Instructor Spotlight: Dave Leve

This week’s featured instructor is Dave Leve. Dave joined DIME in Fall 2018 and teachers classes in Music Theory, Music Industry Studies, and Songwriting. 

Dave Leve

Tell us about your background; how did you get started working in the music industry? What inspired you to work in music?

I was always driven towards music whether it was my father playing various rock songs on the piano or my grandmother taking me to DSO concerts. I started out just making short improvised pieces on the piano when I was 10 years old and that led to being involved in music throughout my education. I sang in 2nd grade, played the recorder in 3rd, violin in 4th, saxophone in 5th, and then switched to percussion in 6th where I did everything from the marching band to jazz band to just having the stereotypical rock band in high school. I ended up becoming interested in composition and songwriting my junior year of high school and focused on it completely for both my undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and graduate school at the Longy School of Music doing some conducting along the way. During my education I became enamored with music genres and that led me to pick up DJing as well as just making mashups of various songs. The technology aspect let me to pick up sound engineering and production techniques as well as how the business and marketing side of the music industry worked. Ultimately, I became a jack of all things music and can easily recite the history of Beethoven as well as Juice WRLD, all while conducting jazz bands and making trance remixes.

What do you do when you’re not working at DIME?

Besides teaching, I also run a YouTube channel (Ma3stro Studios) where I analyze pop songs as well as review albums that chart on the classical, jazz, rock, R&B/hip-hop, dance/electronic, and pop charts. I originally started doing it just for fun but it’s led to a small source of income so I’ve kept it up and am constantly releasing new content on a weekly basis. In addition, I also work as a artist/DJ (under the stage name “Ma3stro”), producer, soundengineer, composer, conductor, and (oddly enough) a piano tuner & technician.

What is your favorite class to teach at DIME?

It’s very hard to pick a favorite class to teach as I’ve had such a good time teaching in the various departments. Repertoire & Hit Song Analysis in the Music Industry Studies department capitalizes on my passion for the pop music industry and sharing that knowledge with the students is always fun as it sparks wonderful discussions. My music theory classes always bring me joy as I see lights go off above the students’ heads when they realize just how their favorite Ariana Grande song works and how it relates to concepts laid out in the Baroque Period of music. I may be bias, but as one of the songwriting instructors, my best memories are when I taught Notation & Chart Writing. Being able to show the students how to take what it is in their head and put onto a physical medium is always a spectacle as it reminds me of the same inspirations I had when I was in their shoes.

What has been your proudest moment as a DIME Instructor? 

Recently in one of my music theory classes, a student had approached me. He said that he;d been struggling with music theory for quite some time now but that after taking just a few classes with that he had begun to understand concepts that had eluded him for three years. It put a big smile on my face knowing that music theory would no longer be a barrier for his creativity and success as a musician. 

Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

It’s tough to really say as I listen to so much in any given amount of time. Marshmello is always a good time, big fan of Kamasi Washington, huge Kendrick Lamar fan, can never go wrong with Queen, and Halsey has always been a bit of a guilty pleasure. But if I had to pick just one artist, it always is and always will be George Gershwin. I firmly believe he was the most recent musicker of any kind that successfully combined every genre of music  in onework(during his time, that would’ve been classical, jazz, and pop). As someone who is always with the history and relevance of music, Gershwin is always who I admire and who I believe is the best musician overall in music. It’s a lofty opinion but his music is something that has remained a constant in my life.

What are you listening to right now? Do you have any recommendations we should check out?

I actually have a lot on my plate currently. Dream Theater has released their next album Distance over Time along with Gary Clark Jr.’s This Land. Julian Lage, Norman Brown, and Keiko Matsui have all released Love Hurts, TheHighest Act of Love, and Echo, respectively. The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s trilogy of their Dmitri Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow is now all out with them having done Shostakovich’s 6th and 7th symphonies alongside his Incidental Music to “King Lear” and Festive Overture. There’s also Kehlani’s While We Wait, Lil Pump’sHarvard Dropout that has the Kanye West collab on it, Offset’s album FATHER OF 4 (so now that’s all the Migos with solo albums), and Gunna’s debut studio album (and sequel to his EP) Drip or Drown 2. So it’ll be a little bit of everything from me but in terms of an actual recommendation I’d send you to “What’s Up Danger” from theSpider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack. Just the right amount of intensity and Blackway & Black Caviar do a great job making it an anthem for any superhero-minded individual (or just simply making your workout go better). 


Student Spotlight: Year 1 Songwriting Student Violet is Blooming at DIME

Year 1 Commercial Songwriting student Violet is in her second semester here at DIME, and is already making waves with her grunge-inspired music. We asked her a few questions about her experiences as a songwriter, bandleader, and student in advance of her performance at our Live & Lyrical showcase, coming up on March 22.

