Meet Our Instructors

Our Musicians have decades of experience in instruction and live performance. Notably, they have achieved great success in the music industry and continue to excel further with the same dedication that they bring to our Lesson Program. The Guitar Factory Lesson Program has become a successful program due to the dedication of these talented instructors. Get scheduled with one of them today!

Joe Squelch Joel Squelch
Instrument Of Expertise: Guitar, Bass, Alto Saxophone, Voice

“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

  • Recipient of the Woody Herman Jazz Award
  • Performs with The Guilty Party
  • Coaches the student performances, “The Jam”

Recording artists such as Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Pearl Jam are noted as inspiring Joel to become the musician he is today. Through his journey, Joel has learned tremendous patience and that not being afraid of a little hard work one can achieve great rewards. Playing in the band “The Guilty Party” (, and coaching the students for our annual concert series, Joel takes great pride in his role in the Lesson Program. His students can expect patience, tolerance, understanding, personalization, organization, and most of fun.

Nick Norton Nick Norton
Instruments of Expertise: Guitar (6 & 7 string), Bass Guitar

“How ‘bout no?!” – Dr. Evil

  • WNY People’s Choice Award – 2003
  • Performed a Pantera song for Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul
  • Performs with Fireborn

“Very much a perfectionist” when it comes to his craft, Nick is currently working on an untitled project that will be released soon. Inspired by Slash, early Metallica, Zakk Wylde, and Dimebag Darrell (to name a few), Nick’s guitar journey started at 12 years old. His persistence is credited for becoming the musician he is. Currently Nick can be found playing with Fireborn (, a local Death Metal band. A passion for Metal and Rock, with an appreciation for styles of music with great musicianship, Nick’s clients can expect to experience heavy fundamental and technique teaching to achieve their own style of play while having fun.

Joe Shanahan Joe Shanahan
Instruments of Expertise: Guitar, Bass Guitar, Ukelele, Mandolin

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

  • Villa Maria College – Music Theory/Piano
  • Studied with Buffalo Hall of Fame legend, Tony Scozzaro
  • Performs with: Off the Grid, Acoustic Duo

Joe has decades of performance and instruction experience. When he isn’t busy out playing around the Buffalo area, he can be found at home here at The Guitar Factory, sharing his love for music with his clients. Joe’s teaching style is adaptable to each client, and their needs, making sure that they are comfortable with the day’s lesson. In his spare time, he’s learning Recording Techniques. To learn more about Joe or to see his playlist, visit:

Mike Willard Mike Willard
Instruments of Expertise: Guitar, Beginner level Bass Guitar, Voice

“Sometimes I want a —– cheeseburger, other times I just wanna watch some dude eat bugs on Fear Factor.” – Joe Rogan

  • Performed at famed locations – Artpark, Kleinhans, Canalfest, Pax East, Gaylord National
  • Featured in major media outlets: UK’s Guardian, NPR’s Morning Edition
  • Featured in articles written by: Jeff Mier, The Buffalo News
  • Performing with: Armcannon – Progressive Video Game Music Themed Rock Opera, Weaponex – Progressive metal/fusion, Those Who Fight – Final Fantasy
  • Currently recording and producing an all original solo record

As a driven musician, Mike admits he “only accepts the best” from him, and works to achieve all goals that he sets forth. While in Instructor mode, he adapts his lesson programs to suit specific needs, but maintains heavy theory and technique training. To learn more, visit:, and

Damone “A-Miracle” Jackson Damone “A-Miracle” Jackson
Instruments of Expertise: Drums, Percussion

“Just go with the flow.” – D.J.

  • WNY Best Blues Drummer 2013
  • NYS awarded 2nd Best Drummer 2007
  • Playing with: Tommy Z Band, Only Up From Here, & The Flat Five

With infectious energy, Damone shares his passion for all music. While juggling a hectic play schedule (for live performance’s visit,, “A-Miracle” also finds enthusiasm in sharing his knowledge and skills with his clients. When asked what a client can expect to gain in working with him, Damone replied “A life changing experience”. Truer words have never been spoken!

Jim Wynne Jim Wynne
Instruments of Expertise: Guitar, Bass Guitar, Piano, Drums

“If I can see further than anyone else, it is only because I am standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

  • Buffalo Music Awards C 13 time award winner
  • Playing with: Living Will, Haiku, Dave Constantino Band, & Lost and Found

Jim’s journey with music began when he was just 14 years old. Establishing himself in the WNY music scene, Jim comes to our lesson program with decades of instruction and live performance experience. Describing himself as “Hilarious”, his clients can expect to learn to play with confidence, aural awareness, as well as with a few laughs. Jim has the uncanny ability to make all students feel at ease with their learning experience, and is a master at adapting the lesson program to suit the need of the clients.

