Darren Ronan is a professional musician who has been teaching at Grace Episcopal Day School since 2008. He graduated from University of North Florida with a B.A. in Music in 2002, served as Band Director at St. Johns Country Day School '00 -’07, and founded Ronan School of Music in 2010.
While at UNF he was fortunate to study percussion with Charlotte Mabrey and drum set with Rick Kirkland. He has also toured the southern and eastern United States playing in a variety of musical settings; opening shows and sharing stages with such notable performers as Booker T., Diane Schuur, Linda Purl, Elvin Bishop, Dwight Yoakum, Dick Dale, Southern Culture on the Skids, Syl Johnson, Evan Dando, Mickey Thomas from Starship, Vic Chestnut, Randy Weston, Junior Brown, and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys.
He has provided percussion for local productions of musicals “Pippin” and “Bye Bye Birdie,” and along with respected Broadway pianist Eugene Gwozdz as music director, backed Theater Jacksonville executive director Sarah Boone on her show, "The Double Threats: A Celebration of Composer/Lyricists.” He currently performs as a solo acoustic act and with his rockabilly band, The 77ds and his album of all-original music, ”Good Things," was released in 2009. Most recently, his original song, “Here It Feels the Same” was featured in a Welcome Jax promotional video.
Eric has been playing professionally up and down the east coast of the United States and abroad for more than twenty years. Specializing in woodwind instruction and introductory piano, Eric was one of the first instructors to join The Ronan School of Music when it opened in 2010. A graduate of the jazz department at the University of North Florida, Eric studied with saxophone legend Bunky Green. While in school Eric had the opportunity to play with such luminaries as Dave Brubeck, John Faddis and Nicholas Payton. Eric is based in Jacksonville where he plays regularly with his own group and freelances with many others.
Ernie Ealum has been one of the top, in-demand bassists for performing and recording in the southeast for 30 years. He is a Jacksonville University alumni and also studied at the University of Florida and the University of North Florida. Ernie has been teaching upright and electric bass in the Jacksonville/Orange Park area for over 20 years and had his teaching studio at the well-known music store, Nice Music in Orange Park, Florida, for much of that time. He has been teaching bass and cello for the Ronan School of Music since 2010. In addition, he has also been the adjunct bass professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville since 2002.
Ernie works as bassist with many musicians and bands in the North Florida and South Georgia areas covering all genres. He was the staff bassist at the Cloister at Sea Island for 10 years and has worked with artists as diverse as The Platters, Michael W. Smith, Percy Sledge, the Cox Family, Les DeMerle and Syl Johnson. In addition to his steady performing schedule he is currently the co-owner of the wedding and music event coordinator business, “Music by Pegge, LLC,” providing music for weddings, corporate, and other various events up and down the east coast.
Tom Legrand grew up in a musical family with five kids learning to play many instruments at an early age – there was always one lying around. He wrote a song on ukulele before starting elementary school, learned “Louie, Louie” on piano (much to his mother’s chagrin) at around age 6 and used to help an older friend who had a band figure out the changes to CCR tunes.
At a summer band program he learned to play drums, flute and clarinet and upon entering junior high school the same band director who led the summer sessions needed trombonists. So Tom played trombone all the way through college at Jacksonville University and beyond. Not only did he earn a scholarship with the trombone, he also played tympani and cello in the orchestra. He was in virtually every ensemble JU had: the jazz vocal octet, the choir and concert chorale, orchestra, band, jazz band and trombone ensemble. He was also able to study jazz piano with Bill Davis.
Tom has played trombone in shows with such jazz greats as Dave Brubeck, Maynard Ferguson, Andy Williams and Benny Goodman and was also in a production with Bob Hope. He has toured with various bands in 34 states and Cuba, including lengthy stays in New York City and New Orleans. He can play nearly any musical style and is very at home on trombone, keyboards, guitar, vocals, and bass guitar.
Anna Strickland has played the violin for over thirty years and has been teaching for fifteen years. She has studied classical violin, traditional Irish and American fiddle techniques. She began playing old time fiddle in 2010 and is a founding member of the Jacksonville Old Time Jam, a group of musicians who come together weekly to play traditional string band music. Anna also plays traditional clawhammer banjo. She is Vice-President of the Florida Fiddlers Association, an organization that fosters and promotes traditional fiddle music throughout the state.
She has been called upon to be a judge for several fiddle contests around Florida. As Vice-President, she helps officiate the Florida State Fiddle Contest, held each year at the Florida Folk Festival. Anna was the violin teacher for Rain or Shine home school co-op for several years. She has also taught at the Spirit of the Suwannee Kids Music Camp and has been a fiddle instructor at Sparrow Music Camp since 2013. She has been focused on learning and playing tunes from the vast repertoire of old time music for the past decade, and is the lead fiddler in a contra dance string band that plays for dances all over Florida.
