Madison Scouts Announce 2007 Percussion Staff

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The Madison Scouts are pleased to announce the full percussion staff for the 2007 season. “As we assembled our percussion teaching staff, our goal was to find the most dynamic, creative and experienced teachers we could who also believe in the Madison Scouts,” stated Executive Director Jeff Spanos. “I’m excited to see the blend of influences and backgrounds we have assembled with our new percussion staff and how we’ll evolve the look and sound of the Madison Scouts percussion program.”

Percussion Caption Head & Percussion Arranger Roger Carter has been a staple on the West Coast percussion scene for the past 15 years. His marching experience began in 1989 when he played quads for the Anaheim Kingsmen and, later that same year, snare for the Velvet Knights. His marching experience continued with the Blue Devils, where he was section leader in 1994 and 1995, and instructor (’96-’01). During his time with the organization, the corps won four DCI World Championships and three High Percussion awards. Throughout his tenure with the Blue Devils, he was influential in developing the sound and look of the corps’ drum line. Carter has previously worked with Riverside Community College as their primary drum instructor, James Logan HS and the Sacramento Freelancers indoor percussion ensemble. He is actively performing, teaching and writing for numerous groups throughout the country. Carter has been featured as a drum set artist for several acts in the U.S. as well as in Europe and Japan.

Front Ensemble Music Arranger & Instructor Taras Nahirniak is a freelance arranger and composer with numerous published works to his credit, including a full-scale musical, “Everyman.” He writes and composes for many drum corps and marching bands in the United States, Europe and Japan. Nahirniak is a sought-after composer who won the 2002 Wisconsin Choral Directors Association Composers Award and was recently commissioned to compose a five movement fully-orchestrated piece – “Night Dances” — for the Madison Ballet, which was performed by the Madison Symphony Orchestra at the opening of the Overture Center. Nahirniak has been affiliated with the Madison Scouts for over three decades.

Front Ensemble Caption Head Andy Bliss is active as a performer and pedagogue, and is currently the Percussion Instructor at Centre College in Danville, KY. A Madison Scout alumnus, Bliss has diverse experience in several genres of percussion, which he brings into all of his percussive endeavors. He is currently on the marching percussion faculty for the Bands of America Summer Symposium. He has arranged and/or instructed for the Capital Sound Drum & Bugle Corps, Yamaha Sounds of Summer Clinics, the University of Kentucky drum line, the Northern Illinois University drum line and for Rock Island High School (IL), which won High Percussion at state finals under his instruction and arrangements.

Off the field, Bliss has performed concerts and given workshops throughout the Midwest, most notably at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention and the Bands of America World Percussion Symposium. He is a member of the Percussive Arts Society Music Technology Committee and his research on percussion education has been published in Percussive Notes. Bliss is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Percussion Performance at the University of Kentucky, where he studies with James Campbell.

Percussion Coordinator / Snare Instructor Mitch Casados has been intimately involved with rudimental percussion for the past 14 years. He was formally introduced to rudimental percussion as a snare drummer at Colton HS and continued his experience with The Inland Cadets (‘92), Velvet Knights Indoor (‘93-‘95), Allegiance Elite (‘94), Velvet Knights (‘95), Riverside Community College (‘96) and the Blue Devils (’96, ‘99). These experiences exposed him to numerous important percussion influences such as Tom Float, Paul Rennick, Dave Glyde, Scott Johnson, Kevin Murry, Roger Carter and many others. Casados has also been a member of the California State University-Fresno percussion ensemble and Fresno City Orchestra.

Teaching has been a strong passion of Casados’ since he was in high school. In addition to writing for his own Colton HS while a member, Casados has taught and/or arranged for many lauded groups including Blue Devils B Corps, Madera HS, Bullard HS, Rubidoux HS and Clovis West HS. Casados is pursuing multiple graduate degrees, including a Ph. D. in Psychology, at the University of Wisconsin.

Tenor / Percussion Instructor Paul Weber marched with the Madison Scouts from 1998 to 2001, where he served as section leader in 2000 and 2001 and placed first at the 2001 Drum Corps Midwest Individual & Ensemble contest. After aging out with the Scouts, Weber served on the percussion staff of the Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps from 2002-2006. Paul is the percussion caption head for the Irondale (MN) High School Marching Band and is also the director of the Irondale High School Winter Drum Line. He is the President of the Minnesota Percussion Association and a past member of the WGI Percussion Advisory Board.

Bass Instructor Vince Gardner has enjoyed a long career in the drum corps activity. Gardner first marched with the Anaheim Kingsmen in 1989 and ultimately spent time with the Velvet Knights and Santa Clara Vanguard before aging out of The Cadets of Bergen County in 1993. He has previously instructed the Velvet Knights, Bluecoats, Pacific Crest, Santa Clara Vanguard, Riverside Community College, Aracadia HS and Basic HS. As well, he worked with Tom Float from 2003-2005 at Universal Studios Japan performing live percussion shows. Gardner was also a performing member of the Remo marching percussion ensemble from 2003-2006.

Tenor Instructor Miguel Guatarrama is an alumnus of the Blue Devils, where he marched quads from 2001- 2004. Prior to marching with BD, he played quads with Riverside Community College and Pacific Crest. Guatarrama is the percussion caption head and arranger for Ayala HS, Cerritos HS and Sunny Hills HS, and teaches quads for Riverside Community College.

Front Ensemble Instructor Brad Meyer earned his Bachelor of Music Performance in Percussion degree from the University of Kentucky with top honors of Summa Cumm Laude. While at the UK, he played with the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, UK Wind Ensemble, UK Steel Band, UK Jazz Ensemble, UK Lab Band, UK Jazz Combos, UK Gamelan, UK Percussion Ensemble, and performed solos at UK over 50 times. Meyer is completing his Masters of Music Performance in Percussion degree at the University of South Carolina where he teaches and composes music for the USC Drum line. Meyer was a part of The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps from 2002 to 2005 as a member of the front ensemble. During his tenure with The Cadets, he was a part of three High-Percussion Awards and one DCI World Championship. Currently, he is the Front Ensemble Caption Head of the Palmetto Percussion indoor performing group, and he teaches private lessons. Additionally, he is a freelance percussionist with emphases on keyboard percussion, concert percussion, marching percussion, ethnic percussion, drum set, and composition .

Program Design Consultant Christos Theo has been an arranger, clinician, adjudicator, and consultant for over 25 years. In addition to his responsibilities as a Professor in the Department of Art & Design at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Theo remains active within the drum corps and marching band communities. Over the past two-plus decades, he has been the Principal Percussion Arranger for the Madison Scouts, and Percussion and Program Consultant with The Cavaliers. Theo has worked with many high school and college marching bands, drum corps and percussion ensembles throughout the United States, Canada and The Netherlands. Chris will be an essential part of the design process and a strong resource for the percussion teamand arrangers.

For almost 70 years, the Madison Scouts have been an integral part of developing and shaping young men’s lives through musical enrichment and marching excellence. We are a non-profit youth arts organization known for presenting energetic, powerful and crowd-pleasing performances. Our commitment to excellence serves as the foundation for our ultimate goal of teaching our members important life skills through music and the arts, as well as preparing them to be successful, contributing members of society.

To learn more about the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps call 608-237-8775, e-mail Executive Director Jeff Spanos at executivedirector [at] madisonscouts [dot] org or visit

Posted by on Saturday, January 27th, 2007. Filed under DCI World.