does. Rather than him teaching at his students, Andy views these lessons as a journey of musical exploration and education to be embarked on together while providing insightful guidance and support. 

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Thai Nguyen
Guitar

A parallel to his multi-cultural upbringing, Thai’s musical upbringing was varied and wide-ranging. His father was an active working bassist in Vietnam in the 80’s, playing heavy rock alongside 80’s pop hits, and his mother had Top 40 radio playing constantly throughout the 90’s, but his first interest in the guitar came from two nuns from Mexico playing in church when he was in kindergarten. Later on, his choir director introduced him to The Beatles in middle school and life changed for the better. It opened up a universe of variety that has set the precedent for his work as a gigging musician to this day. Truly a lover of all genres, he’s kept himself busy playing live in multiple bands for the past 10+ years ranging from alternative rock to country to soul. He’s currently a core member of The 402, a party/events cover band based in Lincoln and Big Daddy Caleb and The Chargers, a blues and old-time rock ‘n roll band. He is also a regular player with Diamond Empire Band and The Downtown Collective, both corporate wedding/events bands based in the midwest as well as two country acts, McKenzie Jalynn and Kali Indiana. In addition to primarily being a guitar player, he sings, plays bass, and writes songs, probably in that order, and he has an original project, with two full-length albums out, called Method of Escape. He has taught basic beginner guitar on and off since his later high school years and is excited to once again share his passion and burning love for music with aspiring players as a teacher here.

 
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Mark Leeker

Guitar, Ukuele

Mark has been teaching at Blue Raven Music Studios since we opened our doors in 2009. He offers guitar and ukulele lessons, focusing on learning basic music theory and reading tablature. Rock, Country, Blues, Folk and Bluegrass are some of the musical styles he teaches.

Mark plays guitar with the bands, Jerry Pranksters and Peach Truck and continues to gig and record with many other local artists.

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Mike McCracken

Guitar, Dobro, lapsteel

Mike comes to Lincoln from Nashville, TN, with over twenty years of professional playing, recording and touring experience. During this period, Mike has had the honor of sharing the stage with such “hall of fame” artists as: Hank Thompson, Jack Greene, Charlie Daniels, as well as many of today’s top acts such as Big and Rich, Chris Young, and many others. Along with a strong background in country music, Mike had the opportunity to attend college on a jazz scholarship, giving him the ability to cross genres on a regular basis covering styles like: blues, bluegrass, rock, rockabilly, R&B, gospel, etc.. Mike teaches: steel guitar, lead/slide/rhythm guitar, dobro (resophonic), and beginning banjo.
Mike has also taught and coached at the high school level in Kansas for eight years and has the expertise with helping students of all ages accomplish their musical goals.

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Brian Gerkensmeyer

Bass & Guitar

Brian loves to perform and does so over 100 nights a year. His main instruments are bass and guitar and he has delved into many styles of music including Jazz, Blues, Rock, Bluegrass, Classical, Fingerstyle, Country and Folk.

Brian attended the University of Nebraska School of Music, is a former Steve Hanson student, and competed in the National Flatpick and International Fingerstyle Championships in Winfield three times. Brian Currently performs with The Jerry Pranksters, Shawn Holt and the Teardrops (Best Blues Artist 2014) and OLD COUNTRY.

 
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Julietta Rabens
Harp & Piano

Julietta is passionate about the art of teaching and has enjoyed working with a diverse range of students including children, adults, and students with special needs. Her approach is flexible, assisting students in achieving their individual goals. She has developed a harp curriculum for adult beginners called “Classics at Your Fingertips” and “Technique at Your Fingertips” books1-5. She has also developed a harp curriculum for children called “Plucky Bunny’s Harp Adventures” books 1-3. In addition to being well-grounded in technique, students are encouraged to explore a wide range of repertoires and to create their own music. Her philosophy in the arts is focused on using creativity to enable healing and happiness for each individual.

As a performer, she is an enthusiastic advocate for new music, and has performed with a variety of ensembles ranging from orchestral to experimental, jazz, folk, and other chamber groups. She also has a passion for a variety of folk harp traditions including Celtic, Paraguayan, and Mariachi.

She received a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition, minor in Piano Pedagogy from University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she studied with Dr. Randall Snyder. She received her Master of Music in Harp from Northern Illinois University where she studied harp performance with Liz Cifani, and received training in Healing Harps and special education from Dr. Ron Price. 

