See and hear our teachers in action!
(Owner / Teacher)
(guitar, ukulele, and bass)
Parker’s studio is full and he is not accepting new students.
- BA in Music Business from the University of Miami
- MM in Music and Human Learning from the University of Texas at Austin
Parker Smith is the founder and owner of Guitar Shed, a modern music school in Atlanta that opened its doors in August of 2015. With over 20 years of teaching experience, including teaching at lesson studios, summer camps, preschools, elementary, middle, and high schools, he believes in maximizing each student’s true potential by customizing individual lessons. Believing that one is never too old or too young to begin the journey, Guitar Shed fosters music learning as a lifelong process. In addition to managing Guitar Shed, Parker maintains an active teaching schedule at Guitar Shed and conducts guitar workshops nationwide.
Parker performs as a vocalist, guitarist, bassist, and on mandolin, ukulele, and piano. He has played innumerable gigs as a sideman, soloist, and leader of his roots-rock group “Parker Smith and the Bandwith.” He has toured the country and independently released four albums, Garden Hills (2011), Solo Flight (2013), Long Live Jazz Vol. 1 (2014), and Live at Smith’s (2018). His latest record ‘Underground’ will be released in April 2021 and you can listen to his music here. He specializes in blues, jazz, bluegrass, fingerstyle, slide guitar, songwriting, and improvisation. Parker holds a degree in Music Business from the University of Miami and a master’s degree in Music and Human Learning from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to his own band, Parker performs with Long Horn (jazz), Bald and in the Way (bluegrass), and Elegant Bachelors (party band).
Parker’s Top 5 artists:
- B.B. King
- Derek Trucks
- Duane Allman
- Grant Green
- Jerry Garcia
(Office Manager / Teacher)
- BM in Musical Theatre / Vocal Performance
- Arizona State University
Nichelle has over 18 years’ experience teaching music and theatre in various public and private schools from Pre-K, to high school. In addition to group teaching, she has over 16 years’ experience instructing students of all ages in private voice and piano lessons. Nichelle has toured with Grammy award-winner Speech (Arrested Development) and conducted a 24-piece choir for one of Josh Groban’s tour concerts. She has also had the pleasure of being an integral part of the recording, instructing, and conducting of Deeper Shade of Soul, a 60 -100-piece choir and band under the direction of Frank Davis. Currently, she helps lead worship, singing from the keyboard alongside her husband (bass player) with various musicians and singers on Sundays.
Nichelle is ecstatic to be using her Bachelor of Music degree as she steps into the role of teaching both piano and voice here at Guitar Shed. She equally enjoys her administrative role as Office Manager assisting Parker, assigning the right fit for student and teacher, directing calls, and selling Guitar Shed “merch” and gift certificates. She is happy to give descriptions of teachers to parents and students who are looking for a certain style of teaching.
Nichelle’s top 5 artists:
- Aretha Franklin
- Billie Eilish
- Billy Joel
- Tori Amos
- Norah Jones
(Shed Manager / Teacher)
- BM in Music (Classical Guitar) from Georgia College
Brandon Marsolo is an active guitarist, singer/songwriter, and music teacher from right here in Atlanta! He has been playing in bands since his teenage years and often performs around Atlanta as a solo act too. Brandon earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music with a concentration in classical guitar at Georgia College, studying under Dr. Richard Greene and Dr. Dusty Woodruff. He loves to incorporate ear-training and other fun, self-taught methods along with the methods of the classical tradition.
As a member of the admin team, Brandon updates the Guitar Shed website and social media accounts, keeps up with new prospective students, and creates content for our monthly newsletter. He also plays a large role in facilitating our recitals. Brandon pitched and organized our first annual fundraiser, ShedFest, this year and looks forward to being involved with more philanthropy and community involvement in the future. Outside of music, Brandon is a huge sports nut and loves going to games and supporting our Atlanta teams.
Brandon’s top 5 artists:
- David Gilmour
- Duane Allman
- John Frusciante
- Jake Cinninger
- Iron & Wine
(Office Manager / Teacher)
- BM in Classical Piano from University of Montevallo
- MM in Classical Piano from Manhattan School of Music
Drew Spradlin is a pianist and composer originally from Alabama. He has earned a B.M. from the University of Montevallo and a M.M. in classical piano from Manhattan School of Music under the direction of Phillip Kawin. He applies this traditional training to modern musical outlets including mixed media and electronic composition. Drew has given performances at Mannes School of Music’s Institute and Festival for Contemporary Performance, Abrons Art Center, Spectrum NYC, Mise-En_Place Bushwick, and has showcased works at numerous other venues. He has released compositions through New York’s eclectic label Not Art Records, Montreal’s Dream Disk Lab, and TAR Records from L.A.
