& Concert Judges
World Percussion Judges
Valerie Dee Naranjo
Valerie Dee Naranjo (percussionist, vocalist, composer, clinician) known for her pioneering efforts in West African keyboard percussion music, is originally from Southern Colorado. She moved to New York City after completing studies in vocal and instrumental music education (U. of Oklahoma) and Percussion Performance (Ithaca College). In 1996 she and kuor player Barry Olsen garnered a first place award for their playing of the gyil’s traditional repertoire in Ghana’s KOBINE FESTIVAL OF TRADITIONAL MUSIC. They are to date the only non-West Africans to do this.
She plays percussion for NBC’s Saturday Night Live Band, and has recorded and performed with Broadway’s The Lion King, The Philip Glass Ensemble, David Byrne, The Paul Winter Consort, Tori Amos, Airto Moreira, and the international percussion ensemble, MEGADRUMS, which includes Milton Cardona, Zakir Hussein, and Glen Velez.
Recent film score recordings include “Final Fantasy – The Dream Within” and “Frida”. Her work and music have been written about in “Modern Drummer”, “Drum!”, “Rhythm”, “Percussive Notes”, and “World Percussion Rhythm”. She was named “World Music Percussionist of the Year” 2005 and 2008, as winner of DRUM! Magazine Reader’s Poll in that category. She has recorded several CDs of traditional gyil music with Kakraba Lobi and Barry Olsen, and the CD Zie Mwea with Mr. Olsen and Bernard Woma. Her solo Native American CD “Orenda” is on the Ellipsis Arts Label, and her series of sixteen written transcriptions and CDs, “West African Music for the Marimba Soloist” , “Traditional World Music for Western Percussion Ensemble” and “Lewaa’s Dream (Ancient and Contemporary Music for West African Marimba)” are published by Mandara Music.
Valerie endorses Zildjian, Pearl/Adams (Latin and Concert Percussion) and Vic Firth.
Mona Tavakoli is a Los Angeles-based drummer, singer and performer who believes in making music that unites, elevates and connects.While Mona is equally comfortable performing as a drummer and a percussionist, she is especially known for adapting the cajón to unexpected genres such as rock and pop. She began playing the Peruvian percussion instrument as a college student taking a flamenco dance class. She recently designed a signature cajón with LP called The MT Box.
Mona started playing drums at age 11 and blossomed into a tenor drum star in her High School marching band. She began her professional musical career in 1999, when she helped form Raining Jane, an all-female rock band, as a student at UCLA. Mona and Raining Jane co-wrote and recorded YES! (Atlantic Records) with Jason Mraz. Mona and Mraz have been collaborating for nearly a decade, touring worldwide and performing together as a duo on programs such as The Today Show, The David Letterman Show, Ellen, Dancing with the Stars, and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. As the Duo Decibel System, Mona (percussion) and Mraz (guitar/vocals) have performed in Antarctica in support of climate change awareness.
21018 marks Mona’s 9th year directing the Rock n’ Roll Camp For Girls Los Angeles and she promotes music education by hosting rhythm workshops at elementary schools, summer camps and colleges around the country. She has been featured in DRUM!, Tom Tom Magazine and is the recipient of the 2016 She Rocks awards “Inspire Award” for her work with the Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls.
Mona is currently touring round the world with Persian pop legend Ebi and will tour this summer with Jason Mraz. She endorses DW Drums and Hardware, Gibraltar Hardware, Latin Percussion, Roland, Sabian Cymbals, Sennheiser Microphones and Vater Percussion.
Born in Japan, Noriko Terada started her musical life at the piano when she was just 3. Later, at the age of 11, she began playing percussion and quickly fell in love. During the course of her development, Noriko discovered a passion for many musical styles including Theater Musical, Jazz, World music, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Pop, R&B and Classical. She also studied classical ballet for 13 years.
