Guitar Shed Teachers


See and hear our teachers in action!



Parker Smith

(Founder / Owner / Teacher)

(guitar, ukulele, and bass)

  • 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 five albums, Garden Hills (2011), Solo Flight (2013), Long Live Jazz Vol. 1 (2014), Live at Smith’s (2018), and Underground (2021). 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 In Cahoots (cover band).


Parker’s Top 5 artists: 

  • B.B. King
  • Derek Trucks
  • Duane Allman
  • Grant Green
  • Jerry Garcia

Brandon Marsolo 

(Manager / Teacher)

(guitar, ukulele)

  • 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 the manager of Guitar Shed, Brandon works with our teachers to optimize our learning environment, updates the 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 sports nut and loves going to games and supporting our Atlanta teams.

Brandon’s top 5 artists: 

  • David Gilmour
  • Matt Bellamy
  • Jason Isbell
  • John Frusciante
  • Duane Allman

Nichelle Young

(Community Director / Teacher)

(piano, voice)

  • BM in Musical Theatre / Vocal Performance
  • Arizona State University

Nichelle has over 25 years of experience teaching music and theatre in various public and private schools from pre-K to high school. In addition to group teaching, she has 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 Community Director, assisting Parker, assigning the right fit for students and teachers, 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
  • Laufey
  • Billy Joel
  • Tori Amos
  • Norah Jones


(Office Assistant)

  • BM in Jazz Studies from Georgia State University

Dean Coppolino has performed and taught music professionally for over 20 years. He formerly taught lessons at Buckhead Music, Imagine Arts, and as a freelance private instructor. He has gigged with club bands, event bands, and as a solo artist, and has led church ensembles for services and conference events. Dean currently travels and performs with East Coast Entertainment event band ATL Groove Factory.

Dean picked up the guitar as a young teen interested in playing rock, and shortly after became interested in jazz. As he developed as a musician, he grew an appreciation for learning and being exposed to many styles of music. Also playing percussion in high school and early on in college, playing bass in bands, and playing drums and keyboard at church broadened his musical perspective and approach to playing with others. Dean further pursued formal musical training, briefly studying classical guitar, and later completing a degree in jazz guitar at Georgia State University.

Having experience taking on students of all ages and skill levels, Dean applies fundamental techniques and philosophies to teaching guitar, while tailoring and adapting to students’ specific needs and playing goals. He has always found it important for students to understand why they are learning specific skills in order to build a strong foundation from which to grow as a musician, and not become merely a technician of their instrument. In such a way, a musician can stretch musical concepts across many formats, applying those concepts creatively in ways relevant to the music being performed.

Dean’s Top 5 artists:

    • Vernon Reid
    • Bill Frisell
    • John McLaughlin
    • Herbie Hancock
    • Neil Young


(Office Assistant)

  • BS in Music Management from Georgia State University
  • AA in Music from Darton College

Andrea Avila Wei is a lifelong lover and learner of music. Her love for music was rooted by her parents at a young age. Her father – being a former performing musician and her mother – always playing a wide variety of music on the stereo. In grade school, Andrea took piano lessons and sang in the school choirs.

While at Darton College, Andrea studied classical guitar, performed vocals with the jazz band, and she played percussion with the college concert band. At Georgia State University, she sang in the college choir and played classical guitar. While earning her BS in Music Management, Andrea interned with Live Nation, BME Recordings, and the Atlantis Music Conference. After graduating, Andrea continued working in the music industry with companies such as ASCAP, A3C Hip Hop Festival, and Sixthman. Andrea took a hiatus from the work world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. She loves sharing her love of music with her sons, both of whom are students of Guitar Shed. She’s now back to work and thrilled to be joining the Guitar Shed family!

Andrea’s Top 5 artists:

    • Prince
    • The Staple Singers
    • Jimi Hendrix
    • Lin-Manuel Miranda
    • Paul McCartney

Drew Spradlin

(Marketing Director / 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. 

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’s top 5 artists:

  • Daniel Barenboim
  • Hélène Grimaud
  • Mitsuko Uchida
  • Brad Mehldau
  • Marc-André Hamelin


Andrew Venet

(guitar, piano, bass)

  • BA in Music Composition from Georgia State University

Andrew is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and teacher hailing from Atlanta, Georgia. He has 20 years of experience playing and 4 years of experience teaching guitar, piano, and bass.

