INSTRUCTORS AND STAFF
GUITAR AND STRINGS
John Isaacks has been involved with music since his earliest years,
beginning in grammar school when he took piano lessons from the church
organist. He also took violin lessons from the well-known violist Dr.
Tosca Berger Kramer, and performed with school orchestras and youth
symphonies throughout grammar and middle school, and into high school.
While in middle school and high school John taught himself to play
guitar. This, along with his violin and piano experience, enabled him to
gain admission to Trinity University in San Antonio as a music major.
While at Trinity, John studied with prominent San Antonio guitarist
David Underwood. John performed with various University sponsored
ensembles and choirs, traveling throughout the United States, in Mexico,
and in Eastern Europe. He graduated from Trinity with a Bachelor of
Music degree, with a concentration in Guitar.
Since graduating from Trinity, John has traveled and played popular
music with the San Antonio based country/rock band Morning, as well as
with other local bands and musicians.
John comes from a musical family. His mother is an accomplished pianist,
and he has a brother and sister who compose and play and sing
professionally, two more sisters who also sing, and a passel of musical
relatives. John feels fortunate to be able to work in the music
business, and to be surrounded by musicians in his personal and
professional life. He hopes he can pass some of his good fortune and
enjoyment of music on to his students.
2002 Grammy Award winning musician Bobby Flores is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, arranger, producer, composer and first call session musician. He studied music theory and classical violin at Trinity University under the late Dominick Saltarelli, jazz guitar with Jackie King, and classical guitar with David Underwood. Bobby is featured on over four hundred albums, CDs and singles, including performances with numerous artists on major labels. He composes music for radio and television commercials airing throughout the U.S., Europe, and Australia. While Bobby feels at home in the country, pop-rock, jazz, blues, Latin and classical genres, he also enjoys composing for and performing with string quartets.
In 1968 at the age of seven, Bobby started his professional career by performing at local functions and Texas area circuits in a gospel duo with his mother Mary Jane Flores. Two years later Bobby began working nightclubs as a featured single artist with George Chambers & The Country Gentlemen, a well-known San Antonio area country band.
The next 10 years would set the precedence for Bobby’s career. He formed his first band at the age of thirteen and started opening for national artists such as Marty Robbins, Johnny Rodriguez, Tanya Tucker and Conway Twitty. To coincide with Bobby’s live performances he was also chosen to be a feature spokesman for the regional Big Red soft drink television commercials. Shortly afterward he recorded the first of four charting country singles and released his first LP album on the San Antonio based Joey Records.
By the early 80’s, Bobby had become bandleader, show opener and fiddle player for Johnny Bush and the Bandoleros, vocalist/guitarist for Top 40 and rock bands, “Gone City” and “The Boiz,” and was also performing with the Trinity University Community Orchestra.
In 1988, along with brother, Greg, and sister, Sandra, Bobby formed the band Angel Fire and played the Texas “A” circuit until 1996, opening for numerous country superstars including George Strait, Vince Gill and Garth Brooks. Shortly thereafter, he toured the US and Canada with David Kersh (Curb Records), including performances for Prime Time Country on TNN and numerous radio shows.
As fate would have it, this turn of events led him to his dream job by becoming first violin/fiddle player for Ray Price from 1997 - 2001. This also inspired Bobby to record his debut CD, Just For The Record which is a tribute to Ray. He has since released an additional seven CD’s all on Yellow Rose Records.
In 2002, Bobby received a Grammy Award for string and brass arrangements and violin performances on Freddy Fender’s CD, La Musica de Baldemar Huerta.
*"Male Artist of The Year"- Third Coast Music
*"Western Swing Instrumentalist of The Year" - Academy of Western Artists"
*"Fiddle Player of The Year" -Terry Awards
*"Album of The Year" (Just For The Record) - Swingin' West
*"Top 10 Album of The Year" - Take Country Back
Bobby's recording of "I Wonder Who'll Turn Out The Lights" (from his "Festival" CD) is featured in the Tommy Lee Jones movie "The Three Burials" which won several honors at the Cannes Film Festival. His work on albums has had him nominated another two times for Grammy Awards.
In 2007, Bobby composed the original music sound track for the multi-award winning film documentary "The Balled of Esequiel Hernandez" produced by Brendan Fitzgerald and directed by Kieran Fitzgerald, which took top honors in the Mexico City Film festival, Santa Fe Film Festival and others.
That same year Bobby was inducted into the "Southern Legends of Entertainment" in Okahoma City and was also honored by being inducted into the "Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame" in San Marcos, TX.