In addition, Drew is a very active teacher, maintaining a studio of many students. His pedagogical philosophy incorporates a strong foundation of music theory, ear training, and composition. He believes structural knowledge of music assists one’s performing ability and yields much more.
Drew also serves an administrative role at Guitar Shed, maintaining the schedule for both students and teachers, registering and billing accounts, attending to client requests via email and phone, and cultivating leads for new students.
Drew’s top 5 artists:
- Daniel Barenboim
- Hélène Grimaud
- Mitsuko Uchida
- Brad Mehldau
- Marc-André Hamelin
- BM in Jazz Studies from San Jose State University (SJSU)
Adam makes sure that his students are challenged with material that works progressively toward a series of goals. He strives to be a musical mentor, tailoring lessons to the individual and helping students develop their own musicianship above all. His versatile experience on the drums offers real-world advice on how to handle professional situations in music. His aim is to provide a nurturing environment for students to grow at their own pace and in their own direction. If the student is able to approach the instrument with respect, diligent practice, and a good attitude, there is no limit to what they can achieve!
Students will learn:
- Basics of the drum set
- Rudiments and technique
- Dynamic control
- Limb interdependence
- Song structures and how to play a variety of styles including Funk, Blues, Latin, Jazz and more
- The Bad Plus
- Mark Guiliana
- Bill Evans
- Still Woozy
- Nate Smith
- BM in Jazz Studies from Georgia State University
Chris grew up with a piano in the home, and was drawn to the instrument. Building on the fundamentals he learned through his early lessons, learning to improvise opened the door to new freedom in playing and composing, and infused music with a new passion that still bears fruit today. Chris strives to bring this experience and excitement for what music can do to Guitar Shed. He knows firsthand that music is not just notes on a page but a vital art form that can reward the player as well as the listener.
Chris has led and accompanied a wide variety of musical projects. He is the principal songwriter/producer for the psychedelic space jazz group Samadha, and has also lent his talents to the delicate folk of Adron, the retro soul of Curtis Harding, and the virtuosic Atlanta supergroup Little Tybee. As a touring musician, he has shared stages with Jack White on the Lazaretto tour and traveled to Canada, Europe, Mexico, and Panama as well as multiple runs across the US.
As a teacher, Chris balances patience and precision, knowing that each student has the potential for great musical expression inside them. His students over the years have ranged from the very young to the very old, from the absolute beginner to the seasoned veteran looking to expand their knowledge. He stresses a practical knowledge of music theory and peppers his lessons with compositional exercises and chordal literacy as well as the classical favorites. For the student looking for a fresh, vibrant approach to playing that can help them move closer to finding their particular voice at the instrument, Chris is a great choice.
Chris’ top 5 artists:
- Bill Evans
- Ahmad Jamal
- Bernie Worrell
- Keith Jarrett
- Joe Zawinul
Chris Suarez “Suarez”
(piano, guitar, sax)
Chris Suarez is a professional saxophonist and was born and raised in Miami, FL. Being Cuban, Suarez grew up with music all around him, constantly feeding the urge to create more for others to enjoy as he did.
In 2010, Suarez moved to Atlanta to begin his studies and begin to grow as a musician. For the last decade he has been playing in Jazz Ensembles, Rock Bands, Wedding Bands, but most importantly his favorite band to play with; Lightning Orchestra. Since 2020, Suarez has started releasing music under his own name.
Since starting his career in teaching, he has learned how to communicate his music through several instruments, including bass, drums, guitar, and piano. Now it’s time to share these tools in order to get that idea to be something tangible.
Chris’ top 5 artists:
- Herbie Hancock
- The Roots
- Shuggie Otis
- Kendrick Lamar
- Yussef Dayes
(guitar, ukulele, bass)
Cody McAlister is a musician originally from Savannah, Ga. He started playing guitar when he was 10, taking lessons from his father, a retired country guitarist, and singer. Cody grew up playing in various churches and even joining a few hip hop groups, leading him to develop his electric bass skills and expand his ear for new genres of music. After high school, he pursued his future in music and moved to Atlanta, enrolling at Atlanta Institute of Music and Media. After graduating college, he’s found himself gigging in various wedding and party bands on the weekends and producing his original music on the weekdays.
