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Mark Pellegrino – Drum Instructor

Mark has been playing drums for 29 years and he has been teaching off and on for 20 years. He’s been a full time teacher for the last 10 years. In the summer of 2006, Mark started Pellegrino’s School of Music & Art to try and create an environment much like what he was exposed to during his time at Berklee College of Music in Boston where he received a 2 year certificate in drumset performance. Mark has studied privately for 10 years with the likes of Jim Chapin, Kenny Arronoff, and Dave DiCenso to name a few. He has toured all over the states playing every style of music. Marks teaching method includes trying to find what motivates the student and helping them set and develop their goals. He pushes his students to take advantage of the stage at Pellegrino’s School of Music at our free jams, recitals, and our band program.

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Justin Ward – Guitar Instructor

In 2012 Justin Ward celebrates his 25th anniversary of playing guitar, and his 10th year of full-time teaching (6 years at Pellegrino’s)! Justin currently has the largest private student roster in the area, and is currently instructing 8 bands in the Pellegrino’s Band Program. His years of experience, knowledge and tailored instruction style have produced many of the areas finest players.

Justin has a Bachelor of Science degree from MSU. While attending MSU he played in the University Jazz and concert bands, and received private instruction from department heads Joe Leiter and John Strickler. His diverse style has made him one of the most popular guitarists in the area, playing for the groups Clockwork, 4 Jax (featuring 2-time Star Search winner Jake Simpson), and Sequel Dose. He has done several stints with Springfield Little Theatre, and has recorded many diverse studio projects.

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Aaron Roten- Guitar Instructor

Aaron earned a BSED from Southwest Missouri State University 1996, and has taught public school since then, with the last 15 of those years at Logan- Rogersville High School.

Aaron has studied guitar for nearly 23 years, and has taught the instrument for 20 of those. Aaron is the guitarist and primary composer for the instrumental group, Super-String-Theory. Named “Ozarks Guitar God” by the Springfield News-Leader, Aaron has developed a reputation for pushing musical boundaries of theory and technique, fusing several styles to cultivate the music he composes and performs.

With Super-String-Theory, Aaron has released two full length CD’s; 2003’s “Swimming in the Dutch Mordant” and 2006’s “Principles of Transformation” to international critical acclaim. 2012 will see the release of a third Super-String-Theory cd, “An Invention for Times Like These”, and in 2013, Aaron hopes to complete an acoustic cd as well. Aaron has penned instructional articles for the popular shred website, Chops From Hell; shared the stage with the likes of King’s X, Michael Angelo Batio, Chris Duarte, Marc Rizzo, Eric Sardinas, Bobby Rock, and Jeff Scheetz. Aaron has been a guest soloist on several recordings by other artists, most notably featured along with Alex Machacek, Marcel Coenan, Mikhal Caldwell, Bill Bruce, Fountainhead, and Ron Jarzombek on releases from The Fractured Dimension.

Aaron is constantly trying to expand his musical knowledge in the areas of rock, jazz, metal, flamenco, classical, and world music styles to nurture his unending pursuit of acrobatic guitar abuse!

Jim Bultas- Guitar Instructor

Jim has been playing and performing professionally on guitar and bass for over twenty years. He is a well versed and accomplished player in rock, folk, jazz, classical, metal, bluegrass, latin and country styles. Jim has more than ten years of teaching experience and has written a library of thousands of lesson plans which were developed for students of all ages and experience levels. He is an honors graduate from Musicians Institute (GIT) and has performed and studied with Victor Wooten, Scott Henderson, and Paul Gilbert among others. In addition, Jim also enjoys film directing, composing, and podcasting. His film work has received worldwide distribution and national airplay as well as being a finalist for the 2011 Parsec Awards. He frequently performs in the orchestra for the Little Theater and his cover band Bender.

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Kevin Lane Breshears – Bass Instructor

Kevin Lane has played professionally for over 30 years, which includes 23 as a Bassist and backing vocalist with country music star Mickey Gilley’s Grammy award winning Urban Cowboy Band. With Mickey Gilley, Kevin has played across the country, on television, numerous live performances in Las Vegas, Branson, and other various places. He has also appeared on 5 studio recordings by Gilley. He also backed up other music superstars such as Johnny Lee, Tony Melendez, Moe Bandy, Doug Kershaw, John Schneider, Joann Castle, Mille Walker, and the Lennon Sisters. As an original member of the Misstakes, an Eighties favorite of the Midwest, Kevin Lane made his start as a fixture of the local music scene. With the Misstakes, he has recorded records, and played in numerous main stage settings (i.e. having played in front of or having “opened up for” bands such as U2, Crowded House, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, the Ramones, and many others.) Kevin also founded and fronted an R&B, funk-rock group, the Horndawgs. As a Branson favorite, the “Dawgs” have been a centerpiece of the “pro-pickers” after-hours scene. Kevin has served as music director and worship leader at Living Waters Community Church in Nixa, Mo from 1998 to2009. Kevin is an alumnus of the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, California, where he studied Jazz theory and performance, and he has studied music theory at Southwest Missouri State. He uses the experience in teaching private bass and guitar lessons.

Ryan Hunt-Piano/Vocal Instruction

Ryan Hunt has performed in several different venues across the country. Although originally from Ponca City OK, Hunt moved to Springfield, MO at a young age and graduated from Kickapoo High School in 1995. He then went on to pursue studies in piano performance at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and Missouri State University. Ryan moved to New York City in early 2003, and performed nightly as a pianist/singer. His performances include Lincoln Center, and the famous jazz club, Birdland. Since that time he has relocated back to Springfield, and has taught professionally for the past five years at Pellegrino’s School of Music & Art. Hunt also serves as the Staff Pianist for the Springfield Regional Opera, as well as Missouri State University Opera, and is the church organist at First & Calvary Presbyterian. Ryan has also worked closely with Springifled Public Schools and has accompanied, coached, and taught several children, teens, and adults from the greater metro area.

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Elsa Blair- Violin

Elsa Blair grew up here in the Ozarks and has been playing the violin for almost 15 years. When she was 16 she started teaching music and has been teaching and loving it ever since! Elsa has played all over the country and all over the world; performing in 17 different states, Russia, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland and the Czech Republic. She has played classical, country, Celtic, bluegrass, worship and improv in multiple orchestras, ensembles and groups.

Bill Huff-Piano/Vocal Instruction

Bill was born in Sikeston, MO, has been playing the piano for 38 years, writing music for 33 years, singing in musical theater and in churches for the past 30 years and teaching for most of the last 23 years. He has lived and recorded in Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis, and Springfield and has his degree in Music Composition from the University of Memphis, where he won the 1990 ASCAP Victor Herbert Award for composition, several NMTA composition contests, and the 1991 Smit Prize for Composition. He was President of the U of M Singers for several years and jazz keyboardist for Sound Fuzion, the university touring pop/jazz ensemble. He has led worship in churches since 1991 and has written over 200 compositions since 1985. Most recently, he has recorded a worship CD at a local studio and performed in a showcase held at Ernie Bigg’s Dueling Pianos in downtown Springfield. Bill has played by ear since age seven and has performed the piano works of Debussy, Chopin, Brahms, Beethoven, and Barber in concerts and recitals in six states and is particularly adept at conveying music theory for students of all ages, as well as an appreciation for Jazz and R&B.