Eric Somers-Urrea Drum Teacher
Eric Somers-Urrea has spent the majority of his life working hard to be the most versatile drummer/ percussionist possible. He recently graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Music Performance and studied classical music under his professors William Moersch and Ricardo Flores. While in attendance at the U of I Eric participated in a wide range of classical ensembles, world music ensembles, and even drumlines, and in 2011 he was the recipient of the Edgard Varese Percussion Award for most outstanding undergraduate or graduate percussion student. Eric's true calling, however, is sitting behind the drumset. For most of his life now he has been performing behind the kit at venues large and small. His drumming experience ranges from jazz bands to latin groups to musical pit orchestras to local bands that play anything from indie rock to metal. Eric's latest project, Marina City, is an alternative rock band from Plainfield. Marina City was formed in February of 2012 and has performed at prestigious venues across Illinois including The Canopy Club, The Metro, and a sold out show at Chicago's House of Blues. Whether it's live or in the studio, classical music or metal, Eric has made absolutely certain that he is prepared for every musical situation that arises.
Nathan Van Dyke Guitar Teacher
Music has been a big part in Nathan Van Dyke’s life. He has been playing guitar for 20 years and hasn't slowed down. Nathan has played in numerous bands since 2007, including Bleed for the Fallen, playing over 1000 shows, with two EPs, a bunch of great memories and most importantly all original music. During the Bleed for the Fallen years, Nathan enrolled at Tribeca Flashpoint Academy in 2010, where he received his Associates degree in Audio Engineering & Film/Video Game sound designing. After graduating in 2012, he went on to run sound at many different clubs in the Chicagoland area, and recorded many bands at his home studio in Grant Park, Illinois. Currently, Nathan has his own Web show, Recording Studio and is the in house audio engineer at a local club in his hometown of Bradley, Illinois. Nathan has been working for School of Rock as a guitar instructor and audio engineer for over 5 years now. Nathan teaches all styles of music ranging from rock, country, blues, jazz and a little classical. Some of Nathan's inspirations include Dream Theater, John Petrucci, Eddie Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and many more. Nathan is a prime example that if you work hard, and don’t let anything get in your way you can reach any level of success in music, and most importantly, your dreams.
Allison Bockel Singing Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Allison Bockel didn't begin her music career until she started high school and was heavily involved in choir, Madrigals and theatre, where she discovered her talent and passion as a vocalist. Before entering college, Allison joined the Sound of America National Choir, who toured throughout Europe and were able to sing in some amazing places, including the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Allison studied Vocal Performance and Sociology at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. The Bradley Chorale toured through Northern Italy and sang in such venues as St. Mark's Basilica in Venice. She also was part of the Bradley Madrigals, which had the opportunity to perform at a State Dinner in Washington DC. Allison's performing experience, along with her studies and degree in Sociology (and being a mom) allows her a unique perspective when teaching her students. Allison has been a Vocal and Keys Instructor with SOR Mokena since 2013.
Dan Becker Guitar Teacher
Dan Becker was exposed to music from birth; his father played classical piano and his mom sang alto in the church choir. Dan’s first instrument was the trumpet, but switched to French horn. He picked up a guitar at 15 when he noticed that there weren’t French horns in rock bands. Dan began playing professionally in college, performing in coffee houses and clubs in Chicago. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson College (then a part of Grand Valley State University) with a Bachelor of Philosophy with studies in painting and songwriting. He continued to study music theory, composition, and studio recording at Waubonsee Community College. He played and toured with a variety of bands in the 80’s and taught in local music stores. He formed his own band in the 90’s; Dan Becker and the Tourists. He continues to perform and share his love of music through teaching guitar at School of Rock Mokena.
Kathy Gentile Singing Teacher
Cue the lights, the music, open the curtain! Kathy has been involved in theatre and music since the age of 12. She began her love of performance by participating in stage plays and expanded into musicals and television commercials. Kathy earned roles in the Sound of Music, No No Nanette, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Kismet, George M, Funny Girl, Where’s Charley, High Button Shoes, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, Sorry Wrong Number, Curious Savage, and Carousel. Each show introduced new opportunities and challenges which helped build her skills, including stage presence and performance techniques. Kathy had years of private vocal lessons with Dan Moore as well as vocal education at Roosevelt University; as a result she can sing classical, blues, pop ballads and power rock. After completing her degree at Loyola University, Kathy became the lead singer of Cat’s Eye, a Chicago-based cover band, in which she performs with her husband, Joe, who is currently the Music Director at School of Rock Mokena. For Kathy, music is, and always has been, a powerful force that gives meaning to each and every day. With such a dedication and passion, she is grateful to be able to share her experience and talents to teach a new generation of vocal students.
Dr. Michael Burgess Singing Teacher, Keyboard Teacher, Guitar Teacher
Dr. Michael Burgess, tenor, is a freelance voice, keys and guitar instructor, and vocal coach, in the NW Indiana and Chicago area. He spent six years as an Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Texas - San Antonio, as well as adjunct college and university voice positions since 1992. He completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Vocal Performance in 2001 at University of Michigan, where he studied voice under world-class singers Lorna Haywood and George Shirley, both of whom possess Grammy Awards for their respective recordings of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem and Mozart’s opera Cosi fan tutti. He also studied under renowned pianist and vocal coach Martin Katz. He received his Master of Music degree from Western Michigan University, studying voice under Christine Carlton, and Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Music from Calvin College. Other influential teachers include prominent tenors Stanley Kolk and Carl Kaiser. He has been an effective music teacher at the middle, HS, and collegiate and professional level for nearly 30 years. His students have gone on to do well and win major competitions like the NY MET, Chicago Lyric Opera Young Artists, Placido Domingo’s “Operalia” Competition/, live and blind auditions for “American Idol” and “The Voice” and gone into the live rounds and finals of those shows as well. Dr. Mike has also trained and mentored scores of successful music educators, theater directors and actors, and band geeks of all kinds! Michael is equally adept (and happy!) singing a variety of genres including rock music from the 70s and 80s, Sam Cooke, Motown, Jesus Christ Superstar, Gilbert and Sullivan, church music and gospel, barbershop and vocal jazz, as well as Bach, Mozart and Rossini (which are his favorites in particular!). His classical training and background, and decades of performing experience in multiple genres of music, allow a great deal of versatility in his repertoire and approach to all styles of singing and playing.
