Faculty - Music Industry Studies

Dr. Nick Vasallo | Program Director

Michael Aczon | music business

Jon Bendich | songwriting

Doug Michael | digital audio and media

Piper Payne | recording technology

Ryan Rey | digital audio

Gino Robair | digital audio and recording technology

Tim White | digital audio and recording technology

Bill Wolter | digital audio and media

Dr. Nick Vasallo | Program Director

Email: NVasallo@dvc.edu


Award-winning composer, sound artist, teacher, vocalist and guitarist, Dr. Nick Vasallo is "a composer on a mission and one possessed of a distinctive voice" (Michael Quinn, The Classical Review, 2012). His music exhibits "strokes of genius that blend the density of heavy metal with the harmonics of gamelan, the polyrhythms of taiko, and atonality," (François Couture, Monsieur Délire, 2012) "…creating new sonic alloys never heard before. Vasallo's work is a fresh music that may help usher in a new audience for classical music." (Daniel L. Muñoz, I Care If You Listen, 2014)

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Nick Vasallo began performing music in high school where he picked up the electric guitar and eventually formed Antagony, an influential extreme metal band in the underground. While pursuing a career as a film composer, Vasallo decided to begin formal music training at Diablo Valley College as a Music Industry Studies major and transferred to Cal State East Bay where he studied composition and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 2007. As a Chancellor’s Fellow at University of California Santa Cruz, Vasallo completed his Masters in 2009 and subsequently went on to finish his Doctorate in 2011 as a President’s Fellow.

In 2010, Vasallo was the recipient of the President's Dissertation-Year Fellowship Award – the first arts student to ever receive that honor. Other honors and awards include: The American Prize in Composition 2015, Washington Composers Forum 2015 Award, San Francisco Classical Voice Music Educator Award 2013, International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition 2011, MACRO Composition 2011 award, San Francisco Choral Artists New Voices 2009 award, The Seattle Pianist Collective 2008 selection, UCSC Student Orchestral Composition 2008 winner, 60×60 project – Pacific Rim Mix 2008-2009 selection, The David Cope Award for Music Composition Excellence 2008, New Jersey International Film Festival 2005 Selection "Sinful" musical score, and CSUEB Student Composers 2005 Competition winner.

Director of Music Industry Studies and Music Composition at Diablo Valley College, Vasallo has taught college-level courses in Music Theory, Composition, Digital Audio, Electronic Music, Music Appreciation, Form and Analysis, Counterpoint, Instrumentation, Music Industry, History of Rock and Roll, and Songwriting in addition to his work as a composer and performing artist. He has previously taught at Cal Poly Pomona, CSU East Bay, UC Santa Cruz, Gavilan College, and Los Medanos College. Vasallo currently composes, does lead vocals and plays bass for the modern extreme metal band Oblivion. He is an Artistic Director for Composers, Inc. and his music is published by Santa Barbara Music Publishers and released by Innova Recordings and Unique Leader.

Read the recent article about Dr. Vasallo in the DVC Inquirer.
Visit his official website for more info.

View Dr. Vasallo's current course schedule.

Michael Aczon | music business

Email: MAczon@dvc.edu


Michael A. Aczon has been a faculty member at DVC since 1996 teaching music business courses for the Music Industry Studies Program.  Michael brings a unique mix of music industry and educational experience to the courses he teaches, resulting in approaching the study of the music industry with a combination of historical, theoretical, artistic, and practical points of view. 

For over three decades, Michael has practiced entertainment law and personally managed clients at the highest levels of the entertainment industry. As a lawyer, he has represented a variety of clients in virtually every musical genre from local emerging artists to internationally recognized multi-platinum selling artists and successful entertainment companies. Michael has been described in the press as “bright, funny and supremely knowledgeable. He possesses that too rare ability to distill complicated issues of entertainment law and convey them in a clear, storyteller language we all can understand.”

Michael’s book, “The Musician’s Legal Companion” is widely used as a resource by independent musicians and as a textbook in music industry programs. His writing about the music business in publications including Electronic Musician and Guitar Player has guided artists through the evolution of the music industry since the early 1990s. He is frequently published and interviewed in various forms of media about the constantly changing music industry.

