MEET THE STAFF
Molly Murphy- Owner
Molly’s love of music came at an early age, singing in choirs from age 4, participating in all the school musicals, and making music with her family for as long as she can remember. She attended Stuart Hall School in Staunton, VA as a music student in the Visual and Performing Arts program from 1999-2003, and attended James Madison University where she continued to study music.
Her performing career in music began with her first band, The Bourbon Specials, based out of Charlottesville, VA in 2005. A few years later, she and a group of friends formed The Judy Chops, and have been performing regionally, as well as up and down the east coast since 2007. “Molly’s solid musicianship and dedication have been the background for the band’s solid arrangements.” She plays rhythm guitar, sings, writes, and arranges. Molly also performs in a duo ensemble, The Marvelous Murphy Sisters with her sister Sally Murphy, in which their mother, Lorie Lichtenwalner, and younger sister, Lizzie Cahalin, also occasionally join.
She has performed and/or recorded with several musicians including Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root, Midnight Spaghetti and the Chocolate G-strings, Acme Swing Mfg. Co, Pete Stallings, Lost Indian, Sally Rose Band, Sarah Lynna and the Misfit Toys, Brian Patrick Band, Ludwell Joseph, Den Frumen, and The Boogie Kings. She loves to share in making music as a jam host in Staunton, as well as in old time/ neo-trad gatherings such as at the Appalachian String Band Festival.
Molly opened Queen City Music Studios: a school of music for learning by ear, in September 2016. In her Staunton studio, she offers private lessons for kids and adults in voice, beginner guitar & piano; after-school Making Music with Friends classes for elementary and middle school aged kids; and Musikgarten Family Music classes for families with babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. She offers similar classes including Folk Choirs for both kids and adults at Front Porch: A Roots Music School, in Charlottesville, VA. Molly also teaches the elective music classes at Staunton Montessori School.
Una was born in a little village in Latvia and has been surrounded by music since early childhood. Una majored in violin and vocals in Latvia and participated in every musical performance and contest that she could as a youngster. Her background is classical, but Una has expanded her knowledge and experience in jazz and Latvian folk music.
She moved to Japan in 2010 and pursued music in her free time, collaborating with local artists and guests from all over the world. In 2014, Una moved to Kobe, the Jazz capital of Japan, and started delving into the science of vocals and singing as well as teaching music to kids. Now Una is in Virginia, US, teaching vocals and performing Latvian Folk and Jazz.
This is how Una describes her lessons: “Voice is very personal. Your whole body is your instrument. That means there are a lot of little nuances that come into play when we sing. It can be long, but it is a rewarding process finding your sound. I want you to sound like you want to sound. I am here to give you tools to have fun with your voice. With understanding comes freedom."
Una will be offering voice lessons and workshops at QCMS and also works at Front Porch in Charlottesville as a voice coach.
Joseph Zullo is a blossoming musician from the heart of the valley and has been pursuing the adventure of musicianship since his teenage years. His interest was first fostered in chorus from elementary through high school, but truly began with a fascination with rock n roll and a mesmerizing moment with his brother.
"I remember watching and listening intently as my brother played Stairway to Heaven on an old classical guitar and just simply fell in love with strings."
Joseph works in retail at Fretwell Music and is apprenticing as a luthier, doing instrument maintenance and repair work there. He hones his craft playing guitar and singing with our very own piano teacher Sarah Lynna in her self titled band, and in another with David Kennelly called 14£bs. Despite a guitar being in his hands on most stages Joseph is passionate about music and also plays mandolin, violin, bass, and sings, and has a special ability on ukulele.
Joe will be joining the QCMS teaching staff on Thursdays , offering ukulele classes.
Stephen Daniel Ruiz began playing piano and singing at age four when his mother enrolled him into a children’s music class. Growing up, he trained classically on piano and was raised listening to composers such as Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Copland. He and Molly attended Stuart Hall together where she fondly remembers lunch breaks spent around the Steinway in the auditorium playing and singing show tunes and ballads. As Stephen began to experiment with writing his own songs, his creativity was heavily influenced by musicians such as Billy Joel, The Beatles, and Elton John. Stephen is most proficient in the styles of blues, classical, and rock, though his experience and abilities in playing and songwriting extend into jazz and hip-hop as well. A Virginia native, Stephen is the proud father of four children, a writer, an artist, performer.
