Percussion Alumni - NIU - School of Music

Areas of Study

Percussion Alumni

The Percussion Department at Northern Illinois University is proud of its alumni accomplishments. We hope to hear from our alums as often as possible to keep us "up to date" on their activities, and we will continue to post those activities on this page.

Sarah Allen (BM 1981)
Performing with the Chicago run of Blue Man Group.

Paulette (Frazier) Alexis (BM 1990)
Busy mom of three; working as Legal Counsel for the legislature of St. Croix.

Nick Auriemmo (MM 1999) 
Having spent 7 years performing and teaching privately in Rockford and Chicago, in 2006 Nick moved to Northern California. Stay tuned here for updates as they become available!

Tom Baker (MM 1989)
I am a network administrator (sometimes it really feels like network janitor!) for The United Methodist Publishing House in Nashville, TN. I have been married to Susan Baker, a speech pathologist (celebrating 5 years in March), and we are expecting our first baby near the end of May, 1999. I have been at the UMPH for the past 7.5 years. Previously, I was on the road as a drummer for country MCA and Mercury recording artists. We recently moved to a new home, and enjoy boating and woodworking. My collection of tools keeps expanding as I turn the garage into my workshop. I just don't see how you are supposed to keep two cars in there!

Dale Ballard (BM 1969, MM 1972)
Taught for 9 years in DeKalb and 9 years in Tempe, Arizona. Owned own business for 10 years. Currently teaching band in Phoenix, Arizona. Married to Debbi (26 years, also NIU band alum). One son (age 19), who is also a percussionist and plays in the Arizona State University Marching Band.

Randy Banks (BM 1986)
Randy is adjunct faculty at Lewis and Clark College in Godfrey, IL where he teaches Music Appreciation, Non Western Music, and is the percussion instructor for the Preparatory Division.  He plays drum set in a classic rock band as well as in a project that includes his lovely wife, Christine, who is a professional violist.  In addition, he maintains a teaching studio at his home in Alton, IL.  

Kurt Barker (BM 1995)
Kurt is living in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, and teaching K-8 band, chorus and general music at Iroquois Community School, a year-round school.

Sarah Barnes (BM 1986, MM 1988)
Professor of Percussion at the National Institute of the Arts in Taipei, Taiwan.

Keith Bartholomew (BM 1983)
In the spring of 2010, after six years as an Assistant Professor of City & Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah, I was--miraculously--granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor. Depending on how you count it, this is now my third career since leaving NIU (law and theology were the middle two), which either proves the continually changing nature of the job market or that I suffer adult-onset ADD. My wife (Marcelyn Ritchie) and I are currently enjoying a seven-month sabbatical in Rome, where I am allegedly writing a book about cities and transportation. Mainly, I'm trying to recover from a serious case of tenure obsession, learn a bit of Italian, and drink good wine.

Steve Bass (BM 1984)

John Battaglia (BM 1978)
John lives in Naperville, IL, and is back at NIU completing his requirements for a teaching certificate.

Krissy Bergmark (BM 2010) 
Krissy is the Graduate Teaching Assistant charged with running the Steel Band at the University of Minnesota. 

Paul Betz (MM 1983)
Paul was an instrumental music teacher from 1988 to 1996. In January of 1997 he was hired as a computer programmer at Kraft Foods, where he remains employed today. Paul lives in Skokie, Illinois, with his wife Marion and their two children, Joseph and Katherine. 

Robert Blim (BM 1978)
I am the band director at Wilmette Jr. High School in Wilmette, Illinois. During the summer I teach at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. My wife Cindy and I have three children, Jeff (15), Chris (12), and Erin (7).

Andy Bliss (BM 2004)
Andy completed his MM degree at the University of Kentucky in the spring of 2006, and completed his DMA program there in fall 2008. His teacher there was NIU alum Jim Campbell, and Andy continues to perform with the Base4 Percussion Quartet. Having served for a few years as the Instructor of Percussion at Centre College in Kentucky and as a member of the staff of the Madison Scouts, Andy is now a faculty member at the University of Tennessee-Martin. Most importantly, Andy married NIU percussion alum Erin Walker (see below) in June of 2006. Congratulations Andy and Erin!

Lauren Boismier (BM 2008)
While attending NIU, Lauren convinced her priest at the Newman Catholic Student Center to purchase drums for the church and allow her to start a praise and worship band that played at the Sunday noon masses. From that leadership role she was offered a job as a student employee and has now become a staff member as the Assistant Music Director where she sings, plays drums and directs four ensembles. Since graduating Lauren has also been working full-time at St. Peter School in Geneva, IL, where she teaches Pre-K through 8th grade general music including choral, recorder, keyboard, and guitar ensembles. She is now looking forward to purchasing drums for her classroom to share her true passion for percussion with her students. In DeKalb Lauren continues to teach drum and percussion lessons downtown at Poc's Music, stage manage and perform with the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the DeKalb Municipal Band as well as local pit orchestra gigs.  

Michael Boo (BM 1978)
Michael is presently involved in a variety of projects for Drum Corps International, including writing for souvenir program books, CD liner notes, DCI Update and Web articles, and other endeavors. He is a published composer, and currently writes music for a variety of idioms. He is a church handbell and vocal choir director, an assistant director of a community band, and a licensed Realtor in the state of Indiana. His other writing projects are for numerous publications, and he has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. His hobbies include TaeKwonDo and hiking the Indiana Dunes.

Stacey Bowers (BM 1974, MM 1976)
Stacey is the Vice President of Woodstock Percussion, Inc.

Jeff Boyer (BM 1972)

Jeff Brackhan (BM 2001) 
In September 2002 Jeff married Summer Sorenson (NIU violin alum). In 2004, after several months of living in Australia and beginning to pursue a degree in renewable energy, Jeff and Summer returned to live/perform/teach in the Chicago area, and more importantly, 2005 saw the birth of their twins! They recently moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where Jeff is busy freelancing.

Doug Bratt (BA 2001, MM 2002)    
Doug is a full-time music faculty member at Moraine Valley Community College in the Chicago suburbs. Doug serves as percussion instructor and director of the college's jazz ensemble, percussion ensemble and concert band. Doug has also been busy freelancing in the Chicago area playing recently with pan/vibes player Brad Stirtz, saxophonist Mark Colby, and pianist JoAnn Daugherty. In April 2006 he and NIU saxophone alum Doug Stone assembled a 17-piece big band to play original compositions and arrangements written by members of the group. Largely composed of NIU jazz alumni, the "Doug Stone/Doug Bratt Big Band" performs the last Monday of each month in Chicago at Lilly's on Lincoln Avenue (just north of Fullerton). Doug's wife Sarah (B.S. in nursing '00) is currently enrolled at Loyola University working towards her nurse practitioner's degree in women's health, and their son Isaac was born in September of 2002.

Mark Breen (MM 2004)
Mark and his wife Jessica are teaching music in the Wilcox, Arizona school district, and are busy raising their two young sons.

