Abby Miller Assistant Manager
Born and raised in Oak Park, IL, Abigail Joy Miller has always been an avid music lover. She started taking bass lessons at the age of 12 at a small, local music store. Shortly after, she found her people and passion at School of Rock and has been involved in one way or another ever since. In 2015 and 2016 Abigail was chosen to represent the elite top 1% of School of Rock students as an international AllStar. As an AllStar, she played and performed around the US, including at places like Gathering of the Vibes, Lollapalooza, Riot Fest and Summerfest. When she was supposed to be going into senior year of high school, she instead joined Dalton Rapattoni, "American Idol" third place finalist, as the bassist and backup singer on The Inspired Attempt tour. After her tour, she graduated early from high school and began living in LA while her peers were going to prom. During her three years residing in Los Angeles, she played bass all around town in her neo-soul band, Bendita. When she wasn’t playing with Bendita, she was going to hip-hop/R&B jams in Hollywood and playing with pop artists such as Anna Akana and Brian Justin Crum. Abigail has accomplished a great deal already at the young age of 21, and she's only just getting started. She is our Studio Coordinator at School of Rock Oak Park.
Abigail Keane Studio Coordinator
Abigail Keane fell in love with Rock at the age of 5, when she first heard Elvis Presley. After obsessing over Classic Rock for a decade, she dived into Metal, Punk, Emo, Dirty Rock and so much more. Starting in middle school, Abby took guitar lessons on and off for about 10 years. Once she saw the film Almost Famous as a teen, she discovered her passions of music journalism and photography. As an adult, she worked as a phlebotomist until she followed her heart and left healthcare. She has since focused on building her own website for sharing her favorite music venues as well as haunted locations in Chicagoland, all while raising her two daughters. She's thrilled to be a part of the School of Rock team, watching the next music generation grow while refreshing her skills at the same time!
Adam Brade Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Adam Brade started performing in bands at age 14. He continued to do so throughout his teenage years and later went on to study music in college. His experiences and education have made him versed in many styles such as Metal, Blues, Alternative Rock, traditional Jazz, and Fusion. He is prepared to share his knowledge with the next generation of rockers!
Adam Instefjord Regional Director
Adam Instefjord is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. Hailing from the NW suburbs of Chicago, Adam first picked up a guitar around the age of 12. After mastering the art of the power chord, he devoted most of his free time to learning every song on every album he had. As a child of mid-90s punk, those first albums consisted of Green Day, Rancid, Offspring, Weezer, etc. Adam started his first band in the eighth grade and never looked back. He has since learned how to sing, play bass and drums, played countless shows with many bands, spent four years in Los Angbeles and toured the country. Adam also studied Audio Recording and Production at The Recording Workshop in Chillicothe, OH. He uses those skills at his recording studio The Space, located at Music Garage Chicago, where he records, produces and mixes a variety of artists as well as his own bands. He is the Regional Director at School of Rock Oak Park.
Al Willis Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Al Willis has been playing and performing music almost since he was old enough to walk. From playing the bass for gospel artist Inez Andrews in the early 70s at the tender of age of 10, to performing in the Chicago all-city jazz ensemble with fellow School of Rock instructor Rafe Bradford in the 80s, his music career began at a young age. Al toured and recorded with Grammy award-winning choir, Rev. Milton Brunson and The Thompson Community Singers. He worked as a Nashville session musician in the 1990s. He has performed with Michael McDonald, Patty Austin, Ali Woodson, Jamie Foxx, Billy Paul and Aretha Franklin. He was formerly the guitarist for The Dells and is now touring and performing with The Isley Brothers.
Amy Renzulli Owner
Amy Renzulli, rocker mom and corporate marketer, is the owner of School of Rock Oak Park. Amy has spent most of her work life building her career in Sales and Marketing at Blue Cross and Blue Shield and at the same time pursuing artistic interests. While she developed her business skills in web marketing, sales strategy and technology adoption, she also hosted art shows, crafted and sold jewelry in local boutiques and galleries, and generally sought opportunities that would enable her to marry her business skills with her love of art. When her daughter, at the time, only 12 years old, attended summer camp at School of Rock Chicago, Amy suggested that they should consider opening a school in Oak Park. Amy learned that the School of Rock was a franchise opportunity and a light bulb went off. She knew that she would be the person to make it happen. In early December 2012, Amy and her ever-supportive husband converted a 50-year-old combination warehouse and office building into the vibrant home of School of Rock Oak Park.
