(See full press release here: SOA Percussion Staff 2018)


Dr. John M. Cypert –Caption Head/Batterie Arranger 

Dr. John M. Cypert returns to Spirit of Atlanta for a third consecutive season.  John is a specialist at Duncan Creek Elementary School in Hoschton, Georgia, and is in his eighteenth season as the percussion coordinator and arranger for the University of Georgia Redcoat Marching Band. John has served as the music arranger and ensemble director for Pariah Percussion Theatre and Odyssey Percussion.  John is an alumnus of Spirit of Atlanta and has previously served as the percussion caption head and arranger for the Crossmen.

John holds a Bachelor’s degree in Percussion Performance from the University of Georgia, a Master’s degree in Percussion Performance from the University of Arkansas, and his Doctor of Education degree in Music from the University of Georgia.

John’s professional experiences include performances with the Augusta Symphony, Augusta Opera, Gainesville Symphony, Macon Symphony, and the Northwest Arkansas Symphony.

Matt Jordan – Front Ensemble Arranger/Coordinator

We are excited to welcome Matt Jordan back into the Spirit family as the Front Ensemble Arranger and Coordinator.  Matt currently works for Pearl Corporation/Adams Musical Instruments and as an Adjunct Professor of Percussion at Middle Tennessee State University. He has completed all coursework for the Doctor of Music degree from the Florida State University, holds a Master’s Degree from the University of North Texas, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Middle Tennessee State University. He is also currently the front ensemble arranger for Music City Mystique and the Assistant Music Ensemble Coordinator for the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.

From 2011-2014, Matt served as front ensemble arranger for the Phantom Regiment, and has taught/arranged for numerous groups throughout the world, including Carolina Crown, Spirit of Atlanta, Max Percussion (Bangkok, Thailand), Bangkok Society Drumline, and multiple successful high school programs.

Matt performs regularly with the Nashville Symphony and has also performed with Intersection Contemporary Music Ensemble, Tallahassee Symphony, San Angelo Symphony, Eastern Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Tennessee Philharmonic.  Matt was the timpanist of The Cavaliers (2003-04) and Music City Mystique (2000-05). Matt is truly an international performer and clinician, and we are thrilled to have him join up with Spirit this year.

Batterie Staff

Daniel Allen, Batterie Coordinator

Daniel Allen returns to Spirit for his third season in an expanded role as Batterie Coordinator.  As a performer, Daniel has marched with the Crossmen (2013) and the Cavaliers (2014-2015). Additionally, Daniel serves on the education team for Atlanta Quest, where he also performed for the 2013-2015 seasons.  As a member of these organizations, Daniel has earned various performance awards and served in leadership positions. Daniel is active as a percussion educator throughout the southeast United States.



Snares (Jeremy Wall, Alex Vaughan, James McDaniel, Nick Tucker)

We welcome Jeremy Wall as a Snare Tech on the percussion staff this year.  As a performer, Jeremy has performed various WGI ensembles including Green Thunder Percussion (2011-2013) and Cavaliers Indoor Percussion (2017). He marched as a snare drummer with the Cavaliers from 2014 to 2016. Jeremy recently earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Illinois, and he now serves as percussion director at Goshen Community Schools in Goshen, Indiana where he oversees both the marching and concert percussion programs.

Alex Vaughn returns in his third season with the Spirit staff. Alex has performed on snare drum with several world-class WGI and DCI ensembles including Palmetto Percussion, Carolina Crown, and the Bluecoats.  Alex holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Western Carolina University, and currently on the education staff for the WGI independent open class ensemble, Civitas Independent.

Returning to Spirit of Atlanta this season is James McDaniel. James marched snare for Carolina Crown, Phantom Regiment under the direction of Paul Rennick, as well as with Spirit, where he joined the staff in 2007.   James holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Jacksonville State University, where as a member of the Marching Southerners he was the snare section leader in 2008.

Nick Tucker joins the staff this year after marching snare drum in 2016 and 2017, serving as drumline section leader both years.  Nick is currently an instrumental music education major at Jacksonville State University, graduating in May 2018. While at JSU, he has participated in the Marching Southerners drumline for five years and has performed with the JSU Percussion Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, and Symphonic Band.  He is excited to take on a new role as a member of the staff with Spirit.

Tenors (Nelson Dean, Avery Melucci, Conner McBee)

2018 marks Nelson Dean’s first year as a tenor technician for Spirit of Atlanta.  Nelson has performed with Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps, Atlanta Quest Indoor Drumline, CorpsVets Drum and Bugle Corps, and the University of Georgia Redcoat Band.  As an educator, Nelson has worked with more than thirty scholastic and independent percussion programs in the eastern United States as an instructor, designer, and clinician. He has also worked with Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps and is currently the percussion caption head at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, GA.

Avery Melucci is new to the Spirit batterie staff this year and brings five years of drum corps quad experience (Crossmen – 2013; Cavaliers – 2014-2017).  He is currently teaching at the open class WGI group Ancient City Ensemble hailing from the Gainesville, Florida area and has taught multiple high school programs in and around the Tampa Bay Area.

