Meet the 2016 Spirit of Atlanta Visual Team

Jason Palmer

PalmerJason Palmer is one of the freshest personalities in the pageantry arts.  Palmer is a successful music designer, drill and body movement designer, as well as, a set designer for drama productions and the pageantry arts across the country. Palmer’s goal is to create beautiful works of art musically, visually, and conceptually.  Palmer teaches visual arts at Mt. Juliet High School in Mt. Juliet, TN and is the percussion director as well at Mt. Juliet High School. Other groups that he has been involved with include: Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps 08-present, United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps winter drumline, Glassmen Drum Corps Co-Visual Caption head 09-10; Colts Drum and Bugle Corps Visual Caption head 07; Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps 04-06; Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps, Phantom Regiment Phantom Drum and Bugle Corps; Music City Mystique; Gateway Indoor Percussion Ensemble; Middle Tennessee State University Drumline and percussion ensemble; University of Northern Alabama Drumline; and was previously director of percussion of Fred J. Page High School 2001-2010.

Gilles Ouellette

OuelletteGilles Ouellette is a freelance Visual Designer, Technician and Adjudicator for High School Marching Bands, Drum and Bugle Corps, Winter Guards and Winter Percussion Ensembles.  He graduated with a degree in Computer science and dedicated several years in the corporate world before making “Marching and the Visual Arts” his main occupation.

Gilles’ drum corps experience started when he was 13. He played snare and took on the role of drum major for the last 2 summers of his marching years. His curiosity and interest for the visual side of the activity led him to his staging and teaching carrier.

At this time, Gilles is the Visual Designer for the Spartans Drum & Bugle corps (2001-2007, 2011-present), Les Stentors (2011-present), New Bedford HS, MA (1993-present), New Oxford HS, PA (2001-present), Westminster HS, MD (2000-2001,2005-present), Mt Juliet HS, TN (2001-present), Booneville HS, MS (2007-present), U. Mass Lowell, MA (2012-present), Oak Grove HS, AL (2014-present).

Gilles is a past assistant Director for the Boston Crusaders (1998-1999), Visual Designer for the Glassmen (2008-2009) and has had the privilege to design or work with the following fine ensembles; Académie Musicale des Canton de l’Est, Victoriaville Phoenix WG, Sonnor WG, Dobyns Bennett HS (TN) Band and WG, Gulfport HS (MS), Harpeth HS (TN), Passaic HS (NJ), York HS (VA), Edmund North HS (OK), Melrose HS (MA), St John Beverly WG (MA), St Brendans WG (MA), Langham Creek HS (TX), Midlothian HS (TX), Taylor Co HS (KY), Clinton HS (TN), Greenwood HS (TN), Music City Drum Corps (TN), SEI WG (TN), Central Crossing HS (OH), Seymour HS (TN), TNHS (TN), Karns HS (TN), Stevenson University (MD), Passadena Memorial HS (TX), Blackstone Millville Reg HS (MA), Crestwood HS (OH), Decatur HS (AL), Hardin Valley WG (TN), Sacred Heart WG (MA),

Gilles resides in Nashville, TN. He is a member and active adjudicator for the Gulf Coast Judges Association (GCJA) , Winterguard International (WGI) and is the Color Guard, Judge and Contest Coordinator for the Southeastern Color Guard Circuit (SCGC).

Mikey Cowan

CowanMichael Cowan’s drum corps teaching career began in 2003 when he was a member of the visual staff at the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle. He spent three seasons with the Scouts, 2003, 2004, and 2006. In 2007 Mikey, as he is known, joined the visual staff at the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps, moving up to Visual Co-Caption head in 2008. In 2009, he was Visual Caption Head at the Glassmen helping the Corps to a top ten finish at DCI Finals. He was also member of the visual staff at Spirit of Atlanta in 2012 and 2013, and Phantom Regiment 2015. Mikey has worked with numerous high schools and indoor programs in KY, IN, FL and TN. Mikey also served on staff for the University of Louisville Cardinal Marching Band Instructing the drum line and served as the Visual Coordinator. He holds a Bachelors of Music Education from the University of Louisville.

Mikey is extremely excited to be returning to Spirit of Atlanta for the  2016 season. Mikey is the Assistant Band Director and Director of Percussion at Manor High School in Manor Tx. He currently resides in Austin Tx. with his lovely wife Carrie, their two dogs Betty and Walnut, and cat Sally.

Julian Gonzalez

GonzalezA native of Nashville, TN, Julian Gonzalez graduated from Fred J Page High School in Franklin, TN in 2005. During that time he joined the (currently) 7-time World Champion WGI Percussion ensemble Music City Mystique and grew up learning and performing there from 2003 to 2009 capturing two World Championships in 2004 and 2006. Six of those years were spent serving in the Music City Mystique Cymbal Line (CMcM).

In 2008 Julian joined Spirit of Atlanta’s reformed cymbal line for his ‘rookie/ageout’ summer. Since 2006 Julian has taught all over the United States and has been designing and consulting for visual programs involving drill, body, and alternative movement within WGI.  From 2010-2014 he worked with the Blue Knights World Percussion Ensemble including leading the cymbal program and was involved heavily in visual design. In 2013 and 2014 he served on the Visual Staff for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps and in 2015 served the same function for the Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps.