After moving to Boston and graduating from Berklee College of Music, Noriko joined the Video Game Orchestra (VGO) with whom she performed at concerts, festivals and conventions all over the world. She was also featured on soundtrack recordings for popular video games such as Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy XIII-3 Lightning Returns. In 2012, she joined the multi award-winning theater/dance group, TAP DOGS and toured extensively with them throughout Asia Australia, Europe and the Middle East
More recently, the multi-percussionist has collaborated with a host of Grammy Award-winning artists, composers and producers including Anjelique Kidjo, Oscar Stagnaro, Don Was, Alan Silvestri, Jorge Drexler, Jamey Haddad, John Weston, Kenwood Dennard and Emily Elbert. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
Marching Percussion Judges
2nd Vice President on the Executive Committee of the Percussive Arts Society and former chair of PAS’ Marching Percussion Committee, Julie Davila is renowned percussionist, performer, music educator and clinician. She was inducted in to the WGI Percussion Hall of Fame in 2014, in recognition of over 20 years contributing to the marching arts activity as a leader, teacher, designer and adjudicator.
Julie is currently the percussion coordinator and arranger for the Middle Tennessee State University Band of Blue Drumline and a member of the chamber percussion ensemble the CAIXA TRIO— winners of a 2011 “Drummie” award from Drum Magazine. In addition, she is a member of the WGI and DCI nationally recognized adjudication teams.
Julie is the author of the “Modern Multi-Tenor Techniques and Solos” and “Impressions on Wood” published by Row-loff, and has over 50 percussion solo’s and ensembles published worldwide. She is an endorser and clinician for the Pearl Corporation, Innovative Percussion, the Avedis Zildjian Company, Grover Pro Percussion and Evans Drum Heads.
Just 21 years old, 2017 Hit Like A Girl Marching Percussion Champion Anastasiya Kostromina (aka AJDrumz) was born in Russia but raised in Brooklyn, New York, USA. AJ began drumming by teaching herself how to play snare drum at the age of 9 and eventually became section leader of the Drumline, Symphonic Band, Jazz Band and Orchestra at Brooklyn’s Fort Hamilton High School. Later, she studied snare drum with former Blue Devil Pete Sapadin and drumset with George Gray (Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson, Earth Wind and Fire).
AJ remains extremely active in the New York City drumming scene. She is creative and social media director for the arts & entertainment company “ChopUniversity”, a member of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets drumline and has performed at venues such as the Carnegie Hall, Apollo Theater, Tribeca Film Festival, Brooklyn Museum and Barclay’s Center. AJ’s drumming was featured in Tom Tom magazine’s Oral History Of Female Drummers, at the 2016 Kenzo and H&M fashion show and on “Play’n Drums” with renowned drummer/educator Dave Natal. Along with HLAG Champions Helly and AP Tobler, she was a featured performer at the Hit Like A Girl Showcase at PASIC 2017.
Today, her active schedule takes her all over the country playing marching snare drum with Performance Paradigm, an entertainment company that produces entertainment for major corporate events. She is a private teacher (in the NYC area and on Skype) and a clinician. She also plays drumset for a few artists in the New York music scene.
In addition to her musical skills, AJ is a talented photographer, videographer, online content creator and social media specialist. She also holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and an Associate’s degree in Business Administration.
Amanda Muse is an independent artist, performer and clinician. She has been playing snare drum for over 9 years. She was a member of Western Carolina University’s “Pride of the Mountains” Marching Band, and spent her college summers as a snare drum performer at Universal Studios in Orlando. She has taught multiple marching percussion ensembles in the southeast, including Walton HS (Georgia), University HS (Florida), Bellview HS (Florida), Swansboro HS (North Carolina), and Tuscola HS (North Carolina), and has composed for a number of entertainment drumlines, high schools and collegiate ensembles.
Amanda teaches private lessons and enjoys traveling internationally to teach percussion clinics. In 2017, she was a guest clinician and adjudicator for Costa Rica’s National Marching Arts Festival and she continues to receive invites to teach/perform globally. Her most recent clinic venues were in New Jersey, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Hong Kong. In March 2018, she was named Marching Percussion Champion of the international “Hit Like A Girl” competition.
As a result of the snare drum compositions and videos that she produces on her social media channels, Amanda is recognized throughout the social media community. She has been featured in collaborations with BYOS, AJ Drumz, The Grid Book Series, Old Bridge Elementary Drumline, Casey Cooper and was a winner in Vic Firth’s 2017 global Rodger Carter SRC JAM video contest. She has also been featured in articles by WCU’s marketing department and CollegeMarching.com, for being an inspiration in overcoming stereotypes and shattering glass ceilings.