Stephen teaches piano at QCMS and offers both traditional instruction as well as compositional, improvisational and music lessons by ear.
A Shenandoah Valley native and multi-instrumentalist, Sean Newman has been playing music for 10 years- nearly half of his life. Sean grew up in the traditional old-time music community where he and his family were immersed in music. His mother, father, and sister all play instruments and old time music. Sean is mostly self-taught although in the aural tradition of Appalachian music, informal lessons from more experienced musicians in the community and inviting promising youngsters into jams is prevalent. From playing electric bass in a funk band, to playing upright bass, guitar, mandolin, and banjo in both Old time and Bluegrass and Country groups, Sean’s experience and musical taste is very diverse . His formal training consists 4 years of electric bass lessons in jazz and R&B and one year of upright bass jazz training.
Sean has been a member of countless bands and done recording sessions with even more. He is currently playing with Dharma Bombs, The Wildmans, Inlaw Country, and as Sean Newman, his solo act. His previous work includes appearances with Victor Furtado, Danny Knicely, Dogwood Tales, Trey Hall, Shower Naked String Band, Forest Hillbillies, Lili & the Dirty Moccasins, and Help Wanted.
Sean is looking forward to joining the QCMS staff as a banjo, mandolin, guitar, and bass teacher.
Drew began studying drums and percussion at an early age with his grandfather who was a clinician for the Zildjian cymbal company and a professor of music at Mansfield University. Continuing that tradition, Drew studied percussion at Penn State where he participated in ensembles ranging from philharmonic orchestras to the Marching Blue Band. Eventually landing in the theatre world, he went on to play in multiple national and international tours including HAIR and A Charlie Brown Christmas as well as numerous regional productions. Additionally, he has had the honor of backing up Broadway greats such as Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs, Bernadette Peters, Annaleigh Ashford, James Monroe Inglehart, Orfeh, and the original Broadway cast of HAIRSPRAY. In 2019, he was a featured performer with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra as the drummer for a pop’s production of The Music Man.
In the rock world, Drew has been a member of multiple bands ranging from pop cover bands to original punk and has played venues such as The Gramercy Theater, The Knitting Factory, and Rough Trade as well as stadium performances and festivals including CMJ and SXSW.
In addition to performing, Drew worked at Kidville, an early childhood development center in NYC, where he taught music
for ages ranging from newborn to early childhood. Since moving to Staunton, Drew has been teaching at Buffalo Gap HS working as an instructional aide in the Special Education Department. Additionally, he has worked as the marching percussion instructor and assistant to the music department. Drew is excited to be part of the QCMS teaching staff as a drum teacher and will be offering family music classes for all ages. We are looking forward to launching some new online offerings with Drew this spring!
“I know nothing that can connect people like music can.” Drew says. “It’s like folding a map and bringing all of us together. I think Shakespeare, as usual, has it right. If music be the food of love, play on!”
Music has been a center piece in Ben's life since his early teenage years. His first love was country & folk styled songwriting and singing but his musical tastes span the genres. Ben is self-taught and has been taking private lessons for 6 years.
In 2014, he began playing solo acoustic shows regularly and pursing a performing career. About a year into developing his brand as a soloist he was picked up by the Shenandoah Valley group the "Hackens Boys" and continued to front the band from 2015-2018. Though this was a cherished time in his journey, he stepped away from the group in early 2018 to pursue his solo career and continue to build his brand. In the down time between Ben did a stint as a session bassist for "Will Thomas Reed" in Nashville, TN.
"All of these experiences have shaped the musician I am today, and I couldn't be more grateful for those guys." He has had the honor of performing with The Davisson Brothers Band, Dylan Scott, Midnight Spaghetti & the Chocolate G - Strings, The Travelin' Hillbillies, The Judy Chops, Thieves of Burden, Seven Bends Band, Will Thomas Reed, Born Crooked, and more. Ben has a humble and gratitude based attitude about music, and is passionate about sharing this universal language with his students and the world.
Meet Dave Kennelly. Music has been a large part of his life for as long as he can remember. Dave started taking private lessons in bass and guitar at the age of 8, and continued for 13 years. During those years he picked up many other instruments, mainly guitar and flute. Writing, composing, and performing music has been his focus for the better part of a decade. “[Music] has changed my life in so many wonderful ways. I am very excited to help share the gift of music!”
Dave will be joining the QCMS teaching staff on Wednesdays, offering group guitar classes as well as private lessons on guitar and bass.