Lisa Riley Owner, General Manager
My husband, Neville, and I, have lived in Philadelphia since the 1980s, and I moved to Philadelphia in the 1990s. We live in the Queen Village neighborhood and our children go to Philadelphia public schools. Needless to say, as long time residents and parents in Philadelphia, we have a deep commitment to the city and a great understanding of Philadelphia as a community. Music has played a key role in our lives ever since we were kids. We’ve also seen the positive effects that SOR has had on our own children.
For the past 25 years I have worked in the field of mental health. The majority of my career was spent working in an outpatient setting as a psychotherapist treating adolescents and adults. I have also created and managed programs in the behavioral health field.
Neville has spent the past 25 years working in a range of businesses and creative-sector organizations and is now a professor at Drexel University in the Department of Arts & Entertainment Enterprise, where he teaches the business of arts and entertainment. He serves on the board of directors for several arts organizations and has cultivated valuable relationships in Philadelphia’s creative community. Although Neville will not be involved in the daily operations of SOR, he will serve as an excellent resource by guiding strategic planning in the execution of ideas, and fostering connections and potential collaborations with other arts/music/creative organizations.
Cecile Urmenyhazi Assistant General Manager
Cecile was born and raised in Philly, going to Greenfield Elementary and then Masterman for middle and high school. She has immersed herself in music and dance from a young age, playing viola in orchestras, singing in choirs, playing guitar in bands, and dancing ballet and tap. Cecile's love for music and understanding people led her to study ethnomusicology at Barnard College, where she continued to perform with music and dance ensembles as well as worked at the Columbia Music & Arts Library. Cecile is so happy to be at School of Rock Philadelphia, in such a positive environment where she can be involved in the musical and personal growth of our students.
Michael Kowalski Music Director
Michael Kowalski has been a part of School of Rock for over 14 years in Princeton and Philadelphia. He was a long time member of the House Band and All-Stars. Michael went to the University of the Arts as a Set Design Major and works around Philly as a musician and artist.
Jace Miller Singing Teacher
Jace grew up in the Philadelphia area and has been in the music scene since he was a teenager. He currently is the singer/guitarist/songwriter of the rock/alternative trio Alright Junior based out of Philly. The band has been touring and has shared the stage with Incubus, Toadies, Local H, Everclear, Cake, Circa Survive, Flogging Molly, Civil Twilight, Maps & Atlases, Sponge, Our Lady Peace, Nick Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age, Wheatus, McRad, 10 Years, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Young the Giant, The Ataris, She Wants Revenge, The Head and The Heart, KONGOS, The Spill Canvas, The Juliana Theory, Bear Hands and more!
Jace studied at BCCC as a Vocal major where he finished his AA and at UMass Amherst as an Arts Management major where he finished his BA. He also is a booking agent with TSE Entertainment that books local, regional, national, and international acts across the US and the world. "I'm very proud to be a part of a team here at SOR that gives back by passing along a true heart and soul to aspiring young artists via music. Watching music change their lives in real time is remarkable and inspiring."
Yanni Papadopoulos Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Yanni first got involved with SoR back in 2003 and quickly became a favorite among students for his dynamic guitar lessons and fantastically directed shows. Yanni graduated from St. John's College with a BA in Classic Literature before embarking on his unique music odyssey. He has composed, performed, produced, and toured with his legendary Philly-based genre-bending band Stinking Lizaveta for the last 20 years in the US and Europe. Along with also playing hip-hop, space rock, and jazz, he has also accompanied modern dance companies and belly dancers. Most recently, he's gained more traction in the music world playing with Mark Morton (of Lamb of God) and J.P. Gaster (of Clutch) in Mark's solo project.
Michael Kordish Keyboard Teacher
Since the age of four, Michael Kordish has been composing and performing at the piano. His prolific performing career has included a wide array of genres and styles including classical, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, trance, fusion, Eastern/Indian, rock, progressive, avant garde and free-form. In addition to performing solo, Michael has performed with (or as a member of) The People, Digable Planets, Planet 22, Satchmo Filter, Saigon Slimm, I Yahn I Arkestra and Sfogato.
Sofi Spatola Singing Teacher
Sofi Spatola is a Princeton School of Rock alum who studied at Temple University for a BS in geology. She has been singing and playing bass since she was a child and performed with Princeton School of Rock for 7 years. Along with taking lessons and touring with the house band there, she has also performed in all state choirs for 2 years. From Aretha Franklin to Mastodon, she loves all types of music and is excited to teach and sing with any student.
Salina Kuo Drum Teacher
Salina has many years of drums and keys experience as a performer on stage and in productions of shows like West Side Story, Les Miserables, and Little Shop of Horrors. She graduated from Temple University with a BM in Music Education.
