Meet Our Team

Our team of experts have been carefully chosen to support you at any specific stage in your journey, from Mastering Your Craft, Music Theory, Songwriting, Recording, Artist Development, Marketing and Music Business.

Our team have worked with institutions such as Berklee College, JMC Academy, Australian Institute of Music (AIM), recording labels such as Universal Music, Sony and several independent labels, agencies and venues in Australia and internationally for over 20 years.

Steve Jaz

Founder and Managing Director

Founder, managing director, and musician turned entrepreneur, Steve has helped redefine the music landscape at Music Valley.

Steve Jaz originally began a music career as a session musician, touring with multiple shows and corporate bands, supporting Australian music icons such as Darryl Braithwaite and Choirboys.

After completing a music degree, Steve juggled a career as a musician and a corporate sales executive for several years. Having experienced many of the challenges that come with making a living as a musician, Steve was inspired by a vision to build a company that would ultimately solve many of the problems artists face in their journey to becoming full-time working artists.

Steve's investment in his personal development and growth as an entrepreneur gave rise to create a new model for training, music production, and career development, transforming the lives of thousands of artists over the past decade with the help of his team.

With a growing network across the country, Steve continues to work on the Music Valley vision as a way of giving back to the community and helping develop a stronger music industry in Australia, creating new pathways for the modern musician.

Michél Kroll

Head of Production, Tribe Chief, Trainer & Mentor

Professional Songwriter, Producer and Music Mentor, Michél Kroll started his music career at the age of 16 and only a year later, he signed his first record deal and moved to Berlin working with Universal Music, Berlin State Opera and Sony Music as touring artist, songwriter, mentor and producer. Alongside this he has performed with international acts like The Wu-Tang-Clan, Bloodhound Gang, Danko Jones, Nick Cave, Powderfinger and Fall Out Boy. Michel is currently head of production at Music Valley.

Jake Howman

Tribe Songwriter Coach, Guitar teacher & Vocal Producer

How do you blend creativity and success without one swallowing up the other?

That was my biggest fear in trying to turn my passion for music into a sustainable career. I joined USM’s Tribe for Modern Songwriters in October 2018 in search for an answer, and what I found was so much more. USM was my introduction to the world of personal development, mentoring and business, and has since shaped my mindset in a way that was only achievable by being surrounded by action takers.

What I experienced was a team who practiced holistic mentoring methods focusing on individual goals, then creating strong and deep connections with everyone in the community as a result of attaining those goals.

So what was the answer to blending creativity with success?
Create to give, not to take. The more we offer our skills to get others where they want to be, the more we propel ourselves forward. I've gone from bedroom wannabe to business owner, making double the money compared to my day job just by asking myself what I can give to other people.

I’ve been a guitarist for 15 years and can show you techniques you can use as a singer/songwriter to instantly stand out from the crowd, specialising in alternate tunings and open voiced chords. Once you know your way around the instrument, I can help you write songs that will connect deep in the core of your listener while also remaining true to your creative self (trust me, it’s easier than you think to “write from the heart” and also hit the charts).
As one of the Tribe leaders, I intend to help Tribe to become the biggest songwriting force in the country. I have studied methods taught by leading songwriters Jason Blume (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys), Friedemann Findeisen, James Roche (Bachelor Girl) and Eric McCusker (Mondo Rock, John Farnham) with one of my own songs placing top 30 in the 2018 ASA Australian Songwriting Contest for the folk acoustic genre.
Last but not least, I thrive in the recording studio as a vocal producer to make sure those lyrics hit home in the context of a full mix. Microphone placement, vocal layering, gain automation, pitch correction and composition through vocal tone are all art forms in themselves which contribute a huge amount to a truly professional sounding track.

I couldn’t imagine my life without music and I know there’s more of you out there who are the same. Bursting at the seams wanting to share my knowledge so jump on the ride with me and let's see where we go!

Jake

Martin Case

Music Director, Composer, Trainer & Mentor

Music Director, Teacher, Trainer & Mentor, Martin has over 20 years of experience as a lecturer, touring musician, composer and in curriculum design.

In addition to teaching, Martin is a composer, multi-media producer, and performing musician, specialising in Saxophone, Piano and West African Percussion.

