Ahmed Garcia Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Born in NYC in the summer of love, Ahmed Garcia was uprooted and taken to Austin, Texas where he was expertly raised by a pack of Austin belly dancers with his mother, the great belly dancer Lucila leading the way. His exposure to music and the arts was early and took effective shape during the 1980s when Ahmed was given his first guitar, a red Gibson 'Flying V.' Ahmed’s first band Aftershock quickly became a staple in Austin’s early metal community. Aftershock would later morph into the legendary Austin metal band Hurlant. This was Ahmed’s brain child and everything reflected Ahmed’s early musical views, expressions, talents and genius. Ahmed would go on to play pivotal roles in dozens of other bands and projects such as Nemisis 24,Holly Street, Anger Mgmt, Eshta and more.
His current offspring is a fusion band called Muse Oasis in which Ahmed and company have taken the best of his both worlds, belly dancing and heavy metal, and have melded them into a seamless world expression of power and peace, dance and steel. According to “Reverbnation” Ahmed Garcia is a proficient acoustic artist who has earned many accolades for both live and recorded performances. Ahmed, having mastered a little known instrument called a glistintar, is an artist of profound experimentation.
Ben Chinisci Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher
Ben Chinisci has been playing rock and roll in touring bands since 2006. After moving to Austin in 2012, he joined the Austin punk staple Basketball Shorts, and now fronts his own band, Rad Gnar. Whether it’s guitar, bass, drums or vocals, he’s probably played it on a stage across the country. Ben has taught music to children since 2008 at summer camps, in schools and finally at School of Rock Austin as a guitar teacher, bass guitar teacher and drum teacher. He loves instilling a passion for music in the next generation of performers.
Danny Blanchard Drum Teacher
Danny Blanchard is a professional touring and recording drummer, originally from Merced, CA. He began in the middle school drum line at the age of 11, and continued throughout high school, performing in a state-champion drum corp and jazz band. Upon graduating he moved to Los Angeles and began playing and recording constantly, eventually embarking on his first tour as a hired musician with indie rock band Let's Go Sailing at the age of 19.
In 2008, Danny moved to Austin, Texas where, at the age of 22, he joined the band Wiretree. During his time with Wiretree, he went on his first European and Asian tours and experienced commercial recognition. He is currently a member of Sweet Spirit and A Giant Dog. Both play all over the US and Europe to sold-out audiences. With each step in his career he continues to learn and grow along with his craft and aspires to continuously impart his knowledge to the next generation of musicians. He is a drum teacher at School of Rock Austin.
Dave Chell Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher
Hugo David Chellaston was born in the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles County to a South African father and Parisian mother. He started playing the clarinet at the age of six. After graduating high school in 1987, he began studying dentistry at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm (SWE). In 1996, Chellaston moved back to the United States and became a minority shareholder with the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball franchise. Chellaston currently lives outside of Houston, TX with his wife and five children and is a contributing writer for "Vanity Fair." His band, Daft Punk, has not toured since 2007.
Dave Thacker Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Singing Teacher
David started playing music back in 2005 at the age of 15 right here in the live music capital. Heavily influenced by jazz, soul and funk, David has fronted and played in a variety of bands since then, ranging from psychedelic jam bands where a 40 minute song wasn’t uncommon, to more straightforward rock and roll and lots in between. David plays keys, guitar, bass, drums and sings, but considers himself a keyboard player primarily. He believes that there is something specific and unique each instrument can teach you about music and thinks it’s never a bad idea to pick up another one. David currently plays keyboards in the Austin-based band Honey Made.
Elliot Liebman Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher, Singing Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher
Elliot is a guitar player by training, but you’ll probably find him playing drums during his free time at School of Rock. That’s because you can play guitar in an apartment, but drums… well, they wouldn’t even fit. He’d rather be here anyway. Elliot has worked for more than three years at School of Rock in St. Louis, MO, San Ramon, CA and here in Austin. He knows the program inside and out. Elliot’s favorite thing about School of Rock is the culture. He says, “It’s really special to have a place where you can just play and have fun. Whether you’re a student or a teacher, I think we’re all really lucky to be here.”
Garrett Dean Rock 101 Instructor, Assistant Show Director
Garrett began playing guitar at age 10 and quickly started his first band, playing events at his elementary school. A year later, he enrolled in School of Rock Austin. He was a student for seven years and a member of the B-Team. He has performed hundreds of times with School of Rock and his own bands across several states and multiple festivals. After high school, Garrett moved to Boston and continued studying the music industry. He worked in a recording studio and helped produce dozens of records for local artists. He has extensive experience working with kids, from camps to teaching music lessons at community centers. Now he’s back in Austin continuing his musical journey, while helping others begin their own.
George Mack Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher, Singing Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher
George has been playing music most of his life. Name any instrument and George can probably play it. Early on, he focused on guitar, piano, cello, bass and choir during middle and high school. By age 17 he was playing bass with Austin punk group Two Minute Hate, which is when he first met Rick Carney. While studying Audio Engineering at ACC, George toured the country as lead vocalist for funk metal band Bouffant Jellyfish. It was also in the mid 90s where George developed a love for drums.