Jeff Brenner (BM 1984)
After NIU Jeff completed his MM degree at Cal Arts where he studied with John Bergamo, Ed Mann, Pt. Taranath Rao, Amiya Dasgupta, Alfred and Kobla Ladzekpo, C.K. Gamyo, Dzizogba Laluwi, Nicholas England and K.R.T. Wasitodinningrat. Jeff went on to perform with The Repercussion Unit, The New Century Players and various West African drumming and dance ensembles in Southern California. Jeff is currently living in Chicago where he is a firefighter and focusing on frame drums and other hand drums, as well as spreading the music of John Bergamo.

Al Broholm (BM 1989)
Since 2001, I've been playing drums and piano at the oldest resort in the country, The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, playing 300 gigs a year. I also own an infomercial company in our 6th year, selling health information and educational materials nationwide. Along with my lovely wife Leah and our two wonderful children, we've made our home in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia since 1999.

Jeff Bush (BM 1978, MM 1980)
Dr. Bush is an associate professor of music education at Arizona State University. Previous to his appointment at A.S.U., Jeff was the percussion instructor and assistant professor of music education at the University of Regina in Canada. He holds a B.Mus.Ed. and M. M. degree from Northern Illinois University and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Arizona. His performance credits include 17 years as percussionist with the Regina Symphony and freelance work with such varied groups as the touring companies of Grease, The Sound of Music, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, and many more. Jeff has studied percussion with Leigh Howard Stevens, Gary Cook, the Blackearth Percussion Group, and G. Allan O'Connor. Dr. Bush's publication credits include the Arts Education Policy Review, Canadian Band Journal, Contributions for Research in Music Education, Ostinato, Percussive Notes, and General Music Today; he is currently percussion editor for the Canadian Band Journal.

Carla Campbell (BM 1981)
Carla played for nearly a decade professionally in the US and Canada with traveling tours and including the American Wind Symphony Orchestra and then as Principal Percussionist with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. After finishing an MBA in marketing, she worked with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra as Director of Marketing and Sales and Calgary Economic Development as Director of Marketing and Communication. Carla now leads her own marketing and sales consulting firm working out of Calgary, Alberta. Carla welcomes all alums from those *great days* to contact her at

Jim Campbell (BM 1976, MM 1978) 
Professor of Percussion at the University of Kentucky; Principal Percussionist with Lexington Philharmonic; Past President of the Percussive Arts Society; clinician for Yamaha, Zildjian, Innovative Percussion, Latin Percussion, Evans Drumheads; wife Nancy (NIU BM in Music Education '80), sons Colin and Sean.

Anne Carmel Stevenson (BM 2001)
Anne lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband Brian and son Reid. She works as an urban planner durng the day and a freelance musician at night, regularly performing with the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra, St. Louis Wind Symphony, Edwardsville Municipal Band, and many pit orchestras in the area.

Joe Cascio (BM 1994)

Clark Chaffee ( BM 1979)
I'm wrapping up my 20th season as Principal Timpanist with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, and in my 2nd year as Director of Orchestras at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL. This year I joined the faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago as a conductor and chamber music coach. My daughter Sarah and I continue to enjoy our daily cello practicing together.

Frank Chapple (BM 1997)
I am a full-time percussion specialist and band director at Keller High School in north Texas. This includes teaching beginner percussion classes at the middle school level and overseeing all percussion and band activities at the high school.

Frank Check (BM 2006, MM 2008) 
Frank is on the faculty at Waubonsee Community College (IL) and plays frequently with Junk in the Trunk and the Rockefeller Orchestra.

Larry Colletti (BM 1979)  
After graduating from NIU in 1979, Larry taught percussion part-time for two years while making a career change into the Information Technology field. Since 1980 Larry has held various positions with two major disaster recovery technology companies and is currently working as a Senior Sales Support Engineer for one of those companies based in Rosemont, Illinois. Larry and Bea, married for 25 years, have three sons: Luke - 23, Dominic - 17, and Michael - 15. Larry has played part-time with bands over the years and is currently playing percussion and keyboard with a band named "Digression."  

Jim Conley (BM 1979, MS in Business 1990) 
I am an Assistant Professor at Rock Valley College in Rockford where I teach in the Computers and Information Systems Division. I play drums in "Men of Our Times," which has been together for 18 years! We mainly play weddings and private events. I've been married to Cyndi for 12 years, and we have two children, Brenna (5) and Tyler (3).

Will Cooley (MM 2010) 
Soon after graduation Will accepted the position as assistant percussion specialist with the Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas. 

Jim Cooper (MM 1995)
Having lived and performed for many years in Chicago, Jim is now living in Michigan and teaching at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, Michigan. He's also the Artistic Director of Lakeshore Jazz Connection based in Saugatuck, Michigan. You can visit his website here.

John Cope (BM 2005)
John completed a second bachelor's degree at NIU in Business Marketing. He is now employed as a Manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Adam Cowger (MM 2008) 
Adam is currently residing in Wheaton, IL, and serving as an adjunct instructor of percussion at Joliet Junior College and Moraine Valley Community College. In addition, Adam operates his own studio of about 25 students from the Lincoln-Way and Wheaton-Warrenville school districts. Adam continues to freelance with the Chicago tribute band 25 or 6 to 4 in addition to frequently performing with regional orchestras. Along with fellow NIU percussion alumnus Ben Wahlund, Adam recently formed and is actively performing with the "Screaming Norwegians" percussion duo.

Dale Crawford (BM 1984)
Dale is living and performing in Saskatoon, Canada.

Doug Dale (BM 1991)

Jennifer Damian (MM 1999)  
Jenne is living in the Los Angeles area with her son Kai. She is heavily involved in several projects, incuding Talk About Curing Autism and Autism Speaks, and raising autism awareness with other parent volunteers and therapists in Los Angeles and Orange County.

Joel Davel (BM 1988)
Focusing on marimba in a small group format, Joel's been free-lancing and recording in the San Francisco Bay Area with a variety of original ensembles. Joel frequently performs with electronics and spends much of his time prototyping new innovative electronic percussion controllers with designer Don Buchla.

Shawn Davis (BM 2004)
Shawn is actively playing drums in and around the Chicago area, and building his home recording studio. Shawn is also a senior account manager for B2B Business Solutions in Addison, Il.

Tom Deastlov (MM 1994)
Tom recently accepted the position of Associate Dean of Students at the Parma, Ohio campus of Bryant and Stratton College. Tom and his wife, Tammy, still own and operate the First Chair Music Studios in North Royalton,Ohio. Tammy runs the operation, and the focus has changed to pre-school music education, conducting parent-child interactive music classes in three locations.

Brian Deck (BM 1986) 
Brian is a freelance drummer/percussionist and owns and operates Clava recording studios in Chicago.

Elizabeth DeLamater (BM 1997)  
Elizabeth directs the Pan Devils Steel Band and teaches lessons at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, and is adjunct faculty at Paradise Valley Community College and Scottsdale Community College, both in the Phoenix valley. In the summers she teaches at the Birch Creek Music Performance Center and the International Music Camp. Elizabeth has traveled several times to Trinidad (she was member of the 2005 National Panorama Champion Steelband Phase II Pan Groove). Last June she went to Senegal and The Gambia, where she studied Wolof sabar drumming and Mandinka djembe drumming. Elizabeth is a DMA candidate at Arizona State University, and plans to finish in May 2011. She received her M.M. from The Florida State University in 1999.

