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Meet Our Talented Instructors

Kareem Darwish

Kareem is a musician, composer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist originally from Queens N.Y. He has been teaching and playing professionally for over 25 years. 


The electric guitar is his main instrument, and his virtuosic skill can be heard on his instrumental album “Tales of Power” available on Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube. His song “Colors of a Dream” from that album earned him a rave review in the March 2009 issue of Guitar Player magazine.


His early influences were that of heavy metal bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden. The musicians that inspired him to make a career out of music and gain mastery over his instrument are guitar greats Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Early on Kareem decided he wanted to be more than a one-dimensional musician. Over time he expanded to learn many other styles of music. Listening to music greats like Stevie Wonder and James Brown also helped shape his playing style. 


Growing up in NY also provided Kareem exposure to many different cultures and styles of music ranging from Reggae, R&B, Blues, Jazz, Classical, and World style music. He attended Fives Towns College of music when he was 18 and was able to further hone his skills as well as learn music theory and sight-reading. Being passionate and dedicated to his music, Kareem often practiced up to 10 hours per day! It was also during this time that he discovered his love for teaching others. 


In 2002 Kareem moved to the Northern Virginia area where he became a session player. Being a “hired gun” as a lead guitar player for singer-songwriters as well as playing and recording on various records. After hearing Kareem perform, he started getting many requests for personal instruction. It was at this time that he began teaching full-time. 


Being an empathetic person, Kareem is able to put himself in his student's shoes. He likens himself to a music personal trainer and creates a program suited to the needs of each individual. Taking time to know and develop a report with each student not only helps make each lesson enjoyable, but increases accelerated learning. 


Besides being proficient in guitar, Kareem is also able to teach Bass, Ukulele, Mandolin, Banjo, Percussion, and Piano! His use of these instruments can be heard in two singles on his most recent project “Phoenixsong”, which is available on Apple Music, Spotify, etc.

Scott Castonguay

Scott is a Washington DC area guitarist known for his virtuosity, versatility, and reliability. Like many young players, he played with friends in the garage, in the basement, and eventually on stage at his high school after forming his first band.


He studied with a variety of private instructors through high school, and when he didn’t have an instructor continued with his studies and practice on his own. After High school, he knew it was time to make a decision and enrolled in music classes at N.V.C.C. where he studied classical guitar, jazz guitar, and ensemble, as well as music theory. He had the good fortune to meet and work with such luminaries as Charlie Byrd, Keter Betts, Paul Bollenback, and Webster Young while at N.V.C.C. He studied private jazz guitar with Paul Bollenback for 5 years. He began working as a leader when he formed his jazz trio in 1991 which went on to play in a variety of venues around the area for many years.


As a freelance artist, Scott has accompanied the likes of Al Wilson - Show And Tell, Pat Upton - More Today Than Yesterday, as well as many regional artists. He’s also played with a variety of ensembles over the years covering many styles including but not limited to pop, rock, soul, r&b, blues, funk, jazz, reggae, and much more. He’s done everything from jam sessions to pit orchestra. Scott continues to perform in several projects he’s currently involved with as well as studio session work and freelancing.


Most recently he was asked by his friend and former bandmate and composer James Cotton to take part in the recording of the soundtrack for a locally produced feature film entitled “Spent”, which was released on June 14th, 2016.


Scott has been teaching private lessons since 1984 to the present. Students have ranged in age from as young as 5 to 85. Many have gone on to continue their studies in college and/or perform as professionals, and even become private instructors themselves.

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