General Manager, Singing Teacher, Keyboard + Piano Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher
Mackey Pope is a multi-instrumentalist, teaching vocals, keys, bass, and drums. His experience with music includes a bachelors of art in music from Keene State College as well as years of music education in the form of group and individual instruction. Mackey has a background in Rock, Classical, Jazz, Funk, and everything in between, with some of his favorite artists being Linkin Park, Muse, and Silversun Pickups. He has a family history of education and strives to bring his own energy to the next generation of musicians.
School of Rock East Hartford’s owner, Scott Rownin, is an entrepreneur and inventor of the “SafeRide” mobile app to halt texting while driving, and a drummer of 35 years.
After being asked to accompany his daughter’s band in the fourth grade for a performance of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five,” parents approached him about teaching their elementary school kids as well. “That was the spark,” he said. Right around the same time, Scott ran into an adult while living in Westport, CT, who was a student at a local School of Rock, and “it just dawned on me that this would be a great business.” When Scott got in touch with School of Rock, he learned that the company had been looking for someone to come into the Hartford area for a long time. Scott now lives in Simsbury with his wife Lauren, a local realtor, and their two kids who are both School of Rock students (of course).
Singing Teacher, Keyboard + Piano Teacher
Simone Marie is a musician from Wolcott, CT. Simone started singing and playing piano at the age of 5 and has been jamming ever since! She attended college at Hofstra University where she received her bachelors in Jazz and Commercial Music, and then attended the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz where she received her masters in Jazz Studies. She studied with great musicians including Dave LaLama, Holli Ross, Javon Jackson and Shawnn Montiero. She has performed at various venues around Connecticut including Cafe Nine and Black Eyed Sally's to name a few.
Simone has been teaching piano and voice for the past two years and is excited to continue her teaching endeavors at School of Rock. With her education in jazz, along with her diverse taste in music, she is hoping to inspire many future musicians.
Simone released her debut EP, "just the beginning" in August of 2020 and recently released a full album, "entwined" which can be found on all music streaming platforms.
Drum Teacher, Keyboard + Piano Teacher, Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Justin Clapis is a multi-instrumentalist from Hartford, who has been teaching in the Greater Hartford area since 2018 and performing since 2009. He has drummed in bands and opened for acts such as Local H, Consider the Source, and Panic! at the Disco.
Justin studied percussion at the UConn School of Fine Arts and received a bachelor's degree with a Percussion focus in 2018. There he gained experience playing in many large and small ensembles including the UConn Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Percussion Ensemble, and various choirs. Since then, he has been sharing his love of music by teaching throughout central Connecticut.
Antonio Marquise Kershaw
Singing Teacher, Keyboard + Piano Teacher
Antonio Marquise Kershaw is a vocalist from New Britain, CT. He has been singing since he was 4 years old in his church and has used his voice to become very successful in his singing career. Anthony has performed on Carnival Cruises, at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos, and many others. His musical influences are The Temptations, Boyz II Men, and Luther Vandross.
Alisa Velasquez is a Pop/R&B singer/songwriter from Northeastern Connecticut. She has written and performed her original music, fronted cover bands, and collaborated with artists from all over the world. Her soulful tone is influenced by powerhouse voices like Alicia Keys and Mariah Carey. As a self-taught musician, Alisa brings a unique aspect to her teaching and uses music as an outlet to channel pain, power, and passion.
Alexandra van der Hulst
Alexandra van der Hulst, singing teacher, graduated from The Hartt School in 2021 with a bachelor of music in vocal performance. Although Alex studied classical music in college, she began her singing journey around the age of 8, doing musical theater with many community theaters in CT! She also participated in HaZamir, the International Jewish Teen Choir, where she sang at the Metropolitan Opera House in 2017. Alex's favorite musical is Phantom of the Opera, her favorite band is Green Day, and she is also a part-time Disney Princess!
Guitar Teacher, Keyboard + Piano Teacher, Saxophone Teacher
Diego Smith grew up in rural Dominican Republic until the 7th grade. In his youth, he was exposed to American Folk and Rock and Roll by his father and Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata by his mother. In his adolescent years, he was exposed to Metal, Jazz, and Classical music. He studied Composition at Berklee College of Music, where he studied Contemporary Styles and Jazz alongside his traditional compositional studies. While in Boston he wrote for and led an ensemble of about a dozen colleagues called the Mad Pop Tyccoons, with a surreal twist on Fusion.
