It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced player or a beginner; there is always more to learn when it comes to music. That’s why The Player’s Bench offers private music lessons taught by experienced teachers who are also professional musicians.

Our instructors come form a wide range of backgrounds, and teach many different styles of music. If you want to learn music theory, or simply how to play the basics, The Bench has the perfect instructor for you.

Lessons are currently available Monday – Saturday. Give us a call to arrange yours!

Don Yurisich (Devereaux)

Drums, Percussion

Don Yurisich (Devereaux) has been teaching drums and percussion for 14 years in the Chicago area. Don has teaching studios at Minstrel Music in Niles and Consolidated Music in Barrington and is “very much looking forward to working with students in the Crystal Lake area” through his upcoming association with The Player’s Bench. One of Don’s proudest accomplishments is having several students go on to successful performing and teaching careers as well as giving all drum students an idea of how to play drums in a band.

After earning his degree at Roosevelt University, he began pursuing his performance career. Over the years, he has toured the country with many local and regional acts performing a wide variety of music. The highlight of Don’s touring to-date has been a performance with Billy Childers at Soldier Field in 2009 as well as a yearly performance in Las Vegas with Country Singer Susie Dobbs. In 2006, he continued his music education by studying with world renowned jazz drummer Isham “Rusty” Jones and credits Rusty with helping him “really understand jazz drumming with all its intricacies and nuances.” He currently tours with Susie Dobbs, Billy Childers, Kim Thomas & Wildcard, and Pirates over Forty.

His recording credits include The Kimi Hayes Band, Susie Dobbs, Billy Childers, Elston, So What, and Magnaphonic just to name a few.

The Pirates over Forty:

Kim Thomas:

Omar Garcia

Drums, Percussion

Omar Garcia has been playing percussion for over 10 years. He started in 4th grade, and hasn’t stopped playing. During high school, Omar had the opportunity to play drum set with the Elgin Community Youth Jazz Band. After high school, he played drum set in the Elgin Community College Adult Jazz Band. He also had the opportunity to play in the Elgin Community College Steel Band. He played tenor pan and double seconds. Omar furthered his percussion studies out at Northern Illinois University where he was in the Northern Illinois University Percussion Ensemble, the Northern Illinois University Concert Band, and both Steel Band groups at NIU.

Omar has also played in his own groups and has opened for some national touring bands like Westbound Train, Bullets Over Broadway, and Big D and the Kids Table.

Omar has been teaching lessons in the fox valley area for about 5 years. He is patient and comfortable in teaching many genre styles and attempts to set a solid foundation while bringing fun into the lesson for an overall positive experience.

Pat Gaughan


Pat Gaughan has a degree in music from the American Conservatory of Music. She has done Masters work at Northern Illinois University. Pat has been teaching guitar for 20 years. She teaches at The Player’s Bench, The Adler Cultural Center, and McHenry County College.

Pat performs throughout the Midwest as a singer/songwriter, and also performs blues, folk, and Celtic music. Her teaching covers the basis of music theory and guitar technique essential to all styles of music. Pat also has experience teaching through N.I.S.R.A. and S.R.A.C.L.C. where she taught the physically and mentally disabled. Visit her website:

Paul R. Graf

Guitar & Drums

Paul Graf graduated from Purdue University in 2002. He has over 10 years experience professionally teaching the guitar to students of every age. He has a lifetime experience in band, duet and solo performance settings. He has performed as a singer and guitarist at various venues in Woodstock, Illinois and Northern Illinois.

Paul enthusiastically engages students of any age, skill level and potential. He motivates students toward setting goals, accomplishing goals and bolstering self-esteem. Paul has a firm knowledge of music theory with the ability to teach it plainly and make the information relevant to transcribing, song writing and improvisation.

Gordon James


Gordon James has been a professional pianist for over 20 years. He majored in Piano and Electronic Music at Northern Illinois University where he studied under Art Hodes and Dr. J.B. Floyd. He has taught Jazz piano at Governor’s State University, as well as lectured on jazz improvisational and electronic music at the University of Iowa, and Elgin Community College. He has also been teaching private lessons 20 years.

In addition to teaching, Gordon is the keyboardist for TMC Music Production Company and the owner of J.J. Sound Recording and Flameboys Music Production Company. He is the keyboardist for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin.

