Preliminary Judges

presented by:
The Percussive Arts Society (PAS) • The D’Addario Education Collective
The Sabian Education Network (SEN) • Vic Firth PDT


Larry Rodbell has built a reputation as a versatile and musical drummer, educator, clinician, and live performer. With over 35 years playing experience and 20 plus years teaching, Larry approaches everything with passion, enthusiasm and integrity.

Larry teaches at RodbellDrums studio (est. 2000) located in Annapolis, MD and Music & Arts Center in Severna Park, MD since 1997. He has been the drum coach for the Magothy River Middle School concert band percussion section since 2011 and started as percussion ensemble director in 2014 .

Larry has entertained crowds large and small from coast to coast and recorded with a variety of different bands and artists ranging from Rock, Funk, Blues, R&B, Jazz, and Reggae. He currently performs with his Trio and stays busy with freelance and studio work.

Larry is a member of the Percussive Arts Society and the Vic Firth Education Team. He has been a member of the PAS Drumset Committee since 2016.


2nd Runner-Up in the 2016 Hit Like A Girl Contest, Bianca Richardson is currently finishing her degree at Musician’s Institute where she was the 2014 Stanley Clarke Scholarship winner. Bianca was also a cast member of the HLAG/Drumchannel TV Series “The Beat”.


Alex Sanguinetti lives in Valencia, Spain. He studied with jazz greats Tony Williams, Billy Hart, Jeff Watts, Mark Mondesir, Kenny Clare and John Riley and performed with leading international artists including Clark Terry, Joe Lovano, Danilo Pérez, Rick Margitza, Conrad Herwig, Leo Wright, Renato Chicco and many more. He has taught at many prestigious institutions around the world such as the Drummers Collective, New York, USA, Richard Strauss Konservatorium Munich, Germany, Leeds College of Music, Leeds, UK and Universidad de Música, Montevideo— to name only a few.


Born in Sicily and currently living in the United States, Santo Florelli graduated from the Artistic Lyceum P. Klee in Genoa, Italy; specializing in music as well as visual communication and design. He later continued his studies at the Modern Music Academy in Milan, took lessons from the renowned Italian drummer, Agostino Marangolo in Rome and attended the Collective Music College in New York. He has taught at colleges and festivals in Italy and around the world and performed and recorded with many jazz, latin, pop and rock bands and theatrical production companies.


As an educator, author and musician, Zig Waler has performed and recorded with James Payne, Grammy winners Shawn Camp and David Payne, Chad Smith, Shelia E, Shari Lewis and Lambchop, Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob McGrath/Sesame Street, The Moffatts, Chonda Pierce, Terry McMillan and The Torrance Symphony. He holds degrees from Tennessee State University and Musicians Institute and is the author of “Hands On with Zig”, an educational and interactive music-based cross-curricular workshop for the classroom. He is also a featured clinician for Pearl, Sabian and Zendrum.


An assistant director for The Louisville Leopard Percussionists and education director and drum set instructor for Girls Rock Louisville, Meg Samples started playing drumset at age 8 in church and later joined middle school band as a percussionist. She received a scholarship to study Jazz Drum Set at the University of Louisville’s Jamie Aebersold Jazz Program, where she received her BA in Jazz Studies, while studying under New York based jazz drummer, Jason Tiemann. Meg also plays in several bands in the Louisville area and teaches percussion at the Kentucky School for the Blind.


Originally from Naples, Italy and now residing in Los Angeles, California, Stefano Ashbridge’s  passion for music has resulted in more than two decades of drumming, teaching, recording and touring. He has studied drum set percussion with world class drummers such as Zoro (Lenny Kravitz, New Edition) and Mark Schulman (Pink, Foreigner). In addition, he recently took home the “Electronica Drummer of The Year” award at the L.A. Music Awards.


Kevin Lehman is a professional drummer and teacher living in Lakewood, CO. He has a degree in Music Education from University of Colorado and was a member of the inaugural class at the Los Angeles Music Academy (now Los Angeles College of Music) where he studied with Ralph Humphrey, Joe Porcaro, Mike Shapiro, Aaron Serfaty, Emil Richards, Billy Hulting, and Mike Packer. Kevin currently teaches privately and for several high school percussion programs. He continues to find freelance work and recording sessions when time permits.


