Instructors

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Director of Bands, Nicholas Garofalo

Originally from the Metro-Boston area, Nicholas A. Garofalo completed his bachelors of music education at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga in May of 2006. Mr. Garofalo has arranged, adjudicated and instructed many high school bands in the Tennessee and Georgia region including: East Ridge High School, Notre Dame High School, Red Bank High School, The McCallie School, Warren County High School, Model High School, Northview High School, and Hixson High School.

After graduating from The University of Tennessee, Chattanooga; Nicholas became the Assistant Band Director and Percussion Specialist at Chattahoochee High School and Ocee Elementary School in Alpharetta, Georgia. After numerous budget and financial situations Nicholas recently became the Director of Bands and no longer teaches at Ocee Elementary. 

In 2006 Nicholas was the Front Ensemble Director for the Chattanooga Independent Percussion Ensemble based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee placing 4th at Winter Guard International World Championships for there inaugural year. After his work with Chattanooga, he became an instructor for Atlanta Quest Indoor Percussion ensemble from Atlanta, Georgia with yet another World Finalist title in W.G.I. In the summer of 2007 Mr. Garofalo joined the instructional staff of the Alliance Drum and Bugle Corps. During 2008 he assumed the Music Director position for the drum corps leading the ensemble to a Gold Medal in the “A Class Division” at the Drum Corps Associates Championships.

Mr. Garofalo is a currently a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Georgia Music Educators Association, Winter Guard International, Member at Large for the Southern Association for the Performing Arts and The Music Educators National Convention. Nicholas is a percussion and music ensemble adjudicator through the United States Scholastic Band Association and is also a Vic Firth Educational Team Member

In 2006 Nicholas was the Front Ensemble Director for the Chattanooga Independent Percussion Ensemble based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee placing 4th at Winter Guard International World Championships for there inaugural year. After his work with Chattanooga, he became an instructor for Atlanta Quest Indoor Percussion ensemble from Atlanta, Georgia with yet another World Finalist title in W.G.I. In the summer of 2007 Mr. Garofalo joined the instructional staff of the Alliance Drum and Bugle Corps. During 2008 he assumed the Music Director position for the drum corps leading the ensemble to a Gold Medal in the “A Class Division” at the Drum Corps Associates Championships.

Mr. Garofalo is a currently a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Georgia Music Educators Association, Winter Guard International, Member at Large for the Southern Association for the Performing Arts and The Music Educators National Convention. Nicholas is a percussion and music ensemble adjudicator through the United States Scholastic Band Association and is also a Vic Firth Educational Team Member.

Assistant Director of Bands, Matthew Crisman

Matthew Crisman is an educator, performer and conductor from Alpharetta, Georgia. Crisman has obtained a bachelor’s of Music Education from the University of Georgia and a Master’s of Music in Saxophone Performance from Texas Tech University. While enrolled at UGA, Crisman was a teacher for the Clarke County After School Band Program, a competitor in the Music Teacher’s National Association Young Artist Competition, President of the UGA Saxophone Society, Leadership member and Derby for the UGA Redcoat Band, and a participant in various large and chamber ensembles. During his time in Texas Tech, Crisman continued his competitive saxophone career, advancing through the Texas Tech Concerto Competition, Music Teacher’s National Association Chamber Music Competition, and the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition at Notre Dame University in Indiana. While competing, Crisman was also an active advocate of music in secondary and collegiate outreach programs. Crisman has presented at regional and national North American Saxophone Alliance conferences and was the coordinator for the first ever NASA High School Ensemble.

Since completing his terminal degree, Crisman has been a private lessons instructor, masterclass clinician, visual movement coach and guest performing artist for several Atlanta area middle and high schools. In 2018, Crisman was awarded the visiting guest conductor position at Chattahoochee High School and joined Nicholas Garofalo as the assistant for every curricular ensemble, Jazz Band and Marching Band. Subsequently, Crisman was on staff with Alpharetta High School and Webb Bridge Middle School. In the fall of 2020, Chattahoochee High School determined that a permanent assistant position was warranted and Crisman returned to fill the position. Crisman maintains membership with Kappa Kappa Psi music fraternity, the North American Saxophone Alliance, and the National Association for Music Education, and the Georgia Music Educator’s Association.

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Director of Percussion, Robert Dickens Jr. 

Robert Dickens Jr. is an educator, arranger, and designer from Dothan, AL.  He received his Bachelors in Music Industry from Troy University.  During his tenure there, he performed with a myriad of collegiate ensembles as well as the DCI World Class Finalist  GLASSMEN Drum & Bugle Corps.

Robert currently resides in Atlanta, GA.  In addition to providing percussion education products and services through FXE™, he serves as snare technician for DCI Open Class Finalist Southwind Drum & Bugle Corps.  He is a member of the Salyers Percussion Education team and endorses their products exclusively.

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Wind Instructional Staff, Brandon Soloff 

Brandon Soloff has been Co-Director of Bands at Taylor Road Middle School in Johns Creek, Georgia since 2017. He co-leads the Taylor Road Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, and Little “Big” Band. Mr. Soloff maintains a busy teaching and performing schedule in his private studio, and serves on staff with the Chattahoochee High School Marching Band. At age ten, Soloff began his study of trumpet and has since studied with Thomas Hooten (Principal Trumpet of the LA Philharmonic), Robert Murray, and the late Lew Soloff.  

Mr. Soloff graduated Magna Cum Laude from Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music in Columbus, GA with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. Mr. Soloff has performed at the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, TN in 2015 with the Schwob Wind Ensemble. In addition to the Schwob Wind Ensemble, he also participated in the Schwob Philharmonic, Schwob Jazz Orchestra, Columbus State University Trumpet Ensemble (National Trumpet Competition Ensemble Semi-Finalists 2014-2016).

Mr. Soloff’s professional affiliations include the National Association for Music Educators, Georgia Music Educators Association, and the International Trumpet Guild.  He is a member of the Cobb Wind Symphony.

Soloff resides in Norcross, Georgia with his lovely wife Bethany and cat, Ellie. In his spare time, Mr. Soloff enjoys cheering on his favorite sports teams.

Wind Instructional Staff, Mackenzie Newell

Mackenzie Newell is a French hornist and educator based in Atlanta, Georgia. She began her career in Boston where she performed with the Boston Pops, the Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra, and Andrea Bocelli in concert. 

She holds a Bachelor of Music from Boston University and a Master of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music. Additionally, she spent time in London at the Royal College of Music. She also attended the Aspen Music Festival studying with Andrew Bain and members of the American Brass Quintet. During her undergraduate studies she performed in Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw, and across Europe with the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. 

Since moving to Georgia, she has played regularly with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra, and teaches horn players around the area. Mackenzie is currently on faculty at University of North Georgia and is an Artist Affiliate at Reinhardt University.

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