Andrew started studying classical piano at age 8 and added electric bass and guitar at age 11. At 13, he began playing cello and also playing his own music at live rock shows around Atlanta. While attending Henderson Middle School and Lakeside High School, he played cello with the school orchestra and electric bass with the Jazz Band. He performed with various original punk and blues bands throughout his school career. He continued to pursue his interest in jazz and funk through his personal music composition while studying classical piano privately with Malen Zabinski and electric bass with Mike Cady. 

After high school, Andrew began playing professionally in the Atlanta music scene in his own bands as well as working as a hired freelance musician for weddings, restaurants, and everything in between. Soon, his love and fascination with classical music would inspire him to start creating his own. A composition commission by a Decatur-based dance company in 2015 sparked an interest in expanding his proficiency in composition.

In 2016, Andrew auditioned for Georgia State University’s Composition Program and was accepted with a partial scholarship in the fall of 2016. While his specialty and audition instrument was the electric bass, the jazz program mandated classical instruments. He was admitted to study the upright bass, despite never having played it. Andrew would go on to learn jazz upright bass with Billy Thornton and composition with Dr. Hanna Lisa-Stefansson, completing his degree in the spring of 2020.

While still attending Georgia State, he started teaching private guitar, piano, bass, and composition lessons. In 2020, he began working at Guitar Center Marietta.

As a teacher, Andrew fosters students’ personal connection to music so that they can learn more about themselves and have an outlet to communicate with others. He also strives to show students that practicing is a fun activity instead of a chore! They call it ”playing” for a reason!

Andrew’s top 5 artists:
  • James Brown
  • Frank Zappa
  • Igor Stravinsky
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Oscar Peterson

Chris Case


  • 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’ Bands: Samadha (Instrumental Space Jazz) Little Tybee (Indie)

Chris’ top 5 artists:

  • Bill Evans
  • Ahmad Jamal
  • Bernie Worrell
  • Keith Jarrett
  • Joe Zawinul

Chris Neff

(guitar, ukulele, bass)

  • BA in Music Performance – Guitar and Sound Recording Technology from University of Massachusetts

It was apparent very early on Chris had a love for music. He grew up in a very musical household, dancing to music on the kitchen radio with his mom and playing piano and drums early on. In addition, he played trumpet in elementary and middle school. But his love for guitar would win out. In seventh grade, he formed his first band with his best friend. He also played guitar and bass in the high school jazz band. During high school, his love for composition and performing, and his desire to record his music, led him and his Dad to build a small studio in his garage. Here he recorded his bands and others, which led him to enter the sound recording technology program at the University of Massachusetts, where he gained his degree in jazz guitar performance with a double major in sound recording technology.

During college, he paid bills and kept himself fed by teaching lessons. He taught all ages and styles of guitar, bass, and drums in private lesson settings and group and adult continuing education environments. During this time, he developed his teaching style and philosophy and a love for sharing knowledge and getting people, especially young people, started on their musical journey.

Chris feels that cultivating a strong love of music is essential to a fruitful musical experience. Sharing the joy of creativity and community that music brings is the best way to keep a student interested and motivated. A firm believer in the power of a solid understanding of musical theory and techniques, he believes this can be taught along the way. Still, it’s the student’s joy and success early on that allow them to continue to succeed and stay with the instrument. Every student is different, and the key to keeping a student interested is meeting them where they are, understanding their particular way of learning, and keeping them interested and engaged by teaching them things they love and want to learn. Playing an instrument can be a lifelong journey and an endlessly fascinating subject of study.

Chris plays in his instrumental surf rock trio, Big Ray and the Futuras, and his spy jazz noir trio, The Mood Swingers.

