RNRU staff features highly trained, dedicated instructors who teach with enthusiasm and patience.
Music Director-Rock and Roll University
What do busking in London, an off Broadway rock opera, an authentic reggae album and Fretboard Korner music school have in common? Well, Bill Mignoli, that’s what!
Bill Mignoli has been a practicing and performing musician for 33 years. Instruments he plays are guitar, bass, piano/keys, harmonica, banjo, and mandolin. Bill loves to sing and is a prolific ‘jammer’. He has been at the forefront of teaching rock and roll by ‘jamming’ with his students over the last 4 years at his former school Fretboard Korner in Lake Ronkonkoma. There he pioneered the ‘Saturday Night Jam’ sessions with his students. He would videotape their sessions, and put them up on YouTube for the students, families and friends to enjoy. Every Saturday you could find musicians of all ages in his store. Drummers, guitarists, bassists, keyboard players and vocalists would all gather for the shot to get up and rock classic songs like, Sunshine of Your Love, Hotel California, Come Together or any other songs which they were all willing to pick up and learn on their instruments so they could jam together.
In 2010, fourteen of his students performed at YOUTHSTOCK 2010, at Bald Hill, Long Island, sponsored by the Town of Brookhaven. They performed five songs in four groups over 30 minutes and opened the festival with a Rock and Roll bang, finishing with Smells like Teen Spirit, then Stairway to Heaven.His gift for bringing musicians of all ages together to cause great musicality did not go unnoticed by the Gods of Rock or the powers that be at Rock and Roll University. So, in late 2010, Bill was invited to take up the position of music director at Rock and Roll University, which he eagerly accepted.
“My musical philosophy is that music is a healing force which educates the mind and fosters abstract and cognitive reasoning, language and mathematical skills, along with self-esteem and social interaction. The practical application of studying music is active participation and performance at every level. Here at RNRU we have created a music school which immediately gets the student out of the lesson room and onto a staged performance environment. From the individual private lessons and loose jam sessions to the serious curriculum based semester programs, we have something for everyone here at RNRU. But make no mistake, Rock and Roll is at the head of the class here at Rock and Roll University"
Studies: Nassau Community College A.A.S in Music graduated Phi Theta Kappa. Attended the Aaron Copeland School of Music. Studied Classical guitar with Steve Lenard and William Zito. Rock and Jazz guitar with Kevin McCann.
Accomplishments: Session guitarist, recorded for both major and indie record labels including Atlantic and Chrysalis records. Signed songwriter/producer, with various songs placed in both the indie and commercial markets. Recording engineer with an extensive knowledge of Pro Tools in both home and professional based studio recording. Lead guitarist for numerous original and cover bands.
Studies: Drumset with John Miceli (meat loaf). Music composition and percussion with Gordon Stout (Ithaca College). Percussion with Chris Lamb ( New York Philharmonic). Music Theory at Ithaca College. Guitar with Bill Mignoli
Areas of competency: Funk, Rock, Blues, Reggae, Latin, NYSSMA all levels
Studies: Berklee College of Music (Piano Performance), Berklee Music Online (Music Production, Recording & Engineering)
Achievements: Mark Thors is a live performer, studio recording artist and piano, composition and improvisation instructor (rock, jazz, Latin, pop, fusion, classical) with over 15 years of professional experience. He has performed at major music venues across the U.S. and in Canada and Mexico. Mark’s recordings / compositions are housed and placed in music libraries and have been featured on the #1 hit CBS Television Network series “NCIS”. He has recorded and performed with artists and bands including Phish – Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman & Mike Gordon - (Under The Sound Umbrella , keys - The Dude of Life Band), Steve Pollak “The Dude of Life” (band member, keys, composer), The Great Red Shark (band member, keys), Acouzma (band member / keys, composer, self titled album), Parliament, Vernon Reid (Living Color), Oteil Burbidge (Allman Brothers), Aaron Hersley (Spin Doctors), Alec Puro (Deadsy), Max Creek, Little Buster and more.