Along with being on the DVC faculty, Michael has been a faculty member of the SFSU Music and Recording Industry Program since 1992 and lectured as an adjunct professor teaching Entertainment Law at JFK School of Law and San Francisco Law School. He was an advisory committee member for the inaugural Grammy™ Foundation Entertainment Law Initiative Program, serves on the annual planning committee for the California Lawyers for the Arts Music Business Seminar, and frequently lectures at colleges and music industry seminars about music, business, and society.

View Prof. Aczon's current course schedule.

Jon Bendich | songwriting

Email: JBendich@dvc.edu


Jon Bendich is currently a teacher at both Diablo Valley College, San Ramon College and at SF State. Jon has also worked for the past thirty years as a percussionist, producer and songwriter in the SF Bay Area. Jon has performed with Tito Puente, George Duke and Stanley Clarke, Robin Ford, Sheila E., Pete Escovedo, Andy Narrell, The Last Poets, Frank McComb, Lisa Stansfield, MC Hammer, Lenny Williams and Ray Obiedo. Between 1985 - 1989 Jon recorded and performed as a member of The Pete Escovedo Orchestra.

From 1987 - 1992 Jon was signed as a songwriter and co-publisher with Famous Music, then a subsidiary of Paramount Corp.  Jon's catalog contains over 280 songs with more than eighty songs in commercial release. Jon's songs have been recorded by an assortment of R and B and Pop acts including Peabo Bryson (BMG), Larry Graham (Capitol), Walter Beasley (Polygram), Will Clayton (Polygram), Joe Public (Sony), Starpoint (Elektra), Z' Looke (Orpheus/Capitol), Omar Chandler (MCA), Shades of Lace (Wing/Polygram), Street Fare (Atlantic), and Lenny Williams (Fantasy).

Jon has also recorded extensively as a studio musician. Jon can be heard as a featured percussionist on En Vogue's award winning triple platinum album, "Funky Divas," as well as on albums by Jesse Colin Young, Lenny Williams, Pete Escovedo, Ray Obiedo, Lady Bianca, Jules Broussard, Carl Lockett, Bill Bell, Lloyd Gregory, Luce, Sakai, and Jenna Mammina.

In 1997 Jon began teaching “Songwriting” at DVC where he has continued to teach the class up to the present time. Also in 1997 Jon began teaching in SF State University’s Music Recording Industry program, teaching such courses as “Popular Music and Cultural Exchange”, “The History and Aesthetics of Record Production”. “The History of the Popular Music Industry”, “The Independent Label from A-Z” and “A&R in The Popular Music Industry”. In 2001 Jon graduated with an MA in Humanities from San Francisco State University.

View Prof. Bendich's current course schedule.

Doug Michael | digital audio & media

Email: DoMichael@dvc.edu


Doug Michael is a seasoned composer, guitarist, instrument builder, and educator.  He’s been a regular featured composer on the syndicated TV show “Planet X” since 2010, and scored a Hyundai car commercial narrated by Jeff Bridges.  Doug has had music placements with Sports Illustrated, This Old House and has written music for commercials in Portugal, Turkey, Hungary, Germany, and Canada.  Besides composing for TV, he has written music for Video Games, Film, Theater, the Concert Stage, and the Web, including the 2K Sports video games, All Pro Football 2K8 and NCAA College Hoops.  Doug has won various composition awards and his works have been performed at many music festivals throughout the world, including Hong Kong, Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Europe.  He has enjoyed extensive radio airplay and has CD releases with HyNGE and CMAU along with a solo CD’s entitled ‘Outpost’ and most recently ‘Periphery.’  Mr. Michael's compositions are recorded on Centaur Records, Frog Peak Music, Seeland Records, Aporia Records, Nebula Productions, and Angular Momentum CDs.  His music can be purchased through iTunes and CD Baby and streams from Pandora and Spotify.  Doug is also a Recording Arts Instructor in the Music Technology Center at Diablo Valley College and Ohlone College in Northern California.

To hear his latest music release ‘Periphery’:

To see and hear some of Doug’s Music placements:

View Prof. Michael's current course schedule.

