The People

Brent Bristow | Owner and Founder

Brent Bristow is the owner and founder of Salem Academy of Music. Brent started his musical journey in grade school. He told his parents he wanted to play the trumpet but due to the fact that there was a violin gathering dust in a family closet, that was what he learned on. In junior high school, he ditched the violin (a decision he regrets) in favor of the electric bass. He formed his first rock band at age 14. Salem Academy of music has evolved and the primary focus is now music education. 15 highly qualified music instructors are on board to teach most all instruments to both children or adults. Brent takes great pride in seeing students grow in their musical endeavors. 

Mary Maira | Director

Mary Maira is the director and the heart and soul of Salem Academy of Music. Mary is a passionate supporter of live music and her love of musicians, children, and people in general is what gives her the drive to grow and nourish the academy. Simply put, Mary is the one who makes it all happen.

Alexander Nelson | Guitar

Alexander Nelson is currently an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), studying classical guitar under Joseph Pecoraro. Working in the capacity of performer, arranger, and band leader, Mr. Nelson’s experiences with contemporary music have reached outside of academia. He served as assistant director of music at Clapping Hands Farm, a summer camp dedicated to visual and performing arts, where he worked with at-risk youth aged 11 to 17 on how to improvise, sing, and compose original music across a variety of styles for many instruments including guitar, piano, ukulele, and drums.

He has performed several concerts for UNCSA as a soloist and as a member of group performances. Ensemble credits include the UNCSA Guitar Ensemble and the Camel City Guitar Quartet, as well as various jazz ensembles for the UNCSA School of Drama; these include Intensive Arts scenes, the UNCSA Project Love Benefit Concert, and independent collaborations with students.

When he is not practicing a Bach fugue, he finds time to compose new music of his own. Studying under a member of UNCSA's composition faculty Kenneth Frazelle, he has composed works for solo and ensemble guitars. One such work, keep going, was commissioned by UNCSA alumnus Drake Duffer as part of master’s recital featuring new music for the Yale School of Music.

Anthony Lacivita | Trumpet

Anthony Lacivita is a graduate student at UNC School of the Arts. He received his Bachelors of Fine Art at Gardner Webb University, where he studied with the World famous Tim Hudson, and got annual work with the former Principal trumpet of the Boston symphony, and former professor at the New England Music Conservatory, Charles Schlueter. At Gardner Webb, Anthony was the principal trumpet of the school’s orchestra, and also played in the schools symphonic band, jazz collective, brass quintet, brass choir, nationally ranked trumpet ensemble, and the Charlotte Civic Orchestra.

During Anthony’s stay at Gardner Webb studying music performance on the trumpet, Anthony started to build his freelance career performing for local churches, assisted living homes, and a variety of different parties and ceremonies. Along with teaching privately while he is in graduate school, his ultimate goal is of taking auditions for major orchestras after he graduates and to continue to teach private students. His professor and mentor Tim Hudson helped to develop his playing and guide him in the right direction to obtain his goals. Professor Hudson influenced him to continue his studies after Gardner Webb and attend UNC School of the Arts to study with Professor Dash, where he is now refining his playing and planning for his future.

Geoff Weber | Recording Engineer

Geoff Weber is a recording engineer, teacher, and session musician. He began experimenting with recording on a portable studio-in-a-box unit in 2007 recording himself and the various bands he participated in. While in school at Wake Forest University, he completed a recording class that emphasized working with Pro Tools in a commercial studio environment. In the summer of 2013, he participated in a ten-week training session in a fully equipped studio, working with Pro Tools, analog tape, and a myriad of microphones, outboard gear, and computer plug-ins. Shortly thereafter, he completed his education at Wake Forest University with a major in music and a minor in computer science. Currently, he is based in Winston-Salem and keeps his passion for recording ignited through his work at Salem Music.

Kendra Bragg | Guitar, Voice, and Piano

Kendra Bragg Harding is a composer and songwriter from the Piedmont area of North Carolina, and graduate student at the UNC School of the Arts. She grew up surrounded by influences ranging from Liszt to Led Zeppelin and it shows in her music. She mixes folk, rock, and pop influences with classical techniques and sensibilities to create a unique body of work for a wide audience. Kendra has taught group classes and individual lessons for kindergarten through college. She takes an active and energetic approach to teaching, believing that students learn best when they enjoy the process. Lessons are carefully tailored to each student’s unique interests, goals, and learning style. In her guitar, voice, and piano studios, students develop healthy playing or singing posture, consistent practice habits, and music theory and aural skills as they work toward their personal goals as musicians.