Bob Devita (BM 1977)
I am teaching percussion and working as a freelance musician in the Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin area. In 1987 I contributed to Jack Brand's Fusion Drum Book, by writing an entire chapter of drumset transcriptions in the style of Steve Gadd. I wrote all of the transcriptions for the critically acclaimed book Shelly Manne: Sounds of the Different Drummer, which was published in 1997.

Christian Dobirr (MM 1988)
Chris is performing with several bands in Germany, including the Galapagos Big Band and The Edinger Choir (which specializes in pop and jazz).

Joe Dorenbos (BM 1994) 
Joe performs with and contracts his own swing band in Chicago. As well, he has played along side such artists as Tito Puente, Charo, and Ben Vereen.

Bruce Duguid (BA 1970)  
I have been a church music director for 32 years, now retired. I am a BMI composer and have been a music and arts critic, a current writer for newspapers, magazines, the Internet. and now three funny books on Kindle. I was NIU’s first electronic music student, and a participant in the first NIU Group for New Music. I am married and am a father of three daughters and a grandfather of five and currently reside in Maryville, Tennessee.

Dan Dunn (BM ?)

Scott Elford (BM 1996)
Scott is teaching percussion through a music store in Fon du Lac, Wisconsin, is the percussion instructor and percussion ensemble director at Fon du Lac High School, and performs as Timpanist with the Fon du Lac Symphonic Band. Scott and his wife Erica have three lovely daughters.

Pete Ellingson (BM 1999)  
Following his years at NIU, Pete completed his MM in percussion performance at Arizona State University. Pete Ellingson is now living in Denver and working as a freelance performer and teacher.  He is adjunct faculty at Colorado Christian University where he serves as the percussion instructor as well as teaching some piano.  He is also adjunct faculty at the University of Colorado at Denver where he teaches ear training and music appreciation.  He also teaches privately a few hours a week.  Pete regularly performs on the weekends, working a variety of jazz, latin, and dance music gigs at the clubs and through Moments Notice Entertainment.

Bill Elliott (MM 1991)
Bill is a Percussionist with the U.S. Army Field Band in Washington, D.C., and he is the instructor of percussion at the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, Maryland.

Brandon Estes (MM 2006) 
Following one year as the Assistant Band Director/Percussion Instructor at Langham Creek High School in the Cypress-Fairbanks section of Houston, Texas, Brandon is back in the Chicago area teaching at Lincoln Elementary School in Addison. Brandon performs as a member of both the Chicago Bulls "Stampede" and the Chicago Bears' drumlines, and serves on the design team for the 2-time consecutive Class A Champion Pioneer Independent WGI indoor marching percussion ensemble. Brandon is a member of the Pro-Mark education endorser roster.

Rich Ford (BM 2006) 
Rich completed his BM degree in Music Education and has joined the US Army Band at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  

Alan Frye (BM 2007)
I am currently living in Fishers, Indiana, where I am the percussion director for Hamilton Southeastern High School. I assist with the concert bands and teach percussion ensemble as well as beginning percussion at the intermediate school. Between that and private lessons, I am keeping pretty busy. Our marching band won the Mid-States Band Association Grand Championship and our percussion ensemble is currently competing in the Indiana Percussion Associations's Scholastic Concert Open class. We're playing an arrangement I did of (NIU percussion alum) Ben Wahlund's "Crystal Butterfly" and having a blast with it. 

Eric Ganci (BM 2002) 
After teaching band at Millburn Middle School in Antioch, Illinois for several years, beginning with the fall of 2006 Eric was a student at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California. We're happy to report that Eric has completed his law degree, AND, passed the California bar exam on his first try - which only one-third of exam takers do! Congratulations, Eric!

Kirk Gay (BM 1991)
Kirk lives in Orlando, Florida. After several years as a Composer/Arranger/Music Director at Walt Disney World, Kirk is on the faculty of the University of Central Florida, where he teaches private percussion, directs the steel band, and instructs the marching band drum line. He is the principal percussionist for the Brevard Symphony, plays as a section percussionist with the Orlando Philharmonic, and performs at Disney during the holiday season in their Candlelight Orchestra. His wife is a dance teacher at a high school in Orlando. Kirk says they have no children yet, but they have plenty of dogs and cats!

Lucas Gillan (BM 2007)
Lucas is teaching private lessons on drums and guitar at three locations in the Chicago suburbs, and is the jazz programmer for He's been working on a new channel called "Give the Drummer Some" - check it out! He's been performing regularly with Chicago jazz veteran Bob Perna and rockabilly songstress Susie Gomez, and continues to freelance in the Chicago area as a sideman and as a solo performer of his original acoustic songs. He is playing drumset in a band called Boogie Shoes which includes his girlfriend Anna Schweitz (NIU music ed graduate and violinist)and Chad Taylor (bassoon graduate from NIU).

Tim Glander (BM 1973)
Teaching in the public schools in Vermont.

Kristen Glidden (BM 2004) 
We're not sure what Kristen is up to!

David M. Gordon (BM 1998, MM 2000)
David is working towards his Ph. D. in composition at the University of Chicago.

Aubrey Granner (BM 2005)
Aubrey completed his Master's degree in Percussion Performance at the University of Minnesota and is now the Director of Percussion for Evanston (IL) Township High School. Aubrey and his long-time girlfriend Amanda were married in June of 2006. In the spring of 2007, Aubrey completed work as solo pannist on Target Corporation's latest CD project, a reggae-flavored recording.

Nate Green (BM 2000)
Nate has developed a freelance career and also teaches in the Chicago area. He recently made the big move from DeKalb to Chicago to eliminate much of his commute!

Dean Gronemeier (BA 1985)
Dean is the Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Professor of Percussion at University of Nevada-Las Vegas; marimba touring artist, with performances throughout the United States, and in Mexico, England, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Australia, and Chile; clinician for Yamaha, Sabian, and Mike Balter Mallets. Dean also recently completed his law degree and passed the bar exam in Nevada in the fall of 2002.

Adam Grosso (BM 2000)
Adam served as a GA in percussion at the University of Iowa. Having completed his master's degree, Adam is living is Iowa City and teaching and gigging - on both percussion and bass!

Jennifer Guy (BA 1998)   
Jennifer completed her Master of Education degree in Student Services Administration at the University of North Texas in 2002, and is working as the Academic Coordinator of the Physiology department at the University of Maryland - Baltimore. Jennifer is currently teaching and performing Middle Eastern Dance (aka Bellydancing) in her free time in the Baltimore/DC area in addition to studying and playing doumbek in her classes. She specializes in playing zils (finger cymbals) and turkish spoons.

Tim Hammond (BM 1987)

Iajhi Hampden (MM 2005) 
Iajhi began post-NIU life playing with a Michael Jackson tribute band that toured all over the United States and performed 200 shows each year. He now lives in Los Angeles, and has played on MTV's TRL, Last Call with Carson Daly, Live with Regis and Kelly, and The View. He's performed live and/or recorded with Lina, Andre Delano, Andy Vargas, Gordon Chambers, and Aly & A.J. He serves a Music Director for singer Ashley Parker Angel. You can check out his MySpace page here.

