Dave Brackenridge (Founder, CEO)
Dave wrote the original Rookie Rockstars programme with a view to positively impact young people all over the UK. Dave had a tough time at school, having been severely bullied for a number of years. He wanted to seize the opportunity to help children understand that they are all special, they should have confidence in themselves, that they should never give up and to always remember that bullying is not right! His energetic, fun songs have helped teach these positive messages to approx ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND school pupils across the country. On the back of the success of the programme Dave has written a second programme for schools and opened our very own School of Music which currently has two campuses in Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld respectively. He also added a Mental Health Counselling service in 2018 which is growing at an incredible rate. He is passionate and focussed about continuing to grow the charity and helping as many young people as he can! Dave has pretty solid musical credentials too having toured worldwide with his band before starting the Rookie Rockstars Programme.
Sara Danson (General Manager)
Sara has been involved with many charities over a number of years. Yorkhill Children’s Charity, MediCinema, Homestart Glasgow North, Noah’s ark Children’s Hospital for Wales and Ronald MacDonald House have all benefited from her experience over the past number of years. Having joined initially as a volunteer her talents were noticed early on which saw her offered a key role within the organisation. She now manages the office and its staff as well as working closely with schools to ensure the smooth delivery of the Rookie Rockstars Programme.
Ela Brackenridge (School of Music Coordinator)
As you can see by looking through our staff list, Dave’s family have been a massive support to him in getting Rookie Rockstars off the ground and getting it to where it is today. In fact in order to actually see Dave (who works a lot!) his wife Ela has decided to officially join the staff team to help out with admin for both the schools programme and our school of music.
Kristin Kudeva (Media & Administration)
Kristin is currently a media student by day and an important part of our team by night. She has previously been involved with charities such as Glasgow Sport and her freelance work has been focused on creating media content, filming and editing promotional videos.
Kristin has a passion for video-making and advertising and views Rookie Rockstars’ programme as an inspiring project where she could enhance her skills. She is also the first face you will see when you attend our School of music in Kirkintilloch and your first contact on the phone for all of our Music schools after 3pm.
Emma Husband (Fundraising Coordinator)
Emma is here to pursue her life passions of fundraising. Emma has previously worked with St Columba’s fundraising team as well as embarking on many charitable volunteering experiences; from teaching English in Sri Lanka to jumping out of planes. With a background in psychology Emma understands first-hand the significance of the cause we are passionate about.
Sylwia Wojcik (Bookkeeper)
Sylwia has joined Rookie Rockstars recently and will try her best to help to keep the books right. Sylwia has BA in Accounting from the University of the West of Scotland and also MA in Economics and Organization of Enterprises from the Radom Technical University. She is a mum to Jakub (8), loves reading books and eating healthy.
Beth Pritchard (Community Outreach Coordinator)
Beth is passionate about improving the mental health of children. Over the past few years, whilst bringing up her two young boys, she has volunteered with several organisations where her roles have included classroom assistant, treasurer, waitress, toddler group leader and helper at children’s holiday clubs. Beth also has a love of music and has performed in choirs since she was 8. Beth has several years of administrative experience which she is looking forward to using at Rookie Rockstars and Rookie Minds to help them provide the best possible service to children and schools in the area
Stephen Brackenridge (Literacy Attainment Programme)
Steve, did his first Rookie Rockstars week in September of 2014. He is an accomplished singer, musician, songwriter and playwright! He has performed internationally and played in bands with a variety of styles including indie, folk, soul, punk and of course, rock! He is a loveable big guy and very popular with all pupils, perhaps because of his love of robot dancing! After doing our schools programme for a few years Steve now works in schools helping pupils improve their literacy skills through song writing.
Glyn Harris (Community Outreach Worker)
Also in our East of Scotland team is Glyn. He has had a long and successful career in the music business from playing to teaching and even selling musical instruments. He still performs regularly however he wanted to get involved with Rookie Rockstars having seen how worth while the project is. We are glad he did.
