Acey B. — Drum Major Program Manager
As an honors graduate from the University of California, Davis, Acey received his B.A. in International Relations— Peace & Security, with a regional concentration in European Politics, and a minor in Sociology. While completing his degree, Acey has worked with notable UC Davis Political Science professors such as Zeev Maoz, Robert Huckfeldt, and James F. Adams. During his time at Davis, Acey participated in several research studies where he surveyed the voting behavior of European countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Russian Federation. Additionally, he has conducted his own research which examines the constitutionality of legislation passed through organizations such as European Union and its potential economic, political and cultural impact on various countries throughout Europe.
Aside from his academic work at UC Davis, Acey was a former Executive for Macy’s Inc. located in Monterey, California. While with the company, Acey oversaw a 2.5 million dollar sales department where he was in charge of marketing and sales promotions with a complete staff of sales representatives, marketing professionals, and independent contractors. In under a year, Acey and his team increased sales performance and quarterly revenue, transforming Macy’s in Monterey to become one of the top 10 performing stores in the Western United States.
After stepping away from Macy’s, Acey relocated to Sacramento, California where he became a member of the United States Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps with Detachment 088 based out of California State University, Sacramento. While with the AFROTC program, Acey trained in areas of tactical combat, Air Force history, survival and expeditionary training, and leadership. Under the supervision and leadership of Detachment Commander, USAF Lt Col Kenneth H. Morse, Acey received recognition for his superior performance and leadership abilities and was selected to attend Field Training at Maxwell AFB in Alabama only after nine months. The process typically takes new recruits two years to achieve. Likewise, Acey received a lifetime membership to Arnold Air Society, a professional, honorary service organization advocating in support of Aerospace power. This organization is exclusive to those in both the AFROTC program and the USAF Academy who undergo rigorous, accelerated military training outside of their normal training within the program. Noteable memberships include accomplished Generals such as Henry “Hap” Arnold and James Doolittle.
Before contracting with the USAF as a Second Lieutenant, Acey was met with an extraordinary opportunity through his existing work with the United Spirit Association as a Head Instructor with the Drum Major and Band Leadership Program. In February of 2017, Acey became the USA Drum Major and Band Leadership Program Manager, where he works creating curriculum for the biggest educational Drum Major training organization in the Western United States. In addition, he is also the Program and Curriculum Director for Varsity Spirit’s Athletic Band Division where he works alongside corporate leadership and organizations such as DCI, WGI, BOA, and the NFHS to implement innovative band curriculum that elevates the student experience through the power of education and training. While playing dual roles within Varsity Spirit LLC, Acey also serves as the Director of Operations for Peacocks Marching World, one of the biggest and most reputable band retailers in the United States.
Thomas is originally from San Diego, California and is a graduate of Rancho Bernardo High School where he was the Drum Major for two years as a Military style drum major and a California State Champion in the Masters Division. He is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Music Education and Music Performance on bassoon. He also has a Masters of Music degree in wind conducting from Northwestern University where he studied with Mallory Thompson. During his time at Northwestern University, he worked extensively with the Northwestern University Marching Band and conducted various music major ensembles.
Thomas also graduated with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in wind conducting from the University of Michigan where he studied with Michael Haithcock. At the University of Michigan, he taught undergraduate courses in conducting and worked with the music major bands and the athletic bands, including the Michigan Marching Band. Dr. Gamboa was a conductor for the United States Air Force Band where he held the rank of Captain. As a conductor for the US Air Force Band, he performed throughout the United States, Europe, and in broadcasts reaching over 2.2 million audience members in over 174 countries.
As an educator, Dr. Gamboa taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District at West Adams Preparatory High School in South Central, Los Angeles as the Instrumental Music Director and Music Department Chair. In the inaugural year of WAPHS, he created and conducted the Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, and Symphonic Orchestra during his tenure. He was also an instructor for the National High School Music Institute in the areas of conducting and chamber music, in addition to his duties as Assistant Conductor for the NHSMI Wind Ensemble. He continues to clinic high school bands throughout the United States. With the USA, Thomas received the award “Hardest Working of the Year” and “Most Valuable Player” for multiple years, and has served as a Head Instructor for several years. His work helped establish and develop the conducting curriculum for the USA.
