Idona Cabrinha, Piano instructorIdona Cabrinha
Class Piano

Idona Cabrinha has a B.A., California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; M.M., (Piano Performance and Pedagogy), Northwestern University; additional studies:  Westminister Choir Conservatory of Music, Vallejo Conservatory of Music:  Student of Sylvia Wang, William Spiller; masterclasses with David Buechner, Peter Takacs; pedagogy studies with Francis Larimer; Suzuki pedagogy studies, early childhood educator; extensive experience as pianist and accompanist in West Coast and Chicago areas;  former adjudicator in Chicago area; awards and honors:  Dorothy L. Pound Award, Northwestern University School of Music Grant, First Place Winner Allied Arts Competition; former Performance Syllabus Chair North Shore Music Teacher's Association; former faculty member:  Northwestern University Academy; former lecturer, Class Piano, DePaul University  School of Music.

Ken Hustad, Cello and Bass InstuctorKen Hustad
Applied Cello and Bass Instructor

Bassist/cellist Ken Hustad of Morro Bay is a member of the San Luis Obispo Symphony and Mozart Festival Orchestra in addition to playing with the Santa Barbara and Santa Maria Symphonies, the Cuesta Master Chorale, Pacific Repertory Opera, the San Luis Obispo Vocal Arts Ensemble, the Cal Poly Baroque Orchestra, and in the Tolosa Strings quintet. He is a string coach for the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony and bass and cello instructor at Cuesta College and Cal Poly. An active jazz musician, Ken plays with the Royal Garden Swing Orchestra, Cuesta’s Monday Night Big Band, San Luis Jazz Band and the Central Coast Jazz Quartet as well as the Cuesta Faculty Jazz Ensemble.

Alexander Kato Willis ImageAlexander Kato-Willis
Applied Piano Instructor

Alexander Kato-Willis has toured as a soloist to high acclaim across Europe, the United States, and Japan. Radio France Internationale called his Paris debut "radically refreshing,"​ and National Public Radio dubbed his music "an inspiration." His recitals have been broadcast nationally on television in Japan, and he has been invited to perform by the Cultural Attaché of Finland. Kato-Willis has made appearances with personages such as Tom Brokaw and given recitals alongside musicians the likes of DGG recording artist, José María Gallardo del Rey. His compositions have been performed by former vocalists of the Metropolitan Opera and have been featured in the magazine International Piano. At the age of six, Kato-Willis gave his first solo improvisation performance. At the University of Southern California, he studied piano under the internationally renowned pianist Daniel Pollack and studied composition with Morten Lauridsen, recipient of the 2007 National Medal of Arts. Kato-Willis was awarded Highest Distinction for both his doctoral and master's degrees from the University of Southern California.

John Knutson - Vocal Jazz Ensembles, Jazz Vocal Technique, Jazz Vocal ImprovisationJohn Knutson
Performing Arts Division Chair

Vocal Jazz Ensembles, Jazz Vocal Technique, Jazz Vocal Improvisation

John Knutson is Director of Choral Studies at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, CA. He is also a member of the professional vocal jazz ensemble Vocalogy, formed by Phil Mattson in 1998. John directed the California All-State Vocal Jazz Choir in 2006, and in May 2009 John was named Cuesta College’s Teacher of the Year. Under his direction, Cuesta Voce has performed at the American Choral Directors Association National Convention, the Montreux Jazz Festival, and the International Association for Jazz Education Convention. The Cuesta Chamber Singers havereceived 2nd place in both the California International Choral Competition and the Vokal Total Competition in Graz, Austria.John holds a Masters in Conducting degree from Northern Arizona University and a Bachelors in Piano Performance from the University of Minnesota.

Jennifer Martin, Performing Arts Division Chair, Interim Coordinator of the CPACJennifer Martin
Director of Instrumental Music, Conducting, Low Brass, Music Theory, Guitar, Cuesta Wind Ensemble

Jennifer Martin joined the Music Faculty at Cuesta College in the summer of 2004 as the conductor of the Cuesta Wind Ensemble. In addition to her conducting duties, she coordinates the department's Applied Music program, and teaches Beginning and Intermediate Guitar, and Music Theory. She served as the Performing Arts Division Chair from 2008-2016, and has served as the Coordinator of the Cultural and Performing Arts Center (CPAC) since 2009. Ms. Martin is also the Conductor of the San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra and Central Coast Gilbert & Sullivan.  She has guest conducted wind bands and orchestras, and served as clinician and adjudicator in several states.

