Director of Jazz Studies
Jair Gallardo teaches Brass and Woodwind lessons at Desert Ridge Music Academy. He recently graduated with a saxophone performance degree from Northern Arizona University. Jair is also in the SDOHS Marching Band Staff as well as the their jazz director. He recently got hired as the band and choir director for the Desert Mountain School in the DVUSD.
Although he is primarily a saxophonist, he can also play the flute, clarinet, tuba, trombone, bass, guitar, trumpet, and drum set. Jair has studied saxophone, clarinet, drum set, and composition with the NAU faculty. He graduated from Deer Valley High School in 2014.
Since graduating, Jair has worked as a musician in the Phoenix area where he has performed with corporate/event bands, played in musicals, and has done studio recording work. In his time at NAU, Jair has performed with the Wind Symphony, Jazz Ensemble One, various jazz combos, the NAU Saxophone Orchestra, the NAU Marching Band on flute and mellophone, and the Symphonic Band on clarinet.
Concert Band Assistant & Woodwind
Mr. Fike is an alumnus of the DVUSD school system and the SDOHS marching band. He received his Bachelor’s in Music Education and Bachelor’s in Saxophone Performance degrees, both Summa Cum Laude, from Northern Arizona University. Mr. Fike was principal of the Arizona All-State Band alto saxophone section and the baritone saxophonist in the AZ All-State Jazz band for three years in a row, has been a featured soloist with orchestra three times, and while at university, won the NAU concerto competition. He currently performs on alto and soprano saxophone with the Tempe Wind Symphony, and gigs as a substitute for various chamber groups around the Valley.
After completing his student teaching, Mr. Fike was deemed the “Outstanding Graduating Student in Bachelor’s of Music Education” by the faculty at NAU. He began his teaching career at Sierra Verde STEAM Academy, where his students earned Superior ratings at festival, and is now the band director at Terramar Academy of the Arts. He has served as a DVUSD Team Lead in the Honor Band Chair position, and previously held the 7th Grade All-State Band Chair on the Arizona Music Educator’s Association board for two years. Bryan has previously worked as a woodwind and visual instructor for the Boulder Creek Jaguar Marching Band, and currently holds those positions with the Sandra Day O’Connor Eagle Pride Marching Band.
Visual & Movement Instructor and Trumpet Instrumental Coach
Chris Brown is a recent alumni of the University of Arizona, where he graduated summa cum laude with honors with a bachelor's in Management Information Systems, and minors in Spanish, Music, and Sports Management. At the University of Arizona, Chris was in the Pride of Arizona Marching and Pep Bands all four years, where he performed at football games, men's and women's basketball games, women's volleyball games, and a variety of other events throughout the Tucson community. Chris was also a trumpet section leader for three years during his time with the Pride of Arizona and prides himself on bringing a positive, energetic atmosphere to rehearsals, sectionals, and performances! During his senior season with the Pride of Arizona, Chris was named MVP for his commitment, service, leadership, and musical and visual excellence in the band. He is so excited to be working with the Eagle Pride Marching Band and continuing his love of marching band! Go Eagles!
Chris Canby is percussion instructor and arranger currently living in Mesa, AZ. He is an active educator and clinician, currently serving as Director of Percussion at Sandra Day O'Connor High School. Mr. Canby has previously been a member of the marching percussion staff for the Arizona State University Sun Devil Pride Marching Band, as well as Battery Coordinator at Breakthrough Indoor Percussion and Percussion Caption Head at Phenom Drum and Bugle Corps.
Chris attended Arizona State University where he studied with Dr. J.B. Smith, Dr. Mark Sunkett, Simone Mancuso, and Dom Moio. He was a member of various large and small ensembles including Wind Ensemble, Lyric Opera Theater, Percussion Ensemble, and the Sun Devil Marching Band under the instruction of Roberto Paz and John McClean. As a marching member Chris has performed as a snare drummer with The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps, Mosaic Indoor Percussion, and Dark Sky Percussion.
