Joshua James

Saxophone/Clarinet/Trumpet/Flute and Beginner Piano Instructor

Josh began his love of music and the arts in 5th grade. Like most young musicians, he

wanted to play drums. Unfortunately too many people wanted drums and was asked to

chose a different instrument. He chose saxophone, he says "it was the best decision

of my life". Josh received his B.A in music performance from North Carolina Central

University. There he honed his craft and developed classical and jazz saxophone techniques.

During his tenure he marched in The Marching Sound Machine Band where he served as assistant and Lead Sax section leader. Currently Josh teaches Band and general music in CMS. Josh credits his influence to John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins and Branford Marsallis, who is artist in residence at North Carolina Central University

Patrick Raymaker
Piano/Keyboard Instructor

To say that Patrick has played piano for a long time would be an understatement.  He started

playing piano at age 4 and took classical lessons for 14 years.  He became a concert and jazz

pianist before the age of 18.  By this time, he had also developed an ear for singing, drums,

percussion and clarinet.
After being accepted to Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship immediately after high

school, he put his own band together.  In 1990, he wrote a concept work entitled, "Portrait of

a Hero," and one year later released a demo CD with four songs on it.  The CD actually

charted on some college music stations throughout the U.S.  In 1992, Patrick graduated from

Berklee with a degree in film scoring.

Patrick worked with Disney Cruise Lines, sailing throughout the Caribbean for two years in the show band.  He then started performing in dueling piano shows in various cities from coast to coast.  In the last few years, he has picked up the bass, guitar, keytar (keyboard around neck) and, of course, the harmonica, for songs like "Piano Man."  This consummate entertainer has developed a song repertoire of over 2500 songs of which most are committed to memory.

As a teacher/instructor, Patrick believes that learning music should be fun and never forced, understanding that tolerance and "speed of flow" are necessary elements in the building blocks of education.  If the student really cares, they will practice on their own time and gradually improve their music skills.

Patrick was lucky enough to have teachers who were patient with him and, as a result, was able to master the piano by ear and sight reading.  He is a laid-back teacher, but is not afraid to take the "in-depth approach" when necessary, bringing a balance of patience and discipline.  He looks forward to coaching and teaching anyone who is willing to learn at whatever speed they choose.

Mikey Marrero
Guitar/Bass, Keyboard and Vocal Instructor

Director of Curriculum 

Mikey was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moved to the states at a very early age. 

His fascination with music started at age 8.  After playing clarinet for four years, he quickly

picked up the guitar at age 11 and immediately fell in love with the instrument.

Obsessively devoting four-to-six hours to practice each day, Mikey taught himself works

from classical to metal/shred genres.  He is currently a guitar major, studying for his degree

in Music/Music Education at CPCC.  Mikey says, "Studying classical and jazz guitar really

opens up your mind and perception toward the instrument and music in general.  Tracing the

modern-day guitar language to its roots allows you to identify the path music has traveled for

it to finally become what it is today."

Mikey is the founding member of the band "Fall of Ashes," which is a Christian Progressive Rock band that leads worship at local churches and plays at local venues.  He was recently honored as CPCC's 2011 Outstanding Student, where he was invited on stage during the world-renown Assad Brothers concert to share his future goals and aspirations.  Upon leaving CPCC, Mikey plans to continue composing for his band, obtaining a master's degree in Music Business and establishing a career in music. 

Madison Stegall

Senior Music Instructor - Guitar, Bass, Drums, Mandolin

Jam Sessions Director

Madison is native to Union County and began his musical journey at the age of 14.  He was an

avid athlete until he found his musical soulmate - the guitar.  He learned to play his instrument the

best way he knew how - by copying his heroes.  He drew from influences such as Kirk Hammett

(Metallica), Andy LaRocque (King Diamond), Darrell Abbott (Pantera), Jeff Waters

(Annihilator), Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing (Judas Priest), Tom Scholz (Boston), and Joe

Satriani.  Though the majority of his favorites reside in the Heavy Metal genre, he also enjoys

Classical Music, Old School Country (George Jones, Hank Williams Sr., Willie Nelson, etc.) and

Classic Rock.

