Helen was born and raised in Alabama, and began her Tennessee residence at University of the South in Sewanee. After graduating in 2018 with a B.S. in Natural Resources & the Environment, she made her move to Nashville.
Helen took music lessons in her youth and music continues to surround her daily, in and outside of School of Rock! Some of her favorite bands and artists include The Revivalists, The Beatles and Van Morrison. Outside of the school, Helen likes to draw, hang out with her dog Akela, watch horror movies and go out to see her musician friends’ play shows around town.
Being the Assistant General Manager, she loves to see the students have fun playing in bands together and making friends, especially playing music that she loved as a kid!
Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Karlie Bartholomew has always had a passion for music. While shy as a child, she was able to use music to find her voice. She started writing her own songs at a young age, participating in every talent show she could beginning in elementary school. Following in her father’s musical footsteps, Karlie taught herself to play guitar on his old acoustic while she was in high school.
Karlie graduated from Berklee College of Music in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in professional music, focusing in contemporary writing & production and performance. She moved to Nashville a few months after graduation to pursue music.
Outside of School of Rock, you can find Karlie performing at local venues and writing songs. She released her debut EP titled "A Way to Start" in December 2021. Other hobbies she enjoys are reading, hiking, and taking care of her plants.
Associate Music Director
Born and raised in the Nashville, TN area, Sean McCreight first picked up the guitar at age six but didn't become serious about playing the guitar until he was in sixth grade, when he started taking private lessons and learned about the band KISS. Sean's first guitar influence was Ace Frehley, which led to his first live performance in a KISS tribute band and other performances, including the Halloween KISS House right off of the square in Franklin, TN. To this day, Sean can still play every Ace Frehley solo. Eventually Sean became a student at School of Rock and quickly began to learn about more genres of music and develop a love of the blues, progressive rock, Motown, classic rock, jam bands and many more. As time went on Sean's influences grew to include Pink Floyd, The Allman Brothers, Derek Trucks, Gov't Mule, The Grateful Dead, The Aquarium Rescue Unit and his all time favorite, Widespread Panic. During his time at School of Rock, Sean was a member of the House Band for five years and was a three-time national AllStar. After graduating high school and School of Rock, Sean attended Belmont University and majored in Commercial Music - Guitar and quickly formed his band Sonic Voodoo, a seven-piece fusion rock band based in Nashville, TN. Sean's band has played many high-profile gigs, including playing at the Nashville Predators games and Plaza Parties, as well as opening for Echosmith. The band released their first EP on Spotify and iTunes in March of 2017. Sean is continuing his music education in the Segue 61 program in Nashville, TN and continues to record and perform live with Sonic Voodoo and other artists around town.
Angie has loved music her entire life. One of her earliest memories is listening to artists like Elvis Presley, Elton John and more with her parents as a toddler. Angie started singing at the age of five, joining her church choir at the age of eight. In middle school, Angie was a member of the Ketron Singers who performed at the World's Fair in Knoxville, TN and continued to develop her vocal skills with private lessons. Angie continued to perform in high school with her jazz band and performed in the Tennessee All-State Choir, as well as at the Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts.
Angie continued her vocal training in college and participated in activities that allowed her to continue to perform. She went on to earn a Bachelor's degree in Medical Technology and worked in pharmaceutical research for over 20 years. In 2011, after leaving her career in the pharmaceutical industry, she and her husband Kelly decided to open the first School of Rock in Tennessee in the Franklin/Cool Springs area and opened the Nashville location two years later. Angie is very passionate about providing this outlet for young musicians and has also seen her own children participate in the program and become School of Rock AllStars. Every day is a gift when she sees the students get excited about their music and performing in live music venues, even when they get excited about just being in the building.
Regional Music Director
Steve Rossi brings many years of experience to the Franklin School of Rock as a seasoned performer. Steve has performed on stage with Rock legend and guitar virtuoso, Peter Frampton on his North American tours, as well as other well-known artists such as vocalist extraordinaire Taylor Dayne, 80s rock legends Cinderella (North American tours), 60s rock n' roll pioneer Gary U.S. Bonds, and many other high profile bands and artists across several continents. He has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "The Arsenio Hall Show" and NBC's "A 70s Celebration" with Taylor Dayne. Steve has also appeared with headliners The Bee Gees and other notable 70s artists. Other appearances include Solid Gold with Gary U.S. Bonds and on MTV's "The Grind." Steve's album credits include Stevie Wonder, John Kay, Steppenwolf and various other artists. He is an independent composer/producer of music for television multimedia. Clients include ABC/Disney, AE, Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon Networks and The Travel Channel, as well as various other corporate and independent clients. Steve scored two seasons of "Surprise by Design," hit home improvement series on Discovery Channel, and is currently composing and producing original, in-program music for "Good Morning America." He is a guitar teacher, bass guitar teacher and piano teacher at School of Rock Franklin.
