Blue Knights Announce 2020 Percussion Staff

DENVER, CO – Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps is excited to announce the Percussion Staff for the 2020 season!


Derrick Shannon will join the Blue Knights as Percussion Caption Head and Battery Composer/Arranger for the 2020 season.

 Derrick Shannon is a percussion specialist originally from the Chicago-land area.  He holds the Director of Percussive Arts position at Plainfield Community Schools who were the 2018 WGI PSA Champions in his first year with the program. He started Percussive Soundscapes which is a company that offers a variety of services to the marching arts community including custom arrangements for band and winter percussion ensembles. He taught at Ball State University, judges during the weekends and consults with numerous groups across the country.

Derrick marched seven summers of drum corps with groups such as the Phantom Regiment and Cavaliers, both in the battery and front ensemble. Afterward, he became the Percussion Caption Head for the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps and later the Percussion Coordinator and Battery Arranger for the Madison Scouts. He is currently the Percussion Coordinator and Battery Arranger for the Blue Knights. Derrick is also a Creative Director and Battery Arranger for 317 Performing Arts which supports the independent world group Veritas. He received his Bachelors in Music Education at the VanderCook College of Music and his Master’s in Music Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He currently resides in Plainfield, Indiana with his wife Kayla, two daughters Miyah and Olivia as well as their dog Max.


Chris Murphree will return to the Blue Knights as the Front Ensemble Composer/Arranger and Front Ensemble Coordinator.

Chris Murphree is currently a freelancing percussionist in the Indianapolis area, primarily working with Brownsburg and Plainfield High Schools.  He served as an arranger and teacher to both schools for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Prior to working with these programs he served as an arranger and teacher for the Goshen High School Percussion Ensemble from 2015-2017.  He received his Master’s degree from Indiana University, and his Bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University, where he also served as an Adjunct Professor of Percussion in 2014.

Chris marched with several groups including Spirit of Atlanta, The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps, and Music City Mystique.  He served as a front ensemble technician for the Troopers, Phantom Regiment, and Blue Knights throughout his teaching career.  He has arranged for several groups including Madison Scouts, Music City Drum and Bugle Corps, Orange County Independent, Tri-City Percussion, and various other programs throughout the country.  He is one of the Creative Directors for 317 Performing Arts which fields the Independent World Group Veritas. He currently resides in Plainfield Indiana with his pet cat, Jack.


Cristian Good will join the Blue Knights as the Sound Designer and Audio System Designer.

Cristian Good is a well known expert and consultant in the marching arts audio community. Much of his experience was gained while serving as The Cavalier’s audio engineer during the 2014, 2015, and 2016 seasons. He has also been involved in the WGI activity both designing and consulting for multiple indoor percussion groups around Indiana over the years. He has extensive knowledge of the audio concepts and techniques used in the marching arts activity and has been the marching audio clinician at the Music for All Summer Symposium for the past several years.

Cristian is currently the electronics designer for Homestead High School (IN) who is a consistent Bands of America Grand National Finalist and ISSMA medalist. In addition he is also the electronics designer for Carroll High School (IN) who is an ISSMA State Finalist as well as IPA medalist. Cristian has done electronics design and system designs for many other schools both in Indiana and around the country. Cristian currently resides in Ft. Wayne, Indiana with his wife and pets. He currently works as a sales engineer at Sweetwater Sound while continuing to be involved in many outside projects the marching activity.


Aaron Tucker will join the Blue Knights as the Audio Systems Caption Head.

Aaron Tucker is a freelance percussion educator and audio specialist living in Durham, North Carolina. He studied Percussion with an emphasis in Jazz Performance at East Carolina University. In 2002, he had the opportunity to march with the Magic of Orlando Drum and Bugle corps, winning a division 2 world championship, and going on to place in finals in division 1 (now known as World Class). He has had the honor of learning from some world class educators, including Jonathon Wacker, Bill Bachman, Tom Hurst, John Campese, Kevin Shah, Wayne Viar, and Will Goodyear.

Throughout his career, Aaron has had the pleasure of working with world class organizations such as Palmetto Percussion, Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps and Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps.  He also serves as the Percussion Coordinator for Atlantic Indoor Association, and served as Percussion Director for BOA Grand Nationals semi-finalist Green Hope High School from 2008 through 2019. In 2018, Aaron helped to guide Carolina Gold Drum and Bugle Corps to a DCA class A world championship and high percussion award.  He is also the founder and former director of Alchemy Independent Percussion Ensemble. In addition to his various instructional responsibilities, Aaron maintains a studio of private students and and consults and designs for percussion ensembles in the mid atlantic area. He has designed and taught for BOA Grand National semi-finalists, and WGI World Championship Finalists.

