Scott Higgins General Manager
Scott Higgins’s love for music started early in his life. He started playing guitar when he was seven and performing with bands at 13. He is primarily a guitar player, but also plays bass and sings. Scott honed his management skills while attending the University of Cincinnati and managing local restaurants. Before joining School of Rock Cincinnati as our General Manager, Scott was a very active performer and loved recording music with his friends.
Scott started with School of Rock in 2012 as the Assistant General Manager at School of Rock Mason. In 2016, he was promoted to the role of General Manager. Scott’s passion for music and desire to share it are evident when you talk to him. He is committed to bringing the gift of music and performance to the local community.
Shannon Ullrich Assistant General Manager, Little Wings and Rookies Director
Shannon’s musical journey started at age 11 as the best (and only) trombone player in the 6th grade band. Her high school jazz director once told her that “variety is the spice of life.” Shannon took that as a challenge. She has played in concert bands, jazz bands, pit orchestras, and has even played trombone in a punk band. At the age of 14 she received a bass guitar for Christmas. She quickly fell in love with the bass and started her School of Rock journey at Mason. Since then she has been in more than 10 School of Rock shows on bass guitar, trombone, and vocals.
Shannon has always had a passion for working with kids, starting out as a camp counselor. She has been surrounded by music her whole life and believes in cultivating a love for all kinds of music from a very young age. Shannon teaches our Little Wing and Rookies classes and put together
the first ever Rookies performance.
Mark Becknell Drum Teacher, Music Director
Mark Becknell is a true musical renaissance man. He is music educator, a studio musician and a veteran of the Cincinnati and national music scenes. Mark keeps very busy as a singer, songwriter, drummer, guitarist and more. His current main project is singing lead vocals and playing steel pan with his original Caribbean/world music group, The Queen City Silver Stars, who have been nominated four times for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in the Reggae/World Music category. Mark is also very active in the polka music community nationwide as a part of The Klaberheads, a Cincinnati-based touring German Oktoberfest band. During his long career as a musician, he has played with such great bands as Frontier Folk Nebraska, Josh Eagle and The Harvest City, Freewill and The Swarthy Band. In addition to performing live, Mark also maintains a busy studio schedule playing both drums and percussion for numerous recording sessions of all types on a regular basis. As a Music Education major at Miami University, Mark honed a wide variety of musical skills, including marching band percussion, indoor drum line, wind ensemble, percussion ensemble, African drum and dance, and steel drum band. He uses his education background to assist at Walnut Hills and Mariemont Schools with their marching band drum line, indoor drumline and rock band programs. Mark has been a part of School of Rock Cincinnati since its opening, teaching private drum lessons and leading several summer rock camps and the current White Stripes vs. Black Keys show. With his 30+ years of experience with percussion performance and instruction, Mark is able to offer training that helps beginner, intermediate and advanced players. Mark has the knowledge to teach the proper foundations of the drums. Being a professional musician, he can also offer his students real world experience in preparation for their next concert, show and live performance. He is a drum teacher at School of Rock Cincinnati.
Michael Horrigan House Band Director, Drum Teacher
Michael started playing musical instruments when he was in grade school. He has performed, recorded, and/or toured on bass or drums with original bands Liquid Hippos, The Love Cowboys, Great Uncle Short Fuse, Throneberry, The Afghan Whigs, The Twilight Singers, Howlin Maggie, Todd Almond, Brendan Benson, 5 Horse Johnson, and The Hiders. In addition, he has performed in musical theater productions in Cincinnati, New York City, and Peterborough, New Hampshire.
He has been writing and recording his own original music since the 1990s and continues to do so on his own as well as with his wife.
Michael was a drum instructor at the School of Rock Mason from 2012-2020 and a show director from 2013-2016.
