All posts by Rosaria Pipitone

Music Matters: Donate to Recycled Tunes at SPC Nov. 13 – 16

Recycled Tunes Banner

For the third year in a row, St. Petersburg College is partnering with the Gasparilla Music Foundation to support music and education through the community outreach program Recycled Tunes.

Gently used instruments donated at SPC locations will be refurbished by Recycled Tunes and then donated to Pinellas County Schools’ music programs.  This year, Gasparilla Music Foundation Board members are focusing their attention on building music programs in Pinellas County Title 1 middle schools.  All gently used instruments will be refurbished by Recycled Tunes. Then our very own Music Industry Recording Arts students will deliver the instruments and demonstrate them to future musicians. The drop-off times and locations are below.

For special drop-off accommodations, please contact Rosaria Pipitone at

Drop-off Times and Locations

All locations:
Monday, Nov. 12: COLLEGE CLOSED
Tuesday, Nov. 13 – Thursday, Nov. 15:  9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 16:  9 a.m. – noon

Clearwater Campus

ST 122
2465 Drew St.
Clearwater, FL 33765

Campus map

St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

SS Building Lobby
6605 Fifth Ave. N
St. Petersburg, FL 33710

Campus map

SPC Tarpon Springs Campus

AG 114
600 Klosterman Road
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

Campus map

Get a lesson from The Agency band members

Flier for Q&A with The Agency band members David Cook and Amos Heller

This isn’t just for Swifties but you do have to be an SPC Titan.

St. Petersburg College students and alumni will have a chance to learn from some of the best – Dave Cook and Amos Heller – members of Taylor Swift’s band, The Agency.

FlierAmong their many musical projects, Cook is Swift’s music director/keyboardist and Heller is her band’s “bass player extraordinaire.” The two are headed to the Palladium Theater at SPC on Aug. 13 to share their musical wisdom. Swift is performing in Tampa on Aug. 14.

This first-come, first-serve FREE event for SPC students and alumni will take place at the Palladium’s main stage. The event is hosted by the Music Industry Recording Arts program at the college. The program begins at 7 p.m.

Guests can take part in a Q&A with The Agency band members. Topics will include:

  • performance skills that have allowed them to thrive in the industry
  • personal branding as musicians
  • their gear choices for recording and live performance

This is a return performance at SPC for the pair from The Agency band. The two took part in  a similar event in 2015 at the Palladium. 

The Agency band bios

Before joining Swift’s team in 2011, Cook was heavily involved in the New York City jazz scene.  Since then, he has worked three tours as Taylor’s musical director and pianist.

At 13, Heller was handed his first bass. He hasn’t stopped playing since.  He built his impressive resume in Nashville where he began touring with Swift as her leading bassist.

MIRA program

SPC’s MIRA program helps students develop “real world” skills artists need to thrive in a diverse and competitive music industry. It offers experience to student musicians, composers, producers, DJs, life-sound reinforcement enthusiasts, broadcast audio engineers, and post-production technologists. Plus the program offers a variety of learning partners in the industry.

MIRA has built a rich array of learning partners in the industry that connect manufacturers to students and faculty to provide:

  • Essential software and hardware
  • Testing ground for new products
  • Internship opportunities
  • Certification plans
  • Cooperative training tracks

SPC teams with The Sessions to co-host Music Industry Panel with special guest

Photo from an event held by The Sessions

St. Petersburg College Music Industry and Recording Arts and The Sessions are co-hosting a music industry panel discussion with special guest Chick Corea on Feb. 27 from 5 – 10 p.m. at The Palladium at St. Petersburg College. This panel partnership continues The Sessions and MIRA’s focus to empower students through creative studies and professional experience.

Flier for The Sessions event This event is FREE for SPC students. A $5 donation from the public is requested, with proceeds benefiting the college’s MIRA program.

Follow the college’s event Facebook page for bios and details.

The Sessions is a powerful and uplifting interactive presentation that sharpens the business skills of artists in pursuit of excellence in their careers.  Topics include contract negotiations, entertainment law, marketing, self-promotion, social media and artist relations. Jules Follett says that the remarkable guest panel, including world-renowned pianist and composer Chick Corea, offers everyone who attends an incredible, one-of-a-kind opportunity for an up close and personal experience with leaders in the industry.

