TEACHERS

Meet the Tonalta team of teachers.  Tonalta teachers are first-rate musicians and adept at bringing out the talent in others.

Our incredible team is truly the heart of Tonalta School of Music. It’s their dedication, passion and talent that keeps students invested in the learning process. Take a look below to learn more about the team.

TYLER HENDERSON

Tyler Henderson lives a busy life.  Tyler plays professionally in the area and currently tours with Tracy Byrd. He has endorsments from several well-known musical equipment manufacturers, including 7drums and Sledgepad. Check out Tyler's welcome on 7drums.

At Lamar University, Tyler studied Music Education and played in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Pep Band, and Percussion Ensemble.  He has played with many churches in the area, including Cathedral in the Pines, Westgate Baptist, Calvary, Church on the Rock, and is currently playing at Christian Fellowship Worship Center.  In addition to teaching drum, guitar, and keyboard at Tonalta, Tyler has taught percussion at a number of area high schools and middle schools.    Tyler also enjoys spending time writing his own music.

In high school, Tyler made the All-Region Jazz Band three years in a row, and went on to area each year. His junior year, he placed 7th in the state of Texas.  Tyler enjoys playing blues, pop, rock, funk, and jazz styles of music, and, in addition to the drum kit, plays a number of other instruments, including keyboard and guitar.  Tyler's favorite artist is John Mayer and his favorite drummer is Steve Jordan.

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KEITH WALLS

Keith is a pianist and singer from Detroit, MI, and holds a Master of Music in Piano Performance and a Graduate Certification in Vocology, an emerging field in the study of the performing voice, from Lamar University. A devoted educator, Keith has taught middle, and high school choir and is currently the Community Music Director at Faith United Methodist Church in Fannett where he directs the choir and the Youth Arts Program. He believes that a student's musical success is about meeting them wherever they are and then taking them in the direction they want to go. Keith teaches piano, voice, bands, and guitar at Tonalta and hopes to pass on his passion for performing and learning to his students.

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CHASE COBB

Chase Cobb teaches all instruments at Tonalta, as well as directing some of our Tonalta bands. In addition, he serves as Director of Contemporary Worship and Production at Wesley UMC in Beaumont. Chase also serves on the communications committee for the Texas Annual Conference for the United Methodist Church . He also has been featured in several bands in the area such as A Southbound Romance, Take This to Heart, and Alex Westbrook. Chase has a Bachelors degree from Lamar University in General Business with an emphasis in marketing and management. Chase also spends his free time doing photography and spending time with his wife Lillian 

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DENISE DONAHUE WELKER


Denise was born in New York, grew up in the Midwest, discovered her love of music at age 5, and has been playing piano since that time. Denise graduated cum laude from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Music focusing on classical guitar/piano performance, music theory, composition, and music business. After moving back to New York she earned her degree in audio recording and midi technology from the Audio Recording Technology Institute where she studied audio engineering and production. 

Over the years Denise has combined her talents, skills, and experience to compose, arrange, produce, and record two original studio albums which I promote online and through live performances. 

Denise has 20 years of experience as a piano instructor, providing guidance to students of all ages, styles, and abilities. Her teaching philosophy is to create an enthusiastic environment where students can progress while still having fun. 

Denise tailors her lesson plans to help students deal with frustration, patiently guiding them toward effective learning patterns that achieve progressive goals and bring feelings of accomplishment, joy, and a love for music!

