Mikey Marrero
Guitar/Bass, Keyboard and Vocal Instructor

Ballantyne Studio

Mikey was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moved to the states at an 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 has gained proficiency in

Classical, Jazz, Fusion, Gospel, Rock, Metal, Shred, Composition, Songwriting, and more. 

Mikey holds a Bachelor of Arts from Queens University of Charlotte. He is currently pursuing 

his master's degree in Film Score and Composition from the prestigious 

Berklee School of Music. 

Mikey is a high demand session and live player who plays with Late Night Special, The Stranger Feat. Mike Santoro (Billy Joel Tribute). Mikey also holds a position at World Worship Church featuring Guitar Center’s Drum off champion Daniel Rodriguez, Bass Guru John Dillard, and two-time Grammy award winner Cedric Thompson. Mikey is also working on several long-awaited studio albums.  

Mikey says, “The study of History is an integral part of education. Studying the music from Antiquity to modern-day opens a broader perspective of the music we have come to perceive today. This applies to all instruments and musical genres around the world. Through this knowledge and the application of how music affects the ethos, one can apply these principles to produce music that will momentarily lift humanity from the internal struggles that have permeated the collective consciousness of since antiquity.”  ​

Madison Stegall

Senior Music Instructor - Guitar, Bass, Drums

Jam Sessions Director

​Ballantyne Studio

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.

Sydney Wade

Guitar and Bass Instructor

Indian Land Studio

My name is Sydney Wade but my artist name is Soul Sydonna. I am a

recent graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design where I received

a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Sound Design with a minor in Music Production.

Though I didn’t really pick up my first instrument until I was 10, music has always

touched my soul. My first love was the guitar, but the more I learned about different

instruments the more I loved playing. I know how to play guitar, piano, bass, marching snare, and pretty much anything I can get my hands on.

Some of my favorite artists include Jill Scott, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Musiq Soulchild, and many more. I’d describe my style as R&B with jazz influences. My purpose in life is to give back what I’ve learned from my own experiences and to positively influence the next generation of musicians.  

Danielle Smith
Vocal Instructor/Performance Coach & Ukulele Instructor

​Ballantyne Studio (Online Zoom Instructor only)

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!


​​Kyle Franklin

Piano Instructor

​Ballantyne & Indian Land Studios

Kyle is originally from the bay area in California. He started playing guitar at age 14 after

discovering the band Metallica and gave hours upon hours of his high school social life up to

perfect those rocking riffs and shredding solos. For him, guitar and music were life and may

have been his secret to getting through high school in a new state. 

After discovering the piano at age 17 in an advanced music theory class, through experimentation and focused practice, Kyle quickly gained an affinity for the instrument and a love for all the musical opportunities that began to present themselves. 
Such opportunities included composing and recording an original theme for the Westlake High School Football Broadcast, arranging orchestral music for stage productions in the Westlake Performing Arts Center, and further studying music at the Berklee College of Music.  While studying at Berklee Kyle met and connected with famed Russian composer Alla Cohen and Boston POPS pianist Bob Winter, where he began private instruction in composition and piano. 

Currently a graduate with a degree in Composition and Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music, Kyle now resides in North Carolina working as a freelance composer for commissions and media scoring as well as an instrument instructor to help kindle that spark for music in people of all ages.

Garrick White

Drum Set/Percussion Instructor

Ballantyne Studio

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."

Josh Stein
Vocal, Guitar & Piano Instructor

Indian Land & Ballantyne Studios

Josh Stein grew up in Denver, NC near Lake Norman, where he attended North Lincoln

High School. There he discovered a love for the performing arts, particularly music and

theater. He spent time at both Mars Hill University and High Point University where he

performed in roles such as Hero from “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,”

Huck Finn from “Big River,” Dr Jekyll from “Jekyll and Hyde the Musical,” and the Baker

from “Into the Woods.” He also sang in High Point Universities all-male acapella group, the

Toccatatones, and toured a musical theatre review in Costa Rica where he was given the opportunity to perform and instruct students in their local theatre school. While is love of theater will always be strong, singing has always been his true passion. After graduating with a degree in Vocal Performance from High Point University he was hired as a Director of Music for Hickory Grove United Methodist, where he met his wife, Heather. Currently he is teaching music at Marvin Academy in Waxhaw, NC and is very excited to have the opportunity to share his passion and knowledge here at Ballantyne School of Music.