Annette Fritts Guitar Teacher
Annette grew up in a music loving family and has no earlier childhood memories than of The Beatles, "A Hard Days Night" and Sundays spent cruising the streets of Logan Square with three teenage uncles to the sounds of the British invasion, Motown, Jim, Jimi and Janis. It was to no one's surprise that most of her boyfriends had a guitar strapped to them, and, eventually weary of watching, she picked up an instrument and began playing herself. She has an extensive background in theatre, both performing and producing. Together with her director husband, they founded, built and operated one of the first commercial venues in the Bucktown area- a 100-seat performance space and art gallery. Annette organized and directed a fundraiser concert for her daughter's second grade class performing hits of the 60s, including a medley from "Hair" and was immediately offered a position teaching guitar. Over the past seven years, she has developed her own technique to get even the youngest guitar enthusiasts playing. She's taught hundreds of kids through Park District programs she initiated in Oak Park, River Forest and Elmwood Park as well as privately in her home studio. Annette is the creator of Guitar Cat and has been seen over the years performing with her band of students, The Cat Pack. She couldn't be happier to join School of Rock Oak Park.
Bailey Gorden Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Bailey Gorden is an active guitarist/bassist within the Chicago music scene. Originally born and raised in Minnesota, he moved to Chicago in 2017 to study music at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts. While in school, he began working as a freelance musician frequently performing around the city. Well-versed in a variety of playing styles ranging from Rock to Neo Soul, he has worked with a diverse list of artists including Bassel and the Supernaturals, Iesha Sturdivant, Da$htone, Spacebones, Blue Water Kings, Sophia Byrd, and Hamilton cast members among others.
Benji Daniels Bass guitar, keyboard, Rookies and Little Wing Teacher
Benji Daniels is a Chicago born bassist, producer, and educator. He first gained a passion for music at the age of 5, as he began studying the piano. As this passion grew, Benji was referred to the School of Rock in Chicago. Here he flourished as his passion for music became even greater! In 2014, Benji was offered a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where he majored in Bass Performance. Since graduating Benji has been performing and producing in the Chicago Music Scene. He has performed at venues such as, Rivinia, Canopy Club, Green Mill, Jazz Showcase, and more!
Chris Kimmons Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Chris Kimmons moved from West Virginia five years ago to pursue a music career in Chicago. In that short amount of time, he has covered ground in many genres including rock, metal, traditional folk, jazz, fusion and electronic. Having studied music composition at Columbia College Chicago for his first two and a half years in the city, he has studied with many of Chicago's finest musicians. His bands, Can I Get An Amen and Actual Rhinoceros, show his diverse musical interests and his dedication to preserving music history while not allowing the past to inhibit the future.
Christopher Parlon Keyboard Teacher
Originally hailing from Boston, Chris is a performing singer/songwriter and Berklee College of Music alumnus who has been teaching for nearly a decade. His passions include composition and music production although as a bandleader, he loves imparting the importance of showmanship, honed through his years of experience as a solo performer and keyboard player. Having taught at School of Rock in Boston, he is very excited to now be part of the team here at Oak Park.
Dan Leali Drum Teacher
A Native of the Chicago area, Dan received a BM in Jazz Studies from De PAUL University in 1990. He has been playing professionally and teaching full time since 1994. A founding member of local faves Tributosaurus, Dan has also performed with, toured, or played on recordings by the following artists: Singer/songwriters Liz Phair, Jewel, Peter Himmelman and Robbie Fulks, the bands Poi Dog Pondering and Under the Streetlamp, guitarist Fareed Haque and funk jazz group Liquid Soul. Drumming for Theater Productions/Shows (credits include School of Rock 1st National Tour (sub drummer)2017-2019, Music Man at Goodman Theater 2019, Wonderful Town at Goodman Theater 2016, Million Dollar Quartet at Apollo Theater Chicago (2011-2015).
