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The Hawthorne Caballeros Introduce Their 2018 Percussion Staff!

The Hawthorne Caballeros are proud to introduce the 2018 Hawthorne Caballeros Percussion staff.

Paul Nalesnik – Percussion Coordinator/Battery Arranger

Paul Nalesnik is a freelance percussionist and educator based out of central New Jersey.  He is currently the Battery Arranger and Caption Head for United Percussion, Percussion Coordinator/Battery Arranger for the Caballeros Drum & Bugle Corps, and tenor tech at the Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps.  Paul also served as Battery Coordinator for the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps in 2014.  In addition to teaching drum corps, he also was the Caption Head and Arranger for the Rutgers University drum line from 2012 until 2016.  Paul is also Adjunct Percussion Teacher at Immaculata High School and was a Percussion Consultant for the Arlington (NY) High School Marching Band.

His music career began in 6th grade, moving through high school, where he earned the principal position in New Jersey All State Wind Ensemble and was also a member of the All-State Orchestra and Symphonic Band.  He then found his passion in marching as a tenor player for United Percussion in 2009 and 2010.  He later went on to march tenors for the Santa Clara Vanguard in 2011 and 2012.  He was a featured performer at PASIC in 2012 with the Santa Clara Vanguard.  In 2013, he received second place at the Atlanta Modern Snare Drum Competition and received first place at the 2014 PAS Kosa NY Chapter Snare Drum Competition.  Paul is also credited with playing snare drum on the Wu Tang Clan album “40th Street Black”.  In addition to teaching, he published a snare drum solo book through Bachovich publications, entitled “The Rutgers Solos”.  Paul had the privilege of studying under many gifted teachers, including Joseph Tompkins, Paul Rennick, Ken Riehman, Kyle Zerna, Javier Diaz, Mike Truesdell, and Mike Hodges.

Mark Monaghan – Battery Caption Head

Mark is a percussionist/educator/arranger based out of the northern New Jersey area.  He attended Rutgers University for his bachelor degree in psychology and currently resides in the area in pursuit of his second bachelor’s in music education.  Beginning his marching career with United percussion in 2012, his experience included two years with the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps and two years with the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps.  Mark was fortunate enough to be a part of the Santa Clara Vanguard percussion section when they were awarded the Fred Sanford High Percussion Award in 2014.  Mark has also been involved with the Rutgers University drum line for 6 years.

Mark’s scholastic teaching experience started with Edison High School back in 2012, at which he currently holds the position as co-caption head for the percussion section.  He has also had experience with various other high schools in the Northern/Southern regions of New Jersey.  Mark also has had collegiate level teaching experience with the Rutgers University Marching Scarlet Knights, at which he as taught for several years.  Finally, Mark’s world class teaching experience includes the position of battery technician for both United Percussion, as well as the Santa Clara Vanguard, both of which he currently is in his second year.

Mark is excited to return as acting caption head for the percussion section for the Caballero’s Drum and Bugle Corps!

Matt Blood – Front Ensemble Caption Head/Arranger

Matt Blood is a percussionist, percussion arranger, and educator based out of the New Jersey-area.  He has arranged for the Haddonfield Memorial Marching Band percussion section, the percussion section for the InMotion Wind Performance Company, the 2-time TIA Atlantic Coast Championship winning Eastern Regional Indoor Drum Line, and the 8-time TOB Atlantic Coast Championship winning West Deptford High School Marching Band.  Currently, Matt is a percussion instructor for the West Deptford Band and the director of the Eastern Regional Indoor Drum Line.

Matt received his Bachelor’s degree in classical percussion performance from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, where he also has performed in some of their top ensembles.  In addition, Matt has performed as a member of the United Percussion Front Ensemble during their 2012-2014 seasons.

This will be Matt’s second year teaching the front ensemble at the Caballeros and is very excited for the upcoming season as well as his new role of arranger for the front ensemble.

Tony Lemonds – Sound Designer

During Tony’s marching career as a member, he was with the Blue Stars Drum Bugle Corps from 2009-2010, Phantom Regiment 2012, and was a four year member with Music City Mystique from 2011-2014.

Tony currently lives in the Cumming, GA area, where he designs and teaches for various high school groups.  In his free time, Tony enjoys training his dog to become a “Therapy Dog”, composing and arranging film-like scores, and bowling.

