The United Spirit Association's Drum Major and Band Leadership Program has created a strong program and curriculum that provides students the resources, tools, and materials needed to be effective student leaders, and is also designed to support the Band Director. This year, for the first time in the history of our program, you can learn from our world-class USA Staff VIRTUALLY through our Virtual Band Program Series. Please review the information below to learn more about our instructors, the program and course offerings, and upcoming sessions.
We will be updating our list of classes periodically to provide new topics and instructors. Please send any feedback or requests to the USA Band Leadership & Drum Major Program Director, Acey Blanco (ABlanco@Varsity.com).
Azeema Yahya graduated from Concord High School in Concord, CA, where she
served as the drum major for two years for the award-winning Minutemen Marching Band. Her time as a performing drum major started with competing in solo drum major competitions for the Northern California Band Association in the Mace category. During her final year as drum major, she also competed in field conducting. She graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a bachelor's in English and a minor in Education. She also received her Single Subject Teaching Credential and Masters of Arts in Education. She is currently a secondary English teacher who enjoys reading for fun and spending time with her cat! She believes every student can accomplish anything they set their minds to and is so excited to be here to help achieve your goals.
Esteban De Leon graduated from Montebello High School in 2009 and has continued to be involved with the marching arts ever since. He served as drum major for the Pasadena City College Lancer Band and Tournament of Roses Honor Band before being asked to join the instructional staffs; positions he still holds today. Before aging out he was also involved and earned medals with several DCI and WGI ensembles while also receiving certification for drum major adjudication from numerous organizations throughout Southern California. Eventually Esteban was offered the position of Director of Competitions at Peacocks American Drum Major Competitions and tasked with bringing the circuit out of hiatus. In Esteban’s first year with Peacocks he partnered with the United Spirit Association and the two groups have enjoyed a highly prosperous and mutually beneficial working relationship. Esteban is honored and excited to be asked to join USA's summer projects and looks forward to continuing to develop and reinforce the special relationship between Peacocks and USA.
As Drum Major for the Solid Gold Sound of the UCLA Bruin Marching Band, James leads the 250-member ensemble through field shows at every football game. Additionally, he leads the UCLA Varsity Band in basketball games and Olympic sports, as well as nationally televised broadcasts like the Ellen Degeneres Show and NBC News. Since he loves working with a team, he always looks forward to the fall season where he meets with UCLA Athletics, Marketing, and the Spirit Squad to create the best gameday experience for the Bruin fans. At Christopher High School in Gilroy, California, he served as drum major for three years in the Midnight Pride Marching Band. James primarily led his band on the field in Western Band Association competitions throughout California. He encourages students to always keep playing music and appreciate the impact it can make on a person’s life.
Julia Edwards is a graduate of Canyon High School from Canyon Country, California, where she served as the Head Drum Major for the Gold Star Brigade for two years. During this time, she led her band through many successful seasons, including SCSBOA Championships, where her band Medaled Top 3 in Division 2A. Outside of fall season, Julia also competed for four years as a cymbalist in indoor winter percussion in both ADLA and SCPA, two of these years as Cymbal Captain. In Concert Band, Julia has played Alto Saxophone as her primary instrument for 10 years, and has performed in ensembles with many secondary instruments such as Clarinet, Flute, Trombone, and French Horn. Julia is currently a Candidate for Bachelors in Music Education at NYU, where she studies instrumental pedagogy and plans to continue her passion for teaching and overpriced lattes in the Big Apple. This summer, she is back on the west coast and is so excited to help you prepare for this upcoming season!
More information coming soon...
Luis is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area. Finding his love for performance at a young age, Luis continued his passion for the marching and performing arts through dance, theater, music, drum majoring, cheerleading, gymnastics, and teaching. Luis was a member of the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps, along with indoor winter guard experience with the InMotion Performance Ensemble, where he and his team received Silver Medals at WGI in the independent A and Open classes. Luis' teaching and choreographical credits include: Concord HS, California HS, Livermore HS, Antioch HS, Tokay HS, and the Seattle Cascades Drum and Bugle Corps. Beyond color guard, Luis spends much of his time collaborating with young performers all over the Bay Area and works full-time in special education. Luis is beyond excited to be a sharing his knowledge and experience throughout the USA brand and USA as a country!
Dr. Thomas Gamboa is originally from San Diego, California. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
in Music Education and Music Performance in bassoon. He also earned a Masters of Music degree in wind conducting from Northwestern University
where he studied with Mallory Thompson and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in wind conducting from the University of Michigan where he studied with
Michael Haithcock. Gamboa was a conductor for the United States Air Force Band where he held the rank of Captain and served active duty as the
Conductor and Commander of the United States Air Force Band at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. He later served as Associate Conductor and Flight
Commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. As an educator, Gamboa taught in the Los Angeles Unified School
District at West Adams Preparatory High School in inner city Los Angeles as the Instrumental Music Director and Music Department Chair. He was also an
instructor for the National High School Music Institute in the areas of conducting and chamber music, in addition to his duties as Assistant Conductor for the NHSMI Wind Ensemble. Dr. Gamboa currently teaches at the University of Cincinnati College - Conservatory of Music holding the position of Assistant Professor of Music and Assistant Director of Wind Studies. At CCM, he serves as the music director of the Wind Ensemble, teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level conducting courses, supervises music education interns, and directs the Cognate Program in Wind Conducting for doctoral students. This is Dr.
Gamboa’s 18 th year teaching with the United Spirit Association and is the Chair of the Conducting Curriculum Team.
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