Outside of his role as an educator, Chris is an active performer with BOOM! Percussion Entertainment, Arizona Cardinals Big Red Thunder Drumline, and Samba de Cavalo. He is a frequent guest percussionist with Desert Echoes Flute choir as well as a drum set player with several local artists through out the Valley. He can be reached @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Low Brass Caption Head
Ryan Pratt is a freelance trombonist and brass instructor based in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. An Alumnus from the Chandler Unified School District, Ryan played bass trombone with the Arizona All State Concert Band and lead trombone in the Arizona All State Jazz Band in 2016. He studied Trombone Performance with an emphasis on jazz at Northern Arizona University with David Vining and Chris Finet. During his time at NAU, Ryan was a finalist in the NAU concerto competiton and performed with groups such as NAU Jazz Ensemble One, NAU Jazz Combo One, the NAU Wind Symphony, the NAU Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, the Lumberjack Marching Band, and various chamber ensembles. Ryan joined the Sandra Day O'Connor Band staff as a brass and jazz instructor in 2021, and while this is his first official band staff position, Ryan has been giving masterclasses and presentations on brass and jazz related topics at many east valley junior high and high schools since 2018 and has been teaching privately since 2014.
Clarinet, Instrumental Coach
Sarah Koltweit studied clarinet at Ottawa University and graduated with a music education degree. During her time at Ottawa, Sarah performed with the wind symphony, woodwind quartet, clarinet quartet and a trio. Sarah has also toured Europe as a musician in the Ambassadors of Arizona, performed in musicals, and recitals. While working for her degree, she has been teaching private lessons for woodwind instruments, and piano at Desert Ridge Music Academy.
Colorguard Caption Head
Front Ensemble Caption Head
Tabitha Branson is an alumna of DVUSD and teaches front ensemble at Sandra Day O’Connor. She recently graduated from Arizona State University with her Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology. There, she focused her thesis research on the work of part-time instrumental instructors in Arizona. Prior to ASU, she attended Northern Arizona University and studied with Dr. Steven Hemphill to receive her Bachelor’s in Music Education, Cum Laude, with an emphasis in percussion. She also received NAU’s prestigious Gold Axe Award in 2018 for outstanding academic achievement, service, and leadership.
In her time at NAU, Tabitha performed with the NAU Lumberjack Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, and Panorama Steel Pan Ensemble. At ASU she was a member of the Javanese Gamelan Ensemble and Latin Marimba Band. Outside of school, she performed with Breakthrough Indoor Percussion and as a percussionist at The Church of the Red Rocks in Sedona. She started teaching private lessons on concert percussion and drumset in 2015 to middle school, high school, and adult students.
In addition to Sandra Day O’Connor, Tabitha has been on the marching staff at Coconino High School, Moon Valley High School, and Mountain Pointe High School, and spent time teaching K-8 General Music and Choir. Outside of teaching marching band, she works at the Musical Instrumental Museum as part of their Education Team. Tabitha is very excited to work with the Sandra Day O’Connor Band this year!
Front Ensemble Tech/Arranger
Zack Whittier is a percussion instructor currently living in Glendale, Arizona. He is an active educator and clinician, currently serving as the Front Ensemble head at Mountain Pointe High School, a guest clinician at Moon Valley High School, as well as the current Electronics designer and coordinator at Sandra Say O’Connor High School. He has previously been the Front Ensemble Caption Head at Breakthrough Indoor Percussion, a percussion and visual staff member at Northern Arizona University, a staff member at several other middle and high schools around the state, as well as in California and Texas.
Zack studied at Northern Arizona University where he studied with Dr. Steven Hemphill. He was a member of various large and small ensembles including the Wind Symphony, Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, and the PANoRAMA steel pan group. Mr. Whittier has been involved as a performer with groups in both the WGI, and DCI Circuits, to include the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps (2010 – 2012, 2012 Section Leader), Pulse Percussion (2013), as well a marching member with the University of Arizona “Pride of Arizona” Marching Band (2009, 2010, 2013).
Mr. Whittier is a graduate of Northern Arizona University with a degree in Music Performance. In the past he has studied with Dr. Steven Hemphill, Ian Grom, John Mapes, Glen Crosby, Sean Gordon, Homero Ceron, and Dr. Andrea Venet.