Though he loves all music, Cody has a soft spot for Jazz and Fusion, leaning towards more contemporary artists but still respecting the historical aspect of these genres. Improvising is something he focuses on extensively and considers it to be one of the most fun and rewarding aspects of playing an instrument.
Cody’s teaching style is geared towards application, first understanding a concept then showing how to use it in real-world scenarios on the instrument. He has an eye for detail and focuses on playing technique, looking for the nuances in an artist’s playing and breaking them down to be approachable for anyone.
Cody’s top 5 artists:
- Guthrie Govan
- Thelonious Monk
- Gary Burton
- Julian Lage
- Victor Wooten
(guitar, piano, ukulele, bass)
- BM in Music and Political Science from USC
Craig has committed himself to Music Education. He is also committed to making sure that students enjoy the learning process. He started studying classical guitar and piano from the age of 10 at the Conservatory of the Arts, St. Louis, Missouri. Then, In 1983, at about the age of 18, he attended the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California. At the Musicians Institute, he studied with Keith Wyatt, Daniel Gilbert, Don Mock, Joe Pass, Frank Gambale, Paul Gilbert, and a variety of brilliant musicians. After Musicians Institute, he worked as a session musician in Los Angeles. He toured with several different rock bands. As a studio musician, Craig performed in the studio doing session work with Stevie Wonder, Jessie Johnson, Mikki Free, and WAR. He then entered the Studio/ Jazz Guitar Program at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. He graduated with a Bachelor’s in Music and Political Science in 1990 from the University of Southern California.
Presently Craig continues his commitment to Music Education by pursuing his academic studies in the Georgia State University School of Music in the Jazz Studies Department. He plays in the Georgia State University Jazz Band. He also has played concerts with the Georgia State University Guitar Ensemble. Craig commits to teaching Music Theory as well. Also, Craig is a College Professor and an Attorney. In addition to the fun of teaching music, Craig also collects Marvel Comics and watches old movies from the 1950s, 1960’s and 1970s. Craig embodies music through every word, gesture, and phrase. With his vast knowledge, he promises to impart the comprehension of ear training, improvisation, music theory, and instrumental excellence to all of his students and they will have fun doing it. In addition to teaching at Guitar Shed, Craig has taught at Ken Stanton Music.
Craig’s top 5 artists:
- John Coltrane
- Jimi Hendrix
- Miles Davis
- Roberta Flack
- Sergei Rachmaninoff
Danny Paschall is a professional drummer/percussionist of 25+ years. Originally hailing from Exmore, VA (though since his folks are from Pennsylvania originally, he considers himself “a frustrated Philly boy born in VA”) he grew up in a musical family and gravitated toward playing drums.
After graduating high school and going through the “young musician rigmarole” (school band, marching band, bands of the garage variety) Danny moved to Atlanta to study at the Atlanta Institute of Music, and since then has made Atlanta his musical home for the last 18 years or so. His broad musical palette has allowed him to play/record/tour with the likes of (but not limited to):
-Col. Bruce Hampton
-Ike Willis & Denny Walley (Frank Zappa)
-Emil Werstler (Tony McAlpine, Verlorener, Chimaira, Daath)
-Kevin Scott (Jimmy Herring, John McLaughlin, the infamous Kevin Scott Tuesday Night Jam sessions that were an Atlanta institution for 13+ years)
-Atlanta Funk Society
-Alex Gordon Hi-Fi
-Georgia Players Guild
…and many other talented folks in GA and elsewhere.
Among the gigs he has done, Danny has also participated in playing many theatrical productions, including a 7-year stint as a performer at the Georgia Renaissance Festival.
Danny has also been an active teacher since he first moved to Atlanta, teaching a huge wealth of students of all ages and levels. The focus of what he teaches varies from student to student, but he always encourages an understanding of the fundamentals (ie, basic reading, rudiments, good technique, basic beats/fills with any/all styles of music, etc), learning the songs of your favorite artists, as well as experimentation and improvisation. Danny also has years of experience teaching kids on the autism spectrum.
