John LaRosa has worked as an audio engineer since 1999. His career spans studio work where he has worked with many artists in multiple genres, as well as doing live sound at Hard Rock Live Orlando and other venues around the Central Florida area. He also works as a boom operator, sound designer, and voiceover editor for short films, testimonials, and documentaries. John has over 10 years of experience in education as an instructor and program director. He currently is the program director for the Recording Arts and Show Production program. The part about working in education that is most appealing to John is how he can have a positive impact on a student’s life by helping them understand what path is best for their career. He sees every student as a different opportunity to motivate and inspire them to turn their passion into a career.
Genoveva Valle has a background in classical piano and saxophone. She graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Technology. Here, her main instrument was piano while also participating in various choirs and ensembles at the university. She worked at a few local recording studios in Alabama. Later, she moved to Orlando, Florida and received an Associate’s Degree in Recording Arts from Full Sail University. After graduating, she worked as a Technical Support Engineer for Avid for about four and a half years, providing support for Avid users in Europe and the U.S. With this experience and her love of helping and educating people, her interest for teaching began, and aside from teaching private piano lessons and helping run a Music Technology summer camp at Audiostate 55 Recording Studio, she knew there was more that she had to offer. At F.I.R.S.T. institute, her goal is to enrich students’ lives and help educate and guide them in reaching their goals while finding a purpose with the talents that they possess. The audio industry is so vast and complex that she knows that there is a place where each of her students can thrive.
Michael Cochran began his journey through the world of music as a toddler in Indiana, banging on a two-octave organ. His career started off with his bachelor’s degree in music composition from the University of Florida, which led his studies to Europe where he continued his music education at the Conservatory de Musica in Rome. Michael has studied and worked alongside amazing composers and orchestrators, which solidly broadened his knowledge of composing musical scores for film and television as well as live show productions. After scoring and conducting for various orchestras, he naturally launched his career as a Producer and Musical Director for live stage shows and music artists. In the studio where he now spends most of his time, Michael works closely with his artists’ individuality while producing their tracks, performance, vocal style and sound – being ahead of the curve on the pulse of today’s music. Michael has worked with Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, Hong Kong Disney, Disney Cruise Lines, Euro Disney, Disney on Ice, and many more. In 2016, Michael garnered a nod on the official Grammy ballot in the Record of the Year category for the song, “Without You” with his artist, Chaz Robinson. Michael is currently on the Producer’s Panel for The Florida Music Festival, and is judging and teaching master classes in music production around the world.
Carlos began his journey through music at 13 years old when his dad gave him a guitar. After spending some time trying to figure out how to play a G chord, he started learning songs and fell in love with music. As he got older he started listening to music more critically and becoming fascinated with the entire music making process, to the point where he got his hands on a DAW (FL Studio!), started learning about engineering, and began producing local bands around his hometown of Allentown, PA. After graduating high school, he moved to Winter Park, FL and attended Full Sail's Recording Arts Program where he received a Bachelor's Degree, and started interning at recording studios in both the New York and Orlando area, mostly working with local artists from each city, having served as a recording, mixing, and mastering engineer on various projects. When he's not working on any music related projects, you can find Carlos noodling away on the guitar, constantly learning new dishes to cook, or just playing video games.
Eric Copeland has been a full-time working composer, arranger, and producer for the last 22 years. He started writing songs when he was 13, recording his songs on reel-to-reels, cassettes, and eventually computers. He began recording other people in his teens, toured as a keyboardist with bands, and eventually opened his own composing, arranging, and production business in 1990. Through the 90s, he produced local artists in Lexington, Kentucky while working in corporate tech before starting full-time music work in 2000.
In 2004, he moved his growing production company and label, Creative Soul Records, to Nashville, Tennessee and worked specifically for independent artists from around the world. Working at some of the top studios in the world in Nashville, he was fortunate to produce with the top sessions players, engineers, producers, and vocalists Music City has to offer.
In the past five years, he finished a Master’s in Music Composition at UCF in Orlando, and has now has shifted to composing and producing specifically for music licensing to TV, Film, Ads, Gaming, and more. He also started a YouTube channel in 2021 called “Make Music Income” that teaches composers and producers how to make music income from music licensing, music production, and more.
As far back as Devin can remember he has been in love with music. At a young age he picked up the guitar and taught himself how to play. His peers noticed his talent and asked him to join a rock band in high school. They started making a name for themselves in the Detroit music scene and eventually toured the mid-west states. It wasn’t until his band recorded a full-length album in a professional recording studio that Devin would become enamored with the process of producing a song from start to finish. From then on Devin made it his mission to learn everything he could about the world of music production. He eventually took his learning to the next level and enrolled in classes at Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL. He went on to earn his Associate’s Degree in Audio Production and his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Production. Since graduating Devin has worked numerous jobs in the industry including Studio and Live sound work. His goal now is to share his experience and knowledge with students who attend F.I.R.S.T. Institute in the Recording Arts and Show Production program.