In 2009, Bobby's "Eleven Roses" was nominated for "Traditional Country Album of The Year" by the Academy of Western Artists, and received rave reviews all across the world. In addition, his recording of "Are You Teasing Me" was awarded "Top 10 Western Swing Single of the Year" by Swingin' West.
Bobby's record label, Yellow Rose Records, is also doing very well for him as he continues to produce great albums for a variety of artists (www.yellowroserecords.com). That label is owned by Bobby and his label partner, Al Michalczak.
It’s 2012, and Bobby Flores is continuously gaining recognition as one of Texas’ premier musicians and vocalists, both on stage and in the studio. Although he still occasionally performs with Ray Price, Bobby can be heard all across Texas playing country dances and shows as Bobby Flores and the Yellow Rose Band (www.yellowroseband.com) featuring three fiddles and some of the best musicians on the planet. He and his band perform all over the world and have gained a reputable following everywhere they go. Bobby's music can be heard on radio stations all over including XM Radio’s “Willie’s Roadhouse” and he is also a frequent guest on RFD TV's Tru-Country show.
Bobby also owns, directs and teaches at his unique, live-performance music academy, the Bulverde Academy of Music, www.bam8.com and is joined there by several top notch music instructors on many instruments. BAM has proudly developed and assisted many young artists and song writers who have received scholarships and/or been accepted into some of the world's most prestigious colleges and universities. Many of BAM's alumni are now also performing in our community and abroad.
Mark as been teaching guitar professionally for more than 25 years. He has been with the Brook Mays Learning Center since it’s beginning in 1997. The ability to teach and perform a variety of different musical styles has given Mark the opportunity to share the different techniques, tips, and tricks he has learned with a variety of students of all different ages. He really enjoys what he does! Quote, “I have been teaching guitar for years for free! It is truly a blessing to make a living at it.”
Mark has performed with a variety of bands. At the age of 18 he toured the U.S. and Canada with the BOXTOPS for 3 years. You remember if you’re old enough, ”Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane. Ain’t got time to take a fast train.” His first professional gig was in front of 15,000 people and on television.
Mark later joined an intense power trio named TOYZ in Maryland. This group played everything from Bill Haley and the Comets, Neil Diamond to Whitesnake and Kansas as well as their own originals. The band went on to hook a recording deal with Warner Bros Records from a song Mark wrote entitled, “Crying Out”, but never landed it due to an unopened book policy from one of it’s members.
After this he moved to The New York metro area and helped form an original rock group ANGEL TOWER, which performed and recorded in the New Jersey, New York area. He also worked as session player and tech at the Power Station Recording studio in NYC.
Mark also auditioned for Ozzy Osbourne on his “No More Tours Tour” He got the audition after meeting Mark Weiss, the photographer for Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, etc. He and three others out of 30 people were considered for the spot.
Mark then got it together and moved to Texas to join the rock group BONEGLOVE who he recorded and played with for more than eight years all over Texas. This band opened for shows like Extreme, La Guns, Ace Frehley’s Comet and Blue Oyster Cult to name a few. “Those were the days when rock was king!” Check out www. boneglove.com
Mark played with a band called the Cosmic Dust Devil’s. It’s an Americana type band with a blend of country, pop, rock, jazz and whatever else you can throw at it. “I can go from Eddie Van Halen to Pat Metheny to Chet Atkins in this band”. They have played all over Texas including being headliners on opening night of the Kerrville Folk Festival. Check out www.cosmicdustdevils.com He has played for Allie Danielle, a young rising female country singer, along side Jeff Sturms. Jeff is the acoustic guitarist and backup vocalist for George Strait.
Mark has played for Pauline Reese who is a risingTexas female singer.
Mark currently plays for Angela Peterson. www.angelapeterson.com. She is another Female country artist that is managed by Bill Ham of ZZ TOP. Bill discovered, and was the executive producer on all the ZZ Top recordings. The band has appeared with acts such as: Brad Paisley, Toby Keith, Willie Nelson, Big and Rich, Diamond Rio, Dierks Bentley, Craig Morgan and others all around the country.
Mark is currently music director and guitarist for Charlie Robison's touring and recording band.
Mark has been playing guitar for over 32 years. He started playing at the young age of seven when his brother David got an acoustic guitar for his birthday and Mark was told not to touch it. “I knew it had to be cool!” He took lessons early on and had a great teacher at C.Milton Wright High School where he studied music theory, jazz.and classical guitar. He won an intra-school classical guitar competition and received a player’s scholarship to Towson State University in Maryland. He attended and pursued a classical guitar performance degree. He then continued to take private lessons and learned from books and performing.