Jake Bergeron is a graduate of UNC. He has performed and toured extensively in the US and abroad with groups such as the National Repertory Orchestra, Fort Collins Symphony and Greeley Philharmonic. He has played for numerous groups along the Rocky Mountain Region and is currently the touring drummer for the Austin Wahlert Band. Jake’s credentials as an educator include work with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra and Hummingbird music camp in New Mexico. He is currently percussion director at Columbine High School and owner and head instructor of the Littleton Drum Studio, in Littleton, Colorado. Jake was introduced to HLAG through a student and believes that, by promoting the drums as an instrument for everyone, the music community as a whole becomes stronger.


A singing drummer and percussionist, Kelli Rae Tubbs has more than 40 years of playing experience performing jazz, country, pop, bluegrass and more.  She is a member of the Sabian Education Network and the D’Addario Educative Collective and was recently appointed to the Scholarly Research Committee of the Percussive Arts Society. Kelli is a regular contributor to “Tom Tom Magazine” and is working to preserve our American musical heritage through the restoration of antique drums and her performances of early American jazz.  She is currently writing a book with Daniel Glass, entitled “The Postcard Project: A Snapshot of Drumming Life, 1900-1930“— due out later this year.


Creator of EasyDrumChart and DrumChartBuilder, Liz Ficalora is a drummer, clinician, author, teacher, audio engineer, producer, songwriter and music software designer. She is an award-winning jingle writer for Maxwell House Coffee, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and a published author with Alfred Publishing. Liz’s drum charting method book is endorsed by Remo, Vic Firth, Louie Bellson, Gary Chaffee, Rich Redmond and Lalo Davila and used by students and professional drummers worldwide. She has been featured in Tom Tom Magazine, Drum! Magazine, Rhythm Magazine and Berklee Today.


Since moving to the US from Australia in 2002, Sam Aliano has become one of LA’s top drum instructors while also performing with world-renowned musicians, including Slash, Fergie, Billy Sheehan, Frank Gambale and Nuno Bettencourt. Sam is also the drummer and Musical Director for Rock Against Trafficking’s soon to be released recording project, “Set Them Free”, which features a line-up of international superstars including Santana, Heart, Rob Thomas, Keb Mo and many others.


A diverse and well-rounded artist/educator, Kerry Kennard holds a Bachelors of Music in Percussion Performance from Belmont University as well as a Masters of Music from Eastern Kentucky University. He has also studied at the Eastman School of Music, the University of Dayton and the Samba school in Salvador/Rio, Brazil. Kerry has performed with theatre shows, rock, jazz, R & B, church and swing bands and was a staff musician for the Holland America Cruise Line from 2008-2011. Kerry is currently teaching and playing in a variety of styles and situations.


Andy Thurston is a passionate educator with over 20 years performance and recording experience in rock and pop. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Music from The University of Leeds, England, Andy enrolled at The Drummers Collective, New York, USA, studying with Brad Flickinger, Mark Flynn, and Tobias Ralph. He also studied independently with, and continues to work with, master-teacher, Dom Famularo.


Ignazio Di Fresco was born in Turin, Italy, and later moved to Palermo, Sicily. He began drumming at 10 and played in a variety of local and touring groups. He organized and performed at drum clinics and festivals throughout Sicily and Italy; later traveling to study the International Course of Drums at the University of West London. In addition to extensive live and studio work in Europe, Ignazio is the author of the “Different Inspiration” funk-fusion drum method and he remains active as a educator.


Scott Patterson has been a drum teacher for nearly 20 years. In addition to teaching, he is known as a clinician and touring and studio musician. Scott plays in a metal band, Dissolution, and a punk band, In 2 Months.


Best known for his hard hitting and blast beats, Cameron Fleury is an accomplished drummer with years of experience in the Canadian metal scene. He has also studied jazz, funk, and world rhythms. Cameron is a dedicated drummer who, when he’s not drumming on international tours and studio recording sessions, is always willing to learn and teach others the tools/tricks of the trade.


Ricardo Ramirez is the drummer for “America’s Got Talent” and the drummer/MD for Persian Pop Star, Shadmehr Aghili. Ricardo grew up playing regional Mexican music and has worked with various artists in the latin community. He studied at Cornel School of Contemporary Music in Los Angeles with professors such as Jimmy Branly, Abe Laboriel Sr. and Otmaro Ruiz. When Ricardo is not touring, he’s busy running his own company, UNIK Education, which is a music school for kids in Glendale CA.