Chris’ top 5 artists:

  • Jimi Hendrix
  • The Shins
  • Marcus King
  • Miles Davis
  • Dave Grohl

Craig Cunningham

(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


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)
-Tony McAlpine
-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
-Twin Criminal
-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:

  • Soundgarden
  • Peter Gabriel
  • Fela Kuti
  • Aphex Twin
  • Bohren & Der Club of Gore



(violin, mandolin, fiddle, viola, ukulele, guitar, bass)

  • BA in Music Performance from UGA

Garrett Knighton is a lifelong musician and dedicated music educator with 7 years of experience teaching a variety of music genres. A versatile multi-instrumentalist proficient in guitar, mandolin, violin, piano, and flute, Garrett began his musical journey on piano and later excelled in school band and orchestra programs. He received guitar instruction from Terry Cantwell at Mercer University and Macon State before earning a B.A. in Music Performance from the University of Georgia, studying under John Sutherland and Philip Snyder.
During his studies, Garrett was active in the UGA Philharmonia and co-founded music projects that performed at festivals such as Bragg Jam, Kat Kat Phest, and Mighty Oak Festival. His bands have been featured in Athens Flagpole, Immersive Atlanta, The Blue Indian, and B-Metro Magazine. In 2017, his band received the Flagpole Upstart award and was nominated for a Vic Chesnut Songwriter of the Year Award in 2018.

specializes in classical, folk, indie rock, and jazz, and has been focusing on expanding his knowledge of different pedagogical approaches to learning music. Garrett is also involved in writing and leading a band project called Sanji.

Garrett’s Top 5 artists:

    • Rush
    • Hikes
    • Francisco Tarrega
    • Itzhak Perlman
    • Jimi Hendrix


(lap steel, pedal steel, banjo, ukulele, guitar, bass)

  • BM in Music Composition from Georgia State University

George Kotler-Wallace is a 20 year veteran of the Atlanta GA music scene as a session musician, multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger.  As a session musician, his pedal steel guitar work has graced albums by artisits such as West End Motel (featuring members of Mastodon), Little Tybee and Samadha (both featuring fellow Guitar Shed teacher Chris Case), Villain Family, and Kristen Englenz. As a composer and arranger, his soundtrack works has been featured in several productions for Atlanta Fringe Fest and XPT film festival at Center For Puppetry Arts.

George began learning guitar at 13, enamored by the Beatles and other classic rock hits he heard growing up in Savannah, Ga. His love of the guitar led him to joining his high school jazz band, despite not exactly knowing what jazz was. He soon adapted to this new environment and won his school’s Louis Armstrong Jazz award his 11th grade year.

In 1999 George moved to Atlanta to attend Georgia State University, graduating with a degree in Music Composition in 2005. Along the way he added banjo, resonator guitar, pedal steel, lap steel, bass and ukulele to his roster of instruments. He has played in bands of many different genres, often performing music to dancers or acrobats, such as with multimedia improv group Flight Of Swallows, or in genre defying indie rock bands such as A Fight To The Death, and Book of Colors. Recent years have seen George combining his instrumental skills with drum machines and synthesizers for his solo project, Viceroy Cyprian, with several releases available on Bandcamp.

As an educator George has taught for many years, balancing the artistry and technique of the instruments, trying always to remember the joy of music and the sense of connection it brings, is as important as the discipline we must bring to learning the craft.

George’s Top 5 artists:

    • Frank Zappa
    • Bill Frisell
    • John Coltrane
    • Steely Dan
    • Joni Mitchell



  • 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:

    • Radiohead
    • Animals as Leaders
    • Koji Kondo
    • Beethoven
    • Miles Davis


(voice, piano, guitar)

Keifer is an active trombonist, pianist, and producer in the Atlanta area. He has an extensive amount of touring and recording experience and has worked with the likes of Tye Tribbett, Ne-Yo, Mattiel, Julian Marley, ‘68, Latocha Scott, Lightning Orchestra, TrapJazz, and many more! Currently, he works with a supergroup of producers, instrumentalists, and other creatives called AIKA Kollective. They blend many different styles and cultures together to create captivating online content with a focus on musical VR content.

With about 7 years of teaching experience, students of his have gone on to pursue their musical aspirations either through becoming musicians themselves, or by furthering their education at institutions like Berklee College of Music, Georgia State University, Frost School of Music, and FSU College of Music. His approach involves working with students on both improving their proficiency on their instrument of choice and cultivating their love of music as a whole. Students who work with Keifer can be sure to find their own unique approach to their instrument, a deeper understanding of music theory, and a deeper appreciation of many different genres of music.

