Our Teachers

Mike Mitchell Founder/Director/Teacher

Mike was introduced to music as a young boy listening to his mother play both the piano and organ for churches in Ontario, Canada. Also a private piano teacher, Mike’s mom always had a studio full of students. It wasn’t long before Mike began studying the violin with Maria Reidstra.

Mike has played strings and fretted instruments for 35 of the last 40 years and has taught for 20. He uses a traditional approach, but emphasizes the heritage music of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

His students play in the Roanoke Youth Symphony, have won first place in numerous Bland Competitions and fiddle contests, have attended Shasta, Mike Block, and Mark O’Connor summer music camps, as well as  Roanoke Symphony’s Summer Music Institute.

His former students have gone on to study music at Frost School of Music (University of Miami), Berklee School of Music (Boston), North Carolina School of the Arts,  Belmont University (TN), and more. Graduates of Mike’s studio are also signed recording artists on the Traviana Record Label.

Mike teaches violin, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo, ukulele, voice, bass, and specializes in teaching/coaching youth bluegrass bands

Jennifer Brooke Co-Founder/Teacher

Jenny’s love for music began at an early age. Her father, Toby Mort, had a great LP and 45 collection and there was always music in the house. Toby was an afternoon DJ on KPLM Radio in Palm Springs, CA. His show was devoted to classic country music. Jenny was always singing and took voice lessons as a young girl before studying piano with Joyann Gongaware in Hemet, CA. Jenny also played flute, trombone and bass in the Hemet bands and played flute and piccolo in both Hemet High School’s award-winning concert and marching bands. Playing guitar for youth church was a favorite pastime during her teenage years. She graduated from Point Loma College (now, Point Loma University), in San Diego with a teaching degree. As a 6th and 4th grade elementary teacher, she began her own family, homeschooled all 7, and is a stepmom to 2 more. Hannah and LJ Brooke both studied violin with Mr. Mike and were in the Roanoke Youth Symphony for several years. (LJ went on to the University of Miami and graduated in 2019 with a BA in violin performance and is currently a graduate student at North Carolina School of the Arts, and a part-time teacher for Floyd Music School)

Jenny focuses on the reading of music and music theory, with her students playing in churches and in their school bands.  She is also the Administrator of Floyd Music School and manages both our FMS Record label and the Mike Mitchell Band.

Jen teaches piano, flute, and beginner harp

Laurence Brooke Teacher

Described as “versatile” and “well-rounded”, violinist Laurence Brooke, brings a passion and vitality to his music both on and off of the stage. Raised in the mountains of southwest Virginia, he has been trained in classical, bluegrass, and jazz styles that have lent him a unique and distinctive sound. With a passion for promoting new music and living composers, Brooke strives to bring informed and authentic performances to his audiences through his programming and collaborations. Brooke began studying violin at the age of ten with Mike Mitchell, after being exposed to the fiery, toe-tappin’, foot-stompin’ genre of bluegrass and old-time in Floyd, VA. During his studies with Mitchell, Brooke was taught a classical technique that went hand-in-hand with an appreciation for traditional and heritage music. 

Brooke graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Music degree in 2019, bringing to a close an undergraduate career that was highlighted by performance and collaborative opportunities. During his time at UM’s Frost School of Music, he developed a passion for chamber music that grew to match his love for orchestral works. A burgeoning champion of new music, Brooke has been described as “an excellent advocate” for the genre, and he continues to strive to program living composers. Brooke attended the Castleman Quartet Program during his undergrad summers, and also worked as a strings ensemble director for the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra’s summer program for the youth symphony. Brooke seeks to perform and teach in an educated, informed, and authentic way. He has studied with Benedict Goodfriend, Charles Castleman, and is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree with Ida Bieler and Janet Orenstein at UNC School of the Arts.

Laurence teaches violin and piano

Sara Arévalo Teacher

Sara Antonia Arévalo began studying piano at the age of seven and wielded her first violin two years later – all it took was one squeak and she was hooked. Born and raised in Miami, FL, Ms. Arevalo now spends her time in Winston-Salem teaching at the Salem Music Academy. Throughout her years, she has participated in various orchestras including the Frost Symphony Orchestra and the Henry Mancini Institute, performing a diverse array of genres. With the Henry Mancini Institute, she has performed with artists such as Bruce Hornsby, Kristin Chenoweth, and Julie Andrews. Additionally, she has collaborated with conductors that include Grant Cooper, Thomas Sleeper, Gerard Schwarz, and Michael Tilson Thomas. Ms. Arévalo recently graduated with a Bachelor’s in Instrumental Performance from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami (2018), where she studied with Scott Flavin and performed with the Stamps String Quartet. While in Miami, FL, she was a chamber music coach for Miami Youth for Chamber Music. Ms. Arévalo currently teaches and subs at the Floyd Music School in Floyd, VA.

Sara teaches violin, piano, and guitar

Katie Curd Teacher

Katie teaches voice at the Floyd Music School. She loved music from an early age when she grew up listening to a variety of music styles. She became heavily involved in choir activities throughout middle and high school. As a result of many solo opportunities throughout middle and high school, Katie really developed her love of singing. After graduating high school, she attended Virginia Tech as a vocal music major. She performed in the Women’s Choir and the Virginia Tech Chamber Singers and performed two solo recitals as a student there. She is a classically trained soprano with experience in opera, musical theatre, and jazz. She graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance in 2011 and a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction in 2012. After graduating from Virginia Tech, she spent one year teaching high school choir in Roanoke County, VA. She is now a stay-at-home and homeschool mom to two boys, Aaron and Eli, who are both students at the Floyd Music School. She enjoys teaching voice lessons and sharing her love of singing with others.

Katie teaches voice.

Jacob Sowell Teacher

Jacob hails from Knoxville, TN and tours with his family’s band, The Family Sowell, all across the United States. 

He learned to play the banjo at the age of 13, using Earl Scruggs’ book.  He took lessons from Kerry Jones, a banjo player in the Houston area, who helped him win the Texas State Banjo Championship in 2014.  He started lessons with the 5-time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, Kristin Scott Benson in 2018. 

He started teaching lessons in October of 2019, and is looking forward to helping more students discover a love for the banjo, and a solid grasp of fundamentals.

Jacob teaches bluegrass banjo

Joshua Sowell Teacher

Hey y’all, my name is Joshua Sowell. I’m 22 years old, and I’ve been playing music since I was 5 years old. It’s my passion to teach music and to pass on what I’ve learned from mentors and stage experience. I teach guitar, mandolin, bass, and vocal. I would love to work with you and help you grow in your music.

Joshua teaches guitar, mandolin, bass, and voice