Drew’s first experience in the studio was as an artist, when he was singing and playing guitar in his band. The process of recording an EP was such a significant and ear-opening experience that resonated with Drew and made him want to produce songs and albums in the studio beyond his own musical material. He pursued a degree in Sound and Music Technology at Valencia College and began an internship at Plush Studios immediately after graduating. Since then he has freelanced at a variety of studios and venues around Orlando as a recording and live sound engineer. Among his passion for audio, Drew’s also holds a passion for teaching and passing on the knowledge he has gathered over the years. Before coming to F.I.R.S.T., he has spent time teaching mathematics for elementary school through college level students, instructing athletes new to the sport of lacrosse as a Junior Varsity head coach, teaching music lessons for guitar and drum-set, and coaching esports for competitive and casual players.
Grayson’s audio engineering career began when he enrolled at F.I.R.S.T. Institute in July of 2013. During his time at F.I.R.S.T., he helped launch the F.I.R.S.T. Access program, became a Stagehand at Venue 578, and interned at several recording studios in the Orlando area. Following graduation, Grayson spent his first few years working primarily in live sound, for acts of all genres, including Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys, Keith Urban, Travis Scott, and Earth, Wind & Fire. After a few years of focusing on live sound, Grayson decided to return to what he loves most – working in the studio. He now focuses primarily on working as a recording and mixing engineer, and has worked with MTV, VH1, Island Records and Roc Nation, amongst others. As a former student of F.I.R.S.T. Institute, Grayson prides himself in his ability to relate to students and assist them in reaching their goals in audio engineering.
Chris Jay has been a professional audio engineer for over two decades. He got his start in the entertainment industry in 1995 working with Sublime on the first Warped Tour as their merchandise representative and stagehand. After the tour, Lee ”Scratch” Perry invited him to work as an assistant in the studio on the album “Lee Perry vs Sly & Robbie.” That time in the studio was what drove him to dedicate his career to audio engineering. Since then, he has worked on many albums ranging in genre from blues, punk, hardcore, and reggae. In various capacities, he has worked with a wide array of popular artists such as Outkast, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot, LL Cool J, Trick Daddy, Cash Money, and The Beach Boys. He also works for Electronic Arts as an Audio Artist handling commentary and sound design for Madden and NBA Live.
Janet Lavigne is a F.I.R.S.T. Institute alumni who graduated in 2018. She started her audio career as a voice over artist who both read and produced for Audible. She has worked as a stagehand and live sound engineer for 4 years and has even created her own version of a Tiny Desk session to help local musicians gain exposure.
In her personal life she is a self taught multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who plays original music shows all over Orlando. She even created a music community by facilitating a songwriting club and has helped write over 600 songs in the past 3 years.
John started his career in the audio industry in 2004 after graduating from A.R.T.I. He then worked at Hard Rock Live fulfilling multiple roles as stagehand, stage setup and breakdown for live productions. He also worked with independent musicians, delivering post production and audio services to artists, dancers and other talents which helped him to expand his knowledge in the industry. Later, he was given the opportunity to do voice over production, audio recording for video post production. This opportunity lasted 10 years, producing a significant amount of audio content for web games, audio books and bilingual voice overs. Prior to joining F.I.R.S.T. Institute, he worked in production of accessibility content and video descriptions for television which were focused on people with visual disabilities.
Rene has fully devoted himself to audio for the last decade. With experience in both live sound and studio applications, he has a proven record in all aspects of audio. Getting his start in dialog recording, he has worked with and delivered for brands like Disney, NBC Universal, Scholastic books, and Audible. At the same time, he has worked as a freelancer in the live events industry covering audio support for major corporate conferences and concerts for clients like Microsoft, House of Blues, and The City of Orlando. As an artist, he has developed music and production for radio spots and local bands throughout central florida. Bringing his passion for all things audio to the classroom, he strives to develop a modern and professional approach to recording and audio delivery.
Andre P. Russell, Musician and audio engineer specializing in R&B, HipHop, and jazz genres. He hopes to be a wealth of knowledge for new budding producers and engineers.