Mike Troyer Guitar Teacher
Mike Troyer started playing guitar and taking lessons when he was nine years old in southern Indiana. He then went on to play with friends and bands in basements, garages and small venues all the way through college. The music ranged from polka to punk, but he has always favored blues, rock n' roll and alternative music. Family and profession (in his case, scientific research and teaching) took him in many different directions, but Cincinnati has now become his home base to connect with other local musicians. Mike’s children first enrolled at School of Rock, and then later he joined too. Mike is now co-director of our Adult Performance Program and helps Adult Band members quickly prepare for live, onstage shows at local area venues. He is a guitar teacher at School of Rock Cincinnati.
Danny Manning keyboard teacher
Danny Manning is a professional musician who has toured extensively and worked with artists from the bands Journey, Toto, The Romantics, Santana, Tommy Tutone, Kansas, Los Lobos, Ben Folds, Boston and many more. He holds a BA in sax with secondary emphasis on piano from Alderson Broaddus University and an MM in Conducting from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Locally he performs on keys, sax, and vocals with The Tuna Project, Sunburners, Leroy Ellington and Just Strange Brothers and tours nationally and internationally with The Philip Myers Band. His professional musical directing credits include RAGTIME, AIDA, CHILDREN OF EDEN, TOMMY, WONDERFUL TOWN, FUNNY GIRL and more. He is the past director of the Xavier University Singers and former Assistant Band Director at Walnut Hills High School.
Aaron Jacobs Bass Guitar Teacher
Aaron Jacobs, along with teaching bass at the School of Rock, is the bass instructor in both the Jazz and Commercial Music Departments University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music, where he also holds Undergraduate and Masters degrees in Jazz Performance. He freelances on upright and electric bass, playing styles ranging from jazz, rock/pop, latin, bluegrass, and classical music and has performed throughout North America, South America, and Europe. At present, Aaron plays in various groups around Cincinnati including the Phil DeGreg Trio, Just Strange Brothers, Hickory Robot, The Bluewater Kings, Braza Trio, John Zappa's Now Hear This, Rick VanMatre Quintet, the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, and makes regular appearances with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Kentucky Symphony, Airwave, and Playhouse in the Park.
Aaron has performed with numerous international artists, including Randy Brecker, Wayne Newton, Greg Tardy, Benny Golson, Conrad Herwig, Ignacio Berroa, and Lou Soloff. He has also recorded extensively in Cincinnati with artists such as Rick VanMatre, Phil DeGreg, Brent Gallaher, John Zappa, and Mandy Gaines and for nationally renowned recording studios Sound Images (now Gwynne Studios), WGUC Studios, and Group Effort. Aaron has won two Cincinnati CEA awards with Eclipse Movement (best hip hop band) and Northside Jazz Ensemble (best jazz group).
Tom Schneider Keyboard Teacher
Tom Schneider has been a professional keyboard player for nearly half a century.
In the early '70s he played Fender Rhodes and Hammond organ in "Winfield", a local band performing Beatles and Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers and Doobie Brothers, Chicago and Earth, Wind and Fire, etc., as well as light jazz.
During the Disco years, he completed his master's degree in education at Xavier University, then spent much of the '80s sailing the world as a cruise ship pianist.
Returning to Cincinnati, he played solo piano in restaurants, bars, and casinos. Since 2013 he has been the pianist of the Philip Paul Trio, performing regularly around town.
In nearly twenty years of piano teaching around Cincinnati, Tom has enjoyed helping his students experience the joy of getting inside the music, and releasing the music inside them.
Austin Bartle Guitar Teacher
Austin Bartle has been playing music for 11 years. He became interested in playing music at 15 years old when he borrowed his older sister's ukulele out of boredom. By his 16th birthday, one of Austin's friends offered him an electric guitar and amp in exchange for his birthday money - a deal that he happily accepted. A friend of his taught him the intro riff to Enter Sandman and from there he began a self-taught musical journey. Eventually he tackled music from bands that he enjoyed and he quickly moved on to writing his own music as a method to learn.
