Blue Knights Announce 2018 Brass Staff

DENVER, CO – The Blue Knights are pleased to announce the Brass Staff team for the 2018 Drum Corps International season.


Chad Pence – Brass Caption Head

Chad Pence is the Brass Caption Head for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. Chad Pence has been the Director of Bands at Ashley Ridge High School in Summerville, SC since the fall of 2014. In that time, the marching band has been a consistent 5A finalist at the South Carolina State Marching Band Contest. The AR Band’s fifth place finish in 2016 is the highest placement in school history. The AR Wind Ensemble has consistently received superior ratings in class 5 and 6 at the SC State Concert Assessment.

In the spring of 2014 Chad Pence was honored for eleven years of outstanding service to the band program at Fort Mill HS (SC). Whileat Fort Mill, the marching band won five state championships and a BOA regional championship. The FM Wind Symphony was a featured performing ensemble at the 2014 Music For All National Concert Festival. He previously served as an assistant band director at James F. Byrnes HS (SC) and Lost Mountain MS (GA). He earned his undergraduate degree in music education at the University of Kentucky, where he studied tuba with Dr. Skip Gray and performed with the Lexington Brass Band and The Four Horsemen Tuba/Euphonium Quartet, as well as the university’s wind ensemble and orchestra.

He currently performs in the Charleston Wind Symphony and Poinsett Wind Symphony. Mr. Pence has more than twenty years of drum corps experience. He marched with Star of Indiana in 1993 and Star’s Brass Theater in 1994.

He earned his first DCI title marching with the Cadets of Bergen County in 1998 and two more titles as a brass instructor for The Cadets in 2000 and 2005. The Cadets won the Jim Ott Memorial Award for “Best Brass Performance” in 2000 and 2005. He has served as a staff member or consultant for The Cadets, Carolina Crown, Magic of Orlando, and The Academy. In 2004, Mr. Pence was the brass caption supervisor for the Capital Regiment from Columbus, OH. From 2011-2013, he was the brass caption supervisor of the Boston Crusaders. Mr. Pence maintains professional affiliations with NAfME, SCBDA, and Phi Beta Mu.


Kyler Allenson – Low Brass Instructor

Kyler Allenson is a low brass instructor for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. Originally from Cape Coral, FL, Kyler currently resides in Orlando, FL where he is finishing his Bachelor’s in Music Education. At Florida Gulf Coast University, he studied euphonium in the studio of Aaron McCalla and performed in various ensembles including the Wind Orchestra and Tuba Quartet. As an educator, he spent three years as a marching and music instructor at Mariner High School and is currently an intern at Lake Nona High School in Orange County.

In the marching medium, Kyler marched five seasons with the Boston Crusaders from 2012-2016 and aged-out as the featured baritone soloist and horn sergeant. Notable performances with the corps include two performances at Tanglewood in Lenox, MA and a nationally televised performance with the Boston Pops at the Hatch Shell. In 2017, he concurrently served as a brass instructor with Heat Wave of Florida and on the administrative team with the Boston Crusaders.

This summer, Kyler will be working with the euphonium section and is incredibly excited to join the Blue Knights for 2018.


James Barnes – Tuba Instructor

James Barnes is a Tuba instructor for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. James is the Director of Bands at Collierville High School in Collierville, TN. Prior to his appointment at Collierville, he spent three years as the Director of Bands at Blythewood High School in Columbia, SC.

Under his direction, the bands at Blythewood received consistent superior ratings in Concert Band, Marching Band and Solo and Ensemble. In 2017, The Blythewood Wind Symphony was selected to perform at the South Carolina Music Educator’s Conference. They were also selected to be a featured ensemble at the 2017 University of South Carolina Honor Band Clinic. The Blue Legion has been a consistent South Carolina State Finalist and has finished in the top five since 2014. They were Lower-State Champions and received the high music award at the 2016 SCBDA State Finals. The Blue Legion attended the Bands of America Indianapolis Super-Regional and placed twentieth out of fifty-seven bands and were fifth over-all in their class.

While receiving his Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina, his passion for the marching arts led him to being involved in Drum Corps International. He served on the brass staff at Music City Drum and Bugle Corps four years. He was appointed Brass Caption Head in 2012 and helped lead the corps into Drum Corps International Semi-Finals for the first time in corps history.

James is a member of National Association for Music Educators and the West Tennessee Band Director’s Association. James also served on the executive board for the Palmetto Concert Band which performed at the Midwest Orchestra and Band Clinic in 2016.