Chloe Watson (Community Outreach Worker)
Olivia Marshall (Community Outreach Worker)
Sally Izon (Rookie Minds Counsellor and Project Manager)
Sally is a highly experienced and qualified counsellor who has worked extensively with children and young people over the last 25 years both in her capacity as a teacher and counsellor. Since graduating from Queen Margaret’s University as a Psychodynamic Counsellor, Sally, who is passionate about early intervention for mental health issues has project managed a counselling project in school covering a wide spectrum of mental health issues. Having 3 children of her own, Sally fully understands the impact that mental health can have on the family as a whole.
Sally is delighted to join the Rookie Minds team to continue to expand the service throughout schools and within the Rookie Minds base in Kirkintilloch.
Verity Grant (Rookie Minds Counsellor)
Verity has come from a background of support work with Deafblind UK and volunteered as a counsellor with Mind working with both adults and young people. She is also fluent in British Sign Language and undertakes online counselling with Deaf4Deaf, a service for deaf people with mental health issues.
Verity is a qualified Psychotherapist with an integrative approach which she gained from Staffordshire University in Stoke-on-Trent, England. She has experience working with anxiety and depression, loss, disability, suicidal thoughts, abuse, family, school and relationship issues. Verity is excited to be working with Rookie Mind and is passionate about working with people mental health.
Lauren Reilly (Rookie Minds Counsellor)
Ola MacInnes (Rookie Minds Counsellor)
She is a mum of 5 year old daughter and step mum of two teenage boys. Through her own life experiences she has a deep understanding, compassion and empathy for people who struggle with depression, anxiety, panic and emotional difficulties. She is focused and committed to helping others build emotional resilience and achieving changes in order to live happily and at peace with themselves and the world around them
Holly Grierson (Rookie Minds Counsellor)
Karolyn Morrison (Supervision Counsellor)
School of Music Staff
Ross Millar (Drum Tutor)
Upon completing his BA(hons) degree in popular music, Ross focused his efforts in learning and performing Jazz, Latin, Pop and Theatre. Ticking off some of the best stages in the UK, Ross has performed at countless festivals and gigs including World Music Festival & Giants of Lovers Rock featured in the London 02, Belladrum, One Love Fest. Along with gigging, Ross has used this experience to develop his teaching over the past 5 years where he worked as a private tutor.
Calum Borthwick (Guitar Tutor)
Calum developed a love for music and guitar at an early age, which would lead him to a successful career as both a performer and a teacher. He began his formal studies at Strathclyde University’s BA Applied music course before moving to the United States to study at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, where he earned a Masters in Classical Guitar performance.
Calum has performed as a soloist and in various ensembles across Europe and the United States, in recent years as one half of his award-winning guitar duo, Derelict Hands. In addition to his work as a classical musician, he has continued his passion for rock and heavy music by playing and recording guitar and keyboards in various bands. He is also an enthusiastic teacher who loves to share his passion for music with his students, and to see them develop and grow throughout their time learning with him.
Tommy Gorman (Guitar Tutor)
Tommy is a guitarist and songwriter based in Glasgow. He is an experienced performer, having participated in professional productions in venues such as The O2 ABC, The Beacon and numerous other venues across Scotland. Through studying Music at West College Scotland where he gained top marks, as well as spending a year on the BA Applied music course at the UHI, Tommy became proficient in a variety of styles – from funk/jazz fusion to rock and punk. In addition to performing, Tommy has gained experience in a number of areas of the music business: From organising and promoting concerts to working as an audio-engineer/producer from his home studio.
Self-taught from a young age, Tommy started teaching because he knows it can be difficult to learn about something as complicated as music without a little help and is passionate about guiding students to reach their full potential as musicians by equipping them with all of the knowledge, skills and confidence to succeed.
