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School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media Faculty

Brad Hughes

Director, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Bradley Hughes has over 23 years of experience in sound design and music production as a composer, saxophonist, and recording engineer for a wide variety of production environments. He has provided music and sound services to clients including Dreamworks, The Hollywood Edge, Creativity Studios, and 13th Generation Productions.  

Prior to moving to the Bay Area, Brad spent a decade in Los Angeles as a studio musician on film and television soundtracks, frequently recording on the 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros recording stages.

He is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, which hosts the annual Grammy Awards, and serves on the Education committee of the NARAS San Francisco chapter.  He holds a BFA in World Arts & Cultures from U.C.L.A., and an MFA in Music from The California Institute of the Arts.

Steve Romanko

Associate Director, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Steve Romanko has over 25 years of work within the entertainment industry. Including work in radio, television and motion pictures.  
Steve's creative skills led him to a position at Skywalker Sound, where he worked on many films, including Star Wars, Saving Private Ryan and Fight Club.  This background in AUDIO gives Steve an interesting perspective that permeates all his professional efforts.
In addition to his position as Senior Producer at the Academy Steve’s production company; 13th Generation, focuses on feature development and bringing talented individuals together to form a strong production and post production units. 

Sahba Aminikia

Online Coordinator, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Born in 1981 in Tehran, Iran, Aminikia studied music composition in Russia at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory under Boris Ivanovich Tishchenko, a post-graduate student of Dimitri Shostakovich. In his homeland, Aminikia studied under renowned Iranian pianists Nikan Milani, Safa Shahidi and Gagik Babayan. Being influenced by work with his first teacher, Dr. Mehran Rouhani.

He received his Bachelor of Music and his Master of Music with honors from San Francisco Conservatory of Music under Dan Becker, David Garner & David Conte receiving the Phyllis Wattis Foundation scholarship.

He is the recipient of many various commissions from theatre troops to concert music ensembles, film scores, Persian traditional music groups to jazz bands including Kronos Quartet, Symphony Parnassus, San Francisco Conservatory of Music New Music Ensemble, Mobius Trio, Delphi Trio and the Living Earth.

Aminikia’s third string quartet ,"A Threnody for Those Who Remain", commissioned by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Kronos Performing Arts Association was described by Financial Times as “An experience not to be easily forgotten”.

His most recent project was a second commission for Kronos Quartet called “Tar o Pood” which was a composition based on Persian carpet-weavers works songs.

Alexander Adhami

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

In demand for his uniquely global sound, Grammy nominated Alexander Adhami, also known as Alex Plays, has composed for Harpo Productions, Food Network, Warner Chappell's Non-Stop Music, Universal's Music Group and other outlets spanning motion pictures & television, internationally.

Alex is an accomplished instrumentalist & vocalist, specializing in stringed instruments. For the better part of a decade he has been involved in the production of Cirque inspired World Music, beginning with Cirque EOS' Acrobats and Maniacs and can be heard on Cirque du Soleil's Totem.

He has toured internationally and starred with Steve Reid, in Dreamscapes and has worked with the likes of Joe Cocker, arranging and recording world instruments. His collaboration with Kitaro was nominated for "Best New Age Album" at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards.

Lincoln Andrews

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

After being immersed in the audio production world for over a decade, Lincoln Andrews has captured and mixed countless studio and live musical performances. Head engineer at Russian River Records, Lincoln has honed his skills by working with hundreds of local independent artists to create dozens of albums. Live sound engineer at the SFJAZZ Center, Lincoln works with artists such as John Legend, Wayne Shorter, and the Kronos Quartet on a daily basis. A constantly growing sound engineer and bassist, Lincoln is deeply connected to the Bay Area music scene.

Lincoln’s goal as an instructor is to give our students what they need to express themselves creatively and fluently within the given software. Coming from a similar sound arts program, Lincoln has the advantage to connect with his students and bridge the gap between college student and professional. He is here to help students bridge that gap for themselves, and make a career in this ever changing audio production world.

