Our Instructional Team

 
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AJ Merlino

FOUNDEr‌•president‌•Music Director

A.J. Merlino is a highly sought after percussionist and educator who has performed all over the world in addition to presenting masterclasses at various seminars and colleges in the United States, Argentina, Australia, and Canada. 

 

While residing in Las Vegas, he performed on the Las Vegas strip with popular music artists such as Jay-Z, Ronnie Vannucci of The Killers, Eric Marienthal, and Cee Lo Green. As a freelance percussionist, Merlino has performed with Remember Jones, We Used to Cut the Grass, and as a soloist for an electronic percussion show entitled Percussion avec l'électronique. Merlino holds percussion performance degrees from Kutztown University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree. A.J. Merlino was a 2017 and 2018 quarterfinalist for GRAMMY Foundation's Music Educator Award for his work as the founder, president, and music director of Reading Samba School. Merlino is currently a Professor of Music, and the Director of Music Industry Studies at Albright College.

 
 
 
 

Janelle Decker

Co-FOUNDER•vice president

 

 
 
 

O U R  S T A F F

Instructors

DREW WEST • PETER SNYDER • BRYAN WEBER 

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Drew West

Drew West is a graduate of Kutztown University. He graduated with his BA in music performance with a focus in percussion. Drew teaches private lessons at Spyros Modern Music in Laureldale, Pennsylvania in addition to performing with "Drew and Blue", "The Rollin' Mill Trio", and "The Horrornauts". Drew has been an instructor at Reading Samba School for three years.

 

Bryan Weber

Bryan Weber has been working with the Reading Samba School since August 2015, and has performed with them throughout Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Outside of RSS, Bryan has performed with Berks Opera company, served as Music Director for “Art Dog” at the Yocum Institute for Arts Education in Wyomissing, and has played on numerous occasions throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

 
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Peter Snyder

Peter Snyder is a recent graduate of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania where he earned a Bachelor of the Arts in Music with a minor in Jazz Studies. A Berks County local, Peter has been performing since 5th grade where he played drum set with the Jazz Band. Through his instruction with renowned educators at Kutztown University, Peter learned to navigate multiple styles of music with intention and authenticity. His studies with Dr. AJ Merlino introduced him to orchestral percussion as well as international music, including a wide array of hand percussion. Peter’s relationship with Dr. Merlino is what led him to join the Reading Samba School, first as an intern, and eventually becoming an instructor. Peter has been an instructor with the samba school for over two years.

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Interns

KYLIE JOHNSTON • NATALIE WILEY • JOHN SPERO • SAM WETZEL