Matthew K. Howe – Cathedral City High School Director of Bands                                            

Matthew Howe is the Director of Bands at Cathedral City High School, a position he has held since 2014. He is also an adjunct instructor of Percussion Studies at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, CA . When not teaching, Mr. Howe also plays music professionally with several orchestras and jazz groups throughout Southern California. Mr. Howe received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional Music from Berklee College of Music (’95) in Boston, where he graduated cum laude. He earned his Masters of Music Education from Boston University (’12), where he also graduated with honors. He is a member of The Southern California Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA), the California Band Directors Association (CBDA), the Percussive Arts Society (PAS), World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE), The Western Band Association (WBA), and The National Association for Music Education (NAfME). He currently resides in Palm Desert, CA with his wife and daughters.


Walt Simonsen- Trumpet Instruction/Marching Arranger

Walt is one of the most in-demand young musicians in the industry, and “This is Trumpetology,” is just the latest example of his work. He has performed with a wide variety of musicians, including Steve Miller, Grammy Award winner Mary Mary, Bill Holman, Bob Florence, Bob Mintzer, Radiohead, Of Monsters and Men, and Alicia Keys. He has also performed in the 50th and 51st Grammy Awards and the 62nd Golden Globes. Recent notable performances include 2015 Playboy Jazz Festival with Gerald Wilson and many Sinatra 100 celebrations. His jazz arranging is featured on the upcoming major motion picture titled, “Going in Style” and he can currently be heard the Michael Buble album, “Nobody but Me.”

As a marching arts designer, Walt has had the opportunity to work with numerous award winning marching bands, winter guards, and indoor drum lines. His music and visual arrangements have garnered first placed finishes in mutliple circuts. Additionally he has served as a show coordinator for several schools and was a member of the Pacific Crest brass staff from 2015-2017.

In addition to his performing, playing, and writing Walt is passionate and dedicated to sharing his love of music with young musicians. His community involvement includes the Harmony Project and YOLA. He is currently on faculty for the Colburn School of Music Jazz Workshop leading ensembles that have gone to the Monterey Jazz Festival for the past 3 years, and teaching private students that have recently won several Downbeat Awards. He’s also proud to be a clinician and guest artist with local and national jazz festivals. Whenever possible, he loves to work with music educators and speak at SCSBOA and other conferences to help move the art form forward.

Walter Simonsen in an alum of the University of North Texas and the University of Southern California Thornton School of music. He holds his BM, MM, and DMA in Jazz Studies.

Walter Simonsen exclusively plays Stomvi USA trumpets & mouthpieces.

Abel Santos – Horn/Low Brass Instruction
Abel Santos has been involved with the Cathedral City High School program since 2004, where he coaches the French Horn and Low Brass sections of the music program and guest conducts with the Symphonic Band. Abel’s musical experience started when he was taking piano lessons at the age of 5. His public music training started when he was in the 5th grade with percussion and gradually started learning how to play brass instruments. His first brass instrument was the Euphonium, where he won several honor band and solo & ensemble honors. In high school is when he picked up the horn, and stuck with it ever since, playing it throughout his present day life with many professional groups, college ensembles, and several studio ensembles. His current and past teachers have included Jim Atkinson, Paul Klintworth, and Lisa Cherry. Some movie, TV, and cartoon credits include feature film Igor, the TV ABC family series Greek, and the Nickelodeon cartoon The Fairly Oddparents. His musical marching experience includes performing, coaching, and judging throughout the country. Abel was involved with the Palm Desert HS marching band as a student, Riverside City College as a student, and several drum corps throughout the summer. His teaching experiences have included several high schools, drum corps and private lesson students throughout the country, with groups such as Carolina Crown D&BC, Jersey Surf D&BC, Upland HS, and Palm Desert HS. His judging experience was with the Southern California Band & Orchestra Association, where he judged marching ensembles for two years before dedicating most of his life to his education. Abel judged both the visual & music captions in that circuit. Abel currently resides in Long Beach, where he is a part time student at CSU-Long Beach.


Nicholas Casillas – Saxophone Instruction
Nicholas Casillas holds bachelors and masters degrees in music from UCLA. He currently teaches at Paul Revere Middle School, Cathedral City High School and The Claremont Community School of Music. In addition he maintains a small private students with students ages 10 to 65.
As a performer he is comfortable in various musicals setting. Currently he performs with the 210 Saxophone Quartet, The Allan Wasserman Jazz Ensemble, The Cucamonga Collective,The Westside Collective, The Swing Riots, and Whats Next Ensemble. All of these groups work closely with local composers. They encourage the programming of new music in performance situations.
Future performance engagements include such diverse venues as Pizza Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Wedding Ceremonies, LA Valley College’s Recital Series, and the Sherman Oaks Street Fair.

