Nicole Starch General Manager
Prior to taking over as general manager in September of 2019, Nicole was a vocal and keys instructor at School of Rock Katy. She’s been a student of music since a young age and loves watching young musicians find confidence in rehearsal and on stage while learning to work together to produce great music. She’s recorded two albums, 2007’s “Miscellaneous” and 2014’s “Black Coffee and Key Lime Pie.” Nicole believes that you should never stop learning, currently playing bass and drums in the School of Rock Katy Adult Band.
Stan Pillis Guitar Teacher
Stan Pillis is a seasoned performer, songwriter, composer, arranger and teacher with over 30 years of experience working with students of all ages and all genres. He is an expert in playing various styles of both guitar and bass and also sings. He is also an accomplished session player and recording artist. Stan has a wide knowledge of and teaches various musical styles such as rock, metal, pop, acoustic, classical, jazz, funk, fusion, world and blues. He has recorded guitar tracks on numerous commercials and has recorded multiple albums with numerous bands, as well as traveled the world on tour with numerous bands. He has taught all levels of instruction and skill sets (beginning, intermediate and advanced) and has provided instruction on sight-reading, ear-training, musical and chord theory, speed picking, pick techniques, rhythm guitar techniques, lead guitar techniques and explaining modal concepts. He is an expert in performance and has led many workshops on different types of methodology, as well as demonstrations of various types of pickups, strings, picks and pedals. He has prepared students for performances, auditions and festivals by also leading band performance workshops.
Steve Long Piano Teacher
Steve has been involved with music his whole life. His dad was a drummer and also played clarinet in a Dixieland band, so there was always music in the house. He bought Steve a marching drum when he was five and Steve would march around the neighborhood playing marching cadences with all his friends following behind. At seven, Steve took piano lessons and stopped when he was 14, then taught himself to play the guitar. He had a band in high school and college. After two years as a journalist in the Navy, he joined Channel Two News as a photojournalist. A few years later he got together with some of his neighbors and started Easy Money, a local band that has been playing all over Houston for 27 years. Steve retired from Channel Two after 40 years and now enjoys teaching a new generation how to rock and roll.
Larry Del Toro Drum Teacher
Born in Baytown, TX, Lawrence Del Toro has been playing drums for more than 40 years. Immersed in music from an early age, Lawrence was hooked on the drums after seeing Ringo Starr and The Beatles on television. Since then, Lawrence has performed in numerous bands, honing his skills behind the kit. Some of his bands have opened for such famous groups as The Drifters, The Platters, The Temptations, Muddy Waters and Jimmy Vaughan. Currently, he’s actively working the blues circuit with his nephew, 2017 Blues Award winner John Del Toro Richardson. In addition to the drums, Lawrence also plays guitar, keyboards and harmonica and enjoys his time in his own studio making music.
Connor Coleman Drum Teacher
Born in Kingwood, TX, Connor spent his youth moving with his family across the country and overseas. He began focused drumming at thirteen when given the opportunity to drum in his school’s Rock Band. Previously providing the foundation for the band with his bass playing, he realized he was uniquely talented on the drums. In 2014 Connor joined School of Rock Katy as a student. He performed for three years in a row at Summer Fest in Milwaukee as a drummer for the school's selective House Band while also supplying the foundation on both drums and bass during numerous SOR shows. During his final years as a student at SOR, Connor joined with his brother and three other School of Rockers to form a band that gigged at many of Houston's popular music venues. Their debut album allowed Connor and his fellow band members the opportunity to showcase their ability to create, perform and record their own music. He continues to develop his creative skills in audio, video and digital media in college. He’s also returned to School of Rock as a drum instructor and is now leading the next line of musicians on their exciting musical journey.
Sarah Foster Vocal Instructor
After graduating from East Texas Baptist University with a B.A. in Music, Sarah returned to her hometown of Katy, Texas to teach vocals here at School of Rock Katy. She first found her passion for performing in high school, then went on work with the youth band at her church in Marshall, Texas during college. While her first love is musical theater, she uses her strong performance skills to lead our students in finding their voice on stage. Heavily influenced by Jeremy Jordan and Sutton Foster, Sarah believes that everyone learns differently and at their own pace and if both the student and teacher are willing to learn and work together, they will indeed thrive. She was runner up in the Spring 202 NATS singing competition, recently played Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family musical, and is the newest member of the School of Rock Katy staff band.
Bryce Levett Guitar Teacher
Bryce Levett has been playing music for more than 40 years, beginning with piano, then acoustic guitar and electric guitar when he was in high school. He has performed with groups and taught guitar to students in both the US and Australia. He enjoys playing and teaching a variety of music styles such as rock, blues and jazz. Although mainly a guitar player, he also likes playing piano, bass guitar, ukulele and mandolin. He is equally comfortable teaching both rhythm and lead guitar techniques. Formally educated as a mechanical engineer, he has applied his education toward the building and upgrading of both electric and acoustic guitars. He also loves teaching others about how to properly set up their instruments to improve playability and sound. He is a guitar teacher at School of Rock Katy.
Abigail Armstrong Singing Teacher
After teaching vocals and directing shows at School of Rock Katy for several years, Abigail now leads our team as the Music Director. After developing a love of music at a very young age, she realized her talent and love for singing with the help of many teachers and mentors, but it was her time working in the worship ministry at her church that really shaped and grew her as a vocalist. She thoroughly enjoys harmonies and vocal blending, and can often be heard adding her own special touch to music playing throughout the school. She encourages students to find their own true voice while learning vocal health and overcoming vocal boundaries. Her playlist includes a wide variety of music from Johnnyswim to Journey, Matchbox Twenty to Ed Sheeran and Leon Bridges to Nirvana, which allows her to hop on stage at dueling piano bars with ease. Her vocal influences include Adele, Lauren Daigle, Whitney Houston and Stevie Nicks.