Amanda graduated with her bachelor’s degree from Western Carolina University and is currently receiving her master’s degree from New York University. She is a proud artist for Vic Firth, Beetle Percussion, and Pearl Drums.
Part of DCI and BOA Champion drumlines, Mark Perrett is a prominent and multi-faceted marching arts educator in the percussion community. He has been teaching and performing in the marching area for the past 15 years and has co-authored and published 9 method books, multiple warm ups for drumline and solo literature that is used by percussionists all over the world. He is the Co-Founder of the world-renowned contemporary percussion education brand, The Grid Book Series.
Along with The Grid Book Series co-founder, John Lluvera, Mark has presented master classes and collaborated with percussion groups, ensembles and departments at leading universities such as University of Southern Alabama, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, NCCU, FAMU, FIU, FSU and many more. He has also collaborated on multi-media presentations with Championship DCI drum corps, including The Cadets, The Blue Devils, Santa Clara Vanguard, Bluecoats and Madison Scouts.
Mark continues to push the boundaries of percussion education with The Grid Book Series and innovates the way drumming is taught online with over 5 million impressions a year across multiple social media platforms. In addition to his talents as a percussion educator, Mark earned a Master’s Degree in Architecture + Community Design from the University of South Florida and is well-versed in graphic design, marketing, photography, videography, apparel design, social media, content creation, branding, and web design.
Sandi Rennick is a percussionist and marimba soloist with extensive performing and teaching experience in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas area and throughout the United States. She was an original cast member of the Tony and Emmy Award-winning production “Blast!”, performing in London, England, as well as a featured marimba soloist on tour throughout the United States. Sandi is currently a percussion arranger for the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps (2011-present), and the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps (2013-present).
She has teaching and arranging experience with a variety of groups at all levels, including the UNT Green Brigade Marching Band, Drum Corps Japan Champions Yokohama Scouts, and Drum Corps International champions Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps (2003-2010) and Carolina Crown (1998-2004).
A member of the Percussive Arts Society since 1995, Sandi served on the PAS Marching Committee for 13 years. She is an Adjunct Professor of percussion at Texas A&M University-Commerce and a clinician for the Girls March camps held in the Chicagoland area in the summer. She can be heard on the PBS special “Blast!” and Mark Ford’s recordings “Motion Beyond” and “Contact.”
Sandi is a Signature Artist for Innovative Percussion, Inc., and a clinician/artist forDynasty USA and Remo Drumheads.
Raychel Taylor is an accomplished educator, performer, and arts entrepreneur in northern Illinois. Raychel is the founder of “Girls March,” an organization that advocates for women in the marching arts and offers summer music and leadership seminars where young female percussionists have direct access to some of the most influential women in the activity. She teaches percussion in multiple school districts west of Chicago and performs regularly in berimbau world music sextet Projeto Arcomusical. She also serves as Operations Manager for Arcomusical and the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, two non-profit organizations.
Though she is a native Californian, Raychel earned Bachelor of Music degrees in Percussion Performance and Music Theory from the University of North Texas, as well as a Master of Music degree from Northern Illinois University. Raychel has a substantial history in top Drum Corps International groups. She was a member of the Phantom Regiment (2010), which earned the Fred Sanford Award for high percussion that year, and the Santa Clara Vanguard (2011).
Raychel serves in the Diversity Alliance for the Percussive Arts Society and is a proud endorser of Innovative Percussion and Remo products.
Concert Percussion Judges
Passionate about educating the next generation of young musicians, Gwendolyn Dease is professor of percussion at the Michigan State University College of Music. She is currently on the faculty at the Brevard Music Center and has served on the faculty for the Filarmonica Joven de Colombia and the Interlochen Arts Camp. Gwendolyn also gives master classes at universities throughout the US and abroad.
In addition, Dease has maintained a career as an active solo, chamber, and orchestral musician. She has performed throughout the United States, Asia and South America and is currently principal percussionist with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra and the Brevard Music Center Orchestra. She has also performed with the Detroit Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Solisti New York Orchestra, the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Traverse Symphony Orchestra.