John Haney (BM 2006)
Currently, John resides in Salem, IL, and has been Director of Bands at Salem Community High School since 2008, after teaching for one year at Durand CUSD #322 in Durand, IL. The bands at Salem have grown and received many awards thus far during John's tenure. John spent two years as the assistant tour manager for the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps including their DCI World Championship year in 2008 and in 2010 began his job as the Assistant Tour Manager for The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps. John performs with various ensembles as his schedule allows. Everyone is encouraged to drop him an email at any time! 

Harold Headley (MM 1992)
Percussion and Steelpan Instructor at University of the West Indies in Trinidad.

Cory Healey (BM 2006) 
Cory is living and freelancing in Chicago. His main gig is as drummer for the Fareed Haque Group.

Kirk Hickman (BM 2002)
Following many years as the successful band director at Johnsburg High School in McHenry, Illinois, Kirk starts his new position as Director of Bands at Lincoln-Way North High School (a new school in the southwest Chicago suburbs) in the fall of 2008. Kirk is also the Instructor of Percussion at McHenry County (IL) College and performs as a section percussionist with the North Shore Concert Band.

Candice Fergusson Hill (MM 2008)
Candice graduated from Missouri State University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Music Performance degree. She soon headed up to NIU to major in Steel Pan where she graduated in 2008 with her Master's in Music Performance, taking time in the previous summer to marry Dave Hill, a fellow musician, in June 2007. They now reside in Kansas City, MO, where Candice freelances performing on pan, teaching, arranging music and hosting clinics. She also makes and sells her own rubber stamps and jewelry supplies. Check out her website here.

Tom Hipskind (BM 1994)    or
Since graduation from NIU, Tom has played all over the Chicago area. He toured the country and recorded two CDs ("Modern Life," "After Hours," Mesa/Bluemoon) with "smooth" jazz artist Brian Culbertson. He has also performed with Patricia Barber, Fred Simon, Howard Levy, Steve Rodby, Diane Delin and many others. He has recorded on many Chicago-based artists' CDS, including Ryan Cohan's "Real World," Deanna Witkowski's "Having To Ask," Diane Delin's "Origins," and the most recent by NIU alum Rob Parton's JazzTech big band, "Fascinatin' Rhythm." He conducted an interview with jazz great Peter Erskine for the Jazz Educator's Journal (Nov. '97), and serves on the faculty of Columbia College in Chicago.

Robert Houpe (MM 2009)
Robert holds the position as percussion specialist for the Frisco Independent School District in Frisco, Texas (north of Dallas). He and his wife, Katie, are living in nearby McKinney, TX.

Todd Howell (BM 1995)
Todd is teaching privately and freelancing in Chicago, and has performed with the city's best and most creative jazz musicians including Ira Sullivan, Bobby Broom, Ron Perrillo, Ryan Cohan, and many others.

Chiung-Wen Hsu (BM 1994, MM 1996)
Principal Teaching Assistant for Ju Percussion franchises in Taiwan. In fall 2005, Chiung-Wen ("Kitty") returned to NIU, to pursue a Performer's Certificate.

Otto Huber (BM 1994) 
After graduation Otto spent 4 years playing frequently on the Chicago jazz scene, and in 1998 decided to move to Oakland, California, where he's been ever since playing up a storm. You can learn more about him at his website,

Blake Jancius (BM 2000, MM 2004)
Blake has been the director of Hubble Bands in the Wheaton/Warrenville (Illinois) school district since 2002. Blake and his wife Julie have been married since 2008 and had their first child in March, 2011. Laura Elle Jancius (aka Ellie) and her parents live in Wheaton. 

Matt Janes (BM 2005)
Since graduating, Matt has worked with numerous area percussion programs, marching bands and drum corps, including Joliet West High School, Marion Glory Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, and Pioneer Indoor Drumline. Some of the awards earned by these groups include the 2003 DCI Division III high percussion award, 2006 ISU 5A high percussion award, and the 2007 and 2008 WGI PIA World Champion. Matt is currently working hard teaching Pioneer Indoor Drumline and maintaining his private teaching studio, Matt Janes Percussion.

Patrick Jenkins (BM 2006)
Patrick has accepted a postion as a minister of music, and (as he is also a guitarist) has a duo he is performing with regularly. Besides working at his church, he also developed his musical duo into a four man band: The band recently went on a mission trip to El Salvadora with Compassion International and their music has been climbing the Christian Music charts. His wife, Mallory, just recently gave birth to their first child, a healthy baby girl named JoAnna who arrived just in time for Father's Day 2010.

Eric Johnson (BM 1998)
After a successful stint performing and touring with the reggae/ska band Mr. Myers, Eric is now an audiologist.

Kristi Kief (BM 2002)  
Kristi is living in Brisbane, Australia, after several years of gainful employment as an alligator handler (yes, you read that right!) at Gatorland Theme Park in Orlando, Florida. She is working for the World Society for the Protection of Animals. As she only recently arrived in Brisbane (June 2007), she has yet to make contacts for gigs, but she is planning on doing that soon!

Richard "Ted" Klauer (BM 1976)
Following graduation from NIU in 1976 I completed my MA in percussion performance at West Virginia University in 1978. After several years of public school teaching gigs in Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota (and numerous performing experiences along the way), I am now a computer business analyst for a large health care organization in Minneapolis. I have been married for 21 years with two wonderful children -- life is full of musical and sporting adventures with them. Not a day goes by that I do not reflect upon the wonderful teaching I received at NIU through the Blackearth group and the amazing musical experiences engineered by Al O'Connor! I take no small pride in having been a member of the percussion ensemble, African percussion ensemble, and original NIU Steel Band during my years at NIU.

Alan Knudson (BM 2001) 
Alan is living and freelancing in Chicago. He teaches percussion at Nequa Valley High School in Naperville, and teaches percussion and directs the marching drum line and the percussion ensemble at Lake Zurich High School.

Scott Kovar (BM 1989)
Scott was a professional society band leader in Chicago for more than ten years, and currently lives in Rochester, Minnesota, where he maintains a private percussion studio and freelances. Scott also spent several years working for IBM, home of the AS400 and RISC6000 computer systems, involved in manufacturing and quality control.

Jeff Kowalski (BM 197?)
Percussionist with a chamber orchestra in Israel, teaching in several schools there.

Ken Krafthefer (BM 1991)
Ken is the Head Tuner for Ludwig/Musser Industries.

Garry Kvistad (MM 1977)
I was a member of The Blackearth Percussion Group, which got its start at NIU where I took courses in woodworking, metal working, and acoustics. I used this knowledge to start my business, Woodstock Percussion, making windchimes. I have been playing with Steve Reich and Musicians since 1980. Our release of Music for 18 musicians (Nonesuch) won a Grammy in 1999. I have two teenage daughters (both better looking and smarter than I) and my wife, Diane Herrick-Kvistad, graduated from NIU in 1972. In the fall of 2002 I joined the percussion group NEXUS.

Dave Lang (BM 1976)
Music Department Chair and Band Director at William Fremd (Palatine, IL) High School.