Piper Payne | recording technology

Email: ppayne@dvc.edu

Piper Payne is a Mastering Engineer at Coast Mastering, Northern California's premier mastering facility, where she works on albums for independent artists and major labels. She is the President of the SF Chapter of the Recording Academy and serves on the P and E Wing Steering Committee and the P and E Wing Advisory Council. She is also on the committee of the AES SF Chapter and an active member of the Women's Audio Mission. Piper is an audio professor and guest lectures often about mastering and recording.

Piper has mastered music for many artists, including Madame (Kiran) Gandhi, Sioux City Kid, Fritz Montana, Beautiful Machines, Battlehooch, Headlander (video game), Emily Afton, Psychic Twin, Alexis Harte, Deer Park Avenue, Tumbleweed Wanderers, Abbot Kinney, American Lions, Alta View, Bed., Stalin, Travis Hayes, Vela Eyes, Higuera, Hundredth, New Diplomat, Brendan McCreary, Crashing Hotels, D Edward, Eagle Wolf Snake, Moetar, Bad Form, Gardens, The Boys After, Sabertooth Zombie, Mars Today, Makeunder, MC Rai, Owl Paws, Gay Paris, Real Numbers, Shawna Virago.

View Prof. Payne's  current course schedule.

Ryan Rey | digital audio

Email: RRey@dvc.edu

ReyRyan Rey is a composer, guitarist, and teacher from the San Francisco Bay Area. He writes music for a variety of mediums including chamber ensembles, rock groups, videogames, and film. His compositions have been performed by REDSHIFT Ensemble, Areon Flutes, The Living Earth Show, University of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Meerenai Shim (flute and electronics), Emily Tian (piano), Guy Livingston (piano), Stephan Poetzsch (violin), and numerous ensembles from CSUEB that include: Jazz Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and Trombone Ensemble. Soundtracks include feature film All About Dad (2009) and documentary Wallah’s Corner Store (2013). He holds a B.A. and an M.A. in music composition from CSU East Bay where he was the inaugural recipient of the Glenn Glasow Graduate Fellowship in Composition. Ryan teaches courses in music technology at Pyramind Studios, CSUEB, Diablo Valley College, Fusion Academy, and online through Pryamind's Mentorship Network. Active in various non-profit organizations, Ryan is Executive Director and Artistic Co-Director of Composers, Inc., and Director of Seventh Avenue Performances and the Seventh Avenue Center for the Arts and Spirituality (SACAS) in San Francisco. He played guitar in the death metal band Antagony and the chiptune/folk/doom/chamber music group The Mineral Kingdom. Recent activities include making video tips and tutorials on music theory and production on his personal channel as well as Pyramind's channel on Youtube.

You can listen to Ryan's music and find other information on his website: www.r2me2.com

View Prof. Rey's  current course schedule.

Gino Robair | digital audio & recording technology

Email: GForlin@dvc.edu


Gino Robair has created music for dance, theater, radio, television, silent film, and gamelan orchestra, and his works have been performed throughout North America, Europe, and Japan. He was composer in residence with the California Shakespeare Festival for five seasons and served as music director for the CBS animated series The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat. His commercial work includes themes for the MTV and Comedy Central cable networks.

Robair is also one of the "25 innovative percussionists" included in the book Percussion Profiles (SoundWorld, 2001). He has recorded with Tom Waits, Anthony Braxton, Terry Riley, Lou Harrison, John Butcher, Derek Bailey, Peter Kowald, Otomo Yoshihide, the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, and Eugene Chadbourne, among many others. In addition, Robair has performed with John Zorn, Nina Hagen, Fred Frith, Eddie Prevost, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Myra Melford, Wadada Leo Smith, and the Club Foot Orchestra.

Robair is a founding member of the Splatter Trio and the heavy-metal band, Pink Mountain. In addition, he runs Rastascan Records, a label devoted to creative music.

View Prof. Robair's current course schedule.

Tim White | digital audio & recording technology

Email: TWhite@dvc.edu


Tim White is an award-winning composer, musician, music technologist and teacher with a broad range of experience in the music industry as recording engineer, producer, record label owner, acoustic researcher and recording studio designer with an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Arts from Mills College.

San Francisco Bay Area native Tim White performed classical and blues guitar as a teenager. After studying composition in Rome and London, a fateful encounter with Master Indian sarod player Ali Akbar Khan led him into a three-decade long in-depth study of North Indian Classical music. As an accomplished sitar player Tim White has performed and taught nationally and internationally.

