Alec Simpson Owner, General Manager
Alec’s passion is music - playing, writing, recording and mixing. He is a multi-instrumentalist who primarily plays guitar but also has proficiency on drums, keys, bass, violin and mandolin. His passion for music started at age six, when he started guitar lessons. His talent eventually led him to the Frisco, Texas School of Rock, where he was part of the house band and performed all over the Dallas area. Alec accepted a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Production and Engineering. After graduation he moved back to Dallas, working in the audio/visual industry before moving to St. Petersburg and becoming the owner/general manager of School of Rock St. Petersburg. Alec is thrilled to be contributing to the music industry by helping shape the next generation of musicians through School of Rock.
Vincent "Vince" Montemarano Drum, Bass Guitar and Singing Teacher
A consistently gigging and touring drummer for over 14 years, Vincent plans to use his additional experience in songwriting, guitar, bass, vocals and percussion to help strengthen students’ understanding and appreciation of music. He knew that being a musician was his calling when he started playing guitar at age 10, but it wasn’t until age 13 that he realized he felt most comfortable behind a drum kit. From that point, he began taking drum set lessons and also joined the Countryside High School drum line, where he would spend the next four years developing and honing his drumming skills.
Vincent continues to use his multi-instrumental experience in his two current bands, for which he writes and arranges music. With his comprehensive skill set, he hopes to create a unique lesson plan that caters to each student’s individual musical aspirations.
Melbourne "Mel" Walsh Guitar Teacher
Melbourne "Mel" Walsh picked up his first guitar at 15 years old. Inspired by his father's love of guitar, Mel's natural musical aptitude ensured local success in his hometown of Marathon, Florida. He started his formal musical education in Gainesville, Florida at Santa Fe Community College but was quickly lured away by the opportunity to study at The Players School of Music. There he took part in weekly jazz ensembles with the inimitable Jeff Berlin, studied theory, harmony, scales and chord tones, learned to read chord charts and sheet music, received one-on-one guitar lessons and ear training, and a multitude of other musical concepts. He has played a myriad of venues from Florida to North Carolina, including Hard Rock Cafe and Jannus Live. Mel's musical background includes rock, blues, jazz, fusion, progressive rock and funk.
Zach Short Guitar and Singing Teacher
Zach Short is a guitarist and vocalist of 13 years from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has written and recorded two albums with cog and lantern recordings, both of which have been released on iTunes and other music platforms. Zach has played multiple venues, ranging from small sizes such as restaurants, bars and weddings to larger venues that host national acts like Cains Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has toured the Midwest, playing in multiple bands either as a hired guitarist, session guitarist or permanent member of the band, and has performed at festivals such as SXSW in Austin, Texas playing showcases and opening up for artists including Leon Russel and The Nixons. Zach has eight years of experience teaching students of all ages, both in group settings and private lessons. He currently plays guitar for the Safety Harbor-based band Viewers Like You and is regularly gigging throughout the Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg areas.
Vinny Svoboda Bass Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher, Piano Teacher
Vinny Svoboda picked up his first musical instrument, the violin, when he was 10 years old. Shortly after this musical introduction, he received his first bass guitar. In his early teens, after a few years of being a part of his school's orchestras and bands, Vinny became intrigued by the mechanics of percussion and overall rhythm. He immersed himself in learning how to play any percussion instrument he could get his hands on.
His education progressed when he was accepted into the Music Performance program at the University of South Florida. Studying under the principal bass player of the Florida Orchestra, Vinny received his Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance with an emphasis in Classical Upright Bass in 2013. Since graduation, Vinny has made great strides within his local community and abroad as a live and studio musician for many musical acts. He's also an active audio engineer who specializes in full-band tracking, mixing and mastering. He is a bass guitar teacher, drum teacher and piano teacher at School of Rock St. Petersburg.
Jae Hughes Studio Coordinator
Since the age of 10, Jae Hughes has had a passion for both teaching music and working with children. Her career began as a music tutor for percussion instruments at her high school in Rayland, Ohio. To further her career, she moved to St. Petersburg after graduation, and has spent her time since then teaching band instruments, percussion and piano, and working in the music industry. With experience in both sales and lesson coordinating, she enjoys working with people and spreading the joy of music to everyone she meets. She is the Studio Coordinator at School of Rock St. Petersburg.
Matt Aaland Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Vocal Instructor
Matt Aaland is a multi-instrumentalist who comes from the jazz rich community of Fargo, North Dakota, where he grew up attending big band jazz concerts. Picking up the violin as his first instrument, Matt quickly added guitar, bass, piano, voice, brass and woodwind instruments to his repertoire all before high school graduation. Performing with jazz greats like Maynard Ferguson and Ramsey Lewis ignited a passion for music performance in him. Following his favorite local musicians into the collegiate world, Matt attended North Dakota State University with an emphasis on Music Education, studying with the incredible team of Dr. Matthew Patnode and Dr. Kyle Mach. While in college Matt enlisted in the US Army, where he performed with the 188th Army Band as well as the 215th Army Band all around the world. Accepting a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, he then studied Guitar Performance.
