Joel Carlson, Instrumental Music Director
Joel Carlson is the Instrumental Music Teacher for the Bands at Mira Costa High School, a 2014 GRAMMY Signature Schools Gold Award winning school and one of three awardees to be recognized by the GRAMMY Foundation that year as having one of the best comprehensive music programs in the nation. During his tenure at Mira Costa, the bands have grown in size, scope and excellence. From the Wind Ensembles to the Jazz Bands and the Marching Band, the Mira Costa Bands are consistently rated at the highest levels of musicality for their outstanding performances. A native Californian, Joel is a proud graduate of Thousand Oaks High School and the University of California, Los Angeles (BA, Music Education & Music Performance, oboe, 2003; MA, Conducting & Music Performance, oboe, 2005), and a proud alumni of the Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps (2000-2002) where he was honored to be named as the 2002 Brass Player of the Year. Mr. Carlson enjoys the daily pursuit of helping each student to realize the fullest cognitive, collaborative, and creative benefits that music education has to offer. Mr. Carlson directs the three Wind Ensembles, the two Jazz Ensembles and the Marching Band.
Rich Hernandez, Colorguard Director
Rich Hernandez has been involved in the marching band/pageantry arts since middle school. Throughout his middle and high school years at North Park Middle School and El Rancho HS he balanced playing an instrument in the concert and field ensembles with performing as drum major of the parade band as well as participating as a prominent member of the winterguard team. It was during his senior year at Whittier HS that Mr. Hernandez decided to branch out and concentrate on the world of independent winterguards. Mr. Hernandez has marched with several notable southern California Winter Guard International (WGI) finalist winterguards. Mr. Hernandez is also currently on staff with Pasadena City College’s Ayanna Winterguard. He attended Rio Hondo College and California State University Fullerton, pursuing an education in early childhood development. Mr. Hernandez is currently working as a teaching assistant within the Whittier Unified School District. While marching in the Independent World Class division, Rich was asked to join the instructional staff at Mira Costa High School where he has served as Colorguard Caption Head since 2011.
Connor Logan -Visual Caption Head
Connor Logan has been involved with marching arts since 2011. He has been teaching marching band since 2015, and has had 5 years of experience in both DCI and WGI. His performance experience includes Pacific Crest from 2014-2015, the Blue Knights in 2016, Pulse Percussion in 2017, and the Blue Devils from 2017-2018. Connor has taught visual at Dana Hills High School, Cathedral City High School, and finally at Mira Costa. Connor first started working with Mira Costa in 2019, and this will be his first season as visual caption head. Mr. Logan is also a full-time student, and is currently studying business administration at Orange Coast College, with plans to transfer to a University to complete and earn his Bachelor’s degree.
Joey has 23 years of Colorguard experience, including as a performing member with 5 time world champions, Fantasia Winterguard. His experience provides an elevated perspective on movement and performance, which he continues to share with the students to help develop their confidence and skills in both their colorguard performance and their daily lives. Joey joined the MCHS colorguard in 2019 as an assistant coach. Together, he and Colorguard Director, Richard Hernandez, helped colorguard earn various awards during the 2019/2020 field band competition season
Kevin Tran – Drumline Instructor; Front Ensemble Specialist
Kevin Tran studied at UCLA under the direction of Raynor Carroll, former principal percussionist of the LA Phil, and Theresa Dimond, principal percussionist of the LA Opera, where he received his BA in Music Performance. He has had the privilege to receive instruction from many notable musicians such as Nancy Zeltsman, Jack Van Geem, Ivana Bilic, Nanae Mimura, and many more. In recent years, Tran has worked with many schools and organizations throughout Southern California and Northern Alabama.
Currently he is an active performer, composer, and educator. He has performed with the UCLA Philharmonia, Wind Ensemble, Symphony, and Percussion Ensemble, as well as in a number of ensembles during festivals. During his marching career, he performed with Blue Devils “B” in 2011 & 2012. Kevin, as a soloist, has received recognition for his performances, and has won competitions such as the UCLA All-Star Concerto competition with marimba. He is working on many new projects with solo vibraphone, marimba, and composing classical & contemporary percussion literature.Tran is currently signed with Innovative Percussion Inc. as an artist & percussion educator.
Aya Strauss – Drumline Instructor; Upper Battery Specialist
Aya Strauss is a marching percussion educator, designer, and performer who currently lives and works in Torrance, California. She attended Palisades Charter High School, where she first learned to play percussion, and has since then gone on to perform with many world class ensembles. Aya attended UCLA from 2014-2018, where she received a degree with honors in cognitive science and was a member of the UCLA Bruin Marching Band. Aya currently performs with the LA Chargers Thunderbolt Drumline and Sidle Entertainment, and is a proud member of the Vic Firth educational team.
Otto Peralta has had extensive performance experiences including Garfield Independent in 2008- 2009, Gold Drum & Bugle Corps in 2010, POW Percussion in 2011-2012 (Charter Member), the Academy Drum & Bugle Corps in 2012, and Pulse Percussion in 2013. He has been involved with multiple schools in the Southern California region for the past five years. Mr. Peralta is currently teaching at Pacific Palisades Charter High School as a battery technician and POW Percussion as a bass technician and was previously a bass technician for The Mandarins Drum & Bugle Corps for the 2014 season. Mr. Peralta joined the percussion staff with Mira Costa High School in 2013 where he works with the Marching Band and Colorguard as well as the Indoor Percussion Ensemble.