Arvid is a well-respected instructor, composer, performer and author. His focus instruments are guitar (acoustic finger style solo and flat picked improvisational approach), the dobro and lap steel as well as beginning piano . In addition, he offers instruction on more exotic instruments such as The Indian Sitar, the Tanpura and Mandolin. He studied music education at The University of Florida and for more than four decades has pursued educating listeners of all ages in all settings, (group/individual, private or classroom ), as well as performing in a wide variety of venues, from The Kennedy Center to the legendary CBGB’s. His varied and eclectic approach to music has instructed and entertained audiences in settings as different as Planetarium sound designs to Bluegrass festivals. He is the author of the best selling “Contemporary Slide Guitar “ for Mel Bay Publications.
Richard Rosado holds a Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre from the University of Florida where he trained with the well-respected Matt Morgan. He has been an frequent participator in academic and local community theatre productions including: “Kiss Me, Kate;” “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Spring Awakening,” “In The Heights,” “Bridges of Madison County,” “Jacques Brel,” and countless others. He looks forward to giving his students the tools they need to free their own personal singing voices.
Mary Joan took painting lessons as a small child, developing a love of oils and the unique pigments they offered. She continued her studies into adulthood in the United States, Europe, and the Far East, immersing herself in the cultures and the stimulation they provided. Her work reflects a world that exists deep in cognitive awareness. Looking at nature, she sees the organic interaction of color, shape and form. The momentary effects of light, air and water movement are considered when she develops her compositions.
Natalie Ealum is entering her freshman year on a full scholarship to Jacksonville University, she will be attending and working towards her BFA in Musical Theatre and Music Education. Natalie was a member of TheSilhouettes, Douglas Anderson’s School of the Arts top Vocal Jazz Ensemble, along with her advanced studies in Music Theatre. Throughout Natalie’s time at D.A. she has had the privilege of being a part of RENT The Musical and also A Chorus Line as Maggie. Every Christmas season Natalie looks forward to the opportunity she has to perform as a Caroler at the Cloister in Sea Island. She has been training and performing for over 8 years and is excited to bring her teaching style to Ronan School of Music.
William Bast studied classical guitar at Stetson University under Dr. Stephen Robinson, one of the leading professors of classical guitar in the Southeast. He began playing guitar at the age of 9 with Rick NesSmith, here at Ronan School of Music, who used classic rock to engage his interest on the electric guitar. In high school, Will shifted his focus primarily to classical guitar under Dr. Thomas Harrison, Jacksonville University and the University of Central Florida. Will was awarded the Duckwitz Music Talent Scholarship from Stetson and has experience in solo and ensemble performances. He loves both the technical and artistic expression in music but is particularly drawn to the guitar as it allows the musician to develop several “voices” on one instrument.Will wants to teach guitar because he enjoys playing and thinks that other people can find joy playing as well.
Molly Sweet has been playing clarinet for over twenty years. She received her Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance from Florida State University during which time she was fortunate to have studied with clarinetists Dr. Frank Kowalsky and Dr. Deborah Bish. Following her formal education at Florida State, Molly has maintained an active presence in the Jacksonville music community, performing in various ensembles. One of her most constant performance ensembles is the New Orleans style traditional jazz band, The Junco Royals, in which she plays clarinet, arranges music and sings. Molly is also a founding board member and performing musician with the Civic Orchestra of Jacksonville and plays in a few chamber music ensembles. While her training makes her particularly well-suited to teaching clarinet for orchestra and wind band settings, she is passionate about exploring clarinet in other musical genres and celebrating the versatility of the instrument.
Justin Lane is a professional musician and live sound engineer at Anastasia Baptist Church. He studied guitar and music technology under James Hogan at The University of North Florida. His past teaching positions include a role as guitar instructor at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind which was deeply impactful to his teaching and playing styles. Justin performs as a guitarist and bassist in many bands around St. Augustine and Jacksonville including The Committee, King Peach, Auggie Style, Lonesome Ride, and The Taildraggers. He is proficient in many styles including rock, blues, funk, and bluegrass. Along with his work as a professional musician, Justin is regularly involved in studio projects for independent artists, bands, video productions, and commercial productions.
Michelle is a classically-trained pianist, studio musician, performer and Jacksonville native. Her relationship with music began at age 4, spending hours at her grandmother’s organ. At age 5, she began playing the violin, then switched to piano lessons at age 9. In high school, Michelle studied under Jennifer Wiggins Hidalgo and then went on to study Classical Piano Performance under Michelle Huang in college. In 2021, Michelle toured regionally & recorded with a local rock band. Michelle currently performs with Jessica Pounds and Millie Hudson at local venues such as the Riverside Arts Market, Jack Rabbits in San Marco, and the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. The trio is set to record their first single in August 2022. Michelle looks forward to sharing her knowledge & love of music with the next generation of young musicians in the Jacksonville area.