Drum Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Alex is a studio drummer, music producer/engineer, and orchestrator based in Nashville. With a passion for developing new music and young musicians, he’s spent the last several years teaching, recording, and writing music across the US, Canada, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Serbia. Outside of School of Rock, you can usually find him recording in the studio, or writing music for orchestras, world instruments, and choirs. In 2019, Alex graduated from Berklee College of Music with a dual degree in Contemporary Writing & Production and Music Production & Engineering.
Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Spencer is a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, TN, where he studied classical guitar and composition. He's a multi-instrumentalist with years of keyboard, percussion, guitar, and bass experience. He was a School of Rock student himself in the Philadelphia area where he developed a strong passion for music theory and an equally strong love of rock. Treating music as both a science and a beautifully robust language capable of infinite expression, Spencer dreams of a world where everybody plays an instrument, understands the music they create and hear, and strives to explore and experiment with the creation of music.
When he isn't playing guitar with Nashville-based psychedelic rock band, The Mango Furs, he is likely petting a cat or getting lost in a good video game with an inspiring soundtrack.
Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Keyboard + Piano Teacher, Singing Teacher
Joe Markferding is a songwriter, artist, and producer from the Philadelphia area currently residing in Nashville, TN. A former student of School of Rock, he graduated from Belmont University in 2020 with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Music Business. Joe has also attended Florence University of the Arts in Florence, Italy to study music as well as Malvern Preparatory School in Pennsylvania.
Since graduating, Joe has produced and played on numerous releases for upcoming artists in the Nashville, NYC, Philadelphia, Denver, and LA areas, and has created and released numerous singles and an album of his own music as Joemarkk. Joe is a dedicated student of music and life, and strives to share his passion and outlook through communication both musically and through teaching.
Joe teaches guitar, bass, keys, and vocals at School of Rock in Franklin, TN, and has experience working with all types of individuals in all age groups teaching a range of musical skills.
Niko Tripodis has a bachelor's degree in Commercial Music with a performance emphasis from Belmont University. Niko has shared the stage or recorded with artists such as Will Rosedale and the Lowly Entourage, Carter Faith Jones, Max King, JERZY., Bill DuBois, Chloe Hogan, and Jack Zondlo. While touring and gigging around Nashville, he has opened for various acts, notably, Cole Swindell and Lawrence. Apart from recording and playing live, Niko composes, teaches, makes charts, and transcribes music for a variety of genres.
Show Director, Rookies Director
Sydney is a Nashville native and is currently studying music business at Belmont University. She has had the privilege of working at School of Rock after 8 years as a student at the Franklin location. She first joined School of Rock at the age of 11 as a singer and piano player and immediately fell in love with music. She strives to make lessons exciting and make an impact on all of her students as her teachers have done for her.
Sydney hopes that in the future she will be able to focus on building a professional solo career and release music of her own. After graduating, Sydney wants to work hands-on in a studio as she develops her skills in producing and songwriting.
Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Matt Drummey is a musician from Kingston, MA. A versatile player, Matt is equally comfortable as a bassist or guitarist. Years of performing and teaching make him an excellent resource for any aspiring musician. His playing style is an exciting blend of a wide range of influences. Over the course of his time playing Matt has studied blues, classic rock, jazz, neo-soul, bluegrass, funk and many more.
Matt received a degree in Professional Music from Berklee College of Music in 2011. During his time at Berklee he studied under master guitarist Tim Miller. His time at Berklee also led to him being one of the co-founders of Boston jam band Skyfoot. During his time with Skyfoot Matt performed over 200 shows, spanning over 20 states. Skyfoot released their debut album "Eternal Bend" in 2011. This album features Matt on both electric guitar and bass. His deep understanding of both instruments gives him a unique perspective on playing and teaching. In the spring of 2016 Matt relocated to Nashville to continue to pursue a career in music.
As an instructor Matt’s goal is to make lessons a fun and engaging environment for students. His sense of humor and approachability make him a great fit for all levels of students. Matt puts a strong emphasis on helping students learn their favorite songs and discover improvisation. Matt can teach music theory, reading, ear training, improvisation concepts, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, electric bass, fretless bass techniques, various musical genres, songwriting and more.
Drum Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Chris was born in Los Angeles and moved to Nashville when he was four years old. Now at 21, he is passionate about teaching piano, and being a freelance producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, animator, filmmaker, and audio engineer in his professional home recording studio in Franklin, TN. Chris attended School of Rock in Nashville in middle school. He is a Blackbird Academy audio engineering graduate and attended Lipscomb University, studying music production and animation. He was awarded a scholarship to Berklee School of Music for songwriting and was a member of the Curb Youth Symphony and MTSU Honors Orchestra for many years. Having had his own band and having been a member of multiple bands, Cris developed a great skill for performance and bringing the best sound to the stage.