At age 24, Austin auditioned for the Atlanta Institute of Music and Media and was accepted into their guitar performance and music production program. For 1 year, he spent every day in classrooms learning from professional musicians about scales, chords, theory, and sight reading. In performance class, he learned how to play and cooperate with a band in a variety of styles like rock, funk, jazz, soul, progressive rock, and pop. Austin completed the guitar performance program and spent the next year in school learning how to record, engineer, produce, mix, and master music at a professional level from professionals that worked with huge stars like Whitney Houston, Beyonce, Ludacris, NSYNC, Usher, Jennifer Lopez, and Shakira.
During Austin's two years of school, he studied extensively with three private teachers who truly took his guitar playing and musicianship to the next level. He created the artist name Bartalien and released an album, Historical Successor. Austin is looking forward to spending time practicing and developing everything he was taught and to continue writing his own music, go gigging, teach others, and continue learning from every musician that he can!
Dixie Karas Singing Teacher
Dixie Karas is a Cincinnati native, working full-time in the music industry as one of the Queen City's most powerful singers. Well known for her uniquely passionate and dynamic voice, she brings energy to any live or studio setting. Dixie gives every audience an amazing experience, effortlessly leaping from soothing melodies to fierce soulful deliveries. Her commanding presence connects with listeners in a way that makes them a part of the magic.
She has performed on albums and commercial projects for these production companies and studios:
Counterpart Creative Studio
Jean Ann Ryan
Group Effort Studio
Madison Park Productions
Ligosa Sound Systems
Dream Stand Video & Print
Jay Gilbert Productions
Steve Hoskins Music
Mason Daugherty Bass Guitar Teacher
Mason Daugherty is a bass teacher who's been playing professionally in a myriad of genres since 14. He holds a degree in Jazz Bass from Morehead State University and is currently pursuing his Masters at CCM. His expertise includes both electric and upright. He is very excited to be joining the team at School of Rock.
David Parks Drum Teacher
A career-musician for over 25 years, David’s professional career began at the age of 18 touring with The Van – Dells. This experience would catapult him onto the country and rock music scene in Nashville, Tennessee, playing 3 to 4 gigs each day in the city’s legendary venues. Soon he joined ranks with touring artists and his professional experience grew to consist of live and nationally televised appearances (including New Year’s Eve in Times Square and The Grand Ole Opry), recording sessions and touring of the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe.
Working with Casey James (of American Idol), David has also performed live and in-studio with artists: Jason Michael Carroll, Derek St. Holmes (Ted Nugent), Tommy Skeoch (formerly of Tesla), Henry Lee Summer, LoCash, Craig Wayne Boyd, Steel Magnolia, Ty Herndon, The Beat Daddys and Little Milton.
David is the Co-founder of The Nashville Drummers Jam (an annual event held in Nashville, Tennessee to honor legendary drummers and raise funds for charities), David’s reputation and hard-work have grown the event to garner notable alumni, such as: members of the band Chicago, The Doobie Brothers, Ray Luzier (Korn), Troy Luccketta (Tesla) and Pat Torpey and Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big). Participants who have contributed to the event are Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Phil Collins , Neil Peart, Stewart Copeland and many others.
David is also the co-founder of the band Resist & Bite, an original rock group that has gained international recognition with the 2020 release of their debut single and video: The Myth I’m Livin’. Working with renowned producer Michael Rosen, Resist & Bite recorded their first album early this year. The album is set to release in 2021.
Seen in Modern Drummer, Drumhead, and DRUM! magazines, David is also sought after as a guest on numerous podcasts for his in-depth knowledge of the craft and music industry. His extensive background ranges from performing in the marching band drumline as a teen, to playing local shows, arenas, stadiums and studio sessions all over the world.
An instructor for over 20 years, David has taught beginner, intermediate, advanced, adult and professional students. Requested by elementary music teachers, high-school band directors and professional artists alike, he tailors each lesson to the student’s level to help propel them to the level they wish to reach. Students enjoy a fresh and down-to-earth approach, one that encourages them to ask questions and creates an environment where they feel empowered to achieve their goals.