Studies: Suffolk Community College, B.A. Aaron Copland School of Music @ CUNY Queens College
Accomplishments: Can be heard on 3 recordings to date: 1 instrumental recording (Chamber) and 2 vocal recordings (with the Queens College Vocal Ensemble)
Jamie is a freelance instrumentalist and vocalist. She has been involved in SCMEA, LISFA, All-County and All-State. She is currently an active performer with both the Queens College Orchestra and the Queens College Vocal Ensemble. During her undergraduate studies at the Aaron Copland School of Music (Queens College), she had the privilege of performing, as a singer and an instrumentalist, at Carnegie Hall in both the Stern Auditorium and Weill Recital Hall. She has performed with many notable contemporary musicians such as electronic violinist extraordinaire Todd Reynolds and bass clarinetists Michael Lowenstern and Evan Ziporyn of the Bang on a Can All-stars.
Instrument: Bass/Guitar/Assistant Music Director
The Sly Geralds Band is a member of the Long Island Blues Society, Reverbnation, iLike and makes regular appearances in the hottest clubs in the New York metropolitan area as well as festivals around the U.S. and abroad.
His education includes classical bass study at Julliard School with the renowned Mr. Homer Mensch, electric bass and composition with Tony Cimorosi and electric bass with Stanley Clarke. He is a graduate of William Patterson College in Wayne, NJ where he majored in jazz performance under the tutelage of Rufus Reid and Todd Coolman. His time spent in New Orleans has influenced his writing, as has living in New York City for most of his life. Sly’s music gives a nod to the masters of roots music while still maintaining a contemporary feel. He has spent the last several years recording and sharing the stage with musical giants such as: Maceo Parker, Al Green, Levon Helm, Richie Havens and Bob Dylan to name a few. Sly has now put his many years of experience to use as the leader and front man of the Sly Geralds Band, gathering a group of seasoned professionals to help bring his original music to life. He is currently a member of the faculty at Lincoln Center's Jazz Apprenticeship Program.
DocFitz has a PhD from NYU, NYS teacher certification- Music N-12, and is certified as an All-state adjudicator for NYSSMA.
She plays piano professionally and is the resident accompanist at the North Shore Suzuki School on Long Island. She has performed with several SCMEA/NYSCAME All-County Choruses.
Now teaching most Band and Orchestra instruments as well as piano. NYSSMA preparation, all levels.
Studies: Instrumental Music Education at Wayne State University. Attended the Academy of Popular Vocal Arts
Accomplishments: Spawned from Motown, Therese Rose has such a powerful voice that it seems she is singing right to your soul. She has been singing professionally for almost a decade, including performances with 420 Funk Mob featuring George Clinton, Motown's own Kim Weston and even Wesley Snipes. She also sang, played trumpet and deejayed with Detroit's all-girl rock band Lola Valley for 5 years and continued playing with the girls in a new collective called YIN for another 2 years, collaborating with such artist as: One Be Lo, International Reggae Artist Buppy, Slum Village and many more.
Therese Rose has spent her adult life dedicated to helping others reach their musical goals. She taught the low brass section for 10 years at her old high school's band camp. She also worked at a music academy in Michigan teaching private as well as group lessons for 3 years. She became the Executive Assistant at the school and set up, rehearsed and performed with the students in their showcases. In high school, she was the recipient of the 1st "Most Valuable All-Around Musician" award for playing the following instruments: trumpet, trombone, french horn, mellophone, baritone, sax, piano & cello.
Therese Rose is one of the newest additions to the amazing staff at Rock N' Roll University and is looking forward to helping her students excel at an exponential level while having lots of fun!
Anthony (Tiger) Sexton has played and preformed for several years at various events across Long Island.
He has studied with expert guitarists such as Bill Mignoli and Don Ruehs. He has taught many students of varying ages, abilities, and styles.
He has been with Rock ‘n’ Roll University from the very beginning and is committed to helping his students advance in their musical abilities by learning technique and theory while having fun and rockin’ out.
Studies: Ashley is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Music, where she completed her Bachelor's Degrees in Violin Performance and Music Education as a student of Dr. Gerald Fischbach. She recently completed her Master of Music degree in Violin Performance and Arts Administration at New York University under the tutelage of Gregory Fulkerson.