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RYAN MCKINNEY

Ryan began singing at the age of 7. Over the years, he developed his skills further by joining choirs at his church and high school. He later went on to Claflin University and graduated with his Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Music Performance with a Theater minor at Claflin University. He gained experience in the area of singing and performing from the choirs, operas, musicals, and plays he has been a part of through his educational journey. He has also gained experience by performing as a hired chorister, section leader, in recitals, and through side engagements. Currently, Ryan is completing the Master of Music degree concentrating in Vocal Performance at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. 
Ryan can teach many genres of singing and his personal favorites are classical, pop, and gospel which have had great influence on his style of singing. Ryan loves music because it connects people of all different walks of life and loves teaching music because it helps to express feelings in such an artistic way. Students can expect to receive comprehensive knowledge and technique that focuses on healthy vocal production and breathing which is the gateway to excellent singing in any genre. Ryan primarily teaches voice and beginner piano at Tonalta School of Music. Students can also expect to receive specific instruction that is tailored to the specific style that they want to sing/play and how they want their music to sound. The lesson is all about the student and what they want to gain from it.

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JASON MILLER

Jason Miller is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer-songwriter. He teaches guitar, bass, piano and ukulele.    He began playing music in junior high school and high school bands in Bridge City, TX, as a tuba player and in jazz band as an electric bass guitarist.  He continued his music education at Lamar University, studying tuba and also playing in the Lamar University Jazz Band on electric bass guitar.  After graduating from Lamar University, Jason taught Reading in middle school and later on returned to work for Lamar University at KVLU Public Radio as a producer with over 20 years of experience in broadcasting.  Jason has performed music in various church settings from liturgical music to contemporary worship music.   As a singer-songwriter, Jason has released several albums.   He currently composes and records ambient music using the moniker Film Score Project. His ambient music compositions have also been featured on several compilation albums.  You can listen to his music on Bandcamp at https://filmscoreproject.bandcamp.com/ and https://thestatement.bandcamp.com/

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BLAKE ASHWORTH

Blake started his musical journey as a  student at Tonalta.  He studied drums, guitar, piano, and played in Tonalta bands along the way.   He also was a leader  in the drum section at Bridge City High School.  Blake is now continuing his education at Lamar University.  Blake plays in area church praise bands and other bands in the area. 

His students love his easy style and his quick humor.     

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JIM CAMMACK

Jim served as the Music Director at Wesley United Methodist Church in Nederland, and as a keyboardist and a vocalist with the Wesley Celebration Band. He was a member of the ISX All-American High School band (on trombone), and was selected to All-Region bands, All-Region, and Area choirs, as well as the Tri-State honor band. Jim has both a bachelors and masters degree and over 25 years of classroom teaching experience at the college level. He enjoys songwriting, recording and arranging.

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G.W. FRANKLIN

G.W. began learning music at a young age, beginning piano lessons at age 5 and continuing these until age 18. He learned a variety of musical styles, including jazz, classical, and contemporary Christian. In Middle and High School G.W. played piano in a jazz band at school and began playing at his home church as both a solo pianist and as a member of the praise and worship band. He has continued to play piano in various church praise bands and is a member of the praise band at Wesley United Methodist Church in Nederland, TX. G.W. also plays French Horn and Mellophone (a marching band brass instrument), and was a member of LSU’s Tiger Marching Band for 4 years.
G.W. has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and currently works full-time as a Process Engineer with BASF Corporation. In his free time, G.W. enjoys playing and listening to music, board games, swimming, bike riding, and traveling.

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DAMIAN LUNNY

Damian Lunny took the first step in his musical career by joining his middle school band at the age of 11. Twelve years later he successfully completed his Bachelor of Arts in percussion performance at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, under the direction of Dr. Francis Kumor. As an active percussion performer, Damian has participated in multiple Day of Percussion events, and performed at the McCormick Marimba Festival at the University of South Florida. He has also performed volunteer work at PASIC. Damian is recently completed a Master of Arts in percussion performance at Northwestern State University of Louisiana under the guidance of Dr. Oliver Molina. As a student and graduate teaching assistant at NSU, he assisted in the education of the university drum line, applied percussion lessons, and the steel drum ensemble. Damian hopes to continue learning about percussion through the many opportunities available around the world. Networking, performing, teaching, and creating are all different aspects of the same passion he will continue to foster for years to come.

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