Since 2012, Conner McBee has performed as a quad drummer with various world-class ensembles, including Spirit of Atlanta in 2012 and his age-out year with Carolina Crown in 2016.  Conner performed with Music City Mystique from 2014-2016 and returns to Spirit of Atlanta’s percussion staff for a second consecutive season.

Bass Drums (A.J. Pace, Christian Albano, Brian Lowe)

A.J. Pace joins the Spirit batterie staff in his first year with the corps. AJ holds a B.S. in Music Education from the University of South Carolina and his Masters of Music Education from Winthrop University. He has performed with the Bluecoats, Teal Sound, and Palmetto Percussion.  As an educator, he has held positions with the Colts, Teal Sound, the Cascades, Palmetto Percussion, Atlanta Quest, and Audio Theater.

Christian Albano joins the staff this year after performing on bass drum with Spirit during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.  He also marched as a snare drummer with Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps in 2015. The 2018 WGI season will be Christian’s third year performing as a bass drummer with Atlanta Quest.

Brian “Chavez”  Lowe joins the drum staff for 2018 with years of DCI experience as a performer and instructor.  Chavez DCI marching experience the Velvet Knights drumline and was later drum major for the Blue Knights.  He brings extensive teaching experience with the Blue Knights, Phantom Regiment, and Santa Clara Vanguard drumlines.  Chavez holds a BA in Music Education from The University of Texas at Arlington, and currently serves as Assistant Band Director and Director of Percussion Studies for Arlington High School in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  He has served as program coordinator for the Dallas Mavericks Drumline, where he has performed since 2004.

Field Cymbals (Kellen Matthews, Brandyn Hundley, Eddie Capps)

Kellen Matthews returns to Spirit of Atlanta for a third consecutive season to work with the corps’ field cymbals.  Kellen, attended Jacksonville State University from 2006-201l to play field cymbals with the renowned Southerners.  In 2010, Kellen stepped into an instructional role serving as a field cymbal technician.  Kellen has taught field cymbals for Pioneer, Frequency Percussion, Carrollton HS, Double Stop Indoor, Chattanooga Independent, and Atlanta Quest.

Brandyn Hundley joins the Spirit staff after heading the cymbal program at STRYKE Percussion for the past two seasons.  Previous marching experiences include STRYKE Percussion (2010-2012), Teal Sound (2011-2012), and Music City Mystique (2013). Brandyn has worked with REEF Independent, STRYKE Percussion (2016-2017), as well as the Sacramento Mandarins Drum and Bugle Corps.

Eddie Capps has been with the Spirit of Atlanta in some capacity for fourteen seasons.  After playing field cymbals with the corps from 1991 through 1993, he began his tenure as a cymbal instructor (1994, 1997-2000, 2002-2004, 2008, 2016-2017).  While in this role, Spirit’s cymbal ensemble won first place in DCI’s I&E championships for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Eddie’s other teaching experiences include time with Choctawhatchee High School, Georgia Tech, Odyssey Percussion Theatre, Jubal Drum Corps, CorpsVets, and Music City Mystique.


Front Ensemble Staff

(Dean Johnson, David Walker, Brandon Dodge, Josh Foust)

Dean Johnson is new to Spirit of Atlanta’s percussion education team for the 2018 season. Dean has been involved in the marching arts since 2006, performing with Tates Creek Indoor Ensemble (2010-2011), Blue Stars (2011-2012), and Music City Mystique (2012-2013).  A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Dean lives in the greater Nashville, Tennessee area where he serves as a front ensemble technician with Music City Mystique, a position he has held since 2015.

David Walker is another new face to the Spirit of Atlanta staff this year.  A native of Tennessee, David is currently a freelance composer, clinician, and designer with fourteen years of experience teaching and writing for percussion. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University (BM, BS) and Texas Christian University (MM-Performance), David brings years of knowledge, passion, and experience to every group he teaches.

Brandon Dodge returns for his second season on the Spirit of Atlanta staff. Brandon performed with Spirit of Atlanta (2003, 2005-2006) and Phantom Regiment (2007), and currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he works as the front ensemble tech and arranger for the University of Cincinnati Bearcat Marching Band. He has also served as front ensemble tech with Atlanta Quest Independent Indoor Drumline.

Brandon is currently pursuing a D.M.A. in percussion performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.  He holds degrees from Georgia State (M.M.) and from Jacksonville State (B.A.).

Josh Foust is a new addition to the staff this year. Josh was a member of the World Champion Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps from 2015-2017, playing in the front ensemble when the Corps won its first ever World Championship. During his age-out year, he served as section leader of the corps’ front ensemble. Josh is also a member of Music City Mystique, having marched from 2015-2017, serving as a section leader of the front ensemble in 2017.


Spirit of Atlanta is excited to have this dynamic team of musicians and educators on our 2018 roster. We are looking forward to another year of engaging and powerful percussion performances from the Spirit of Atlanta percussion section.

For more information about the audition process and details about our upcoming year, please visit www.spiritdrumcorps.org/auditions.