When he isn’t teaching or writing, Aaron performs with a variety of musicians in and out of state as a freelance drummer. He can often be found playing with “The Mint Julep Jazz Band”, an early jazz ensemble based out of Durham, NC. He resides in Cary, North Carolina with his wife, Ellen and his furry companions, Niko and Ollie.


Matthew Black will join the Blue Knights as an Ensemble Specialist for the 2020 season.

Matthew completed his Bachelors in Music Education from Eastern Illinois University where he studied under Barry Houser and Jamie Ryan. He has had the privilege of teaching ensembles in the Drum Corps International, Bands of America, and Winter Guard International circuits such as The Phantom Regiment, The Blue Stars, The Cavaliers Indoor Percussion Ensemble, Ben Davis, and Kennesaw Mountain. Matthew served as the percussion director at Perineal Grand National Finalist Marian Catholic High School from 2014-2019. He now serves as the percussion director at 5-Time Grand National Champion Carmel High School in Carmel Indiana.

In 2015 he directed the Singapore Youth Band of over 500 members for an audience of over 50,000 people celebrating their country’s Semicentennial. Matthew is also the director and curriculum developer for the percussion sector of the Smith Walbridge Clinics Summer Camp – The first and oldest marching band camp in the United States. He has cliniced across the country speaking on percussion pedagogy and electronic music production for Ableton Live. He is a frequent on MarchingArtsEducation.com speaking on sound reinforcement and amplification. In his time away from teaching Matthew writes and programs shows in all areas of the marching arts. You can find a list of his note-able clients at matthewblackmedia.com.


Andrew McAfee will join the Blue Knights as an Ensemble Specialist for the 2020 season.

Percussionist Andrew McAfee began his study of music in 1997. In his early years, he spent the summers touring the country with the Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets and Pulse Percussion Ensemble.

McAfee’s formal studies include a Master of Music from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Music from California State University Long Beach. Throughout his education, he received multiple awards and scholarships including Outstanding Achievements in the area of Percussion, the Lillian Newman Komaroff Memorial Scholarship, and the prestigious Avedis Zildjian Scholarship.

Throughout the years, Andrew has studied and performed with Michael Spiro, Steve Houghton, Nick Mancini, Kevin Bobo, and Raynor Carroll. Andrew currently lives in Indianapolis, IN where he teaches marching percussion and performs throughout Indiana in various jazz, pop, musical theater, and chamber ensembles.


Andrew Fortuna will join the Blue Knights as an Ensemble Specialist for the 2020 season.

Andrew has been involved in the world of marching percussion for the better part of two decades. Andrew started his drum corps career in 2004 with the Kingston Grenadiers (2004-2005), Rochester Crusaders (2006-2009) and The Boston Crusaders (2010-2011). His indoor marching career includes Onondaga Community College (2010) and United Percussion (2012). 

Andrew has been on percussion staff with The Boston Crusaders (2012-2016) and  Phantom Regiment (2018) as a battery tech. Andrew also served as the Battery Coordinator for the Madison Scouts (2019). Andrew currently teaches at Plainfield Community School Corporation (IN) as the in school percussion instructor and also writes for and teaches Decatur Central HS (IN). Andrew works with 317 Performing Arts as an Ensemble Specialist for Veritas (PIW) and most recently with The Blue Knights

Andrew currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife Jamie Fortuna and their two dogs Penny and Pepper. 


Alex Hinds will join the Blue Knights as an Ensemble Specialist for the 2020 season.

Alex Hinds is a percussion specialist born and raised in the Chicago-land area. He has  grown to become a leading educator, clinician, and performer throughout the United States. Alex currently resides in Westminster, Colorado and is a freelance percussion arranger and designer.

He is the founder and owner of A. Hinds Designs, a company that creates custom arrangements and productions for all areas of the marching arts. At this time he is currently on staff with Rise Percussion as the battery caption head and designer for Rise World and the designer and arranger for Rise Open. Alex is thrilled to be joining the percussion staff at Blue Knights!  


Garrett Weekley will join the Blue Knights as a Snare Instructor for the 2020 season.

Garrett Weekley is from Knoxville, Tennessee. He began his marching career playing snare drum with the Troopers (2013-2014) and later went on to march with the Phantom Regiment (2015-2016). In the winter, Garrett spent his WGI seasons with Matrix Percussion Ensemble (2014-2015) of Akron, OH and went on to march with Music City Mystique (2016-2017) of Nashville, TN – winning the WGI World Championships in 2017.