Heather Vrsek Drum Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Professional Drummer with a fervent devotion to music, a sterling reputation, fierce talent and a dream. A compelling musician with a contagious sound and inimitable style, Heather Vrsek has been playing the drums professionally for over 10 years. Her true passion is performing. She gigs locally and nationally, seizing every opportunity to showcase her love for music in front of an audience. Her ultimate aspiration is to play for a group or a company where she can do what she loves everyday, entertain. When Heather is not performing or teaching drums, she spends her time nurturing her many passions which include painting, bass guitar, piano, ukulele, and running. Among Heather’s accolades, she had the privilege of winning the John Belushi Jazz Scholarship from the College of Dupage in 2011. She has even starred in commercials, as well as won the Geneva Drum Competition in 2008 and 2009 and has been recognized as a top performer within her trade. As a woman, Heather is thriving in a primarily male-concentrated arena, as a result of her perseverance and work ethic. Her drive comes from her definitive love for music, her authentic heart and a fortitude to achieve greatness.
Jack Simborg Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Jack Simborg has been a musician since he started taking classical piano lessons when he was 7 years old. When he was 12, he found the School of Rock in Chicago and began taking lessons there. Between the ages of 12-18 he took a combination of guitar, bass, keyboard and vocal lessons. He continued to pursue his passion for music by attending Berklee College of Music in Boston. After completing the core music program, Jack moved back to Chicago and played in various local bands. He joined the School of Rock Mokena staff in the summer of 2018 and now co-runs the Rock 101 program, as well as co-directing core performance program shows. He is also the director of the Adult Band.
Matt Gaudiano Singing Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Matt Gaudiano began his musical career in his early childhood, classically taking piano lessons for over 10 years. He then began to develop vocal ability through school by participating in various choirs, ensembles, & musical theatre productions. Through his teens he started writing original music with multiple bands, deepening his love for songwriting and live performance. As a member of the Recording Academy's Chicago chapter, Matt acknowledges the importance of camaraderie & diversity in music. Students should be ready to communicate, gain insight on how each instrument fits in various band styles/settings, and solid stage technique. He emphasizes musical diversity by teaching various techniques from different genres. A touring musician by trade, Matt believes in “leaving it all on stage” and highlights stage presence on top of musical ability. Currently, Matt is the keyboardist/2nd vocalist in Chicago’s alt/pop group Marina City. Together they have toured the nation and have had international success with their latest releases. Matt is excited to inspire the next generation of musicians as a vocal coach and piano instructor at School of Rock Mokena.
Brian Volleride Keyboard Teacher
Brian Volleride is our school’s primary piano teacher. He has played in numerous bands and with many stars. His multi-keyboard career has taken him to over 74 countries performing as a musician. He has played with the likes of Chi-lites, The Drifters, The Classic 4, Sugar Blue, John Lee Hooker, Lonnie Brooks and Otis Rush. His band, The Mike Wheeler Band, was recently awarded the distinction of Best Blues Band in the City of Chicago at the 2015 Chicago Music Awards. Brian was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame in October 2016. Brian loves listening, playing and teaching music of all different kinds, and believes in the power of music to change a life.
Kiki Xu Singing Teacher
Winning a singing competition at the age of 10 is what drove Kiki to pursue music as a profession. She is currently a singer-songwriter and a producer based in Chicago specializing in a wide range of contemporary styles such as Jazz, R&B, Pop and Funk, with some of her influences being Wayne Shorter and James Brown. A recent graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies, she credits her expansion of her musical journey to industry professionals such as Cheryl Wilson, amongst others. Thanks to her vigorous training and numerous stage experiences both with lead and background vocals, she landed a brief role as a background vocalist in the TV show Empire in early 2020. “Learning how to sing is also about learning how to share your emotions and your stories to your audiences.” she says. With her sheer dedication, passion, faith and love for music, along with her upbeat and fun-loving personality, Kiki is translating that into her School of Rock journey.
Zack Marshall Drum Teacher
Zack Marshall started his musical path right here at School of Rock Mokena. After years of toying with multiple instruments, Zack started taking lessons in his early teens. Zack performed in countless performance bands, and participated in School of Rock Mokena’s Show Band for nearly seven years, playing numerous venues in the suburbs, Chicago, and the annual trip to Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Throughout this time, Zack also dove deeply into his high school’s various band programs. He performed for two years in the Tinley Park High School jazz band, four years in marching band drumline as a section leader, and four years in the school’s concert and symphonic bands (in the latter of which he won the IHSA’s Illinois Superstate contest during his junior year). Aside from teaching at School of Rock, Zack is also a studio coordinator at the school, as well as a college student pursuing a business degree. He is an avid music fan with ever expanding tastes. He loves percussion in all styles of music, and passes this passion onto his students. He feels rewarded every day he gets to teach in the community that taught him, and pass on his open mind for music to his students.