meet the team

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Austin Pillsbury

Owner

Guitar, piano & voice

Austin founded Musician Makers in 2016 after years of teaching guitar on his own. He began learning guitar in middle school, and started teaching at the age of 16. Austin now has a total of 14 years of teaching experience. 

 

From his experiences he has mastered creative teaching methods which give him the unique ability and confidence to work with a variety of students with varying skill and learning abilities. 

While encouraging creativity, he teaches his students the foundations of music with a focus on songwriting, excellence and fun! He is known to really get to know his students and cares about what they care about. Austin will always go out of his  way to include plenty of goofiness and encouragement into his lessons. 

 

His desire for this business is to make musicians, because he believes everyone can be impacted by music. Austin has been a member of three bands with published music; as well as an independent songwriter.  He's working on writing and recording his first solo EP. On Sunday mornings you can find him playing in the worship team at his local church.

Austin says "Being able to build and grow the team at Musician Makers, as well as a thriving community of musicians is honestly so surreal I can't believe that this is my job!"

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Jon Alessandria

Guitar

Jon has many years of teaching experience, including international teaching experience. He has been playing guitar for over 10 years, knows a bit of piano, sings, and also does music production and songwriting.

 

Jon has been working with kids since high school and has an extensive resume of volunteering and working with programs like Youthquake Live, Kim’s Open Door a non-profit here in Jacksonville, VIPKid, and the Jacksonville Public Library.

Jon's musicianship, combined with his education and experience teaching kids, make him an incredible instructor. 

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Emily Stewart

Piano, Guitar, and Voice 

Emily Stewart is from Jacksonville, Florida. She has been performing since she was very young in ministry and academic settings. Although Emily’s primary instrument is voice, she is also experienced in playing piano and acoustic guitar. Emily began her study of singing at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. She continued her studies at Florida State College at Jacksonville and Jacksonville University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education. She has also earned her Master’s degree in Music Performance at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee.

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Mike Pruitt

Piano & Voice

Hello, I’m Mike Pruitt! I have been studying piano practically my whole life! I currently work as the Director of Music for St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church where I’ve been for six years! I have traveled around the country playing piano in multiple bands and in many worship communities! Most recently in the Diocese of Spokane Washington, where I was the Music Leader for the diocesan summer program, “Camp Cross”. I love what I do, and can’t wait to share the gift of piano with everyone!

-Studied Piano for over a decade! 

*Focus in Jazz, Worship, and Songwriting! 

 

-Private Lesson Instructor: Piano and Voice Principle! 

 

-Toured nationally with multiple projects! 

 

-Director of Music, St. Patrick’s Episcopal church: 6 years

 

-Music Minister for the Diocese of Southwest Florida, Diocese of Spokane, WA 

 

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Grace Pillsbury

Brand Management & Social Media 

Grace is a Jacksonville native and actually grew up in St Augustine dancing, playing music and raising lots of animals. She attended UNF and has a Bachelors in Communications. Grace now owns a boutique branding agency, and she and her team work behind the scenes at Musician Makers. Anything to do with brand growth and development, social media and events is her specialty. 

"It's been awesome for me to be able to work alongside of Austin and see him build a team and this school....he's really, truly impacting people's lives and changing kids' futures for the better and it's so inspiring. I look up to him every single day." 

p.s. Austin is also lucky enough to be married to Grace. 

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Jacob Shearer

Guitar, Administrator

Jacob was born and raised right here in Jacksonville. He has been playing guitar since 2005, and was trained classically for 8 years. Two of those years were at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts where he also studied music theory and piano. He has played in worship bands weekly since 2010, and joined Musician Makers in August of 2018. He has experience teaching people of all ages, and believes that music should be fun. He’s excited about teaching and firmly believes it is never too late to start learning music. 

Jacob is also a key member of the administrative team at Musician Makers. He keeps everyone's schedule organized, provides fantastic customer service and makes sure our internal operations run smoothly. 

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Chris Fairbanks

Guitar 

Born and raised in West Palm Beach FL, although initially trained in keyboard and piano at 6, I have been playing guitar since I was 12. Throughout my teens, I was in multiple church bands and even lead for my high school chapel band.

 

When I moved to Jacksonville in 2012, one of my first jobs was teaching guitar for an elementary after care program.

 

I have a passion for teaching and love passing on knowledge to those who want to learn!

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Reid Johnson

Guitar , Drums

 

Reid was born and raised in Jacksonville Beach and has spent a majority of his life pursuing music. After receiving a guitar for Christmas at age 10 and quickly giving up, he joined band in middle school where he played trombone. The summer before his 8th grade year he picked that old guitar back up and was determined to learn how to play it.

 

By freshman year he was already playing complicated songs and spent most of his time after school continuing to learn with neighborhood friends when he wasn’t busy with marching band. His brother bought a drum set around the same time and Reid quickly found himself playing drums at his local church for the next 7 years.

 

In high school he played guitar/drums in a handful or worship bands and even started his own when he was 16. Since then, Reid has remained in a band and is currently actively touring around the country when the time off allows.

 

His band played the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, has toured to New York and back multiple times, and has even gotten on the prestigious punk rock “FEST” in Gainesville last October. Reid has a natural talent for music and can play pretty much any instrument if you give him time to figure it out.

 

After highschool he got his associates degree in education here in Jacksonville before heading to Tallahassee and getting his Bachelor’s degree in English Education at Florida State University. Reid is very eager to put his love of music and education into practice with Musician Makers and is ready to get his students as fired up about playing music as he is!

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Juan Ortiz

Piano

Juan Ortiz has been playing piano for 20 years. He has been performing music live for over 15 years. He is the most experienced musician on the team! He has been teaching for 10 years, which includes private lessons, as well as coaching musicians at his local church. Juan also did kids ministry at his local church with his wife for 7 years. He is fantastic with kids, and he know how to make music fun! Juan is an expert in chords, scales, improvisation, and piano performance. His unique gift for teaching allows him to break those topics down in a simple and understandable way. We are lucky to have him on the team!

Landon Gay

Piano, guitar, voice 

Landon Gay has been playing guitar and singing for almost 9 years. He has been playing playing piano for three years. He even has experience playing pedal steel! Landon is also a songwriter and performer, often performing at local shows, and touring. He has been in several bands, and has performed with many artists over the years. You can even find his music on Spotify! He is a former 7th grade math teacher, and he truly has a gift for educating children. He has such a passion for teaching! Landon makes music fun, engaging, and creative. Many of his students end up writing their own songs, and creating their own music!

interested in teaching?