National Guitar Workshop
Mark is on the faculty of the National Guitar Workshop. It’s a guitar camp-type program that really allows the students to learn. They study for a week and perform an original composition at the end with a professional rhythm section. It’s like guitar boot camp! The workshop travels to various cities like San Francisco, Nashville, Texas and more. It is also travels to Germany. Check out www.guitarworkshop.com
While learning to read music is an important part of Mark’s curriculum, he does not focus only on this. The student will go through a book to learn how to read music but they are encouraged to learn the music that is in their hearts. ”This keeps fun a main priority while helping with the discipline involved to learn any instrument.” Rather than just teaching chords or notes the student learns to play by learning their favorite music. The student will also learn how to understand the music by learning music theory. Mark teaches college level music theory in a way that anyone can understand. “You must be able to apply what you are learning to find a value for it in your life”. After grasping the fundamentals of music theory the student is encouraged to write their own music and improvise their own solos. “It’s not as hard as you think!” Several of Mark’s students have sat in with Mark’s band the Cosmic Dust Devils at Gino’s Italian Grill in South Austin. Some have even recorded their music at Marks studio in his home. This is a complete program for the development of musicianship and artistry from the studio to the stage for those who are so inclined in any style of music from country, classical, jazz to heavy metal.
R.J. began studying violin at the age of 9 after 3 years of asking her parents for lessons.RJ Smith is a classically trained violinist as well as an outstanding fiddle player. She began studying violin at the age of 9, and at 16, joined a top high-school orchestra program at a local private school. During her 2 years there, she served as the principal 2nd violinist and a 1st violin section player. R.J. also served as the concertmaster of another local youth orchestra and played percussion in a youth concert band. She began studying classical piano and voice during this time as well. After graduation, R.J. enrolled in college in South Carolina. There, she majored in Spanish, but continued her violin studies through all 4 years with a minor in music. Along with her violin studies, she studied piano, percussion, theory, music history and orchestration. R.J. also performed with the University orchestra and was also selected for and performed with the first South Carolina All-State Collegiate Orchestra. After college graduation, R.J. spent 3 years riding colts as an apprentice horse trainer. This brought her to Texas, where she heard western swing and the music of Bob Wills for the first time. In May of 2006, she left ranch work to focus on her first love, music, and began studying fiddle, with a focus on western swing and jazz. In 2007, she began studying fiddle with Bobby Flores at the Bulverde Academy of Music. She joined Bobby Flores' Yellow Rose Band in July of 2007, and began instructing at Bulverde Academy of Music. In addition to performing regularly, she is a recording studio technician, and has recently played on several albums.
R J SMITH
PIANO AND VOICE
Flicka Rahn is an internationally known performer, teacher and composer. She has recently retired as an Associate Professor of Music at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi where she taught for 22 years. She has also served on the faculties of Brandeis University in Boston, the Boston Conservatory of Music and University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. She holds a M.M.Ed. from Texas State University and a M.S. in Guidance and Counseling from Texas A&M-Kingsville. Her art songs have been published in the series “Art Songs by American Women Composers”.
Ms. Rahn has sung major operatic roles throughout the United States. She has appeared as a guest artist with the Boston Lyric Opera, New York Wagner International Society, Boston Concert Opera, Minnesota Grand Opera and the San Antonio Opera to name a few. She has graced the stages of major concert halls both here and abroad including Carnegie Hall, Boston Symphony Hall and the Boston Academy of Music. Her most recent international recital appearances were in La Paz, Bolivia; Toledo, Spain and Puebla, Mexico as part of a Cultural Music Exchange showcasing American Art Song. She also tours and performs nationally and internationally with Viva Voce, a Soprano/Tenor Duo. As a Fulbright Scholar, in 2011 she traveled to the University of Queretaro, Mexico and taught courses on American Art Song and American Musical Theater..
Dion Kruczek is from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. She received her B.M. from the University of the Arts in 1987. There she studied with noted piano teacher Yoheved Kaplinsky. She then received her M.M. in Piano Performance with an emphasis in Piano Pedagogy from Southern Methodist University in 1989. She joined the Army as a Piano Player in the Army Band. She performed as a singer and piano player throughout her 22-year military career, deploying to Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. She was awarded the Bronze Star for her humanitarian work with civil affairs for Iraqi children. She performed through out Europe during the eight years stationed there. She has been at the forefront of new innovations in the band field by incorporating multimedia, and creative storytelling though award winning original videography and photography in Army Band performances. She has the distinct honor of being piano and voice instructor at the Bulverde Academy of Music.