Tony is excited to work with Caballeros as the sound designer for the 2018 season.

Carlos Vazquez – Snare Technician

Carlos is a graduate of the Mason Gross School of the Arts, where he double-majored in Music Education and Psychology.  He is currently working on his master’s degree in percussion performance at Rutgers.

His marching background includes Cadets of NYC 2004, Skyliners 2006, and Bushwackers 2010.  Carlos has been a percussion educator in New Jersey for 10 years, teaching several high schools, private lessons, clinics, and the Rutgers University Drum Line.  He is an active freelance musician in the New York and New Jersey area, specializing in classical and Latin percussion.  He has played on the national tour of Hair the musical and currently plays snare drum for the NY Giants Drum Line, as an employee of Gallant Entertainment.  He has had the honor to play alongside musicians, such as Eddie Palmieri and Delfeayo Marsalis and has recorded with the Wu-Tang Clan.

Patrick McHale – Snare Technician

Patrick was a member of the Rutgers University drum line for four years (2014-2017) and was section leader for three, where he worked with Cab’s very own Paul Nalesnik, Mark Monaghan, and Carlos Vazquez.

Pat began his drumming career with the Colonial Musketeers fife and drum corps in 2006.  He was a member there for 9 years.  He began his drum corps career in 2012, marching with the 7th Regiment until 2013.  He then joined the snare line at The Cadets for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 seasons, where he was section leader and center snare for his final two years. He is now a member of the Cadets drum line staff.

Pat began his teaching career with Bridgewater High School’s drum line in 2014 and is also helping with the Nutley High School indoor program. He also marched with two different world class indoor percussion programs, United Percussion in 2014 and Cadets Winter Percussion in 2015.  Now, he is a current member of the United Percussion staff, where he teaches with Paul and Mark.

Kirby Marino – Tenor Technician

Kirby Marino is a percussion educator and arranger in the New Jersey area.  He started his marching career at Phillipsburg High School in Phillipsburg, New Jersey.  He then went on to march with the Raiders Drum and Bugle Corps from 2012-2013 and Fusion “Core” in 2015.  In 2016, Kirby aged out with the Madison Scout Drum and Bugle Corps.  He has marched WGI with United Percussion from 2014-2017.

Kirby has taught and arranged for numerous high schools in the New Jersey area, but is currently the battery coordinator and arranger for Phillipsburg High School.  He is also a battery technician at East Coast Percussion.  This is Kirby’s second season being a quad tech for the Caballeros Drum and Bugle Corps.

Floyd Murray – Tenor Technician

Floyd Murray is a percussionist and educator, based out of central New Jersey.  He began his marching career in 2007 as a member of the tenor line for the Bushwackers Drum and Bugle Corps, marching in 2007, 2010, and 2011. Floyd then performed in the tenor line with United Percussion in 2011 and was section leader for the tenor line in 2012.  Currently Floyd is a performer for GEI Entertainment as a tenor drummer for the NFL Giants Drum Line.

As an educator, Floyd has instructed various high school drumlines around the New Jersey area including Ramsey High School, Woodbridge High School, and Westfield High School.  His students at Westfield were awarded the High Percussion award at US Bands National Championships 2 of the 3 years he was there.  He also instructed the tenor line at the Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps in 2013.  Since 2013, Floyd has been a battery instructor at his alma mater, Old Bridge High School for both the marching and indoor ensembles.  The indoor ensemble is one of only a few groups from the area to annually make the trip to Ohio to perform at WGI finals week where they won the WGI Scholastic Open Class bronze medal in 2013.  The OBHS marching battery has consistently won various high percussion awards at both States and National Championships in the US Bands circuit over the years.

Roman Trujillo – Bass Technician

Roman is a percussion educator from Southern California. During his time in California he taught at numerous schools while studying music education at Riverside Community College and San Diego State University. He began playing drums at a very early age and became drawn to the marching arts during his freshmen year of high school. Roman went on to march bass drum in with Impulse Drum and Bugle Corps, Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps, and with San Diego State University.

Shortly after moving to New Jersey, Roman began teaching with the Hawthorne Caballeros Drum and Bugle Corps as a bass tech. He is also the Percussion Caption Head at Parsippany High School and a bass tech at East Coast Percussion. Helping his students develop as musicians and as adults is important to him, as well as striving for a positive environment. Although success is always a plus, the most important aspect of the activity is the learning experience.