Keifer has a passion for inspiring the next generation of musicians, always wanting to show students that they can chase after their dreams and become the best version of themselves that they can be. Never one to stop anyone pursuing their passions, he takes pride in being able to help everyone reach their true potential, and has experience working with students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and other disabilities. He truly believes in music being a universal language, and believes in its power of being a transformative element in any person’s life.

Keifer’s Top 5 artists:

    • Bill Watrous
    • A Tribe Called Quest
    • Portishead
    • Sade
    • Lianne La Havas


(guitar, bass, ukulele)

Luke is a multi-instrumentalist originally hailing from Indiana who has been an active professional musician since graduating music school. Luke discovered his passion for music through a brief stint of piano lessons at 4 years old, and continued to develop his skills in middle and high school while studying an array of instruments including trombone, electric guitar, classical guitar, electric bass, upright bass, marching snare drum, timpani, and mallet percussion. During this time he was involved in his school’s wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, marching band, indoor marching percussion ensemble, and musical pit orchestra. Through high school and into college he also played bass and released music with a number of Indiana-based metal bands including Sirens, Summon the Ancients, The Astria Porta, and Nouns; embarking on his first full US headlining tour with Sirens in 2015 when he was 19 years old.

After high school, Luke attended AIMM 2016-2017, and after graduation moved to Seattle to join back up with members of Sirens and pursue his career in music. In Seattle he was an active member of the music community; teaching private and group lessons at multiple music schools, taking session and sideman work on guitar and bass in a wide variety of genres, and participating in local jam sessions such as Mo’Jam Monday at the Nectar Lounge.

As a teacher, Luke recognizes that there is no set path to becoming the musician that you aspire to be, and as such, adapts his teaching style and material to suit each individual student. He understands that the bulk of improvement with an instrument happens during the time spent outside the lesson room, and therefore understands it is his job to craft engaging and inspiring lessons that drive students to practice consistently. Luke has experience with students of all age groups and musical interests, and is always seeking to help his students develop the skills they need to more effectively teach themselves and express themselves.

Luke’s Top 5 Artists:

  • Tigran Hamasyan
  • Necrophagist
  • CHON
  • Hiromi
  • Stevie Wonder

Maria Margiolakou


  • 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

Mateo McConnell


  • BM in French Horn performance, Manhattan School of Music

Mateo McConnell has over twenty years of educational experience and has worked as a pianist and French hornist with many different classical music groups in both New York City and Atlanta. He believes that the study of music can help us not just learn an instrument but also to develop skills and habits that can lead to greater success in whatever we choose to do later in life. He does not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to education and tries to approach each individual student in the way they are best capable of learning.

Mateo was the principal hornist of the Orquesta Filarmonica del Estado de Queretaro in Mexico for several years, where he also directed Spanish-language music education programs for use in public schools. He has performed with the Atlanta Symphony, Atlanta Opera, and Atlanta Ballet orchestras, among others. He is also a composer and arranger, having pieces performed by the Queretaro Philharmonic, the Atlanta Symphony Brass Quintet, and the Atlanta Symphony percussion and horn sections, among others. While primarily a classically trained musician, he also enjoys playing all styles of music and performing around town on both piano and horn.

Mateo has over 10 years of experience as a high school teacher specializing in kids with learning differences at Mill Springs Academy in Alpharetta, GA. He loves working with kids and seeing the spark in their eyes when they finally grasp something they worked hard at. His most unusual non-musical accomplishments are hiking the entire Appalachian Trail and making it onto the sixth season of MasterChef and cooking for Gordon Ramsay.

Mateo’s Top 5 Artists:

  • Beethoven
  • Mahler
  • Debussy
  • Bartok
  • Shostakovich

Max Godfrey

(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

Micah Martin

(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

Monica Nelson


  • BA in Vocal Performance from Spelman College

Monica Nelson is a vocalist and teacher who has lived in the Atlanta-metro area for 25+ years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music with a focus in vocal performance from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Her love of performing solo and in choral ensembles is evident through her experience as a member of various choirs led by Kevin P. Johnson, David Morrow, Adam Con, and Craig Hella Johnson, to name a few.  Monica held the position of interim music director at Hillside Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia while also working as a paraprofessional in the Gwinnett County School System. These separate lovely experiences in music and education caused her to dive deeper, resulting in the completion of her master’s degree at The University of Texas at Austin in Music and Human Learning in 2006.