Chris Brown

BrownChris is a marching arts professional from Atlanta, Ga. As a performer Chris was a member of Magic of Orlando, Carolina Crown, and The Blue Devils, where he aged out in 2001. Over the last 14 years, Chris has worked with groups including Magic of Orlando, Seattle Cascades, The Colts and The Glassmen. Chris graduated from The University of Georgia in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and has taught on the elementary, middle and high school level. Currently Chris lives in Indianapolis, IN. and works in the Wayne Metropolitan School District. Chris also works as a freelance marching band instructor and is currently involved with the programs at Ben Davis High School and Hamilton Southeastern High School. When he’s not teaching, Chris enjoys playing golf and watching college football. Chris is very excited to be coming back to Atlanta and to be a part of an exciting new chapter in the Spirit legacy.

Evan McAleer

McAleerEvan McAleer has served as a music teacher and visual instructor since 2009. With a marching career that began at Father Ryan High School (Nashville, TN), he progressed on to perform as a member of both the Glassmen and Carolina Crown. After his last summer performing in 2011, Evan worked as a Visual Staff member for both the Blue Knights (2013-2014) and Phantom Regiment (2015). Evan graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor’s of Music Education in May of 2012, and he currently resides in Baton Rouge, LA with his wife Rachel, and their two cats Ogi and El Tigre. He is the Assistant Band Director at Catholic High School as well as the Drill/Movement Designer for various other schools.

Kayla Breland

BrelandKayla Breland graduated from The Florida State University with a Bachelor’s of Music and a Master’s of Music in Music Therapy. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Kayla marched for three years with The Florida State Marching Chiefs. She marched as a trumpet player with The Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps for four years and served as Horn Sergeant during her age-out season. She spent the 2012 season teaching as a Brass Technician with Teal Sound and as a Visual Technician with The Glassmen. Kayla spent the 2015 season as a Visual/Movement technician with The Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps. She currently works in Tennessee as a Music Therapist and as the Visual Caption Head for two local high schools.

Eric Norris

NorrisEric’s performing and marching background started in high school. Afterwards in 2000-01 he joined the Blue Devils B Drum & Bugle Corps and finished his career with the Bluecoats Drum & Bugle Corp in 2003.

Eric has been teaching since 2002 and has been involved with several marching groups throughout the southeast including: Lassiter HS, GA 2002-2008 (BOA Grand National Champions in 2002); Chattahoochee HS, GA 2008; Page HS, TN 2007-10; Mt. Juliet HS, TN 2010-present; Walton HS, GA 2010-present; and Colts Drum & Bugle Corp 2007.

Born and raised in northern California, Eric currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and two boys, with another son on the way; drumming whenever & wherever possible and enjoying life.

Jacqie Rotch

RotchJacqie Rotch is a University of South Alabama graduate with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in music. She was previously a front podium Drum Major for the Spirit of Atlanta for five years and head Drum Major for three years. She was a Front Ensemble and Visual tech for Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps while still marching with Spirit. Jacqie currently teaches Visual and Drum Major/Leadership at Spanish Fort High School, judges Drum Majors along the East Coast area, and teaches percussion lessons for Musical Beginnings of Baldwain County.

She is the Co-Director, Visual Coordinator and tenor tech for Trinity Indoor percussion and has been involved in the University of South Alabama Marching Band Drumline, Pep Band, Symphony Band, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Campus Jazz Band, World Music Ensemble, Steel Pan Band, Experimental Music Group, Concert Choir, Opera Theatre, USA Theatre, USA Jazz Club Secretary, percussionist for the Mobile Theatre Guild, and has performed in the USA Percussion Ensemble for Alabama Art Walk, Alabama and Florida Day of Percussion, with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra twice, and is a currently playing for the Mobile Pops.

Some of Jacqie’s special honors include: The charter recipient of DCI’s Gary “Chops” Czapinski Award 2014; Spirit Award recipient in 2015; Presidential scholarship, Marching Band, Pep Band, and Music Minor Scholarship; USA JagMedia awards: Best Show Runner and Best Female Host; Wrote, Produced and Directed a documentary that aired on Alabama Public Television (APT) as well as in four international film festivals.

Jacqie expresses that she is very excited to be teaching for the organization that has taught her so much and has given her so many opportunities. She wants to provide the knowledge and skill set for members to be their best selves and succeed on and off the field.

Tim Norris

NorrisTOriginally from Northern California, Tim Norris comes from a long line of family members who all were involved in the marching activity. Tim attended his first DCI show at the age of 2 with his mother in 1990. He decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps and began marching in 2000 where he played tenors for The Blue Devils “C”.

