music & band Instructors

Nick Rich

Drum Teacher

Nick Rich started playing drums almost before he could walk. The only grandchild of music icon, Buddy Rich, he was given his first set drum set from Remo Belli (REMO), at the age of eighteen months old, and played his first gig at 2 years old on his grandfather's lap at Disneyland. From that moment on, Nick has been an unstoppable force in the drumming world.

Nick is sponsored by the greatest drum companies in the world. Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth drumsticks, Humes and Berg cases, Remo drum heads and Dream Earz in-ear monitors. At age 14, Nick began his studies with the alternative drumming icon, Travis Barker (Blink 182, The Transplants, Plus 44) who developed Nick's rudimental and marching chops. At 17, Nick studied with the fusion great, Dave Weckl (Chick Corea, The Dave Weckl Band), who completely changed his approach to the drums.Dave showed Nick a new approach to the drums, from the grip to the comfortable setup of the drum set.
Nick played the opening night gala at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas, NV, performing with actor/singer Hugh Jackman and percussionist Daniel De Los Reyes' (Drum Jungle, The Zac Brown Band) to a crowd of guests featuring former President Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr. and Quincy Jones, to name a few. Toured and performed with Ray J, Otherwise, Falling In Reverse, Escape The Fate, Jared Rodgers, The Buddy Rich Big Band All Stars. Nick performed on the Buddy Rich 2008 Memorial Scholarship Concert, alongside drumming icons Neil Peart, Terry Bozzio, Tommy Igoe, John Blackwell, Peter Erskine, and Chad Smith.

Nick hosted his own live drum show on Drumchannel.com.  Nick was a featured artist at The Cape Breton International Drum Festival, was a featured artist at The 12th Annual Hollywood Drum Show, alongside drumming icons, Todd Sucherman, Bryan Hitt, Cindy Blackman, Joe LaBarbera, and Bernie Dresel.Recorded drums for underground sensation Opium Alibi's studio album in The Studio @ The Palms Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV. Produced and Engineered by Mark Gray, the man behind The Killer's “Sam’s Town” album, Guns N' Roses “Chinese Democracy” album, and Britney Spears “Black Out” album.

Nick co-wrote, co-produced, and played drums for the pop group NEFU's debut album, alongside Grammy award-winning producer/songwriter, Jim Peterik (Survivor, Ides of March, .38 Special, Styx)
He was a featured artist on the 2013 Tokyo, Japan, Buddy Rich All Stars Big Band tour, alongside drumming legend Peter Erskine (Weather Report, Steely Dan), and Progressive bass icon Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel).Nick recorded drums on the entire album for the rock band, The Beginning. The album was recorded at Drac Studios, Matt Sorum’s (Guns and Roses, Velvet Revolver, The Hollywood Vampires) private studio. The album was mixed by Ryan Williams (30 Seconds To Mars, Velvet Revolver, Rage Against the Machine, to mention a few.)

Today, Nick is a teacher, studio musician, and touring drummer, who has developed his own style and sound in a way that is unmistakable when hearing him.


Eareen Yamboa

Vocal Teacher

Eareen Yambao, Baritone, received his bachelor’s degree in music education with a focus on voice from DePaul University. During his time there, he also studied vocal technique under the direction of Michael Sylvester. He was a member of the DePaul’s top ensemble, Chamber Choir, for all of his years of attendance, as well as chorus roles in the DePaul Opera Theater. Eareen has also performed with the Grant Park Apprentice Chorale under the direction of Christopher Bell. Currently, Eareen is the choral director and general music teacher at Herrick Middle School in Downers Grove, Illinois. He directs their three vocal ensembles: Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, and DoReMigos.

Eareen has worked with many vocal ranges spanning from early childhood voice to adult vocal technique. His philosophy of voice encourages his students to sing in a manner that promotes strong support, appropriate placement, and healthy technique for lifelong music making.

Eareen is excited to join the faculty at Rock Academy and is thrilled to serve the students from the surrounding communities that make up the RA!