Since aging out of the activity, he has been teaching several well accomplished high school percussion programs in the Knoxville area. In the 2019 DCI season, Garrett served as a snare tech for the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps. 

Currently, Garrett is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Tennessee Technological University.


Tim Henderson will join the Blue Knights as a Snare Instructor for the 2020 season.

Tim Henderson is a percussionist from the Indianapolis area. He began his drum corps career as a member of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps during the 2012 season. From there he went on to march with the Phantom Regiment as a snare drummer from 2013-16. During the winter seasons, Tim was a member of Legacy Indoor Percussion (2013-17).

As an educator, Tim has worked with various schools across the Indianapolis area including Fishers, Ben Davis, Lawrence Township, and New Palestine. He currently works with Lawrence Township as a battery specialist and holds the Director of Percussion position at New Palestine. In the Independent scene, Tim worked with Legacy Indoor Percussion as a snare tech for the 2018 season and will be working with 317 Performing Arts as a snare tech.

In the Spring of 2018, Tim graduated from Ball State where he studied music under Braham Dembar. He currently lives in Greenfield, IN.


Mike Kehoe will join the Blue Knights as a Snare Instructor for the 2020 season.

Mike Kehoe is a percussion educator originally from the Chicago-land area.  He holds his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ball State University. During his undergrad, Mike had the opportunity to study under Professor Braham Dembar.

Mike spent his DCI career with Spirit of Atlanta Drum & Bugle Corps and Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps. He spent six years in the independent WGI circuit with several ensembles, including Pioneer Indoor, Legacy World–where he served as the snare section leader/ensemble leader in 2018–and Veritas, where he was the snare section leader/ensemble leader for his age-out. Mike is currently serving as the battery coordinator for Veritas (Indianapolis, IN) and is thrilled to be joining the percussion staff at Blue Knights!

Mike resides in northern Indianapolis and works with several high school and college programs in the area. He is the percussion director for Pike High School and the percussion arranger/coordinator for Butler University’s drumline.


Josh Varab will join the Blue Knights as a Tenor Instructor for the 2020 season.

Josh Varab currently serves as an after school coordinator and camp director for inner city schools in Indianapolis, IN. He was born and raised in Elkhart, IN, where he began his marching career with Concord Community High School. 

Josh spent two years marching quads with Madison Scouts during the 2013 & 2014 seasons and continues to perform as an alum. He attended Bethel College in Mishawaka, IN, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies. Josh has instructed, arranged, and taught privately for several high school and independent marching programs in Indiana for the past seven years, most recently serving as battery instructor and arranger for the Penn Marching Band (2013-2017), Quad technician and battery instructor at Carmel High School (2018), Quad technician at Center Grove High School (2019), Quad technician for both Legacy Performing Arts (2018) and 317 Performing Arts (2019 & 2020) and Quad technician at Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps for the 2019 season.

He currently resides in Fishers, IN with his fiance’ Maria, raising their pup Baxter and cat Stella.  


Trevor Dunbar will join the Blue Knights as a Tenor Instructor for the 2020 season.

Trevor Dunbar is from Indianapolis, Indiana, where he got his start playing Quads at Lawrence Central High School. His first experiences with indoor were with Legacy Indoor Percussion (‘14,’16) and NorthCoast Academy (‘15). He also went on to march Phantom Regiment (‘15,’16,’17,’18), where he was section leader his last two years. Finally, Trevor finished his marching career with Rhythm X (’17,’18,’19).

Trevor graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science where he majored in Mathematics and obtained minors in Psychology and Spanish. He has taught the Battery at Center Grove High School, The Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps, and Rhythm X. He has also spent a number of seasons as performer for the Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Colts Drumlines. Trevor recently moved to Columbus, where he is now a software engineer.


Hunter Desjarlais will join the Blue Knights as a Tenor Instructor for the 2020 season.

Hunter Desjarlais is from Farmington, Michigan, where he discovered his passion for drums at a young age. Hunter started his marching career with Farmington United Percussion Ensemble in 8th grade playing quads. Then continued on by attending Farmington High School, being involved with the marching band all four years (2011-2014), and in the winter participated in Farmington United Percussion Ensemble (2011-2015). From there, he went to extend his marching resume greatly. 

His WGI experience includes marching quads for Redline Percussion in independent world (2016-2019). He served as section leader for the quads from 2017-2019. And then finishing up his WGI career with Rhythm X in 2020. His Drum Corps experience includes Legends Drum & Bugle Corps (2014-2015), Colts Drum & Bugle Corps in 2016, Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps in 2018, and then aging out with the Carolina Crown Drum & Bugle Corps in 2019. 

