Alec Simpson Owner, General Manager
Alec’s passion is music - playing, writing, recording and mixing. He is a multi-instrumentalist who primarily plays guitar but also has proficiency on drums, keys, bass, violin and mandolin. His passion for music started at age six, when he started guitar lessons. His talent eventually led him to the Frisco, Texas School of Rock, where he was part of the house band and performed all over the Dallas area. Alec accepted a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Production and Engineering. After graduation he moved back to Dallas, working in the audio/visual industry before moving to St. Petersburg and becoming the owner/general manager of School of Rock St. Petersburg. Alec is thrilled to be contributing to the music industry by helping shape the next generation of musicians through School of Rock.
Mark Cunningham Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher
Mark began his career in music over 20 years ago as a bass player in a band he started with a few friends. Since then, Mark has performed in various live music scenarios that have included piano accompaniment in numerous theater productions and bands. Some of the notable events in Mark's career include performances in the Hulaween Music Festival (Live Oak, Florida), Gasparilla Music Festival (Tampa, Florida) and South By Southwest (Austin, Texas). Mark performed with a group that was nominated to compete in the International Blues Competition in Memphis, Tennessee. Currently, Mark can be seen in various music venues in central Florida, playing the upright bass with the St. Petersburg based band Someday Honey.
Vincent "Vince" Montemarano Drum Teacher
A consistently gigging and touring drummer for over 14 years, Vincent plans to use his additional experience in songwriting, guitar, bass, vocals and percussion to help strengthen students’ understanding and appreciation of music. He knew that being a musician was his calling when he started playing guitar at age 10, but it wasn’t until age 13 that he realized he felt most comfortable behind a drum kit. From that point, he began taking drum set lessons and also joined the Countryside High School drum line, where he would spend the next four years developing and honing his drumming skills.
Vincent continues to use his multi-instrumental experience in his two current bands, for which he writes and arranges music. With his comprehensive skill set, he hopes to create a unique lesson plan that caters to each student’s individual musical aspirations.
Melbourne "Mel" Walsh Guitar Teacher
Melbourne "Mel" Walsh picked up his first guitar at 15 years old. Inspired by his father's love of guitar, Mel's natural musical aptitude ensured local success in his hometown of Marathon, Florida. He started his formal musical education in Gainesville, Florida at Santa Fe Community College but was quickly lured away by the opportunity to study at The Players School of Music. There he took part in weekly jazz ensembles with the inimitable Jeff Berlin, studied theory, harmony, scales and chord tones, learned to read chord charts and sheet music, received one-on-one guitar lessons and ear training, and a multitude of other musical concepts. He has played a myriad of venues from Florida to North Carolina, including Hard Rock Cafe and Jannus Live. Mel's musical background includes rock, blues, jazz, fusion, progressive rock and funk.
Zach Short Guitar Teacher
Zach Short is a guitarist and vocalist of 13 years from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has written and recorded two albums with cog and lantern recordings, both of which have been released on iTunes and other music platforms. Zach has played multiple venues, ranging from small sizes such as restaurants, bars and weddings to larger venues that host national acts like Cains Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has toured the Midwest, playing in multiple bands either as a hired guitarist, session guitarist or permanent member of the band, and has performed at festivals such as SXSW in Austin, Texas playing showcases and opening up for artists including Leon Russel and The Nixons. Zach has eight years of experience teaching students of all ages, both in group settings and private lessons. He currently plays guitar for the Safety Harbor-based band Viewers Like You and is regularly gigging throughout the Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg areas.
Vinny Svoboda Bass Guitar Teacher, Drum Teacher, Piano Teacher
Vinny Svoboda picked up his first musical instrument, the violin, when he was 10 years old. Shortly after this musical introduction, he received his first bass guitar. In his early teens, after a few years of being a part of his school's orchestras and bands, Vinny became intrigued by the mechanics of percussion and overall rhythm. He immersed himself in learning how to play any percussion instrument he could get his hands on.
His education progressed when he was accepted into the Music Performance program at the University of South Florida. Studying under the principal bass player of the Florida Orchestra, Vinny received his Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance with an emphasis in Classical Upright Bass in 2013. Since graduation, Vinny has made great strides within his local community and abroad as a live and studio musician for many musical acts. He's also an active audio engineer who specializes in full-band tracking, mixing and mastering. He is a bass guitar teacher, drum teacher and piano teacher at School of Rock St. Petersburg.
Jae Hughes Studio Coordinator
Since the age of 10, Jae Hughes has had a passion for both teaching music and working with children. Her career began as a music tutor for percussion instruments at her high school in Rayland, Ohio. To further her career, she moved to St. Petersburg after graduation, and has spent her time since then teaching band instruments, percussion and piano, and working in the music industry. With experience in both sales and lesson coordinating, she enjoys working with people and spreading the joy of music to everyone she meets. She is the Studio Coordinator at School of Rock St. Petersburg.
Ashley Whiting Vocal Instructor
Ashley Whiting grew up on army bases around the country and has performed in New York City, Los Angeles, Hawaii, the Netherlands and South Korea. She began singing as a child with Texas Children’s Choir and Broadway Troupe, started chorus in middle school and majored in Musical Theatre at Blake School of the Arts in Tampa. After obtaining a BFA from Emerson College in Boston, Ashley worked as a voiceover artist and producer for animation in Los Angeles before pursuing musical theatre full-time. She’s been teaching children and adults dance and theatre since she was a pre-teen and continues to perform as an actress and singer around the Tampa Bay area. She is a vocal instructor at School of Rock St. Petersburg.
Matt Aaland Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Vocal Instructor
Matt Aaland is a multi-instrumentalist who comes from the jazz rich community of Fargo, North Dakota, where he grew up attending big band jazz concerts. Picking up the violin as his first instrument, Matt quickly added guitar, bass, piano, voice, brass and woodwind instruments to his repertoire all before high school graduation. Performing with jazz greats like Maynard Ferguson and Ramsey Lewis ignited a passion for music performance in him. Following his favorite local musicians into the collegiate world, Matt attended North Dakota State University with an emphasis on Music Education, studying with the incredible team of Dr. Matthew Patnode and Dr. Kyle Mach. While in college Matt enlisted in the US Army, where he performed with the 188th Army Band as well as the 215th Army Band all around the world. Accepting a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, he then studied Guitar Performance.
After Berklee, Matt relocated to the Los Angeles area to pursue a career in the music industry, performing in local bands and studio projects in the LA and Las Vegas metro areas. After relocating to the Chicago area, Matt began to focus on offering private instruction as well as group masterclasses. He accepted an instructor position at School of Rock in Geneva, Illinois where he taught guitar, bass, piano and vocals, as well as directed performance groups. Matt continues to use his extensive experience to offer custom designed musical instruction to each of his students. He focuses on student’s goals and interests to help each student find their unique musical voice and direction. He is a guitar teacher, bass guitar teacher, piano teacher and vocal instructor at School of Rock St. Petersburg.