What is your background and music education? What brought you to DIME?
I haven’t had any formal training or lessons. I taught myself to play guitar and sing. My first time singing and playing in front of someone besides my parents was when I auditioned for DIME. I certainly got a late start, but I’m not letting it hold me back. I came here because music is the only thing I like enough to go to school for it.

Who are some of your musical influences?
I have always been heavily influenced by grunge music, Radiohead and Elliot Smith. Recently I have been inspired by more modern bands/artists like Big Thief, HOMESHAKE, Timber Timbre and Beach House.

What can we expect to see from you at the Live & Lyrical Showcase?
Just me, an electric guitar, and my voice. The lyrics for the song, called “Sunspot”, are very special to me, and I hope to convey their meaning through a raw and intimate performance.

You often perform your original music with a backing band as Violet Viper and the Vertebrae. What has your experience been like as a bandleader and working with your fellow DIME students to arrange your songs?
Forming a band has been exciting, stressful, and rewarding, as well as one of the biggest learning experiences I have ever had. I’ve never played with other musicians before coming to DIME, and I am so lucky to have the bandmates that I do, and that I can call them my friends as well. Their intellectual input and developed skills have encouraged me to grow and improve as an overall musician. They make me better. I’m proud of what we’ve written in the past few months, and extremely optimistic for what the future holds.

UnknownHow has your first year at DIME impacted your songwriting?
The education I’ve received just this first year has allowed me to combine technical skills and techniques that I otherwise may have never learned and weave them with my raw songwriting style. With the teaching I’ve received, I’ve been writing music that I’m proud of. My songs are still me, just more thought-out from new and different angles and perspectives.

Do you have any upcoming gigs outside of DIME?
Catch my band playing at Peacefest at LA Cafe in Waterford, MI June 8th!

Where do you see yourself after graduation?
Traveling to a far away country and hiding away in a cabin to be alone and write music.

What advice would you give to someone that’s considering studying at DIME Detroit?
Do it. Prepare for a lot of clichés in the following statement: It doesn’t matter what anyone else tells you, it matters what you feel. Go with your gut and follow your dream because in the end it is YOUR life and your choice. You will never know unless you try.

Make sure to catch Violet at the Live & Lyrical Showcase on Friday, March 22! More information can be found on the Facebook Event Page.

Our next semester begins on August 19 2019. Start your application for a Bachelors program in Guitar, Bass, Drums, Vocals, Songwriting or Music Industry Studies today!


No time to study for a full-time degree? Study individual classes for credit at DIME


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Instructor Spotlight: Nate Dorough

As a talent buyer and founder of Fusion Shows and talent buyer for The Crofoot Presents, Nate Dorough brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the classroom for aspiring music entrepreneurs. We look forward to hearing from him and Dan McGowan (Owner, The Crofoot) at their Detroit Success Stories masterclass this Friday, March 8th from 1-3pm in The Underground! 

Tell us about your background; how did you get started working in the music industry? What inspired you to work in music?
This is a very, very long story. I started as an RA in college at a small school, booking “concerts” as they required two events per semester. Half of campus showed up to a couple of pretty terrible shows, but you could say I caught the bug then. I’ve always loved going to shows, but never realized there was an economy besides the major corporations. I just did it punk-rock style for years, made a ton of mistakes, and eventually honed my craft.


What do you do when you’re not working at DIME?
I book shows! Lots of em. 300-400 per year. I’m a talent buyer for Fusion Shows (and founder) and The Crofoot Presents. And I’ve been married for 14+ years to my favorite person, and have a three year old daughter, my other favorite person.

What is your favorite class to teach at DIME?
I only teach one (Establishing an Artist) so this one’s not a fair question to answer just yet!

nate 1

What has been your proudest moment as a DIME Instructor?
There hasn’t been a ton just yet. Just making it to class, the way the weather’s been this semester, has been a prideful moment each time it happens. I just like when something clicks with a student in class, when you can see the light bulb go on.

Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
I grew up a child of the grunge era. I used to stack pillows and blankets on the floor and “stage dive” off the couch to Nirvana’s “Lithium” music video on MTV. Favorite acts include Nirvana, Our Lady Peace, Stone Temple Pilots, Thrice, Jason Isbell, and Tupac Shakur.

What are you listening to right now? Do you have any recommendations we should check out?
I’m listening to a mostly 90s playlist on Spotify, at the moment. I also manage Shortly, a Detroit indie/emo artist, so I’d say check her out, along with some of my other favorite locals, including Michigander, Joe Hertler, Olivia Millerschin, Flint Eastwood, Tunde Olaniran. That list is endless. New records I love include mewithoutYou‘s latest, The Beths, Ratboys, Now Now, Boygenius, Foxing, and Drug Church. Actually, those are all 2018. I honestly have kind of tuned out a little in 2019, but I need to change that!