Isis Graham Singing Teacher
Isis Elizabeth has a passion for music and theater that was further developed during her 16-year musical theater career in Chicago. Having studied at the Chicago High School for the Arts, she has had her fair share of performing in shows, especially Rock musicals. An all-around artist, she also studies various styles of dance and spends most of her free time writing songs. Isis released her first single, 'Roses' on all streaming platforms back in 2020. Some of her theater credits include Mimi in Rent with PTC theater, Dorothy in The Wiz with The Emerald City Theater, and June in Big Noise Theater’s Chicago. Isis is excited to teach voice at School of Rock!
Jaci Jepson Vocal Instructor
Jaci Jepson, also known by her stage name J Leigh, is a Columbia College Chicago alumni with a BA in Vocal Performance. Her calling for music and performance started at just five years old as she put on shows for her family and friends whenever she had the chance. With natural stage presence, extensive knowledge in vocal technique/stylization, songwriting, studio experience and her new single “Paragon” on the horizon, J Leigh has refined her craft over the years. She is not only a vocalist, but a storyteller who shares and lives out her journey with emotional grace. She has had the pleasure of performing at many venues/events in the Chicago area, such as The House of Blues and the Chicago Blues Festival. J Leigh is actively building upon her portfolio, artistry, and musicianship by taking/seeking out every musical opportunity that comes her way. She is thrilled to be working at School of Rock Oak Park, not just as a vocal instructor but as a mentor who helps her students unleash their musical passion and potential as her mentors/idols have done for her.
Jennifer Malone Vocal Instructor
Jennifer is a veteran music director whose imagination and curriculum expertise have helped School of Rock Oak Park become the largest school in the international system. She is a four-time School of Rock AllStar director and has served on content and innovation boards at the corporate level over her many years with the company. Jennifer is a voice teacher who loves coaching students of all levels to perform at their personal best through personalized training, biodynamics and stage prep. As a director, Jennifer challenges players to step out of their comfort zones and develop the skills needed to be free and authentic on stage. Jennifer served as School of Rock Oak Park’s Music Director and developed programming, show seasons and touring groups, and oversaw the artistic direction of the school. As Music Experience Director of the new AMP (Awaken Musical Power) program for team-building, Jennifer aims to offer non-musicians the opportunity to experience the magic of group music through learning to spark breakthroughs of their own. Jennifer holds an M.Phil in Irish Theatre from Trinity College Dublin and a BFA in Acting from Kent State University. She performs regularly with the band 1976 and has a long performing resume that includes musical theater, jazz, roots, rock and punk. She lives in Oak Park with her husband and two kids and spends her free time volunteering and engaged in social justice. She is a vocal instructor at School of Rock Oak Park.
Jimmy Kowalczyk Drum Teacher
Jimmy Kowalczyk has been a Musician/Educator in Chicago for 10+ Years. You can most likely catch him on the weekends gigging with his band, “The Hat Guys,” a prominent local cover band established since 2003. He is also involved in a wide array of personal projects, from dual-drummer psych rock in “The Tomblands,” to his contemporary Americana project “Poor Calvin,” with his fellow co-worker Evan Opitz (guitar).
Jimmy is still continuing his music education after obtaining a degree in music technology, and he is currently mentoring under renowned jazz drummer Steve Lyman. “My mission is to guide students and prepare them for success whether you are a beginner or are looking to pursue your instrument to the highest degree. I believe playing the drums can be enjoyed at any capacity, and I hope to inspire you on your musical journey.”