This coming fall Dr. Gamboa will be the Assistant Director of Wind Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He will teach undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in conducting, music education, as well as conduct the Wind Ensemble.
Jared graduated from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) with a dual degree in Biology and Human Physiology. He was a member of the Oregon Marching Band where he played the clarinet and highly encourages high school band students to stick with marching band once they graduate!
He currently teaches Biology at Terra Nova High School, his alma mater, while also working on his Master Degree in Exercise Physiology from San Francisco State University. When Jared isn’t teaching or going to school, he coaches both Track and Cross Country teams.
Martin Lejano is the current Band Director of the award-winning Concord High School Instrumental Music Program, in Concord, CA, overseeing the Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Music Technology, Piano, and Guitar classes. The program also offers extracurricular activities in Colorguard, Winter Percussion, Winter Guard, Jazz Combo, and Winter Drum Major. In addition, Martin oversees the Instrumental Music Leadership Council and non-profit Concord High School Instrumental Music Boosters.
Martin received his Associate Arts Degree in Music from Diablo Valley College. In his two years there, he participated in every ensemble, instrumental and vocal, including leadership roles in jazz combos and vocal jazz ensembles, as well as being the music department secretary. He left with the “Outstanding Music Major” award, given to him for his excellence in music as well as overall contributions to the DVC music department. He still works closely with his mentor, Dr. Bret Peppo, at DVC, running summer music camps and giving clinics to the vocal jazz and a cappella groups.
Martin is a graduate from UCLA, receiving his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Ethnomusicology, with an emphasis in Jazz Trumpet Performance. He studied music under the world-renowned jazz guitar legend, Kenny Burrell. While at UCLA, he participated in the collegiate a cappella scene, taught music to underprivileged students with SLAM, and was one of the founders of UCLA’s Bruin Bodybuilding Organization.
Along with being an educator, Martin is a professional trumpeter, vocal percussionist, musical director for his vocal band, Levels of Vocal Expression (LoVE), and freelance arranger and clinician. With Martin’s array of experience in music and leadership, he heads the Leadership Curriculum for the United Spirit Association Drum Major and Band Leadership Program. While working on USA staff, he has received honors of “Rookie of the Year” as well as “Most Valuable Player”.
Colleen Sammut graduated from Capuchino High School in San Bruno California, where she was drum major for 3 years and saxophone section leader for 4 years. She competed in Northern California through NCBA and won many awards over her spinning career. After years of leading the band, Colleen was awarded the John Phillip Sousa award. She currently is pursuing a degree in music education. In her free time, she enjoys teaching private lessons to both drum majors and aspiring musicians alike. She is constantly expanding her knowledge in music, as she can play almost every wind instrument, arranges music for pep and marching band, and has assisted high school bands in planning and running a band camp. Colleen enjoys nothing more than teaching, and cannot wait to share her expertise and help drum majors unlock their potential this summer at USA drum major camps!
Darren Willett will be graduating with his degree in Instrumental Music Education and Trombone Performance from California State University, Fullerton’s School of Music. He is the Director of the Titan Varsity Band on CSUF’s campus, and served as President of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia chapter. Darren was drum major for three years at Canyon High School in Santa Clarita, and has competed in both field shows and parades. Darren has also had the opportunity to march in the Rose Parade with Pasadena City College. Darren is a twin, has traveled to China with the CSUF Wind Symphony, and loves to cook in his free time. He plans to get his Masters in Conducting, and strives to inspire future generations through music.
Douglas Lue graduated from Garden Grove High School were he served the title as a Drum Major for 3 Years. Currently Studying Music Education and Clarinet Performance at Irvine Valley College. He has coached at several High Schools in Orange County/Southern California as a Marching/Visual Coach, Woodwind/Brass Coach, Drum Major Coach. He currently teaches Brass and Woodwinds Privately at the Tustin Music School. He has performed at various Drum Major Circuits, where he has received several 1st Places and has been able to pass on the same accomplishments to several students he has coached the Drum Major arts to.