Singing Teacher, Guitar Teacher
Ryan Venable is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has just recently moved back to Nashville after spending 8 years performing and teaching music in LA. He is a classically trained pianist, but his main instrument is the guitar. Ryan has played for a few bands as the guitarist and lead singer and also performs solo acoustic shows. He also has an album and a couple of EPs out on all streaming platforms. The projects are all self-produced. Ryan currently teaches guitar and vocal lessons at School of Rock Franklin!
Show Director, Singing Teacher
Derik is originally from Akron, Ohio. He started getting into music around the age of 12 when he would listen to a couple of his dad’s CDs, Holy Diver by Dio and The Best of Journey. When Derik heard Steve Perry sing, he was instantly mesmerized and knew he wanted to be able to sing just like him. Derik's first large-scale performance was at a middle school halftime show in 8th grade where he sang “Don’t Stop Believin,’” appropriately enough. He attended Kent State and later transferred to Belmont in the fall of 2015 to pursue a degree in Commercial Voice with a performance emphasis.
Derik continued his education at Belmont in the Spring of 2021 to obtain his master's degree, also in Commercial Voice. During his time at Belmont, he performed for four years in their premier pop-rock ensemble known as PHNX, directed by Jamie Wigginton. He also sang in the university’s Rock Ensemble for five years, while also studying with three different voice instructors, all specializing in different vocal method approaches and musical styles.
Outside of his music education, Derik has also performed with multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated recording artist Kip Winger (of the band Winger) on several occasions while working with his original band, Lily Prex, a classic rock-inspired group influenced by the golden era of rock in the 1970s and 1980s, harkening back to the sounds of bands like Van Halen, Def Leppard, Journey, Boston, The Police, etc. Derik's band currently has a weekly residency at Big Machine (of Big Machine Records) in downtown Nashville.
Jason began playing guitar at the age of 15 after seeing a solo by Eddie Van Halen. That was and is the catalyst that has inspired his pursuit of the instrument to this day. At the age of 21, Jason attended the Atlanta Institute of Music with an emphasis on performance and theory. After school, he performed and taught guitar full-time for years. Most of his experience was as a studio musician where he was blessed to have worked with many notable artists in the R&B, Jazz, Rap, and Christian industries in Atlanta at that time. After years of studio work, Jason decided to pursue engineering, mixing, and production. He was blessed to have worked in many of Atlanta's flagship studios during that venture. Jason's passion now is to continue to press on to become the best musician he can and to invest himself in others to help them to fulfill their musical goals.
Keyboard + Piano Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Guitar Teacher, Singing Teacher
Alex Merrill is a musician, producer, and instrumentalist from Nashville, TN. He grew up in St. Petersburg, FL, and became interested in music when he started learning how to play the piano at 8 years old. Over the years, Alex has also learned to play guitar, bass, and drums. Some of his favorite genres of music include yacht rock, funk, R&B, soul, and disco, but he's comfortable working within any genre! He writes, mixes, and masters his own music, as well as produces for other musicians all while being a music teacher, touring musician, and session musician!
Originally from Westchester, NY, Tara Curran has been singing since she was 6 years old and began her School of Rock journey at the age of 9 with the Bedford, NY location. She was raised with various musical genres, including classic rock and metal, but found her calling in the blues, gospel, funk, and soul. Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Christina Aguilera, Janis Joplin, and Susan Tedeschi are among many on her long list of influences, but don’t let that fool you! Tara’s sound is entirely her own. Her soulful, powerhouse vocals and her unique and captivating stagecraft have been a mainstay of the Westchester County/New York City music scene since she began her professional career at 11 years old.
Outside of her early School of Rock training, Tara trains with renowned vocal coach Don Lawrence, focusing on the Lawrence Technique, a technique used by artists including Lady Gaga, Mick Jagger, Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, and Axl Rose.
In 2022, Tara was invited back to School of Rock Bedford as a vocal instructor before moving to Nashville for a 2023 study-away program, where she fell in love with the city, the music scene, and the people. She has spent the last year gaining industry experience at Big Machine Label Group, focusing on Promotion, Streaming, and Marketing. Currently, Tara plans on transferring to a school in Nashville and hopes to continue to learn more about the Music Industry and release music soon!
Tara’s goal is to create a trust-based relationship with her students, and she is so excited to help cultivate their love of singing and performance!
Singing Teacher, Keyboard + Piano Teacher
Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Paris Varnier began singing lessons when she was 5 years old. She now holds a degree from the University of North Texas in Jazz Voice. During her time at the University of North Texas, Paris won awards that included two Downbeats along with the "Outstanding Soloist" award from Elmhurst Jazz Festival. She sang and recorded albums with the Two O'Clock Lab Band and the Jazz Singers.
Paris plays piano and guitar and enjoys writing original music. Paris's specialty lies in education and she has taught for over seven years. She has extensive training in vocal anatomy and health and enjoys teaching all styles of music! She worked as the head of music at a private school in Austin, Texas for the past two years and recently relocated to Nashville. Paris values a safe and fun educational environment that encourages students to grow into well-rounded musicians who love their instruments!