Danny’s top 5 artists:
- Peter Gabriel
- Fela Kuti
- Aphex Twin
- Bohren & Der Club of Gore
(drums, piano, voice)
- BM in Music Composition from GSU
Dylan Banks is an Atlanta native who’s been actively involved in the local music scene for almost 15 years. Dylan grew up as a drummer and started taking drum lessons when he was 8 years old, along with playing in his first bands around age 14 and gigging professionally since 2009. Earning his undergrad in Music Composition at Georgia State, he began teaching in 2014 after graduation. You can often find Dylan performing in multiple styles of music: catch him playing drums in a jazz/soul band One Day, keyboards for one rock outfit or another, and even DJing dance music in clubs and venues on the weekends.
Though drums are his primary instrument, Dylan also teaches piano and has professional experience working in digital music production, composition, film scoring, and DJ-ing. Banks’ teaching style is as eclectic as his background, pulling from many musical (and non-musical) influences to strengthen the bond between music and performer. He firmly believes you must work hard to obtain your musical goals, but you must not forget to have fun along the way.
Dylan’s top 5 artists:
- John Bonham
- Louis Cole
- Thom Yorke
- BA in Psychology from Armstrong Atlantic University
Gordon has over 10 years teaching experience, working with students of all ages and interests. He writes and performs original music, blending progressive rock, jazz, songwriting, and classical composition. He performs both as a solo artist and with bands and ensembles. He experiments with extended techniques on the piano by muting strings, controlling the relapse of the dampers, and scraping spoons against distorted electric piano strings. More recently he has begun exploring microtonal composition, playing chords and melodies using notes in between the usual 12 notes of the piano.
Gordon’s teaching style is eclectic and individualized. Most beginners will start with the Piano Adventures lesson books, which offer a fun and diverse selection of music, both classical and modern. Students learn essential technique to create musical sounds with ease. They also learn the fundamental theory to conceptualize and communicate their musical ideas. He also helps students hone their creativity through songwriting and composition. Whether students are preparing for a college audition, playing keyboards at church, or simply impressing their friends, lessons are centered on achieving their goals.
Gordon’s Top 5 artists:
- Animals as Leaders
- Koji Kondo
- Miles Davis
- BM in Classical Guitar Performance by the Federal University of Mato Grosso – Brazil
- MM in Classical Guitar performance in progress at Georgia State University (December 2020)
Hoberdan Peno da Silva is a Brazilian classical guitar player with extensive experience performing as a soloist, chamber musician, and also with Brazilian popular music groups.
Enamored with music performance and research, Hoberdan has participated in festivals and guitar master classes in Brazil and in the U.S. with some of the great names in the world of classical guitar such as Paul Galbraith (Scotland), Alvaro Pierri (Uruguay/Austria), Fabio Zanon (Brazil), Carlos Barbosa-Lima (Brazil), and many others. He has won awards in competitions including the Best Brazilian Music Performance in the I Soloist Competition of Mato Grosso (2017), and the U.G.A Exchange Program Award during the Winter Festival of the Federal University of Santa Maria (2015). In 2018, he was invited by the Chamber Orchestra of the Federal University of Mato Grosso to perform the premier of the Concerto Simples I for Guitar and Orchestra (Full Version) by the Brazilian Composer Nestor de Hollanda-Cavalcanti.
In addition to the technical aspects of the guitar, Hoberdan hopes to impart to his students the pure essence of musical expression. In every culture, music can be a manifestation of one’s thoughts and feelings, and improving as a musician often leads to improving as a person.
Hoberdan’s top 5 artists:
- Julian Bream
- Paul Galbraith
- Sergio Abreu
- Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Wes Montgomery
- BA in Music from University of Macedonia
- MM in Vocal Performance from GSU
Maria Margiolakou is a Greek coloratura soprano. Last May she received her Artist Certificate from Georgia State University in Atlanta. She has numerous performance credits across Europe and North America, including operatic roles such as Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi) and Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro) with Greve Opera Academy in Italy. At Georgia State University she portrayed roles such as Lucy (The Telephone), Cercatrice (Suor Angelica), Joan Hall (The Workshop), Cissy (Albert Herring), and Robin in the world premiere of “Don’t You Know” under the baton of Rolando Salazar and the GSU Orchestra. Her performance experience includes also the roles of Barbarina (Le nozze di Figaro), and Nerone (L’incoronazione di Poppea) at the Lefkas Summer Music Festival in Greece. In the fall of 2019, Maria joined the Young Artist Program of Connecticut Lyric Opera where she performed Euridice (Orfeo ed Euridice) and Amour (Daphnis et Eglé) with the Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra alongside maestro Adrian Sylveen. Recently, she was a finalist in the GSU Honors Competition and a winner of the GSU Brumby Concerto and Aria Competition. She is also a recipient of the Peter Harrower Award. She has collaborated as a soloist with the University of Macedonia Symphony Orchestra and the Drama State Conservatory Symphony Orchestra in Fauré’s Requiem in D minor. This summer, Maria will be making her professional debut as Musetta with Connecticut Lyric Opera in Puccini’s “La Bohème.”
