Instructors

The Columbus Songwriting Workshop strives to create an open environment for people to learn more about the craft of song and empower students to write at their very best with the aid of some of the finest songwriters from the local scene and across the country. Our mission is to elevate the level of professionalism by educating those who write and sing to help take their product to the next level, whether that be from beginner to hobbyist or from a hobby to a profession. Experienced professionals in different areas of expertise will guide you through the real-life demands of songwriting.

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As unique as the name, the sound and style is equally as unique. As a singer-songwriter, artist, entrepreneur, and brand, T.Wong offers an experience. After the release of his EP, Dreamin’ In Motion (2014), and Debut Album, Journey (2015), and Sophomore Album, The Upside Down (2017), he has been likened to acclaimed artists like Frank Ocean and Lenny Kravitz as his sound transcends listeners to an alternate space.

T.Wong is one of two owners of a Black-owned law firm in Ohio, where he represents a myriad of clients ranging from enterprises to artists. And, he is called on as a private counselor, mentor, and facilitator. He has mentored and facilitated at various institutions and universities such as Greater Columbus Arts Council and The Ohio State University.
T.Wong has been recognized by national and international press such as AFROPUNK, Soul Train, The Columbus Dispatch, experienced opening for international and grammy-nominated artists, heard on NPR and in the UK, seen on Fox28, and tagged as a brand ambassador for the City of Columbus’ Art Makes Columbus.

Jon Elliott and Nick D’Andrea

Art Makes Columbus.

You may know Nick D’Andrea and Jon Elliott from their groups Nick D’ and the Believers and The Floorwalkers. They have recently formed an all star band called Doc Robinson. The group’s an eclectic collaboration among members of Columbus’ music community. When Jon and Nick sat down to write a song together, their shared love of narrative style songwriting, and their knack for writing sprightly hooks and soulful melodies quickly produced a hatful of songs. The pair recognized this compatibility and called upon creatives in local company, inviting artists from fellow Columbus favorites Mojoflo and Forest and the Evergreens to flesh out the songs more in the studio. Nick and Jon will lead a class on co-writing.

 

The Shaws (Jim, Andy, and Chris)

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Jim Shaw has over 40 years of teaching experience from kindergarten through high school and currently teaches at Ashland college. In addition to teaching private lessons Andy mentors young songwriters whether it’s at open mics he runs or recording them in his home studio. Chris runs a private lesson studio at his house and teaches a fiddle group at the Wellington School annually. Working together in Andy Shaw Band (Jim keys, Andy vocals/guitar, Chris drums) the dad and two sons share many philosophies in music and in teaching. Empowering the student is a big part of what the Shaws believe to be an important part to giving instruction.

Billy Zenn

14241466_1767327960151506_7616901701431602215_oAt age 7, Billy Zenn stepped onstage for the first time– -as a ventriloquist. The instant darling of the service lodge circuit, Billy and his dummy performed comedic scripts—with song breaks—penned by his grandfather. Countless talent shows and chicken dinners later, The Beatles arrived on the Ed Sullivan Show. Billy’s career as a variety performer was over in an instant—his dummy consigned to storage, replaced by an electric guitar and the company of some school mates. Billy kept at it. He began working weekend club dates in the late 60’s and never looked back. Somewhere along the line he started crafting his own songs, drawing from the pastiche of influences around him and culling the best of those into a distinctive writing style. With four CD’s and a live DVD set under his belt, Billy continues to follow his muse. Lately, he has happily assumed the role of producer for several up-and- coming performers, producing CD’s for Grace Adele, Craig James and, most recently, Mark Hunter. With one in the works for Lydia Brownfield. He can be found hosting weekly Open Mics at The Shrunken Head on Wednesday nights and King Avenue 5 on Thursday nights (both in Columbus, Ohio), in addition to solo dates and performances with his band, The Ringers, and shows with local 60′s rockers, the Professors.

 

—previous instructors below—

 

Lou Kestella

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Lou Kestella is a multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter, recording producer, and engineer that has been a part of the Columbus music community for 15 years. Lou grew his tastes and abilities through relationships and experience more than any sort of formal training. As a performing musician Lou has played some of best venues in Columbus and the surrounding areas such as The Newport Music Hall, the Southern Theatre, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. In the past 2 years Lou has taken steps away from the live stage and set his focus to creating, building, and establishing his audio production company ProToad Audio. Through ProToad Audio Lou is able to continue working with some of the most talented artists in Columbus rendering his unique ear to a variety of musical and commercial products.