Mike Axinn

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Mike is the founder and CEO of One to One Box, an award-winning production company dedicated to expanding the potential of online video for businesses and entrepreneurs. He’s produced groundbreaking content for global leaders in biotech (Genentech, ThermoFisher, Ultragenyx), alternative energy (NEXTracker/Flex, Conergy, Energy Recovery), technology (Salesforce, Google, Facebook, Nokia), public health (the California Health Department) and numerous clients in the non-profit and food industries.

Prior to founding One to One Box, Mike was a sound editor on over three dozen feature films, including Star Wars, Moulin Rouge, The English Patient, Hellboy, The Ring, Fantastic Four and Titanic. In addition to being part of two Academy Award-winning sound crews, he was also nominated for a Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Award for his work on Moulin Rouge.

Mike began teaching at Academy of Art University in 2011 and currently teaches classes in audio post production and advanced sound design.

Nick Benavides

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Nicolas Lell Benavides’ music has been described as “wonderfully structured and harmonically imaginative…” (Brian Rosen, Music vs Theater),“intriguing… an abstraction depicting something far more concrete…” (Stephen Smoliar, and “… sadly reflective… not a note was wasted” (Jeff Dunn, San Francisco Classical Voice). He has worked with prominent groups such as Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, The Bay Brass, The International Orange Chorale, Friction Quartet. His music has been featured all over North America and Europe at festivals as well as on the radio. Commercially, he scored and recorded the music for The Trouble with Bread by Maggie Beidelman, Strongest I'll Ever Be by Phil Ebiner, Sanctuary by Ethan Bien and wrote the music for Zoo Runner, an iOS game.

As the Artistic Director of the Guerrilla Composers Guild (, he has been called a “new music impresario of San Francisco” (Cy Musiker, KQED Arts). As a performer he has sung with Opera San Jose, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. Nick has regular engagements around the Bay Area as a performer, composer, and conductor, and was the Composer in Residence with Elevate Ensemble. Last fall he also held a residency in Visby, Sweden.

Nick has studied composition with David Conte, Jack Perla, Pamela Quist, and Kurt Rohde and has received degrees in music at Santa Clara University (BA) and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (MM). He is currently the managing director of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, on faculty at the Academy of Art University, and is also a teaching artist with the San Francisco Opera.

Eric Bikales

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

A member of Nashville Local 257 A.F. of M, NARAS, BMI and CMA, Eric Bikales has composed music for A-Team, Hunter, Boston Legal, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sliders, Alley McBeal, Harry's Law, Party of Five, My Name Is Earl and many more prime time TV shows. Movie credits include: Sweat!, Sabrina Goes to Rome, DeLovely and just finished scoring a modern comedy entitled If-Then Scenario.

Eric has released 4 CDs as a solo artist and just released his first solo piano CD entitled "Follow Your Heart". He has performed all over the world in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to the Royal Albert Hall and has played or recorded with the Pointer Sisters, Tom Waits, Cher, Bette Midler, Neil Sedaka, Helen Reddy, Dolly Parton, Billy Preston, Jeffrey Osborn, Mac Davis and Patti LaBelle. Eric has played on and arranged 2 Grammy nominated records.

He has performed on the Tonight Show, Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve, Today Show, News Radio, Good Morning America and Top of the Pops (England). He co-wrote the official centennial theme song for the city of New Haven, CT and was commissioned several times to write for the University of Arizona's Percussion Ensemble "Cross Talk".

Eric has scored dozens of radio/TV jingles, industrial videos and equestrian freestyles. Eric has also had extensive experience in Los Angeles as a session musician, arranger and producer. He has operated his own project studio for many years. His primary instruments are piano, electric piano, B3, synthesizers and flute. Eric was just inducted into the Kansas Musicians Hall of Fame.

Christopher Eickmann

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Christopher's projects include scoring films, videos and animations, producing recording artists, commissions for theater, dance and concert halls. His list of clients include Disney, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Sketches and more. In addition, he produced, engineered and performed on the Grammy Award-nominated album, In Love and Longing

Dirk Epperson

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Dirk Epperson has worked for the entertainment industry for over 40 years. He has worked with many major theaters, symphony orchestras, opera companies and professional singers in both North America and Europe. He has also worked in television and with well-known composers.