Stephen Schwarz Drum Teacher
Stephen (pronounced Stef-en) Schwarz has been a drummer for what seems like his his entire life. He started playing drums at the age of 10, when his sister and her band would leave their equipment he would sneak in and play their drums. Stephen’s parents finally got him his own drum set when he was 17 and he never looked back. He has been playing professionally since that time and still currently plays with three local bands. Stephen has played with some of Cincinnati’s largest touring bands including Prizoner, Relics & Bad Habit. He also owned and operated the best drum shop in the area. Stephen’s teaching style is a bit unorthodox as he is self-taught, but his technique and style are both well developed.
Allison Moll Singing Teacher
Allison hails from the mean streets of NKY but has lived in NYC for the last 16 years. Music, especially singing, runs deep in her family DNA and she has been singing publicly since she was 4 years old. Most of her childhood she was known as the youngest of The Monroe Sisters and sang all over Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois. Knowing her love of music and singing she joined any choir she could, her favorite being Show Choir and singing with her Jazz Band in high school which led to her getting to sing all over Europe when she was 16. Growing up a preacher’s kid she dreamed to grow up and be Amy Grant. She has performed on multiple stages, churches, clubs, bars and parks. She also enjoyed every musical she could audition for and loves winning lottery tickets to Broadway shows but tries hard not to sing along.
Allison most recently has served as the Creative Arts Director at Forefront in NYC leading bands and singers. As well as working on her own recording project, she also has had the privilege of singing BGVs on more than a dozen projects and loves working in recording studios. She loves the process of learning a song and working with multiple people to create a beautiful sound and emotion. No matter how long it takes. After working with a vocal coach in her late 20s she realized the great need for stretching her voice and confidence. She constantly talks about her high school choir director and music mentors that saw something in her she hadn’t and would have never seen herself. They pushed her to not only be a better musician but to see singing in a whole new holistic way. But she also credits 8 years of piano lessons and her oldest sister for her love of harmonies as she would always demand she sing the melody so Allison and her other sister had to find the harmonies. Now she loves teaching them.
Allison has a deep love and connection to singing and finds her joy and passion there. She believes music can bring people together like nothing else can. She and her husband and son have just returned to their roots in Cincinnati which is where they met and married. She has 4 kids all who are incredible musicians and loves singing with them. She had a dream to be the next Partridge Family so she is crossing her fingers that her son, Ellis, will be the drummer that will complete the band. And that they aren’t embarrassed to jam with her.
Jacob Snow Bass Guitar Teacher, Guitar Teacher
Jacob Snow joined the School of Rock Mason location as a bass student when it first opened in 2012, where he played in the house band and made the School of Rock All Star Team in 2014. After graduating, he formed a band with other former School of Rock students, where they released music together and performed all over the Cincinnati area. Jacob has now returned to School of Rock Cincinnati as an instructor, where he will be teaching bass and guitar!
Lyndsay Bamberger Singing Teacher
Lyndsay found her passion in music extremely early in life. She started singing in choir in elementary school and became hooked on performing ever since. Lyndsay was the 1st student at the Mason location of School of Rock over a decade ago! Since graduating from being a student, Lyndsay has found herself working in the creative world- from voice-overs, to live production - Lyndsay had continued pursuing her love for performance. She has taught vocal lessons since graduating from School of Rock, as well as performing and recording with numerous bands. She has a bachelor's degree in media production and loves to help others gain confidence in various performing arts.
Eric Moreton Drum Teacher
Eric Moreton was active in the Cincinnati music scene for 35 years, playing and recording with bands such as Sluggo, Middlemarch, BuBu Klan, Black Magic Rhythm, and the Ready Stance.
From 2005 to 2020, he taught at Wert Music in Erlanger, Kentucky. He also taught lessons privately during that time.
Eric is versed in most styles of music, with emphasis on Rock, Heavy Metal, Punk, Hip Hop, Funk, and the Blues.