Ken Yates

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Since first planting roots within the Canadian music scene in 2011, Ken Yates has steadily grown a reputation as one of the country’s brightest singer/songwriters. His sound offers the complete package—unforgettable melodies, emotionally charged storytelling, and top-notch guitar chops—all gloriously displayed on Yates’ new album, Huntsville. Produced by Jim Bryson (Weakerthans, Kathleen Edwards), Yates’ second full-length effort is a major stylistic step forward, with its 11 tracks capturing his artistic evolution amid extensive touring over the past three years. “Keep Your Head Down,” with its subtle, driving groove, opens the album like a train pulling out at dawn, with vast, open vistas lying ahead. Those come into focus on other key tracks such as “Once More To The Lake,” “Roll Me On Home” and “The Best Part Of Leaving.” Yet, everywhere on the album, echoes of the Canadian songwriting tradition, from Gordon Lightfoot to Bruce Cockburn to Ron Sexsmith, are apparent, proving that with Huntsville, Ken Yates is ready to join that exalted company. A native of London, Ontario (a few hours’ drive south of the actual Huntsville), Yates studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. His first release, The Backseat EP, came out in 2011, followed by his full-length debut, twenty-three in 2013. One track on that album caught the ear of fellow Berklee alum John Mayer, who commented in a lengthy blog post, “Ken Yates wrote a song called ‘I Don’t Wanna Fall In Love.’ This song moved me when I first heard it, and it still does today.”

Jon and Peggy Elliott

_DRM5412Jon’s Bio: Jonathan Elliott is a singer-songwriter best known for his work as the lead vocalist of Columbus based roots-rock band, The Floorwalkers. Raised in a musical household and classically trained, Elliott has grown up performing and singing many styles and genres of music in choral, live-band, and theater productions and ensembles. Always naturally gravitating toward the soulful sound of R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop, and jazz music. As a child, Elliott’s parents owned an operated a fine arts studio in his hometown of Chardon, Ohio. There he took dance, art,and various music lessons beginning his passion for the arts and performance. In 2001 Elliott began writing songs and collaborating with fellow high school classmates, Ben Meinhold, Tom Lasky and Kerry Henderson. Together they would relocate to Columbus, add guitarist/vocalist Theo Perry and Keyboardist Todd Hamric and start recording and performing as The Floorwalkers. Since then, they have toured regionally and built a solid grassroots following in the midwest and southern United States. Elliott and his bandmates pride themselves in their eclectic songwriting and their ambition to write songs in multiple styles of popular music. Together they have crafted a sound and an energetic live show that is uniquely and sonically their own. (614) Magazine’s Readers Poll voted the Floorwalkers Best Band, and they were named to The Hot 17 in 2011. Columbus Alive has called them “One of Columbus’ most beloved bands”…“A band the hipsters, hippies, and bros can all agree on.” OurVinyl.com says, ”Jon Elliott’s voice seems limitless with each song.”Aside from his work with The Floorwalkers, Elliott also lends his vocal talents to other Columbus musical acts The Middle Rats and PopGun, and is a frequent guest vocalist with The Columbus Jazz Orchestra. The Floorwalkers are currently working on their sophomore effort to be released independently, due out this summer.

Peggy’s Bio: Peggy Elliott has been in the music industry for over 50 years. She is from southern Ohio, Eaton, received her undergraduate degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Education at Ohio State and has a Masters in Conducting from Cleveland State University. Throughout her career she has worn many hats including singer, actor, dancer (tap dancing with Gene Kelly and Tommy Tune), and musical director for many musical theater productions all over the country. As a vocalist, Peggy has soloed as a Lyric Soprano with various choruses through out Ohio, singing Brahms, Beethoven, and Faure Requiems. She is an accomplished teacher presiding over the professional development of music teachers as a music administrator for Cleveland City Schools and has coordinated music events all over Ohio. She has served on committees with International House of Blues, the Education Committee of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame/John Lennon Recording Bus, and the Cleveland Hard Rock Café.

 

Mandy Cook

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Mandy Cook has earned her place as a prominent artist in the Nashville music community. Hailing from a small farm town in Ohio, she moved to Nashville In 2008 At The Age Of 18 To Explore A Future In Music. She was raised listening to greats like Al Jarreau, Sarah Vaughn, and Sade. On her own, she discovered the music of Django Reindhart, Tom Waits, Nina Simone, and Joni Mitchell.
 
“One of the striking things about Cook is how totally unreliant she is of effects, orchestration, studio gadgetry, or frills of any sort. Few singers have her ability to totally captivate an audience to the point of musical thralldom without sonic legerdemain or aural fireworks using nothing but her unadorned voice, and “See” demonstrates this thoroughly.” -The Independent

Jesse Henry

12188004_10153189943435233_800587404253220740_oJesse Henry is a songwriter, teacher, and Dean of the Rafiki School of Music in Kenya. He’s a dreamer who navigates all genres, and leads some of Columbus Ohio’s most unique groups. A chameleon of sorts, Jesse has held front man duties for many bands including the Spikedrivers, Strutterfly, The Royal Tycoons, and The Field Dogs playing anything from bluegrass to gospel to country to R&B. A former iron worker and jazz saxophone student Jesse has spent the last ten years training and crafting his music style.