Throughout his teaching career, Hunter has instructed multiple high schools in the Metro-Detroit area. Including Novi High School, Farmington High School, and Skyline High School. He currently instructs the battery full time at Novi High School in the fall and winter programs. 

Hunter currently attends Wayne State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Music Technology/Recording. He is very excited to be joining the instructional staff at the Blue Knights!


Cory Simonich will join the Blue Knights as a Tenor Instructor for the 2020 season.

Cory went to Minooka High School and spent his early performing years with their WGI group. He then went on to march Blue Stars (2014-2015), Pioneer Indoor (2015), and Rhythm X (2017-2018). After aging out, he taught at Minooka and Shadow DBC. 

He spends his spare time doing arts and crafts, as well as playing disc golf.

Currently, he is the percussion director at Joliet West High School, and the battery caption head at Pi Percussion.


Matt James will join the Blue Knights as a Bass Instructor for the 2020 season.

Matt James is an active educator and performer from Goshen Indiana.  He currently holds a Bachelors in Music Education and a Masters in Music Performance from Illinois State University. He currently resides as the percussion director for Goshen Community Schools, where he works with their various music ensembles and marching program.

His marching performance experience involves Green Thunder Percussion (2011-2014), Cavaliers Indoor Percussion (2015-2017), Legends Drum and Bugle Corps (2012), and Phantom Regiment (2013-2016).

His marching education experience includes Shadow Drum and Bugle Corps (2017-2019) as their bass drum technician, and also taught with Cavaliers Indoor (2018) the Madison Scouts (2019), Veritas (2020) and will be working with the Blue Knights this upcoming summer as a bass technician. 


Alyssa Iwinski will join the Blue Knights as a Bass Instructor for the 2020 season.

Alyssa Iwinski began her marching career at Henry Clay High School in 2006, where she developed a passion for bass drumming. She entered the WGI community in 2008, marching a total of 8 seasons with groups including Tates Creek Indoor Ensemble, Gateway Indoor, and Matrix Performing Arts. Alyssa also participated in DCI, marching with the Phantom Regiment in the summers of 2013 and 2014.

In 2016, she was also given the opportunity to teach and perform on an international level with Matrix Performing Arts in Chiayi City, Taiwan. Since aging out, she has graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology and most recently, a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Kentucky. She has enjoyed integrating concepts from her academic background to her passion for education and percussion performance. As an educator, she has taught at Garrard County High School, Tates Creek Indoor Ensemble, Legacy Percussion, Veritas, and the Madison Scouts.

In her free time, Alyssa enjoys spending time with her husband, hiking, and playing with her sweet kitten, Amelia.


Zac Sterling will join the Blue Knights as a Bass Instructor for the 2020 season.

Zac Sterling is from O’Fallon, Illinois and currently resides in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he is a law clerk for the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Alabama. He is a classically trained pianist, a skill which has served as the foundation for his musical experiences.

He has been involved in the marching arts since 2007. His marching experience includes Matrix (2015), Gateway Indoor (2014), Carolina Crown (2012), and the Madison Scouts (2010, 2011, 2014). He has taught and consulted with several independent and scholastic groups around the world.

Zac has a bachelors in criminology, two masters in international finance and business administration, and a doctorate in law. He is married to Alyssa, with whom he has enjoyed performing, traveling, and raising their cat, Amelia.


Nathan Connell will join the Blue Knights as a Front Ensemble Instructor for the 2020 season.

Originally from northwest Montana, Nathan Connell moved to Kentucky to study percussion performance and vocal music education at Morehead State University. He was very active during his time on campus, performing with the MSU symphony band, concert band, percussion ensemble, steel pan ensemble, concert choir, and vocal jazz ensemble.

While always interested from a distance, Nathan found a true passion for the marching arts late in his college career. He performed with the award-winning percussion section of the Morehead State University marching band and went on to perform with the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps front ensemble for the 2017 season. After aging out, Nathan taught with the Jersey Surf front ensemble (’18/’19) and INov8 Indoor Percussion Ensemble (’19/’20). Additionally, Nathan has held educational roles at various music summer camps and programs.

Nathan currently is the choir director at Glacier High School in Kalispell, Montana. His principal educational mentors include Brian Mason, Matthew Geiger, Jon Sharp, Mike Jackson, Kevin Shah, and David Barr.


Julian Davidson will join the Blue Knights as a Front Ensemble Instructor for the 2020 season.

