Meet Our Instructors

Donato McDermott

(Guitar, Piano, Bass, Drums, Voice, Violin, Ukulele, Production) 

Donato McDermott has a background in playing music as well as teaching.  Music is Donato’s life, which led him to be the founder of Evolution Music Conservatory. He has been involved in several successful bands (Legs on Sale, Royal Heist, Dondo and the Mothership) and has most recently created his own current curriculum for teaching.  He has over 15 years experience instructing at professional music schools and loves teaching anyone with a desire to learn. He teaches guitar, drums, piano and bass to beginners up to professional levels as well as songwriting, recording, theory, harmony, sight-reading and ear training.

Nick Bergere

(Guitar, Bass, Piano, Drums, Violin, Cello, Ukulele, Production)

 Nick Bergere is a seasoned performer and musician, thanks to his wide skill set on multiple instruments. Starting on cello, he soon learned guitar, violin, piano, drums, and bass, where he played all these instruments almost daily during the completion of his Music degree at the Florida State University. Marching in the Rose Bowl, playing bass in sold out stadiums across the country, studying guitar, and playing keys for worship bands since 2008, Nick has gained an appreciation and skillset over many genres, from jazz, to metal, to contemporary, to funk. Nick is also an experienced audio engineer, and has engineering credits on dozens of tracks, writing, recording, comping, tuning, mixing, and mastering music of all styles.

Sheri Pearlman

(Clarinet, Saxophone, Piano)

Sheri Pearlman is an American clarinetist based out of Los Angeles, California. Sheri received her musical education from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in her native city of Baltimore, Maryland, where she studied under New York Philharmonic's Principal clarinetist, Anthony McGill. She received a talent scholarship from this renowned institution, as well as numerous awards. One distinction of note includes the Peabody Institute's Award for Excellence in Chamber Music as well as an additional scholarship to concertize and perform chamber music throughout Europe.

Kit Nolan

(Piano, Voice, Guitar, Bass, Drums)

While most 5 year olds were singing along to silly songs, Chris was entranced by the tribal drumming in the Michael Jackson's "Will you be there". When most Junior High student were listening to, well, whatever made them "cool", Chris was thinking of what John Lennon meant in his lyrics for "Strawberry Fields Forever." Chris has always had a deep passion for music that goes beyond the surface. He connects with... the very soul of music.

While attending (and eventually graduating from) San Diego State University with a B.A in Music, he played hundreds of live shows, most of them coming from a residency in the heart of the historic Gaslamp District of San Diego, honing his skills as a vocalist, pianist, and guitarist. On the other side of the sound board, as an engineer, he's had the opportunity to work with such greats as Jefferson Starship, Hiromi Uehara, Dave Mason among others at one of San Diego's premier live venue "Anthology."

Gabriela Castro

(Clarinet, Piano)

Originally from Santa Clarita, CA, Gabriela Castro completed a Masters of Music degree at the School of Music at Cal State University, Fullerton, where she studied with Burt Hara of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She also completed a Bachelor of Music degree at CSUF in the spring of 2013, her primary teachers being Hakan Rosengren and Margaret Worsley. In addition to these teachers, she has played in several master classes at CSUF for Yehuda Gilad, Anthony McGill, Alexander Fiterstein, Mark Nuccio, and Nathan Williams. Gabriela also performs frequently with her quartet, who has built a following on YouTube with their cover videos of well-known pop and electronic songs by artists such as Major Lazer, Calvin Harris, and Eurythmics. She also runs her own YouTube channel, Musicians Prime, whose objective is to spawn and cultivate the next generation of classical music content creators.

Harley Cortez

(Songwriting, Guitar, Piano, Drums, Voice, Bass, Production)

Harley Cortez has been creating mixed media and multimedia art actively for 12 years, with numerous group shows in the last 3 years. Influenced by music, literature and cinema, the work is a juxtaposition of fine art and street art. As well as being a musician and filmmaker, he uses all mediums as an art platform to express an ever-changing philosophical meandering on what it means to be alive. Previous work has included large scale paintings, smaller drawings, and film (digital and celluloid).  His works has been used in short films, feature films, movie posters, as well as album covers.  Other works include directing both narrative and experimental films as well as scoring feature and short films. Having shown work in both New York City and Los Angeles (he resides in both cities).  He will have his first solo exhibit in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan in April 2016.

GC Castillo

(Guitar, Bass, Ableton, Logic, Pro-tools)

GC Castillo is a music producer/guitarist from Lima, Peru. He graduated from Berklee College of Music with a degree on Contemporary Writing and music production, after being awarded an international scholarship. Since moving to the US, he has shared the stage as a supporting musician for Grammy winning/nominated artists such as American Idol's winner Fantasia, Wizkid, Mr. Eazi, Luke James, Chrisette Michelle, J. Ivy among others. Some of his music productions have been featured in media content for clients such as Viacom (MTV, VH1) Ebay, and. GC currently resides in Los Angeles, CA were he splits his time between a music educator and producer for different international/national acts. 

Sally Rose Bates

Sally Bates

(Voice, Piano)

Sally Rose Bates, mezzo-soprano, earned a Masters Degree in Vocal Performance from Georgia State University with a full scholarship and stipend to attend. She earned her Undergraduate Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater also with a scholarship to study.  Sally also completed one year of Doctoral studies at the University of California Santa Barbara in Vocal Performance.  In addition, she has studied piano for twenty years including collegiate level studies as well as accompanying choirs and soloists. In addition to performing, Sally has been teaching for roughly 15 years. Sally is considered a voice specialist in the field. She teaches private voice, piano and theory lessons for for all ages, styles and levels of students. Her specialty is primarily in working with students who want to learn Classical, Broadway, Popular or Jazz styles. Sally or "Ms. Sally" specializes with tailoring each lesson to the individual needs/goals of that specific student to help them achieve great success. Many of her students have gone on to study music in college or launched performance careers.