Gordon has been featured in the Discoveries column in Keyboard Magazine. His work has also received excellent reviews in the Illinois Entertainer, Chicago Tribune, Downbeat Magazine, and many others.

Mike Knauf

Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute and Oboe

Mike received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He has taught instrumental music at the Elementary, Junior High, High School, and College levels in the Chicago area. Mike’s performance credentials include performances with Billy Eckstein, Jimmy Dorsey, Tom Scott, Milton Berle, Las Vegas Rat Pack Show, Frank Mantooth, and the Ringling Brothers Circus. In the Chicago areas he has also performed with the John Burnett Orchestra, Bill O’ Connel Orchestra, Chicago Jazz Orchestra, and the Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra. Mike has also performed in Europe, the Caribbean, and a USO tour to Cuba.

Mike is currently active as a freelance woodwind artist in the Chicago area and leading his own jazz quartet. He is also a member of the Park Avenue Orchestra, which performs for many private and corporate events in the Chicago area and the Midwest. In addition, Mike is a woodwind instructor and directs the jazz program at St. Giles School in Oak Park, Il.

Mike has been teaching at the Player’s Bench since 1989. He continues to keep a very busy teaching schedule and accepts students of all levels, beginner thru advanced.

Please check out Mike’s website:

Virginia Moore

Classical Violin

Virginia has over ten years experience teaching violin to students ranging in age from 4 years through adults. She has taught in public schools, grades 4-9 in the United States and Germany.

Her professional background includes orchestral experience with symphonies in Omaha NE, Syracuse NY, and with the North Carolina Symphony. She has been a chamber musician as well, with the David Majors Players and various professional chamber groups.

Virginia has a Bachelor of Arts with honors from Syracuse University, where she studied with world-renowned concert violinist Louis Krasner. She also studied at the Robert Schumann Konservatorium in Dusseldorf, Germany under the direction of Sandor Vegh.

Virginia welcomes all beginning students, and teaches using a blend of Suzuki and traditional methods. She prefers students over the age of 4 and especially enjoys bringing music to teens and adults.

Chris Ray

Electric and Upright Bass

Chris teaches electric and string bass guitar. He specializes in jazz, pop, rock and funk.

Chris has a Bachelor of Music degree in Performance String Bass from Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. He has been performing in jazz, pop, rock and big bands in the area for many years. He also plays in musicals and does studio recording work. Chris teaches all levels and ages.

Rick Rattner

Guitar, Bass, Keyboards

Chicago native Rick Rattner teaches guitar and bass guitar. He has been performing in various bands and composing music for almost 30 years. Rick attended Oakland University Music School and has a degree in Computer Science.

Rick is a session player and has composed music for numerous national commercial advertisements in television and radio, including Buick and National Kelly Services.

Rich teaches all styles and experience levels and prefers students eight years old and up.

Steve Romanoski

Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar, Ukulele, Dobro

Steve Romanoski grew up as a streetwise kid from Chicago’s north side. He was raised by a pack of wild alley cats and the Chicago Police Department before he was found on the doorstep of Northern Illinois University music department. His love of music was nurtured by everyone from Eddie Cochran to Bela Bartok and he took to the study of music with total abandon. He absorbed the wonders of composed (aka classical) music and performed as a violist with several school orchestras and the Northeastern University New Music Ensemble. He graduated from Northeastern with a degree in Music and English Literature. Early on Steve discovered the blossoming folk music community that prospered in Chicago during the 1970s and, from there, he found bluegrass music and began a relationship that would last for the next 35 years. Steve has been an active part of the folk and bluegrass community in Chicago as a musician, teacher, promoter and writer for the past forty years and shows no sign of slowing down. Currently you’ll be just as likely to hear Steve playing jazz or blues as much as he does bluegrass. Today Steve is busy writing songs, producing instrumental compositions and teaching music. He has a unique style that is directed at actually understanding the instrument rather than simply memorizing songs note for note. He stresses improvisation and building a foundation of theoretic that applies to all styles of music. His methods break down each element of music theory into a basic understandable element that can then be applied to the instrument. His specialties are bluegrass style banjo and mandolin but he also offers lessons for guitar, ukulele and basic Dobro.

Vince Salerno

Alto and Tenor Sax, Flute, Clarinet, Harmonica

Vince Salerno has been playing and performing music for over 40 years. He as been teaching for nearly 30 years. Vince is a graduate of the American Conservatory of Music, with extensive coursework in Jazz Studies.