Piotr Trafalski Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Piotr has been part of the School of Rock family from its early inception as a student at the first SoR ever here in Philadelphia. Now, he comes full circle and gives his incredible expertise in his guitar, bass, and theory knowledge. He continues to perform and write in his band, Troll Teeth.
Marshall Biever Bass Guitar Teacher, Guitar Teacher, Singing Teacher Marshall Biever
Marshall Biever has been teaching guitar for ten years. He’s been performing in bands of various genres since the age of thirteen, the most recent of which are Manic Pixi, Bonsai Trees, The Lion & the Badger, Resilient, and some solo materia. In addition to taking private lessons throughout high school, Marshall studied guitar for two years at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
Patrick Richardson Drum Teacher
Patrick Richardson's drumming thrives to balance-yet-extend the two extremes of any musical system. On the Left, the unconscious flow of the body connected to acoustic forces. On the Right, the sound-shaping poetry of intentions wired to analog and digital technology. If indeed "drum machines have no soul," Patrick wants to meet them in the middle.
Patrick started drumming in punk/surf/psychedelic/riot-grrrl bands in high school in Tulsa Oklahoma, before moving east to Oberlin, playing drums (and eventually electronics) in ska/rock/noise projects like "Both Heads Failed" and "Robot Versus Dinosaur". Moving to Philadelphia, he recorded with psych-rock outfit music.for.headphones, doom-metal nerds WormRider, and now leads various projects (PowerLoader, FmReader, LESS) from his home studio. Somewhere along the way, he conducted graduate research on Guitar Hero, learned to write code, and picked up a hobby building/modifying/repairing analog and digital music gear. When not serving the School of Rock, Patrick is an adjunct at Temple University and Drexel University.
Alyson Massa Keyboard Teacher, Singing Teacher
Alyson Massa, from Middletown NJ, is a 2016 graduate from Syracuse University with a Bachelor’s degree in voice performance, and the winner of the Irene L. Crooker award for excellence in music. Having been a part of many vocal ensembles such as internationally recognized award winning choirs, jazz ensembles, and a cappella groups, she is well rounded in many styles. She is also an accomplished arranger and has arranged for many different vocal ensembles of varying styles. Although voice is her main focus, she is also a proficient pianist who has been a private teacher and accompanist for juries, recitals, and musicals. She finished at Temple university with a masters in music education. Now residing in Nashville, TN, she stays with us remotely.
Maya Stith Keyboard Teacher, Singing Teacher
Maya comes to SoR with years of performance and teaching experience. With a background that includes radio work with WRTI, founding and curating Tea & Talk, and as a music consultant, she has lots to offer her students. She graduated from Temple University with a degree in Africana Studies and Music.
Tim Phy Bass Guitar Teacher
Tim encompasses the meaning of Punk music. He's a die-hard actively driven bass player that has some serious stage presence. He's been in bands his whole life, toured the country, and has a genuine passion in passing on his knowledge to the next generation of rockers.
Ryan O'Grady Guitar Teacher
Ryan is a SoR alumni coming from Downingtown, PA. There he was in the House Band and toured in All-Stars playing across the US, including Lollapalooza. He graduated from Drexel University with a BS in Music Industry and currently works on his own music, audio engineering, and producing.
John Venezia Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher
John is a serious working session drummer that travels all over from Philly to NYC to Nashville, and wherever his talents are needed. He's shared the stage with artists like Robin Eubanks and John Swana. He graduated from the University of the Arts in Instrumental Music Performance.
Patty Irwin Keyboard Teacher, Singing Teacher
Patricia Irwin is a vocalist from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Starting in musical theatre, her musical career has taken her to many different genres including pop, rock, jazz and classical music. She currently studies voice with Dr. Kelly Holst at Oklahoma City University where Patricia is pursuing a double music degree in vocal performance and musical theatre. Patricia is a frequent vocalist with the band No Commitment as well as with the Oklahoma City University Big Band Jazz Ensemble. She also performs with various jazz combos in both New Jersey/Philly and Oklahoma City. Patricia believes that healthy vocal technique must be the primary focus of singing and once a voice can phonate healthily, any style of music can be tackled.