Kevin Helfrich Kevin Helfrich
Instruments of Expertise: Guitar, Bass Guitar, Banjo

“Why I oughta!” – Moe Howard

  • Buffalo Music Awards – Best Original Guitarist in recording 1996
  • Over 30 years of professional music experience
  • Began a career in Instructing in 1989 and joined The Guitar Factory Lesson Program in 2006

Over the years, Kevin has learned that one is born to be musical, it’s in the DNA. The only decision then is whether to pursue it and to what degree. Kevin’s positive attitude transfers to his clients in his teaching. They can expect to progress at their own speed, encouragement, and not to feel pushed to be further than they are ready to be.

Gary Rutkowski Gary Rutkowski
Instruments of Expertise: Drums, Snare Drum, Mallet Percussion, Latin Timbales, Congas

“More is not better, better is better.”

  • Master’s Degree in Music
  • Performance and production in 4 solo recordings
  • College Level Musical Instruction experience in New York (Villa Maria College, Buffalo State College) and in Pennsylvania (Edinboro University)
  • Performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic
  • Written a book on Drumming Concepts and Techniques

Gary’s students can expect to learn strong fundamentals, the ability to read basic music, and to have fun playing the drums.

Kevin Bartosiewicz Kevin Bartosiewicz
Instrument of Expertise: Guitar
  • The Atlanta Institute of Music – with honors
  • Attending The University of Buffalo – Industrial Engineering
  • Collaborating on “BNP”, original written and recorded music with fellow musician, Scott Nadolinski

Kevin’s road to a career in music began at just 11 years old. He poses a natural talent for writing original pieces and often collaborates with fellow musicians. “We’re all capable of great things through dedication and good work ethic”, states Kevin who credits Buffalo’s Music Hall of Fame Alumni, Tony Scozzaro (original written and recording artist), for his inspiration. Kevin’s clients find their lessons to include fundamental techniques, theory, improvisational methods, as well as learning their favorite pieces.

Josh English Josh English
Instrument of Expertise: Drums

“Without deviation, progress is not possible.” Frank Zappa

  • On call session drummer for GCR Audio
  • Performs with the Grace Stumberg Band
  • Has played and recorded with many bands/musicians, including Robby Takac, Pinky Doodle Poodle, Whiskey Reverb, Bob Schiele, The Search and Find, and many more.
  • Has done session work at many different recording studios, including GCR Audio, World of Noise, and Starfields Productions.
  • Has extensive touring experience.
  • Well versed in a variety of genres, including rock, funk, jazz, metal, blues, and Latin.

Playing drums for over 15 years, Josh is a very versatile drummer. He is very experienced when it comes to performance, recording, and touring. Hired by Robby Takac to record and tour with Japanese punk rock band Pinky Doodle Poodle, Josh is well known for his calm, easy going personality, as well as his chops, feel, and versatility. This makes him a popular choice for studio sessions. He is an on call session drummer for GCR Audio, one of Buffalo’s premier recording studios, founded by Robby Takac. Josh will develop a lesson plan specifically tailored to the student’s goals, and work on enhancing their strengths and eliminating their weaknesses.

Dave Internicola Dave Internicola
Instrument of Expertise: Electric/acoustic guitar (beginner through advanced), Bass (beginner), Voice (beginner)

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be the blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.” J.R.R. Tolkien

  • Currently plays with “The Freshwater Four”, a Buffalo based surf-rock band in the style of Dick Dale and the Ventures
  • Coaches The Guitar Factory’s “Summer Rock Camp”
  • Musical Instructor for “Group Guitar Lessons for Homeschools”
  • Cum Laude with a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia

Dave was inspired to learn the Alto-Sax in 4th grade after watching the movie “Better off Dead” and John Cusack’s ability to woo his leading lady in the film, but by the time he reached 8th grade, his musical interests shifted, enter Metallica and so started his love for Guitar. Dave’s clients can expect to have a fun yet organized experience that fully teaches everything they need to know about guitar and musicianship in general. With Dave’s guidance and encouragement, clients should expect to work hard to achieve their goals. For The Freshwater Four’s play schedule, you can find them on Facebook!

 Carol McLaughlin

Over a half of century of playing, Carol started in Jamaica playing gigs as a young man.  His musical talents lead him to play alongside legends, Sammy Davis Jr & Johnny Mathis!  

Carol’s passion in Saxophone, Trumpet, Flute, Trombone, Clarinet, as well as other brass & woodwinds ushered in his next career as a Big Band Leader on 2 major cruise lines before moving to England.  

Continuing to tour internationally, it was in 1979 that Buffalo, NY became Carol’s new musical home.  Playing locally, Carol could be found headlining as entertainment at the infamous Anchor Bar and still is seen at the Colored Musicians Club on Broadway.

To this day, Carol shows no signs of slowing down!  He continues to lead his 17-piece Big Band, as well as Carol McLaughlin & Magnitude in which he helped launch the Summer Concert Series “Live At Larkin”.  

Alongside Carol’s love for live performance, his love for teaching is paralleled.  With an infectious personality and love of all music, Carol’s teaching engulfs those who learn to play from him.

Victoria Mordaunt ( Voice & Piano -- Pic/Bio to come!)