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AMEA 2019 Clinicians


Michael Chambless is in his fourth year teaching at Thompson Middle School, and in his third year as Director of Bands. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Alabama in the spring of 2014. In college he was an active performer in the UA Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Saxophone Quartet, and Million Dollar Band. Prior to teaching at Thompson Middle School, Mr. Chambless was the band director at Hillcrest and Duncanville Middle Schools. Bands under his direction have consistently received superior ratings at Alabama's Music Performance Assessment.


Rusty Courson (b. 1963) is a native of Phenix City, Alabama. Dr. Courson earned the BME (1989), MSE – Music Education (1996), and MSE – Educational Administration (2007) from Troy University, and the Ed.S. (2010) and Ed.D. (2018) in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. Mr. Courson retired at the end of the 2015-16 school year after 27 years as a music educator in the State of Alabama, and is currently serving as an adjunct instructor at Troy University in a part-time capacity. He taught at Russell County High School, South Girard School (Phenix City), Eufaula High School, and Smiths Station High School. His marching, jazz, and concert bands consistently earned Superior Ratings throughout his career, along with numerous Best In Class awards and Grand Championships. After taking a two-year sabbatical to complete his doctorate, he has returned to the classroom as Director of Bands at W.H. Shaw High School in Columbus, Georgia. Dr. Courson has held leadership roles within AMEA, most recently as Past-President of ABA.


Valerie Diaz Leroy joined QuaverMusic.com as a lead trainer in 2015. Before putting on the green Q, she served as a dedicated music educator for 13 years at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, Florida. Valerie received her B.A. in Vocal Performance from Boston College, holds Orff Levels I & II, and Kodály Levels I & II Certifications. As part of her professional preparation, Valerie has been researching the historical evolution of musical instruments with particular emphasis on ethnomusicology and the trajectory of the banjo. This has added value and dimension to her studies of folk music . Valerie currently lives a very music-inspired life in Maryville, Tennessee!


Ellary Draper is Assistant Professor of Music Therapy at The University of Alabama. Dr. Draper has worked as a music therapist with a variety of ages and populations and as an elementary general music teacher. Currently she serves as the Special Education Chair for the Alabama Music Educators Association. Her research is published in the Journal of Music Therapy, Journal of Research in Music Education, General Music Today, and Update: Applications of Research in Music Education. She holds degrees in music education and music therapy from Westminster Choir College, Florida State University, and The University of Texas at Austin.


Dr. Mark Foster is the band director at John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham and has been teaching band for 29 years. He has previously taught band Mountain Brook Junior High School, Gardendale High School, and Hueytown High School. He holds the bachelor of science, master of arts, and doctor of education degrees from the University of Alabama, as well as National Board Certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. He is a frequent guest conduc- tor at honor bands throughout the Southeast, and he maintains an active schedule of performing as a trombone player


Percussionist Benjamin Fraley and clarinetist Jennifer Fraley formed the Sources Duo in 2014, and have since performed and given clinics at music schools throughout the United States. Focusing on newly written or rarely performed works, their ever- increasing repertoire is influenced by a variety of musical styles and cultures, and reflects both performers’ versatility on several instruments. The duo’s current commissions explore the sound of the E-flat clarinet and percussion with works by composers Jamie Whitmarsh, Jerod Sommerfeldt, and Danny Clay. Both Jennifer and Benjamin Fraley maintain active performance schedules in addition to serving as faculty at Troy University.


Michelle Gann received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Education from Mississippi State University. While there, she was a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Gamma Beta Phi honor societies. In addition, she graduated Summa Cum Laude, was inducted into the MSU Hall of Fame and was recognized as MSU’s Graduate Woman of the Year. Ms. Gann has taught high school in Alabama for twenty-six years. During that time, her bands have received numerous superior ratings at both marching and concert competitions including the Alabama State Band Festival and the Music Performance Assessment. She has adjudicated competitions and conducted honor bands at various locations across Alabama and Georgia. She is cur- rently in her 20th year as the director of bands at Gordo High School in Gordo, Alabama.


Michael Guzman is Director of Bands at Tuscaloosa County High School and also serves as Co-founder and Artistic Direc- tor of the Black Warrior Winds, an adult community band serving the West Alabama. He holds degrees from the University of Miami and Florida International University, in Music Education and Wind Conducting, respectively. For much of the last decade, Guzman has been a sought out musician and teacher in Florida and Alabama. Bands under his director in both have been con- sistently rated superior and he has served as an adjudicator and conductor throughout the Southeast.


42 October/November 2018


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