Percussion Caption Head
Benjamin Pyles is currently the Director of Athletic Percussion at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Previously, Ben majored in music education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Lamar University, with a primary focus in Percussion. His most intensive studies came under the direction of Chris Hestin, Mike Macintosh, Travis Fife, and Michael Kingan.
Ben has several years of World Class performing, design, and instructional experience, including the Glassmen from Toledo, OH; Bluecoats from Canton, OH; The Crossmen from San Antonio, TX; Spirit of Atlanta from Atlanta, GA; Colts from Dubuque, IA; and Monarch Independent from Houston, TX.
Ben currently serves as the Percussion Caption Head and Battery Arranger for the Mandarins Drum & Bugle Corps from Sacramento, CA. Ben is endorsed by Sabian Cymbals, Innovative Percussion Inc. and Pearl and Adams Percussion.
Front Ensemble Coordinator
Andy Filipiak is an active percussion educator, arranger, clinician, and adjudicator. He has had the opportunities to perform, teach, and give clinics in both Europe and Asia. He is currently the front ensemble arranger for multiple high schools in the U.S. as well as Monarch Independent; a PIW group based out of Houston, TX. Andy has had the privilege of teaching at the Boston Crusaders (2012-2019) as well as Monarch Independent (2016 - Present) as the Front Ensemble Coordinator for both groups.
Andyʼs performing career includes The Glassmen (2008-2009), Matrix (2009-2011), The Cavaliers (2010-2011), and Rhythm X (2012). Andy helped the Cavaliers win the Fred Sanford High Percussion Award in 2011 and also performed at PASIC with Rhythm X in 2011.
Andy currently resides in Tomball, TX where he is a percussion specialist in the Tomball ISD. He has a private lesson studio of over 30 students and serves as a percussion specialist with the Marching Band as well as the Scholastic Concert World Indoor Percussion Ensemble (2019 PSCW 4th Place). Andy is a proud endorser of Innovative Percussion and Zildjian Cymbals.
Taha Ahmed received his Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, he resides in the Houston area where he works with Cy-Fair High School and Clear Brook High School. He is also an active instructor, consultant, arranger, designer, and rudimental private lesson teacher at numerous other high schools in the area.
When Taha is not teaching, he is working as a Licensed Advanced Emergency Medical Technician and applying to further programs in the medical field. Taha has multiple years of experience beyond the scholastic level. His drum corps experience includes being a snare drummer at Bluecoats 2012, Academy 2011, Santa Clara Vanguard 2010, and the Troopers in 2009 and 2008. Taha was a snare tech at The Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps from 2016 through 2019. Prior to that, he was the snare tech at The Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps for their 2015 season. During his drum corps career, Taha was privileged to learn from instructors such as Mike Jackson, Murray Gusseck, Ralph Hardimon, Glen Crosby, Roger Carter, Eric Shriver, Matt Ramey, Jim Ragsdale, Brian Stevens, Rick Barclay, Derrick Fields, and Kevin Welborn. In the indoor scene, Taha has also experienced multiple seasons of success as an instructor. He was the Battery Coordinator and Movement Specialist for the 2014 WGI Independent A Gold Medalist, Lone Star Independent. Taha has been working with Monarch Independent since itʼs inaugural season in 2015. Monarch Independent was the Texas Color Guard Circuit Independent Open Gold Medalist and WGI Independent Open Finalist in both 2015 and 2016. In 2017, Monarch made its World Class debut and since then has been the Texas Color Guard Circuit Independent World Champion, as well as WGI Championships PIW Finalist. Taha was also the battery specialist for the 2016 PSO Bronze Medalist, Cy-Fair High school and 2019 PSO Silver Medalist, Clear Brook High School. Taha proudly endorses Pearl / Adams, Vic Firth, and Zildjian.
Technicians and Consultants
Brandon comes from a world of percussion in the Sacramento, and San Jose, California area. He was a student of Vanden HS and the CSU Sacramento percussion studio, and a performer with the Sacramento Freelancers indoor percussion, Mandarins, Santa Clara Vanguard, and Blue Devils Entertainment groups.