After living in the Dominican Republic and spending some years studying and cataloging as many genres as possible, Diego returned to the states where he became a certified teacher and completed his Master's in Composition at the University of Hartford. While at Hartt, he wrote a number of pieces for chamber ensembles, electronics/mixed media, and the Composers Ensemble, a group of composers who wrote and played music that was often experimental and improvisational. His Thesis was a concept album lasting around an hour, including over 100 styles of music of original music, all recorded by Diego himself on about a dozen instruments.
Diego Smith currently teaches K-12 General Music, as well as private piano and guitar students. He writes, records, and films himself performing musical experiments on his youtube channel.
A diverse performer and devoted educator, David Counterman is constantly finding new, creative ways to communicate to his audiences and students. His studies from an associates to masters have led to a broad education, personal music style, and performance experiences in symphonic, chamber, jazz, world, and popular music styles.
Currently, David is part of several local CT music projects: Auxiliary Percussion and Keys/Synth for The POSSM (Professors of Sweet Sweet Music), Drumset for Illuminous, and a little bit of everything for the production studio/duo, Street James Street; which he co-owns and operates.
David is also fortunate to be able to help promote and enhance the local music community through his involvement with the Hartbeat Music Festival; which The POSSM and Riverfront recapture co-created. Since its start in 2018 David has run live-sound, provided instruments, performed in, and recorded/mixed/mastered (virtual Hartbeat on YouTube).
Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Benjamin is a guitar and bass teacher from Southwick, Massachusetts. He holds an Associates degree in Jazz guitar performance from Holyoke Community College and a Bachelor of Music Performance Degree in electric guitar playing from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. He has been teaching guitar and bass since 2018 and is excited to help students of all ages and skill levels navigate their musical journey. Benjamin has spent considerable time throughout his years as a musician developing playing technique and works hard to instill this in his students from day one on their instrument. He has a diverse world of musical interests, but his favorite genres include hard rock, post-hardcore, heavy metal, jazz, and progressive rock. Some of Benjamin's favorite artists are Thank You Scientist, The Mars Volta, Consider the Source, Led Zeppelin, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, and The Fall of Troy.
Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher, Keyboard + Piano Teacher
Elijah Atwood has had an interest in both music and teaching from a young age. Primarily a guitarist, he also plays bass, drums, and piano, and enjoys experimenting with any instruments that come his way. He enjoys a wide variety of music and his favorite band is Steely Dan. He plays guitar in the Stanley Street Big Band. He loves connecting with students and finds their passion and excitement to be the most rewarding aspect of teaching.
Drum Teacher, Keyboard + Piano Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Guitar Teacher
Brian Stern is a multi-instrumentalist from Radnor, Pennsylvania. Before joining School of Rock, he spent over eight years teaching band, choir, general music, and marching drumline in public schools across Connecticut. In every lesson or rehearsal, he is committed to helping students understand and be proud of their musical progress. Brian’s favorite songs are by Queen or from the musical Hadestown, but he also enjoys a wide range of music from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Stevie Wonder to Paramore and The Police.
Brian has a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Susquehanna University, where he met his wife, a flute player, and music teacher. They later enrolled at the University of Hartford to earn their Master of Music in Music Education degrees. They live together with their preschooler, who rotates between playing flute, drums, and ukulele.
Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Christopher is a guitar and bass instructor from Willimantic, Connecticut. His love of music and the guitar has been blossoming since he was 14 years old and took his first lessons with classical guitarist, Sylvie Abate.
Christopher has played guitar and bass on a number of musical projects and his available recordings include Easy On The Mayo (EZOTMY), Swamp Monster Trivia, Noah & The Flood, and most recently the funk/soul wedding band project Bank Street Groove.
He enjoys and can play many styles of music leaning towards funk, folk, blues, jazz, hip hop, bluegrass, and even reggae/dub, amongst the many genres of rock and metal. His favorite artists include Frank Zappa, Vulfpeck, Larry Carlton, Victor Wooten, and Buckethead.