Detroit Success Stories: The Crofoot, Fusion Shows – Friday, March 8th

Join us Friday, March 8th for a Masterclass from Dan McGowan and Nate Dorough!

Dan and Nate have spent decades at the forefront of this region’s live music scene, booking and promoting shows at club, theatre, and festival level. Their passion, vision, and DIY philosophy has enabled them to create one of the most forward-thinking and fan-friendly concert promotions companies in the world. The Crofoot Presents is Southeast Michigan’s most dynamic independent event promotion company. Each year, The Crofoot and affiliated companies produce more than 750 live events, including concerts, festivals, and more. Dan and Nate will be joining Stephanie Belcher (DIME’s Music Industry Studies Area Coordinator) to discuss their careers, how they built their businesses, and how the identify and nurture local talent. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from these key influencers in the regional live music sector!

This is a free event and open to the public!53749608_2306802339350495_6394492115107184640_n

Student Spotlight: Donnie Clark (Guitar)

We asked year 3 guitarist, Donnie Clark, to answer a few questions for us as we gear up for DON’T TURN DOWN: Guitar & Bass Show this Wednesday, February 27th at 7pm!

  1. What is your background in music and education? When did you start studying at DIME Detroit?
    My father influenced me to start playing guitar when I was 7 years old. From there, I was mostly self taught and practiced every day. My brother, RJ, is a lead singer and the two of us formed our first band when I was 11. We had many original songs and played many gigs until we disbanded a few years later. After playing in different groups and writing my own music for the next 4 years, my brother and I formed our most recent band Cicrus in 2015. I enrolled at DIME in 2016 because I knew it was time to gain some professional guidance to further my knowledge of music, performance, and business.

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  3. What are some of your musical influences?
    My main musical influences are Marillion, King Crimson, Yes, Judas Priest, and Genesis. However, my biggest influence for guitar is Scott Henderson.

    You are scheduled to perform at DIME DETROIT’s DON’T TURN DOWN: Guitar & Bass Show on Wednesday February 27th. What can we expect to see?
    This Wednesday, you can expect to see a wide variety of amazing improvisational music ranging from jazz, blues, to heavy metal. There will be a perfect mixture of technicality and pure beauty.

    Are you working on releasing any upcoming projects?
    My band, Cicrus, is working on releasing our first, 6 song EP. Our music is a mixture of rock n’ roll and jazz fusion.

    How has DIME DETROIT shaped you as a guitarist?
    Dime has turned me into a very fluent guitarist. I have learned how to understand deep harmony and and how to approach music as an improviser. Dime has also taught me how to compliment lead singers and other musicians in a tasteful manner. The most important lesson I have learned from Dime is that context is everything. There are no specific rules that apply to all genres and all musical situations. You must have the ability to adapt to your current environment and serve the music’s interests before your own.

  4. Unknown-1Where do you see yourself post-graduation?
    Post-graduation, I see myself becoming very successful in my band Cicrus. I also see myself as a teacher and future session guitarist.

    What advice would you give to someone that’s considering studying at DIME Detroit?
    The advice I would give to someone who’s planning on attending DIME is to always deeply study the music that you are going to perform. Also, treat your rehearsals like you are showing up to a gig. Always show up knowing the music as well as you know your favorite songs and you will be successful!

Instructor Spotlight: Kris Kurzawa (Head of Guitar)

As we gear up for our Guitar and Bass Show, DON’T TURN DOWN, on Wednesday, February 27th, we wanted to catch up with our Head of Guitar: Kris Kurzawa, to answer a few questions about his career and his experiences teaching here at DIME!

What inspired you to start a career in music?
Being in the audience watching my heroes perform at an age where I had just caught the guitar bug.  I specifically remember watching David Gilmore play at the Pontiac Silverdome when I was 15 and telling a buddy, “I’m going to do what he’s doing for the rest of my life.”

What inspired you to become a teacher?
Honestly, it’s something I just fell into.  My first teaching job was offered to me out of the blue twentyish years ago in a tiny ma and pop guitar store while I was trying out guitars.

What inspires me to continue teaching and grow as teacher is a better question.  That of course is my students.  Their dedication and hard work keeps me on my toes!  I learn something from them everyday as well… it goes both ways.

What do you like about teaching at DIME?
The students are consistently hungry to learn and work hard.  They’re all-around good people!

