Darren Ronan - Drums/ Percussion, Guitar, Bass, Ukulele
BM Music Performance - University of North Florida
Darren Ronan is a professional musician who graduated from University of North Florida with a Bachelors in Music, served as Band Director at St. Johns Country Day School '01-'07 and is currently the elementary Music Teacher at Grace Episcopal Day School in Orange Park. He has toured the southern United States playing in a variety of musical settings. He has opened shows and shared stages with such notable performers as Booker T., Diane Schuur, 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 and the Fly-rite Boys and has provided percussion for musicals such as "Pippin" and "Bye Bye Birdie." He currently performs as a solo acoustic act and with his rockabilly band, The 77ds. "Good Things," his album of all-original music, was released in 2009, and he opened Ronan School of Music in 2010.
Micah Mills - Violin
BM Music Composition and Theory - Jacksonville University
Micah Mills has been playing the violin since the age of 9, studying with Aaron Krosnick, former concert master of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. He is graduated from Jacksonville University with a degree in music composition and theory. He has been teaching private violin lessons in the Jacksonville area since 2006 and is currently leading the string program for Jacksonville arts magnet school, Fishweir Elementary.
In addition to teaching private lessons for Ronan School of Music Micah helps us by teaching our after-school group, and individual, violin lessons at Riverside Presbyterian Day School. He performs professionally with Jacksonville Strings, and has collaborated with various local artists including Rebecca Zapen and Brenden Trinkle.
Abigail Gruber - Violin, Viola
Abigail is currently studying to earn her Bachelors of Music in the Jazz Studies Program at UNF on violin. She is studying both classical and jazz violin and has been a gigging musician since 2009 playing a variety of music; jazz, old time, bluegrass, and her own original music. Trained classically on viola, she currently studies violin under Melissa Barrett. Abigail taught her first private lessons at the age of 17 and has taught students of all ages; teaching violin, viola, beginning guitar and piano. She is the 2016 Florida State Old Time Fiddle champion and is a prominent member of the Jacksonville Old Time Jam and community. Her musical inspirations are diverse, ranging from jazz and blues to traditional Appalachian old time, American folk and classical.
Eric Riehm - Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Piano
BM Jazz Studies - University of North Florida
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.
Jacob Schuman - Guitar
BM Music Performance - Jacksonville University
Jacob is a Jacksonville native who is graduated from Jacksonville University with a BM in Music Performance studying with Brent Bevis and Gary Starling. He received his degree with a focus in classical music, but also has experience performing in jazz, folk, blues, rock, reggae and musical theatre settings. He is a popular instrumentalist in the theater community and has been the guitarist and/or bassist for productions of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “The Last Five Years,” “Godspell,” “Grease,” “Blood Brothers,” “Aida” and original musicals such as “La Caroline” and “VolleyGirls”. He has performed extensively at private events and at popular local spots like Riverside Arts Market, Scarlett O' Hara’s, Fionn Macool’s and Salt Life Food Shack.
His goal is to teach students to be creative as well as use critical thinking to learn how to both read and play music - with the top priority to have FUN as they learn their instrument!
Louie LeClaire - Guitar, Trumpet, Bass, Banjo
Louie LeClaire studied Jazz performance at the University of North Florida, has been a professional musician in the Jacksonville music scene since 1998 and a private music instructor for the last 15 years. He plays and teaches multiple instruments including, guitar, bass guitar, trumpet, ukulele and banjo.
He has his own Pandora radio station featuring his original music and has performed in the U.S and France with Karl Davis, kLob, The 77ds, and Evan Michael and The Well-Wishers.
Ernie Ealum - Upright Bass, Electric Bass, Cello
BM Music Performance - Jacksonville University
Ernie 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 area for 20 years and maintains his longtime studio at Nice Music in Orange Park, Florida, as well as teaching for the Ronan School of Music in Jacksonville. 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 Stanley Jordan, The Platters, Michael W. Smith, Percy Sledge, the Cox Family, Les DeMerle and Syl Johnson.
Ernie is 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 - Piano, Trombone, Guitar, Bass
B.Ed Music Education - Jacksonville University
Growing up in a musical family with five kids Tom learned 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 across the street from his house he learned to play drums, flute and clarinet. Upon entering Jr. High 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 for tuition credit. He was in virtually every ensemble JU had: the jazz vocal octet, the choir and concert chorale (again for scholarships), 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 – in different bands – 34 different states and Cuba with 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 - Violin, Piano
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 Smith - Guitar, Piano, Mandolin, Sitar
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.
Steve Clark - Drums
BM Professional Music - Berklee College of Music
Steve a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston graduating Cum Laude with a degree in the Professional Music Program.