Erik Leckrone (BM 1996) 
Erik completed his Master's in Percussion Performance in May 1999 at Cal State - Long Beach. He is living 60 yards from the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach, and, having previously worked as musician and music director for Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, is now a member of the music faculty at Fullerton College in California. Erik performs in the LA area with several local symphonies and is active in the studio scene. Erik played percussion on the early 2004 release of the Disney recording "A World of Happiness" which features Deborah Harry, Isaac Hayes, Lou Rawls and several other top entertainers. He's very active performing with the Robin Cox Ensemble.

Rodney Ledbetter (BM 1988)
I am still living and freelancing in New York City. I play with quite a few bands and have been on the road pretty much every weekend since February of 1999!! Mostly, though, I've been producing electronic and dance music for a few years now and just signed a contract for an EP deal with Nervous Records. I have my own project studio that I'm very happy with, and am really enjoying being a producer.

Kevin Lehman (BM 1995)  
Kevin works for Upstaging ( and is playing in a band called The Great Influence Machine

Keith Lienert (BM 2000)
Keith is currently the instructor of percussion at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville. Following his years at NIU, Keith completed his MM in Percussion Performance at Arizona State University in 2003, and then taught at Mesa Community College and performed in the Phoenix area. Keith then moved back to the Chicago area, where he taught at Elgin Community College. Keith now resides in Madison, Wisconsin, where his wife recently completed her graduate studies, and Keith freelances and teaches privately as well.

Bernard Long (BM 2009) 
After a couple of stints performing on cruise ships following his NIU graduation, Bernard is now a Graduate Assistant in the Jazz Studies department at Michigan State University.

Kathy (Brown) Lowry (MM 1982) 
Kathy is living and teaching public school music in upstate New York. 

Steve Lundin (MM 2003) 
Having taught in two other school districts, since the fall of 2006 Steve has been a member of the music faculty in the DeKalb School District. He continues to perform with the Base4 Percussion Quartet which released its first cd during the fall of 2004. Steve recently married Emily and they are happy to be living and working in Illinois!

Steve Lurie (MM 1997) 
Steve is the founder and president of Music Without Borders, LLC, in Stamford, Connecticut. As Vice President and Co-Owner of Al Franklin's Musical World in Greenwich, CT, Steve helped build one of the finest and most highly regarded music and electronics retailers in the country. As a faculty member at the University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music in Hartford, CT, Steve teaches courses in music business and music management, and was recently hired to develop a music business program at The New School in New York City. 

Chris Mahan (MM 2007)
Immediately following graduation, Chris won the audition as section percussion for the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra. During the summer of 2008, Chris was named the Director of Percussion Ensemble and Instructor of Percussion at Valley City State University in North Dakota as well as adjunct instructor of percussion at Jamestown College (ND). He performs in a salsa band in Fargo ("Soulsa") and continues to freelance on vibes, and is also a manager of a graphic design firm in Fargo.

Sue (Hoffman) Manaois (MM 1993)
Sue is living in Texas, and continues an active career playing pan. You can check out more information at

Mark Marzocco (BM 1998)
Mark was in the London, England world premiere cast of "Blast," and performed with the troupe as they brought the show to the first two U.S. cities. He now lives in Chicago, contracting and performing. He has been involved with a performance group, CAMP (Creative Arts Melting Pot), for a few years. Mark writes, directs, and performs all the music, and the group includes two modern dancers who choreograph and perform, and a stand up comic who specializes in improvised monologues.

Scott McConnell (BM 2009)
Scott will be back with us in the fall of 2009 as he begins work toward his master's degree.

Ray McNamarra (BM 1983)
I am still teaching at Fullerton College (California), and am also the Music Director for the Dance Department at U.C. Riverside. I currently lead my own band the Calypso Pirates with many performances throughout the Los Angeles area. I also have a Percussion duo called Damaru. We explore sonic timbres ranging from body music to electronics. Most recent projects include: "A Bug's Life" (Disney Pictures), The Rossane Show (ABC Television), Steel Pan Clinic at Calarts with Boogsie Sharpe, The Fullerton Jazz Festival and The Orange Blossom Festival with the Big Bamboo Steel Band featuring Robert Greenidge. I will be getting married to Jeanna Shelton, a modern dancer, in July of 1999. I miss everyone at NIU, and would love to hear from people!

Kim Mellin (BM 1991)
Kim moved to Salt Lake City in 1993, primarily providing accompaniment for dance companies which included the University of Utah dance department, the Repertory Dance Theatre, and the Ririe Woodbury Dance Company. For many years she performed with an African ensemble and a Brazilian ensemble, and taught world percussion private lessons. Kim has recently returned to school, where she is pursuing a 2-year degree in Information Computer Media.

Bill Miles (BM 1985)

Erich Miller (MM 1985)
I am a journeyman musician in Los Angeles, working as a percussionist but primarily known as a pan player. My most notable recent projects have included Speed 2, USA networks "Lost in Paradise" and a soon to be released CD for Pier One Imports. I have also been very active with the Libertarian Party, thrice as a congressional candidate and by helping to enlist Musician's Union Local 47 support in stopping a very regressive, Los Angeles City, home office tax. My wife Beth and I will soon celebrate our sixteenth wedding anniversary. We are growing up with our two-year old daughter, Abigail.

Kevin Miller (BM 1980)
I am currently the music department Chair/band director at Schaumburg High School in Schaumburg, Illinois. The music department at Schaumburg High School was selected by the Grammy Foundation as a Grammy Signature School in 2004. My wife, Michelle, and I have two children: Alex, 16 years old (a percussionist), and Meghan, 21 years old. We live in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Eric Montzka (BM 1991)
I've been freelancing (mostly jazz) in the Chicago area since graduating. Of late, my busiest employer has been singer/pianist Patricia Barber, with whom I've been touring the States a bit. We'll be touring across Canada and Europe this summer. I'm on 2 CDS awaiting release (the Moulder/Montzka/Sill trio and the Karl Montzka organ band) of which I'm quite proud, and should be doing a live recording with Patricia this summer. Drop by the Green Mill on a Monday night and say Hi!

Matt Moore (BM 1998) 
Matt Moore has been the Director of Bands at William Fremd High School in Palatine, Illinois since the fall of 2001. He was previously the band director at Jacobs High School (Algonquin, IL) and Stillman Valley High School and Meridian Junior High School in Stillman Valley, Illinois. The band program at Fremd has grown from 160 to 300 students during Matt's tenure and Matt keeps way too busy there! Matt has been married to his wife Amanda since 2001 and they have two wonderful children, Kyle (born 2004) and Kiera (born 2005). The quartet and their springer-spaniel (Dodger) reside in Streamwood, Illinois. Matt welcomes email from any and all!

Kreg Moorhouse (BM 1999)
Kreg is still teaching several students and is now working as the Technical Director for Student Programs at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, IL.

Jon Mortensen (BM 1982)
Band Director, U-46 (retiring May 2017); Principal Timpani, Rockford Symphony Orchestra & Woodstock Mozart Festival Orchestra; Percussionist, American Grands Piano Festivals; M.Ed, National Louis University, 1999; three children, Tristan, Ned, Emma. Spending as much time as possible at my cabin in Sugar Creek, WI.