Joyce Lawrence – Oboe/Flute Instruction
Joyce Kelley Lawrence began her musical training on piano at the age of two and represents the fourth generation of professional musicians in her family.  She has taught and played music professionally for over 20 years with a focus on flute and oboe. Joyce is a graduate of UCLA where she earned her Bachelor of Music degree with a specialty in performance on oboe and flute studying with Sheridan Stokes, Jim Walker, Earl Dumler and Barbara Northcutt.  While in college she had the honor of being both principal flute and then principal oboe of the prestigious American Youth Symphony under the direction of Mehli Mehta and was honored by winning awards in both flute and oboe, including the Pasadena Competition.  After taking a year to study with different professionals across the country, she went on to work on her Artist’s Diploma at USC with the Dean’s Scholarship and played with the USC Scholarship Woodwind Quintet.  While attending USC her professional performing career began to flourish. Joyce has performed professionally all over Southern California.  She was a member of the Opera Pacific and performed regularly with the Pacific Symphony, San Diego Chamber Orchestra, American Ballet Theater, Santa Barbara Symphony, Royal Ballet as well as many other orchestras and shows.  She has freelanced in the recording studios for major motion pictures, records and television.  Some of these credits include Godzilla, Quest for Camelot, Final Destination as well as the TV shows Superman and Batman.
Prior to, and while raising three children, Joyce developed a private teaching studio.  Over her professional career this has been the most rewarding experience for Joyce.  She has taught students from the age of three to adult and enjoys watching the growth of her students both musically and individually.  Joyce’s success is driven by her vibrant love of music and the desire to pass this on to others.


Juan Gallegos- Clarinet Instruction

Juan Gallegos is currently Adjunct Professor of Music at Riverside City College and Clarinetist with the Santa Barbara Symphony. As an active freelancer, he regularly joins the clarinet section of the Los Angeles Opera, San Diego Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Long Beach Opera, Pasadena Symphony, and has previously worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. As a soloist, Juan has been featured on KUSC’s Sunday’s Live from LACMA, performed all over Europe as well as at the Sydney Opera Hall, and has been a performing artist for the International Clarinet Association premiering Brett Kroening’s Fuego. He can be heard on several motion picture soundtracks including Star Wars, The BFG, Toy Story 4, Cars 3, and many more. As a conductor, Juan is also the music director of the Diamond Youth Symphony Orchestra.


Anthony Huerta- Battery Percussion Instruction

Anthony Huerta is the current Battery Percussion Instructor at CCHS.  He is a full time marching percussion instructor in Southern California, a composer, arranger, visual designer, program consultant, clinician and author.  He is a former DCI World Champion Gold Medalist and WGI World Silver Medalist. Marching experience includes:
Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps
DCI 2009 World Champion Gold Medalist
Fred Sanford High Percussion Award
RCC Indoor Percussion
WGI 2009 Silver Medalist
Pulse Percussion
WGI 2008 World Finalist
DCI Open Class Experience:
Impulse Drum and Bugle Corps 2007
Yamato Drum and Bugle Corps 2006
Website –
Virtual private lessons, distance learning programs and drumming resources.


Sarah Culbertson- Front Ensemble/Symphony Band Percussion Instruction

Sarah Culbertson is the Front Ensemble Instructor for Cathedral City High School. Her experience includes one year of Blue Devils B, one year of Mandarins, and two years of Santa Clara Vanguard, where she was a DCI 2018 World Champion Gold Medalist. She recently completed her 3rd year at RCC Indoor Percussion. Her hobbies include playing jazz vibraphone and hiking. CCHS is the 6th school Sarah has taught at and is excited to continue to help the program grow.


Jennifer Dean-Knapp  – Flute Instruction
Jennifer Dean-Knapp began her musical studies at the age of nine while she attended band classes at Palm Desert Middle School with Mrs. Karen Dorn.  She was drum major of both her middle school (PDMS) and high school (PDHS) marching bands as well as sectional leader of the flute section.  As a student, she performed frequently at both solo and ensemble festivals as well as band festivals with the Southern California Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA).  Ms. Dean-Knapp also had the opportunity to perform with the SCSBOA Junior High and High School honor bands on both flute and oboe (twice on oboe and once of flute) while she was in high school.
Ms. Dean-Knapp is currently in her ninth year as the Director of Instrumental Music at James Workman Middle School in Palm Springs, California. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Flute Performance and Music Education from the University of California, Los Angeles where she studied Flute with Sheridon Stokes (famous LA studio musician) and David Shostak (Principal Flute of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra). While at UCLA she performed with the UCLA Philharmonia Orchestra, UCLA Bruin Marching Band, UCLA Wind Ensemble and the UCLA Gluck Woodwind Quintet. In 2004 Ms. Dean-Knapp received her Master’s Degree in Flute Performance from the University of Redlands where she was a Teaching Assistant for the Flute Professor, Sara Andon (Principal Flute of the Redlands Symphony and LA studio musician) and the Director of Bands, Dr. Eddie Smith. Ms Dean-Knapp recently finished her Administrative Services Credential at the University of Redlands and serves as the Secretary for the School Site Council at James Workman Middle School.
In addition to teaching her middle school students, Ms. Dean-Knapp also enjoys teaching her private flute students in the Palm Springs and Indio area, as well as providing clinician work for various schools in the Palm Springs and Riverside area.


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