John Cardoni

John Cardoni is an Adjunct Instructor of Guitar at Belmont University, where he teaches commercial guitar lessons, guitar class, and performs with the Faculty Jazz Group.  He regularly performs across the country with Nashville-based bands and artists. Currently he works with the 12 South Band, a high-end corporate band. From 2013 to 2015 he was lead guitarist and musical director for American Idol alum Josh Gracin.  He also performed on stage with Amy Grant, Danny Gottlieb, Chester Thompson, Kristin Kelly, Maynard Ferguson, Paul Galbraith, Laura Bell Bundy, and Amber Carrington (The Voice). In addition, he opened for Little Richard, Earth Wind & Fire, Laurence Juber (guitarist for Wings), Norbert Putnam, NEEDTOBREATHE, Craig Morgan, Keith Anderson, J.T. Hodges, Antigravity, Freckled Sky, and Blue Rodeo.  So far Mr. Cardoni has recorded nine albums with four different bands, along with various session and demo work. For six years he helped lead a 9-piece funk/fusion band called Public Display of Funk (they were young). The band recorded three albums that featured many of his original compositions and arrangements. He recorded four more records with an original alt-country/rock group called The Micah Walk Band.  In his spare time, he works on producing original tracks for licensing and writing solo guitar arrangements.

Mr. Cardoni earned his M.M. in Commercial Music with an emphasis in guitar performance from Belmont University in 2013.  His graduate recital and thesis paper focused on the music and playing styles of Nashville guitarists over the years. That research involved interviewing greats such as John Knowles (C.G.P.), Guthrie Trapp, Kenny Vaughan, Jack Pearson, and Brent Mason.  Mr. Cardoni received his B.M. in Commercial Music from Millikin University in 2004. His undergraduate studies centered on both classical and jazz guitar, music theory, arranging, and recording studio work. In 2008 Mr. Cardoni joined the Millikin faculty.  He taught classical and commercial guitar lessons, directed the secondary guitar ensemble, and led a pop/rock combo. He also composed and arranged multiple pieces for classical guitar ensemble. His arrangement of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” featured as the title track for a 2010 Christmas album by the Millikin Guitar Ensemble.

Lessons Offered: Guitar

Jeff Rogers

Jefferson (Jeff) Rogers is an adjunct instructor of guitar at Belmont University and has been a part of the faculty since 2001.

Mr. Rogers earned a Master of Arts in guitar performance from Middle Tennessee State University and a Bachelor of Music in Commercial Music from Belmont University. He also teaches at Columbia State Community College. Mr. Rogers has won numerous performance awards, including the Beethoven’s Club Young Artist Contest, WZIM Guitar Solo in the Newsroom, and East Tennessee Guitar Wars. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Chi, Gamma Beta Phi, and has been a member of the Middle Tennessee State University Guitar Quartet. He has performed with various country, rock and latin bands in the Middle Tennessee area and in 1997, he received the honor of Outstanding Achievement in Guitar Performance from Middle Tennessee State University.

Lessons Offered: Guitar, Banjo and Mandolin

Robert Thompson

Robert Thompson works as a performer, recording artist, teacher and guitar faculty member at Belmont University and Middle Tennessee State University. Thompson serves as the Director of the Belmont University Guitar Ensemble, teaches Advanced Classical Guitar Seminar, and private lessons. He began his classical guitar studies at the age of ten. Thompson completed his Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees in classical guitar performance at Ball State University and Southern Illinois University. He has performed at guitar festivals and for guitar societies, concert series, cultural events, and universities throughout the United States. Thompson has performed over 300 formal concerts during his career.

As one of Nashville’s most active nylon-string guitarist, Thompson maintains an extensive repertoire of solo and duo music and performs as a freelance musician. Thompson made his New York City debut at Carnegie Hall Studios in 2001. His solo repertoire includes music by Albeniz, Sérgio Assad, J.S. Bach, Barrios, Bonfa, Brouwer, Corea, Bennett, Desmond, Domeniconi, Gismonti, Giuliani, Granados, Jobim, Koshkin, Mertz, Metheny, Piazzolla, Reis, Rodrigo, Scarlatti, Sor, Tarrega, Torroba, Villa-Lobos, Villoldo, Walton, Weiss, and York. As a gifted performer and teacher, Thompson’s students have performed on National Public Radio, have been accepted into prestigious graduate programs, and featured as concerto soloists and competition winners. Many of his students have found successful careers in the music business as performers, university teachers, touring and recording artists.

Lessons Offered: Guitar

Michael Valeras

With over 25 years experience in guitar performance and education, Mr. Valeras has garnered a reputation as one of the most respected musicians, composers and guitar instructors in Nashville. Having honed his skills in the rich, musical breeding ground of the Boston area, he earned his B.M. in music education from Berklee College of Music and his M.M. in  performance from the University of Massachusetts. In addition, he spent five years under the tutelage of legendary Jazz educator, Charlie Banacos (Mike Stern, Wayne Krantz, Jeff Berlin).
Mr. Valeras has worked with many of the industry’s most respected musicians, including Steve Vai, John Scofield, Billy Sheehan, Larry Coryell, Keith Carlock, Jeff Berlin, Kirk Covington, Ike Stubblefield, The Platters, The Coasters, Michael Whittaker, Adam Nitti, Wes Little, Brian Allen, Roy Vogt and Bob Harsen. Mr. Valeras is an instructor at the esteemed Guitar Workshop Plus camp, a contributing clinician for the D’Addario Education Collective, and he offers courses of private study to any musician, artist or writer who wishes to expand their musical vocabulary. Many of his former students have gone on to perform with some of the most well known names in music. In addition to his sideman work in the Nashville area, Mr. Valeras continues to push the parameters of modern jazz with his own project, The Mike Valeras Trio, which has released three independent albums and received notable press worldwide.

Lessons Offered: Guitar