BRANDON CUMMINGS // PERCUSSION CAPTION HEAD
Brandon Cummings is an active percussionist, educator and arranger in the DFW area. He is in his fourth year with the Guardians DBC, newly serving as Percussion Caption Head. He is also the assistant percussion director at Waxahachie High School.
He spent three summers participating in Drum Corps International as a member of the Santa Clara Vanguard in 2015 and 2016 (an ensemble earning the Fred Sanford High Percussion Award), the Blue Knights in 2014.
Brandon graduated with a Bachelors in Music from Texas Christian University, studying with Dr. Brian A. West. At TCU, Brandon participated in several ensembles including the marching band, concert bands, and percussion orchestra which performed at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in 2015 after winning the PAS International Percussion Ensemble Competition.
Brandon has professional teaching experience with a variety of programs across Texas including the Guardians Drum and Bugle Corps, Vigilantes Indoor Percussion, Roots Percussion Independent, Martin HS in Arlington, Duncanville HS, Red Oak HS, and several others. Brandon is also an active composer and arranger for marching bands and indoor ensembles in Texas.
MATT KOSSICK // FRONT ENSEMBLE COORDINATOR
Matt Kossick is a freelance percussion performer and educator based in the North Texas area. This will be his second official season with The Guardians and his first as front ensemble coordinator. Well versed in marching percussion, Matt was a member of the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle corps in the 2016 and 2017 Drum Corps International seasons, during which the group received the Fred Sanford award both years for outstanding percussion performance. In winter 2018, Matt graduated from the esteemed University of North Texas College of Music Summa Cum Laude, and he received the 2018 award for “Outstanding Undergraduate Percussion Student”. Matt is currently the assistant percussion director at Trinity High School in Euless Texas. In the spring of 2020 he was one of the primary teachers at Harwood Junior High winning both the PASIC IPEC contest and Midwest percussion ensemble contest at the junior high level.
JOSH GREGORY// BATTERY COORDINATOR
Josh is an active percussion performer and educator in the DFW area. He’s currently the battery coordinator at L.D Bell HS in Bedford, TX. L.D. Bell is a former BOA Grand National champion and during his time at Bell they have been a BOA Regional and Super Regional finalist. For the indoor season, he serves as the snare tech for Timber Creek HS in Keller, TX. During his time at Timber Creek, they were a WGI Scholastic Open finalist in 2018 and NTCA Open Class Champions in 2018 and 2019.
Prior to joining the Guardians battery staff, Josh was a member of Vigilantes Indoor Percussion (ViP) from 2015-2018. Serving as Battery Captain for his age out in 2018. He also performed with the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps in 2016 and the Santa Clara Vanguard in 2017; earning the DCI Silver Medal and the Fred Sanford award for Best Percussion. After aging out, he went on to teach both ViP and Guardians (2018) as a snare tech. During his time as a performer, he has had the privilege of learning from some of the smartest minds in the marching percussion world including Evan Blackard, Daniel Allen, Tyler Orbison and Paul Rennick.
Outside of teaching, Josh is a freelance musician who performs with the Dallas Mavericks Drumline and Dynamic Rhythm Entertainment (DRE). DRE encompasses many of the local drums gigs in the DFW area including the FC Dallas drumline, Cutting Edge Haunted House drummers and the San Antonio Spurs drumline. DRE has also been contracted by JCPenny, Mary Kay, Halliburton, Southwest Airlines and many other large corporations to perform at various seminars and conventions.
Born and raised in the DFW area, he currently resides in Fort Worth. After taking a year off of Drum Corps, he’s very excited to be back on staff at Guardians and can’t wait to get started!
CIERA HIGGINS // FRONT ENSEMBLE TECH
Ciera Higgins is a graduate of the University of North Texas, originally from the Chicagoland area. She has experience in Drum Corps International with the Troopers in 2013 and Santa Clara Vanguard in 2014, 2015, and 2016. She also has experience with Winter Guard International in Pi Percussion, previously known as Pioneer Indoor, in 2012-2015. She has previously worked as a pit technician at Roots Percussion Independent for two years and has taught at Denton High School and Aubrey High School in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
AARON MINCEY // FRONT ENSEMBLE TECH
Aaron Mincey is a percussionist and educator from Lewisville, Texas. Aaron holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education, with an emphasis in percussion, from Texas Christian University where he studied under Dr. Brian West, Dr. Richard Gipson, and Mr. Joey Carter. During his time at TCU, he engaged in many performances with the TCU Percussion Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, Marching Band, and Steel Band. In the fall of 2019, Aaron performed with the TCU Percussion Orchestra at the 2019 PASIC convention, along with a performance with the TCU Symphony Orchestra at the 2019 TMEA convention, and the TCU Wind Symphony at the 2020 TMEA convention. Additionally, he has been fortunate enough to work with groups such as the Fort Worth Fine Arts Academy and the Fort Worth Youth
Orchestra as a performing musician.