Achievements:As a freelance musician in the Maryland/DC and now New York area, Ashley has performed at such renowned venues as Carnegie Hall, Beacon Theatre, Symphony Space, Town Hall, and Strathmore. She has performed with The Eagles, Glenn Frey, and singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens, and has been coached by members of the Guarneri String Quartet and Mendelssohn Piano Trio. Ashley has attended the Stony Brook Summer Music Festival and Aldeburgh Music Festival Hesse Student Scheme where she performed on piano, and Chamber Music in Grantham, Hartwick College Music Festival and Institute, and Protégé International where she performed on violin.
Ashley is passionate about teaching and has maintained a private studio for the past seven years.
Ashley is happy and excited to be teaching at All Music’s Rock-n-Roll University.
Studies:Jason O’Connor is a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, where he completed his degree in both Music Education and Saxophone performance. During his time at Berklee, he studied with professors such as Bill Pierce, Shannon LeClaire, Dino Govoni and Jeff Harrington. Recently, he has completed his Master’s degree in Saxophone Performance at Queens College under the direction of Antonio Hart.Jason currently resides in New York as both a freelance musician and teacher. He has performed in groups such as BCJAS Quintet, New York’s Most Dangerous Big Band, Dowling College Big Band, U.S. Sounds Big Band, Boston Civic Symphony Orchestra, Eclipse (Pink Floyd Tribute Band), and the Jason O’Connor Quintet. Additionally, he had performed in venues such as the Berklee Performance Center, Port Jazz, The David Friend Recital Hall, Cask’n Flagon, Regis College Fine Arts Center, Le Frak Concert Hall.
JD Leonard has been a professional musician/singer/songwriter in NY for over 7 years.
He started singing in church at the age of 2 in Tennessee, and was featured in regional radio and TV commercials by the age of 4. Growing up in North Carolina, he started making "out-of-state guest guitarist appearances" and going on the road with local cover bands at the age of 14. After honing his craft throughout the Southeast, in 2005, he moved to NY to take his career to the next level. Since being in NY, JD has worked with some of the best musicians, multi-platinum artists and Grammy winning songwriters from Nashville, Austin, LA, NY and Europe.
Now, at 31, JD has almost 2 decades of playing, performing and writing experience. He performs over 275 shows per year from local bars to major festivals, and plays regularly with Richie Cannata (Billy Joel), Bobby Rondinelli (Black Sabbath), Jules Radino (Blue Oyster Cult), Danny Miranda (Meatloaf) and Ozzie Melendez (Marc Anthony, J-lo) just to name a few. As a songwriter, JD has stayed very busy working with Bonnie Tyler, The American Legion and multiple independant artists this year alone. He came to Rock and Roll University in late 2011. Although his main focus at RNRU is guitar, he also has experience as a vocal coach and currently works with students of all ages and skill levels, including those with special needs.
Joe Sansone, dubbed Joey Blaze by the RNRU's Music Director, has been a working musician for over 30 years.
After taking his first guitar lesson at age 13, he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He has gone on to write and perform his own music as well as writing jingles and more currently music to accompany EPK's (electronic press kits). In 1995 Joe received a degree from the Institute of Audio Research in Recording Engineering and Production Program and has worked in New York's most prestigious studios, engineering and or performing with everyone from Phobe Snow to Kool and the Gang. With decades of Live performance and recording session player experience, he has also been teaching for many years and currently lends his talents to Rock -N- Rock University.
Coming from a family of educators, Joe is a natural teacher, well versed in theory and well known for style and technique. Able to teach all styles of guitar, Joe specializes in lead guitar oriented Rock.
John Cappadona is an accomplished professional drummer with over 30 years of experience in performing, recording, and teaching. John is proficient in various genres including rock, funk, fusion, soul, R&B, and pop, having played them all professionally.
John is a natural teacher and mentor, with the ability to motivate and inspire students with a supportive, patient and fun approach.
Also known as “Johnny Funk”. John started his musical career in grammar school playing the Tuba and Guitar and continued through High School and 2 years at Nassau Community College studying music. Hearing a different calling, he switched to bass during the late 70’s and never looked back. John is one of the founding members of one of New York’s top club and concert bands, UPPERCUT. Performing songs by Tower Of Power, Steely Dan, Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears as well as original songs. (One song currently being played on WHLI called “I Just Wanna Be Free”) John is well versed in Funk, Soul, RnB and Rock genres.