The Sessions core panel at this month’s event will include:

  • Drumming global ambassador Dom Famularo
  • Tampa based and renowned entertainment attorney Paul Quin
  • Saturday Night Live band vocalist and musicologist Christine Ohlman
  • Rick Drumm, President of Traction Business Coaching
  •  Carlos Guzman offers behind-the-scenes biz tips from a production and tour manager
  • Ray Luzier, drummer for Korn
  • Bobby Rossi, Executive Vice President of Entertainment Ruth Eckerd Hall, Capitol Theatre & Ruth Eckerd on the Road
  • Twenty-two-time Grammy winner, NEA Jazz Master and 2017 Downbeat Readers’ Poll Artist of the Year Chick Corea will make a special guest appearance on the panel, as well.

To further empower attendees, the event ends with jam session!

Jules Follett, Executive Director and founder of The Sessions, is a National Board Member of Little Kids Rock and the Chairperson of their Florida Council. She is also the author of the acclaimed “Sticks ‘n” Skins” photography book of drummers, which is in The Smithsonian, Grammy Museum and Country Music Hall of Fame, among other places!

Get Inspired at SPC’s Creative Career Summit

Creative Career Summit Banner

St. Petersburg College’s Arts, Humanities & Design Community will host its first Creative Career Summit this month – an event for both students and the public that explores careers in creative fields.

St. Petersburg College’s Career and Academic Communities offer a way for students to make connections within their areas of interest for careers and continuing education. The Oct. 19 Creative Career Summit will provide attendees with valuable information and exposure to local employers and non-profit organizations.

Creative Career Summit breakout sessions

Creative Career SummitInterested students, alumni, or students currently enrolled in Associate of Arts or Associate of Science programs in these areas, and the public should plan to attend the variety of engaging and informative breakout sessions at this event.

Those sessions will cover topics such as:

  • Disney Information session
  • How to present yourself to clients
  • Economic impact of the arts
  • Panel discussion with new and veteran music teachers

….and more!

Keynote speaker Al Pitrelli

The event will feature keynote speaker Al Pitrelli, Music Director of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Pitrelli has been a highly sought-after recording and performing guitarist since breaking into the NYC session scene in 1985. He has earned 32 Gold and Platinum records for his work, both as a member of several bands as well as a session player with artists including Alice Cooper, David Lee Roth, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Taylor Dayne, Dee Snider, Savatage, and Megadeth.

Creative Career Summit details
Arts, Humanities and Design degrees at SPC

SPC has built a long tradition of educating students in all areas of the arts, including studio art, photography, digital and graphic arts, theater, dance, music and the music and entertainment industry.

Learn more about the variety of programs at the college.

Lessons In Music Industry Success From Symphonic Distribution

Photo of Symphonic Distribution

Jorge Brea and Director of Marketing Janette Berrios, the CEO and Director of Marketing for Symphonic Distribution, return to educate St. Petersburg College’s music students and community members about How to Make Money off Your Music, the second of this term’s three-part Speaker Series.

The event takes place on Thursday, March 30, in Room HS-117, at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus.

Symphonic Distribution leads discussion

Speaker Series Symphonic Distribution

Symphonic Distribution is a Tampa-based distribution company. It offers a wide array of services to musicians ranging from custom marketing to distribution assistance.

Career Outreach Specialist Rosaria Pipitone invited representatives from the company to return and present for their second Speaker Series appearance. “This is vital information emerging artists should know about their next steps in the music industry,” she said.

Brea, the Founder and CEO of Symphonic Distributions, started his career in the music industry at 16 as a DJ/producer. Now Symphonic Distribution has distributed 400,000 albums for more than 7,000 record labels worldwide. The company ahs offices in Tampa, New York City and Pakistan. Berrios, the Director of Marketing for Symphonic Distribution, is a passionate advocate for women in the music business.

Brea and Berrios’ presentation will focus on introducing music students and those looking to get into the profession to music distribution techniques and generating revenues. That will include a look at CD sales and streaming and music downloading to such brands as Apple Music, Spotify and Napster (formerly known as Rhapsody).

Skills to succeed in the music industry

This Speaker Series event offers a series of workshops intended to assist students and musicians with employability skills needed to succeed in the music industry.

For more information, please contact Rosaria Pipitone at or read the Arts, Humanities and Design blog.

Here is information on upcoming and past speakers featured during SPC’s Spring 2017 term:

Speaker Series Symphonic Distribution

Career Services Brings Music Industry Speaker Series to SP/G Campus

Speaker Series

St. Petersburg/Gibbs CampusCareer Services has partnered with both national and local music professionals for the Spring 2017 St. Petersburg College Speaker Series, running from Feb. 23 through April 6. These events are open to the public as well as to SPC students and employees.

