Tutors & Staff

Name: - Jonathan Pattison
Instruments: - Guitar & Bass
Hobbies: - Running, Aerobic Fitness, Football


Jonny is unique amongst the Riffs teaching team as from the age of 14 he was taught by the founder of Riffs which has given him a real understanding of Riffs teaching ethics. He has been playing guitar for 12 years and was one of the first students at Riffs to attain the coveted Grade 8 qualification. Jonny was originally influenced by many different bands of the time, bands such as Oasis, Kula Shaker and Ocean Colour Scene. As he developed musically his tastes and influences changed towards Hendrix, Clapton, Steve Vai and Robert Fripp. Jonny's musical repertoire is vast spanning many styles and decades of music, and whilst maintaining a fun creative environment he also provides a solid structured learning environment. Jonny has been teaching at Riffs since 2005


Tutor: Jake Stentiford

Instruments: Guitar, Bass & Ukulele

Jake has been playing guitar since starting out on classical guitar at the age of 9. After picking up the electric guitar at 13 he started his first punk band and has been playing in bands ever since. He began teaching guitar in 2011 after graduating from Salford University with a degree in Popular Music & Recording. Alongside the teaching he has been working as a freelance guitarist performing with many different bands, either touring as a session guitarist and bassist or playing in a variety of original and function bands as well. Currently he plays with and manages a Gypsy Jazz style band called The String Beans who perform regularly all over the UK.  

He also performs and records with several acts in the Manchester area that tour internationally as well as writing and recording his own original compositions and collaborating with other songwriters in the Manchester scene. Over the years he’s toured all over the UK as well as in Europe and performed at several large festivals along the way."

Tutor:- Rob Thorpe
Instrument:- Bass, Guitar,

Name: - Chris Twigg

Instrument:- Guitar, Bass & Ukulele

Tutor:- Tom Favell

Instrument:- Guitar - Vocals - Theory

Tom started playing music at the age of nine, firstly with drum lessons and also joining a Scottish pipe band with his brother and Grandad. Once he'd started at secondary school in 1999, Tom gradually moved over to guitar and it has been his main instrument ever since. Tom spent most of his time at school playing in bands and in 2004 decided to study music at Leicester College. This involved learning how to sing properly, music theory, understanding how to set up gigs and learning how to effectively run a band. When Tom started at college, he also started teaching guitar for Clivesmusic and continued to teach part time whilst at university for Maunder's School of Popular Music.In 2007 Tom furthered his continuing interest in music by moving up north to study music at Salford University, which allowed him to further his networking with a variety of musicians in Greater Manchester. Once graduating in 2010, Tom undertook teacher training at Manchester Metropolitan University. This ultimately allowed him to expand his instrumental teaching into a full time job and it's what Tom has been doing ever since. This has included private tuition, primary classroom tuition and instrumental tuition for both secondary and primary schools. Along with music tuition,Tom gigs regularly with a function band called The Robbers on bass and performs solo on acoustic guitar.


Name:- Paul Shaw

Instrument:- Piano & Keyboards

Paul has been a regular performer in and around the Manchester Music scene for over 30 years. He initially studied Piano from the age of 7 and then graduated to keyboards as a teenager. He later studied a B.A in Band Musicianship at Salford University, graduating with 1st Class Hons. From 1999 he lectured and led courses in music at The Manchester College (formerly MANCAT), the courses included BTEC National Diploma/ Certificate and Foundation Degree. Subject areas included Composition, Performance, Songwriting, Theory/Harmony and Keyboard Skills. Paul continues to compose and arrange in various styles, in 2005 a track co-written with a friend was record of the week on radio 1 and number 1 in the dance charts. Paul also possesses a PGCAP (post graduate cert in Academic Practice), and is a member of the Higher Education Authority, he is also a member of PRS (performing Rights Society) and MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society). Paul continues to work with various musicians in diverse styles from Pop / Swing to Opera. 


Tutor:- Ollie Walton

Instrument:- Piano/Keyboard

Name:- Josh Zahler
Instrument:- Drums & Percussion
Hobbies:- Extreme Sports, Spending time with his family

Josh is currently the drummer for Extra Love – a reggae, dub, afro beat band who perform at festivals and gigs all over the UK and Europe. He also plays with a party function band who cover all other genres such a rock, pop, R n B, indie, funk, dance, metal, hip hop, latin, cuban and drum and bass.   Josh has been playing drums incessantly since such a young age he couldn’t reach the pedals and still thinks it’s the best job in the world. He started learning properly in year 5, and played his first paid gig at age 14, (it’s never to early to start your professional career!)   He lists his influences as The Meters, Jimmi Hendrix, Rage Against the Machine, Incubus and Led Zeppelin along with Buena Vista Social Club and Jessie Cooke.   Josh is qualified with 2:1 degree in Popular Music and Recording from Salford University; he also teaches drums privately and in schools passing on his love for big dreams, music and rhythm.  Josh has been teaching at Riffs since Feb 2014.

 Name: - Joel Heywood
 Instruments: - Drums & Percussion

Joel started playing drums at the age of six, soon after at eight years old he began playing alongside his Dad for his local church.  Joel has since had the opportunity to play alongside some of the best musicians in the country including Matthew Ford (Vocalist for the BBC proms and widely regarded as the UK’s finest big band (vocalist), Simon Willescroft (Saxophonist for Duran Duran, Michael Buble), Mark Walker (Simply Red, Westlife), Gwilym Simcock and many more. Joel also works extensively in musical theatre and has worked with Oldham Theatre Workshop, Liverpool Theatre school, Salford Arts Theatre (where he worked as MD) and many more.  Last year Joel even made his acting debut playing the part of Elvis’s drummer DJ Fontana for the new musical “King & Colonel” at the Lowry Theatre, Salford. Joel studied music at Salford University, gaining a First class honours degree and recently completed his Masters degree gaining a Distinction. Joel is an experienced teacher and enjoys passing on his love for music and encouraging students to reach their potential.  Joel has been teaching at Riffs since 2017.

Reception Staff

Debbie Dempsey

Head of Administration / Owner



All Riffs Tutors Are DBS Checked


We are very proud too have won awards over the years by the Registry of Guitar Tutors who are based in London and the worlds foremost organisation for guitar education. These achievements were awarded to us based on the total number of candidates passing their LCM exams and is a clear reflection of all the skill and dedication of both the tutors and students.  We hold exams at Riffs three times a year in Spring, Summer & Winter.