He also became interested in recording and started Niteflight Music Productions Studio were he has recorded and produced over 20 albums for people all over the US and Canada. Most recently working with recording artist Chantel Douchet (Star Search Winner) and recording artist Brent Carter(Former lead singer of Tower Of Power). Besides doing gigs with Uppercut and their club date alter ego band, Niteflight, John also does sound for live band appearances on “The Don Imus Show” on the FOX Business Network, “Fox & Friends Show” on the FOX News Network and “Morning Joe Show” on MSNBC.
John uses Fender and Sadowski Basses and Hartke amps and cabinets.
Michael has been playing guitar for over ten years and is proficient in various styles including rock, blues, jazz, funk, and metal, with experience in performance and theory. Currently an educator at Developmental Disabilities Institute in Ronkonkoma, and having studied at Suffolk County Community College, Fordham University, and SUNY Stony Brook, he enjoys bringing together his musical and teaching backgrounds at Rock N Roll University.
Studies:Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education (concentration: voice) from Five Towns College
Achievements:Patrick is certified by the state of New York to teach music to all students in grades K-12. Patrick has worked with dozens of children of various ages, introducing them to music theory as well as basic piano and vocal skills. He is also the director of the youth choir at a local church, and has some experience composing songs and performing with groups.
Studies:A.S. in Music from Suffolk County Community College, B.A. in Arts Management from SUNY Purchase. Studied with Steve Klein, Dominic Donato, Dave Lewitt, and Anthony Romeo.
Achievements:Sara has been performing on the stage since 2002 playing a variety of musical genres. She has recorded numerous albums with local Rock bands across Long Island, NY. She had the opportunity to play at the classic music club CBGB and local venues such as The Downtown, Village Pub South, The Wave, and The Crazy Donkey.
Sara also has a background in classical percussion and participated in many ensembles including Hand Drumming, Symphony Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band, Marching Band, and Pit Orchestra.
Participant of NYSSMA, SCMEA, All County Percussion, Hit Like a Girl Contest (2012), Intern at VH1 Save the Music Foundation (2011), John Lennon Songwriting Contest (2004 Finalist), and Tri-M Music Honor Society
Influences: Travis Barker, Cindy Blackman, Dave Weckl, Will Calhoun, Questlove, Chad Smith, Adrian Young, Gwen Stefani, Taylor Hawkins, Sheila E, Tre Cool, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, and my students!
Instrument: Bass Guitar, Double Bass, Guitar, Violin
Studies:A.A Suffolk County Community College, B.A. Five Towns College (Music Education). Currently working towards a Masters degree in Music Technology at Five Towns College. NY State Certified in Music Education.
Accomplishments: Has taught Orchestra, Chorus, and General Music, as well as conducted Orchestra and Chorus performances in all levels at public schools. Played on several recordings with various original and cover bands.
In 1981, Tito Batista owner of the "Music Hut" pursued a musical career with "The Black Rose Band" as lead singer , a group that went on to play many well-known tri-state venues and was directly responsible for procuring the musical cues for the Emmy award winning show The Cosbys.
Tito Batista can be heard on WHLI (1100AM) where all his songs are now on heavy rotation. Tito Batista returned to his roots and is currently teaching music at the Rock 'N' Roll University in Hauppauge and is enjoying every minute of it.
Over the past fourteen years Tom has practiced, and performed in a number of musical settings including; Rock, Pop, Jazz, Latin, Funk, Classical, Dixieland, Pipe Band, Marching Band, as well as Drum, Bugle & Bell. While in high school, Tom was a member of: TRI-M Music Honor Society, SCMEA All-County Percussion Ensemble, as well as SCMEA All-County Jazz Ensemble.
In April of 2011, in his freshman year of college, Tom performed in the New York International Music Festival Songs for Japan: Concert Benefitting Earthquake and Tsunami Victims at Carnegie Hall, with the C.W Post Symphonic Band.
Tom has studied drum set with Ed Balsamo, as well as Lou Agiesta, & has performed with musicians such as Ralph Lalama, & Billy Drewes to name a few.