Teachers

Mrs. Anna Backstrom

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Mrs. Anna Backstrom

 
I am originally from Mississippi. I have always been involved in music. I grew up taking piano, clarinet, and vocal lessons. I competed in vocal competitions where I received many accolades. In high school, I had the opportunity to sing in our audition choir and was the drum major. I attended Mississippi State University for my Bachelor's Degree in Music Education, where I received classical training for vocal, piano, and clarinet. I was married in July of 2005 and moved to Arizona where I have currently finished my 10th year of teaching music. My first five years where spent teaching general music and choir at the formally known Foothills Fine Arts Institute in the Peoria Unified School District. During this time, I earned a Master's Degree from Northern Arizona University in Educational Leadership. Some of my favorite things to do are playing with my two amazing children, reading, going to the movies with my hubby, softball, camping, and hiking! 
 
Mrs. Backstrom is currently the Choir teacher at Sandra Day O'Connor High School.
Mr. Chris Bucher

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Mr. Chris Bucher

Now in his third year at Esperanza Elementary, Mr. Bucher is thrilled to continue teaching Band, Orchestra and General Music to all students at Esperanza Music Academy. Mr. Bucher sets high standards for students while working on musical and life skills. He strongly believes in working hard and having focused rehearsals to achieve the best music experience for his students. 

Mr. Bucher started playing piano in fifth grade and saxohpone in sixth grade. He marched sousaphone in college in Nebraska and he loves playing jazz. When Mr. Bucher isn't at Esperanza he is probably practicing saxophone, cooking or hiking. Mr. Bucher is originally from Omaha, Nebraksa and moved to Phoenix about 4 years ago to escape the snow and cold weather just like everyone else. 

Mr. Evan Dixon

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Mr. Evan Dixon

 

Evan Dixon had his first music performance in the elementary school talent show.  He performed alongside his father a rendition of Johnny B. Goode on guitar in kindergarten.  Mr. Dixon played guitar until he joined the school band in 5th grade where he fell in love with percussion.  Mr. Dixon continued to perform percussion through into adulthood.  He performed with the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps in 2002 where the drum line scored their highest score in 10 years.  Between the work ethic and drive the drum corps experience gave Mr. Dixon and the wonderful teaching of Dr. Eric Hollenbeck, Mr. Dixon continued to perfect his performance skills.  He started playing professionally for the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra, the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, Opera Fort Collins, The Longmont Philharmonic, and the Colorado Springs Chamber Orchestra.  Mr. Dixon now plays percussion with the Tempe Symphonic Wind Ensemble in Tempe, Arizona.

            Mr. Dixon began his music education career in 2002 following his drum corps experience.  He started teaching drum line at several different high schools in the Northern Colorado area in 2002.  After earning his Bachelor’s in Music Education from Colorado State University in 2004, Mr. Dixon became the assistant Band Director at Thompson Valley High School.  He served this position for 3 years before moving to Colorado Springs to open a brand new school, Vista Ridge High School.  At Vista Ridge, Mr. Dixon helped design the layout of the band room, order all the instruments, and start the Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Drum Line, and Color Guard.

            In 2009, Mr. Dixon relocated to the Phoenix, Arizona area.  Mr. Dixon became the band director at Fountain Hills Middle School and taught there for 4 years.   Mr. Dixon is in the fourth year with the DVUSD.  He started at Village Meadows Elementary School, taught as a Top 20 Teacher at Desert Sky Middle School, and is currently the instrumental music teacher at Deer Valley High School.

Ms. Beth Hermanson

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Ms. Beth Hermanson

 
Ms. Hermanson is a native of Arizona. Growing up she attended Scottsdale Unified School District where she was involved in both band and choir. Ms. Hermanson is a graduate of Northern Arizona University with a degree in Instrumental Music Education. Her primary instrument is the Euphonium (it looks like a small tuba and is very similar to a baritone), but has played euphonium, trombone, and tuba in various performing ensembles at NAU.

Throughout her education she has been very lucky to have many musical opportunities through participating in many different kinds of performing ensembles and having the chance to travel abroad through performances with the Phoenix Children's Chorus and the top wind ensemble at NAU. She has also been fortunate enough to be a member of the Tempe Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Phoenix College Community Choir.

 

Ms. Hermanson has been in the Deer Valley Unified School District for the past 9 years. She started her career teaching elementary band at Bellair and Mountain Shadows. After teaching K-6 general music, band, and choir at Bellair, she decided to make the move the middle school and has been teaching at Deer Valley Middle school for the past 6 years.

Currently, Ms. Hermanson is the Band and Orchestra teacher at Deer Valley Middle School and is the Assistant Marching Band Director at Barry Goldwater High School.
Mr. Steve McAllister

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Mr. Steve McAllister

 
Mr. McAllister's formal musical education began on an alto trombone when he was three years old. Training came from Bob McAllister, eighteen year veteran member of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra's trombone section - and forty two year veteran music educator. Keyboard training came from Dee Ann McAllister, Northwestern alumnus and thirty eight year veteran music educator.  Mr. McAllister received his bachelors degree in music education from Northern Arizona University, and his master's degree in solo trombone performance from Arizona State University - where he also taught undergraduate music education and performance courses.
 