Dario Palazzo (Guitar Tutor)
Dario is guitar tutor for our Cumbernauld Music School. Having graduated with a BMus (Hons) Music Performance degree from Kingston University, London, Dario has been involved in many musical endeavours including performing with many singer-songwriters across Scotland, working with various function bands, his main band being Studio Wedding Band, as well as performing regularly with folk-fusion band Eriska. Highlights in performance include performing at festivals around Scotland such as Celtic Connections, ButeFest and Piping Live, TV appearances on STV and BBC, performing for the cast of Still Game and Scottish band The Bluebells, as well as taking part in Festival 2018 as part of the European Championships in Glasgow.
Fraser Wills (Drum Tutor)
Fraser is a soulful drummer based in Glasgow who has toured internationally with Harakiri, the MCSM Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, and The Human Empire. He learned his trade at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota, under the guidance of internationally in-demand drum set clinician Dave Stanoch. Alongside this master technician, Fraser has learned from greats such as Paul Stueber, David Schmalenberger, Kevin Washington, Marv Dahlgren and Gordy Knudtson.
Fraser was the principal percussionist for four years at Bethlehem Baptist Church under the directorship of Dr Matthew Westerholm and served as the Assistant for Worship and Music. During his eight years as a professional, Fraser has enjoyed playing a variety of styles including neo-soul, funk, rock, pop and hip hop alongside various artists such as; Ian Everson, Ethan Yeshaya, Trevor Wiest, The Brandon Projekt, Ashley Dubose and many more incredible artists.
Chris Kenny (Keys Tutor)
Chris is currently a full time student studying a Bachelor of music degree at Edinburgh Napier university. From starting out on classical piano in 2007 to now performing with various synthesisers, keyboards and software, He has developed a large number of skills over the years as a musician, sound designer and producer. As well as having performed in many parts of the UK and in Europe as keyboardist with Ignite Music he regularly works with many other artists both for recordings sessions and in live performance from classical orchestras to rock bands to the Christian music scene, giving him hands on experience in several genres.
Allie Carson (Vocal Tutor)
Allie is a singer/songwriter from Glasgow. She is an experienced performer, having sung since she was three years old and attended lessons for 5 years. She has supported acts such as Stooshe, performed in many well-known venues such as the Royal Concert Hall, the SECC and the Lowry Theatre in Manchester and has appeared in productions of Grease, Camp Rock, Little Shop of Horrors and High School Musical. She has recently graduated from the Academy of Music and Sound with a 2:1 honours degree in Performance Industries and is keen to put it to good use. When Allie isn’t out performing or writing, she loves to encourage singers to utilise whatever talents they have and build confidence in others as she has not always had confidence in performing herself.
Jamie McAuley (Guitar Tutor)
Jamie is a graduate from the the Academy of Music. He is a multi instrumentalist who specialises in guitar. He has an extensive amount of performing experience and loads of enthusiasm for teaching.
Rhona Boyle (Guitar Tutor)
Rhona is a young musician who started playing guitar at the age of 8 and joined her first ceilidh band aged 10. She achieved her RGT Grade 8 Acoustic Guitar aged 15 in 2015 and received the Student Of The Year award at her music school. As a result of playing in the ceilidh band, Rhona was encouraged to take up bass guitar and fiddle and is currently working towards grade 6 violin. She has been in various Folk and Rock bands and has played festivals such as Celtic Connections and several times at The Dougie Maclean Festival. Rhona has also performed solo guitar and fiddle at G66+ Live and Mayfest. She is currently a member of The Campsie Scottish Folk Players and The Campsie Ceilidh Band, playing fiddle. Rhona also helps out in reception from time to time.
Fraser Brand (Vocals/Guitar Tutor)
Fraser’s love of music has been around since a very young age. He holds a BA Hons in Commercial Music and was trained as a classical vocalist by Dr. Agnes Hoey M.B.E. of the Glasgow Youth Choir. He has worked in various studios and venues throughout his career, namely, the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow Fruitmarket, Oran Mor and Gleneagles Hotel. He is continuing his successful career here with us at Rookie Rockstars teaching vocals and guitar.