Dale Eckholm

Guitar Instructor

​Ballantyne Studio

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!

Ryan Fosnow

Drums/Percussion Instructor

Indian Land Studio

Ryan has spent 18 of his 26 years behind the drum kit.  He studied privately for close to a

decade performing in school orchestras, jazz, and marching bands. 

Originally from Chicago, Ryan is an active player in community at church as well as

numerous cover and original bands.  He currently performs with Street Drum Corps and

has toured nationally with bands such as Classic Journey Live, a tribute to the band Journey.

Cole Millward

Bass/Guitar/Music Production Instructor (Online Zoom Instructor only)

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). 

Joshua James

Saxophone/Clarinet/Trumpet and Beginner Piano Instructor

​Ballantyne Studio

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

Cameron Wesley

Vocal, Piano and Guitar Instructor

Ballantyne & Indian Land Studios

Cameron was born in Fairfax, Virginia but raised in Hopkins, SC. He is a singer

songwriter that has been performing since the age of 13. While singing is his

primary focus, Cameron has also played guitar and piano for 9 years. 

Cameron has performed locally, as well as nationally. Local venues include;

The Brass Tap and Slow Play Brewing. Cameron has also been asked to travel

and play shows in New Orleans, Tennessee, and Los Angeles.  

Cameron is a senior at Winthrop University and has sung on the top choir since he was a freshman.  His musical inspirations include Bill Withers, John Legend, and Prince!

Huge congratulations to Cameron (CammWess) who secured the

4th place winning spot on The Voice!

Eric Esposito

Guitar/Bass Instructor

Ballantyne & Indian Land Studios

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. 

Drew Wilkerson

Drum/Percussion, Piano & Guitar Instructor

Ballantyne & Indian Land Studios

Drew is a South Carolina native, originally from Cheraw, and now currently

located in Rock Hill. Starting at the age of 9, Drew has been playing drums

and guitar for 12 years. Since the age of 14 Drew has performed with bands of

many genres including rock, country, jazz, and reggae.

Drew has also performed for shows at Carowinds including The Brass Brigade

(D & G Entertainment) , Turn It Up! (D & G Entertainment), and Blood

Drums (Street Drum Corps).

Drew is currently a Senior music student at Winthrop University, where he has studied both drum set and percussion for 3 years and is a member of the Winthrop Swinging Eagles Jazz Ensemble. 

Some of Drew’s inspirations include drummers such as Travis Barker, Thomas Pridgen, Tony Williams, Matt Gartska, Jojo Mayer, and Joey Jordison. 

Jim Edwards

Violin/Viola, Brass, Guitar and Piano Instructor

Indian Land Studio

Jim studied violin and viola with Amadi Azikiwe (Hummings) and Dora

Mullins.  He holds the Bachelor of Music Degree from Old Dominion

University, in Norfolk, Virginia.  In addition to teaching band and orchestra

for over 25 years, he has performed with numerous groups over the years

including the Virginia Beach Symphony (Symphonicity),  the Virginia Beach

Chamber Orchestra, and with members of the Virginia Symphony.

Mr. Edwards is also an active composer of music for vocal and instrumental

music.  He currently resides in Ft. Mill, SC with his wife and 4 children and

works in the area as a free lance musician, teacher, and composer.

