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

Martin, Music Director, Trainer & Mentor at USM, specialises in working with producers, DJ’s and artists on how to produce professional quality work and gain artistic employment through entrepreneurship. Martin has taught at Harvard University, Berklee College of Music and JMC Academy. He has over 20 years of experience as a lecturer, touring musician, composer and in curriculum design.

In addition to teaching and mentoring, Martin is a composer, multi-media producer, and performing musician. His work also includes designing experiences for concert, dance, film and other multi-media, both live and in the studio which has taken me to the Middle East, West Africa, South America, Europe, Australia, and throughout Asia.

Claire Rayner

Vocal Topliner, Artist Mentor, Songwriter & Teacher

Professional vocalist, songwriter, topliner and artist mentor, Claire Rayner (Rromarin, Kult Kyss) has spent recent years forging her name in the world of Australian music.

After graduating from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Classical Music, Claire signed to major music publisher Warner/Chappell and record label TMRW Music, and is actively engaged within the industry as a topliner, producer, recording artist and live performer.

Accruing over 11 million collective Spotify streams, Claire's versatile songwriting has seen her participate in events such as the 2019 Sony MMW Songwriting Camp, as well as the 2018 Victorian SongHubs and KLP's Ricochet SONGS. No stranger to the stage, 2018-19 also saw the eclectic vocalist performing live with Kult Kyss, supporting the Presets on their national HI VIZ tour, showcasing at BIGSOUND, performing on ABC TV’s show ‘The Set’ and EMC Live.

Receiving airplay across triple j, Double J and Unearthed for every release, Rromarin has also added her voice to a slew of acclaimed singles with artists such as LUCIANBLOMKAMP, The Presets and Golden Features.

Claire brings a wealth of both contemporary and classical music training to USM, specializing in vocal coaching, classical piano, performance technique, artist mentoring & development, songwriting and toplining. She loves working with artists and musicians of all ages and levels, and strives to make each interaction warm, engaging and fun.

Cameron Deyell

Teacher and mentor in guitar, music theory, songwriting and production

Hi, I’m Cameron Deyell, I’m looking forward to joining the team at USM in 2020 as a teacher and mentor in guitar, music theory, songwriting and production.

I’ve been making music for 20 years. The guitar is my doorway into a spooky world of sounds and songs where I’m drawn to all things unusual and beautiful.
I’m maybe best known for working with Sia on her grammy-nominated platinum-selling album This Is Acting.

After living for years in USA and India, I’ve moved to Melbourne where I’m busy working with amazing singers Lior, Katie Noonan, avant punk band Liars and Indian jazz fusion group The Three Seas.

I cut my teeth as a jazz musician, studying at UCLA in Los Angeles with jazz guitar legend Kenny Burrell. I completed my honours degree in guitar performance from Uni of Adelaide and since then I’ve worked with many artists including Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Streets of Laredo (US), Jessica Lea Mayfield (US), Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bertie Blackman and jazz pianist Mike Nock. I’m signed to BMG in LA and songs I’ve worked on have a collective 25 million streams on Spotify.

The focus USM has on mentoring artists into a sustainable career in the new music industry is exciting. I wish there was a place like this when I was coming up!
When I’m not making music I love sailing. I recently sailed my boat from Los Angeles to Mexico, across the Pacific through Tahiti to Fiji. It was wild. I’m always happy to stop and chat about music or sailing or both 😉

Come say hi!

Cameron.

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.

Daniel Lee

Artist, Session musician & Multimedia Composer

I have been gigging and working as a guitarist for the last 5 years in Melbourne, playing inside many of the city’s famous pubs and function rooms and gaining experience by gigging with original bands and wedding bands, playing and improvising in styles that range from gypsy jazz to blues and progressive rock. Aside from live experience, I have also been teaching song-writing and composition since last year to share my love of writing songs and connecting with artists to help discover, cultivate and develop their voices.

My educational background stems from years of training in classical guitar, as well as earning my Contemporary Music Song-writing and Composition Bachelor from JMC, specialising in guitar. With this knowledge, I am so eager to share it with anyone who has a desire to become an artist of any background and any native instrument. I want to assist and guide budding minds to peruse their ambitions and give them a head start to work in their dream job every day. Through USM’s teaching model, the students who sign up will be part of an evolution in music education; breaking away from the obsolete pathway that most other institutions offer and working towards goals by studying the necessities needed to reach one’s ambitions.

My passion as a music-lover and mentor is to cultivate and to grow one's growth as a musician, so that they can discover their voice inside them, develop it, and eventually share it with the rest of the world.

If any of this resonates with you, I’d love to get to know you and see if I can help you on your music journey.

Daniel

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.