Brandon's teaching career has evolved since then with influential directors and staff from Del Oro HS, Saratoga HS, Live Oak HS, Amador Valley HS, Team Percussion USA and many others from the Bay Area. Most recently, he experienced his third season on percussion staff with the Blue Knights.
Currently residing in San Leandro, Brandon works with local middle and high school band programs as well as independent groups for indoor and outdoor percussion.
Born and raised in Spring, Texas, Zach Borromeo started his marching career at Spring High School, where he also studied chamber and orchestral percussion under Terry McKinney (Baton Rouge Symphony). Upon graduating in 2015, he went on to study under Matthew Strauss (Houston Symphony), and world-renowned percussionist Svet Stoyanov.
Zach has performed with the TMEA All-State Orchestra, and with the Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, and Percussion Studio at University of Miami. His marching experience includes Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps, University of Miami Marching Band, Monarch Independent Percussion, Marching Vlogs All-Star Drumline, and Broken City Percussion. Zach has also been a performer with Blue Devils Entertainment, Kanye West's Sunday Service Choir, and America's Got Talent.
As an educator, Zach has worked with Klein Forest HS (Spring, TX), and Spring HS (Spring, TX), where he served as Battery Coordinator. Zach currently works in Murrieta, CA with Warm Springs MS, Murrieta Mesa HS, and Vista Murrieta HS.
Thomas Claesen is excited to be joining the Mandarins percussion staff as a quad tech. He has taught marching ensembles and English in Europe, Africa, and the Americas.
Born and raised in Belgium, Thomas moved to the States in the fall of 2017. He now lives in Nashville, TN with his wife Chelsea and their energetic dog Rachel. The cross-continental move brought about a career switch from being an English lecturer at the collegiate level to becoming a designer and entrepreneur. Thomas owns Clawsun , a web design agency that has built websites for Seavine, Rhythm X, and TonalEnergy.
Music has been a constant throughout Thomas’ life. He marched drum corps at The Academy, Santa Clara Vanguard, and The Cavaliers, aging out in 2011. In 2019 he was a guest performer with Top Secret Drum Corps. Teaching wise, he has been on staff with Rhythm X since 2018. His other teaching experiences include organizations such as DrumSpirit in Belgium (2010-2017), the Field Band Foundation in South Africa (2010 & 2014), The Cavaliers (2012-2013), and most recently Blue Knights (2017- 2019). Thomas represents Innovative Percussion as an educational artist.
Nic Rundell is a composer, educator, and audio engineer based in San Marcos, Texas. Currently, he is a student at Texas State majoring in Sound Recording Technology. He is involved with Dripping Springs High School as the Battery Caption Head and is a freelance percussion composer.
Nic began his marching percussion career at Cy-Woods High School before going on to perform with Guardians Drum and Bugle Corps (2016), Madison Scouts (2017), and Blue Knights (2018-2019), where he aged out as the battery captain and received the Dan Burke Memorial Award. Additionally, he spent 4 years with Monarch Independent Percussion (2017-2020) and is currently performing with Broken City Percussion (2021).
As an educator, Nic has had the pleasure of instructing for high school programs across Texas including Cy-Fair High School, Cy-Woods High School, Pearland High School, Dripping Springs High School, and several others.
In his free time, Nic is working to build his portfolio as an audio engineer, ranging from recording, mixing or mastering various studio projects.
Elliott is a percussion instructor and graphic designer hailing from Covina, CA. His marching experience includes two years with Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps in 2011 and 2012, Elan Percussion in 2015, POW Percussion in 2016, and Pulse Percussion in 2017. As an instructor,
Elliott has been involved with several ensembles throughout the Southern California area since 2015. He currently teaches at Ayala High School, Etiwanda High School, and Sunny Hills High School. He's also spent some time on staff with Pacific Crest in 2017-2018 and with POW Percussion in 2018. He proudly uses Innovative Percussion Sticks and Mallets.
Elliott's design studio, Penrose Creative, has serviced multiple drum corps, independent indoor percussion ensembles, live bands, and various high school and collegiate level programs across the nation, providing a wide range of work including, but not limited to: merchandising, show props and floor design, social media content, and customized rehearsal and performance apparel.
2022 will mark Elliott's third year on staff with the Mandarins Drum & Bugle Corps.