Working his way through two years at the Drummers Collective in NYC, George studied jazz, funk, Brazilian, reggae and Afro-Cuban styles. Once back in Austin, he started working at School of Rock Austin when it first opened in 2005. Over the next 10 years, he worked as a background actor, all while maintaining a busy tour schedule with various bands. CBGBs was a favorite spot to play and he played there three nights before it closed.
Currently, George plays guitar and sings in the local metal band Doctor Sleep and plays keys in Small Furry Animals, a Pink Floyd tribute band.
Ian MacDougall Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Ian was born in San Jose, CA and moved to Dallas, TX when he was 14. He got his first guitar for his 15th birthday and spent the following summer indoors playing along to records from bands like X, The Clash and Dead Kennedys. At the age of 18, he grabbed the attention of established Denton, TX punk band The Riverboat Gamblers. One phone call later he found himself joining the band and embarking on his first national tour the summer after graduating high school. In 2005 the whole band relocated to Austin, TX where they currently reside. Ian toured all over the world and recorded with The Riverboat Gamblers over the next 10 years. In 2006 they were listed by "Spin" as one of 25 Greatest Live Bands to see.
After a decade on the road, Ian made the move to the production side of the music industry, starting as a runner to quickly making his way to becoming the assistant tour manager of The Foo Fighters. He traveled internationally with the band over the next few years. Over this time he befriended and began working for Grammy-nominated recording artists Band of Horses. Ian was eventually invited to join the band full-time as lead guitarist and has been performing with them internationally ever since.
Jamey Simms Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Jamey Simms' first instrument was the trumpet at the age of eight years old, which began a formal education in music for him. Jamey started playing guitar three years later in 1984. He also played the horn in concert, marching and symphonic band, and the guitar in jazz band, making the All State Jazz Ensemble in 1990 on the guitar. Jamey attended Kansas State University and studied further under Mike Brown from Harlem, NYC.
Jamey was a founding member of the international recording band Tia Carrera, and has been leading his own group in Austin as well as being a professional hired guitarist for several styles of music. Jamey has toured regionally and nationally and has been based out of Austin since 1996. His influences on the guitar are Ritchie Blackmore, Chuck Berry, Keith Richards and Jimi Hendrix as well as other musicians that do not play guitar such as Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Jackie McClean and Keith Moon.
Jason McMaster Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Singing Teacher
Starting with progressive thrash pioneers Watchtower, Jason has carved out an impressive body of work. Best known for his work with Dangerous Toys, Jason continues his legacy with the riff masters, Broken Teeth. Jason has been inducted into "The Austin Chronicle" Texas Music Hall of Fame and the South Texas Music Walk of Fame. Jason is also a vocalist for the power metal band Ignitor, modern thrash metal band Evil United and progressive metal project Howling Sycamore. Jason also plays in several tribute acts: Sad Wings (Judas Priest) and Killa Maul (Metallica). Over 20 CD/album releases, and probably a million miles logged on the road, Jason brings a wealth of experience to School of Rock.
Jud Johnson Drum Teacher
Jud was born and raised in Houston, TX. At first, he took years of piano lessons but quickly gravitated to the drums after his father began using his '76 Ludwig drum kit as the alarm clock for him and his brothers. He started his first band in middle school and has never stopped playing. After graduating from Texas State University - San Marcos, he moved to Austin, TX to fully pursue a career in music. Since moving to the capital six years ago, Jud has written and recorded with a number of bands that play regularly or have toured the country. Some of the bands include The Couch, Otis the Destroyer, A. Sinclair, What Made Milwaukee Famous and others.
Marielle Bardon Rookies Teacher, Rock 101 Teacher
Marielle is an Austinite, born and raised, and she’s always doing her part to keep Austin weird. Born into a musical and artsy family, her first memories are of her harmonizing to Frank Sinatra and The Beatles in the car with her parents. At age 10, Marielle started her first band, Checker Board, and scored a couple of gigs at a hotel along with making appearances at various local open mics.
While in this band, Marielle and her band mate attended a performance camp at School of Rock Austin over the summer to help with their stage presence and meet other musical kids around their age. She quickly fell in love with the bass and performing and has been a part of School of Rock Austin ever since. She was in the program as a student for six years, performing extensively with The B Team, and then moved on to teaching in 2017. She now teaches Rookies, Rock 101 and is an Assistant Show Director.
Outside of the school, Marielle is involved in bands of various genres including folk metal and hardcore, but for her, as long as the music has a groove, she will play anything. Her other interests include ballet, sculpture, painting and fashion design/costuming. She is also pursuing an Associates Degree in Visual Arts at Austin Community College.
Nick Hughes Drum Teacher
Nick began drumming at age nine after seeing a rock show. One of the drummer’s sticks went flying into the audience. Nick caught it and started banging. The drummer summoned him onstage, asking if he was a drummer. “No,” Nick said. The drummer told him to hit his drum. “Harder!” he said, and Nick followed. “Even harder!” Nick hit it with all he had. “You’re a drummer now!”