Aaron’s Drum and Bugle corps experience includes a summer with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps (2015) and a summer with the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps (2019) where he received a bronze medal and the Fred Sanford award for high percussion. He also had the opportunity to perform with the 2019 Santa Clara Vanguard percussion section at the 2019 PASIC convention. His teaching experiences include a variety of programs across DFW such as Creekview High School, Castleberry High School, Grapevine High School, and Midlothian High School. Aaron is thrilled to join the 2021 Guardians percussion staff!
IZAIAH MCDOWELL // BATTERY TECH
Izaiah McDowell started his DCI career in 2015 with the Crossmen. He was later fortunate enough to march with the Santa Clara Vanguard from 2016 to 2018 serving as bass section leader in 2018, winning the Fred Sanford award for high percussion three times in a row, and the DCI silver and gold medal in 2017 and 2018. He also spent the winter of 2013 with Vigilantes Indoor Percussion from Fort Worth, Texas.
Izaiah currently lives in the DFW area where he’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree in music business from UT Arlington and is a battery tech during marching band season. He’s taught at Birdville High School, Arlington High School, and is currently teaching at James Martin High School in Arlington and Coppell High School in Coppell, Texas.
ALEX YANG // BATTERY TECH
Originally from Houston, TX, Alex currently resides in Denton, TX while pursuing a music degree at the University of North Texas. He has performed with numerous ensembles at UNT along with having marched snare drum at The Guardians Drum and Bugle Corps (2015), Phantom Regiment (2018), and Vigilantes Indoor Percussion (2017-2020). As an educator, Alex has worked with schools in both Houston and the DFW area including Cypress Lakes High School and currently at Saginaw High School as the battery coordinator.
CHAD MURRAY // BATTERY TECH
Chad is the Assistant Director of Percussion at Saginaw High School in Saginaw, Texas Currently, Chad offers private instruction to students in the greater DFW area alongside the saginaw cluster is Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD. Previously, Chad held positions as Choral Director are Cleveland Middle School in Clayton, North Carolina, Assistant Director of Bands and Ensembles at Corinth Holders High School, and taught General Music at Corinth Holders Elementary School in Wendell, North Carolina. Mr. Murray has been actively teaching music for over 10 years and has instructed and consulted for many ensembles in Texas and North Carolina.
Chad earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. During his studies Chad was the Percussion Captain for the ODU Marching Monarchs for three seasons including their Inaugural Season in 2009. Chad also was an active member in the University Pep Band, Percussion Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, and Orchestra. Chad studied percussion and conducting under David Walker as well as music education pedagogy and under Dennis Zeisler and Dr. Douglas Owens.
Chad's teaching experience stems from his first season in 2008, when he began teaching locally in Northeastern North Carolina and Southeastern Virginia. During Chad's undergraduate studies he performed with the Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps in 2010 and 2011, where he aged out. In 2011 and 2012 Chad served as the Snare section leader for the WGI Independent Open ensemble Dominion Storm Independent Percussion based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Once retired from the performing side of the floor Mr. Murray assumed the position of bass drum technician for the WGI Percussion Independent Open group Forza East Independent Percussion based out of Greenville, North Carolina. In 2014 Chad returned to Forza East where he resumed his duties as the bass line technician and co-battery arranger for the ensemble's 2014 production. Since 2019, Chad has been teaching the bassdrum at Vigilantes Indoor Percussion based out of Forth Worth, Texas.
Chad is a member of PAS, TMEA, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and proudly endorses Dynasty Drums, Titans Field Frames, Innovative Percussion sticks and mallets, Sabian cymbals.
BEN ARMENI // FRONT ENSEMBLE TECH
Ben Armeni is a percussionist and arranger from Flowery Branch, Georgia. Ben marched in the front ensemble at Atlanta CV in 2013, Troopers 2014, and Santa Clara Vanguard 2015-2017. Ben earned his undergraduate degree in Music Education at University of North Texas in 2020, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Percussion Performance at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
NATHAN REARICK // BATTERY TECH
Nathan Rearick is an active percussion educator and performer. He has traveled across the nation sharing his passion of music with the world, and has built quite a reputation in the marching arts.