Aundray Edwards received his Bachelors in Music Education from the University of Houston. Aundray has been a percussion specialist/technician for several high school marching programs in Houston and the surrounding areas, includingÂ Cypress Creek High School (winning PAS call for tapes) as well as Cy-Fair High School.
Currently, Aundray resides in Lake Jackson, TX where he is the Assistant Director of Percussion at Brazoswood High School and all feeder programs including Brazoswood High School, Clute Intermediate, and Rasco Middle School in Brazosport ISD.
Aundray has extensive percussion performance experience ranging from DCI to the Collegiate world. While attending UH he was a part of all the performing ensembles, including the wind ensemble and symphony orchestra, which both were invited to perform at the Midwest Band clinic in Chicago, Illinois, as well as the Texas Music Educator Association clinic. His further percussion performance experience includes the Moores School Percussion Ensemble winning PAS call for tapes and marching snare drum with the Troopers Drum & Bugle Corps.
Aundray currently serves as one of the bass drum technicians for Monarch Independent since 2016. Aundray has also served as the bass drum technician for the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps as well as the Guardians Drum & Bugle Corps.
Benjamin, known by most as “Benjy,” originally hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently lives in Bloomington, Indiana where he works as a high school biology and chemistry teacher.
Benjy graduated from Indiana University with a bachelorʼs degree in biology as well as a masterʼs degree in secondary education. In his time in college, Benjy performed with the Indiana University Drumline for five years, and proudly works with the group once again as the IU Drumlineʼs current assistant director.
In his marching career, Benjy is proud to have performed with the Blue Stars Drum & Bugle Corps, Legacy Indoor, and Rhythm X. Since aging out, Benjy has worked as a bass technician with high schools across the Cincinnati and Indianapolis areas, most recently teaching Center Grove High School, Legacy, Legacy Open, Veritas, and the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps. Benjy is proud is to be endorsed by Innovative Percussion, and is incredibly excited to continue his journey with the Mandarins.
Front Ensemble Technician
Emily Magee is a current resident of Forth Worth, Texas where she is currently working towards her Master's Degree from Texas Christain University in Percussion Performance. She received her Bachelor's Degree from Middle Tennessee State University in Instrumental Music Education.
Emily has proudly studied under Lalo Davila, Dr. Brian Mueller, Julie Davila, Matt Jordan, Dr. Brian A West, and Joey Carter. Emily has taught several high school percussion programs throughout Tennessee, North Carolina, and Fort Worth, Texas. Currently, she works as a private lesson instructor for Brewer Schools, and a front ensemble and audio technician for Lone Star High School. She also co-owns and operates a marching percussion arrangement/composition company, EMDS Percussion.
Emily marched four seasons of DCI and two seasons in WGI: Colts (2015), Blue Knights (2016/2017 - center marimba/section leader in '17), and Colts (2019 - center marimba/co-section leader), Atlanta Quest (2016), and Music City Mystique (2017).
Emily is involved with the Percussive Arts Society and has been a member since 2015. She won the 2016 Chamber Percussion Competition and currently serves as the committee chair for the University Student Committee.
Front Ensemble Technician
Ivan Trac is a freelance percussionist and private lesson teacher based in the Austin area. He currently teaches private lessons at multiple schools in the Leander ISD. In addition, this will be his third year working with the front ensemble at Vista Ridge High School, the 2018 Texas UIL 6A State Champion.
Since moving to Austin in the summer of 2017, Ivan has performed with a variety of ensembles and community groups including Density 512, Cedar Park Winds, and Central Texas Master Singers.
Ivan earned his B.M. from the University of Florida in 2013 and his M.M. from Lee University in 2016. During his time at the University of Florida, Ivan won the concerto competition in the fall of 2012 with Eric Ewazenʼs Concerto for Marimba and Strings. Ivan also spent two summers (2011 and 2012) playing marimba with the Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps and served as co-section leader in 2012. His past teachers include Dr. Andy Harnsberger, Dr. Kenneth Broadway, Dr. Ellis Hampton, and Brandon Cruz.
