Music Teachers in Pensacola and Spanish Fort?

We’ve got ’em, and they’re good.

Whether you want to learn how to rock out with electric guitar, drums, or bass; brush up on your country or folk with banjo, mandolin, or l steel; belt out a tune with voice lessons; or if you tend toward more classical instruments like violin, cello, or piano; our instructors have you covered.

Nan DeStafney
Founder of the Blues Angel School of Music

Nan has been playing piano for more than 50 years, and teaching for more than 40 of those years. Among other things, she studied piano at the University of Texas and also at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. She has taught all over the country and describes her teaching style as participative, involving the student in every aspect of the process to make a more engaging lesson. Nan enjoys playing classical, blues, and jazz, though she has been known to rock out to some Led Zeppelin during the school’s annual rock concert which features Blues Angel School of Music students from every level of learning.

Fun Fact: Nan is a member of the Choral Society of Pensacola.

Isabelle Areola

Isabelle has been playing piano for 14 years. She has performed in piano competitions including the Washington International Piano Festival, the Semi-Finals of the Lancaster International Piano Festival Competition, the and, most recently the Pensacola Music Teachers Association Sonata Contest College Division. She has been teaching piano for 2 years, and she makes a point to impress on her students that music is everywhere — not just at the piano! Isabelle is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Music Performance at the University of West Florida, where she studies with Dr. Hedi Salanki-Rubardt.

Fun Fact: Isabelle won first place at the 2019 PMTA Sonata Contest College Division.

Ruby Bryan
Violin, Viola
Spanish Fort

Ruby has been playing violin for 16 years and has been teaching for the past two. She describes her teaching style as fun and casual. Ruby enjoys teaching students to love music as well as play it. She has received multiple music scholarships from the University of South Alabama, where she currently attends. She presently plays with the USA Orchestra and USA String Ensemble, with past appearances with the USA Celtic Crue. Ruby performs mainly classical, pop, and Celtic music.

Fun Fact: Ruby loves playing with pedals and effects on her violin. The main pedal that she uses is a looper.


Bobby Butterfield

Bobby has been playing drums for more than 45 years, and teaching drummers for more than 30. Bobby comes to us from New Jersey where he studied under teachers including Charles Maresca who taught Danny Seraphine of Chicago, and Joe Morello. He taught privately and as faculty at several music schools while living in New Jersey. Bobby tailors his lesson plan around each student’s needs. He plays rock, jazz, Latin, funk, fusion, and R&B drums, but he has been known to fill in on other genres as well.

Fun Fact: Bobby was awarded Producer of Year, East Coast Rocker by Aquarian Weekly.


Michele Clark
Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Mandolin, Ukulele, Banjo

Michele got her first guitar in 1991. It was a 12 string given to her by a friend as repayment for a loan. In 1993 she moved to Mississippi to attend Mississippi University for Women. While there, she met and began taking lessons from Dana Clark. Soon after, she got a job and began working in Dana’s store giving lessons. Michele graduated from MUW with a degree in Psychology and a love of singing and teaching music. She’s been working in a music store and teaching music for more than 25 years, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Fun Fact: Michele is one half of the duo Sweet Music. She and her spouse, Dana sing some of the most beautiful harmony in Pensacola.


Jimmy Cross
Acoustic & Electric Guitar, Ukulele, Bass, Mandolin, Lap Steel, Upright Bass

Jimmy is quite a versatile musician. He has been playing guitar for 35 years, bass for 22 years, lap steel and mandolin for 10 years, and banjo for 8 years. In addition to his on-the-job training while touring with several professional bands, Jimmy studied with jazz guitarist Ari Lehtela and also completed online courses with the Berklee College of Music. “To listen to what the students’ needs are and to help them achieve their goals” is Jimmy’s teaching motto. Jimmy plays in the popular band Cadillac Attack. He likes to play rockabilly, rock, honky tonk, and country music, but his experience includes all genres of music.

Fun Fact: Jimmy does freelance work both in the studio and live with other bands in the area. He is also active as a musician with the Pensacola Little Theatre.


Rachael Gebhart
Woodwinds & Brass
Spanish Fort

Rachael has been playing music for over 15 years and teaching music almost a decade. She currently teaches elementary music at the Magnolia School and Foley Intermediate School. Rachael tailors her teaching to the strengths and weaknesses of the students, while focusing on how they learn best. Rachael graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Music Education from the University of South Alabama. While attending college, she studied horn from Professor Jodi Wood.