The series aims to teach attendees employability skills that will help them succeed in the music industry. SPC Career Outreach Specialist Rosaria Pipitone will be coordinating these Speaker Series events.

Find out more about our upcoming Speaker Series:

The Speaker Series Line-Up

The line-up features topics such as the use of music streaming as a source of income and what it is like to have “Managing Producer/Composer” as a designated career path.

Spring 2017 SPC Speaker Series
Spring 2017 SPC Speaker Series

Speaker Series 1: Generating Multiple Streams of Income in the Music Industry

On Thursday, Feb. 23, the Speaker Series kicks off with Jason Lee Bruns, owner and producer at Panout Music Group in Los Angeles. Bruns, a multi-percussionist, band leader, producer, educator and recording engineer will:

  • share his career path
  • explain why multiple streams of income are beneficial (with examples)
  • share some words of wisdom
  • talk about some of the nuts and bolts of owning a small business

Bruns has eight albums on his Panout Music Group production label. Additionally, his newest track “Cherry Avenue” was on the 58th Grammy Nomination ballot. Join us in HS 117 at the SP/G Campus from 12:30 – 2 p.m. to hear from Bruns.

Speaker Series 2: Making Money Off Your Music

Jorge Brea, the Founder and CEO of Symphonic Distributions, and Janette Berrios, the Director of Marketing for Symphonic Distribution, will present on Thursday, March 30 from 12:30 – 2 p.m. in HS 117 at the SP/G Campus.

Brea started his career in the music industry at 16 as a DJ/producer. Now Symphonic Distribution has distributed 400,000 albums for more than 7,000 record labels worldwide, with offices in Tampa, New York City and Pakistan. Berrios is a passionate advocate for women in the music business.

Brea and Berrios’ presentation will focus on introducing music students and those looking to get into the profession to music distribution techniques and generating revenues through CD sales, streaming and music downloading to such brands as Apple Music, Spotify and Napster (formerly known as Rhapsody).

Speaker Series 3: A Day in The Life of a Music Producer/Composer

Have you ever wondered what life as a music producer/composer would be like? Steve Swenson, the producer of Audio/Music at HSN and the owner of Melody Creative, will present on what it is like to be a music producer/composer on Thursday, April 6in HS 117 at the SP/G Campus from 12:30 – 2 p.m.

This informational session will provide music students and community members an opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of the music business with a successful producer/composer.

Your Invitation

Students, staff and community members are encouraged to attend this FREE series on how to succeed in the music industry, featuring working professionals and role models who will willingly share their recipes for success.

Encourage your music-loving family and friends to attend!

From volunteering at Clearwater Jazz Holiday to working the Beyoncé show

Photo of Formation World Tour bracelet
Andrew Holness
Andrew Holness

From working backstage at Clearwater Jazz Holiday (CJH) to a 4-week gig on Beyoncé’s Lemonade tour, Andrew Holness gained first-hand industry experience as an SPC Music Industry/Recording Arts (MIRA) student. Holness  jumped on the opportunity to volunteer thanks to Music Business professor John Kurnik. SPC’s MIRA students were granted the opportunity to work alongside seasoned sound engineers. Holness made an impression with local sound company, ESI, and turned his volunteer opportunity into a working career.

Backstage at Beyoncé’s Lemonade tour


Q: So, how did you wind up working the Beyoncé tour?

A: My supervisor for ESI connected me with Live Nation to help with setting up Raymond James stadium for the event. I then met a few important people who took a liking to me and had me work with them setting up Beyoncé’s dressing room and working with the Ambiance and tour bus management department while I wasn’t busy with my Live Nation duties

Stage set up

Q: How was the experience working with such a large touring act versus a local act?

A: It was amazing. I got to see the difference in preparation of a venue. We started organizing and setting up a month in advance for her show. Hundreds of people were involved to make the performance possible.

Q: Anything you want to tell us about Queen B?

A: Not much to say. She’s a hard worker and doesn’t take any time off. She’s constantly working, before, during and after the shows on her tour.

Clearwater Jazz Holiday Experience

Q: How did you get involved with Clearwater Jazz Holiday? Who connected you to the opportunity?

A: I first heard about Clearwater Jazz Holiday through my Music Business professor Dr. Kurnik. He told our class that it would be a great opportunity to volunteer at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Festival and experience what it takes to make a huge event like this run smoothly.

