About Our Staff

Aaron Keen

Co-Founder – Artistic Director

An accomplished guitarist and pianist, Aaron combines his instrumental proficiency and aptitude for new technologies to lead the way in music education innovation. A native middle Tennessean, Aaron studied guitar performance at MTSU and soon took touring work as a performer/music teacher in The Young Americans. He’s also worked at Holland America Cruise Line and as the band leader at the Boyne Highlands Dinner Theater. Throughout his career as a performer, Aaron has remained an educator: teaching private lessons, directing ensembles, and producing curriculums for both.

Matthew Kennedy

Co-Founder – General Manager

Matt’s extensive and diverse background in the arts as a performer, educator, technician, and manager brings a unique creative skillset that produces quality in performing arts education. Matt grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. His passion for dance and music brought him to California, where he joined the Young Americans, in 2007. Matt not only taught music, dance, and acting, but also managed Young American tours in 3 continents, 15 countries, and 24 states, logging over 500 shows and teaching over 50,000 students. Matt’s other technical experience includes Electrics and Lighting on Marvel Universe LIVE!, lighting technician work in New York, Nashville, and touring throughout the US.

Kenton Embry

Guitar – Bass – Drums

Kenton is from Morgantown, KY; a small town just north of Bowling Green. He moved to Tennessee about 6 years ago after studying music and classical guitar at Western Kentucky University. Soon after moving, he enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University to study songwriting and jazz guitar. While in college, he was hired by several artists to tour both regionally and around the country. After leaving school Kenton toured full time with several well known artists, and got to play with Ryan Weaver at last years Charlie Daniel’s Volunteer Jam and Bridgestone Arena. He has been teaching in the greater Nashville area, and will be releasing a self-writen jazz record later this year.

David Francisco Platillero

Voice – Guitar – Keyboard – Saxophone

David is a recent Nashville transplant from neighboring Knoxville, TN. His musical experience is wide, ranging from saxophone to piano to guitar to voice. He has 3 years of classical training on the piano, and has played for Knoxville band William Wild for three years. He was in VOLume, a men’s a’Capella group at the University of Tennessee, where he obtained his BS in Electrical Engineering. Prior to moving, he was the electric guitarist for Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church. He is also a music producer. He’s recorded 10 indie projects in Knoxville in the last year and a half, including top-30 American Idol contestant Briston Maroney. He is currently a student at the Blackbird academy in the Studio Engineering program. He’s been writing and recording his own music for a few years, going by his middle name “David Francisco” which you can find at:
www.davidfransiscomusic.com

Chris Benelli

Drums – Percussion

Widely recognized as an integral part of many projects, New York City born musician Chris Benelli is known for his ability to tune in to the needs of each individual song and artist.
Primarily a session drummer, percussionist, and programmer now based in Nashville, Chris has also toured the globe with many artists and regularly performs live across the United States.
His solid groove and creative approach to music has led him to work with many top producers and recording engineers including Jon Gordon (Madonna, Suzanne Vega), Ben Wisch (Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn), John Agnello (Rosanne Cash, The Hold Steady), Richard Oliver Furch (Edwin McCain, Whitney Houston), Jim Janik (Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson), and Scott Cresswell (Carlos Santana, John Scofield).
Chris studied music at Manhattanville College with jazz pianist and percussionist Charles Blenzig (Michael Franks), and later studied with drummer Joe Bonadio (Marc Cohn, Martin Sexton).

Jason Ross

Guitar

From a musical family in California, Jason has been playing guitar for almost 20 years now. He has been receiving professional instruction since he was eight years old. Professionally, Jason has a wide variety of achievements including being an endorsed artist of Suhr guitars along side some of the most successful musicians in the world, has scored orchestral music for films that have been on the iTunes Top 10 Downloaded List, and has been hired into several successful bands of different genres as a lead guitarist. Mentorship and musical education has been a huge advantage to his career. Being able to understand the “why” we play what we play on guitar has opened his mind to being able to approach it from a unique angle. Also his experience of learning how to build proper technique helps him understand what it takes to play lightning fast guitar licks. There are not a whole lot of accomplishments that are greater than seeing a student achieve what they thought was impossible on guitar! His goal as a teacher is to empower students, pass down the skills he has accumulated over his life as a guitarist, and to give people the tools to develop their own unique identity as a guitarist!

Jake Bishop

Guitar

Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, Jake Bishop has been playing the blues and rock clubs in the Midwest since age 12. At 17 years old he moved to Nashville, and never looked back. Since his move, he has shared the stage with artists such as Justin Moore, Randy Houser, Lee Brice, and Audley Freed. He is a current member of the “Best band in Nashville” award winning group Anthony Orio and the Goodfellers.

Adam Beard

Bass

Adam Beard has always been surrounded by music. Growing up in a home full of musicians, Adam’s schedule always revolved around getting to lessons, rehearsals and concerts. After studying music and recording in college, Adam made the move to Nashville where he has worked as an international touring musician, as well as a musician/engineer/producer in the studio for the past decade. Adam has appeared on hundreds of recordings, as well as national television shows “The Late Show With David Letterman”, “Jimmy Kimmel Live”, “CBS This Morning”, and the PBS hit “Bluegrass Underground”.

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