Lennard Moses (MM 1983)
Professor of Percussion at Central State University (OH).

Allene Muhling Slagle (BM 1988)
Allene is a medical assistant at a surgical center in the Chicago suburbs.

Dennis Mulder (BM 1991) 
Dennis is teaching at Wheaton North High School in Wheaton, Illinois.

Brent Mullane (MM 1995)
Brent and his wife Ingrid are elementary school music teachers in Huntley, Illinois.

Beverly Naiditch  (BM 1974)  
From 1992 - 2010 I served as Operations/Stage Manager for the Winston-Salem Symphony in North Carolina, and am currently pursuing other interests. I am also the Assistant Principal Percussionist of the Greensboro Symphony and the Salisbury Symphony, and recently retired as the Stage Manager for The Eastern Music Festival after 18 long seasons. I also do freelance work with other area orchestras and am a member of Local 635 of the I.A.T.S.E (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees).  My  biggest accomplishment while attending NIU, however, was being a founding member of the DeKalb Footstompers (formerly, The Greater DeKalb Area Municipal Footstompin' Ensemble).

Mike Newmark (BM 1989)
Mike married Diane, whom he met while they were both inhabitants of Gilbert Hall. They have a son, Nathan, born in 1996, and a daughter, Natalie, born during the big snow storm of January 3, 1999!! Mike still books and plays with "The Michael Newmark Orchestra" (see website), and owns his own vending machine company which keeps him busy during the days.

David Nutting (BM 1993)
After completing his Master's degree at UNLV and then teaching high school band in Las Vegas, Nevada for several years, Dave is now the Senior Pastor at North City Presbyterian Church in Poway, California (near San Diego). Dave continues to play as much as possible. He and his wife Priscilla have two daughters and one son. 

Kerry O'Brien (BM 2006) 
Kerry is working on her Ph.D. in Musicology at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University - Bloomington.

Dave O'Fallon (BSEd 1977, MSEd 1987, MM 1993) (see authors and clinicians) and

Dave never received a percussion degree, although he was often seen in the company of drummers - a fact that remains true to the present day. Dave frequently appears as an extra or substitute percussionist with the Chicago Symphony and leads his own group, Jamaican Breeze. By day, Dave teaches orchestra in Wheaton and teaches developmental reading at the College of DuPage.

Linda Orlandi (BM 2005) 
Linda is teaching general music grades 1 through 6 at three schools in the La Grange (IL) school district.

Mark Ott (BM 1983)
Mark has enjoyed a career as drummer and background vocalist for international acts such as Dave Mason and Three Dog Night. He currently lives in Chicago and is a freelance drummer/percussionist.

Allen Otte (MM 1977)
Professor of Percussion at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music; founding member of The Percussion Group - Cincinnati.

Carl Pampel (BM 1965)

Carl married Carol Schultz (see immediately below) and they had 3 children and 5 grandchildren, all of whom are musical. Carl went on to be a chemist but has continued performing throughout his life. Carl played in rock and roll bands in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, and upon the family’s move to Atlanta in 1976 became timpanist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Carl has been involved in directing music at churches, and is currently living in Orlando, Florida, where he plays drums at his church there.



Carol Schultz Pampel (BM 1965)

 After graduation from NIU Carol married Carl Pampel (see above). She was a teacher and professional musician performing in a wide variety of venues. Carol played in rock and roll bands in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, and sang and played guitar in a folk trio. She became the Minister of Music at Holy Family Catholic Church in Atlanta, and sang the National Anthem at many Atlanta professional sports events. She continued to play in bands and was in demand for weddings nearly every Saturday! Carol did studio work for many commercials and her voice can still be heard making automated announcements on the trains and in the terminals of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. We are sorry to report that Carol passed away in 1995.


Joe Pasteris (BM 1989)  
Joe is employed by the NIU Housing and Dining Office. Joe performs with the DeKalb Municipal Band and the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra, with The Uptown Cats, and also with various big bands and dixieland bands. 

Scott Persky (BM 1975)  
Scott is the Chair of the department of Computer Information Systems at McHenry Community College in Crystal Lake, Illinois, and he remains active performing on steel pan throughout the Chicago area.

John Pobojewski (BM 2003)
John completed both a BM in Performance as well as a BFA in Visual Communication. He is currently living in Elgin, IL, working for the design firm Thirst (located in Barrington), and performing with the Base4 Percussion Quartet. In March 2007 Print magazine honored John as one of 20 notable talents under the age of 30. The article is also online here. Congratulations, John!

Dan Prowse (BM 1986)
Dan is teaching percussion and directing the steel band at College of Lake County in Grayslake, IL.

Aaron Puckett (MM 2001)
Aaron is a member of the music faculty at Kaneland (IL) High School. He continues to freelance and teach privately in the Chicago suburban area. 

Jeannine Remy (BM 1985, MM 1987)
Having served for many years as Professor of Percussion at Idaho State University, in the fall of 2003 Jeannine began her current position as professor of percussion, steelpan, and ethnomusicology at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. In the fall of 1998 Jeannine became the first foreigner to conduct and arrange for a Trinidadian steel band: Invaders Steel Orchestra, Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain.

Ed Richard (BA 1970, MM 1971)
Upon leaving NIU, Ed became an elementary band director and is now retired from public school teaching. Ed lives in Huntley, Illinois, and serves the First United Methodist Church in Marengo as organist and choir director.

Jim Roberts (MM 1985)
Jim is an adjunct teacher at Elon University near Greensboro, NC. He directs the World Percussion Ensemble, teaches drum set and hand drums.  He also teaches 2 classes,  Beyond the Beatles: The Transcendent Music of The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd and the Beatles and Woodstock, Hippies and other Enduring Legacies: The Music of the 60’s and the 70’s.  He is married and living in Chapel Hill, NC where he gigs on drum set and percussion.  His recordings can be found at CD Baby under Jim Roberts, Craicdown, Ancient Hand, Two Traditions, and Footloose. 

Brent Roman (BM 2002)  
In the fall of 2002 Brent won the audition and accepted the position as percussionist with Cirque du Soliel. Following a successful run with Cirque, Brent toured with the Trinity Irish Dance Company and performed with several Chicago-area ensembles. Returning to Cirque, Brent toured South America with the "Alegria" tour, and he is currently the principal percussionist and drum captian for the "Dralion" tour of Cirque in Australia. Brent is a member of the LP (Lation Percussion) artist roster, and you can check out his MySpace website here.

Jim Ross (BM 1971)
Jim has been a percussionist with Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1979, and is also a faculty member at Northwestern University.  Jim is married, and he and his wife Andrea have a son, Gregory, born in '95 and a daughter Annie born in 2000. Jim is a late starter.

Paul G. Ross (BM 1987, MM 1996)
After many years as Director of Steel Bands at Elgin Community College and Harper College and also Percussion Instructor at ECC, Paul is now running his business (Pan Press Inc., a steel pan publications company) full-time and directing and performing with his steel band, Pan Go. Paul recently released the debut CD with the Pan Go Steel Band with nine original compositions.

Tom Rucker (BM 2010) 
Tom is the band director at Genoa-Kingston High School in Illinois and performs regularly in the Chicago area with the Beach Bum Band. 