Previous to her appointment at Cuesta, she was the Music Department Chair at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, NV, where she was the founding faculty of the Music Department.  In 2003, she received the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for the state of Nevada. 
To contact Jenn, please email her at:

Ron McCarley - Cuesta Jazz Ensemble, Evening Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combos, Jazz Improvisation, Music TheoryRon McCarley
Cuesta Jazz Ensemble, Evening Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combos, Jazz Improvisation, Music Theory

Ron McCarley, Director of Jazz Studies is a graduate of CalArts and Westmont College. Before teaching at Cuesta, Ron was directing professional and collegiate big bands and small groups in the Santa Barbara area. He has had many students go on to successful music careers and many years of experience in jazz performance and education. As a performer, he doubles on all saxophones, flute and other woodwinds and plays a wide variety of music locally and throughout Southern California. When he is not playing music or teaching, he spends his time with his wife, Laura, and their two children.

Jeff Miley, Applied Guitar InstructorJeff Miley
Applied Guitar Instructor

Jeff Miley received his B.M. in classical guitar performance from California State University Northridge in 1988. While immersed in his music studies there, he became a member of the Sun Guitar Quartet, whose hours of dedication to their craft culminated in their being named winners of the Andres Segovia Performance Award. They also traveled to Japan to perform at the Tokyo International Chamber Music Festival in 1989. They were the first guitar ensemble ever to have been invited to this prestigious festival. In addition to his classical studies, Jeff studied jazz arranging and jazz improvisation with Ladd McIntosh, and performed in the jazz ensembles under the direction of Gary Pratt and Ladd McIntosh. Since graduating, Jeff has spent his time working on his original music projects, and working as a sideman on numerous recording sessions, concerts, and club dates. Back in 1995, right as his first album was being released, he became the recipient of the Spotlight Award from Guitar Player Magazine. Since that time, Jeff has been intimately involved in the release of four original albums, with more on the way. His guitar playing continues to take him across the U.S. and to Europe to perform.

Chad Ruyle Applied Voice InstructorChad
Applied Voice Instructor

Chad Ruyle, vocal instructor, and tenor is a graduate of California State University, Northridge with his Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance. Mr. Ruyle is a new resident of the central coast, hailing from the Los Angeles area where he spent the last twelve years teaching and performing in the operatic realm.  Mr. Ruyle made his professional operatic début as Don Curzio in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. During his graduate studies he enjoyed the roles ofSpärlich in Otto Nicolai’s Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor, as well as Eisenstein in Die FledermausSam in Susannah, and Ferrando in Così fan tutte. Chad was a recipient of the Village Voices scholarship where he performed as a soloist at the Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Plaza. For his undergraduate degree Mr. Ruyle attended California State University, Fullerton where he was very active in the Chamber Singers under the direction of John Alexander, and in the operas Dialogues of the Carmelites by Francis Poulenc, and Die Entführung aus dem Serail by Mozart to name a fewDuring his time at Cal State Fullerton Mr. Ruyle performed and toured with such orchestras as the Boston Pops Orchestra, and Pacific Symphony.  As an emerging solo artist, Mr. Ruyle has performed numerous recitals in the Los Angeles, Orange County, and Riverside areas. Chad spent eight years as the tenor soloist and section leader for the First German Speaking United Methodist Church in Glendale. Holding the utmost respect for the art of vocal pedagogy and vocal health, Mr. Ruyle has commanded an active teaching repertoire. Mr. Ruyle looks forward to expanding his student’s vocal endeavors at Cuesta College, and sharing his love of performance.

George Stone - Recording Arts, Music Theory, Jazz Arranging and Composition, Jazz Piano, Jazz TrumpetGeorge Stone
Recording Arts, Music Theory, Jazz Arranging and Composition, Jazz Piano, Jazz Trumpet

George Stone has enjoyed a rewarding career in music performance, composition and music education for over 25 years. He currently directs the popular Audio Technology Program and teaches Music Theory and Composition at Cuesta College.


Jane SwansonJane Swanson
Applied Brass Instructor

Jane Swanson studied French horn with Ralph Pyle, Fred Fox, Wendell Hoss, Sinclair Lott and James Decker in Southern California, and with Phillip Yaeger in Austin, Texas. She also received extensive coaching in chamber music from Mitchell Lurie, both at the Music Academy of the West and at UCLA. She attended Pomona College and the University of Texas in Austin, completing a degree in music performance from UCLA. She was a winner of the Coleman Chamber Music Competition in 1966.  A resident of San Luis Obispo since 1967, Jane has long been active as a performer with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Cuesta Master Chorale, and Opera San Luis Obispo. From 1971 to 2010 she performed with the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival. Since 2005, she has been Brass Coach and Assistant to the Orchestra Conductor with the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony. Jane teaches French horn for Cuesta College and also privately.

Darrell Voss, Applies Percussion InstructorDarrell Voss
Applied Percussion Instructor

Educator/Performer Darrell Voss has taught applied percussion for Cuesta College since 2000. Practically a San Luis Obispo native, Darrell was raised in a musical family and has played drums since the age of 3. After graduating from San Luis Obispo High School in 1983, he pursued a career as a drummer and percussion instructor. Cuesta College was an important training ground for his music studies; he obtained an AA degree in 1989. As a member of the Charter Class of Music graduates in 1994, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.