Brian Cooper

Violin Instructor

Indian Land Studio

Brian K. Cooper, II is a professional Concert Violinist/Recording Artist

from Chicago, IL. He began his musical journey at the age of 5, becoming

an inaugural member of the Make a Joyful Noise String program at his

church home, the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, IL. As a member

of this program founded by his church’s former First Lady, Sister Isabelle

Brazier, Brian was first introduced to learning the violin thru the Suzuki

Method. From age 5, till age 18, every Saturday during the school calendar,

Cooper would attend lessons at his church which included music theory, followed by group lessons, then small ensemble lessons, and would end with private lessons. 

His, time as a member of Make a Joyful Noise would serve as the foundational seed that would lead to Brian’s love of music in the coming years. At the age of 11, he was chosen to be mentored in a private lesson with world-renowned violinist Rachel Barton-Pine. After 7 years of playing, Brian became a member of the Parker Junior High School Orchestra. After graduating from Junior High School, Brian would expand further, becoming a member of his high school orchestra of Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Flossmoor, IL. 
As a member of both orchestras, he would perform in a variety of shows across the state of Illinois, including a performance at the Orchestra Hall, home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in downtown Chicago. 

As a young adult, Brian has had the pleasure of joining the Chicago Sinfonetta Orchestra as a guest violinist for numerous concerts in the Chicago-land Area. Throughout his career, Brian has been taught and mentored by multiple professional string players including, Edith Yokley, Racheli Galay, Samuel Williams, and Phyllis Calderon to name a few. 

Today, Brian enjoys producing his own music as well as playing his violin and expanding his knowledge of the instrument everyday. He continues to play as a guest violinist across the globe. “The violin has blessed me with the ability to express myself thru music in a way that I would have never imagined”, says Cooper. “Being able to create melody thru this 4-stringed instrument is one of the greatest gifts that I could have ever received as a musician, and I am looking forward to walking thru the process of climbing a musical ladder with each of my students, that they will be able to carry along as they embark on the road to greatness. I want them to know that if I can play this instrument, then so can they. We all are gifted, it’s just a matter of believing it, and then the rest will follow.”

David Hodges

Brass/Woodwind Instructor

​Indian Land Studio

“I am a South Carolina native and a graduate of the University of South

Carolina School of music (BM-instrumental music education) and

Winthrop University (MM-music performance/trumpet).  I'm passionate

about sharing my love of music with students. I've been teaching privately

for over a decade now, and am at home teaching students of all ages. Through

music, I've had the opportunity to play in many different states, as well as overseas. I am eclectic in my musical experiences, as I am at home teaching classical, jazz, and other styles. I was introduced to the sounds of the bands Earth, Wind and Fire and Chicago at a young age – their horn sections helped stoke my love for music.  In high school and college I was also introduced to classical and jazz through artists like Wynton Marsalis, Maurice Andre, and Phil Driscoll.  One of the great experiences of my life was being able to travel to England to perform in the 2014 London New Year's Day festivities. Additionally, I treasure the time spent performing with the University of South Carolina Marching Band in my college years.  Currently, I freelance in the Charlotte and surrounding areas, as well as play in the Union Symphony Orchestra in Monroe, NC.  

In my teaching, I strive to have each student develop individual goals for themselves and their musical experiences; whether it be simply getting better for the love of playing or striving to perfect skills to excel at various auditions.  I want students to be able to perform the music they love, be it the Star Wars soundtrack or the Haydn Trumpet Concerto.  A student may simply want to improve their skills on their school band music, and that is something I love to help out with also.  I feel that teaching music is a calling and strive every day to monitor and adapt to each individual student’s needs.”

Paulina Dixon

Guitar and Piano Instructor

Indian Land Studio

Paulina grew up in Beaufort, SC where she lived for most of her childhood life before

moving to Rock Hill to attend Winthrop University. Growing up, Paulina always had

a love for music. She began playing guitar and at the age of 9 and was primarily

self-taught until studying under L.H. Dickert in college. 