Clayton Finlayson – High Brass Instructor

Clayton Finlayson is a high brass instructor for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. He started his involvement with marching band in 2008 when he joined the Harrison High School Marching Band under the direction of David Vandewalker, Steve Meyer, and Joshua Ray. In 2009, he joined Alliance Drum & Bugle Corps based in Atlanta, Georgia, where he also marched in 2010. Clayton graduated from Harrison in 2011 and enrolled at Georgia State University to study trumpet performance & music management. His previous private instructors include Jennifer Marotta, Dr. Amanda Pepping, and Hollie Lifshey.

Clayton went on to join DCI and the Carolina Crown hornline in 2012 and again for their first world championship in 2013. He then joined The Cavaliers for his age-out season in 2015. In 2016, he accepted a position as an intern to teach with the brass staff at The Cavaliers.

Along with drum and bugle corps, he has been very active with teaching high school marching bands including Kell High School, Terry Sanford High School, Round Rock High School, TX; Leander High School, TX; Centennial High School, Kennesaw Mountain High School and is currently on staff with the Kennesaw State University Marching Owls.

Clayton currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia where he is a full time flight attendant for Delta Air Lines.


Robert Johnson – Trumpet Instructor

Robert Johnson is a Trumpet instructor for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. He currently resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he teaches marching band, gives private instruction to developing brass musicians, and teaches clinics at local schools. He holds the position of music caption head at Jupiter High School and is also a staff member at West Broward High School.

Prior to moving to the South Florida area in August of 2017 Robert lived in Tampa while he attended the University of South Florida as a music performance major. During his time in Tampa he kept a busy schedule both as a freelance musician and an educator. While studying at the University of South Florida, he had the pleasure of performing in the Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Big Band 1, and USF Trumpet Ensemble. As a member of these ensembles he was afforded the opportunities to play at Carnegie Hall, the American Bandmasters Association conference, and the National Trumpet Competition as well as sharing the stage with distinguished guest artists including Ron Blake, Rex Richardson, and Rufus Reid. Outside of his college ensembles he also maintained an active career as a freelance musician in the Tampa Bay area and performed for several seasons at Busch Gardens and Adventure Islands theme parks.

Robert’s career in the marching arts began as a member of the Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps trumpet section from 2011-2013 and ended earning a silver medal with Carolina Crown in 2015. After aging out he joined the brass staff at the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps in 2016 and 2017 where he had the honor of playing a small role in the corps’ first appearance in World Class Finals.

Robert is excited to join an outstanding team of educators at the Blue Knights and to work with a group of performers whose reputation for quality and uniqueness is well known in the DCI community.


Paula Monique – Mellophone Instructor

Paula Monique is a Mellophone instructor for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. Paula is an educator and musician, born and raised in sunny South Florida. She has been actively involved in the drum corps community since 2002 and marched lead mellophone with The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps from 2002-2006.

Paula was very involved with the corps, holding the positions of section leader (04,05) and horn sergeant (06). Paula was also the recipient of multiple distinguished service awards, as well as the coveted “Cadet of the Year” award during her time with The Cadets.

She was a visual instructor for Teal Sound (07), and The Cadets (09) and was a brass instructor for the Boston Crusaders (09, 10, 11, 13) Bluecoats (15) and most recently, Carolina Crown (15,16,17).

Paula has enjoyed many years as a touring musician and performer, traveling throughout North America, Japan, South Korea and Europe. She was a cast member in the Tony and Emmy award winning show “Blast!” from 2007-2012, where she played trumpet, piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, mellophone, percussion, and didgeridoo during the two hour production. Paula was also a cast member of “Brass Angels” an all female stage show featuring brass, percussion, and dancers, which toured Japan in 2008. She has toured nationally as a pit musician in Fiddler on the Roof, and spent many years as a freelance trumpet player throughout South Florida.

Paula is also a Jupiter XO performing artist and plays exclusively on XO Trumpets.

She has been an active instructor in the WGI Winds circuit since it’s inception in 2015.
She was Co-Music Caption Head at Stryke Wynds (15,16), Music Caption Head at Nova HS Winds, (’16) and the Music Caption Head at FIU Indoor Winds for the 2017 season.

Paula is currently the Assistant Director of Bands at North Broward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek, FL and in her “spare time” teaches marching band and private lessons.


Ben Pouncey – Trumpet Instructor

Ben Pouncey is a Trumpet instructor for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. Ben is the band director at DuBose Middle School in Summerville, SC and an assistant with the Summerville High School Bands.

An alumnus of The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, Ben served as the corps’ drum major from 2009 to 2011 after having been a member of the trumpet section in 2007 and 2008. The Cadets are 10-time Drum Corps International (DCI) World Champions, having won their most recent title in 2011. Ben was also the recipient of the 2011 DCI Jim Jones Leadership Award. He has served as a member of The Cadets’ instructional staff and has been a clinician for the Drum Corps International Drum Major Leadership Seminar held each year for DCI drum majors from across the nation. A native of Columbia, SC, Ben graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music with an emphasis in Music Education.