Jim Lunsford Piano Teacher, Vocal Instructor
A chance encounter with a ukulele at the tender age of nine launched Jim Lunsford on a life-long rock and roll adventure. Teenage garage bands in the Arizona desert led to years of touring and recording in musical styles that ranged from rock, blues and R&B to cumbia, salsa and musical theater. Along the way, he has been privileged to work with a number of great artists, including Bonnie Raitt, John Mayall, Bo Diddley, The Four Tops, Bobby 'Blue' Bland, Delbert McClinton, Dallas Taylor, 'Gatemouth' Brown and Luther Allison. During his musical travels, Jim took de-tours to study classical piano, music theory and earn a Masters in Choral Conducting at Arizona State University. Having invested all that time and money in higher education, he switched tracks to a career as a high school and college instructor (though he continued to gig in every city between Tucson and Seattle, as well as in Chicagoland, Europe, Australia and New Zealand). After toiling valiantly for 25 years in classrooms from Berwyn to the border of Mexico, Jim retired from the Latin School of Chicago, and he is thrilled to be returning to his rock roots as a member of the amazing staff at School of Rock Oak Park. In addition to teaching here, he records and performs with his roots-rock band The Hurtin' Kind. His favorite bands are The Beatles and Los Lobos. He loves teaching music to young people.
Joe Thomas Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
"Smoking" Joe Thomas has been a mainstay on the Chicago blues scene. He has played with local, national and international legends such as Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Lurrie Bell, Carrie Bell, Otis Clay, Mojo Buford and Elvin Bishop. For 22 years he served as the music director for The Underground Wonder Bar. Joe, as bassist, has toured with the Mandingo Griot Society in the countries of Germany, France, Greece, Finland, Amsterdam and the entire continent of Europe. He has toured, as bassist, with the Kinzey Report throughout the state of California during the period of 1995-2005. Joe also played and toured worldwide with the world renowned Buddy Miles (drummer for Jimi Hendrix).
Joseph Madary Singing Teacher
Joseph teaches beginner to advanced voice and beginner piano. He has been teaching for School of Rock since February of 2021 but has been singing and playing the piano, however, since 2002 when he first started taking lessons as a second-grader. Joseph attended Viterbo University for his BM in vocal performance and then attended Indiana University Jacobs School of Music to receive his master's degree in voice.
Joseph has always loved singing and has always made sure to be in choirs and anything that involved singing since he was a young student. Joseph loves to teach because it brings him joy to help students work on technical or musical puzzles that they encounter on their own musical journey. His goal as a teacher is to help his students find a passion for music and to help facilitate that passion so that it stays with them for their life.
Joseph Seidman Drum Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Joseph grew up in Oak Park and has been making music since he could first waddle up to his parents' piano. Since then, Joseph has made it his goal to continue to learn as many new ways to make music as he can. Initially enrolling in classical piano lessons, Joseph would go on to study percussion in elementary school and continue to study and play piano, drums, and mallet percussion through undergrad, receiving a minor in music from Knox College. Since then, he has continued to expand his repertoire of instruments to include ukulele, banjo, and church organ, to name a few, and is eager to continue adding to that list. In his free time, you can likely catch Joseph digging in the garden, looking after his many house plants, or hanging with his pet turtle Torspeedo.
Kelly Mowers Assistant Manager
Kelly Mowers is a Chicago native, music lover, mother, baker, and scheduling veteran. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her daughter, crafting up a storm, or baking in her kitchen. With years of experience as a preschool teacher and a coordinator for in-home caregiving, she brings an unrivaled passion for ensuring a seamless scheduling process and helps foster a fun, up-beat learning environment for students of all ages.
Kyle Teegen Guitar Teacher
Kyle was captivated by music at a very young age, listening for hours with his father to the artists of XRT. Inspired by the Rock ‘n Roll of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, he picked up a guitar and took lessons throughout his childhood. In high school, it was the attitude and rebellious nature of Pop Punk bands like Blink-182 that led him to form a band with his friends and begin performing music for others. Being a quiet-natured kid from the suburbs, the stage allowed him a platform of self-expression unlike any other. He pursued this creative outlet in college, earning a degree in music performance from Columbia College Chicago. It was here that he first heard The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, forever expanding his conceptions of music and songwriting. Since then, music has continued to be a central part of Kyle’s life, whether it was repairing and building stringed instruments, or performing the sounds of Funk, Soul, and Motown with the Chicago-based Second Hand Soul Band. Now a guitar and bass instructor at School of Rock, he is excited to share his lifelong passion with others.