Vince has studied music with such music greats as Joe Daley, Ron Dewar, and Bill Sears.

Vince has performed in various jazz, country, and society bands. He has also performed with various famous blues artists. Among them, Luther Allison, Eddie Clearwater, Vanessa Davis Band, and Liz Manville.

Vince also teaches and performs harmonica. He studied harmonica with Howard Levy and Jerry Portnoy.

Aside from Alto and Tenor saxophone, Vince teaches flute, clarinet, and harmonica. He teaches all ages and skill levels. Please visit Vince Salerno’s website for more info.

Bill Sonoda


Bill teaches guitar, and has a music degree from Northeastern University. On top of the music education, Bill also has an AAS Aviation Mechanics Degree A+P license.

Bill has rocked with several bands and solo artists. He played in the band ‘Changes’ from 88-92. He was the guitarist for blues singer Eddie Burkes from 2001-2002, and currently plays with the band Random Access.

Born June 12th 1964, Bill grew up in Chicago and has played guitar since the tender age of 11 years. Yep, that’s almost 30 years of rocking experience! Bill enjoys teaching Rock, Blues, Country, Funk, and music theory. Bill has no age or experience requirements. All students are welcome.

Madelyn Srajer

Trombone, Baritone, Trumpet, French Horn

Madelyn Srajer has been playing trombone since the age of 10. She found out that she not only had a great time playing it, but quickly developed a passion for trombone and music in general.

Madelyn, or Maddi for short, has been playing around the Chicago area since age 16. She has studied with Mark Bettcher (Chicago jazz artist and educator) and Jay Friedman (Principal Trombone Player of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) primarily, with a smattering of other great musicians and teachers put in there for good measure.

While still a young person, Madelyn has accomplished a great deal. She has shared the stage with such artists as Wynton Marsalis, Tom Garling, John Allred, Wycliffe Gordon, and Rob Parton just to name a few. Madelyn attended the Chicago College Performing Arts and graduated in December 2009 with a degree in Music Education with a Minor in Performance.

As a well rounded musician that feels comfortable playing in nearly any situation, Madelyn has a lot to offer students. She has been teaching brass privately since 2003, specializing in trombone and baritone. She also offers beginning trumpet and French horn lessons. Madelyn enjoys composing and playing music in her spare time. She regularly plays around Chicago both as freelance trombone player and with her rock band, Shortstop From Tokyo.

Bruce Waters


Bruce has 35+ years of teaching and performing experience in all popular styles of guitar. He has performed as a guitarist, bassist, and vocalist in national venues including Las Vegas Nevada, The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville Tennessee, The All State Arena in Rosemont Illinois, as well as the United Center in Chicago. He also plays in the Praise and Worship band for the First Baptist Church of Elgin and is currently a member of the tropical rock group Pirates Over 40. Bruce’s approach to teaching the guitar revolves around building a firm understanding of the basics. This includes music reading,proper techniques, and a belief that all music should be fun. Bruce accepts students of all skill levels and prefers students of age 8 and above.

Laura Peete


Laura Peete received her Bachelor’s degree in Music from Millikin University in Decatur, IL. She first began her vocal training when she was in High School which led to vocal competitions such as IMEA Districts as well as IMEA All State competitions, in addition to her successful participation in local theater productions. She then continued her training by attending Millikin focusing on vocal performance and music business. She has had numerous performance experiences throughout her musical career, including performing in the Music in the Marche program sponsored by the Chicago Lyric Opera which featured internationally throughout Europe. Other credits include, Matrimonio Segreto (Elisetta), Schicchi (La Ciesca), Bare the Rock Musical (Sister Chantelle).

She has worked with award winning music legend Burt Bacharach (Promises, Promises) and Steven Sater (Spring Awakening) in their premiere musical of Some Lovers with such talent as Jason Danieley (Next to Normal, Broadway) Michelle Duffy (Leap of Faith, Broadway) at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, CA. She currently vocal coaches and directs for Spotlight Youth Theatre which produces 33 professional musical performances a year in 11 different locations from Chicago, IL to Milwaukee WI. In addition, she recently partook in an international tour through the Baltics of Europe with the Millikin University Choir, an elite choral ensemble nationally ranked and recognized for its diversity of tone and repertoire, and has 6 CD recordings through FirstStep Records.