Maximilliam Andersson is a Swedish drummer currently living in Los Angeles, California. His passion for the drums started as a child. Following the completion of his study at Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, California, he received the ‘Outstanding Player 2014’ award and was invited to join the Musicians Institute faculty. Recently, Maximiliam has become recognized by the YouTube community, and has created a following among drummers. In addition to being an MI faculty member, Maximiliam spends his time teaching online lessons and creating educational and inspirational drum videos.


David Natal is an active performer, educator and clinician who currently resides in the greater Los Angeles area. He has over 20 years of performing and teaching experience— working for the Walt Disney Company and touring with the Concord Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps. Dave is also the creator and host of “PLAYN DRUMS with Dave Natal” on YouTube and a founding member of the Sunrise Worship Arts Team, which has opened for Grammy winning artists such as Mary Mary, Israel Houghton, and Cece Winans.


Eric C. Hughes holds a BA in Percussion from Plymouth State University and an MM in Studio Music and Jazz from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami (FL). He is the Director of Percussion for Hightower High School in Missouri City, Texas and the Drum Set Committee Chairman for the Percussive Arts Society. Eric has performed with a wide variety of artists including Randy Brecker, Marvin Stamm, Chris Vadala, Roy Head, Archie Bell, Jerry Jeff Walker, The Tokens and many many others. He currently performs with The El Orbits and The Allen Oldies Band as well as many freelance projects. Eric is proud to be part of the Hit Like A Girl Contest.


Mark Powers has studied, performed and taught throughout North America, as well as in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He is a two-time TEDx speaker, co-author of “Alfred’s Drumset Method: Book 2” and “The 2-in-1 Drummer,” and author of “Solo in Style” (all three published by Alfred Music), as well as author of a children’s board book titled, “I Want To Be A Drummer” (published by blue manatee press). He has written for Modern Drummer Magazine, Percussive Notes and other percussion publications and posts 60-second video drum lessons on


Based in Nashville, Jen Hoeft began playing drums at 10. She earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from James Madison University as well as a Master’s Degree in Conducting from the University of Arizona where she was Gary Cook’s assistant. Since moving to Nashville she has recorded on Victor Wooten’s first two albums and toured for two years with The Warren Brothers. Jen is currently playing and recording with big bands, western swing bands, and her own band, The Jenerators. In addition, she is a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor with her own fitness studio.


Jim Mola has enjoyed a multifaceted career in music. He has performed/recorded with jazz legends Phil Woods, Hank Jones, Dr. Billy Taylor and Stanley Turrentine, enterainers Tony Bennett, Henny Youngman and Mario Cantone, and played on commercials for A&E, Turner Classic Movies, Burger King and Nikon. He is also active as a studio vocalist and voice-over artist. In addition, Jim is on the faculty at The Collective School of Music in New York City and serves on the Percussive Arts Society Drum Set Committee and the Sabian Education Network advisory board. He teaches privately and travels the country as a visiting clinician in music schools and universities.


Monette Marino is a world percussionist who has studied folkloric and popular rhythms from Africa, Cuba, Brazil, and Korea. She spent the majority of the last 20 years studying under Master Drummer Mamady Keita from Guinea and opened a branch of Tam Tam Mandingue USA in San Diego, California. She has since started her own school of percussion called MO’RHYTHM and created an iPhone App “Mo’Rhythm Africa – Play Along Djembe/Dunun App” available on iTunes.


Ian Shepherd has played and toured professionally since 1992 in every musical situation imaginable. He has worked with many talented and acclaimed musicians and has played on hundreds of recordings, dozens of full length albums, commercials and jingles, and video game soundtracks.

Ian was the marching percussion instructor at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis from 2008 until 2016. His students have gone on to perform with The Blue Devils, The Cavaliers, The Bluecoats, The Bluestars, Rhythm X, Gateway, Northcoast Academy, Legacy Indoor and others. He taught at 3 time BOA champions Avon High School in 2007. He’s been a staff member of the Illini(The University of Illinois) Drumline since 1993 and Instructed Iowa State’s drumline from 2004-2006. Ian currently teaches at the Blue Room Percussion Studio in Urbana, IL.