Neil MacDougall (Sound Engineer/Drum Tutor)
Neil went to college to study performance drums & popular music and uni to study music composition, performance and popular music study. But his experience in music and his skills were made and honed as a live performer for the last 14 years or so. He has Recorded, Toured & played all over the country and around the world with over 30 acts, artists and bands of all sorts of genres. When he’s not gigging he runs his own studio for recording, production and composition of music and drumming the company is called ‘Nautilus Studio Productions’. His passion is playing drums, making music and showing others they can do it to!
Mike Parr-Burman (Guitar Tutor)
Mike is a guitarist and sound engineer based in Glasgow. He is especially interested in improvised music, and with experience spanning rock, jazz, blues, traditional and classical, he has taught people of all ages and interests for 9 years. He holds a BMus from Newcastle University and an MSc in sound design from Edinburgh College of Art.
As a performer he tours nationally and internationally with the trio Taupe, and his sound design work has been exhibited as far and as wide as Chile and Portugal.
Mark Norris (Drum Tutor)
Upon completion of a degree in music business and a HNC in music performance, Mark focussed on excelling his abilities to a high technical standard. Mark has subsequently played drums for tours and festivals for various bands on a session musician basis from Shetland to London and in various countries across the European mainland. Some of Mark’s festival appearances include Rebellion Festival held in Blackpool, the biggest Punk Rock festival in Europe UK Tech Fest, one of the biggest Progressive Metal Music Festivals in the UK and Tribfest, the biggest Tribute band festival in the UK. Mark has always been influenced by musicians whom have doubled as great teachers and so has developed and refined a set of teaching skills and exercises with which to inspire and educate others as he has been.
Aaron Brackenridge (Drum Tutor)
Tomi Spasevski (Drum Tutor)
Tomi hails from Croatia where he has earned a Master’s Degree learning classical percussion from such greats as Božidar Rebić, Ivana Bilić and Igor Lešnik at the University of Zagreb, Music Academy. He has performed with quite a few established orchestras and ensembles at home and internationally and has thought percussion and drum set for six years, principally at Pavao Markovac music school in Zagreb. In his spare time he likes to record some of his favorite tunes for his YouTube channel. Music holds a special place in his heart and he continues to specialize in drum set and electric guitar.
Beth is a cover piano tutor for Rookie Rockstars. She is currently a full time student studying the BEd Music course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Her principle study is the piano, which she has played since the age of 6, however, she also loves to sing and can play a bit of flute!
Hannah Doherty (Vocals Tutor)
Hannah is a vocals tutor for our Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld schools. She graduated from the Academy of Music and Sound with a 2:1 in Performance Industries. She is very passionate about performing and regularly gigs around Glasgow whether it be solo or with a wedding/cover band. Hannah also plays the guitar and attended weekly lessons for 7 years. Since graduating Hannah has found a passion for teaching and wants to boost pupils confidence to sing and perform.
Holly Phimister (Vocals Tutor)
Picture and bio to follow
Robbie Lucas (Keys Tutor)
Robbie is a graduate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), with a bachelor’s degree in performance on the clarinet. Having achieved ABRSM grade 8 in both clarinet and piano by 2014 at the Aberdeen city music school, he continued to study piano as a secondary instrument at the RCS with departmental first study tutors. Robbie has more than 10 years of performance and recording experience playing as a soloist, in chamber groups, in orchestras and jazz/funk ensembles. He is committed to ensuring that music is accessible and enjoyable for everyone and loves learning from others as well as passing on his own knowledge.