His musical expertise is as an Arranger and Orchestrator, working in genres including Classical, Film Scores, Musical Theater, Opera, and Pop. He also has a focus on music technology, and especially on creating orchestral mockups using sampling technology in order to get the most realistic possible sound.

Dirk has instructed at Academy of Art University since 2012.  As Music Production Curriculum Coordinator he is engaged in helping the department expand and adapt the course offerings for an ever-changing 21st century musical and technological environment. He has an M.F.A. from Yale University.

Steve Horowitz

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Steve is a creator of odd but highly accessible sounds and is a diverse and prolific musician. Perhaps best known as a composer and producer for his original soundtrack to the Academy Award-nominated film Super Size Me, Steve is also a noted expert in the field of sound for games. Since 1991, he has literally worked on hundreds of titles, including a ten-year run as the audio director at Nickelodeon Digital, where he garnered both Webby and Broadcast Design awards. He also has a Grammy award for engineering. He studied composition at the California Institute of the Arts.

Scott Looney

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Scott Looney is a passionate artist, soundsmith, educator, and curriculum developer who has been helping students understand the basic concepts and practices behind the creation of content for interactive media and games for over ten years. He has pioneered interactive online audio courses for Academy Of Art University. As a musician and composer, he has created compelling sounds for audiences, game developers and ad agencies alike across a broad spectrum of genres and styles, from contemporary music to experimental noise. He has also performed at numerous experimental festivals, designed custom instruments, and created performance interfaces utilizing sensors and microcontrollers. In addition to his work in game audio and education, he is currently researching procedural and generative sound applications in games, and mastering the art of code.

Carla Lucero

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Carla Lucero is originally from Los Angeles and graduated from CalArts in 1986 with a BFA in Composition. After college, Carla became the Director of Music at Hal Roach Studios, in Hollywood. She also spent 5 years as a composer in residence at Collage Dance Theater, during which time she won the Lester Horton award for "Best Composition in a Dance Production".

Before moving to San Francisco, Carla became a partner at Kitchen Sync Studios, recording and doing session work with legendary artists and groups such as Concrete Blonde, Ice-T, Coolio, Mad Kap, and No Doubt.

Carla's love of opera and classical music drew her to San Francisco, where her first opera, "Wuornos" was produced and then premiered on the Main Stage at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Her second opera, "Juana", premiered at Theater Artaud.

In the last 8 years, she has been working internationally on several commissioned works in Mexico, Spain, Cuba and Chile. She is also the U.S. Director for the international music consortium, ComuArte.

In addition to teaching orchestration, theory and composition at the Academy of Art University, Carla also teaches for the San Francisco Opera and for New Traditions Creative School for the Arts.

Jason Martineau

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Jason Martineau is an award-winning composer, pianist, arranger, and instructor, and has been active in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1995. He has composed numerous works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo piano, and chorus, as well as a full-length musical, and over 200 songs, both instrumental and vocal. He has released over twelve albums across multiple genres, and has also been featured on numerous other artists' recordings as pianist, music director, vocalist, and producer. He provides arrangements, original compositions, soundtracks, sound design, accompaniment, private instruction, and musical direction for a diverse and eclectic client base.

Dr. Martineau works in multiple capacities with many different idioms and styles, from world fusion and jazz, to industrial, rock, pop, and classical. In 2007 he orchestrated string arrangements by Vanessa Carlton for her album "Heroes and Thieves.” He has authored a book about music theory released October 2008 entitled "The Elements of Music," published by Wooden Books and Bloomsbury, distributed nationally and internationally. He has been playing the piano since the age of 5, and has been performing since 1989 at numerous venues around the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, as well as the 10th International Festival of Dance and Music in Bangkok, Thailand. In 2011 he joined the faculty at Academy of Art University, teaching music notation, theory, composition, harmony, orchestration, and counterpoint.

Barnaby Palmer

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Barnaby Palmer has received critical acclaim both as an orchestral and operatic conductor.

In April 2013 he was appointed Music Director of the Sichuan Symphony Orchestra following his successful debut in March.

