UMC Instructors

UMC’s educators are university trained musicians who are dedicated to teaching.
UMC only partners with confident and accomplished professionals who believe in making a difference in people’s lives through the gift of music!

Mark Woerpel

Main instrument taught at UMC: Guitar. Also plays and teaches: Bass Guitar, Mandolin, Native American Flute, Ukulele, Banjo, Piano, Beginning Harmonica, Trombone & Saxophone. Mark is UMC’s studio recording engineer, and also teaches Voice, Songwriting, Recording Techniques.

Education: Mark holds a Bachelor in Music Performance from Wisconsin Conservatory of Music/Marquette University.

Credits: Mark has toured worldwide, wrote and recorded as a member of Blackfoot with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Rickey Medlocke. He has also recorded with Ozzy Osbourne guitarist, Zack Wylde. Mark’s collaboration with Rickey Medlocke won a Native American Music Award for Best Instrumental in 2013. Mark’s original music and CD Warp Drive is available for purchase.

Currently: Mark is an active staff writer and studio musician for Minneapolis based company In The Groove Music where his work is heard on NFL programs, CBS Sunday football games, NFL Tonight, ESPN and various commercials and national TV shows. Mark can be seen locally as a member of 80’s era rock band Them Pesky Kids performing throughout Minnesota. Mark teaches a modern, progressive style of guitar instruction at UMC and maintains an enthusiastic, dedicated roster of students.

Susan Forsythe

Main instrument taught at UMC:  Violin, Viola, Cello.

Education: Susan is a highly trained violinist who has studied at the University of Minnesota under Shirley Santoro and Oliver Steiner. Mr. Steiner is well known for teaching at the Eastman School of Music and for having studied under Dorthy DeLay at the Julliard School of Music. Susan studied pedagogy under Jonathan Strasser, Conductor of the New York City Orchestra, School of Performing Arts Orchestra, School of Music and Arts Orchestra, and the Manhattan Youth Symphony.

Additional Studies: Suzuki Training with Pauline Barryman and Eleanor Stanliss.

Teaching Experience: String Art – Birmingham, Alabama; Community Music School – University of Alabama; Atlanta Music School – Atlanta Georgia; Rock Valley College – Rockford, IL; The Music Academy – Rockford, IL.

Performance Experience: Dubuque Symphony, Dubuque Iowa; Rockford Symphony – Rockford, IL; Mankato Symphony – Mankato, Minnesota; Minnetonka Symphony – Minnetonka, Minnesota; Dartmouth Symphony – Hanover, New Hampshire; University of Minnesota Symphony – Minneapolis, Minnesota. Susan has also performed live on-stage with countless Motown legends including Stevie Wonder as well as major Christian artists.

Scott Kovar

Main instrument taught at UMC:  Drums and Percussion. Scott is an active and versatile performer and music educator with over twenty-five years of professional experience. His passion for music and drums began when he was just a youngster. His first teacher was UMC’s founder, Mike Arturi!

Education: Scott completed his formal education as a percussion major graduating from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. While at NIU, he led his own band playing professionally in the Chicago area. This experience paid for his schooling and gave him a “real world” perspective on how to make a living as a musician.

Additional Experience:  Scott’s wide range of experience includes rock, blues, jazz, country, and zydeco bands, concert bands, orchestra, and steel bands! Scott is currently serving several popular bands in the local area, including The Swamp Kings (Louisiana Blues/Funk), Doghouse John and the Misbehavers, Slim Willie and The Ride (Chicago Blues/Jump Swing), Five Finger Discount (Rock ‘n Roll/Old School Country), and more! We are proud to have Scott and his broad array of percussion proficiency at UMC.

Joe Elliot

Main instrument taught at UMC:  Guitar and Bass. Joe has over 30 years of teaching and professional experience in the music industry, and has toured and trained with world-class musicians such as Jonathan Brooke, Stokely Williams, Steve Cole, and Ricky Peterson, and many more. Joe’s original music CD “Truth Serum” is available for purchase.

Education and Experience: Joe’s teaching experience includes 23 years of educating at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California for the Guitar Institute of Technology (G.I.T.), facilitating courses and programs, and leading various clinics throughout the United States. Joe produced curricula for Musicians Institute, served 9 years as VP and Director of Education at M.I and acted as G.I.T. Department Head for 3 years. Joe holds a Bachelor of Music degree from McNally Smith College of Music, where he also served as Guitar Department Head and Director of Academic Administration.

Additional Experience: Joe has been performing, writing, teaching, and recording since the age of 13. As a professional musician and educator in California, he actively worked in various venues (network TV, movie soundtrack, studio, concert and clubs) in a variety of genres, including Funk, R&B, Jazz, Rock, Afro-Latin, Gospel, Blues and Country.

Joe has authored two instructional books published by Hal Leonard: An Introduction to Jazz Guitar Soloing and Ear Training (co-author with Carl Schroeder and Keith Wyatt). and five instructional books for McNally Smith College of Music, Fretboard Biology I, II, III and IV as well as Rhythm Guitar Biology.

Presently, Joe is semi-retired from the professional touring industry and devotes most of his time to teaching.

Riley Gulotta

Main instruments taught at UMC: Guitar, Bass, Ukulele

Education: Riley started playing guitar at age 13, and attended Universal Music Center as a student throughout high school, studying under Mark Woerpel and Mike Arturi. He attended college on a Diamond scholarship at Mcnally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, MN, and later studied at Berklee College of Music. Riley is fluent in many styles of music, including pop, rock, funk, soul, R&B, country, blues, and jazz.

Advantageous Assets: Riley’s freshness and individuality as a music instructor allow him to offer a distinct experience to his students. Being of a younger generation, he is naturally tuned in to today’s sounds and music scene, and this characteristic also allows him to connect to his students on an exceptional level.

Performance Experience and Credits: Riley has performed across the Midwest, freelancing for local acts such as Sam Kuusisto, Henry James Patterson, Shelby’s Voyage and as a member of the cover band The Special – T’s. He has done freelance work for a number of churches in the Twin Cities and the surrounding area. Riley has opened the Rolling River Music Festival in Red Wing, MN as well as Water Ski Days in Lake City, MN. For multiple summers, Riley has performed as a member of Minnie and the St. Pauls at Valley Fair Amusement Park. In 2019, he was hired by Carnival Cruise Lines as the guitarist for Getaway Patrol, stationed on the Carnival Inspiration.