Kenny Rosario-Pugh Guitar Teacher
Kenny Rosario-Pugh (a.k.a. Kenny RP), a Philadelphia native, is a graduate of Roman Catholic High School and has realized his goal of entering the University of the Arts as a Guitar major. He expects to graduate in 2019 with a degree in Music Performance. Kenny began playing electric guitar by ear at the age of 12. One of his inspirations for learning the instrument came from playing the video game, Guitar Hero. Essentially, Kenny has advanced from playing a plastic toy music instrument at home to playing the real thing on stage. Under the instruction of the great Yanni Papadopoulos, Kenny developed his guitar technique and love of performing live on stage while attending the Philly School of Rock (SOR), from which he graduated in 2015. Playing for 7 years with his fellow Philly SOR musicians in different venues around Philly and Jersey was a hugely fun and unforgettable learning experience that the very dedicated and enthusiastic Philly SOR faculty helped to create for him and all the music students. That he could really pursue music as a career was realized when he was accepted into the University of the Arts as a Guitar Performance major. Kenny plays jazz, rock, hip hop, blues, salsa, and is always open to learning other music genres. Kenny is very dedicated to developing musically and inspiring youth through teaching, and hopes it will make a difference wherever his hard work and determination take him.
Erin Fox Guitar Teacher, Singing Teacher
Based in Philadelphia, Erin has been singing since she could talk. Her musical education began at the age of seven when she discovered the viola, shortly afterwards moving to the guitar, and she began to write music in elementary school where she eventually would find that she wanted to pursue music all the way through college at Immaculata University majoring in Performance. Her first band was an all-girl rock group formed with her sister, and she’s graced stages with many groups since. Her band Resilient and her solo career continue to flourish with releasing new music consistently and touring in support. She's played events like the Philly Folk Fest with Ben Gibbard and has shared the stage with artists like Sick of Sarah, Hunter Valentine, and Robert Ellis.
Jess Araten Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher
Jess is a University of Pennsylvania graduate and longtime musician/member of the School of Rock family, being a part of House Band and East Coast All-Stars. Her tenure at SOR taught her the musicianship, tenacity, and empathy necessary to succeed in all future endeavors. In short, SOR shaped both the musician and person she is today.
As a guitarist, Jess has been featured by Guitar Player Magazine, has played alongside members of Aerosmith and Guns n’ Roses, has performed during GRAMMY Week, (opening for five time GRAMMY award nominee Hunter Hayes), and has gigged consistently since the age of 11, thanks to SOR. During her time at Penn, she played in countless pit bands and Philadelphia-based projects, all while maintaining a rigorous course load. As both a trained musician and student, Jess has attained the tools necessary to educate School of Rock’s students with the care and skill they deserve. Many of her fondest memories and closest friends are associated with her time at School of Rock, and she is happy to be a part of continuing the tradition for the next generation of young rockers.
Diamond Princess Franklin Singing Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Diamond Princess Franklin is a classically trained Vocalist specializing in Opera, Jazz, and Gospel music. A Mt. Airy Philadelphia native, Diamond has trained under renowned musicians: Monette Sudler, Ruth Naomi Floyd and Angel Joy Blue, and has performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Walnut Street Theatre and The Kimmel Center with Rock and R&B artists, Jon Bon Jovi and Estelle. Diamond received her Bachelor's of Music from Cairn University, and in addition to performing, also works as a music instructor and vocal coach.
Keegan Farara Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Keyboard Teacher, Drum Teacher
Keegan Farara is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. A native Vermonter, he has been writing and performing his songs since the age of 12. In his teens, he performed in bars and clubs across Vermont, fronting the power pop group, Stag Line. The group’s single, “I’m Much Better”, was in regular rotation on rock radio in Burlington, VT.
For five years, he cut his teeth in the Boston music scene, leading the eclectic rock outfit, Red Mill. The group released two EPs, two LPs, a handful of singles, while giving many high-energy performances in the New England area.
Keegan is thrilled to bring his experience in songwriting and live performance to School of Rock Philadelphia!
Ryan Paolilli Drum Teacher
Ryan Paolilli is a professional session/touring drummer and educator. He has been playing drums for 20 years, touring for 10 years, and teaching for 12 years. He is currently the drummer for Philly-based touring act Kaonashi, and legend goth rock band, Christian Death.
Growing up, Ryan received a music education from the award winning NMRSD band program, participating in Wind Symphony, Marching Band, Jazz band and more. As well, Ryan has studied under drumming greats like Mike Mangini (Dream Theater, Extreme, Steve Vai), Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta, Trash Talk, Chiodos), Jonathan Collin Greene, Joel Turcotte, and more.
Zach Birnbaum Bass Guitar Teacher, Guitar Teacher, Keyboard Teacher, Singing Teacher
Zach Birnbaum is a guitarist, singer, composer, and performer from the South Jersey/ Philly area. He has been involved in numerous projects, including wedding bands, original rock music, jazz ensembles, and local choirs. He graduated in Jazz Guitar Performance and Music Composition with a minor in Voice from Rowan University. He looks forward to continuing to help students of all ages grow at School of Rock Philly!