His work also includes designing experiences for concert, dance, film and other multi-media, both live and in the studio which has taken him to the Middle East, West Africa, South America, Europe, Australia, and throughout Asia. Martin’s previous clients include Harvard University, MIT, Boston Ballet, and Boston Convervatory at Berklee.

Martin currently works with a diverse range of students at Music Valley. He brings much of his world experience into our community, introducing West African percussion ensembles, jazz performance, music theory, harmony and music composition to his classes for young and old. You could say Martin is our go to, when it comes to all things music craft!

Liz Marsh

Vocal Coach, Ensemble Director & Musician

Contemporary and active musician, vocalist and performer, Liz has held positions as Lecturer of Academic, Composition & Performance at Australian Institute of Music (AIM), Vocal Teacher and Ensemble Director (Mount Scopus), Box Hill Institute, Peninsula Specialist College, Trainer & Course Developer for Diploma of Music at Diversitat Training: Geelong, RMIT, The Australian Guild of Music and currently teaches at Music Valley.

She holds a Bachelor of Contemporary Music, Post Graduate Diploma of Education (Southern Cross University) and post graduate studies in Music (Masters) and also Psychology from Monash University.

Liz specialises in the Jo Estill and Seth Riggs vocal pedagogies and enjoys a holistic approach to education with a strong foundation in meditation and mindfulness techniques. Liz values the practice as an essential contribution of presence as a tool in the artists’ cultivation of their unique expression of the craft of musical performance.

Liz is passionate about supporting and promoting original music and her musical taste is eclectic; hip-hop, Afro-Latin, neo soul, classical and electronic. Liz is excited about her students’ growth and is passionate to walk alongside her mentees in the spirit of collaboration.

Kane Watts

Professional Drummer, Educator & Session Musician

Professional drummer, passionate educator, live & studio session musician; Kane Watts is one of the most sought after drummers in the Melbourne music scene.

Kane has studied with, and has been mentored by Australia's best - Gerry Pantazis, Darryn Farrugia, David Jones, Graham Morgan and Andy Gander. Through this, he has become proficient with a wide variety of music genres - from Pop, Rock, Jazz, RnB, Latin and Fusion.

Since beginning his journey in teaching in 2018, Kane has taught beginner students from ages 5 to VCE level and beyond. He has a friendly and personal demeanour, building a supportive relationship with all his students. He also communicates well with parents of younger students. Kane creates a learning programme that works best for each individual student, by focussing on various genres of music, technique and drum notation. This is done at a pace that suits their learning styles.

In 2021, one of Kane’s top performing students received the Scholarship Award. 

Through a high level of motivation, clear goal setting, and a close bond with their teacher, students continue to see huge personal growth when learning with Kane.

Kane is dedicated to building careers for drummers and all musicians, helping them to achieve their goals and aspirations.

James Russo

Pianist, Educator, Performance Specialist

Commencing his studies with the piano at a very early age, James has furthered his musical journey to see him become a passionate classical piano performance specialist. Having received the Licentiate Diploma of Music from the AMEB and Bachelor of Music from Monash University, his studies have also led to success in state and national piano competitions.

Among his scholarships and prizes include the Gardiner Scholarship (Melbourne University), the Bernie's Music Land Prize, John Earle Prize, Anna Chmiel Memorial Prize, the Monash University Concerto Award and the Lyceum Club Margaret Sutherland Bursary Award. His concerto debut in 2009 playing Saint-Saens’ Second Piano Concerto with the Zelman Symphony Orchestra led him to win the Boroondara Concerto Award.

Passionate about educating across all stages of learning, James is proud to see his students confidently perform and collaborate, with some having won their own prizes in competitions, including scholarships to notable schools and institutions.

Alongside educating, performing widely has provided opportunities for solo performances in some of Melbourne’s most notable venues such as The Melbourne Recital Centre, Hamer Hall, Melbourne Town Hall and 3MBS live radio. A keen collaborator, engagements have seen him work with a range of institutions as a rehearsal pianist, session musician and performer.

It gives James great pleasure to work with Music Valley, helping aspiring musicians achieve their goals, at any stage they may be in their musical journey.