Alex Nicodemus Keyboard Teacher
Alex Nicodemus is a versatile pianist, composer, and educator with backgrounds in jazz, R&B, rock, and more. Alex has played piano for Cincinnati jazz fusion group Bumpin’ and R&B singer Chaya Jones. Knowledgeable in jazz music, he has played in jazz trios and quartets at venues such as the Phelps Hotel, Brew River, and Ghost Baby. Alex wants to see his students grow and develop a love for music. Currently, he studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Jubilee O’Connor Bass Guitar Teacher, Keyboard Teacher, Singing Teacher
Jubilee O’Connor (they/them) is a bassist, pianist, singer, and songwriter from Dayton, Ohio. After obtaining their BA in Jazz Studies at The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Jubilee began performing in jazz clubs and venues across Cincinnati such as Caffe Vivace, Memorial Hall, and The Hard Rock Casino. They frequently perform with groups like the JJJ Trio and the We Create Jazz Ensemble. Jubilee has performed with artists such as saxophonist Tia Fuller, singer Carla Cook, and Cincinnati legend Kathy Wade. They are the bassist in a local indie band, Hyssop, who released their first self-titled album in the summer of 2020 and are planning to release their sophomore album in 2022. Additionally, Jubilee writes original music on piano and guitar and performs them at various open mics and clubs in their free time.
Ben Troyer Guitar Teacher
Ben started playing music at an early age, initially starting on the piano. He primarily took classical lessons and continued playing throughout much of his childhood. When Ben was 13, he joined the School of Rock in Mason, where his passion for guitar was first ignited. This deep rooted interest became the focal point of his life and he's been learning and having fun with it ever since. Ben is currently enrolled in the jazz studies program at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. At this point in his musical career, Ben has learned enough to start giving back and to hopefully inspire others in the same way School of Rock inspired him.
Will Ross Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Will Ross is a local Cincinnati Musician. Will is an accomplished bass player, guitar player, singer and songwriter, but has dabbled in any instrument he could hold since middle school. He has been in a wide array of bands growing up where he had the opportunity to play anything from drums, keys, bass to guitar. He now pursues an interest in analog tape machines and running a home recording studio.
He brings a fun and creative passion to guitar and bass lessons. Being a School of Rock alumni himself, he now enjoys teaching and sharing his love for playing Rock and Roll, Country Music and Bob Dylan.
Will has directed shows as well as our Rock 101 program. He teaches guitar and bass lessons.
Justin Martin Guitar Teacher
Justin has been trying to pick out a melody on any instrument you put in front of him since grade school, eventually settling on guitar and bass in his early teens. A series of fun if ill-fated garage bands developed throughout his college years and beyond, accompanied by further study of all the guitar’s possibilities across different styles. As time wore on, collaborative musical endeavors unfortunately had to be placed on the back burner, but Justin still spent his free time exploring jazz, expanding his keyboard playing, and mining the depths of music history through internet and record bin alike.
Guitar of course remained a constant through it all, and through a strange confluence of life events that is best recounted in person he eventually began focusing primarily on solo acoustic finger-style playing. Over the past several years this had led to him learning dozens of popular songs across nearly every genre imaginable, developing a repertoire he is hoping to bring to performance in the very near future. In the meantime, he is also excited to get back to his electric guitar roots with School of Rock, exploring the myriad possibilities of the instrument along with the students he is teaching.
Brandon Harris Guitar Teacher
Brandon Harris is a guitarist who has been playing since he was 12 years old. Inspired at a young age by the classic acts like The Who and Black Sabbath, Brandon loves nothing more than playing loud. Though Brandon is a self-professed modern day metalhead, he has cut his teeth in various genres performing in jazz, metal, punk, rock jam bands, and even mariachi. Brandon has a musical education consisting of a combination of private lessons and college courses. Something Brandon prides himself on is his past work in the mental health field where he was able to intertwine music with clients to help illustrate the ability to overcome challenges big and small. He believes music education can make everyone feel important, strong, and confident in themselves. Brandon is new to the School of Rock team and is very excited to continue to help individuals pursue fulfillment through the joys of learning guitar.