"White's musical performances have left his audiences with a lasting appreciation for the beauty and depth of classical Indian music. His joyful creativity and commitment to his art is apparent in every brilliant performance."
(India Currents Magazine, July 1997)

Mr. White’s albums Morning Song, Evening Song (top 10, NAR radio charts 2005) and Inhale Slowly (top 10 ZMR international radio charts 2011) have achieved critical acclaim. Inhale Slowly (www.inhaleslowly.com), a collaboration with Joe Paulino, was also the recipient of ZMR’s Best New Artist award, 2012. The album, on which Tim White plays several different instruments (including sitar, flutes, guitar, esraj) blended together in gorgeous, meditative, musical themes, is not only a testament of his excellent and versatile musicianship and compositional ideas, but also of his highly refined skills as recording engineer.

“The veteran production values of Joe Paulino, coupled with the amazing musicianship of Tim White fooled my experienced ears! I thought this was a room full of musicians! Recurring musical themes and excellent mixing make this listenable time after time!”
Robin Yeager, Audio producer and engineer, Tres Virgos studio [George Benson, Stuart   Copeland,
Kenny G, David Grisman, Van Morrison, and more]).

“Luminous! Highly recommended for anyone who wants to deepen their meditation with music.”
Patricia Ellsberg, Social change activist, meditation teacher and life coach, pioneer.)

As an audio engineer and music producer Tim White has collaborated on Suzanne Tedeschi’s and Derek Trucks’ recent Grammy winning blues album Revelator, and has recorded Ali Akbar Khan’s Grammy nominated albums Legacy (with Bollywood singer Asha Bosle) and Passing on the Tradition.

Tim White is also the owner and, with fellow musician and long-time friend Jack Gates, co-founder of WhiteGates Publishing/ WhiteGates Music – BMI. (www.whitegatesmusic.com).

For the last fourteen years Mr. White has devoted himself to teaching at Diablo Valley College, and his classes in the Music Industry Studies department have become very popular among the students, not only because of his excellent teaching methods and vast knowledge and experience, but also because of his commitment to helping students achieve their goals.

As a certified Pro Tools Expert Instructor he introduced Pro Tools classes at Diablo Valley College, starting in 2001, created the curricula for MUSX 174 Intro to Pro Tools and MUSX 175 Advanced Pro Tools, and later pioneered fee-based courses at DVC offering Pro Tools Certification classes, which now include PT 101, PT 110 (User certification), PT 201, PT210M (Operator certification), PT310M (Expert certification) and PT130 Game Audio.

Mr. White also created the MUSX 270 Applied Projects in Music Industry Studies, the first upper-division course offered in the Music Industry Studies program. This class launched KDVC.ORG, our own Internet radio station, featuring 100 percent original music from DVC students, and Duck Pond Records, which has released several CDs, whose sales help support the MIS program. MUSX 270 has also produced yearly Music Industry Studies benefit concerts, whose proceeds also help support MIS.

Tim White has also initiated student internships at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley and is currently working on expanding internship opportunities with other major studios and Music Industry related businesses throughout the Bay Area.

View Prof. White's current course schedule.

Bill Wolter | digital audio & media

Email: BWolter@dvc.edu


Bill Wolter is a composer, guitarist, audio engineer, and sound educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He composes music for film, games, and modern dance. His music is inspired by the sounds of jazz, classical new music, film music, progressive rock, and experimental music. He composes a diverse range of musical styles and instrumentations focused on the intersection of rock and new music. His main musical project is Inner Ear Brigade (IEB), an ensemble that plays a mix of progressive rock, avant jazz, and classical new music. A restless collaborator who seeks the most diverse and challenging musical experiences, Bill performs and collaborates frequently with a wide range of musicians, bands, improvisers, and choreographers. As a sound designer, Bill has worked on musical games such as Guitar Hero, Tap Tap Revenge, as well as several films from shorts to feature lengths. Bill is also a passionate educator teaching music and audio at Diablo Valley College, Ex’pression College for Digital Arts, and The Art Institute of California, San Francisco.

View Prof. Wolter's current course schedule.