San Elijo Band Coaching Staff




Zachary Elliott is a highly experienced percussionist and currently performs with and teaches a variety of ensembles all over San Diego County. He took part in the Music for All National Percussion Festival in Indianapolis in 2012 and 2014, performed as principal percussionist for the Palomar Symphony Orchestra, and now is an active pit orchestra musician and performs frequently with an array of small ensembles. He teaches percussion privately, and coaches percussion across the San Marcos Unified School District. For the past three years, he has taken groups to represent SEMS at the San Diego Percussion Festival.

Mr. Elliott has been a prolific composer throughout his musical career, and has premiered pieces for wind ensembles, soloists, and chamber ensembles. He composes a large piece for the San Elijo Wind Symphony annually, and arranges a significant portion of the solo/ensemble program literature that SEMS students perform each year.




Juan Jasso is the current House Jazz Band Director. His past experience in conducting, jazz, and in woodwind pedagogy influenced him to pursue a degree towards Music Education at California State University Fullerton. An aspiring saxophonist, he performs different styles of music in multiple settings all over Southern California. Mr. Jasso (Mr. Juan as the kids call him), is a recent graduate of Cal State Fullerton and will be completing his student teaching for music education in 2020-2021.  



Chiara Sutton has played horn for 12 years, and is a graduate in Horn Performance and International Studies from the University of San Diego. She was principal horn of the USD Wind Ensemble since its founding in 2015, and was a student conductor of the Torero Pep Band (of which she is the co-founder). She performs frequently with USD Brass ensembles, and participates in concerts as a soloist every semester. Although horn is Ms. Sutton’s primary instrument, she can also play trumpet and trombone. She works with brass and multiple solo/ensemble groups at SEMS, and teaches several horn students privately.



Melanie Cruz was raised in Northern Illinois and has been playing the flute for over 12 years. She has been the principal flautist in the University of San Diego Wind Ensemble for 2 years and continues to serve as the president of the athletic bands. She recently graduated from USD with her bachelor of science degree in Biochemistry with a minor in music and is now pursuing her masters degree in Texas.  With school being online, she can still work with our flute students even from afar and is very excited for her continued involvement with the SEMS Music Program!



Rebekah Dennis started piano at the age of seven and has played clarinet for over eleven years. She graduated from Chapman University with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and performed as principal clarinetist in The Chapman Orchestra as well as Wind Symphony. Rebekah currently works as a music instructor at Bach to Rock Music School in Encinitas, where she teaches woodwind/brass, piano, and early childhood music classes, and has a number of private clarinet and piano students. She also previously worked with Harmony Project Long Beach, an after-school orchestral program for low-income elementary school students. Rebekah has over five years of teaching experience and loves working with the talented, hardworking, and wonderful students of SEMS!


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