Joe Rifici

Joe Rifici

Joe Rifici

Electric Keyboards, Piano, Singing, Songwriting

Voice: all popular music styles. Piano: popular styles and repertoire of piano/keyboard playing are the focus, although some classical material is also used to develop music reading proficiency.

Bachelor of Arts (Double Major in Music and Theatre) from Wagner College, New York City.


Joe was born in New York City and began singing and playing keyboards at age 5. He sang and played in local bands as a teenager and also began auditioning for Broadway Musicals. At 17 years old he was cast in a principal role in the national tour of the Broadway musical “The Me Nobody Knows”. After completing tertiary studies, he was cast as Teen Angel/Johnny Casino in the First National touring company of the Broadway musical “Grease” and later played those roles on Broadway. Shifting to Europe, he was signed to RCA Records in Rome where he was a singer/songwriter with the band “Pandemonium”. Next came LA where he studied song writing and record engineering, worked in piano bars and as a recording session vocalist. He also continued vocal studies and became a teacher with “The Voice Works Institute”. His songs are published with major firms in Europe and the US and he was a semi-finalist in the American Song Festival.

Upon emigrating to NZ, he taught several subjects at Auckland’s School of Creative Musicianship – NZ’s first private contemporary music programme, continued vocal session work and solo club work, performed on the Patsy Rigger TV Show and at the NZ Entertainer of the Year Awards. In Nelson, he was the principal tutor of NSOM’s (NCMA’s former name) Contemporary Music Performance Course (teaching voice, keyboard, music theory, performance, music business and NZ pop history), taught vocals and keyboards at NMIT and has tutored hundreds of voice and piano students privately.

Skills and expertise

Joe teaches voice students of any age or level who are interested in pop, blues, rock, jazz or musical theatre singing or any other professional use of the voice (i.e. singing, acting, radio announcing, teaching, narrating etc).

Voice lessons are tailored to the student’s needs, motivations, challenges and abilities, starting with the establishment and/or refinement of a solid foundational technique upon which more artistic skills are progressively layered.

Significant focus is placed on avoiding damage to the vocal chords and the overall health and efficient use of the instrument.

The aim of the lessons is to combine inspiration, encouragement and fun with good, practical technique in a balance of exercises and working on songs.

Joe teaches piano students who are primarily interested in pop, blues, rock, jazz/jazz theory and improvisation.

Piano lessons are tailored to the students’ needs, motivations, challenges and abilities and their content is not dominated by preparation for exams. The emphasis is on using musical knowledge and skills creatively rather than just replicating or depending on fully-scored arrangements and print.

The tuition style aims to encourage and inspire students and motivate their learning by combining the most relevant and practical elements of traditional theory with jazz theory. Technique, reading and stylistic knowledge/skills are taught through creative improvisation, composition and accompaniment.

Joe enjoys starting off absolute beginners every bit as much as working with experienced musicians and professionals.