This is Roman’s second year with the Caballeros and is very excited to get started!


Ryan Brodhead – Bass Technician

Ryan’s marching career started back in 2012 with Cadets2 and continued with them through the 2014 season.  He then went on to march with the WGI World Class ensemble Cadets Winter Percussion for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, as well as marching three years and aging out at The Cadets (2015, 2016, 2017).  He also spent three years in the Rutgers University drum line and served as bass drum section leader for his last two years.  He has taught multiple high school percussion programs in New Jersey and is currently the Percussion Caption Head at Madison High School.  Ryan is a senior at Rutgers University studying criminal justice, political science, and sociology.

Samantha Liss – Front Ensemble Technician

Sam Liss is an incredibly experienced front ensemble performer and educator.  Sam began her drum corps marching career with the Jersey Surf, being a member of the corps for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.  Shortly after, Sam joined United Percussion, marching as a member for four seasons from 2009 through 2012.  After Jersey Surf, Sam went on to become a member of Carolina Crown marching from 2011 through 2014, where she spent the 2013 and 2014 season as the center marimba and percussion section leader.  Throughout her career, Sam has taught across multiple ensembles including Edison High School, New Providence High School, Council Rock High School – South, and Bushwackers Drum and Bugle Corps.

Sam brings a great depth of knowledge and experience and we are very excited to have her join the Caballeros team.

Justus Wilson – Front Ensemble Technician

Justus’ marching career began in high school with the Bangor Area High School Marching Band as a quad player, serving as the section leader his final year.  The summers before and after his senior year were spent with the Raiders Drum and Bugle Corps, playing cymbals in 2012 and xylophone in 2013.  After marching with the Raiders, Justus was fortunate enough to become a member at United Percussion and has been a marimba and xylophone player there from 2014 to 2017.  During the fall of 2014, he was the Front Ensemble Instructor at Westfield High School in New Jersey.  Justus was a member of Carolina Crown during their 2017 season aging out on the marimba, and is currently thrilled to be performing for his last season with United Percussion.

Throughout the course of his marching career, Justus has had the privilege of studying with some very accomplished educators, including Ian Hale, Iain Moyer, Dave Osworth, Paul Nalesnik, Steve Ballard, Marcus Neudigate, Alex Kluttz, Annie Chernow, Jim Ancona, and Thom Hannum.  He is excited to work with this great team of educators and to continue his educational career with the Hawthorne Caballeros!

Valeri Liiva-Katz – Front Ensemble Technician

This will be Valeri’s 20th year with the Hawthorne Caballeros.  She has had many various positions including writer, arranger, section leader, member, conductor, and instructor.  This year she will be a technician for the front ensemble’s percussionists.

Valeri is from a small town outside of the Philly-area, Media, PA.  She marched with The Crossmen of Pennsylvania for 3 years and aged-out with The Blue Devils of Concord, California.  She completed her undergraduate degree in Music Education from West Chester University of West Chester, PA.  She taught Lone Star Junior Drum and Bugle corps of Commerce, TX.  She completed her masters in Music Education at The University of North Texas, Denton, TX.

Valeri has taught music throughout NJ since 1998, including marching bands, indoor drum lines, concert bands, jazz bands, pit orchestras, instrumental lessons, choirs, general music, and the Little Kids Rock program.  She is presently a full-time instrumental music teacher and band director at the Elizabeth Public School District in Elizabeth, NJ, at Winfield Scott School No. 2 and Toussaint L’Ouverture Marquis De Lafayette School No. 6.

Stay tuned for additional announcements surrounding our new percussion consultants and the rest of the 2018 team!

The open house will be located, once again, at Passaic County Technical Institute.  For full details on the open house, where you will get a glimpse of the 2018 program, please see below for full details:

Date: 11/25/17 – 11/26/17
Location: Passaic County Technical Institute
Address: 45 Reinhardt Road, Wayne, NJ 07470

Check out the Facebook event page for full details:
Don’t forget to fill out an interest form by visiting the following link:

To expedite your open house experience, we are offering the option to pay the $50 registration fee, via PayPal:

2018 Open House Fee — Member’s Name

If you have any questions surrounding membership, please contact Mike Ryan at

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