Azeema Yahya graduated from Concord High School in Concord, CA where she served as the drum major for two years for the award-winning Minutemen Marching Band. Her time as a performing drum major started with competing in solo drum major competitions for the Northern California Band Association in the Mace category. During her final year as drum major, she also competed in field conducting. With her experience competing in both spinning and conducting, she’s gained immense knowledge and love for both. During her junior year, she received Musician of the Year and upon graduating she received various awards such as the Bill Leal Memorial Award for outstanding character, integrity, and service towards the program. She graduated with the ultimate award of “Minuteman of the Year” for exemplifying scholarship, citizenship, and leadership, which is given to the most outstanding member of her graduating class.
She currently attends the University of California, Davis pursuing a degree in English with a minor in Education. At UC Davis, she’s involved with campus clubs and organizations. Currently, she works for UC Davis’ Undergraduate Admissions Department as a Public Advisor. She also works for the School of Education as a Research Assistant for Dr. Nicole Sparapani. Her hope is to one day work as an English teacher and ultimately a principal.
While on staff, Azeema has had the honor of receiving “Rookie of the Year” and “Hardest Working” twice. She is entering another year with USA, where she will serve as a Head Instructor. She has the pleasure of working with other instructors to help create the curriculum the USA Drum Major and Band Leadership Program and is looking forward to implementing changes for another fun and innovative summer.
As a graduate of San Benito High School in Hollister, California, Rebecca Cartelli has forged an impressive reputation as both a fierce competitor and mentor. Being versed in realms of leadership and competitive parade performance, Rebecca was one of the top competitive Drum Majors for the Northern California Band Association Circuit throughout her six-year career as both a middle school and high school Drum Major. She been awarded one of NCBA’s most prestigious awards — the Drum Major Sweepstakes Award — at the Santa Cruz Band Review in Santa Cruz, California which is the largest band review in Northern California that hosts over 60+ schools. In addition, she has been invited to perform internationally at the London New Year’s Day Parade where she performed as a representative of both the United Spirit Association Drum Major and Band Leadership Program and the United States of America.
Aside from her Drum Major Career, Rebecca performed as the principal 1st chair clarinetist with the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony for 4+ years, and was one of the youngest musicians to do so. Upon completing her high school career, Rebecca was also awarded the John Phillips Sousa Award— the most prestigious award of her school’s music program.
Currently, Rebecca is a private Drum Major instructor in the Northern California area where she coaches award-winning Drum Majors of her own in both the parade and solo competition season. Additionally, she served as the Head Instructor for Tokay High School’s Color Guard under the Direction of Band Director, James Zuniga. Together, they revived the school’s winter season’s competitive performance groups where they have received numerous awards in areas of Percussion, Color Guards and Drum Majors. Rebecca continues to train and mentor both her Drum Major and Color Guard students in areas of leadership and technical skills.
During her three-year drum majoring career at Canyon High School in Santa Clarita, CA, Sabrina led her band through countless SCSBOA competitions and parades. As a flautist, Sabrina performed as a soloist in addition to serving principal chair in several Wind Ensembles and Concert Bands, receiving Superior ratings at Solo and Ensemble Competitions and Festivals throughout Southern California. Furthermore, Sabrina’s drum majoring career enabled her to act as an active member of the Gold Star Brigade’s leadership curriculum and current execution throughout the marching and concert band programs. As a recipient of her Alma Mater’s annual leadership award and medallion amongst several other technical awards, Sabrina holds her experiences and memories created at Canyon close to her heart and is thankful for those involved. Sabrina now serves as an instructional staff member at Canyon High School and Eastlake High School, working with the marching bands’ visual content and training the indoor cymbal line during the spring. Currently attending San Diego State University, Sabrina is pursuing a major in Dietetics with a minor in Leadership. Outside of academics and the drum majoring world, Sabrina is a member of the Marching Aztec’s cymbal line during the fall season, performing at Aztec Football games in the San Diego Charger’s famous Qualcomm Stadium. During the spring, Sabrina dedicates her time as a performer with the World Class WGI group POW Percussion, located in El Monte, California. Sabrina performed in the University of Dayton Arena during World Class Champions in Dayton, Ohio, breaking the group’s records and creating history with the marching ensemble as the only female battery ensemble member in 2017 and the Visual Soloist in 2018.
