Our Team

Ryan & ZsaZsa Clifford


Beethoven is quoted as saying, “Music can change the world.” Ryan and ZsaZsa Clifford are examples of people who are changing the world by providing a place where music is taught and cherished in the historic town of Granbury, Texas.

Music has always played a significant role in the lives of Ryan and ZsaZsa’s. ZsaZsa grew up inspired by talented artists that she heard while attending various classical concerts in her native Hungary. Ryan found joy in learning rock songs to play and perform on his guitar.

When their son Liam was born, they knew they wanted to share their love of music with him as well. When he was four months old, ZsaZsa enrolled him in a “Mommy and Me” music class. This time together became the highlight of their week. This class not only ignited their son’s love of music but also built lifelong friendships.

When Liam was a little older, Ryan and ZsaZsa began looking for a school to continue their son’s musical journey. Several different music schools were tried, but most of them seemed to have a revolving door of teachers. The constant change of faculty was frustrating and stagnated Liam’s progression. The Cliffords believed that a “better way” must exist.

Enter Mike Manning. Immediately Ryan and ZsaZsa could tell Mike was the “better” for which they were looking. He had a defined and consistent system of teaching that helped Liam grow in leaps and bounds. Recognizing the necessity to share what Mike had in the way of music instruction, led them to partner together and open Sparks Music School in Granbury Texas. After all, if you can’t find it, why not build it?

The Cliffords were already owners of Audience Homes, a custom home-building company that they founded in 2016. Now they could use their experience as small business owners, music school patrons, and parents to found Sparks Music School. Here they seek to incorporate the same standard of excellence that has won them many awards for their custom-built homes into a music school that is not only the best place to begin a musical journey but one that can take you as far as you’d like to go on the path to personal achievement. Proudly, they can now leave a legacy of musicianship for Liam and many others in their community. Music will continue to change the world with the help of Ryan and ZsaZsa Clifford and the Sparks Music School ensemble.

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Michael David Manning

Chief Creative Director

Michael David Manning, BMusEd. is an American music producer, educator, and playwright. He is also the creator and co-author of the ABC123 System of Diatonic Harmony, a 15-step music learning curriculum designed for musicians at all levels. Michael is a 2003 Graduate of The University of Nevada, Reno: Bachelor of Music in Music Education (BMME).

Michael has been honored to write several orchestral works under grant for the University of Nevada, namely Children of The New Century and the Trembling Leaves Piano and Quartet which was presented to President George W. Bush after 9/11 by the University of Nevada Music Department. Michael is also a playwright and has written and produced music projects for The Center Street Mission and His Little School of Reno Nevada as well as being the curator of the Michael David Manning YouTube channel.

Currently, Michael is a producer, musician and writer for Power Light Records and is developing a catalog of modern songs working with Tom Gordon’s Imirage Sound Labs and SG Studios’ Greg White. Previously, Michael was the cofounder of Sparks Music Center in Sparks, NV—Nevada’s largest Music and Dance facility from 2003-2017.

Most notably, Michael is co-owner of Sparks Music School in Granbury Texas and will be devoting himself to students and staff as Chief Creative Director, overseeing operations, curriculum instruction and instructor training.

Shelby McPherson

Lead Teacher

Piano Instruction through Advanced.

Moody Bible Institute, Music and Music Education.

Shelby has been an adjunct piano instructor for Texas Academy of Faith and Arts, (TAFA)for 24 years. Her career has been full of a multitude of support roles accompanying students choirs and music groups.

Shelby studied with several great teachers spanning her early and later years: Carol Capp, Gary Rownd, Arreola Merukoo, Jose

Shelby is also co-teaching and serving as Lead teacher for all departments.

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Taylor Dondlinger

Taylor’s passion for music blossomed at an early age, deriving from his mother’s affinity for 90’s grunge. He spent two impressible years in High School playing in bands with friends but later transferred to a Collegiate High School where he graduated with a diploma and an associate degree.

Since graduation, Taylor has been pursuing music full-time both as a performer and a teacher. He has played in numerous bands of varying genres, performed in several different states and venues including the American Airlines Center and Toyota Stadium, and has taught students of all ages and skill levels over his nine years as a private instructor.

