Mark Thomas- Piano and Voice

  • Over 25 years in developing young artists in Nashville and surrounding areas
  • 2 Masters degrees in music
  • Student Colton Dixon was a recent American Idol Finalist.  Mark taught Colton both piano and voice
  • for more information on Colton Dixson visit
  • Unique approach to practical technique that has students playing and singing quickly
  • Mark is also an active songwriter in Nashville in multiple genres
  • Mark continues to be a succesful actor of stage and screen

Larissa Reed headshot

Larissa Reed- Administrative Director for Visual Arts, Painting, and Mixed Media.

Larissa Reed received a Bachelor’s Degree from Belmont University. She taught art at the Legacy Christian Tutorial for homeschool students. As a volunteer for LifePoint Church, she has been head costumer for numerous adult and children’s events over the past 14 years. Also, she has designed and implemented stage environments for sermon series, marriage events and children’s events. Larissa has contributed many hours toward creating environments for Carpe Artista writers nights and concerts.

Jay Lowder

Jay Lowder- Bass, Cello

  • Bachelor Degree from Ohio State University
  • Jazz Studies major at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music
  • Professional Bass career with major artists such as Shania Twain, Paul Brandt, Bob Carlisle, Margaret Becker and more.
  • World Touring experience including Grand Ole Opry, Canadian Country Music Awards, Fan Fair, and Prime Time Country
  • Author of “Tears of Min Brock”  click on the book next to Jay’s photo to get your copy today!


Susan D. Gulley- COO of Carpe Artista and Visual Arts Instructor.

Susan D. Gulley is well versed in corporate business as well as the creative side of working. On the creative side, her degree is in Fine Arts with a minor in Photography from Middle Tennessee State University. She is a freelance visual artist specializing in stage design and construction, mural painting and graphic arts for local and global initiatives. Susan is one of our Visual Arts Instructors. Musically, her talents include over 25 years of musical and drama instruction to elementary and high school students – teaching musical performance and execution. She is the CFO of Carpe Artista, taking a daily role in the formation and setup of our non-profit. Prior to joining the Company full-time, she was the International Sales and Purchasing Specialist for Nissan Trading Corporation of America in Smyrna, TN. Her passion for working in international settings and negotiation of business strategy and customer service expertise is used daily in the running of Carpe corporately.

Geoff Butterworth

Geoff Butterworth – Voice, piano, and guitar

  • Bachelor in Music Education, Evangel University
  • Over 14 years of teaching including two years Lancaster Academy and video production at Studio One Media
  • Several years serving both full-time and part-time music staff for area churches
  • Music Scoring for several projects including Truth & Life Audio Bible
  • Geoff has been and instructor with Carpe Artista Academy since its beginning
  • Current Music Instructor for Carpe Artista at Redeemer Classical Academy


Jason Lee McKinney – Songwriting and Music Business

  • MBA and BA in Music business
  • Recently completed his Doctorate in Business Leadership at Trevecca Nazarene University
  • 2 time Major Label recording artist
  • Published songwriter
  • National touring artist
  • Worship Arts Leader
  • Carpe Artista Camp lead staff and youth development

Karen Smith

Karen Smith – Photography Instructor

Karen is originally from Maryland, where her passion for photography began, she began her career as a Freelance photographer for the Cumberland Times-News local newspaper. Then in 1990 she was chosen to photograph the Miss America Pageant for Miss Maryland and served as state photographer for the Maryland Jaycees. She currently has her own Studio in her home and freelances when not instructing with Carpe Artista Acadmey. Some of her Event credits include the Brooks & Dunn Summer Legend Series, Mark Collie Foundation Race for the Cure and Waldens Puddle Benefits and Carpe Artista events. Her work can be found on book covers such as Collector Steiff Values, German Life Magazine, Album covers for Thom Bresh, Joe Stampley, Michael McGrew and Johnny Counterfit and Tammy Wynette’s last tour book. Karen and her husband, Danny, have photographed concerts, portraits, wildlife, weddings, and major events as well as track photography at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. In Karen’s word, “My passion for capturing a particular image, as it will never happen again, is truly a gift from God. “ Visit her facebook page “Moments Framed in Time” to see some of her work.


Ron Alley – Voice and Guitar

  • Founder and Executive Director of Carpe Artista
  •  16 plus years experience as Director of Worship Arts for Lifepoint Church
  • More than 30 years in Choral Conducting with a focus on Contemporary Worship music.
  • Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, University of Tennessee Chattanooga
  • Graduate studies in Music Education at Belmont University, Nashville & Southwestern Seminary Ft. Worth
  • Over 23 years teaching Voice and Guitar.
  • Recording artist for Christian and Secular markets.
  • Ron has served on several board of directors for non-profit organizations


Steve Grossman – Drums, Music Industry and Leadership

  • Professional touring and recording drummer with The Gibson/Miller Band, India Arie, Russ Taff, Kim Boyce, Paul Smith, Greg Volz, Sweethearts of the Rodeo and many others.
  • Winner of Grammy Award with India Arie and Academy of County Music Award with The Gibson/Miller Band
  • BA in Jazz Performance from University of North Texas
  • Executive Director of Carpe Artista and Dale Carnegie Facilitator
  • Author of Why I FAILED in the Music Business and How NOT to Follow In My Footsteps

If you are ready to start, you have nothing to lose as we only want students who truly want to learn and we will not commit you to a long term contract.

It’s easy to take the next step:

Lessons are first come first serve so use this form to arrange your first lesson or get more information today!


contactus@carpeartista. 101 Front Street, Smyrna, TN 37167 In the Historic Depot District

Offering quality arts lessons in piano/keys, voice, violin, viola, guitar, bass guitar, drums, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, drawing, painting, sculpting, photography and drama for kids of all ages in Smyrna, LaVergne, Murfreesboro and North Rutherford County, extended Rutherford County, Nolensville, Antioch and South Nashville.for Smyrna and North Rutherford County, TN.


Carpe Artista Academy – Grow your talents, grow your world!

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