Q: I heard that due to your volunteer experience, you are now employed with ESI?  How did that occur?

A: So basically, while I was volunteering for the festival, one of the ESI audio crew guys needed any extra hand with setting up wedges and laying down cables, and I ended up sticking with them for the majority of the weekend. They were to me and my friend Andre very hard that entire weekend and had us running all over the place helping out in any way that we can. We were lucky enough to be offered a job at the end of the festival since they liked the way that we handled our tasks quickly and followed instructions.

Q: Can you tell me about your volunteer experience at Clearwater Jazz Holiday? What were your assigned duties?

A: The volunteering experience was great. It was a very hectic and fast-paced environment. The main duties of each volunteer were to load and unload the trucks full of cases and music equipment as well as getting the stage prepped for the band.

Q: Can you tell me a little about your experience with ESI? What are your responsibilities when you work with them?

A: When I work with ESI a lot of my responsibilities are similar to those of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday volunteering opportunity. They usually have me working as a load-in and load-out stagehand. So I basically help unload the trucks, get everything set up on stage and then get out of the way once the show starts. Once the show is over I help breakdown this stage equipment and load the trucks and assist with lighting when needed.

Q: Any cool ESI gigs coming up you’d like to share with us?

A: At ESI we have a couple of great gigs coming up, one of them being a wild splash in Clearwater and the other the Gasparilla Music Festival in downtown Tampa, and Wild Splash.

Q: Overall, do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share with students who are debating about whether to take advantage of volunteer opportunities the school offers?

A: My words of wisdom to any students considering volunteering for any company or interning for someone would be to take advantage of it! You never know who you might meet and what opportunities afterward might arise. In the business that we are all trying to get into, the number one aspect is networking. So take advantage of it now because I feel like after college all of these great networking opportunities won’t be as readily available to us.

Music Industry/Recording Arts Faculty hosts “How Poems Become Songs” at 2nd annual SunLit Festival


Jaime Hughes
Literary and other arts & cultural circles intersect during the Second Annual SunLit Festival, a springtime celebration of the written word. SunLit 2016 is co-produced by St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, Keep St. Pete Lit and the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, with funding support for family events from The DeBartolo Family Foundation, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.Poetry Live! Original Poetry Readings – Sat March 5, 7-9 pm

Unitarian Universalist Church
of St Pete, 100 Mirror Lake Drive N, St. Petersburg
This is a celebration of original poems written by Tampa Bay poetry writers. Poetry Nuts is sponsoring this event with a microphone and appreciative audience. Each reader will have up to 5 minutes to read their poems.
 Please send me original poems that you’ve written and would like to read by March 4
Producer: Paul Burnore, Poetry Nuts.
Contact: 678.521.7891. Free Admission.

How Poems Become Songs – Sun March 6, 3-5 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church
of St Pete, 100 Mirror Lake Drive N, St. Petersburg
Learn about the close connection between poetry and songs through a discussion with poets, actors and songwriters. See a demonstration by professional actors of how different readings can change the meaning of a poem; and how instrumental and/or vocal music can be added to a poem to transform it into a song, which again can color the meaning. Then, working with actors and songwriters, transform a poem into a song yourself!
Producer: Paul Burnore, Poetry Nuts.
Actor Becca McCoy and Songwriting Teacher Jamie Hughes.
Contact: 678-521-7891. Free Admission.

Recording studio gurus speak at SPC event Feb. 18

miralogoJoin us for a FREE panel discussion on Recording Studio Etiquette with stories and tips from award-winning professionals with decades of experience at the highest levels of the music recording industry. No RSVP is required for this free event held on:

  • Thursday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.)
    The Palladium Theater
  • 253 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg

Recording Studio EtiquetteSponsored by SPC’s Music Industry Recording Arts (MIRA) program  the event is open to SPC students and the public and will feature a variety of topics including:

  • Communications protocols
  • Unspoken rules of the recording studio
  • How to improve session workflows
  • Professionalism in the recording studio

Professional recording studio panelists

We are pleased to welcome the following guest artists:

Tom Morris

Tom Morris has been an audio recording engineer and producer since he and his brother Jim started Morrisound Recording in 1981. He has produced and/or engineered Gold and platinum records and worked with a wide variety of local and national artists including:

  • Seven Mary Three
  • The Dixie Dregs
  • Morbid Angel
  • John Travolta
  • Beyonce
  • Destiny’s Child
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • Plies

Morris has also been active in the Recording Academy as one of the founding members of the Florida Chapter Board of Governors. He has been elected to represent the chapter as its Vice-President, President, and Trustee. A proponent of audio recording and music business education for musicians for the last 30 years, he teaches audio engineering at St. Petersburg College and the University of South Florida.