Jay Swanstrom

Guitar teacher

Jay has had a lifelong appreciation and love of music. He started playing guitar at age 16 and has been teaching guitar and bass since 2005.  Jay has been teaching private lessons at Rock Academy since 2008. main profession is teaching Social Studies at Herrick Middle School where he also runs the Guitar Club and the Variety Show. Jay started his musical training learning to play the piano and singing in the kids choir at his church. Jay went to Augustana College where he took classical guitar lessons from Randy Pobanz, played in jazz ensembles and various rock bands and ended up with a minor in music. Jay has shared his talents with his church in his adult life as well at various times playing in the praise band and accompanying children's musicals. He has taken lessons and been to a variety of different workshops to hone his skills with artists like Doyle Dykes, Steven Grismore and Downers Grove’s own Muriel Anderson. With his most recent band, The Goons, he practiced his songwriting and arranging skills and has posted some of his work on Soundcloud.
You may see him occasionally at open mics and was one of the performers at the post party for the fundraiser Ben’s Memorial Mile.


Kirk French

Teacher of: Guitar, Bass, Drums, and beginner Piano

Kirk is a former Rock Academy student and graduate of Illinois University of Chicago. Kirk has always taken an interest in music since he was very young, but his passion for music really began to flourish when he joined the junior high band as a percussionist. From there, he began to teach himself a variety of other instruments including guitar, bass, keyboards, banjo, mandolin, theremin, and is always looking for new ways to explore music. Kirk has played in bands with friends for several years and enjoys sharing his love of music with others. Kirk aims to inspire others to have the same passion for music and learning that he does. "


Johnny Lukashevich

Teacher of: Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, and Beginning Piano and Drums

Johnny has taught private, rock band, and classroom music for more than a decade. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from Elmhurst College with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education. He enjoys tailoring lessons for each student’s unique abilities, interests, and learning styles. By making lessons fun and creative, he inspires his students to practice and progress.

His performance experience with Chicago groups, including venerable indie-rock band "The Slugs," has influenced his approach to musical pedagogy. His teaching imparts a love of musical expression to his students and prepares them to perform with confidence and joy.

In addition to performing live on radio, television, and music venues throughout the USA and Canada, Johnny has recorded multiple albums. He also enjoys songwriting, and has released two independent solo albums.


Al Wooldridge

Owner & Teacher of: Rock Band Classes

Al Wooldridge is the owner of Rock Academy. He has been teaching rock band classes since 2014.  He has more than 30 years' experience in the music industry.  At the age of 10, Al discovered his talent for drums and love of music while performing for his school concert band.  He pursued drumming and playing with bands throughout his formal education.  After graduating from the University of Iowa, Al formed Flytrap and Swinger, both Chicago bands that performed regularly at The Metro, Schubas, Double Door, The Vic, Elbo Room, Lounge AX, & Beat Kitchen. He has recorded and published music with both bands.  He has played the IPO festival for 24 straight years performing in Chicago, LA, and The Cavern Club in Liverpool (famous for a little band called The Beatles). Al has been the drummer with Dad's Magazine and This Magazine is Haunted.  After moving to the suburbs, Al took the lead in putting together Hinsdale's favorite suburban band Paparockzi, playing popular festivals, charities, and parties.


Why Rock Academy?


At Rock Academy, we are dedicated to every student.  Our proven method means we get to know your musical aspirations and current skill while developing customized lessons. What sets RA apart is the invaluable experience you get performing in a band setting.  Rock Academy bands are formed of beginner, intermediate and advanced musicians.  We will place you in a Rock Academy band that fits your skill level, age, and style.  We are fully committed to you, whether you seek to play for pure enjoyment or would like to pursue a career in music.


We create a pleasurable environment where you will experience the joy of music and expand your talent. You will be encouraged each step of the way to grow as a musician, including playing every 6 to 8 weeks in live performance showcases in real venues.  At RA, we find the continuity of musicians staying in the same band increases skill and develops commitment to bandmates.  As your musical skill grows, RA will continue to inspire and provide you with multiple outlets to showcase your talent.


Our teachers have music degrees from esteemed universities and at least 10 years experience in the music industry.  RA teachers provide professional guidance while focusing on teamwork, communication, rehearsal structure, performance, and musical expression.


We offer a free consultation for new students and never charge a registration fee.  We provide a discount for students who participate in both private lessons and RA band classes. We offer a $25 gift card for student referrals to Rock Academy band classes. Our live showcase performances are free for all attendees.

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