Madison was a self-taught musician until he began college at Wingate University.  While persuing

his degree in English/Literature, he took musical theory and guitar classes every semester.  Madison is an extremely experienced musician.  He has been in bands since he was a teen, has recorded albums, and tours with his heavy metal band, Final Curse.  His dream is to make it onto the cover of a notorious guitar magazine some time in his lifetime.  "Then, I could die happy."

Our Teachers

Ballantyne School of Music provides award-winning instruction to our students. Our instructors are motivated by their love of music and the passion to transfer their knowledge and skills to others so their creativity and talent can shine.

​​Glaubirsel Figueroa

Violin and Beginner Piano Instructor

Glaubirsel was born in California, but has lived most of her life in Charlotte,

North Carolina. She started playing violin in her middle school orchestra,

when she was 11 years old, and played in orchestra every year since then

until she graduated from high school. She also took private lessons and played

in the Union Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Glaubirsel has studied music theory and teaches beginner through advanced violin

as well as beginner piano. Her favorite styles of music are classical, rock, alternative, and pop. She loves teaching music and is very eager to show students how much fun it is to play violin and piano!

Jess Strzepek

Vocal instructor/performance coach and Kindermusik Instructor

Although raised in Charlotte, Jess began taking vocal lessons at age 4 in Sacramento, CA.  

By the age of 10 she held the position of 1st soprano at St. Ann’s Catholic Church Choir and

was performing pieces such as Aaron Copland’s Lullaby and The Flower Duet from Lakmé. 

Jess continues to strengthen her vocal skills by focusing on technique and is currently branching

into the study of coloratura. Jess studies under Jane Edgren, the founder of Vocal Fitness

Training.  She is currently the K-12 music teacher and choir director at Grace Academy.

Although a classically trained soprano, Jess has a passion for and ability to sing a variety of

genres.  She has been performing in Charlotte and the surrounding areas for the past 8 years

as a solo artist, acoustic duo or her Rock band of 6 years, Butterfly Corpse.  Jess is a three-time

nominee for Female Rock Vocalist from the Queen City Music Awards. 

“Music is my life.  Not only do I love performing and sharing music, but I get great joy out of teaching kids of all ages music.  I’m extremely excited to join the great team at Ballantyne School of Music.  This feels like I’m coming home, much of what I do today started here; I started my band here, I met my best friends here and I met the love of my life here.”

Alan Michael Gomiz

​Guitar, Bass, Keyboard, Ukulele & Songwriting Instructor
​Director of RealJams Academy Charlotte Summer Music Camp

Originally from Florida, Alan-Michael began showing an interest in music when he
was 2 years old; First with a variety of his father’s percussion instruments, then with
the guitar and piano, and... later with voice. At age 8, his love affair with the guitar
began. Having studied under several influential instructors in a variety of musical
disciplines, Alan has been able to successfully develop a unique style of guitar playing
that fuses Jazz, Blues, and Classical.

Some of Alan's most significant influences, to name a few, include Django Reinhardt,
Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, and Charlie Parker as well as some of the blues giants like
T-Bone Walker, Albert King, B.B. King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Alan has also
developed a prolific ability to construct and deconstruct song structures, which has helped
him in writing over 100 songs, many of which he has played live in different venues across
the country. Alan currently resides in Charlotte and is advancing his career in acting, having been involved in several television and
commercial productions, as well as theatrical. He believes these two things, acting and music, are like lungs helping him to breath.
Donna McPherson
Piano/Violin/Viola Instructor

Donna McPherson has lived and traveled all over the United States. She began piano 
lessons at five but completely fell in love with the viola at eight.  As a 13 year old, she
was the youngest person to play with the East Carolina University Symphony.  During
high school she attended Governor's School for viola and picked up the violin and hid
her hair in a hat to be the "Fiddler on the Roof" (a rickety ladder) in her senior play. 
While earning a Ba in environmental design in architecture at NC State, she continued
​with music - playing in the civic orchestra and numerous chamber music groups.  She played
​with the Johnson City Symphony while living in Tennessee, and joined the Charlotte Civic Orchestra after moving here, playing off and on as family needs changed.  While homeschooling her four children for more than 23 years she also taught private lessons in piano, violin, and viola.  Some of her favorite musical influences include old hymns, fiddle music, everything Mozart, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky, the Police, Queen, Billy Joel, and Christian pop/praise music like Michael W. Smith, Michael Card, and Steven Curtis Chapman.  