Al Pitrelli

Al Pitrelli has been a highly sought after recording and performing guitarist since breaking into the NYC session scene in 1985. He has earned 32 Gold and Platinum records for his work, both as a member of several bands as well as a session player, with artists including:

  • Alice Cooper
  • David Lee Roth
  • Michael Bolton
  • Celine Dion
  • Taylor Dayne
  • Dee Snider
  • Savatage
  • Megadeath

He is currently the Music Director for Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Mike Major

Mike Major has been in the recording business for nearly 30 years, working with artists like:

  • At The Drive-in
  • Coheed and Cambria
  • Sparta
  • Davenport Cabinet
  • As Tall As Lions
  • Jordan Cook

Major was the manager of Rosewood Studio in El Paso, TX for 18 years and later created Mike’s Mix Room, his personal mixing and mastering studio. During his time in El Paso, he was the Front of House System Technician and Crew Chief for South Coast Audio, the largest regional sound and lighting company in West Texas.

He is the author of  Recording Drums: The Complete Guide, a comprehensive book about the difficult and often misunderstood task of recording drums. He has conducted masterclasses and instruction about all things recording and enjoys sharing his acquired skill and knowledge with fellow recording engineers. He has also created a YouTube video series entitled The Method to the Mix, where he demonstrates and dissects a mix from beginning to end.

John Stephan

John Stephan is is the head engineer and president of the Springs Theater, a full-service recording and multi media studio in Sulphur Springs, Florida. He is a voting member of the Grammy Foundation with more than 30 years of experience in the music industry with artists like:

  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Joshua Bell
  • Isaac Stern
  • Robert Shaw
  • Andre Watts
  • The Florida Orchestra
  • The Tampa Bay Symphony
  • The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay
  • The Key Chorale
  • Sam Rivers
  • Ray Charles

Eric Schilling

Four-time GRAMMY winner and 12-time Latin GRAMMY winner, Eric Schilling started his career at the age of 16 in community radio recording, working on live broadcast for Weather Report, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Keith Jarrett, Taj Mahal and Randy Newman. At age 19 he became an assistant engineer at Record Plant Recording Studios in Sausalito, CA working with Sly Stone, Joe Cocker and Fleetwood Mac.

In 1977 he relocated to Florida to become an engineer at Bayshore Recording Studios, where he met and began mixing for Gloria Estefan. In 1990, he built Crescent Moon studios for the Estefans, which he ran through 1996. Since moving to Florida some of his engineering and mixing projects have included:

  • Madonna
  • Natalie Cole
  • Ricky Martin
  • Jon Secada
  • Shakira
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Arturo Sandoval
  • Cachao

He also works as a broadcast music mixer on the Billboard Awards, ACM awards, various Iheart shows , The Latin GRAMMYs broadcast and The GRAMMY awards for which he has been awarded five prime time Emmys for audio.

For more information on this event, contact Rosaria Pipitone at 727-341-4722.


Gasparilla Music Festival organizers come to SPC Feb. 4

Organizers of the Gasparilla Music Festival will attend a quad event on the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus on Thursday, Feb. 4, from 12:30 – 2 p.m. to recruit volunteers for the two-day festival on March 12-13.

One of the largest, local non-profit music festivals, this year’s event features dozens of acts including Erykah Badu, MS MR, Greensky Bluegrass, Charles Bradley and more. Learn more about the festival at

Gasparilla Music Foundation partners with SPC

The Gasparilla Music Foundation has been a strong supporter of SPC’s Music Industry/Recording Arts program for three years, helping staff raise funds for our music students. MIRA faculty, students and alumni have performed and volunteered at the festival and now we want to welcome them to campus to show our appreciation for their ongoing support for music education.

Gasparilla Music Festival

During the Feb. 4 event, foundation board member Jaime Zinober will be signing up volunteers and accepting new and used instruments, both of which will earn students a one-day complimentary ticket. Please bring any instruments and spread the word for your friends to do the same. All instruments gathered at this event will be donated to Pinellas County Schools in support of their Recycled Tunes Program.

Come stop by, say hello, and enjoy Quad festivities and visit the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Facebook Page for other campus events.