Andre’s experience includes his role as an executive producer with the Octavian Collective, a coalition of emerging talent in the digital artistic space. In this role Andre serves as the producer of the Grown Table Podcast, Crowd Control Podcast, and co-producer on Keshad Adeniyi’s Because the Sun Rose EP. Collectively Andre has over 7 years of experience as a freelance audio engineer starting his learning at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University where he studied and earned an undergraduate degree in Music business with a focus in artist management and production.
Recently Andre earned his master's degree in Digital Marketing from Full Sail University, with this specialization he hopes to guide a new generation of independent artists towards competent marketing and audience building within the digital space.
Britt comes to F.I.R.S.T. with 20 years experience in live sound and has over 100 theatrical design credits. He is currently the Sound Designer In Residency at The Orlando Shakespeare Theater.
In addition to theater design,Britt’s experience includes many film credits that can be found on IMDB. His work has been featured on Good Morning America and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
“Sharing my experience with our students is always the highlight of my day.”
Since graduating from ARTI in 2008, Josh has made a name for himself in the Orlando theatre community. The fast paced and ever changing world of musical theatre has kept his interest and allowed for him to expand his skill set beyond audio to include lighting and projection mapping as well as set construction and general stagecraft. Amidst it all he never lost the passion for audio and loves to challenge himself with larger and larger shows.
Brandon has been working as a recording/mixing engineer in the music industry for over 13 years. He started his career in Nashville, TN where he worked as a freelance tracking engineer on projects with clients such as Mandy Barnett, Alison Krauss, Chase Rice, Mark Lowry, The Walt Disney Co., and Veggie Tales. After moving to Orlando, FL in 2013, Brandon opened his own recording studio, Parafonic Recording Studio. There, he recorded and mixed projects for bands and artists such as Cool Hand Luke, Seeker & Servant, Wind Words, Native Culture, and The Quiet Science. Brandon has worked on several Dove Award nominated projects throughout his career as well as one Dove Award winning album in 2013. He is a voting member of the Producer & Engineers Wing of the Recording Academy. His passion is helping creative people bridge the gap between the artistic and technical aspects of the music production process, and hopes to inspire the next generation of audio creators to embrace the same.
Rodney Stamps, aka DJ Kid-Flash, began his musical journey in 1980 in upstate NY working as radio DJ mixologist for 10 years. He used carry records for Grand Master Flash who later dubbed him “DJ Kid-Flash”. He then joined the 90’s rap group Kid N Play as their first DJ. After 20 years as a professional recording artist his passion for audio engineering grew. Rodney joined the Army in the late 90s and served for 22 years. After retiring in 2013 he moved to Orlando and enrolled at F.I.R.S.T Institute and graduated in 2015 in audio engineering and music production. During his studies at Valencia College, where he received his degree in Music Business Management, he and his class won the Emmy Award for best post-production for a Black History Month project in 2019. Throughout his 40-year musical career Rodney has worked in various recording studios, worked with many national recording artists (RUN DMC, Whodini, LL Cool J) to name a few and instructed Recording arts at Valencia College and released 2 solo studio albums.
Francisco’s musical journey began one summer night in Puerto Rico when he dusted off an old keyboard and began learning to play his favorite songs. After learning his first chords, he became obsessed with wanting to write, record, and produce songs such as those of his favorite artists like The Beatles, Radiohead, Coldplay, and The Strokes. This obsession led him to attend Berklee College of Music, where he studied Contemporary Writing and Production. Francisco has written and recorded with and for several artists, toured North and South America with his music, as well as scored music for documentaries. His music has been praised by publications such as Noisey, The Deli NYC, Vice Colombia, and Remezcla, among others. Francisco has been teaching students of all ages for 9+ years and has helped formulate and implement curriculums at various institutions. When it comes to teaching, Francisco’s passion is helping students find their own artistic voice through the tools they learn.
Curran Wood is a live sound audio engineer who graduated from Full Sail University in 2015. He started his career in show production straight out of school by jumping into the music festival world and becoming a stage manager/production manager for the Jerry Jam festival in New Hampshire. Through this experience, he made his way to Charlotte, NC where he became a lead audio engineer and production manager for, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Here he got his experience in mixing FOH for musical theater and learned how to do professional sound system installations. During his time in Charlotte, he also joined the I.A.T.S.E. Local 322 and has been a part of many large-scale productions, including the 2019 N.B.A. All-Star game, multiple yellow card Broadway shows arena shows, and such. During his free time, he enjoys playing guitar and watching sports. Being from Massachusetts, he is a die-hard fan of all Boston sports teams. It has always been a dream for him to teach one day and pass along any knowledge he has to any upcoming audio engineers in the industry. He strives to set each student at F.I.R.S.T. up for success and have all the knowledge they need to know going into the industry after graduation.