Instructor Bios

Rhan Wilson is a Santa Cruz, CA based musician, teacher, writer, and creator. His creations include, of course, music: recordings, videos, performances; but also include sculpture, photography, woodworking, and landscape design.

Rhan began performing with “The Paisley Pudding”, a “power-rock” trio, when he was 10. Fifty years later he continues to create, perform, and explore the way we hear and interpret music. Rhan has been active in teaching music, with a focus on rhythm and basics, to many, including many of the ukulele players in town – encouraging their confidence and assisting in performance techniques.

Carla Fontanilla calls both Hawaii and Northern CA home. Growing up in the Islands, Dad, Roland, and maternal aunt and godmother, Katherine Sabog, provided Carla first musical influences.

She started on ukulele at age four then graduated to guitar at twelve. Carla played traditional and modern Hawaiian songs with her Dad and Church and ethnic music with her Auntie.

John Sandoval is an extraordinary ukulele talent who is well respected in the local ukulele community. John focuses on the fundamentals of ukulele by introducing and breaking down songs into understandable sections.  His classes are tailored to accommodate all ages and ability levels.  His light-hearted, up-beat manner of teaching makes learning stress-free and tons of fun.

John developed his love and enthusiasm for ukulele during his 10+ years at the Nicholson Music Co. where he founded the (now defunct) “Saturday Ukulele Workshop” which evolved into the “Valley Ukulele Society”.

John currently teaches at the Nicholson Music Co. and the Love of Learning Home School.  John calls Placerville, CA home where he shares his blessed life with his beautiful wife Lisa Morgan and Lucy the cat.

Dr. Dennis Fisher has been playing banjo for over 50 years. He was privileged to study bluegrass banjo under Warren Kennison, Jr. who helped the legendary Earl Scruggs develop his instruction manual Earl Scruggs and the Five String Banjo. Having professionally taught banjo, Dennis also has performed for Ronald Reagan and played with music groups around the world. “Bluegrass ukulele” began when Dennis was asked to adapt banjo songs on the ukulele for a student at The Strum Shop. This was life changing as Bluegrass Ukulele Celebration was born!

Dr. Fisher now teaches in-person and online lessons in in his favorite ukulele music style! Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Rocky Top, Dueling Banjos and many more classic bluegrass songs sound like a “hammered dulcimer on steroids” when played on the uke.   His bluegrass ukulele technique has also been featured at the Reno Ukulele Festival. Dennis takes a special interest in students young and old helping spread his enthusiasm for the love of music.  Dr. Dennis makes it easy! Come join the fun!

Steve Kritzer, whose musical talents also include guitar, mandolin, banjo, and songwriting, has developed a special passion for ukulele over the years, and has become one of the pre-eminent instructors, jam leaders, and “go to guy” for all things ukulele in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Steve has performed, and taught ukulele to everyone from Kids to Seniors at festivals and jams, and particularly enjoys sharing the joy and art of jamming and making music together on ukuleles.

A growing number of students have gone through his popular adult classes for the City Of San Ramon, and was recently hired by “Ukulele Kids” out of Canada to help bring ukulele to the schools throughout California.

Budd Snell is the co-founder and current president of Ukes for Schools, Inc.

Budd gets his strum on every day and has not been without a ukulele since 2011.