Nick attended the University of New Orleans on a music scholarship, graduating in 2011. After graduating, Nick played locally and toured extensively, performing all over the US, Europe and Mexico, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. In 2016, Nick moved to Austin and gained an appreciation for country music, brisket and Buc-ees.
Paula Maya Vocal Instructor, Piano Teacher
Paula Maya is a Brazilian pianist, keyboardist, singer, songwriter and band leader. She is a recording artist with six CDs released and songs in several compilations with artists such as Jimmy Cliff and Carolyn Wonderland. In 2016 she was nominated for Best Brazilian Musician living in the US by the Focus Web News International Press Awards. Her band was voted one of the Top Ten World Music Bands in 2015 and 2014 in "The Austin Chronicle" Music Awards. Paula attended the Federal University of Music in Rio de Janeiro for Classical Piano and received a Music Theory Program Certificate from the Brazilian Conservatory of Music. She studied jazz piano, improvisation and harmony with the great pianist, composer and arranger Luizinho Eça (The Dolphin). Paula studied voice with Maestro David Kyle (Ann Wilson) and Mady Kaye (Zach Theatre). Paula has performed with dozens of bands in a variety of music styles, from rock to reaggae, salsa, samba, soukous and more. She is a vocal instructor and piano teacher at School of Rock Austin.
Sara Houser Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Singing Teacher
Sara has been playing piano since she was seven years old. She studied classical and jazz all through high school at the Charleston County School of the Arts. Her senior year she was awarded a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where she graduated as a Songwriting major, piano principle. In 2009, she moved to Austin, TX to ditch piano (temporarily) and start playing electric guitar. Sara fronts and writes music for her own band, Lowin, which premiered at SXSW in 2014. She has appeared as a vocalist on records by Spoon, Golden Boys and Walker Lukens and in 2018 joined Golden Dawn Arkestra as a singer, vibraphonist and synth player. She’s been a teacher at School of Rock since 2015.
Travis Foster Singing Teacher, Piano Teacher, Drum Teacher
Travis Foster has been a professional musician since 1998. He plays drums, guitar, lap steel, bass, keys and sings. He is a graduate of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (’94) and Berklee College of Music (Professional Music ’98). Travis played guitar and drums in "Blue Man Group: Live at Luxor" in Las Vegas. He has performed with Carmine Appice, Peter Stroud, Liberty Devitto, Jeff Carlisi, Derek St. Holmes, Jim Peterik and others. He began teaching music in 2005. For the last three years, Travis has been touring the United States as a drummer and harmony vocalist with the Ian Moore Band.
Yamal Said Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
The first time Yamal Said can remember wanting to be a part of rock and roll was when he was five years old. One day Yamal found a KISS record left at his house by one of his uncles. As he looked with amazement onto the cover, he remembers thinking to himself, "I don’t have any idea what this sounds like or even what it is, but I know I absolutely want to be a part of it." Yamal eventually convinced his parents to buy him a guitar when he was about 14. They wouldn't buy him a drum set, giving the excuse it would damage his hearing. He finally got his hands on a drum set a few years after originally asking his parents for one. He taught himself both drums and guitar by listening to artists like The Ramones, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley and imitating what they were doing.
Yamal joined a band the week he got his first kit. He has been in bands ever since. His love of rock has grown over the years and gives him a feeling of pure freedom. He has been in multiple bands and doesn’t see himself stopping anytime soon. Yamal is proud to be a part of School of Rock Austin and loves teaching his students how to play the drums, keys and guitar.
Zeke Zimmerman Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Singing Teacher
Zeke was born in Austin to local jazz vocalist Tina Marsh and trombonist Randy Zimmerman, and has been immersed in the growing music scene his whole life. Though piano was his first instrument, he picked up the bass at the age 18 and hasn’t put it down since. He studied music and dance at McCallum High School's Fine Arts Academy and Texas State University. His biggest bass influences are John Paul Jones, Jack Bruce and Bootsy Collins. His tenor voice is heavily influenced by Robert Plant, Ian Gillan and James Brown. Zeke currently plays bass in the funk group The Holy Child and has also been working as a bassist and vocalist in various cover bands that travel around Texas.
Rick Carney Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Rick Carney is a musician, songwriter, producer, engineer and educator. A veteran of the American underground music scene, Carney moved to Austin in 1986 as a bassist with the infamous hardcore band EMG. In 1991, he switched to guitar and founded Jesus Christ Superfly, a mainstay of the Austin Punk scene. JCS was a critical and popular success and still performs regularly in Austin. From 1997-2005, Carney also fronted Gravy Boat, a Roots Rock outfit that blended Southern Rock and Honky Tonk. Gravy Boat plays occasionally at festivals across the US.
As a performer, Carney has played over 1000 live shows and released records in the US, Australia and Europe.
While primarily a guitarist-vocalist, Carney also plays bass and drums. Rick is the Manager of Music Education for the entire School of Rock system and is also currently the Vice Chair of the City of Austin Music Commission.