Since arriving in Jacksonville since 1993 he has been consistently performing with various rock and jazz groups for public and private events. A professional drummer since the age of 19, Steve has traveled the world as the show band drummer on 8 different cruise ships, toured the United States backing BBC Entertainer of the Year Mark Channing and served as drummer on the Spirit of Boston Harbor Cruises while also being in charge of contracting musicians for that same group.
Steve had his first drum teaching studio at 18 in Cleveland, OH and locally has taught private lessons for The Bolles School, The Guitar Station, in private homes and has been teaching with Ronan School of Music for 2 years. He enjoys working with students of all ages and skill levels.
Shaun Bennett - FrenchHorn/Trumpet/Piano/Composition
BM Music Composition and Theory - Jacksonville University
Shaun Bennett is a Saint Augustine, Florida native who graduated from Jacksonville University with a bachelor degree in music theory and composition in 2008. During his time at JU he studied composition, french horn, piano and world percussion. He studied composition with Dr. Bill Schirmer and Dr. Tony Steve and french horn with Chris Dwyer, Sean Morgan and Kevin Reid. While attending JU, Shaun took part in a study abroad program studying ethnomusicology, composition and Maori music at the New Zealand School of Music with a focus on the music of New Zealand. During his time there, Shaun studied composition with John Psathas, acclaimed composer who has written music for the 2005 Athens Olympic ceremony and Greg Hill, the principal horn player with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
Shaun is an in-demand French horn in the Northeast Florida and South Georgia area. In 2009-2013 Shaun was a member of the Coastal Symphony of Georgia in Brunswick only leaving the orchestra after being offered his current full time teaching position. He has also played with the Saint Augustine Orchestra, The First Coast Pops Orchestra, and the Sterling Brass quintet. In addition to this, he has performed as a solo artist in the Jacksonville Public Library’s concert series in 2013 performing the third Mozart Horn Concerto in its entirety.
Shaun is currently serving on faculty as the full-time music teacher at Ortega Elementary Museum Magnet School. He teaches K-5 music and has an after school chorus program. He teaching curriculum includes an intensive emphasis in the Orff and Kodaly methods. He is the current president of the Duval County Elementary Music Teachers Association, a member of Florida Elementary Music Educators Association, and North Florida Orff Chapter.
Rick NesSmith - Guitar
Rick NesSmith has been working as a professional musician and giving private guitar lessons for the better half of the past two decades. He has had the privilege of sharing the stage and recording sessions with some of the most talented musicians and notable bands from Jacksonville, FL to Reykjavik, Iceland. Rick is versatile in many music styles. Drawing from his experience as a former member of Pretty Boy Freud (7 time winner of Jax best band) with a set list ranging from the 1920's to today's current pop hits - Jazz, Blues, Country, Swing, Rockabilly and R&B guitar to name a few, he can make the student’s interest in all styles of music a fun and rewarding learning experience.
Kathleen Vought - Art
Kathleen Vought has been teaching for over 25 years; earning Elementary Education credentials in both California and Florida teaching every age from pre-school thru high school and beyond.
Her passion is teaching Art and she loves teaching children! She developed the After School Art Program at Aurora Charter School in Oakland, Ca. and for many years was instrumental in it's implementation. For 4 years she was the Assistant Art Director at a Creative Arts Camp in Berkeley, Ca. and volunteered as the Art Docent in her children's classrooms as they were growing up.
In the past year she has worked developing and implementing a Home-school art program for students. She taught Summer Art Camps for students age 8-12; each week focusing on a different theme. These are fun and educational programs for the kids and parents alike. (She gave the parents that stayed in the room the same art projects as the kids! She believes creative expression is for everyone!)
She is thrilled to be teaching at Ronan School of Music and is looking forward to creating Art with each and every one of you and your children.
Alyson Hayes - Art
Alyson Hayes is a native of Jacksonville, Florida where she attended St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School and Bishop John Snyder High School and she is currently studying at Florida State College. Her interest in art began in elementary school where she learned about 2-D and 3-D art and, since then, she continues to expand her experience with different genres using different mediums. While her primary focus has become digital art, she still enjoys traditional, hands-on mediums such as charcoal, graphite, oil pastel, and mixed media.
In her time at Bishop Snyder, her sculpture of a dragon head was chosen to represent Snyder in the Catholic School Art Show held at Bishop Kenny High School and she earned an honorable mention in Bishop Snyder’s Fine Arts Night with a portrait she created of one of her teachers. She is excited about working on more 2-D and 3-D projects in the future. Recently, Alyson sold two of her works and is looking forward to more success selling her art. She plans to further her education and career with a minor in art studies in college.