In high school, Paulina was actively involved in choir and made it into the alto section

of the All State Choir in 2016. Currently, Paulina is a senior at Winthrop University studying Music Technology. She has been apart of guitar ensembles, jazz ensemble, and Winthrop University choirs. In May of 2019, Paulina performed at Carnegie Hall with the Winthrop University choir for the 36th year of MidAmerica productions. 

Paulina plays a wide array of music such as indie alternative, rock, folk, jazz, and rnb. Paulina is excited for this new opportunity at working at Ballantyne School of Music and cant wait to share her knowledge and love for music with other talented young musicians!

David Dorenfeld
Guitar, Drum, Piano & Ukulele Instructor

Ballantyne Studio

Hi, my name is David Dorenfeld! You might have noticed I like to describe

myself in the 1st person.

I have been playing music for about 16 years and I have been teaching professionally for close to 5 years. I started with guitar which is my main instrument, but I have picked up other instruments along the way and I also sing. I play music because I love making my own and playing other musicians’ great songs. From time to time I play live solo gigs and in the past I played in a few bands. It’s just so fun!

I love teaching and I love connecting with students. The only other thing as cool as being a rockstar is being a teacher rockstar, and I’m am so thankful to be earning a living doing so. I always look for the potential in my students and hope to make them feel comfortable playing their instrument so they know that it will always be a positive part of their lives.

I love basketball, music, language, comedy and fruit. Thanks for reading!

Patrick Raymaker
Piano/Keyboard Instructor

Ballantyne Studio

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.

Kaitlyn Hayward
Vocal and Piano Instructor 
Ballantyne  & Indian Land Studios

Kaitlyn Hayward was born and raised in Charleston, SC. She currently resides in Rock Hill,

SC, where she is a senior at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. She is studying choral

music education and wants to teach high school choir.
Kaitlyn started her musical journey at the age of 7. She began taking piano lessons and

singing in the elementary school choir. From there, she continued piano lessons for

approximately 10 years (as well as continuing lessons at Winthrop University). She also has experience with other instruments; including alto saxophone (7 years), tenor saxophone (4 years), and marching/concert percussion (4 years). 

At Winthrop University, Kaitlyn regularly takes voice lessons with some of the most prestigious vocal instructors in South Carolina. She is currently in the Winthrop University Chorale, where she serves as the alto section leader, and the Winthrop University Chamber Choir. Though she is classically trained; she is also a jazz, neo-soul, and R&B vocalist. Some of her influences include Nina Simone, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott.   
Kaitlyn is passionate about her craft and is so excited  to be able to share her skills with her students. She is also honored to be amongst this winning staff of instructors. 

Marlen Lane

Vocal & Piano Instructor

Ballantyne & Indian Land Studios

Born and raised in La Ceiba, Honduras, Marlen had always enjoyed singing but it wasn’t

until she attended music school at age 14 that she found her passion for it.  In her last

semester of music school she wrote her first song which eventually led to her being

signed by a label in Miami two years later.  At the age of 19, Marlen co-wrote and

recorded her first album “Por su Gracia” and it was released in 2014.  After releasing her album, Marlen traveled around Honduras and to the United States to perform.

Marlen began teaching at the music school she graduated from as a vocal teacher in 2014 and taught there until she moved to the United States in 2017.  She also volunteered at her local church teaching vocal lessons to the children and teens there.  She has a passion to help her students improve their vocal skills and technique and to help them pursue their dreams with music.  

Now living in Charlotte, Marlen serves as a worship leader in the Transformation Church band and continues to write and record music.

Blake Brown

Guitar/Bass/Piano/Ukulele Instructor

Indian Land Studio

Blake has been playing guitar for more than ten years and teaching for two. He has

experience performing and teaching a variety of styles including Rock, Metal, Jazz,

Swing, Folk, and Country. Blake is currently enrolled at Winthrop University in

Rock Hill, SC, with a focus on Jazz Guitar. Blake plays regularly for local establishments,

guitar ensembles, and Jazz trios.