Jim Swartwout Piano Teacher
Jim Swartwout is one of the newest members of the School of Rock team, but by no means new to the music business. He has been active in just about every conceivable venue for decades; 11 years at Howl-at-the-Moon, 6 years at Waterfront piano bar, dozens of club bands, duos, trios, big bands (Swingtime and Lee’s Junction), hundreds of studio sessions for songwriters, ad agencies, film scores, churches, theaters…most recently music director for the sold-out run of “Falsettos” at the Aronoff this summer. Come in and share our mutual love of music, learn a lot and have some fun!
Hadley Duke Guitar Teacher
Hadley was born with a love of music that she just couldn't shake, resulting in her getting her first guitar and microphone when she was just 4 years old. She grew up in a musical and music-loving family and began studying guitar when she was 8 years old.
Throughout school, she explored songwriting, joined band and choir, and participated in every musical activity her small Illinois town had to offer. She attended a Music Business summer camp at Anderson University in Indiana during high school, which quickly confirmed that music is what she wanted to do forever. She graduated from Anderson University in 2021 with degrees in Music Business and Journalism.
Hadley has two songs available to download and stream and is in the process of learning how to produce and record her own music. She currently works in marketing and social media while also playing live at various local breweries and restaurants. She has lived in the Cincinnati area since May 2021. Hadley is so excited to join the School of Rock Cincinnati team and looks forward to sharing her love and passion for music while helping students discover their inner rock stars.
Stephanie Cable Guitar Teacher
Stephanie’s love of music started at a young age as she was bitten by the theater bug in elementary school. Stephanie went on to study Theater at BGSU where she graduated and moved onto performing with various bands and landing roles in community theaters. Steph began doing private lessons several years and also obtained her CPS teaching certification. Stephanie has called Cincinnati her home for the last 15 years and currently plays every Sunday for Legend Community Church and does various performances throughout Cincinnati with her musician friends. She is very excited to be apart of the SOR team and is eager to share her love of music with the SOR family.
Matt Flynn Guitar Teacher
Matt Flynn began playing saxophone in fifth grade band and in high school began playing the electric bass and electric guitar. In his twenties he discovered the vast world of percussion and joined the Miami University Steel Band and in 1999 took a trip to Ghana to study music and dance. After graduating from Miami University, with a degree in Religion and Philosophy, he began a Master's Program at Florida State University with a focus on Tibetan Buddhist Studies. While working on his degree he joined Mas N' Steel and the FSU African Ensemble where he studied privately with Damascus Kafumbe learning various Ugangan melodic instruments. He has been working with children for the past twenty years first through AmeriCorps, then through various school programs and also with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. In 2012 he helped form the Queen City Silver Stars, an ensemble primarily focused on the rhythms of Africa and the Caribbean, using the steel drum as its main melodic instrument. He has been teaching private lessons for the past eight years in the Hamilton area.
Lillie Jewell Singing Teacher
Lillie Jewell is a vocalist and songwriter who is in her third year at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music majoring in Commercial Music Production. Lillie has studied voice and piano since early childhood. She has performed as a soloist, in ensembles and bands, and has had roles in more than 25 musicals including Rizzo in Grease and Ariel in three different productions of The Little Mermaid. Lillie hopes to work professionally as a recording artist and songwriter.
Jeannie Marie Singing Teacher
Eric Mayleben Drum Teacher
Eric's music career began when he convinced his 5th grade band teacher to let him switch from saxophone to drums. By the 7th grade, his band was playing atschool dances and pool parties. By the end of high school, you could find them playing at bars on Fridays & Saturday nights. Over the years, Eric has played in several local, regional, and national touring acts including Forehead, The Kelly Richey Band, Matt DeCoster, Chrome, DixZ Highway, Reeking Havoc, The Amy Sailor Band and 90 Proof Twang. He's enjoyed national radio airplay with his band Lorenzo, whose Hollywood Records' debut release was recorded at the world famous Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA and produced by none other than Kevin Churko (Ozzy, Hellyeah, Disturbed, 5 Finger Death Punch, Halestorm, Papa Roach).