After Berklee, Matt relocated to the Los Angeles area to pursue a career in the music industry, performing in local bands and studio projects in the LA and Las Vegas metro areas. After relocating to the Chicago area, Matt began to focus on offering private instruction as well as group masterclasses. He accepted an instructor position at School of Rock in Geneva, Illinois where he taught guitar, bass, piano and vocals, as well as directed performance groups. Matt continues to use his extensive experience to offer custom designed musical instruction to each of his students. He focuses on student’s goals and interests to help each student find their unique musical voice and direction. He is a guitar teacher, bass guitar teacher, piano teacher and vocal instructor at School of Rock St. Petersburg.
Andrea Tafelski Drum, and Singing Teacher
By combining her rigorous conservatory training in percussion, her voice, and her passion for songwriting, Andrea has forged a unique and memorable musical experience. She puts percussion in the forefront of her music, using her familiarity with it to compose her songs as well as to perform them. You’ll find her utilizing the Malletstation, Drumset, and voice simultaneously during solo performances as well as with her group Andē and Co. She has recently performed at Black Crow and Golden Hour Series in Saint Petersburg and is frequently performing in venues throughout St. Petersburg and Tampa.
Andrea has a Bachelor of Music Performance degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music in Percussion/Timpani and has spent extensive time studying chamber percussion music with the group Sō Percussion (Brooklyn, NY). She has also played percussion for Hanson and il Divo as well as performed with Opera Tampa, St.Petersburg Opera, and is currently on the percussion substitute list for The Florida Orchestra. Andrea is an artist on the Beetle Percussion roster. She is currently teaching drums and vocal instruction at the St. Pete School of Rock.
Austin Llewellyn Keyboard Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Guitar Teacher
Austin Llewellyn is a multi-instrumentalist with 25 years of experience. Starting off on guitar at age 10 and quickly picking up the bass shortly thereafter, he finally settled on keyboards as his primary instrument in college. With a musical background spanning from Rock and Funk to Reggae and Jazz, Austin is currently playing in 4 local bands including Row Jomah, with whom he toured the Southwest, playing in Georgia, North Carolina, and numerous locations in Florida. He has also played notable venues like the Hard Rock and Jannus Live, as well as participated in the Clearwater Jazz Festival. With decades of performance experience and a love for teaching, Austin has come on board as a guitar, bass, and piano teacher here at the School of Rock St. Pete.
Ian McNerney Drum Teacher
Growing up in a military family and moving frequently, Ian relied on music as a creative outlet and source of entertainment and solace. He started out playing the piano and guitar, but it wasn’t until his family settled east of the Tampa area that Ian found a love of percussion. He quickly joined his middle school orchestral program and became interested in jazz and classical percussion. Ian continued to hone his skills as a member of the Indoor Percussion Group at his high school, where he was chosen to compete in the WGI Indoor Percussion World Championships Scholastic Open Division and was recognized for visual and technical performance.
After moving to St. Pete in 2018, Ian participated in the Music Industry Recording Arts (MIRA) Program at St. Pete College, focusing primarily on recording, mixing and production. Around that time, he also helped form the alternative rock band The Opportunists, and began gigging around St. Pete, writing, recording and producing original music. In 2020, The Opportunists released their debut album, including the track "Mr. Take It Slow," a collaboration with the Florida Orchestra.
Ian’s passion for music and love of teaching make him a perfect fit for drum instruction at the St. Pete School of Rock.
Kendall Hughes Singing Teacher
Kendall’s love of singing and performing classical music began at the age of eight in her hometown of Jupiter, Florida. At fifteen she started the apprentice program with the Palm Beach Opera where she began performing. Kendall attended Ave Maria University where she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in music with a concentration in vocal performance. Kendall has worked with the Naples Performing Arts Center teaching voice and choreographing productions. In addition, she has worked with the Opera Naples Adult Chorus and has been in the productions of La Bohéme, Carmen and La Traviata. As a burgeoning social media influencer and aspiring pop artist, Kendall is passionate about all genres of music and is thrilled to be sharing her classical vocal training techniques with students at St Pete School of Rock.
Clarke Jacobson Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Drums Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
A native of St. Petersburg, Clarke credits local professional musicians Chris LeFever and Joe Braccio for spurring his journey to become a professional musician. Attending the arts magnet middle school, John Hopkins, and then Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School, Clarke was accepted to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he continued with his formal study of music theory, performance and production. During this time, Clarke became proficient on multiple instruments including guitar, drums, keys and bass. When Clarke left Boston, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his professional music career. He joined the pop punk band Sound Parlor and then later toured with All Day Breakfast, an Indie Rock influenced band. Clarke’s experience ultimately led him to St. Petersburg where he hopes to inspire his students to have a lifelong passion for music.
Nick Meaden Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Keyboard Teacher, Drum Teacher
When Nick was eight years old in southern Massachusetts, his dad brought home an electronic drum kit and Nick began to fall in love with music and rhythm. He took formal music lessons and eventually joined his school band program as a percussionist, where one of his band mates showed him how to play the guitar. Nick began expanding his knowledge of music on drums, guitar, keys, bass and eventually ended up at the University of Massachusetts in Boston studying music. He was a member of two different bands playing the Boston area - South Shore Train - a Pop Punk band and later Indica Ooze which played more experimental music. Nick was primarily the songwriter and lyricist for his Boston bands before he settled in St. Petersburg to take up teaching music and playing as a solo act in the St. Pete area. His passion for crafting original music and helping his students realize their own potential make him a valued team member at St. Pete School of Rock.