Dylan Ryan

(Drums, Piano, Guitar, Bass)

Born in Chicago, Dylan Ryan took full advantage of the city's musical offerings, studying with several of the Windy City's jazz legends as well as playing in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.  While earning his BA from DePaul University, Dylan was already touring and recording with rock outfits and jazz combos.  Since then he has played on over 60 recordings and performed all over the world with multiple bands.  

He has performed on the stages of such festivals as LA's FYF Fest, Austin's Fun Fun Fun Fest, New York Jazz Fest, and Chicago's Pitchfork Fest as well as Los Angeles' Redcat Theater and Chicago's Symphony Center. Dylan has been teaching drums for 18 years and has been on staff at several music schools including The Bloom School Of Jazz, Sound Roads Music, and The Old Town School Of Folk Music. Most recently, Dylan's music has been featured in the LA Film Festival's Audience Award recipient I Am Thalente (2016) and Critics Choice nominee The Florida Project (2017)

Sandi Denton

(Guitar, Bass)

Passionate about music from a young age, Sandi began learning voice. Soon after developing her vocal technique, she picked up guitar, with the desire to provide the instrumentation to sing along to. Guitar soon led to the bass guitar, and she has been studying and playing ever since. 12 years later, she is now a seasoned performer. She has played with multiple bands, groups and has been touring nationally since 2001. Right now she is recording a full-length record with her full time band, teaching, and gigging.

Paige Stark

(Voice, Drums)

Paige Stark is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer from Los Angeles. She studied music and vocal performance on scholarship at Pepperdine University under famed vocal coach Elisabeth Howard. While at Pepperdine, she also completed a masterclass series taught by Tony Award winners and Broadway legends such as John Raitt, Rita Moreno, Douglas Sills, and Susan Egan. After graduation she began playing in bands and studying recording under the mentorship of Jon Brion. She has toured nationally and internationally with her band, Tashaki Miyaki, opening for various artists such as Florence and the Machine, the Walkmen, DIIV, Blonde Redhead and the Allah-Las. She has produced records for her own band, Tashaki Miyaki, as well as for Cherry Glazerr, L.A. Witch, and the Aquadolls.  Her music and compositions have appeared in several national commercials, tv shows, and films.

Jay Pinfold


Jay Pinfold hales from Bloemfontein, South Africa with roots in New Zealand and Australia has played in various international bands over the years. Thriving on hard rock and a passion for metal, jazz, blues & progressive rock, Jay has an eclectic influence driving him when he's belting out a beat.
Jay has traveled the world; Indonesia found him playing with the likes of Mike Tramp from White Lion; Norway had Jay and his band opening for Slash & Friends and while at the onset of his career back in Australia, Jay became a student for several years of the renowned Aussie drum teacher, Darryn Farrugia who himself has played with the likes of Joe Cocker, B. B. King, Chubby Checker, Eartha Kitt etc 

Steven Cannon

(Voice, Guitar, Piano)

Stephen is ecstatic to be a part of Evolution Music Conservatory! After hearing the music of Guns N Roses’ Appetite for Destruction, Stephen picked up a guitar and played in several rock and jazz bands over the next several years, culminating in his earning a BA in Music. The Ohio State University - Go Buckeyes! Locally, Stephen has been a studio singer, and has also been associated with LA Opera and the Hollywood Master Chorale. Nationally, he has been seen at San Francisco Opera, where he recently performed the role of the Prince of Persia in Turandot, Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he performed roles in productions of The Magic Flute, Il Trovatore, and Manon, and many other opera companies and orchestras throughout the Midwest. Stephen has been broadcast on both TV and radio as a soloist, and was a regular National Anthem singer for the Chicago Bulls from 2006-2015. When not at Disneyland, Stephen can be found composing and arranging music in between bites of sushi.

Matt Tucci

(Drums, Guitar)

Matt “Tucc” Tucci started playing percussion in the school band at 9, but had been banging on pots and pans with wooden spoons since before he could walk. Studying under drummers such as Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta, Snoop Dogg) and Brian Wilson (Johnny Dowd, Jamie Lidell) has helped him develop a unique curriculum with the knowledge to help both beginners and advanced drum students alike. He owns/operates Groovru, a widely recognized drum brand followed by many of the world’s best drummers,  including Daniel Platzman (Imagine Dragons), Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Travis Barker (Blink 182), Steve Smith (Journey), and many more. He’s recorded drums on albums from New York to California, and has a Bachelor of Science in Audio from Ithaca College. 

Tim Conley

(Guitar, Piano, Bass, Drums)

Tim is a highly experienced musician with over fifteen years of teaching experience. Born in Philadelphia, Tim majored in Jazz Guitar and Music Composition in College. As an instructor, Tim creates a fun and relaxed atmosphere while instilling confidence in his students with positive reinforcement.  He teaches guitar, bass, piano, drums and ukulele.   An accomplished performer, Tim has toured all over the world at prestigious venues like the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Lincoln Center in NYC; and festivals including the Halifax Jazz Festival in Nova Scotia and Gilles Peterson’s WWS in Tokyo, JP.  He has also performed with many Rock, Jazz, HipHop and Electronic artists like Bernie Worrell, Mike Watt, Digable Planets, Jose James, Mark Guiliana and Taylor McFerrin. Tim is continually excited to share his musical knowledge and experience with aspiring musicians.  His goal as a teacher is to provide a balance of music theory, sight reading, and instrument proficiency in the genre/s that each student is most interested in pursuing.