Don Taylor – High Brass Instructor

Don Taylor is a high brass instructor for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. Don is originally from South Carolina, and graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1987 with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. After teaching for six years in North Carolina, he attended Western Carolina University, where he served as the band graduate assistant for the WCU Wind Ensemble and Marching Cats and graduated with a Master’s in Music Education.

Don was a band director for over 17 years, ten of which were spent in Cobb County, Georgia, as the head director at Simpson Middle School, which feeds into both Sprayberry and Lassiter High Schools. During Mr. Taylor’s tenure at Simpson, the 7th and 8th grade bands consistently earned superior ratings, both on stage and in sight-reading, and the 8th grade band also earned favorable reviews at the 2001 Bands of America Regional Concert Festival held in Lexington, KY.

From 1996 to 2005, he was on the staff of the renowned Lassiter Trojan Band, serving as brass caption head and also as a marching instructor. During his time at Lassiter, the Lassiter Band participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in 1999 and again in 2004, as well as The Tournament of Roses Parade in 2001 and 2005. The band also won the Bands of America Grand National Championship in 1998 and 2002.

Don also has an extensive background in drum corps, having performed as a lead soprano soloist with the Suncoast Sound Drum and Bugle Corps in 1984 and 1985, then later going on to be one of the original staff members of the Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps in 1990. Mr. Taylor taught at Crown from the very first day until the corps’ first DCI finals appearance in 1995, and was brass caption head from 1991 through 1995.

During the time Crown competed in DCI’s Division II (now known as Open Class), from 1991 until 1993, the brass section won the High Brass Award all three years, and the corps also won the DCI Division II World Championship in 1993. From 1996 to 1998, he served as the brass caption head for the Magic of Orlando Drum and Bugle Corps, then in 1999 on the brass staff of the Crossmen.

Don also served as a judge for Drum Corps International for four seasons (2002-2005), judging brass performance, ensemble music, and general effect music. He also has judged many marching band competitions all across the Southeast and Midwest, and continues to do so to this day.

In addition to his teaching experience, Don was the 3rd trumpet in the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra (NC), as well as a regular performer in the pit orchestra for the Piedmont Players, as well as theater productions at Catawba College. His other professional playing experiences have varied from playing the national anthem at sporting events to playing in the band for Barnum & Bailey’s Circus.

Don currently teaches private lessons on Trumpet, French horn, Trombone, Euphonium and Tuba in the Metro Atlanta area. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Dr. Allison Maddox, and the two coolest cats in the world, Norman and Chipper.”


Keith Tye – Low Brass Instructor

Keith Tye is a low brass instructor for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. He is currently enrolled at Ball State University and is working to earn his bachelors degree in instrumental music education. He is a euphonium primary as the top chair in the wind ensemble.

Keith marched for 5 years with the Blue Stars in 2011 and with Carolina Crown from 2013-2016. In his marching career at Carolina Crown, the corps won two Jim Ott best brass performance awards, two John Brazzale best visual performance awards, two Don Angelica Best Overall General Effect Awards, and its first ever DCI World Championship.

In the 2017 season, Keith worked with the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps as the Euphonium technician. He is currently a low brass technician for the 2 time world champion Rhythm X Winds for WGI winds. He has also taught with the Carmel High School Marching Band from Carmel, Indiana and many other high school groups in the Greater Dayton/Cincinatti area.

He is incredibly excited to join the Blue Knights staff for the 2018 season and for the opportunity to work with this amazing staff.


Matt Urbanek – High Brass Instructor

Matt Urbanek is a high brass instructor for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. A native of Fairfax, VA, he is currently residing in Bloomington, IN pursuing a Masters’ degree in Trumpet Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he has played in the Concert Orchestra, University Orchestra, Brass Choir and several chamber groups.

Matt graduated from The Ohio State University in May 2016 with undergraduate degrees in Music Education and Trumpet Performance. At Ohio State, Matt played with the Wind Symphony, the Symphony Orchestra and the Jazz Ensemble, and completed his student teaching at Dublin Coffman High School in Dublin, OH. Matt has studied trumpet privately with Terry Detwiler, Richard Burkart, Tim Leasure, and John Rommel.

Matt was a trumpet technician on the brass staff at The Academy in 2017, as well as having
taught brass and visual for one full season and several camps at Dublin Coffman High School. He is currently teaching private lessons and sectionals in the Southwest Indiana area. Matt also marched three seasons with Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps (2013-2015) and was a member of The Ohio State University Marching Band (2011-2014).


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