Tutors & Staff

Name:- Steve Dempsey - Principal Tutor & Founder
Instrument:- Guitar, Bass and Vocals
Hobbies:- Motorbikes, Mountains & Triathlons.

Steve started playing at age six, learning open chords and strumming patterns. After a few years Steve took classical guitar lessons where he learnt more complex chord shapes, scales and fingerstyle. Steve’s early guitar education was taken on acoustic guitar this changed in his early teens when he learnt how to adapt his acoustic knowledge to both lead and rhythm electric guitar. Steve continued onto College where he studied popular music & recording, his first pro gig was at age sixteen, since then he has gone on to play countless gigs with many bands and solo musician’s up and down the country acting as both a band member and as a session musician Steve is also the founder and owner of Riffs Music Academy.

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:- Jake Scoffield
Instrument:- Bass, Guitar, 

Jake is a Guitar, Bass and Double Bass Player From Cheshire first picking up an instrument at age 10 inspired by the film ‘School of Rockʼ. in 2018 he graduated from the RNCM after 4 years of study with a Bmus in Popular Music Performance. He has been gaining one to one teaching experience since 2014 and is passionate about bring music education to all ages and abilities at Riffs. Jake performs regularly at Manchester venues with original bands as well as Soul Band ‘Big Phat Phunctionʼ and Modern Pop Covers band ‘PushPlayʼ.  Career highlights include working with Record Producer Pete Waterman 2014 - 2016 and numerous Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester Musical Youth and RNCM Musical Productions.

Name: - Chris Twigg

Instrument:- Guitar, Bass & Ukulele

Tutor:- Chris Lee

Instrument:- Vocals - Leisure & Graded

Chris studied at the RNCM and now performs regularly throughout the UK as a singer of ’Pushplay’ or ‘The Upstarts’. Having studied from world class tutors such as Audrey Mattis, Wayne Ellington and Hannah Mcgaguingin, Chris can sing a diverse selection of musical genres. Chris has a vast amount of recording and live experiences, including performances with RNCM session orchestra RNCM northern sessions, Northern voices acapella and has done backing vocals for Leona Lewis on her UK tour. 


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:- Caroline Shepherd

Instrument:- Piano/Keyboard & Vocals 

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.

Cover Tutors

Laurie Agnew - Drums & Percussion,  Dale Burns - Drums, Hayley Williams & Alicia Herhenteris - Vocals, Paul Binieda - Guitar, Tom Favell - Guitar, Bass & vocals.

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.