Scott Rownin Owner
School of Rock West Hartford’s owner, Scott Rownin, is an entrepreneur, 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 fourth grade band 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, he ran into an adult in Westport, CT where he currently lives, who was a student at a local School of Rock, and “it just dawned on me that this would be a great business.” When he got in touch with School of Rock, he learned that the company has been looking for someone to come into West Hartford for a long time.
Kyle Tripp General Manager, Keyboard Teacher, Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher
Kyle is a multi instrumentalist who's been involved in the music industry from a very early age. With 25 years of drumming experience and 20 years of guitar playing, Kyle has been involved in almost every aspect of live music from performing to managing and everything in between.
Kyle's musical journey started at the age of 8 through a traditional fife and drum corps. From there, he moved to the drum set where he eventually played for several local and regional touring bands. By the age of 19, Kyle was not only performing, but also dabbling in the vast world of event production. From music festivals to corporate events, Kyle spent the next 12 years touring the country with many major shows. With his roots based in CT, Kyle continued pursuing his passion by managing local talent and working in music retail as an instrument dealer, while simultaneously teaching privately and managing one of the largest music education programs in the state.
Currently, Kyle is very excited to be a part of the School of Rock family and is eager to help grow the brand all across CT. He also serves as the drum sergeant in the First Company Governor's Foot Guard based right here in Hartford. Kyle's favorite bands are the Beatles and Dream Theater and he enjoys finding new local music at shows in his spare time.
Bryan Eng Bass Guitar Teacher
Bryan Eng is a professional bass player and music educator from Annapolis, Maryland. Picking up the bass guitar at age 14, he developed a passion for music and quickly excelled on his instrument. Before long, he was playing in various rock bands and gigging in the local music scene in Washington DC.
While in high school, Bryan was recommended by his local bass instructor to study in the world-renowned music school "Bassology" with Anthony Wellington, marking the beginning of a long apprenticeship that continues to this day. As he became exposed to different styles of music, he began studying jazz harmony and syncopated rhythms.
Upon completing his formal studies, Bryan spent several years in Madrid to study the Spanish language. In the meantime, he started auditioning for various cruise lines, and was offered a position with NCL and later continued on ships with Holland America Cruise Line. Since then, Bryan has begun teaching at School of Rock, where he's able to share his passion for music and teaching.
Chuck Peterson Drum Teacher
Professional drummer, Chuck Peterson has been involved in music since his early childhood. Following in the great footsteps of Jeff Porcaro, Steve Jordan, and Keith LeBlanc, he pours out energy and passion into playing a wide variety of genres such as rock, jazz, hip hop, country, funk, latin, r&b, reggae, and orchestral music.
Chuck has toured all over the United States and Canada with many different artists. He also recorded for some major labels such as Warner Brothers Records, Island/Def Jam Records, and International Records/Middle East. Chuck is also affiliated with The Motown Alumni Association, which became a direct link to the legendary Motown session group The Funk Brothers. The remaining legends heard Chuck drumming and enjoyed what they heard, that they dubbed him an honorary Funk Brother.
Danica Schofer Singing Teacher, Piano Teacher
Danica Isabelle Schofer is a music and dance artist and educator based in Northeast PA. As of Summer 2020, she is a rising junior at Muhlenberg College pursuing a dual Bachelors of Arts in Music and Dance. In music, Danica’s focus is specifically in jazz studies and improvisation, and she specializes in jazz piano, vocals, piano/voice combo work, and flute. She applies these skills in a variety of musical genres. At Muhlenberg, Danica is a music theory tutor for her fellow students and featured musician in the Jazz Improvisation Ensemble and Jazz Big Band. She also works closely with children of all ages as a creative dance teacher in city schools and a certified online ESL instructor to children in China. Danica believes that every student has a unique value that they bring to the world by being themselves and sees the student’s experience of making art as a daily practice of exploring that gift and inspiring others to do the same. Danica will be teaching at School of Rock West Hartford remotely until October.
Diego Smith Guitar Teacher, Keyboard 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 from his father and Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata from 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 Masters 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.