Andrew Stonerock


Andrew Stonerock grew up in Nashville, Tennessee where he was introduced to music at a high level from an early age. As a teenager, he realized that he wanted music to be his career. He continues to dedicate himself to being a multi-talented musician with proficiency in saxophone, flute, clarinet, oboe, and piano. He is equally comfortable performing and teaching in all styles including, but not limited to, classical, jazz, rock, funk, swing, and dixieland.

As a classical saxophonist, he has performed with the Colorado Symphony, Ft. Collins Symphony, the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, Midland/Odessa Symphony, and Lawton Philharmonic, among others. He is currently the alto saxophonist with the Chautauqua Saxophone Quartet. He has recorded with the Lone Star Wind Orchestra, the Colorado Saxophone Quartet, and various university ensembles. He has presented solo and chamber recitals and/or masterclasses at the University of North Texas, Oklahoma State University, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, University of Central Oklahoma, Casper College, Midwestern State, and others.

Andrew was the director of the Guatemalan-American International Jazz Camp, an annual camp that took place in Guatemala from 2014-2016.  There, he directed the big band, and jazz combos, as well as taught jazz theory/improvisation and masterclasses. He is also an award-winning teacher, having been a three-time recipient of the Silver Medal “Best Should Teach” award, an award recognizing outstanding graduate teaching at the University of Colorado. His students have received music scholarships and assistantships to major universities, won chairs in honor bands, and received superior ratings at both regional and state solo and ensemble contests.

Andrew received his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Saxophone Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Colorado at Boulder, his Master’s Degree from the University of North Texas in Saxophone Performance with a secondary emphasis in Jazz Studies, and his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Theory from Ohio University. His primary saxophone teachers include Tom Myer, John Gunther, Jim Riggs, Eric Nestler, and Matt James.

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Peter Blackwell

Peter a Texas Native, was the first person to ever graduate with honors at MCC getting an Associates Degree in commercial music.  Then Peter went to NTSU where he studied composition, improvisation, and Jazz theory where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree.

During those years and moving forward Peter began his musical career touring with Ronna Reeves, Crysis, Bang Bang, and Vendetta. Opening for acts such as Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Ted Nugent, Vixen, and Reba McEntire.

After Vendetta was signed with Reality Records in Los Angeles, CA Peter spent 13 years there. Recording and doing post audio for the History Channel.

With the birth of his son, Peter moved back to Texas and just recently relocated to the Granbury area where he is thrilled to join the incredibly talented staff at Sparks Music Center. Peter is excited to share his passion, love of music, and experience with the Sparks students. Music has the ability to break down all barriers and is the magic every soul can hear.

Mandi Cruz


Mandi grew up in a house where music was as much a part of life as breathing.  Her dad was a trumpet player and local radio DJ in Snyder, TX and both of her parents were in the choir at church. 

Mandi has a long history of involvement in community theatre, having been on stage since the age of 3.  In school, she was involved in the orchestra and marching bands, and in show choir.  Since graduating, she has taught music and motion for toddlers through 1st grade, founded an exploratory play group for preschoolers, was a nanny for children aged newborn through 2nd grade, and provided childcare and early learning in her home for almost a decade.  Much of what she teaches is through song, and her mom has always joked that if Mandi doesn’t readily know a song for a given situation, she will simply make one up!

For the last 12 years, her focus has been on homeschooling her own children and sharing a love of music and theatre with them.

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Meredith League

Office Manager

Meredith has always had a strong love for music. Growing up in a family of musicians, she has many fond memories listening to her dad practice his guitar or saxophone in the living room or her mom playing the piano at church. Her love for music inspired her love of dance. She became the “black sheep” of the family, loving to dance to the music her family played rather than joining the band.

At 19 she became a professional ballroom dance instructor beginning a 12 year dream career for her. She loved getting to introduce students to the art that she was passionate about and watch as their confidence grew on the dance floor. At 26, she also began managing the studios she taught in.

In 2021, she married her husband, Trenton, and decided it was time to begin a new chapter in her career that would provide a better schedule for their growing family.
Meredith is so excited to be part of the Sparks family. She loves helping make your musical journey as easy as possible and is here to help with any questions. She is also excited to explore her love of music by taking lessons at Sparks herself!

Learning Has Never
Been Easier!