Logan Hendley
Bass, Guitar, Piano & Ukulele Instructor 
Ballantyne & Indian Land Studios

Logan is a rock musician and vocalist born in Cape Canaveral Florida who, from a young

age, was inspired to play music by his father, Reese.  As a product of this influence, Logan

has studied and performed music consistently since age 11, and played hundreds of

performances to thousands of people.

At age 15, he decided to use the knowledge of theory he gained in concert and marching band to learn instruments outside of the brass section, including electric bass, guitar, and keyboard. He landed his first gig at age 17, as a bassist for a traveling Christian Rock band called The Refuge District. Here, he performed hundreds of sets at various churches and conferences in the Southeast. 

Over the next nine years, he would continue to hone his skills as a multi-instrumentalist for the band, but fell in love with bass guitar above all. At age 26, he auditioned and began playing bass for a touring national act called Classic Journey Live - a premier Journey tribute band based in Charlotte, NC. This show afforded him the opportunity to play to thousands of people across the country. 

Logan hopes that he can use his experience in musical performance and study to impact the lives of others in a positive way, because, as he explains:

 “Music is the one of the most universally enriching outlets that we possess as humans, having the power to connect all people.””

Nickolus Stewart

Vocal and Piano Instructor

Ballantyne & Indian Land Studios

Nickolus is from Columbia, South Carolina, where his love for music began

in his church's youth choir at the age of five.  Nickolus (affectionately

known as "Nick") is a senior at Winthrop University studying Choral Music

Education.  He is a tenor section leader on the Winthrop chorale and is a

member of the Chamber Singers.

Nick is a classically-trained tenor who also has a background in piano.  

His piano training began at a young age, and he has continued to take lessons at Winthrop along with studying music theory.  Nick is a member of Opera Carolina in Charlotte.  Although he is classically trained, he enjoys multiple genres of music.  Some of his favorite artists are Kim Burrell, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross and Stevie Wonder.

Nick has a passion to teach and share his voice with his students.  He wants his students to understand the fundamentals of music while increasing their passion and love for music!

James Nelson

Guitar Instructor 

Ballantyne & Indian Land Studios (Online Zoom Instructor only)

James was born in Charlotte, North Carolina where he stayed until he moved

to Madison, West Virginia around the age of 9. Tiring of not amounting to

much beyond being the best darn scrambler of the egg in West Virginia, at

the age of 13, he heard "Eruption" by Van Halen, and he then knew what he

wanted to do. James' guitar journey began with learning the classics like

"Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry and "Wild Thing" by The Troggs. From

there, his eyes were opened to various genres that he grew to love including

Blues, Funk, Jazz, Rock, Southern Rock, Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal, and

even the occasional Post-Modern Polka-Pop Jazz-Fusion song with hints of Glam Metal. James' main guitar influences stem from the likes of Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen, Eric Johnson, Gary Moore, John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, and David Gilmour. 
Other than now being the best darn scrambler of the egg in North Carolina, James has half a decade of experience under his belt teaching beginner to advanced players, including several notable local Carolina musicians such as Kelly Flusk and Adam Nelson of Something Clever and Brain Baker, formally of Shadow of Myself. Additionally, James has earned quite the reputation as being a reliable fill in guitarist for bands such as Blackwater Drowning (Heavy Metal) and The Reticent (Progressive Rock/Metal), where he has the privilege of working with Grammy nominated band director, Chris Hathcock. He also plays in two bands with fellow co-instructor, Cole Millward. One of which is Ozai, a progressive rock/metal band from Charlotte, and FM Encore, which is a cover band also comprised of co-instructor, Garrick White and co-worker, Mikayla Marlow. He also co-owns Giant Spoon Productions with Cole Millward, which is an audio recording enterprise. 
James offers a laid back and fun environment for learning where he can pass on his approach to playing music using practical music theory in a variety of musical styles ranging from Rock and Blues to Jazz and Funk. Whether you want to become the next Eddie Van Halen, or you just want to play "Basket Case" by Green Day, James' mission is to help you achieve your goal.