Julian Davidson is a performer, percussionist, instructor and composer from Berthoud, Colorado. Julian has been fortunate enough to attend the Longhorn Marimba Intensive at the University of Texas at Austin, spend three summers touring with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps, and perform five seasons with the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble, four of which as section leader.

Studying percussion performance at the University of Colorado Boulder, Julian has had a rich education in the art of contemporary and classical percussion and is now dedicated to sharing his passion for all kinds of music with future generations. He is currently engaged with a number of marching programs, including percussion director and arranger for Standley Lake High School, front ensemble technician for Monarch High School and percussion technician with the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble.


Kyler Altenhof will join the Blue Knights as a Front Ensemble Instructor for the 2020 season.

Kyler Altenhof is currently finishing his senior year at Ball State studying Music Media Production. He has performed with a number of Ball State’s music ensembles, including the Ball State Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Band, Electroacoustic Ensemble, Brazilian Ensemble, and percussion ensemble.

He started his marching career in 2015, marching with the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps. He then marched with the Blue Knights from ‘16-18, and Legacy Indoor Percussion for the ‘17 and ‘18 seasons. 

Kyler is currently working with Carroll High School, and has served as a Front Ensemble consultant for various other groups throughout Indiana. Prior to working with Carroll, Kyler has served as an arranger and technician for Plymouth High School, and a front ensemble technician at Plainfield, Zionsville, Moorseville, Monroe Central, and Maconoquah High School.


Amy Matias will join the Blue Knights as a Front Ensemble Instructor for the 2020 season.

Amy Matias is an educator in Dayton, OH. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in elementary education and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Behavior Analysis from the University of Cincinnati. She has been teaching 5th grade in Kettering, OH for the past 4 years. 

Over the past 15 years, she has worked with several ensembles throughout Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. She currently serves as the Percussion Director for Bellbrook High School.

Amy was a performer at North Coast Academy, Rhythm X, and The Bluecoats. Amy previously taught The Blue Knights from 2015-2017 and is excited to be returning!


Jonathan Carr will join the Blue Knights as a Front Ensemble Instructor for the 2020 season.

Jonathan Carr is a percussionist and pianist hailing from Burleson, Texas. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Music in percussion performance. He is a four-year alumnus of the Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps in the front ensemble (2011-2014), as well as a two-year alumnus of Music City Mystique (2014-2015).

While at UNT, he participated in the Wind Symphony under Professor Eugene Corporon, the Symphonic Band under Dr. Dennis Fisher, the Symphony Orchestra under Maestro David Itkin, the Percussion Ensemble under Professor Mark Ford, the Kebyar Susung Gamelan Ensemble under Professor Ed Smith, the 2 O’Clock Steel Band and the UNT Indoor Drumline under Paul Rennick. 

Jonathan is also an experienced percussion arranger and sound designer, having written music performed by the Phantom Regiment Front Ensemble, the MCM Front Ensemble, Legacy Indoor, and many high school percussion sections around the nation.

Currently, Jonathan lives in Houston, Texas, and is the percussion director for Galena Park High School.

Jonathan is a member of the Percussive Arts Society and the music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon.


Spenser Yoder will join the Blue Knights as an Electronics Intern for the 2020 season.

Spenser Yoder is originally from Bowling Green, Kentucky. He spends his time working with various ensembles in the Kentucky area, including serving as a sound designer for the Lafayette High School Pride of the Bluegrass marching band from Lexington, Kentucky.

He has spent three seasons (2016-2018) at Legacy Indoor Percussion, and one season (2019) at Veritas. He also spent last summer with the Madison Scouts as a sound engineer.

He is currently attending Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, pursuing a degree in Music Industry with an emphasis in Recording Arts.


Jeremy Otoo will join the Blue Knights as a Electronics Intern for the 2020 season.

Jeremy Otoo, originally from Colorado Springs Colorado, spent his high school years in South Brunswick New Jersey before moving to Indiana to attend college at Purdue University. His marching career includes four years on the Purdue Drumline, two seasons at Legacy Indoor Percussion in 2017 and 2018, and one season at the Colts in 2017 before aging out at Veritas in 2019. Jeremy has recently taught at Lafayette Jefferson High School, the Colt Cadets, Madison Scouts, and Veritas.

While his marching experience was primarily on bass drum, Jeremy is also experienced in graphic design and audio/sound design for the performing arts. In 2016 Jeremy designed the soundscape and sound system for the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band Halloween halftime show, and spent this past summer on tour with the Madison Scouts as their sound engineer. 

Jeremy is currently the sound engineer for the Avon High School Marching Black and Gold in Indianapolis IN, and lives in the Indianapolis area pursuing a career in audio production.


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