Eric's current band, 90 Proof Twang, is a southern Rock/Country band from Cincinnati, Ohio that formed in 2012. 90 Proof Twang released “Six Pack” in 2014 and "Poor Boy's Paradise" in 2015. You can hear “Baby, I Got This” from the new cd on the 99.3 Country Aurora, Ind., WAIF Cincinnati 88.3, Country 103 Gladwin, Michigan and Classic X Radio.com. They've been awarded "Best Country Band" by City Beat Magazine in 2015, 2017 and 2018. 90 Proof Twang plays about 100+ gigs a year and have shared stages with acts such as Blackberry Smoke, Craig Morgan, Chris Jansen, Jackyl, The Steel Woods and more.
Eric has been teaching students almost his entire music career. And once again, Eric is offering lessons at School of Rock NKY in Florence. Each lesson is tailored to match the students abilities and to fit what the student wants to achieve. Call today and schedule a lesson with Eric!
Joseph Alsept Drums Teacher
Joseph Alsept has been playing drums since 2012 and has been passionate about them ever since. There are quite a few drummers he loves, but his biggest influences are Ringo Starr and John Bonham. He joined the School of Rock Mason and started doing the adult shows in 2017. He started teaching at the School of Rock in Cincinnati in 2020. He has done 15 adult shows between the Mason and Cincinnati schools.
Andrew Karas Drum Teacher
Andrew has been playing the drums for 28 years and has been on many stages playing many different genres of music. With an open mind, he is passionate about working with students to improve their playing no matter what the genre is. He utilizes many techniques learned from his amazing teachers, as well as a constant barrage of new ideas to keep it fresh.
Andrew's experience dates back to junior high, when he subbed for his older brother's drummer in a high school band challenge, playing some difficult progressive grooves, some in odd time signatures. He went on to play in bands of many genres including Surf Metal, Heavy Blues, Old School Funk/Soul, Jazz Fusion, Psychedelic/Jam Band, Country/Rockabilly and professional Cover Bands. He won a CEA Award in the Blues category, recorded for many album projects (one release on Vinyl), and signed to a record label.
His patience and open-mindedness encourage students to learn what they want to learn, at their pace, with offerings of new concepts to help them expand in ways that seemed improbable when they started.
Kristen Kreft Singing Teacher
Kristen Kreft is a singer/songwriter and front woman of her original band The Perfect Children, winner of the 2010 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for Best Blues Band, and seasoned backing vocalist both in the studio and with several local and regional bands. She combines her musical theater roots with folk, blues and rock n’ roll rawness, adding in the soul and nuances of jazz and R & B to round out her unique and powerful vocals.
While not on the mic, Kristen is a teaching artist using the power of music and creative expression to enrich the lives of children and adults of all abilities. Kristen is honored to be a private vocal instructor, teacher for the Little Wing and Rookies music programs, as well as general music teacher at Holy Trinity School in Bellevue Kentucky through School of Rock. She absolutely loves her job as a Performance Band Director at School of Rock Cincinnati. Kristen also teaches general music for pre-K through third grade at The New School Montessori, in addition to being a teaching artist with Skoolaid focusing on music and movement, creative expression and songwriting. She has previously worked with Dramakinetics and the Cincinnati Family Enrichment Center as a drama and music and movement instructor. Kristen has designed curriculum for Skoolaid and the Cincinnati Arts Association, as well as Artists on Tour, with her creative expressions and songwriting and recording programs. A graduate of the American and Musical Dramatic Academy in New York City, Kristen values music appreciation and music as an alternative expressive language, not only sonically, but as a full body and visual experience. She is also a vocal instructor and show director at School of Rock Cincinnati.
Blaik Podracky Guitar Teacher
Blaik Podracky has been playing guitar for 13 years. He grew up with music all around him. From a very early age, he would drive around with his grandparents playing The Beatles and The Stones and other music of that golden era of art. His dad introduced him to the music of the ’90s that really spoke to him as a young musician, bands such as Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Oasis, Pearl Jam, and Third Eye Blind.