John Dillard

Bass Guitar  Instructor

Born and raised in Rochester, NY, John was surrounded by music that

helped shape his unique style of play and approach to music. Like most

musicians, John began his musical journey as a drummer, at the age of 6,

in his local church and was surrounded by a musical family. At the age of

16, while listening to his father learn the bass line to the iconic “Billie Jean”,

John quickly transitioned to the electric bass and has grown to be one of the most sought after bassist in the area and abroad. 

John deems himself as a predominately ‘self-taught’ musician but has always pursued an educated path and has learned from some of the best educators in the industry. While attending Wingate College as a Mathematics major, John was heavily involved in the schools music department as a member of the marching band and bassist for the schools jazz ensemble and Big Band. John studied music theory and continued his pursuit to become a better bassist and musician during those years. 

“VERSATILITY, DEDICATION, EXCELLENCE and the GROOVE = THE TOTAL BASSIST” has been his motto for many years as he has performed, produced, recorded, and directed for many of the industries top artist. His client list spans several genres of music and has earned him Grammy certifications for EMI’s gospel projects “Oh Happy Day,” an All-Star Celebration (Best Traditional Gospel Album) and Heather Headley’s “Audience of One” (Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album.)

John has worked with gospel artist Lejuene Thompson,John P Kee, Daryl Coley, Monique Walker, and Vanessa Bell Armstrong. His RnB credits include, Stephanie Mills, Tamia, Deborah Cox, Jeniffer Holliday. 

John released his debut solo cd title “Let’s Ride” featuring smooth jazz artist that include Marc Antoine, Matt Marshak, Marcus Anderson, Art Sherrod, Jr and Lin Rountree. Let’s Ride has already been well received great accolades and continues moving forward within the genre of Smooth Jazz. “Let’s Ride”, delivers an auditory experience that finds its way down in your soul and moves every part of you.

John brings over 20 years of performance, recording, and production experience to the Ballantyne School of Music Family and is honored to be amongst a winning staff of instructors.

Shealee Cousino

Violin and Mandolin Instructor

Shealee was born outside of Detroit, Michigan to a very musically inclined family.  As a teenager

she moved from Michigan and lived in several places in the Midwest before settling in Waxhaw, NC. 

At the age of 5 she began playing violin and fell in love with music.  She went to a performance
arts high school in Columbia, MO and was able to play in the school orchestra all through high
school. She also had the opportunity to play in the pit orchestra for several productions for the
school theater. ​In her 20s Shealee began studying fiddle music and worked to start honing her skills
as a functional violinist/fiddle player.  She also began her studies in other instruments to broaden her
​musical skills.

​Today Shealee works on writing and playing her own original music and is currently working to record her first EP.

Danielle Smith
Vocal Instructor/Performance Coach & Ukulele Instructor

Director of Events and Associate Director of Chick Singer Night Charlotte

Danielle was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, and recently received her

Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre from Catawba College, located in

Salisbury, NC.  She has been singing for as long as she can remember and decided to

seriously train and develop her voice by beginning private voice lessons in late elementary

school.  Her passion for music drove her to join the school choir and begin performing in


In high school, Danielle was greatly involved in choir and theatre and was blessed to find

so many wonderful opportunities through her choral program.  For two years she was

chosen by her choir teacher to participate in the North Carolina All State Choir and

during her senior year, she auditioned and was chosen for a performance internship with

the prestigious Charlotte Renaissance Choir.

In addition to her achievements in choir, she also fostered a love for musical theatre and participated in several musicals through her school and with Matthews Playhouse including:  Pippin, Sweet Charity, High School Musical, and Footloose, as well as in college in productions such as An Evening of Magical Song, The Boy Friend, and Hello Dolly!  All of these experiences filled her with the desire to pursue an education in theatre.  Danielle feels that all of these amazing experiences have given her the confidence to convey her knowledge and talents to her new students at Ballantyne School of Music, and she is so thankful for the opportunity to work with these talented, young future superstars!