Front Ensemble Technician
Chandler Long is a band director, clinician, and technician in Houston, Texas, and has had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of programs across the state. He is currently a member of the front ensemble instructional staff at Monarch Independent, a world-class indoor percussion ensemble based in Houston.
Chandler has had the privilege of performing with Monarch for two consecutive seasons (2017-2018) and has performed with various collegiate groups at conventions all over the country including PASIC, TMEA, TBA and ABA. Chandler is Sam Houston State Universityʼs 4th annual concerto competition grand champion.
Chandler currently resides in Rosenberg, Texas, where he is an assistant band director for Lamar Consolidated High School as well as a percussion specialist for the Lamar Consolidated ISD. Chandler is honored to serve The Mandarins as a member of the instructional staff for the front ensemble for the 2022 season.
Front Ensemble Technician
Dominique Lousteau is a percussion instructor and arranger from New Orleans, LA. Dominique received his Bachelors of Science in Mathematics from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he was a member of their Drumline for four years and served as section leader his final two.
Dominique's pageantry experience includes being in the front ensemble at Louisiana Stars, The Boston Crusaders, Elite Independent and Monarch Independent. While at Monarch Independent, Dominique had the privilege of serving as the front ensemble section leader from 2019-2021 as well as ensemble captain in 2021.
Dominique has taught at several programs such as Louisiana Stars, Lafayette High School, Central Lafourche High School, and St. Martin Independent.
Dominique serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for HUE Marching Arts and is a member of the design team. Currently, Dominique is an Algebra II teacher at Central Lafourche High School in Raceland, Louisiana.
Murray Gusseck is considered an innovator in the world of marching percussion. He marched as a tenor player in the Santa Clara Vanguard from 1988–1992 and went on to instruct the group for many years afterward in a variety of capacities. In the eighteen years he was a part of the SCV organization, he received many accolades as a player, teacher, and composer.
Known for a unique compositional style and a propensity for achieving a smooth, drumset-oriented approach to the marching percussion genre, Murray also helped start a trend of drum line “parking lot” shows in the early 90s by writing showcase etudes for the battery ensemble to play during their pre-show warm-up routines.
In 1998, Gusseck teamed up with Jim Casella to co-found Tapspace Publications, a percussion sheet music publisher. With humble beginnings, the company went from being a marching percussion side project based on the marching compositions of its two founders to a real force in the world of percussion music.
Gusseck proudly endorses Remo drumheads, Brooks Drums, and is a signature artist for Vic Firth. He has presented clinics across America as well as in Japan, Thailand, and Singapore. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest where he comanages Tapspace and plays drums in Portland-based bands such as Fresh Track, Mars Retrieval Unit, and Life During Wartime.
Kent Lineberry lives in Grain Valley, MO, and loves spending time with his amazing wife Becky, their blended family, and their Sheepadoodle, Scout.
Kent is a teacher in the Independence School District. In the past, he has served as an assistant band director (director of percussion) for Blue Springs High School, Brittany Hill Middle School, and Paul Kinder Middle School, in the Blue Springs School District. He also previously served as an assistant band director (director of percussion) at Rockwood Summit High School and Rockwood South Middle School.
Kent is an artist for Pearl Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Evans Drumheads, and Innovative Percussion sticks and mallets. Kent served as one of the lead staff members and instructors for Gateway Indoor Percussion from 2005 through 2011. He also served on the percussion staff of the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps from 2000-2005, 2007, 2017-2019, and on the percussion staff of The Crossmen Drum & Bugle Corps in 2010. He served the Spirit of Atlanta Drum & Bugle Corps as a percussion program consultant in 2015. These organizations are very special to his heart. Kent has also been involved with many other successful high school percussion programs, including Jefferson City High School, OʼFallon Township High School (where he served as assistant marching band director), and Parkway South High School. He has served as a clinician and consultant for the 37th Kingswood Drum & Bugle Corps from Bristol, England.
Kent has been a percussion and visual adjudicator throughout the Midwest for almost two decades, and writes drill and staging for marching bands and indoor drumlines. Kent has also been fortunate enough to teach clinics on percussion in the Midwest and in Europe. He served on the Percussion Advisory Board for WGI in 2009. Kent served as the Vice President (2012 - 2014) and as President (2014 - 2016) of the Missouri Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society.