When he was 10 years old, his grandfather got him his first guitar for Christmas and his dad got him guitar lessons at a guitar shop down the street from where they lived. Blaik started taking lessons from Jim Woodie who taught him how to play guitar and bass. Blaik was around the age of 12 when he fell in love with the surge of emo music coming out at that time. Artists such as Paramore, My Chemical Romance, The Used, Taking Back Sunday, and Escape The Fate.
At age 15 he moved to go to a different high school where he fell in love with Jazz and joined the Jazz band playing saxophone and guitar. He attended a British invasion camp at School of Rock and it changed his life. That was his first experience playing in a band and he is still friends with some of those fellow students today. Around this time, he started going out to live music around the Cincinnati area like going to see Jazz at the Greenwich or local bands playing at the Thompson House and Fountain Square. Warped Tour was a big staple in his life.
When he was a Sophomore in high school, Blaik auditioned to attend Butler Tech School of The Arts the following year. He was 17 when he started attending Butler Tech and it was a pivotal moment in his life. Playing in bands and performing live at the school would teach him things that he would carry for the rest of his life. His teacher Joe Jahnigen would become his mentor, and teach him to excel in rhythm guitar and bass in the genres of Rock and Jazz. Blaik graduated from Butler Tech in 2017 and after a gap year, he attended college at Recording Workshop where he learned how to record, mix, and master. He returned to Cincinnati and started recording and mixing local artists as well as doing session work, playing and doing live sound for Christs Chapel Church. Blaik is excited about teaching for School of Rock and helping young musicians find their voice.
Jason Smart Drums Teacher
Jason began his journey with drumming/percussion at age 10 in his 4th grade concert band after being a fan of music all his young life. His love for music and drumming expanded while practicing and listening to a wide variety of music, taking private drum set lessons and performing with school music ensembles, as well as in rock bands with his older brother. After graduating high school, Jason went on to study with John Von Ohlen (Jazz/Big Band master) at University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music.
After college, Jason has performed, toured and recorded locally and internationally with RAY'S MUSIC EXCHANGE (Rock/Funk/Jazz), JACOB FRED JAZZ ODYSSEY (aka JFJO) (Jazz/Improv), ROBERT WALTER (organist/keyboardist currently touring with Roger Waters), FAREED HAQUE (Jazz/World beats), LEGENDS IN CONCERT (Rock/Vegas based tribute artist shows). Cincinnati area projects include...NOW HEAR THIS (Jazz/World), STEVE SCHMIDT Organ Trio (Jazz/Funk), THE ALMOND BUTTER BAND (Allman Brothers Band Tribute-Rock/Improv) and THE NEWBEES (Rock-Beatles/60's/70's tribute)
Travel can be a fun and rewarding part of being a musician. Jason is thankful to have played extensively in the United States, Canada, The Caribbean, Europe and Brazil. Festival highlights include JVC Jazz Fest in NYC, Berlin Jazz Fest (Germany), 60's Flower Power and 70's Rock and Romance Caribbean cruises and many more fulfilling adventures.
Some personal highlights in his music career include write ups/awards from Downbeat, Jazz Times, and Relix magazines. Jason was also honored with a spotlight article in Modern Drummer magazine's April 2005 issue for his work with JFJO and Robert Walter.
Sharing information about drumming and music has been important to Jason over his 20+ years of teaching experience. In that time, he has worked with passionate drummers of all ages and skill levels from age 8-80 to help them reach their goals with their drumming as well as sharing the joys of music.
Phil Cotter Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Keyboard Teacher, Drum Teacher Phil Cotter
Phil Cotter is an Emmy®-nominated performer, producer, and composer. He has collaborated with the likes of PBS, Cincinnati Ballet, Contemporary Arts Center and Playhouse in the Park to create soul-stirring, vibrant music for more than a decade. In 2021, his band, The Golden Theory, was named by Pitchfork Music as one of the Top 10 Emerging Artists.
Cotter has performed at the Taft Theater, BLiNK, Midpoint Music Festival, Fountain Square, and stages across the country. As a graduate of Commercial Music Production at the College-Conservatory of Music, he has a vast knowledge of music theory, production, pop songwriting, and film scoring.