Jaeme Brennan McDonald Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Jaeme Brennan McDonald is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, and mix engineer. He received his Bachelor’s degree in music production from Berklee College of Music, and is a teaching artist at the CREC Academy of the Arts. Mr. McDonald has toured internationally with blues dub project Little Axe, and mixed for a variety of local and national acts such as The Bandshes, TangSauce, Jeff Pitchell, The Unforgettable Fire, Living Colour, FreekBass and Unlocking The Truth. He has also provided tour support as a back line instrument technician for Janelle Monae, Eddie Money, and BB King, and served as production manager for bassist Doug Wimbish’s WIMBASH Festival series. Mr. McDonald’s company, Mixed by Soundchild, has provided training and recording services for all levels of musicians, from beginner to professional. He also writes and performs music under the stage name JME Strchild.
Kayla Silverman Singing Teacher
Kayla Silverman is a Boston based indie-pop artist who looks to the past for inspiration and guidance. Trained in the classical style, Kayla studied and performed compositions of Schubert, Mozart and Bach to audiences at Carnegie Hall. But as she reached young adulthood, she discovered the synergy of combining the sounds of classical music and the electronic sounds of bedroom pop can fuse into a single beautiful identity. One can describe Kayla’s music as the byproduct of a studio session with “Mozart and Billie Eilish.”
Kayla has immense live performance experiences already under her belt, such as her 2019 headliner show promoting her EP “I Believe,” at The Cutting Room and the Bitter End in New York City. Kayla is a two-time performer at the BBYO International Convention of six thousand people in which she performed with Justin Jesso, a rising pop artist. Seeing Kayla Silverman live is an energetic yet intimate experience as her dramatic red hair bounces around the stage and has a mind of its own. Her compositions have won songwriting awards from the “Unsigned Only Music Competition,” “Global Music Award” and “Los Angeles Film Awards.”
Simone Dube Singing Teacher, Keyboard 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.
Mackey Pope Singing Teacher, Keyboard 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.
Xondra O’Connell Singing Teacher
Alexondra (Xondra) O’Connell is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Long Island, New York . She earned her Bachelor’s Of Music Degree from SUNY Purchase’s Conservatory Of Music and most recently earned her Master’s Of Music Business from Berklee College Of Music. She has been performing since she was 12 years old and now plays music venues with her band all around the Northeastern US. She has experience teaching both individual lessons and group classes at three other School Of Rock locations. She’s passionate about nourishing the love of music in her students and is excited to help them reach their full potential.
Alexandra van der Hulst Singing Teacher
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!
Tyler Shand Drum Teacher
Tyler has been playing drums for the last 14 years. He began drumming after listening to many of his favorite bands like Slipknot and Blink-182. He is now playing in his own bands and recording songs that will be released in the coming months. He has always had a passion for teaching and enjoys the process of helping the next era of great musicians at the School of Rock.
David Counterman Drum Teacher
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).
Sydney Foote Singing Teacher, Guitar Teacher
Sydney Foote is a singer and guitarist from Fairfield, CT. She picked up the guitar at the age of 7 and has been playing ever since. After meeting her band mates as a School of Rock student, she has been playing in venues around Connecticut since high school with her band, the Low Darts. She is currently a student at UConn studying animal science and music. She has a passion for music and teaching, and hopes to inspire young musicians!
Zach Reggio Keyboard Teacher, Singing Teacher
Zach Reggio is a pianist and vocalist instructor that is currently studying vocal performance and music education at the Hartt School of Music. He first started learning music in a rock school at 9 years old. His favorite band is AC/DC and favorite song is Back in Black. He has been singing for 12 years and playing piano for 10 years, performing in a multitude of Musicals, Operas, Pit Orchestras, Marching Bands and other Ensembles.
Benjamin Rutledge 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.
Elijah Atwood Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher, Keyboard 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.
Mickey DiMichele Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher, Singing Teacher
Mickey DiMichele has played and recorded with bands for 50 years. He's also played with many recognizable, successful artists. A song that Mickey wrote, sang on, and recorded charted at #56 on Billboard Magazine's Hot Top 100 Country list. Mickey is honored to teach guitar, bass guitar, drums, vocals at School of Rock!