Matt Tate Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Matt Tate is a Chicago-based artist, guitarist, composer and instructor. For the last 10 years he has been dedicated to performing solo and in bands. Currently, he is composing music for a Solo Stick record, launching a new website, touring, and working on multiple recording/performing collaborations (metal-math-prog-experimental). His current musical leanings are in the vein of the technical death shred of Blotted Science and the rhythmic madness of Frank Zappa, the interlocking poly-rhythmic spiderwebs of King Crimson and the stark, overwhelming beauty of Arvo Part.
Max Carrillo Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
As a Columbia College Graduate, Max Carrillo has gone on to become a fill-in touring guitarist for rock group Remada. Along with being a singer-songwriter, he is also the front man and manager for Chicago's hard rock quartet UnderFire. He has played various venues such as House of Blues, Metro, Bottom Lounge, Toads Place and Webster Theatre. Max has also shared the stage with notable acts such as Saving Abel, Cavo, Lights Alive and Three Years Hollow.
Max is currently working on session work and is the guitarist for the Detroit rock band A War Within. A War Within has toured with bands such as Bless The Fall, The Word Alive, Ded, The Plot In You and many others. Max looks forward to inspiring students, along with sharing his love and knowledge of music with them. He is a guitar teacher and bass guitar teacher at School of Rock Oak Park.
Michael Brooks Piano Teacher, Singing Teacher
Michael Brooks has been studying music since the age of four, when he started piano lessons and first heard his parents' vinyl copy of "Pet Sounds." While being trained in classical piano, Brooks eventually found himself drawn to Billy Joel, Ben Folds and rock operas. He studied music, theatre and voice at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI before moving to Chicago with his indie pop/piano rock band Common Shiner. In his 12-year tenure with that project Brooks charted nationally in the AC format (thanks to major support from Midwestern radio stations), toured the continental US and made a slasher movie parody music video that went viral across the globe with over 12 million views. Brooks has also voiced radio commercials and characters nationally, and won a Kennedy Center Special Award for Theatrical Sound Design in 2006. Current endeavors include Otter Finn, Foster, Front Runners and solo projects.
Michael Morgan General Manager, Music Director
Michael Morgan has been playing music for close to 10 years, and has roots in The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, but loves all kinds of music genres, such as jazz, funk, rock, blues, classical, metal, folk, bluegrass and lots in between! He believes there is always more to learn when it comes to music and strives to keep improving as a musician and a teacher. We're very happy to have him! He is the Music Director at School of Rock Oak Park.
Reid Libby Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Raised on the theatrical virtuosity of Jimi Hendrix, Weird Al Yankovic, The Beatles and the Marx Brothers, Reid has been juxtaposing guitar and performance since seventh grade. In 2013, as he was majoring in Theatre Performance and Literary Studies at Beloit College, Reid began writing and recording music that integrated the braininess of literature and theatricality of drama. Reid's music was compelling and successful, culminating in Reid performing a song written for his theatre professor at his own commencement. After graduation, Reid expanded into a genre he calls "theatre pop" with the first of four feature-length concept albums. Sharing a name with its protagonist, "Birdbrain" explores art's delicate balance between music and words in a 76-minute whirlwind of sketches, songs, dialogue, sound experiments and poetry.
Steve Edwards Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher
Steve Edwards began playing piano at the age of five and began studying guitar at age 11 after hearing a classical guitar recital at his church on Easter Sunday. Since then, Edwards has concertized throughout the United States and Europe as a recitalist, chamber musician and soloist, and as half of the renowned Edwards-Simmons Guitar Duo. After receiving his bachelor's degree on a scholarship to DePaul University, where he studied with legendary guitarist Leon Borkowski, he pursued his Master's degree at DePaul under the instruction of Mark Maxwell. Steve has studied and worked with such world-famous guitarists as Pepé Romero, Christopher Parkening, Denis Azabagic, Douglas Niedt and Robert Guthrie. An exceptionally talented classical guitarist, Steve Edwards received the distinguished honor of runner-up in the Society of American Musicians Guitar Competition. A versatile chamber musician, Mr. Edwards's preeminent performance career has included collaborations with many notable artists, including flamenco guitarist Carlos Montoya, legendary jazz pianist George Shearing and violin virtuoso Gidon Kremer. Recordings of Mr. Edwards have been featured on national broadcasts by Chicago's fine arts radio station, 98.7WFMT, as well as on Radio France. Having played in bands since the age of 11, Mr. Edwards formed the Steve Edwards Orchestra in 1994. He has devoted a lifetime of experience to performing and has appeared in concert with Dave Mason, Buddy Guy and George Shearing. Mr. Edwards is a prolific composer and arranger for film and live theatre. His compositions on Guitarra Azul's debut CD "Mariposa" have received great acclaim as well as enthusiastic reception from audiences nationwide.