What kind of growth have you seen in your students here?
Most of the students come here with some chops but are small in scope.  They typically love to play but lack a basic understanding of what they’re doing.  Over time, I see students skyrocket in their abilities to understand music theoretically and how that applies to the guitar neck, play through changes, read musical notation, play various guitar styles, increase their technical chops, improve their feel/tone, improve their ears, etc…

What kind of things are you involved in outside of DIME that filter back into the classroom?
On average, I do anywhere from 270-300 performances a year in multiple types of environments, configurations and styles.  The skills taught in the classroom are a direct reflection what is needed to survive in that environment.  This involves non-musical related skills as well.

51068851_10156251049491242_5882336974664105984_nWhat’s one of your proudest moments thus far as a teacher here at DIME?
In general, when I notice a student or group of students has made a drastic improvement in their abilities.  I see this during consistently in their exams and performances.

You can catch Kris performing at DON’T TURN DOWN, our Guitar & Bass Department Showcase, alongside a few other incredible guitarists and bassists on Wednesday, February 27th at 7pm, right here at DIME Detroit! 


DON’T TURN DOWN: Guitar & Bass Department Show

Featuring student and faculty performances from our guitar and bass departments, including Kris Kurzawa, Matt Callaway, Cory Allen, and Brad Russell, and sponsored by D’Addario,  DON’T TURN DOWN is sure to GET LOUD!

We are also excited to announce our very special guest, DIME’s 2018/19 Artist in Residence, Kern Brantley! Kern has played over 2000 live shows, 20+ concert tours for artists like Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Mary J Blige, Puff Daddy and many more. Kern also served as musical director for over 90% of his tours, and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to students at DIME Detroit.

Kern Brantley 2018 FINAL

Read more about Kern, here:

If you are interested in the guitar or bass programs offered in partnership with Metropolitan State University of Denver, this is a great opportunity to hear music from our students and faculty on the program. Our admissions staff will be onsite with information about how to start the audition and application for Fall 2019.

Guitar & Bass Department Show
Wednesday, February 27th
No Cover, 7pm

1265 Griswold
Detroit, MI 48226



The Shure Tour: How to Grow Your Influence with Online Video – Friday, March 1st 1pm


Join YouTube influencer and entrepreneur Sean Cannell as he teaches you ways to grow your online influence in exciting, yet simple ways. Topics covered will include information on how to begin, content recommendations and technical advice on how to capture what you want to say in the best way possible. Shure representatives will be on hand demonstrating their MOTIV™ line of USB microphones and giving away their new MV88+ Stereo Condenser Microphone to two lucky winners. Come and learn the secrets of YouTube at this high-energy event sponsored by DIME, Shure Incorporated and Audiobiz.

Sean Cannell Headshot

About Sean
Sean Cannell is a best-selling author, YouTuber and lifestyle entrepreneur who has built a 6-figure online business that gives him the freedom to do what he wants, when he wants. His passion is to join you on a journey to a more ABUNDANT LIFE and he looks forward to connecting with you at this exciting event!

About Shure
With legendary sound quality and reliability, Shure microphones are the industry standard for beginners and professionals. Find the best microphone for your needs – Whether you need a vocal or instrument microphone, a set of drum microphones, or a wireless microphone.

The event will include pizza, soda, MV88+ Video Kit Giveaway, Swag, and live product demos!

Paul Riser Masterclass: Friday, February 8th


Paul Riser needs no introduction… but we’ll do it anyway! He has written and arranged songs for some of the biggest names in the business: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Luther Vandross, Joss Stone, Kylie Minogue, Marvin Gaye, Carly Simon, Bill Withers, The Temptations, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Kem, Raphael Saadiq, The Jackson 5, Wyclef, and many more. Paul will discuss how he has thrived during his 50-year career in the music industry by staying relevant, current, and very active throughout industry changes in styles and tastes. Additionally, we’ll talk about how to compose engaging melody and harmony, how to build around existing music to create complimentary parts, networking in the studio world, and working/co-writing with others. Moderated by DIME Instructor, Drew Schultz, we are excited to bring our 2018/19 Artist in Residence to the stage for our students and guests!


Paul Riser Masterclass
Friday, February 8th 1-3pm
1265 Griswold, Detroit, MI 48226

DIME Detroit Open House: March 23rd 1-3pm

Mar 23 open house

DIME Detroit’s Spring Open House is a great opportunity to meet our instructors, staff, students, and industry-professional faculty. We’ll have live performances as well as onsite admissions representatives to help you with your application and answer questions about our audition process.

Throughout the coming weeks we’ll be announcing instructors as well as featured student performers through our website and social media!

DIME Detroit’s Spring Open House
Saturday, March 23rd, 1-3pm
1265 Griswold, Detroit, MI 48226

Register Now


If you have any questions, please contact us at 313-223-1600