Olesya Dashkevych (Alex) | Violin

Alex began violin at the age of 5 under the mentorship of her father, a music school director and a piano teacher. Alex traveled two hours each way for lessons from a respected musician in the city of Chernivtsi, Ukraine. Eventually, her passion for perfection and the instilled discipline led her to seek training equal to that of her abilities in the State Music Academy of Lviv where she earned her first Masters Degree. Upon graduation, alongside her family, Alex had moved to the United States where she obtained a green card and later citizenship. Alex played in various orchestras in Italy, New York and North Carolina, as well as performed with international and local celebrities. Some notable mentions were a concert for the Pope Giovanni Paolo II, performance alongside world famous Italian crossover tenor Andrea Bocelli and a solo performance of J. Brahms Concerto in Rome, Italy. Alex has acquired much experience in teaching students of varying ages by applying multitude of techniques she’d picked up over the years. Currently she is teaching in Salem Muisc, Old Salem College Music School, Winston-Salem Symphony Music and Art Academy and Old Town Elementary School.

Rosalie Morrow | Piano and Flute

Rosalie Morrow, a native of New York City where she also earned a BA in music, taught piano and flute for 21 years in Northern Virginia, where she was also a piano accompanist for the Fairfax County Solo/Ensemble Festival.  She is currently the principal flutist with The Brevard Philharmonic.

Sam Amos | Multi-Instrumentalist

Sam Amos is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from High Point, North Carolina. He’s spent the past four years traveling and working around the globe, taking his music with him everywhere that he’s gone. Sam recently finished a master’s degree in music performance and production as well as a post-master’s fellowship at Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain. Now he’s back in the piedmont performing, producing, and teaching guitar, piano, mandolin, & the clawhammer banjo. He’s been teaching private lessons for over ten years to all ages and skill levels. As an instructor, Sam is both passionate about practice techniques and music theory, though not at all overbearing. Whether you’re just beginning or feeling over-practiced and in a rut, Sam believes lessons should always be both engaging and fun.

Sam Craven | Guitar

Sam Craven is an up and coming artist from Wallburg North Carolina, where he began playing guitar at the age of 13. As a guitar player, Sam has studied under the instruction of Mr. Roc Williams, music director, of The Black and Blue Band, and later under Mr. Greg Hyslop, guitar instructor at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and Greensboro College. Sam travels throughout the southeast as the lead guitar player of the Carolina Soul Band, who has performed at Daytona 500 events, The Lexington NC Barbecue Festival, A Taste of Beaufort, The Virginia Beach Neptune Festival, The US Open in NC, The Yadkin Valley Wine Festival, Mayfest on Main Street in North Myrtle Beach, Statesville Pumpkin Festival, Fall for Greenville SC festival and many more. You can also hear Sam at venues such as Blue Bourbon Jacks, Golden Leaf Bistro, and The Claddagh Pub to name a few.

Sheila Hunter | Hammered Dulcimer, Ukulele, Folk Guitar

Sheila Hunter grew up in a musical family and began studying piano when she was in elementary school. After several years of piano instruction, she became interested in other stringed instruments, including guitar, banjo and mandolin, and played in a folk gospel trio for several years.
In the late '80's, Sheila heard and saw her first hammered dulcimer and was so captivated by the sound of the instrument, she depleted her savings account to buy one. She has played at church services, weddings, funerals, dances, and school events. She also taught the hammered dulcimer tuning class at the Winston-Salem Dulcimer Festival for several years. She currently leads the string ensemble at Trinity Presbyterian Church once a month, incorporating the dulcimer, ukulele or guitar into the congregational hymns. Sheila enjoys playing several stringed instruments, including more recently, the ukulele, and as owner of Hunter Piano Service, she stays very busy keeping pianos, harpsichords, clavichords and other stringed Instruments in tune.
Sheila teaches hammered dulcimer, ukulele and folk guitar to beginning and intermediate students. She teaches both standard music notation and tablature and customizes lessons based on the student’s interest, age and ability.

Tyson Morrow | Guitar

Tyson Morrow has taught guitar extensively using the methods taught at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he earned a BA in Composition in 1992. He held a steady roster of students at the Meridian School of Music in Indianapolis, IN from 1995-2006.Though writing chamber music was the main focus in school, a more professional Tyson took opportunities to explore other styles as diverse as top 40 country, reggae, and progressive folk/bluegrass. He currently plays professionally with several groups local to the Triad - “Wyndy Trail Travelers,” “Wild Blue Elixir,” and “General Hyjinx," among others. The crux of his teaching style is a balanced portion of music fundamentals combined with what a student “really wants to play.”