Thomas Kelliher Drum Teacher
Tommy Kelliher is a young professional drummer, experienced in all genres from Rock to Orchestral. Having recently completed his bachelor of music in Jazz studies at Elmhurst University, Tommy is primarily playing with the Beyond Standard Trio, as well as developing his compositional skills with various side projects. As an educator, he offers fourteen years of formal training and a diversity of musical knowledge which can give insight to all drummers and percussionists no matter their age or skill level.
Tim Johnson Guitar Teacher
Tim Johnson first picked up the guitar over 20 years ago at age 13 and hasn't put it down since. In 2001, he earned a BA in Music Business from Elmhurst College. He has been teaching private guitar and bass lessons consistently since 2000 in the western suburbs and running rock band programs for kids since 2010. When outside of lessons, Tim evenly divides his time between practicing, rehearsals and a plethora of varying live performance situations, including everything from Chicago street festivals to weddings, large events like Riot Fest, big and small club shows and performing on the street. Trying to stay as busy as possible, he has held tenure in countless bands. This constant real world performing experience enriches every lesson. In addition to several original projects that Tim has in the works, he also currently performs extensively in and around Chicago with The Student Body (party rock covers).
Tracy Shepherd Drum Teacher
Tracy Shepherd is a professional drummer and instructor based in Chicago. He has over 20 years of stage and studio experience covering all styles and eras, from swing to rock, blues to Latin, and country to dance/pop/R&B. A Chicago native, Tracy was raised in a musical family. With a father and older brother who were both drummers, his passion for drums and music has been literally life-long. Tracy majored in Music in college and, starting at age nine, has studied under several great teachers, including renowned NBC staff drummer Max Mariash, the late, great Chicago drummer, teacher and band leader Tony Caselli, and classical percussion studies with Mike McLead. Additional private lessons followed with masters such as Rusty Jones and Johnny Rabb.
Tracy’s earliest professional experience started at 13, playing for local Chicago area church and school musical productions. Since then his music career has taken him to venues large and small, from the east coast to Las Vegas and throughout the Midwest, including the Surf Ballroom, Chicago's Orchestra Hall, Metro, Vic Theater, Arcada Theater, Shuba's, House of Blues and many others. Tracy’s playing/recording credits include work with many great Chicago bands and artists. He has also shared the stage with such notables as The Samples, The Radiators, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Edwin McCain, The Grassroots, Jazz is Dead, Buddy Holly’s Crickets, Edan Don Everly, Remembering Ricky Nelson featuring Gunnar and Matthew Nelson, Johnny Rivers and others. In addition to a busy live performance schedule, Tracy is very active in drum education and studies piano and voice in his spare time. He is a drum teacher at School of Rock Oak Park.
Jarrett Donoghue Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Jarrett Donoghue is a Chicago-based guitarist, vocalist and music teacher currently performing with Uncle Jesse & the Rippers, Of Evermore: The Music of Led Zeppelin, and The Influence, playing a wide variety of jazz, blues, rock, metal, country and funk originals and covers.
At Loyola University Chicago, Jarrett spent 6 semesters with the Loyola Jazz Band under the direction of Scott Burns, in addition to time with chamber ensembles and small jazz groups. His college studies also focused on music theory, jazz history and jazz improvisation.
He’s previously played with members of both the Chicago and Detroit music scenes, including Anthony Molinaro, Matt Ulery, Fareed Haque, Mark Hague, Ari Teitel, Jamie Dull, Kelli Ann Lotrich, Kyle Asche, and bands Mr. Blotto, The Dropper, Sea Lords and The Ewing Theory. He was also featured by the Detroit Free Press in 2009 as a “Best Upcoming Artist.”