Ben Runkel (BM 2009)
Ben has secured a position as Percussion Specialist for the Concord Community Schools in Elkhart, Indiana. As part of his award for the WAMSO Concerto Competition, Ben will be playing a concerto by Christopher Rouse with the St. Paul Civic Orchestra in May, 2010. Congratulations, Ben! 

Dave Rush (BM ?)
Dave is living in Chicago and performs with, among other groups, Jamaican Breeze with fellow alum Dave O'Fallon.

Tim Rush (BM 1999)
Tim has completed his MM in Percussion Performance at Arizona State University, and is currently residing, teaching and performing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Kirk Rustman (MM 1996)  
Kirk has lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, since 2002, where he is a member of the band for the Mamma Mia! show, subs for other shows, and does quite a bit of private teaching. He says he feels as though he's been on vacation the entire time he's been there!

Cynthia Rutledge (BM 1993)
Cynthia left teaching positions at Benedictine University and Waubonsee Community College to return to NIU to complete requirements for Illinois teacher certification. Since she earned her certification we haven't heard from her!!

Micah Rutschman (BM 2008)
Micah placed 3rd at the Percussive Arts Society Vibraphone Improvisation Competition at PASIC '08, and completed his degree in December '08. He's living in Chicago pursuing a freelance and teaching career. 

Rich Rychel (BM 1989)
After playing in show bands for four major cruise lines and covering most of the globe, I moved to Denver in '96. Since then I have become an active drum set clinician and endorser for Sabian and Vic Firth. In January 2000 I founded Denver Music Institute (DMI)  where I teach a full roster of private students. I am also a busy player on the Denver scene, most notably playing with the Denver-based band Pan Jumbies I currently reside in Littleton Colorado. Contact me at .

Tony SanFilippo (BM 1992)
Tony SanFilippo is the owner and chief engineer and producer of Oxide Lounge Recording in Bloomington IL ( The facility opened in the fall of 2002 and has continued to grow. He also has a small Mastering room in his home called SanCastle Mastering. His clients range from San Francisco to Connecticut (a mastering project for alum James Walker for Jazz Player magazine), though a good majority are local unsigned artists. Tony is still an active performer, with Wiplot (a rock band), and as accompanist for the Illinois State University dance department, as well as playing on many of his studio projects. Tony has been married to massage therapist and social worker Michele Carroll since 1997. They have a home, two dogs and a cat.

Suzanne Satterfield (MM 1995)
Suzanne is teaching elementary music in Kaneland Schools (IL) and freelancing in Northern Illinois area. She's married to our very own Robert Chappell!

Patrick Schleker (BM 2004)
Beginning with the fall of 2006, Pat is the Principal Timpanist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Pat completed his MM degree at Cleveland State University where he studied with Tom Freer of the Cleveland Orchestra, and he continues to perform with the Base4 Percussion Quartet.

Satanand Sharma (MM 2002) 
Satanand is a professor of music at The University of the West Indies.

Damen Short (BM 1977, MM 1979)
I live in Chicago and perform in a variety of ensembles, mostly original jazz, mostly drums with some vibes, also written & improvised 'classical.' Three albums of my own music with two pending release. Married since 1986 to Kathy Laack, our son Eric is 9.

Tom Shuman (BM 2009)
Tom was hired as the band director at Fischer Middle School in Aurora, IL - Congratulations, Tom! 

Chris Smith (BM 2004)
Chris completed his MM degree in jazz studies at the Manhattan School of Music in 2006 and spent the next few years playing and teaching in New York City. Chris is married to NIU music alum Nina (Bender), BM 2004. In the fall of 2009 Chris began work toward his Doctorate of Arts degree at the University of Northern Colorado.

Tyler Smith (BM 2010) 
Tyler is teaching music at an elementary school in Grayslake, Illinois. 

Jared Spears (BM 1958)
Jared owns a celebrated career as a composer. With over 250 published compositions performed throughout the world, he is one of the most recognized names in band literature. Jared just completed a commission for the United States Army Band ("Pershing's Own"), and in May 1999 retired from his professorship at Arkansas State University. He plans to compose more, travel, and spend time with his wife and young daughter.

Vern Spevack (BM 1981)
Currently resides in Yorkville, IL with wife Eileen and three children.  Member of the NIU jazz ensemble, under Ron Modell, '77-'81. Won a Chicago Emmy award with Louie Bellson ('84) for a performance on WTTW's  "A Year In the Life Of the Greatest College Jazz Band in America." Currently works as a percussion instructor with a large weekly roster of private students, and is endorsed by Vic Firth Inc. and Remo Inc. Current projects include composer, drums, percussion and lead vocals with the Christian band "Providence," a not-for-profit entity which performs in Christian venues throughout the Midwest and benefits local children's charities. New CD titled "Message to the World" recently released (See  

Jeff Stacks (BM 1990)
After graduation, I married Kristin Anderson (another NIU alumni) and moved to Nashville, TN for a few years. During my time there, I obtained another degree in Computer Information Systems and went to work for American General Life and Accident as a Development Analyst. After five years and two kids (Blake and Ryan) I moved back north to Janesville, WI, and went to work at American Family Insurance in the same analyst capacity. I also started teaching part-time at Blackhawk Technical College here in Janesville, and, after a year and a half, they hired me as full-time faculty and program advisor for the CIS-Microcomputer Specialist degree program. I can be reached at

Eric Stassen (BM 1990)
Having served for many years as Professor of Percussion and conductor/music director of Opera at the University of Virginia as well as performing with and conducting several regional ensembles in Virginia and North Carolina, Eric is returning to school in the fall of 2006, as a doctoral candidate in the conducting program at Northwestern University.

Julie Stephens Jaskula (MM 1995)
Julie is busy as a pannist in the San Diego area, where she has been since the summer of 1999. In early 2001 she married Marius Jaskula and their daughter Jaklyn was born in January of 2002.

Carl Storniolo (BM 1989)
Paula and I are now proud parents of two children, one boy and one girl. I have been lucky enough to have a performing career here in Milwaukee and in Chicago since 1990. Having completed my MM at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, I am now the director of percussion studies there.

Steve Sweigart (BM 1980)
Recently retired, was Percussion Instructor at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, IL.

Arnold Sykes (BM 1982)
Principal Percussionist with Greensboro (NC) Symphony Orchestra and founding member of the Philidor Percussion Group. Beginning with the fall 2003 semester the Philidor Percussion Group has been named Ensemble-in-Residence at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Liam Teague (BM 1997, MM 1999)
Liam's performing career continues to skyrocket, and we are extremely pleased that we have added him to the percussion faculty here at NIU.

Pam Thamm (BM ?)

Jeff Thomas (BM 1976)

Matt Thomas (MM 2000)
Matt is a percussionist with the Air Force Band of the Golden West, and serves as an officer in the California chapter of the Percussive Arts Society.

Shirazette Tinnin (MM 2008) 
Shirazette lives in New York City where she performs regularly with the Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet in addition to freelancing as a drum set artist. Shirazette is also a personal trainer at the New York Sports Club. In early 2011 Shirazette was named a new columninst for Modern Drummer Magazine, with articles specializing in drumming and health. 