Fun Fact: Rachael is a former Baldwin Pops horn player and regularly plays at her church.


Jenny Li
Flute, Oboe, Clarinet

Jenny joins the Blues Angel School of Music with 30 years of performance experience, and she has been teaching for just about 20 years. Her studies took her across the gulf coast, where she attended Louisiana State University, University of Mobile, and University of Southern Mississippi. During her education, she earned a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in oboe performance.

Fun Fact: Jenny was selected several honor bands during middle and high school and received scholarships for summer music programs and college.


Daniel Kern

Daniel started playing piano 18 years ago, and has been teaching others to play piano for the last 6 years. Before joining the staff at the Blues Angel School of Music, Daniel could be found teaching at the Time to Shine Center for Performing Arts. He earned an associate’s degree in Piano Performance from Chipola College and a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance from the University of West Florida, where he studied under Dr. Hedi Salanki-Rubardt. Daniel uses method books in his teaching up through the intermediate level, and then gradually introduces repertoire to expand his students’ horizons. He enjoys playing classical music.

Fun Fact: Daniel’s playing ability comes from his long, flowing hair. Like Samson, if you cut Daniel’s hair, he will lose his powers.

Danny McCann
Guitar, Slide Guitar, Pedal Steel, Lap Steel, Dobro, Ukulele, Banjo, Mandolin
Spanish Fort

Danny has been making music for over 40 years, and a teacher for almost as long. With over 30 years in technology education and 15 years in music education, Danny looks forward to bringing his expertise to the Blues Angel School of Music. He believes repetition is one of the keystones to success in learning a new instrument, and he enjoys guiding the student to mastery. One of the teaching methods Danny utilizes is the Paul Franklin Method. He plays country, rock, Americana, and Bluegrass, and you can hear Danny in the Twang Gang, Cole Jones Band, and the String Slingers.

Fun Fact: Danny played the French horn in middle school.


Jahleel Ordonez
Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass

Jahleel knows his way around orchestral strings. He has been playing violin, viola, and cello for more than 10 years. He has been teaching all of them for the past 6 years. Jahleel caters his teaching style to the needs of each student. He enjoys playing fiddle music, rock, worship, and alternative. Before teaching here, Jahleel taught with the Emerald Coast Honors Orchestra, where he still plays.

Fun Fact: Jahleel is also a recurring member of the White Tie Rock Ensemble.

Kyle Shields
Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Recorder

Kyle has been playing woodwind instruments for over 17 years and received his Bachelor’s degree in Classical Music Performance from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. He emphasizes classical technique and musicianship in his teaching style. He keeps teaching fun by playing music of different genres and incorporating technical skills into each piece.

Fun Fact: Kyle formerly played for the 562nd Air Force Band of the West Coast.

Mitch Smegelski
Acoustic & Electric Guitar, Classical Guitar, Bass Guitar, Ukulele, Banjo, Mandolin
Pensacola & Spanish Fort

Mitch has been playing guitar for 22 years and has a background in metal, rock, and blues. His other instrument specialties include mandolin, banjo, and ukulele. Mitch spent the last 15 years devoted to classical guitar and performed at colleges across the country. In 2008, he won the Artist Award in Classical Guitar from the Florida Community College Activities Association. Mitch continues to perform original and cover acts all around the southeast.

Fun Fact: Mitch took his first guitar lesson at Blues Angel Music when he was 12 years old.


Maia Taylor
Piano, Ukulele
Spanish Fort

Maia has been making music for over a decade, and she has been teaching for nearly as long. Piano was her first instrument, but she has been playing guitar and ukulele for years as well. Maia previously taught at two other private music academies across the south, alongside her home studio, before joining the Blues Angel School of Music in the spring of 2019. She describes her teaching style as sweet and upbeat, with a strong focus on technique and theory.

Fun Fact: Maia is an avid bullet journal writer and believes there is a tea for every occasion.

Eric Toler
Trumpet, F Horn, Trombone, Euphonium

Eric has been playing brass instruments since joining the band at Ransom Middle School in 2001. He studied trumpet with Sharon Kostelecky and Tom Savage while attending Pensacola Junior College and the University of West Florida, respectively, before graduating from UWF in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Trumpet Performance. After graduation, Eric served as the Band Director at Woodham Middle School in Pensacola for 3 years before moving into full-time software development. He is currently a member of the Pensacola Civic Band and the Polyphonic Brass.

Fun Fact: Eric currently works as a software engineer at Blues Angel Music.

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