Eric Gnezda

12029638_1024780657568641_1705066488013204663_oEric is creator, host and producer of the national TV show, Songs at the Center. An award winning songwriter, Eric is a regular performer at Nashville’s iconic songwriting venue, The Bluebird Café. Eric has seen success with a wide range of styles – from comedic to inspirational songs. He and his work have been featured on radio and television around the world. Also a public speaker and Emmy-nominated TV journalist, Eric has appeared before countless corporate clients across America. He is also the host of the monthly series, Songwriter Showcase at Natalie’s. Away from the stage, he is a lecturer at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Gnezda.com SongsAtTheCenter.com

Jon and Peggy Elliott

_DRM5412Jon’s Bio: Jonathan Elliott is a singer-songwriter best known for his work as the lead vocalist of Columbus based roots-rock band, The Floorwalkers. Raised in a musical household and classically trained, Elliott has grown up performing and singing many styles and genres of music in choral, live-band, and theater productions and ensembles. Always naturally gravitating toward the soulful sound of R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop, and jazz music. As a child, Elliott’s parents owned an operated a fine arts studio in his hometown of Chardon, Ohio. There he took dance, art,and various music lessons beginning his passion for the arts and performance. In 2001 Elliott began writing songs and collaborating with fellow high school classmates, Ben Meinhold, Tom Lasky and Kerry Henderson. Together they would relocate to Columbus, add guitarist/vocalist Theo Perry and Keyboardist Todd Hamric and start recording and performing as The Floorwalkers. Since then, they have toured regionally and built a solid grassroots following in the midwest and southern United States. Elliott and his bandmates pride themselves in their eclectic songwriting and their ambition to write songs in multiple styles of popular music. Together they have crafted a sound and an energetic live show that is uniquely and sonically their own. (614) Magazine’s Readers Poll voted the Floorwalkers Best Band, and they were named to The Hot 17 in 2011. Columbus Alive has called them “One of Columbus’ most beloved bands”…“A band the hipsters, hippies, and bros can all agree on.” OurVinyl.com says, ”Jon Elliott’s voice seems limitless with each song.”Aside from his work with The Floorwalkers, Elliott also lends his vocal talents to other Columbus musical acts The Middle Rats and PopGun, and is a frequent guest vocalist with The Columbus Jazz Orchestra. The Floorwalkers are currently working on their sophomore effort to be released independently, due out this summer.

Peggy’s Bio: Peggy Elliott has been in the music industry for over 50 years. She is from southern Ohio, Eaton, received her undergraduate degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Education at Ohio State and has a Masters in Conducting from Cleveland State University. Throughout her career she has worn many hats including singer, actor, dancer (tap dancing with Gene Kelly and Tommy Tune), and musical director for many musical theater productions all over the country. As a vocalist, Peggy has soloed as a Lyric Soprano with various choruses through out Ohio, singing Brahms, Beethoven, and Faure Requiems. She is an accomplished teacher presiding over the professional development of music teachers as a music administrator for Cleveland City Schools and has coordinated music events all over Ohio. She has served on committees with International House of Blues, the Education Committee of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame/John Lennon Recording Bus, and the Cleveland Hard Rock Café.

Jim Shaw

Jim is a retired music educator who taught for over 35 years in private and public schools at all grade levels from kindergarten to college. With a Master’s degree in Composition, Jim has been the keyboardist for many bands and currently plays in the Andy Shaw Band. Most of his work now  is writing music for use in elementary (songs) through high school (band and orchestra) classrooms but he has written in all mediums.

Andy and Chris Shaw

Bio: Working together as musicians professionally since 2004 the Shaw Brothers have always been about positivity, hard work, and community. These traits helped their many musical projects including Shaw Brothers, Andy Shaw Band, and Topher James and Biscuit Brigade along the way and have also been cornerstones in their teaching. Inspired by Songs School in Colorado as well as many Folk Alliances they worked with their father Jim to create the Columbus Songwriting Workshop looking to build a stronger foundation in the Columbus songwriting community. The brothers have brought their talents all over Ohio and the U.S. and have traveled as far as Europe playing music. Their influences include but are not limited to Bob Marley, The Beatles, Jack White, Father John Misty, D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder, Chris Thile, and The Shins.

www.ShawBrothersMusic.com

www.TopherJamesMusic.com

www.AndyShawBand.com

Previous Instructors:

Aaron Lee Tasjan, Matt Monta, Chris Shaw, Andy Shaw, Jim Shaw, Eric Rollin, Neal Schmitt, Jon Elliot, Peggy Elliott , Chris Gatton, Billy Zenn, TJ George, Phillip Fox, Zach Whitney, Jackie Blount, Bejae Flemming, RJ Cowdery, Todd Hamric, Eric Gnezda, Gene Castelli