Monica established successful choral music programs at the middle school level in Bulloch County Schools and in City Schools of Decatur. During this time her students achieved many honors in GMEA competitions such as LGPE and All-State Chorus. She currently teaches music at Clairemont Elementary School, where the children sing beautifully and confidently.

Monica is the founder and director of The Atlanta Children’s Choir, Inc. The Atlanta Children’s Choir, a non-profit community choir, has been near to her heart for many years.  She truly believes that all children, regardless of background and socioeconomic status have immense potential and should have impactful and life-changing musical experiences. She is the proud wife of Lloyd Nelson II and mother to her wonderful sons LJ, Luke, Lennox, and daughter Lenore.

Monica’s top 5 Artists:

• Whitney Houston
• Stevie Wonder
• Celine Dion
• Lauryn Hill
• India Aire

Nathan Montalvo

(guitar, bass, ukulele)

Born and raised in Statesboro, GA, Nathan has been playing guitar for 20 years, and has been an instructor for 10 years. After graduating from Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, California Nathan began teaching music and touring with artist/soloist Ethan Brosh. Together they toured as direct support for Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, Jake E. Lee, Joe Lynn Turner, Ross The Boss (ex-Manowar) Uli Jon Roth, Joe Stump, as well as opening for Andy Timmons, Michael Angelo Batio, and Marty Friedman. In 2019 Nathan released his solo album “Neon” and is currently a member of the metal band Atrophy.

Nathan’s top 5 artists:

  • Van Halen
  • Racer X
  • Iron Maiden
  • Megadeth
  • Jason Becker

Radley Fricker


Hi, I’m Radley. I started playing the drums at age 11, had my first professional performance and also taught my first lesson at age 15. I participated in marching band, concert band, jazz band, percussion ensemble, church band, All-State, yadda yadda yadda. I got to play Tympani in the 2000 Superbowl Halftime Show. That was awesome and crazy. Later on I studied percussion performance on scholarship at Furman University and Jazz Studies at Georgia State University.

I’ve performed live and/or recorded with many artists and bands such as Col. Bruce Hampton, Lee Fields, Jimmy Hall, Dionne Farris, The Difference Machine, Newberry Jam, Heavy Chevy, Samadha, The Ruination, Donna Hopkins, Ralph Roddenberry, and many more. I love living in Atlanta as a center for cultural arts and have been fortunate to participate at many residencies over the years as house drummer, including Kevin Scott’s famed Tuesday Jam Sessions at the Five Spot and Apache Cafe’s Tuesday Hip Hop Open mic Sessions.

In addition to teaching privately for 24 years, I’ve also enjoyed working with groups of drummers and percussionists, including percussion ensembles, drumlines, and concert band percussion sections. I have had students audition and be selected for Regional and All-State Honor Bands, college scholarships, and Drum Corps International drumlines.

All things considered, I will always be a student of the drums. There are always new things to learn, different angles to consider, and new perspectives to gain. I am blessed to have studied under several great teachers, whom I would like to use this opportunity to thank for their guidance:

Doug Ponier, Jeff Kershner, Dr. John Beckford, Ron Schwartz, Dr. Stuart Gerber, Billy Degnatts, and Kinah Boto Ayah.

Radley’s top 5 artists:

  • James Brown
  • Kneebody
  • John Scofield
  • Bibio
  • Chick Corea


Sean McMorris

(guitar, bass)

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:

  • Prince
  • Stanley Clarke
  • Andy Summers
  • Pat Metheny
  • Carlos Santana

Vivian Slade

(piano, voice)

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.

The Dragon King’s Website and Vivian’s Website

Vivian’s Top 5 artists:

  • Beatles
  • Elton John
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Billie Holiday
  • Steven Sondheim

Zach Judsen

(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
  • D’Angelo
  • Phish
  • Khruangbin


Mason Johnston


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

Paul Miller

(guitar, ukulele)

  • 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
  • D’Angelo
  • John Scofield
  • Wynton Marsalis
  • Radiohead

Check out our holiday videos below!