In 2001, his family relocated to Atlanta where he attended Lassiter High School. The following year, he would become a member of the 2002 Bands of America Grand National Champion band. By 2005, Tim found himself playing in the cymbal line for Atlanta Quest where he stayed until 2007. 2010 proved to be a turning point for Tim’s marching career as he aged out with the Glassmen from Toledo, OH as a euphonium player. That same winter, he traveled from Atlanta to St. Louis to play cymbals for Gateway Indoor. In the following year, he became a member of Music City Mystique where he was awarded the 2011 WGI Independent World Championship. Currently, Tim is a visual instructor at Sprayberry High School and plays for the Atlanta Falcons Drumline.

Tim is excited to begin his journey with Spirit of Atlanta and cannot wait to pass on his knowledge and skillsets obtained throughout the years.

Chelsey Curran

CurranChelsey Curran is one of the world’s most talented teachers in the pageantry arts using her resources in innovative ways to obtain results. Originally from Boca Raton, FL, Chelsey Curran spent the summers of 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 performing in the Glassmen Drum & Bugle Corps hornline. An alumna of Florida State University, Chelsey earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 2012 and a Master of Social Work in 2015. For three of those years she played baritone for the FSU Marching Chiefs. For the 2013 and 2014 summers, Chelsey was on the visual staff for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. Currently Chelsey works as an outpatient child therapist in Jacksonville, FL, as well as a visual and musical instructor at Saint Augustine High School in Saint Augustine, FL.

Aaron Bell

BellAaron Bell is currently in his sixth year at the helm of one of the most improving bands in the state of Kentucky, Grayson County High School in Leitchfield.  Aaron is an up and coming educator that gets results from his students.  He teaches beginning band at Clarkson Elementary School and assists at Grayson County Middle School. Prior to his appointment at Grayson County High School, he served as the Director of Bands at Leestown Middle School (Lexington, Kentucky) and Logan County High School (Russellville, Kentucky). He is a graduate of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he was a 4 year member of the Big Red Marching Band receiving his Bachelor of Music Education in 2001. While at WKU, he studied trumpet with Dr. Marshal Scott and conducting with Dr. John Carmichael. Mr. Bell also holds a Masters of Music (Conducting) from the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky in 2007. While at U of L, he served as the Teaching Assistant for the university concert and marching bands, as well as a conducting student under Dr. Fred Speck.

Mr. Bell has received multiple distinguished ratings with both his concert and marching bands. His bands are consistent semi-finalists in Class 5A at the KMEA Marching Band Championships. He has also served as an adjudicator for many KMEA sanctioned events for marching band contests and solo and ensemble festivals. He is a member of Kentucky Music Educators Association, National Association for Music Education and Phi Mu Alpha.

He currently resides in Leitchfield, Kentucky with his wife Ashley and his daughter Addison.

Zack Stewart

StewartZack Stewart is a professional drummer and educator living in Nashville, TN.  He began his drumming career in his hometown of Owensboro, KY and he attended the University of Kentucky and the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, CA.  Zack was a member of the UK Drumline as well as Eklipse Indoor Percussion. Zack has been playing professionally with various artists and acts around Nashville for over a decade.  He has toured with Josh Gracin, Rick Monroe, Sean McConnell, and Lindsey Ell to name a few.  Currently Zack tours with Country singer Josh Thompson.

As an educator Zack began his career while still in high school teaching students at local middle schools.  Zack has worked with numerous band programs in Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee.  Some of those groups include Decatur Central (IN), North Hardin HS (KY), Daviess County (KY), and Mount Juliet (TN).  Since 2013 Zack has been the Percussion Coordinator for the 24-time State Champion McGavock High School band program in Nashville, TN.  Zack has also served on staff for Legacy Indoor Percussion from Indianapolis, IN and Cincinnati Tradition Drum & Bugle Corps.  In addition to instructing in the marching area Zack also regularly performs clinics and masterclass on different aspects of drumset playing.

Ian Bracy

BracyIan Bracy was born in the great city of Nashville, Tennessee, and was raised in Franklin TN, a suburb of Nashville. A well-versed musician, Ian began learning to play the drums at the young age of nine. As he got into middle school, he added multiple brass instruments to his repertoire, with his main instrument being tuba.  Ian began his marching career as a tuba player in the nationally renowned Fred J. Page high school Marching Patriots, and also was a member of Page’s world class indoor percussion ensemble. Graduating from high school in 2010, he went on to attend Western Kentucky University. He graduated in 2014 with a bachelors degree in Sociology and Criminology.

The same year he graduated high school, Ian auditioned for and joined Music City Mystique as a member of the cymbal line (CMcM). He spent two years with the group (2011 and 2012). As a member of Mystique, Ian was awarded a gold medal at WGI world championships in 2011, and a silver medal in 2012.

Ian began his teaching career as soon as he graduated high school at Mt. Juliet high school in the fall of 2010. During he fall season Ian works as a brass instructor and visual instructor. During the winter, he is the cymbal instructor for Mt. Juliet’s world class WGI indoor drumline. Other high schools Ian has worked with include McGavock high school, Summit high school, Fred J. Page high school, and White House high school. Ian has also spent the summers of 2013 and 2015 as a member of the battery and visual staff with Music City Drum and Bugle Corps; an open class corps hailing from his hometown of Nashville.

He is extremely excited to join this incredible staff, as well as the Spirit of Atlanta family.