Recent engagements include Orquestra Simfonica de Barcelona with Bruckner 3rd Symphony, Roussel 3rd Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra conducting two different programs during Spring Festival, Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble with Der Fliegende Hollönder, and Le vaisseau fantôme for their tour of Grenoble, Versailles, and Barcelona.

Barnaby Palmer has served as Assistant Conductor for the Budapest Festival Orchestra and has participated in numerous European tours.

Since 2002 he has been Artistic Director of San Francisco Lyric Opera and has conducted over 35 new productions with that organization.

Born in Hong Kong and raised in the Bay Area, Barnaby attended Interlochen Arts Academy for High School, Cleveland Institute of Music for his undergraduate degree and University of Michigan for graduate studies.

He has studied conducting with Alan Gilbert, Rossen Milanov, Larry Rachleff and Michael Morgan.

Raj Ramayya

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Award winning Indo-Canadian Singer-Songwriter/Composer/Lyricist Raj Ramayya has been a consistently strong force on the international music scene. Collaborating with several distinguished artists ranging from Yoko Kanno (Gundam, Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, Wolfs Rain), Tatsuya Oe ( Elysium, Captain Funk, Hotei), Chris Mosdell (Eric Clapton, YMO, Sarah Brightman), and songwriting guru Ron Sexsmith. Ramayya is best known for his contribution to Anime cult movie "Cowboy Bebop" and "Wolfs Rain" , Capcoms "Resident Evil 2 Biohazard", Konami`s hit series Beatmania and Rythmania, MTV Japans mega hit animation series "The World Of Golden Eggs" Victor entertainments "Gungrave" "Shenmue".

With over 250 TV commercial co-writing, writing, placement and singing credits to his name Ramayya is also an instantly recognizable as the composer/singer for several well known products ranging from Asahi beer and KFC to Volvic, Toyota and Coca Cola. Ramayya's recent credits include 4 top 20 songs on Billboard with a #1 iTunes dance chart hit in Japan as a featured co-writer/vocalist for the internationally renowned Japanese Deep House Music act Studio Apartment. "Strawberry Rainbow" remained on the charts for 6 months at #1.

Kit Ruscoe

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Kit Ruscoe, originally from Louisville KY, studied Classical Composition at the University of Louisville and Jazz Performance and Improvisation at the University of North Texas. He has over 25 years of experience in composing, performing, recording, and teaching music and guitar and is a member of ASCAP. Kit is currently working on film scoring and compositions for TV and documentaries as well as playing in numerous Bay area bands.

Lauren Sharkey

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Lauren Sharkey has been a private instructor and professional performer for 20 years. With a background in harp, piano, and percussion, Lauren has performed with numerous ensembles across northern California. In 2004, Lauren was the College Division Young Artist performer with the North State Symphony.

With a degree in Harp Performance (Simpson University), and M.A. in Music (CSU Chico), Lauren provides a classical and performance perspective to harmony and composition. Along with her passion to make the learning of the mechanics of music exciting for the students of the Academy, Lauren performs as a freelance harpist, guest lecturer, and runs a private studio.

David Sonnenschein

Part-Time Instructor, School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

With degrees in Neurobiology and Music (UCSD – University of California, San Diego) and Cinema/TV (USC – University of Southern California), David Sonnenschein applies his unique background to the area of sound design for film and games.

His book Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, Voice, and Sound Effects in Cinema has been adopted by schools throughout the world, translated to Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean and will soon be in its second edition including material on interactive media. He is the recipient of the Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel, and since 1998 has offered Sound Design Master Classes in Europe, Asia, and South America, and more recently online webinars to international students and professionals.

Founder of multiple sound design websites, David began his career making educational films for the University of California. He has produced and directed six feature films, many documentaries & short subject pieces. Trained as a classical musician, he has expanded into jazz and world music, and practices sound healing. His most recent career move embraces interactive media as consultant on large video games (EA's Mass Effect) and developer of the music game app "3 Deaf Mice," which calls upon the player to help create a song through sonic treasure hunts, audio puzzles and creative digital sound processing.