Maria holds an M.M. in Vocal Performance from Georgia State University and a B.A. of Music from the University of Macedonia. Her primary teachers have been Dwight Coleman and Chara Glavopulu. Maria has participated in masterclasses with Stephanie Blythe, Katia Ricciarelli, and Cheryl Studer. She has taken piano lessons in Greece with Charalampos Angelopulos and Helen Papathanasiu. Also, one of Maria’s great interests is the “Alexander Technique for Musicians,” a technique focused on the improvement of the body’s movement while playing music. She loves teaching voice and piano. She believes that by building a solid technique students can find a way to express their true selves. She hopes to inspire them to find the urge to explore, create and enjoy music to the highest of their abilities.
Maria’s top 5 Artists:
• Natalie Dessay
• Rachel Willis-Sørencen
• Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
• Kelli O’Hara
• Vladimir Horowitz
Mason Johnston (they/them) is a composer, songwriter, producer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist based in Atlanta, GA. Classically trained in cello since the age of 4, they were a member of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra in the 2015 season. Since then, Mason has performed in several genre-eclectic ensembles, ranging from the Atlanta-based experimental indie rock trio Big Motion to the Mandé West African Ensemble at New England Conservatory, led by Balla Kouyaté.
As a composer, Mason was a National Finalist in Cycle Five of the Rapido! Composition Contest; and has had works performed by the Atlanta Chamber Players, the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, among others. In addition, they (Mason) have frequently collaborated with choreographers, most recently writing music to accompany Andy Fernandez’s exquisite corpse piece “Music for Spirit Monkeys,” which the Nuremberg Ballet premiered in April. In addition to their classical output, Mason also has self-released music online as a bedroom recording project, drawing from a diverse range of genres, including classical, progressive rock, jazz, singer/songwriter, and electronica.
Mason studied composition in high school at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under Lawrence Dillon and spent their first year of undergrad at New England Conservatory studying composition under John Mallia. They currently are pursuing an online Bachelors in Music Production at Berklee College of Music, where they recently studied cello with Mike Block.
Mason’s top 5 artists:
- Mid-Air Thief
- Jacob Collier
- Animal Collective
- Kendrick Lamar
- Benjamin Britten
- BM in Piano Performance from Bowling Green State University
Matthew Raisky is a pianist and arranger based in Midtown. He is originally from Detroit, where he starting learning to play the piano at the age of 5. He completed his degree in Piano Performance from Bowling Green State University in 2018 where he studied piano under Dr. Robert Satterlee, and piano pedagogy under Dr. Cole Burger. In the fall of 2020, he sat his Colleague examination with the American Guild of Organists.
As an active performer, Matthew has played in a variety of groups, with genres including jazz, Motown, contemporary, and classical. He played piano with the experimental music group Combustible Arts Ensemble, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, and Motown group Virginia Violet and the Rays. He has also worked as an organist and accompanist with various religious organizations on a contract and salaried basis as well as festivals such as ArtsX at BGSU.
Matthew seeks to give students a healthy physical and theoretical foundation for their musical growth. He emphasizes the principles of music theory and improvisation, encourages the exploration of electronic music tools, and teaches repertoire from contemporary and classical literature. His hope is to guide students in finding their individual paths.
Matt’s top 5 Artists:
• Herbie Hancock
• Arvo Pärt
• Chick Corea
• Nikolai Medtner
• Kaija Saariaho
(banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, ukulele)
Max Godfrey is a singer, multi-instrumentalist, and music teacher who performs southern roots music with several groups, including Max and Maggie and the Drivin’ Wheels, Sourwood Honey, and The New Millennium Jelly Rollers. In 2016, he released a solo record entitled Before the Ice Melts, and his solo music was featured in the 2019 film Mine 9.
