Teacher Feature: Nerissa Wolfson

Rockdale teachers are the real deal—we make sure of it! We select our teachers here carefully (think CIA application process but harder), making sure that our team meets three key criteria: 

  1. Must absolutely shred on the instrument they teach 
  2. Must be excellent motivators 
  3. Must be able to work patiently with students of all ages.

Today, we’re chatting with Nerissa, our newest teacher specializing in voice, piano, guitar, ukulele, music theory, and ear training. Let’s get to know her!


What was your motivation for becoming a teacher?

One of my voice professors in college gave me great advice just before I graduated. He told me to teach because it reinforces what you already know, and you always learn something new from your students. 

I also feel that it’s my duty as a musician to share what I’ve learned with a new generation of students to make sure I’m passing it along to keep music alive. 

This is especially important because I’ve noticed that in our public schools, the first thing to go during budget cuts is always the music department. Music needs to be taught early on, it’s like learning a language!

How long have you been performing?

I came from a big family and my parents were always busy. Music was the only thing that kept me company. I was always humming or whistling a tune and listening to music on the radio, which was always on! I began singing at family gatherings, and then when I was 6 years old my mom started entering me in singing competitions. 

I vividly remember my first competition, and how I froze in the middle of the song when I forgot some of the lyrics. I started again from the beginning. I was so nervous that day, but I remember telling myself that I would do better and would win next time… 

And I did!

What advice would you give to a new music student?

Just keep singing or playing music, what ever it is. Don’t worry about the instrument or the style or the genre. Always challenge yourself and push yourself to be better. Patience is important and discipline is the very first thing to learn. Learning an instrument takes time and you will not get instant gratification, so it helps to be patient, keep at it and develop the discipline to practice every day.

What have you been listening to lately?

I’ve been listening to a lot of big band music since I recently joined a big band. This style of music is new to me, so I am really excited about it. Recently, I’ve been listening to some of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee’s big band tunes.

What’s a fun fact we might be surprised to learn about you?

I once performed on a ship—but not just any ship, it was a military vessel from the Royal Netherlands Navy that was visiting Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and my backing musicians were the world famous Dutch Marine Band.

Any recent projects you’d like to share?

Just before the pandemic began, I released my jazz debut album entitled “Everything Starts Now”. Also pre-pandemic, I recorded a few indie/rock tunes with a band called The Naked Sun. The tracks “Marigold” from the EP and “Snail Mail” from the “War With Shadows” album are available on Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming services.

Learn more about all of our Rockdale teachers and contact us for a trial lesson!

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