Dease was the winner of the Keiko Abe Prize at the second World Marimba competition in Okaya, Japan, the top prize winner at the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts’ ARTS competition and was a recipient of the Michigan State University Teacher Scholar Award. She was awarded the performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music and has also been the recipient of the Outstanding Young Musician award from the Peabody Conservatory and the Yale Alumni Award.
Dease’s impressive discography includes four solo CDs: “Marimba Suites”, “Boomslang: New Works for Marimba”, “Idle Fancies” and “Beguiled”. Her collaborative projects include “Textures” (Percussion Chamber Music by Paul Lansky) and “In the Shadow of No Towers” (The Phillip Glass Double Timpani Concerto).
Dease began her musical career very early, studying piano and violin at the age of two. She has studied with world-renowned professors Robert van Sice, Keiko Abe, and John Beck and holds degrees from the Interlochen Arts Academy, Eastman School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, and the Yale School of Music.
Stacey Jones-Garrison serves as full-time Artist/Teacher of percussion at Hillsdale College, and enjoys a diverse performance career in solo, chamber, classical and popular genres. She studied music at University of Oregon and Michigan State University as a recipient of the prestigious Katherine Herrick Cobb performance fellowship.
She has held principal percussion positions with the Greater Lansing and Jackson Symphony Orchestras and tenured percussionist with the Oregon Coast Music Festival Orchestra. She has been a guest artist/resident at several educational institutions, a featured performer at PASIC 2005, and an MTNA National Young Artist.
Ms. Jones-Garrison has founded and recorded with chamber groups Equal Temperament percussion duo and ReadyGO piano/percussion duo, which included the generation and premier of many new works. She has been involved as drummer and vocalist of Jackson, MI based folk and rock groups and at Westwinds Community Church, a ministry with an international online presence.
Dani, a Louisville, Kentucky native, discovered her love for rhythm at the early age of 7 and by the age of 8, Markham was gigging regularly with the Louisville Leopard Percussionists. During her early years, Markham was featured in Modern Drummer Magazine and received nation-wide attention for her drumming and xylophone ragtime chops. Markham continued her pursuit in music, receiving a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Miami’s esteemed Frost School of Music. While attending the University of Miami, Markham expanded her studies in world music including Brazilian, Afro-Beat, and Afro-Cuban rhythms.
Her recent collaborations include critically acclaimed indie-rock band, Tune-Yards, Sonya Tayeh’s you”ll still call me by name and, most recently, Grammy award winner, Childish Gambino. Markham performed live at the 2018 Grammy Awards with Childish Gambino. Markham has also appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” “Conan,” “Jools Holland,” and has performed alongside comedian, Dave Chapelle. Markham appeared on the judge panel this year for the international Hit Like A Girl drum competition and actively engages in programs that inspire the youth and women through drumming and creative expression. Markham is currently based in Brooklyn, New York and is an official LP (Latin Percussion) Artist and Endorsee.
Bonnie Whiting performs and commissions new experimental music, seeking out projects that involve the speaking percussionist, improvisation, non-traditional notation, and interdisciplinary performance. Recent work includes a series of performances at the John Cage Centennial Festival in Washington DC, solo appearances with the National Orchestra of Turkmenistan, and performances on the original Harry Partch instrumentarium. Her debut album, featuring an original solo- simultaneous realization of John Cage’s “45′ for a speaker” and “27’10.554″ for a percussionist” was released on the Mode Records label in April 2017. In 2018, Zero Moon Records launched <null_abc>, an album of original collaborative music by Whiting, Afroditi Psarra (handmade embroidered synthesizers) and Cameron Fraser (percussion, electric guitar, and live processing.) Whiting has performed with many of today’s leading new music groups, including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Dal Niente, red fish blue fish percussion group, and as an improviser with the University of Washington’s new Intercontinental Experimental Ensemble. Whiting is Chair of Percussion Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. An active contributor to the Percussive Arts Society, Whiting has performed at five international conventions, serves as Vice President of the Washington State PAS, and is a member of the PAS New Music Research Committee and the Diversity Alliance. www.bonniewhitingpercussion.com