Max got into American roots music in high school, through a weekly “jug band” rehearsal hosted by his chemistry and history teachers. He was already classically trained on the violin, but he was attracted to the “play by ear” approach of more traditional styles, and that anyone could learn to play without having to read music.
Max went on to teach himself banjo, guitar, and mandolin in roots and folks styles. In addition to teaching at Guitar Shed, Max teaches a weekly class on folk tunes at the Frank Hamilton School, is a music educator at Turning Sun School, and has led music workshops all over the east coast.
Max’s top 5 artists:
- Mississippi John Hurt
- The Carolina Chocolate Drops
- Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
- The New Lost City Ramblers
- Big Bill Broonzy
(guitar, bass, ukulele)
- BM Concentration in Composition from Georgia State University
Micah Martin is a composer and multi-instrumentalist (but primarily guitarist) who has lived in Atlanta the vast majority of his life. A music lover from a young age, he eventually decided he wanted to try writing his own songs, but quickly found himself hampered by a lack of knowledge and decided to pick up the guitar. Self-taught for several years through exploration, listening, and a smattering of information picked up from books, magazines, and the internet, an increasing thirst for yet more knowledge led him to lessons and, later, a degree in music composition.
For many years immersed in metal and the pursuit of technical chops that come with it, Micah later found himself drifting through and learning from genres such as progressive rock, jazz fusion, 20th century classical, synth pop, funk and R&B as he continues to absorb influence and develop his own voice as a writer and musician.
Micah’s teaching style emphasizes a strong foundation in fundamentals that he did not receive through his initial self-taught years; those fundamentals opened his eyes to the importance of having a framework for understanding and organizing the knowledge and ability he had patched together through practical experience.
Micah’s top 5 artists:
- Kate Bush
- Allan Holdsworth
- Bela Bartok
- Stevie Wonder
- Akiko Yano
- BA in Jazz Studies from University of North Florida
Paul Miller is an Atlanta based guitarist and singer who has been playing guitar for over 20 years. He has a Bachelor’s degree in jazz from the University of North Florida where he studied with Barry Greene. He has played in festivals all throughout the Southeast from Floyd Fest to Hulaween and shared the stage with everyone from Anders Osborne to Ari Hoenig to Roosevelt Collier, to name a few.
Paul relocated to Atlanta in 2017, and his diverse range of playing has quickly found a home in the city’s diverse music scene. He’s played jazz with Kevin Bales, Tyrone Jackson and Billy Thornton, Top 40 with The Emerald Empire Band, as well as funk and soul with Tracksuit Mafia, who host a monthly jam session at Buteco in Grant Park. He is also active as a songwriter and recording artist, having just released his first solo track on Spotify entitled “Hudson” under the name Maul Piller.
Paul has over 15 years experience teaching all ages and skill levels and prides himself on catering his lessons to the student’s specific needs and musical interests. He has students working on everything from Disney songs to Bach preludes, and all points in between.
Paul’s top 5 artists:
- Bill Frisell
- John Scofield
- Wynton Marsalis
Sean McMorris is a professional musician and instructor with 25 years of experience. Equally proficient on guitar and bass, he has taught at DeKalb Musician’s Supply (1997), Atlanta Music School (2001), and privately since 1990. In 1989, he studied music theory privately under one of the founding instructors at LA’s Musicians Institute, the late Vic Trigger. And from 1991-1993, studied jazz bass under Dr. Wayne Goins at Kennesaw State University
Gigging around the Southeast and Midwest on both guitar and bass since 1992, Sean L. McMorris has performed in a multitude of genres such as afro-beat, rock, blues, neo-soul, reggae, folk, zydeco, funk, and jazz. Over the years he has shared the stage with artists such as Dionne Farris, Derek Trucks, John Popper, Heather Luttrell, and Barenaked Ladies, to name a few. Currently, he performs with East Coast Entertainment party band Ascension, Wesley Chapel UMC’s Sunday worship band, and the ATL-based world beat supergroup The Lightning Orchestra.
As an instructor, Sean’s goal is to expose students to many different forms of music and artistic expression, all supported by an understanding of music theory and guitar/bass technique. Lessons can focus on learning specific parts for cover songs or creating parts for original music. Sean also teaches song structure, ear training, basic knowledge of effects pedals, how to make/use charts, and the importance of good tone and time.