She resides in Lincoln Nebraska where she teaches piano, harp, voice, and composition to students of all ages and levels through Blue Raven Music Studios.

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Julia Williams

Accordion

Accordionist Julia Williams has 25+ years experience performing solo and with groups in a wide gamut of styles. She has performed with the Omaha Chamber Music Society, Sioux City Symphony, Omaha Symphony, and the Kenny Janak Orchestra. She also has played music and acted in several live theater productions. As a young player she won numerous competition honors including the US national championship for the Accordionists and Teachers Guild (ATG). She has degrees in music performance and musicology. Julia plays and teaches piano accordion and chromatic button accordion.

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Jenny Tyner
Piano & Voice

Jenny Tyner is thrilled to be returning to Blue Raven Music after a 5 year hiatus. Jenny has been teaching music since 2005 in various styles and levels: she taught high school vocal music and music theory in NYC, she was an adjunct professor of music for Union College, she taught elementary music for LPS, and has taught private lessons throughout. Jenny has a bachelors in Vocal Performance from La Sierra University (Riverside, CA) and a masters in Music Education from CUNY, Hunter College (NY, NY). Although classically trained in both piano and voice, her first loves are musical theater and choral work. Selected stage credits include: performing in NYC, Europe, and Nebraska in 3 different professional choirs over the span of a decade; she was the featured soloist at Radio City Music Hall for CUNY graduation in 2005; she soloed with the Omaha Symphony at the Holland Center in 2013 and 2014; she was Musical Director of Rocky Horror Picture Show with the Haymarket Theater in 2016; she was lead singer of The Six (a cover band in Omaha) in 2017-2018, and she played Sally Bowles in the Haymarket Theater’s production of Cabaret in 2018.

 
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Jonathan Leach
Piano

Jonathan Leach is an artist who has always loved pushing the boundaries of his own knowledge and comfort when it comes to music. Initially a singer, his desire to know more about the notes he was singing lead him to pursue piano so as to better understand the infinite beauty of music and harmony.

Now, established in the Midwest as a pianist, Jonathan plays in bands varying from local projects like Wick O’ Rya and Vibe Check, to national wedding band conglomerates such as Diamond Empire Band. Jonathan also works as a studio musician for countless recording studios and producers across the United States. If there is a way to play music, Jonathan will find a way to be a part of it.

His favorite phrase when it comes to music is “Freedom over knowledge” and that reigns true in his playing. He works diligently to make sure that playing music is as fun as possible at all time!

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Sophie Holihan
Violin, Piano, Drums

Sophie grew up in a recording studio, and therefore has had a connection with music as long as she can remember. She has studied piano for 15 years, violin for 14 years, and percussion for 10 years. In 5th grade, she played piano in jazz band, but after high school began, she switched over to drums. While attending Lincoln East High School, she played second violin in the orchestra. She also played drums for the Blue Note Jazz Band, and studied classical percussion through concert band. She lettered in marching band, playing snare and bass throughout the 4 years she was a part of it. She played first and second violin in a small chamber orchestra called Apollo, directed by Miss Heather Pederson. Also interested in writing music, one of her compositions called Purple Midnight was performed at Lincoln East High School by the Woodwind Choir. She has privately taught piano lessons before, and is now hoping to expand her career through Blue Raven.

Dan is a multi-instrumentalist living in Lincoln, Ne. Over the past decade, he has performed in a variety of bands and styles on guitar, dobro, and pedal steel. As a performer he focuses on jazz, gypsy jazz, and bluegrass. Dan holds a Master’s degree in jazz guitar performance from the University of Wyoming where he studied under Ryan Fourt (guitarist) and Ben Markley (pianist).


 As an educator Dan believes in Tailoring his curriculum to each specific student rather than using a cooking cutter approach. He understands that different genres require different skills/techniques and will work to streamline lesson plans to get students to achieve their playing goals as quickly as possible. With the abundance of online resources available today it is easy for aspiring musicians to become overwhelmed, which makes honing in on the most efficient approach vital! Dan teaches guitar, squareneck dobro, pedal steel, and mandolin to all ability levels. He also teaches beginner-intermediate banjo. He can cover a variety of styles including jazz, blues, bluegrass, rock, country, and fingerstyle guitar. He is also passionate about teaching music theory and ear training to interested students. 

Dan Buller
Guitar, banjo, Dobro, pedal steel, mandolin

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