Cole Millward

Bass/Guitar/Music Production Instructor

Cole Millward, a Charlotte native, has played bass guitar since 2008. Having gotten his musical start

in his childhood church's youth praise band, he has since performed in numerous acts of varying

styles, including Blues/Rock power trio Halden Vang, Progressive Metal super-group Ozai,

Christian Rock outfit Fall of Ashes, Alternative Lounge music band Traveler, and his own solo

project, Hairy Parrot.

In early 2014, he emerged from Central Piedmont Community College classically trained in electric bass guitar, with an Associate’s Degree in Fine Arts with a focus in music composition and performance, as well as a student excellence commendation awarded by music department chair Dr. Craig Bove.

In addition to his musical experience, Cole is also a trained audio engineer; he participated in the vocational recording program at GAT3 studios and subsequently joined the studio for a term as an intern/assistant to audio veteran Wade Starnes and two-time Grammy-winning engineer Glenn Tabor. He now runs Giant Spoon Productions, an audio production business started by himself and fellow Charlotte musician James Nelson.

While his list of influences encompasses a wide array of artists (The Police, Journey, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Michael Jackson, Queen, Muse, Iron Maiden, Audio Adrenaline, Information Society, Weird Al Yankovich, Claude Debussy, Johann Sebastian Bach, Alice in Chains, Meshuggah, and the soundtracks of various 90’s animated Disney and Dreamworks movies), his primary musical heroes are John Myung (Dream Theater), John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report), Geddy Lee (Rush), Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big), and Adam “Nolly” Getgood (Periphery). 

Garrick White

Drum Set/Percussion Instructor

Garrick was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has lived here his whole life.  His family has a

history of musical talent.  His grandmother and aunt played and taught piano, and his father taught

Garrick how to play drums "basically since I was able to hold a drum stick!"

"I have had a musical interest from a very early age, also playing guitar since I was 10 years old,

but my main interest and focus was percussion.  I started taking percussion in elementary school

learning bells, xylophone, marimba, conga drums, steel drums, timpani, snare and bass drum.  I

continued my musical education throughout middle and high school, studying music theory,

rhythm, notation and marching percussion.  My high school marching band competed in national

stage marching band competitions, placing very high in all band of America finals, as well as the battery or drum line, placing in the top ten nationally several times."

Garrick says that he loves 80's hair bands and rock genre music including Guns and Roses, Led Zeppelin, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Metallica, and more.  "My father took me to a Boston concert in sixth grade, and I have grown up loving this style of music.  My main musical influences were drummers like Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater and Neil Peart from RUSH.  I love working with kids and love music, so that's what motivated me to become a drum instructor at Ballantyne School of Music."

Michael Haywood

Guitar, Bass Guitar, and Mandolin Instructor

Michael Haywood began playing the guitar in 2005 when he was 13 years old. At a

young age, he was trained in reading and began taking classical guitar lessons. At the

time, Michael was inspired by the guitar playing of Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen

and Marty Friedman. After a few years of taking classical guitar, he became interested

in Jazz, Funk and Pop music. Michael still loved the music that inspired him to pick

up a guitar but his musical taste began to develop and he listened more to Prince, Jaco

Pastorius and George Benson. Michael also began playing the bass at a local church

and played upright bass in his high school’s band. Michael has taken advantage of

multiple opportunities to play alongside Lou Pallo of the Les Paul Trio; which further

inspired and motivated him to become a musician. Michael studied music performance

for two years at Lenoir Rhyne and Central Piedmont Community College; he

currently attends CPCC and is pursuing a degree in Business and hopes to mix the two together.

Michael plays actively in the Charlotte music scene and has played with some notable musicians over the past several years. He is currently the music director and guitarist of Radiojacks, a wedding/corporate band. He has also played with Queens Vice, The Fifth Divine, The CPCC Jazz Band, The CPCC Big Band, The Vine Worship Band, Pineville United Methodist Church and More!

Michael has been teaching guitar and bass for over two years and focuses on music theory, reading skills and fretboard logic for the understanding of the guitar in chords and soloing. Michael helps students understand rhythm and how to feel the music while giving them opportunities to develop while playing in real situations.  Whether he is teaching children or adults, he uses his patience and friendly attitude in the classroom to help his students fully understand music while pushing them to learn their instrument.