As a professional trombonist, Mr. McAllister has performed music all over the world, has played many national and local broadway shows, records a jingle here and there, and has performed on stage with groups like The Harry James Band and The Temptations to artists including Jackie Evancho and Michael Buble. In 2010, Mr. McAllister was a soloist on a recording that won an International Trombone Association performance award.
 
Currently, Mr. McAllister teaches band, choir, Drumline, and general music classes at Arrowhead Elementary School - and stays busy as a freelance trombonist.
Mr. Ryan Rockey

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Mr. Ryan Rockey

 

Mr. Rockey is one of three music specialists at the Highland Lakes Renaissance Music Academy.  He is a graduate of Northern Arizona University.  Mr. Rockey has been teaching and assisting with music programs in Arizona and California since 1998.  Currently, in the Fall semester Mr. Rockey assists with the Deer Valley High School Marching Band and in the Spring he is a performing member in the Tempe Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

 

Mr. Rockey is currently the Band teacher at Highland Lakes K-8.

 

Mrs. Renee Young-Esparza

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Mrs. Renee Young-Esparza

Since 2012, Mrs. Renee Young-Esparza has been the band director at Barry
Goldwater High School in the Deer Valley Unified School District. The 2018-2019 school year will mark her 7th year at Goldwater.


Mrs. Esparza began playing the flute in the 6th grade while attending Madison Meadows Middle School in Central Phoenix. As a freshman at Central High School, she made the decision to pursue music and become a band teacher. She successfully auditioned for the Arizona State University School of Music, and studied with band directors, Dr. Robert Fleming, Dr. Richard Strange, Mr. Douglas Akey, Mr. Bill Richardson, and Mr.
Robert Sampson. Since graduating, Mrs. Esparza has taught band, orchestra and choir at elementary to high school levels. This year will mark her 27th year of teaching music.

 

Through tradition and student leadership, Mrs. Esparza has helped guide the Goldwater Programs to growth and quality. Since 2012, the Pride Regiment has performed in the State Marching Championships four times. The Concert Band and Wind Ensemble have
received Superior and Superiors with Distinction ratings at Area and State level festivals. We have increased our student participation in the Solo and Ensemble Festival and the Arizona Music Education Association (AMEA) Honor Bands.


Presently, Mrs. Esparza is a member of the Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors
Association (ABODA). She has conducted various honor bands, including the DVUSD
Middle School Honor Band, Greater Phoenix Middle School Honor Band, and Arizona All State Honor Band. In 2004, Mrs. Esparza was honored by the AMEA with an O.M. Hartsell Excellence in Teaching Music Award.


Mrs. Esparza lives in South Phoenix with her husband, Samuel, and their four crazy cats: Little Jerry Seinfeld, BabyKat, ChowChow, and Denny.

Volunteers

Miss Cynthia Christopher

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Miss Cynthia Christopher

My name is Cynthia, I am a Music Education major at Glendale Community College. My major instrument is the trumpet, I have been playing for 13 years. I am a member of GCC’s NAfME chapter (National Association of Music Education). I was once a camper at Music Rocks! when it first started back in 2009 and have enjoyed coming back each year as a volunteer!

Mr. Alex Aronoff

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Mr. Alex Aronoff

I'll be a senior this coming school year at Barry Goldwater High School. When I first started playing guitar 2 years ago, I never would have guessed that I would become so dedicated to the instrument. In the short time I've played guitar, I feel I've learned so much about guitars and music. I hope to use my experiences and knowledge to help others learn and improve, whether it be related to music, school, or life.

Miss Julia Edelson

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Miss Julia Edelson

I am currently attending Sandra Day O'Connor High School and will be a senior this fall. I have been in band for the past seven years at Stetson Hills and then at SDOHS. This year I played the flute in wind ensemble and in the flute choir at SDOHS. I have also been in marching band for the past three years. In the 2018 marching band season I was one of the section leaders for the flute section, Drum Major Apprentice, and Back Field Conductor. This upcoming season I will be one of the Drum Majors.

I enjoy volunteering with band programs whenever I get the opportunity. I volunteered at West Wing at their after school band program for the past two years and at Sierra Verde this past school year. I hope to continue music in college and beyond as it is such a big part of my life.

Miss Cali Orr

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Miss Cali Orr

Music has always been a big part of my life in and out of school. I have played the trombone and tuba in concert bands throughout middle school at Stetson Hills and high school at Sandra Day O’Connor, including honor band and Music Rocks camps. I was a sousaphone player in the SDOHS Marching Band as well as the section leader of the tubas. I have played guitar since I was in 7th grade and also previously played guitar on my church’s worship team. This past school year I participated in the orchestra, playing upright bass. I’m excited to share my passion and knowledge of music!