As Drum Major for the world-renowned UCLA Solid Gold Sound, James leads the 250-member band through field shows at every football game. He always looks forward to the fall season where he works closely with the UCLA Spirit Squad to create the gameday experience for the Bruin fans.
At Christopher High School in Gilroy, California, he served as drum major for three years in the Midnight Pride Band. James primarily led his band on the field in Western Band Association competitions throughout California. When he wasn’t rehearsing or performing in instrumental and choral ensembles, he was leading clubs and organizations in his school and his community.
His growth as a musician and a leader in high school led him to the UCLA Marching Band. Off the field, James studies bioengineering and researches minimally-invasive clinical treatments under the instruction of Dr. Ali Khademhosseini. He is also a proud brother of the Tau Beta Sigma band honors sorority, where he dedicates himself to serving collegiate bands and women in music.
Music has brought him from coast to coast in the United States, as well as across the Atlantic to perform with USA. He encourages students never to stop playing music and always appreciate the impact it can make on a person’s life. This upcoming summer, he hopes to pass on the knowledge he has gained and foster the growth of leaders in music so that they elevate others around them.
Stephen graduated from Benicia High School where he led the Panther Marching Band to an undefeated season as drum major his senior year. Stephen began spinning when he was 12 years old and competed in solo competitions on the NCBA L pattern circuit for 3 years in the Mace Masters Division. During high school Stephen was in both the wind ensemble and jazz band for 4 years where he played lead alto and bari sax as well as playing sousaphone in the pep band and wedding band. While he was in the panther band he traveled to Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, and London to perform and compete. In addition, Stephen was given the opportunity to perform in honor bands all across California and was awarded the Louis Armstrong Jazz award which is the highest level interscholastic award given to a high school jazz musician. Currently Stephen is attending Cornell University in New York where he is studying computer science, jazz and cognitive science. He has had the honor to play alongside some of the greatest jazz musicians in the world, such as Chad Lefkowitz-Brown and Wynton Marsalis, and is dedicated to seeing how good both he and his students can become.
Kent Giese is a graduate from American High School, in Fremont, California, where he served as Assistant Drum Major his junior year and Head Drum Major his senior year. He led the Eagle Marching Band in both parade and field show competition, winning 1st place in Field Conducting as well as in Military Parade at the Fairfield Tournament of Champions. He also competed in countless NCBA Winter Drum Major competitions all 4 years of high school in both Field Conducting and Military Baton L-Pattern, earning the title of Champion in both Field Conducting II and Military Masters his senior year. In that same program, Kent served as a student instructor for over 20 AHS students also competing in the winter competitions.
After finishing his high school career with receiving the John Philip Sousa Award, Kent is now a music major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he leads the Mustang Marching Band as Head Drum Major and serves as principal chair for the Cal Poly Wind Ensemble. Kent is currently striving for a career in music composition and conducting, while actively playing trombone in various ensembles on campus, including his experience playing as a soloist with the Cal Poly Symphony. He intends to continue practicing his leadership skills as part of the USA Drum Major Staff and is extremely excited to meet new students and create lasting impacts on our future leaders.
Nicholas Franks graduated from Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, California, where he was a drum major of the Spartan Marching Band for three years. As a drum major, he has led his band in numerous local parades spinning the mace and SCSBOA field competitions, where his band placed highly in the 1A division. Upon graduating, he received the John Philip Sousa Award for Musical Excellence. Beyond the football field, Nicholas participated with the Royal Cavaliers Independent Winds at WGI and WCWA competitions across Southern California. Two years after the group’s conception, he and the Royal Cavaliers competed at their first WGI World Championship in Dayton, Ohio, where they placed fourth in the Independent Open Class division. Nicholas was also the principle alto saxophonist and section leader of the concert and jazz bands at Rio Mesa where he performed as a soloist at SCSBOA festivals. Outside of the band room, he participates in local honor and community ensembles as a saxophonist, and he actively expresses his creativity through the composition, arrangement, and performance of music of all types.
