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.
Vincent "Vince" Montemarano Drum, Bass Guitar and Singing 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 and Singing 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.
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.
Sara Bignault Singing, Keyboard and Guitar Teacher
Sara is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and vocalist from Nashville TN. In true Nashville fashion, Sara has been singing and writing her own songs, both lyrically and instrumentally, for as long as she can remember. At age five she fell in love with playing the piano and began taking lessons, and later began playing guitar and taking vocal lessons at age 13.
Throughout high school, Sara participated in choir, acapella groups, musicals, orchestral band, lead worship as the lead keyboard player at her church, all the while continuing to write her own music and also performing in Stella Louise, a band formed by her and her friends, as the lead vocalist.
Upon graduation, Sara pursued a Bachelor of Science in Audio Production at Middle Tennessee State University in their Recording Industry program with a minor in Entertainment Technology.
As a teen, Sara found her love for teaching piano. Since the start of her teaching career, she has taught numerous students ranging from as young as 5 years old to as old as 87. Sara thrives by helping others ignite their passion for music and tailors each lesson according to the student’s interest. Offering a variety of styles, Sara's teaching methods include by note, ear, theory, chord charts, the Nashville Number System, songwriting/composition, ear training, harmony, improvisation, and more.
Sara currently continues to pursue her solo career as an artist, collaborates consistently with others across the music industry, and teaches piano, guitar and vocal performance at the St. Pete School of Rock.
Andrea Tafelski Drum, and Singing Teacher
By combining her rigorous conservatory training in percussion, her voice, and her passion for songwriting, Andrea has forged a unique and memorable musical experience. She puts percussion in the forefront of her music, using her familiarity with it to compose her songs as well as to perform them. You’ll find her utilizing the Malletstation, Drumset, and voice simultaneously during solo performances as well as with her group Andē and Co. She has recently performed at Black Crow and Golden Hour Series in Saint Petersburg and is frequently performing in venues throughout St. Petersburg and Tampa.
Andrea has a Bachelor of Music Performance degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music in Percussion/Timpani and has spent extensive time studying chamber percussion music with the group Sō Percussion (Brooklyn, NY). She has also played percussion for Hanson and il Divo as well as performed with Opera Tampa, St.Petersburg Opera, and is currently on the percussion substitute list for The Florida Orchestra. Andrea is an artist on the Beetle Percussion roster. She is currently teaching drums and vocal instruction at the St. Pete School of Rock.
James Gelber Guitar and Bass Guitar Teacher
James joins the St. Pete School of Rock team after spending six years and three world tours as a guitarist for the Las Vegas-based, heavy metal band Hemlock. Opening for bands such as Slayer, Slipknot, Meshuggah, Korn and numerous others, Hemlock allowed James to broaden his musical horizons into the heavy metal arena. While not on tour, James worked as a touring guitar tech and roadie for a number of other bands.
His interest in music began at age 12 in Bryan, Texas where his two older brothers taught him how to play the guitar. It wasn’t long before he became interested in writing, recording and producing nearly all genres of music. At 16, he began running live sound for concerts and other venues in his hometown and eventually attended South Plains College in Lubbock, Texas to study sound engineering. While in college James was the lead sound engineer for the local college sports bar producing all live shows.
James moved to St. Petersburg in February 2020 and joined our team as a guitar and bass instructor. He continues to write, play, produce, record and mix music, while sharing his incredible talent and experience with our students