Nathan graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor's Degree in Percussion Performance. During his studies, he was fortunate enough travel to the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) with the UNT Tenor Ensemble in 2015 and 2016, and the UNT Snare Ensemble in 2017, placing 1st all three times. He also performed with UNT Percussion ensemble, who was the winner of the Percussive Arts Society Call for Tapes and traveled to perform at PASIC in 2016. Nathan currently resides in Tuscaloosa, AL, where he attends the University of Alabama pursuing a Masters in Percussion Performance. During his time in graduate school, he has performed in the UA percussion ensemble, who was also named the winner of 2020 Percussive Arts Society Call for Tapes. He also received 1st place in the individual snare competition in his division for PASIC 2020. He has had the privilege of being taught by some of the great minds of percussion, including Paul Rennick, Mark Ford, Christopher Deane, Poovilar Sriji, Tyler Orbison, Andrew Lynge, Kevin Welborn, and Daniel Allen.
During his studies, Nathan spent two summers traveling across theUnited States with Drum Corps International (DCI), one with the Troopers in 2016 and one with the Santa Clara Vanguard in 2017. While marching with SCV, the percussion section won the Fred Sanford award for best percussion performance. He has also spent three winters performing in Winter Guard International (WGI) with Vigilantes Indoor Percussion (VIP). In 2016, VIP took home the gold by placing 1st in their division. In 2019, he served on staff with the Troopers as a battery technician.
Outside of his studies, Nathan has been involved with multiple gigs across the DFW area. He has performed with Dynamic Rhythm Entertainment (DRE), which encompasses many drumlines in DFW, including the Dallas Mavericks drumline, FC Dallas drumline, and the Cutting Edge Haunted House drumline. Nathan was also involved with multiple teaching gigs across the DFW area. In 2019, he served on staff with the Troopers as a battery technician. In 2020, he also served on staff with Music City as a battery technician.
BEN KOCH // BATTERY TECH
Ben holds a Music Education degree from the University of North Texas having performed with the flagship concert and percussion ensembles during his time as an undergraduate. He is the assistant percussion director for the Hebron HS Percussion cluster in Carrollton, Texas. In addition to coordinating the battery, he directs percussion ensembles across all 4 campuses, and teaches lessons across the cluster.
Ben marched 5 seasons of drum corps. 2 at Genesis in 2015 and 2016 and 3 at Santa Clara Vanguard from 2017-2019, serving as section leader in his age out season. During his time with SCV, he was awarded the Fred Sanford (High Percussion) award all 3 years. He taught the Music City bassline virtually in 2020 and is looking forward to a great season with the Guardians in 2021.
RYAN WILLIS // BATTERY TECH
Ryan Willis is a long time DFW resident, growing up in the Frisco area and beginning his musical path in sixth-grade band. He currently serves as a marching percussion technician and lesson teacher within several DFW school districts. He specializes in marching snare drum but teaches all areas of percussion to his middle and high school students.
Ryan’s professional music career began his senior year of high school when he joined Vigilantes Indoor Percussion for their 2015 season. VIP would go on to win the WGI Percussion Independent Open Class gold medal in 2016 with their show “We the People”. Ryan would continue to return to VIP for the remainder of his eligible years through 2020 as they compete at the World Class level at WGI Championships in Dayton, Ohio.
Ryan’s DCI experience began in 2017 when he marched with the Casper Troopers. He then aged out the next year with the Santa Clara Vanguard, where the corps won the DCI Championship and the SCV percussion section won the Fred Sanford Award for best percussion, completing a three-year streak of Fred Sanford awards.
Ryan accredits his experiences and passion for music to all of his teachers and former directors, especially Nathan Sundberg, Tyler Orbison, Dan Allen, and Paul Rennick.
JAY WELKE // BATTERY TECH
Jay Welke is a percussion instructor and performer in Texas and Oklahoma. He has performed in the Oklahoma State Wind Ensemble under the direction of Joseph Missal. He has been a member and leader at the Santa Clara Vanguard from 2018-2020, winning the Fred Sanford award for both competitive seasons. Additionally, the Santa Clara Vanguard percussion section was selected to perform for PASIC 2020. In 2018, he was a member of Marcus Percussion Ensemble that earned a spot to perform at the Midwest Clinic. During the year he teaches at Edmond Memorial High School, as well as online private lessons to students around the country. He has been taught by Kennan Wylie, Brandon Kelly, Bill Bachman, Matt Penland, and Paul Rennick. Outside of music, Jay studies Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Oklahoma State University.
KELLY MURRAY // BATTERY TECH
COLLIN VAUGHN // BATTERY TECH
Collin a senior at Texas State University graduating with my BBA in finance and management. Collin marched 5points Percussion in 17’, ViP 18-19, and Monarch 20. Collin is currently on staff at Monarch for the 21 season and did 3 years of the bobcat marching band.