Shane Tucker Guitar Teacher
Shane Tucker brings his love for music to School of Rock Katy with 14 years of guitar experience, but don’t strap him to one instrument! Shane also plays some mean licks on the saxophone. His approach to teaching is to meet each student exactly where they’re at, introducing them to the vast universe of music to be discovered. As one of our Rock 101 instructors, Shane brings humor and fun to the rehearsal room while also encouraging kids to move to the next level - getting on stage! That diverse approach to music is evident in his influences that range from Eric Johnson to Kanye West, John Mayer to Allan Holdsworth.
Callum Sturgis Keyboard Teacher, Singing Teacher
Keyboard and singing teacher, Callum Sturgis was first fascinated by the dynamic range of an acoustic piano after seeing a stranger simply walk up to a public piano at an airport and play for the waiting crowd. He started lessons at seven years old and at fourteen bought his first Yamaha keyboard which he still plays on daily. A former member of the Fort Bend Boys Choir, All State Choir 2012 and Merriam School of Music, Callum is influenced by a wide range of musicians including Billie Holiday to Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix to Thelonious Monk, and The Beatles to badbadnotgood. He believes that learning is far easier if the experience is enjoyable. “When teaching music, a unique opportunity is given to create a learning environment centered around enjoying something.”
Clare Keating Singing Teacher
Singing Teacher, Clare started her musical journey way back in kinder-music which led her to a love for musical theater, eventually graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in theater. She never lost her love for music, however, and maintained her passion through songwriting and self-taught instrumentation on guitar and piano. After collaborating with several friends in high school, Clare wrote and produced her music and has been featured on several independent albums. When the staff band performs, it’s easy to recognize the influence that Adele, Amy Winehouse, Aurora, Lianne La Havas and so many others have had on Clare’s performance style. She believes that anyone has the potential to sing, it just takes some people longer to figure out what they need to do in order to sing to their best potential: “I want to encourage anyone learning from me to find their voice and to take their time while on their individual journeys.”
Chloe Palmer Studio Coordinator
Our studio coordinator, Chloe, is a person of many talents from the artistry you’ll see on our event board to her beautiful singing voice. After receiving the highest rating in TAPPS singing classical music, she eventually worked her way around to rock music. She came to School of Rock Katy as a student prepping for a vocal competition and quickly joined our adult performance band, Perpetual Crisis. Now she is the center of all activity at the school as our full-time studio coordinator. Her dad’s music played a big role in what she enjoys today with bands like Bowling for Soup, Green Day, and Third Eye Blind. Chloe loves working with our rockstars and believes that every student has a different method of learning that works for them and that it’s up to the teachers to work with the student to discover what that is.
Michael Galvez Drum Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Drum teacher, Michael, is a multi-talented instrumentalist with skills in kit, percussion, piano, bass, and guitar. He’s performed with Percussion One under the instruction of Lamar Burkhalter and tracked drums for several bands including the Primaries, Forget-Me-Nots, Sabela bee, Guamskyy, and The Alex French Revolution. With a strong bass in theory and fundamentals mixed with a solid love for all things rock, Michael finds influence in artists that range from Chopin to Periphery to drum great Dave Grohl. He marched in The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a trumpet player, placed first in high school’s Battle of the Bands, and more recently performed in Lone Star University Park’s Jazz Quartet. Michael believes that music theory is necessary when learning the fundamentals, but, like any true rock musician, says that the better you understand the rules, the easier they are to break.
Juan Uceda Drum Teacher
Drum teacher, Juan, wanted to play drums since he was 10 years old against his parents wishes, but after insisting for several years, got his first drumset at 14 and has never stopped. Like most SOR teachers, he plays a little guitar and bass as well, but you’ll never see him without his sticks. He’s played in multiple bands ranging from cover bands to alternative rock to punk and indie. He is strongly influenced by The Cure, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine and Jane’s Addiction. He believes that drumming is all about coordination and free flow. Feeling the music and playing from the heart.
Joe Mazzola Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Guitar, bass, and ukulele teacher, Joe Mazzola, has been studying and playing music for over 23 years. After playing in several bands and music projects, he decided that passing on his love for music to the next generation was the next path for his life. It’s easy to recognize his varied influences in his versatility with different genres of music. With influences like Pink Floyd, Joe Satriani, and the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe love to see students light up as they progress through their lessons. Joe believes that music is the fundamental soul of human nature and to know music is to better understand ourselves. “Playing and listening to music can improve mood, reduce anxiety, ease pain and have positive effects on our neurobiology and cognitive functioning.”
Mason Burt Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Singing Teacher
An artist from a very young age, Mason didn’t take an interest in music until at 13 he heard Randy Rhoads slaying the guitar on the radio in his dad’s car. He immediately wanted that same energy and began taking lessons soon after. He can be found around the Houston area playing as a solo artist and has become an integral part of the School of Rock Katy staff band. With inspirations like Ritchie Balckmore, Freddie Mercury and Kate Bush, Mason brings solid musical knowledge and a dry sense of humor to the lesson and rehearsal room. His individualistic approach to teaching reaches each student where they’re at: “Each of us learns a bit different from one another. I do my best to work with my students to determine their best approaches for each of them individually.”