Rich Trelease (BM 1980)
Rich has been the house percussionist in the pit orchestra at the Drury Lane Oak Brook Theatre in Oak Brook Terrace, Illinois since 1992 and has also played locally or toured nationally with theater productions including Les Miserables, Show Boat, The Lion King, and Wicked. He can be heard on numerous recordings playing both drums and percussion including Willow Creek Community Church's two "Preludes" CDs. He also has an active teaching studio in his home in Wheaton, Illinois. On another front, he received a master's degree in clinical psychology from Wheaton College in 1999 and is a part-time practicing psychologist. Rich's wife Linda is also a musician who teaches and coaches voice in their Wheaton home. They both have served regularly as church musicians over many years.

John Twernbold (BM 2005)
John is an elementary and middle school band director in Minnesota.

Denise Valient (MM 1986)

Darin Wadley (BM 1992) 
Having taught for several years at Southern Utah University, as of the fall 2004 semester Darin is the Director of Percussion Studies at the University of South Dakota. He is married to Holly Haddad and has two sons, Logan and Patrick.

Lee Wagner (MM 1989)
Lee is one of the band directors and director of the percussion ensemble at Stoughton High School in Stoughton, Wisconsin.

Ben Wahlund (MM, PC 2005)  
Ben Wahlund lives in the Naperville, Illinois area with his wife, Jennifer, dog, Sam and parakeet, Pickle. Ben teaches primarily at Naperville Central High School during the day where he teaches percussion lessons and directs percussion ensembles, including the popular annual NCHS Drumshow. Additionally, Ben teaches from his private studio at home, where he has roughly forty students. Ben continues to compose, and a number of his compositions can be found through HoneyRock Publications or his own company, Black Dog Music Studios.  Ben is on the faculty of the Birch Creek Music Center in Door County, Wisconsin during the summers and just accepted the position as Director of the Rock Valley Percussion Ensemble (the Phantom Regiment high school outreach percussion ensemble) in Rockford, Illinois.  Ben is an official endorser for Vic Firth, Inc.

Doug Walker (MM 1992)
Doug works as a musician in Miami. You can check out his work with steel drums at

Erin Walker Bliss (BM 2002)
Erin completed her MM in Percussion Performance at DePaul University in Chicago, where she studied with Ted Atkatz of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Mike Green of the Lyric Opera Orchestra. She recently completed her DMA in Percussion Performance at the University of Kentucky, where she studied with NIU alum Jim Campbell. In the fall of 2006 she began a Ph.D. program in Musicology there as well. Most importantly, in June 2006 Erin married NIU percussion alum Andy Bliss. Congratulations Erin and Andy!

Jim Walker (MM 1990, PC 1997) website:
Currently residing in Connecticut, freelancing as a jazz vibraphonist, steel panist, and clinician;  contributing writer, Jazz Player Magazine; married Sara Vokes, October '98.

Ben Weaver (BM 1998)
Ben is living in Nashville, TN, freelancing as a percussionist, playing side drum (snare) in a Scottish Pipe and Drum group called the Nashville Pipes and Drums, and working part-time at Treeworks Chimes.

Virginia Weibel (MM 1998)
After earning a second Master of Music degree from NIU in composition, Virginia is attending the University of Michigan working toward her teaching certification and studying with Michael Udow.

Eric Wermager (BM 1984) is working for Geffen Records.

Ken White (BM 1977)
Ken plays regularly with six different big bands in the Chicago area as drummer, arranger and vocalist. He also plays with a 1960's rhythm and blues band, "The Houndz," which has been together since 1994.

Warren Whitely (BM 1974) 
After graduation I worked as a full-time music entertainer for more than 20 years, doubling eventually on a dozen instruments as well as singing, writing and arranging. I performed in 13 states and on 2 Caribbean cruise ships. I keep my K-12 certification registered but have never officially used it. I also spent three years in the late 1980's completing the Workshop Program at Second City in Chicago. In recent years I've been a church guitarist, singer and percussionist in my home town of Park Ridge, IL, where I'm also a lay reader in my parish. Still a bachelor, my greatest passion of the past few years has been riding my Harley-Davidson "Street Glide" touring bike, especially with the members of the Glenview Harley Chapter. Recently we rode with 1000 other bikes from Des Plaines up to Zion in the "Heart of a Marine Foundation" Heroes Ride, raising money for wounded members of all branches of the Armed Forces. The Mayor and Police Chief of Park Ridge have also recently appointed me to serve on the Citizens Advisory Committee to the PRPD and its Chief. I'm a 2008 alum of the Park Ridge Citizen's Police Academy (but too old to be a cop). Happy 2010 to all our percussion faculty and alums!

Jim Widlowsky (BM 1983)
Jim is the drummer for the Chicago production of "Wicked," and has been performing with a host of internationally known artists, from Greg Kihn to Perry Como. Jim and his wife Nancy (NIU class of ‘89) have a daughter, Emma, who was born in 1993.

Katie Wiegman (BM 2006) 
Katie is remaining in the Chicago area, freelancing and performing on marimba in the duo she has with NIU steel pan graduate student Malika Green. 

Dave Wilkie (BM 1991)

Mark Williams (BM 1978, MM 1981)
Currently Principal Percussionist with the Wheeling Symphony and Chair of a new department (at West Liberty State College, West Virginia) which includes music, theatre, graphic design, and broadcasting. I will be current Dean of the WV Governors School for the Arts and serve as a technology consultant for recording and computers.

Lana Wordel (BM 1988)
I'm currently traveling as percussionist for the National Touring Company production of The Lion King. I'm taking a leave of absence as the Principal Percussionist with the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra and as a member of the South Bend (IN) Symphony. I frequently sub with the Kalamazoo (MI) Symphony, the Illinois Philharmonic, the Lake Forest Symphony, and many of the small orchestras in the Chicago area. I have a viola/steel pan duo LaSte' that has performed at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic and gives numerous school presentations. We recently commissioned a work for us and orchestra. I am also a member of the Pan Go Steel Band and we just finished our first cd. I teach private lessons at 3 area high schools, Plainfield IL, Lockport IL, and Crown Point IN.

Pei-Ching Wu (MM 1994)
Soloist with Ju Percussion Group, Taipei, Taiwan; developing international career as solo percussionist.

Jim Yakas (MM 2002) 
Since fall 2004, Jim is a full-time Instructor of Percussion at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he teaches applied percussion lessons, instructs the marching band drum line, and teaches percussion methods courses. Prior to that, Jim held teaching positions at the University of Central Florida for the 2002-2003 school year and at the University of Minnesota for the 2003-2004 school year. Jim was the drum line caption head for the Madison Scouts drum and bugle corps during the 2002 and 2003 seasons, and currently holds that position with the Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps. 

Greg York (BM 2000)
Greg is working as a financial analyst in Chicago, under the guise of saving money to ultimately open his own drum shop with mobile percussion instrument repair for Chicago-area schools.

Neville York (MM 1991)
Holds highest ranking position in government relating to music in St. Maarten, West Indies. Also performing there on steel pans.

NIU Percussion Alums!! Please contact James R. Brown to update your listing!! And, if you know something about an alum and we do not list any information after their name, please let me know what you know!