Kristina Yorgova is a pianist based in Glasgow, Scotland, where she is pursuing her Masters of Music degree studying with Prof. Petras Geniusas. Most recently, she received a Diploma at the VIII International Piano Competition Stasys Vainiunas in Lithuania. She has received many awards throughout her career. She has played recitals in venues across Scotland, including recitals in the Usher Hall and the Brunton Theatre, Edinburgh. Outside of the United Kingdom she has performed in Bulgaria, Belgium, France, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, and Russia. Kristina is Bulgarian/Russian by origin but started her piano studies in Konservatorium Georg Friedrich Handel, Halle/Saale, Germany. She graduated her Bachelor of Music degree in the piano class of Prof. Fali Pavri and started her Master’s degree on an exchange programme in the Rachmaninov State Conservatoire in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, studying with Sergei Osipenko. She is grateful to be supported in her studies by the RCS Trust, as well as the Kathleen Trust, Split Infinity Trust and the Denne Gilkes Memorial Fund.
Crystalla Lola (Keys Tutor)
I am a classically trained Singer, Pianist and Composer, with an advanced level in Piano, Singing and Music Theory. Currently, I am a student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland studying Music, specialising in Composition. I have been involved in many musical performances such as, choral, local concerts, musicals and charity events. My versatility allows me to explore many different genres of music including Classical, Musical Theatre, Jazz, Pop and Contemporary. I have also been involved in many music groups, choirs, and collaborative practices, and I am currently a chorus member of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. I often have the role of musical director and have experience in teaching piano, singing and music theory. There is nothing more enjoyable than watching your students grow and helping them enhance their musical abilities and individual styles. Leaving my home country Cyprus, I have moved to Scotland for my studies at the Conservatoire, and I have showcased my work at the Plug Festival 2018, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018, and have recently just completed an orchestral piece, which was performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, premiered in a show called ‘Last Futures’. I am loving Glasgow and the colourful, cultural vibe of the city, and am very keen to contribute to its musical brilliance.
Hannah MacKay (Drums Tutor)
Bio and picture to follow
Dorote Vdovinskyte (Keys Tutor)
Dorote is a Lithuanian pianist based in Glasgow, Scotland. She began playing piano at the age of six and since 2016 she is studying in Royal Conservatoire of Scotland under Prof. Petras Geniusas. Dorote is a prizewinner of many international competitions for pianists in Germany, Sweden, Luxembourg, Poland, Lithuania, Macedonia and Serbia. Between the years of 2010-2018 she actively engaged herself in chamber music and played in a trio ensemble with which she took part in a concert tour in Italy. She also played with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra in 2010 and with the internationally renowned Ensemble Modern orchestra in 2015 in Wolfenbuttel and Hannover, Germany. During the years 2008-2016 she was a scholarship student of the Michel Sogny Foundation “SOS Talents” (Switzerland). She took part in the concerts organized by this Foundation which were live transmitted by Mezzo TV and Radio Classique. She was twice awarded certificates of honour for musical achievements by the President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė in 2014 and 2015. In addition to her studies, she actively enjoys teaching, composing and playing organ.
Jillian is an experienced Speech and Language Therapist. She selflessly took a year out to support Dave after he approached her and asked for help to turn the programme into what it is today. She also toured internationally with Dave’s former band. Her understanding of Music, Education and her experience in working with young folk with additional support needs, gives her a huge amount of knowledge to bring to the table!
Philip is to be frank a legend! He has a career that spans TV, Radio, Musical
Performance and Events management. He has performed in some of the biggest venues in the UK and had numerous acting roles on major soaps. He has performed with Cilla Black and interviewed some of the biggest artists in the world on various radio stations over the years! He was also part of the cast, along side Amy MacDonald for the Common Wealth Games 2014 opening ceremony.
Despite her young looks Helena is a very experienced Lawyer and we are thrilled she has agreed to lend her knowledge and advice as a member of our trustees.
Alan Gunn (IT)
We all know someone great with technology! Alan is a massive support to Rookie Rockstars with all things computer and internet related. His company Enrich IT provides our web hosting for free! He was able to secure donations from Microsoft and other software providers to help run the organisation. He is always available to provide help and advice on technology issues, ideas for our website and fixing issues. He’s even been known to run cables for our printers! A huge support.3