Dale Eckholm

Guitar Instructor

Dale is originally from Bismarck, North Dakota.  He started playing guitar at the age of 9, way

back in 1971. (Yes...we know that's 40+ years ago, don't remind him!)  He got to use his voice, as

well, in choir and concert choir in junior and senior high school.  He spent most of the 80's playing

guitar and doing vocals in local bands such as ZEPHYR and ELIXIR, driving all around the ND,

SD, MT, and MN area.  Dale later became a nationally registered EMT in the 90's.  Then,

wanting a change, he moved his family to Charlotte in 1999. 

Dale REALLY loves guitars!  In his spare (LOL) time, he loves to build, modify, finish and

assemble them out of parts.  He assembled his first one in 1986 with several friends who currently

own, operate and test equipment for VINTAGE GUITAR MAGAZINE!

Justin Allen
Drum Instructor

Justin was born and raised in Lancaster, South Carolina. He began playing the

drums at age nine. He went on to join middle school band in his later years

and his musical journey began there.

After high school, Justin moved to Rock Hill, SC to attend Winthrop

University. While attending Winthrop, his ear and passion for music was

broadened and cultivated as his instructor, Dr. Michael Williams, introduced to him an array of musical knowledge that led him to acquire his own personal dialect in the percussion world. Prior to his musical experiences at Winthrop, Justin was accustomed to primarily performing in church settings and because of this, Justin viewed himself as only a gospel drummer. However, his drum set instructor Dr. Adam Snow allowed him to learn and explore almost every genre of music. He learned to expand his listening and playing, and from there he began to take on new musical challenges and experiences.

Justin’s professionalism and refined talent has presented many opportunities for him in recent years. He now plays at Freedom Temple Ministries in Rock Hill, SC as their lead percussionist. He is also the lead drummer for the Charlotte Hornets Buzz City Brass. In addition to these musical positions, Justin is also the drummer and musical director for world­renowned gospel/jazz artist Gabriel Bello and currently tours with Natural Wonder, a Stevie Wonder Tribute Band. Playing for Gabe has afforded Justin the opportunity to play shows featuring gospel artists such as Tasha Cobbs, Jekalyn Carr, Israel Houghton, Kierra Sheard, and Tye Tribbett. He has also previously played for gospel artists Le’Andria Johnson and Tamela Mann.

Despite his undeniably polished skill, Justin remains just as humble and ambitious as he was when he first began. He attributes his motivation to the individuals who have influenced him the most:

“My inspirations, foremost is my Savior and my daughter Nyla” – Justin Allen

His drumming inspirations include Buddy Rich, Calvin Rodgers, Stanley Randolph, and Sput Searight.

Justin is elated to be a part of the musical family at Ballantyne School of Music and he looks forward to engaging young minds and igniting the same zeal that he shares for music. 

Eric Esposito

Guitar/Bass Instructor

Eric has been teaching guitar for almost 20 years.  A jazz-trained musician, he also

has a special affinity for rock music and R&B.  Eric has played guitar and bass in

numerous successful bands in both the New York City and Charlotte areas over the

last 25 years, and is currently in several bands that perform across the East Coast. 

He has a B.A. in Music Education and Performance from the Five Towns College

in New York. 

Mike Lazenby

Certified YAMAHA Music Class Instructor

Piano/Keyboard Instructor

Music has been a defining and rewarding part of Michael's life. He can be seen performing 
frequently in a very diverse assortment of genres including classical, jazz, rock and blues.
He is a native of Charlotte and completed his undergraduate studies at the UNC School of the
Arts in Winston-Salem. While at UNCSA, he worked under legendary pedagogue Clifton
Matthews. After completing his undergraduate studies, Michael continued his education at the
Tibor Varga Academy in Sion, Switzerland.

​Michael has chosen a career as an educator because he believes strongly in the benefits of a well-rounded education from qualified teachers. As a ​father of two, he understands the need to create a strong working relationship with parents. He strives to reinforce principles of learning that they have instilled in their children. Michael understands that no two students are the same and works diligently to tailor his lesson plans to fit each student's learning style and strengths. When he is not teaching or performing, Michael enjoys a quiet life with his wife, two-year-old son, eight-year-old daughter and their mischievous dog. His other interests include running, cooking, composing new music, and coffee. He looks forward to the opportunity to work with your family!