Dion has been teaching piano lessons to Wounded Warriors and their children for the last 2 years at Ft. Sam Houston and is the founder of Music Wellness For Our Veterans. (This program has just moved to Bulverde Academy of Music) She also teaches piano at Occupational Therapy at SAMMC. Her passion is about teaching music and the healing benefits that are afforded by recreational music making provided for free to Wounded Warriors.
BRASS, PERCUSSION AND SONGWRITING
James Kruczek is from Fairhaven, Massachusetts. He has been playing drums since the age of 8. Yes, he did actually play on Tupperware using wooden spoons as a young boy. He used to play along to old albums with songs from artists like Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Hall & Oates, James Taylor, and Willie Nelson. In Junior High School he discovered Kiss, and then Rush. It was all over from there, and he began playing the drums in school and in local garage bands. In 1985, he joined the US Army, looking to go to California and become a famous musician. Well 29 years later he retired from the Army where he had performed as a Percussionist, Vocalist, and Guitar Player. He retired right here in San Antonio from the Ft Sam Houston Army Band. He has been deployed to Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his leadership as the 1st Infantry Division Band’s Senior Enlisted Leader. He had performed throughout Europe during the eight years stationed there. He is currently the percussion instructor at the Bulverde Academy of Music, as well as the Academy’s Webmaster.
Since moving to Texas, Dr. Carrie Strickland has maintained a large studio of horn and trumpet students throughout the New Braunfels and San Antonio
area as well as performed with Southern Horns and Olmos Basin Brass. She has held principal positions and performed with orchestras in Mississippi,
Florida, Georgia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, as well as Oslo, Norway. As a freelance hornist and orchestral musician, she has performed with such
artists as Joshua Bell, Itzhak Perlman, Jamie Laredo, Bernadette Peters, Dudley Moore, Ricky Skaggs, Bela Fleck, Rod Stewart, and Ray Charles. Active in
solo and chamber competitions, she has been a finalist in the Farkas Competition with the International Horn Society and Semi-finalist in the Fischoff
International Chamber Music Competition. She has judged competitions and performed as a regional artist at regional horn workshops in Georgia,
Louisiana, Iowa, and Mississippi and performed at international horn workshops in Canada and Russia as well as performed as a soloist and recitalist
throughout the U. S. and Europe. Dr. Strickland holds degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi (B.M.), West Virginia University (M.M.), and the
University of Georgia (D.M.A.). From 1997-1998, she completed independent study at the Norwegian State Academy of Music in Oslo, Norway where she
studied with Frøydis Ree Wekre. As a Fulbright Scholar in 2003, Dr. Strickland returned to Norway to complete her dissertation through which she worked
with composer Wolfgang Plagge. While Dr. Strickland is primarily a hornist, she has an extensive background in trumpet and brass pedagogy. Before moving
to Texas, Dr. Strickland was Instructor of High Brass at Jones County Junior College where she taught private horn and trumpet lessons as well as
chamber music including brass ensemble, horn ensemble, and brass quintets. She has previously held positions at Toccoa Falls College, Augusta State
University, and was a music appreciation instructor at the University of Georgia. Her teachers have included hornists Dennis Behm, Dr. Virginia Thompson,
Frøydis Ree Wekre, and Dr. Jean Martin-Williams, and former principal tubist of the Chicago Symphony, Arnold Jacobs. While completing her DMA work, she
had the great pleasure of working with former trumpeter of the Canadian Brass, Fred Mills.
"It has been a pleasure to be associated with BAM the past few years. The
faculty strive to provide quality instruction to students pursuing musical
goals while also providing a place for adults in the community to continue
to study, perform, and learn."
Dr. Carrie Strickland
Renee’ Coale Willis has over 30 years experience as a professional singer/songwriter in the country music industry. She has penned several songs that have been recorded by various artists in the U.S. and abroad. Her song, "Life Can Turn On a Dime," recorded by Sony Records artist, Rick Trevino, earned platinum status. It was additionally featured on the Sony album Common Ground – Country Songs of Faith, Love & Inspiration. Renee’ also wrote “Charm of the Army (A Tribute to the Army Wife),” with three Army wives, for use on all military installations. Renee’ graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications in 1983. She has taught song composition in various workshops over the years. She recently taught music composition as an adjunct professor at Trinity University and teaches regularly with the NEISD Continuing Education program. Renee’ teaches short-courses in songwriting to wounded warriors as well. She is currently teaching a songwriting course as a visiting professor at Incarnate Word High School. She is a faculty member of the Bulverde Academy of Music in the instruction of private songwriting classes. Renee’ has an active touring schedule & commutes often to Nashville, TN, to write and promote her song catalog in the country music industry.