Academically, Nicholas ranked at the top of his class as an International Baccalaureate Diploma recipient and as an active member of the mock trial team, school tutoring service, and science department. He has been recognized numerous times by his peers and teachers for his leadership ability within these activities. Nicholas is currently attending the University of Washington in Seattle where he is double majoring in biology and music. He is also a member of the UW Husky Marching Band where he plays the alto saxophone. As the new season begins to lift off, he hopes to pass on the traditions of the marching arts to a new generation of spirited and dedicated student leaders.
Kayla Klussman is currently a student at California Lutheran University where she is majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Music. She played flute and piccolo in her high school’s Wind Ensemble all four years and is continuing performance on these two instruments in college. As Drum Major at Royal High School in Simi Valley, California, she led the Royal Highland Brigade in numerous SCSBOA field competitions all the way through championships her senior year. Using her skills as a musician, she marched in the Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band for two years and was a member of the Ventura County Honor Band for three years on both flute and piccolo. In her senior year, Kayla was selected to be one of eight piccolo players in the United States Army All-American Marching Band and was one of five students from California to be accepted into this national honor band. As a part of her final year in high school, she received the John Philip Sousa Award which reflects her strong dedication for pursuing music.
Kayla gained exceptional experience in leadership and teamwork from the time she spent serving as Treasurer and Public Relations Manager of her band program along with being the Band Program Senator in her high school’s inaugural Senate. When her time as Drum Major at Royal came to an end, she taught lessons on leadership, conducting, and spinning to those who auditioned to fill her position. Therefore, she is well-equipped and excited to meet, interact with, and teach students at camp this summer! Graduating as a valedictorian from her high school reflects her determined, diligent, detail-oriented nature which allows her to lead others to success.
A graduate of Canyon High School in Santa Clarita California, Julia Edwards has served her band as Head Drum Major for two years, leading them through numerous Championships, and a final successful season as SCSBOA 2A Bronze Medal Champions. Outside of fall season, Julia has also competed for four seasons as a cymbalist for Indoor Winter Percussion, two of which as the line’s Cymbal Captain. Her first year in Band Leadership, Julia paved the way as her marching band’s first ever Horn Sergeant, working alongside her band’s Drum Major Team to serve her program. As a saxophonist, Julia has served as Principle Chair Alto for three consecutive semesters and has represented her school in the California State University of Los Angeles First Chair Honor Band. Through the last eight years of her experience on Alto, Julia has additionally performed in concert ensembles on Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet, and Trombone. With a vast love for music and marching, Julia Edwards is currently double majoring in Music Education with an instrumental focus on Classical Alto Saxophone and Political Science at the University of Redlands in order to dedicate the rest of her life toward teaching the next generations of musicians to come.
Luis Cardoza graduated from Concord High School in Concord, CA where he served as the drum major for two years for the award-winning Minutemen Marching Band. His time as a performing drum major started with competing in solo drum major competitions for the Northern California Band Association in the Mace category. During his time in high school, he was able to lead over 100 marching members on the street, involve himself in numerous leadership positions for organizations/clubs on campus and within his community, and successfully placed competitively throughout his time as drum major, which is something he upholds to the highest degree of honor and integrity.
He is immensely involved in performance groups of all types, including but not limited to the arts of choral and instrumental music, cheerleading, gymnastics, color guard, theatre, and dance. He has competed at Winter Guard International (WGI) with the InMotion Performance Ensemble, holding 2 silver medals in the independent A-class and Open-class divisions, as well as serving as a semi-finalist in the World-class division. He also toured with the color guard at the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps from Rosemont, IL, competing as a world-class finalist at Drum Corps International (DCI).
Currently, he is Caption-Head for the Livermore High School Color Guard Program, leading the team into many successes of competition. He also serves as a drill writer, creative designer, technician/choreographer, and leadership clinician for various groups in the northern California region.
Aside from color guard, Luis aides in the special education field, coaches compulsory level competitive gymnastics, and teaches private drum major lessons. He is going to school as a psychology major and has plans to become a K-12 school teacher and/or counselor.
Luis is actively involved in the Northern California Band Association, California Color Guard Circuit, and Winter Guard International. If you ever see him, don’t be afraid to go say “Hi!”