Sean’s website: Sean McMorris
Sean’s top 5 artists:
- Stanley Clarke
- Andy Summers
- Pat Metheny
- Carlos Santana
Vivian Slade has been a working musician for over 20 years, starting out as a singer/songwriter in the pop-rock genre. She toured the east coast from 1998 to 2000 receiving rave reviews and charting on college radio before settling in Nashville to raise her two daughters. During her career, Vivian has been involved in a myriad of creative projects ranging from children’s theatre to performing in an a cappella three-part harmony group to acting as the house vocalist in Cuenca, Ecuador’s premier jazz listening room.
In recent years, she has turned her attention to teaching and especially enjoys inspiring young, budding musicians. Her aim is to foster students’ natural inclination and enjoyment of music while teaching its fundamentals–note recognition, rhythm, theory, expression, and FUN–in an easy and understandable way. This nurtures greater intelligence, curiosity, and creativity in the person as a whole. Her most recent project is The Dragon King, a children’s illustrated book/audiobook/musical. For more detailed information on Vivian or to know more about empowering children through The Dragon King please visit the links below.
Vivian’s Top 5 artists:
- Elton John
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Billie Holiday
- Steven Sondheim
(violin, viola, mandolin)
Will Ruff is an active performer, composer, and educator in the Atlanta and Athens area. After receiving a viola performance degree and a jazz minor from the University of Georgia in 2020, he has continued his performing career as a member/leader of four local ensembles, and often appears as a studio musician or live guest artist in a variety of prominent local bands. As an avid musical explorer and pioneer, Will is currently devoted to expanding the language, repertoire, and familiarity of the electric mandolin in the jazz idiom and beyond.
On top of his performance path, Will is a dedicated music educator, having taught 5 years of private lessons through college and beyond. With an educational approach rooted in musical enjoyment, theoretical understanding, and individual expressivity, he enjoys bringing the love of music to students of all ages and skill levels.
Will’s top 5 artists:
- Arnold Schoenberg
- John Coltrane
- Stephane Grappeli
- David Grisman
- Thelonious Monk
(guitar, ukulele, bass)
Zach Judsen is a guitarist from Sarasota, Florida, who has been playing guitar for over ten years and teaching for the past six years. His love for music started when his parents bought him an electric guitar for his tenth birthday and also later when he started jamming with his dad’s band. In 2016 he began his degree at Florida State University studying both classical and jazz guitar graduating in 2018. After finishing school, Zach has been working as a freelance musician and teacher.
His main styles of playing nowadays are funk, blues, r&b, jazz, and rock. Zach has been lucky enough to have some extensive performing experience as a band member and also as a solo artist. While attending college Zach played at the Tallahassee Blues and Jazz Festival for the FSU Jazz Band in 2016 and 2017. Additionally, he was a member of the reggae group Just Chameleons and performed at the Suwannee Hulaween Festival in 2018 as well as several other small festivals around Florida.
As an active performer and teacher, Zach has always put a strong emphasis on improvisation, harmony, and the importance of group collaboration. He always makes sure his students are not only improving, but also enjoying their experience and leaving with new and helpful information. His hope is to lead his students in the most comfortable and inspiring way possible.
Zach’s top 5 artists:
- Thelonious Monk
- John Scofield
- BA in Percussion Performance – Ball State University
- MM in Percussion Performance – The University of Missouri – Kansas City
- MA in Jazz and Studio Performance – The University of Missouri – Kansas City
Zack has been playing and teaching professionally for 20 years. He grew up in Santa Fe, NM, where he began playing drums at age 8. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Music in percussion performance, a Master of Music in percussion performance, and a Master of Arts in jazz and studio performance. From 2003 to 2010, Zack lived in Kansas City, MO, and was a first-call drummer on that city’s rich and historic jazz scene.
In 2010, he moved to Los Angeles, where he expanded his jazz resume, played dozens of musicals for the region’s top theatre companies, and worked as a staff musician at Disneyland. In 2016, he and his wife relocated to Atlanta, where he has hit the ground running with top acts such as Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics, Atlanta Funk Society, Delta Moon, and ATL Collective.
As an educator, Zack has taught everything from beginning private lessons to college classes with students ranging from ages 8 to 80. He takes a song-based approach, using students’ favorite songs and bands as vehicles for learning the language of drums, from the most basic grooves to the most advanced soloing and improvisation.
Zack’s website: Zack Albetta
Zack’s Top 5 Artists:
- Ringo Starr
- Neil Peart
- Peter Erskine
- Bill Stewart
- Bernard Purdie