The Santa Monica High School Bands
Kevin McKeown 2012 - Present
Terry Sakow 1991 - Present
Michael Corrigan 2009 - 2012
Kathleen Janert 2008 - 2009
Abel Ramirez 2004 - 2008
Carl Hammer 1995 - 2004
Jeff Edmonds 1991 - 1995
Douglas Hargas 1984 - 1991
Gary Horimoto 1989 - 1991
James Hile 1977 - 1984
Lida O. Beasley 1981 - 1985
Christopher Schwabe 1980 - 1981
Robert Zachman 1967 - 1978
Richard Wagnon 1953 - 1967
Ed Wells - 1953
Ragene Farris 1947? - 1951?
Wade Thomas, Jr. 1937? - 1943?
E. E. Farney 1934 - 1937
Jack Sanderson Joyce 1927 - 1934
Arnold Wagner 1915
The Drum Major Audition
The Section Leader Interview
Solo and Ensemble Festival
Scholarships and Awards
The Glenn Katz Memorial Scholarship
Santa Monica Kiwanis Club Scholarship
Marching Band Awards
The Santa Monica High School Band was established in 1915 under the direction of Arnold Wagner. The band is one of the oldest high school bands in California, and has a rich heritage due to outstanding instruction, a long history of community support, and its location in proximity to the entertainment industry and premier west coast artistic community.
The band flourished and grew in the 1950's under the direction of Dick Wagnon, and is currently under the direction of Terry Sakow and Kevin McKeown. Mr. Sakow is believed to be the longest serving music teacher ever at the high school, beginning in 1990.
The Alma Mater
The Fight Song
The Hymn of Praise by Ken Darby
(Class of 1928)
Dear old Samohi
Queen of the setting sun
For you we toil,
for you our banners fly
We win for you when victory's won.
All hail to thee, Mighty Samohi
Our faith in the ne'er will fail
For the love that we give
is thy power to live
To thee, All Hail!
Ken Darby (May 13, 1909 - January 24, 1992) was an American Academy Award and Grammy Award winning composer, vocal arranger, and conductor. He has shared in winning an Oscar three times and was nominated for three others.
Vikings Bold by Carl Hammer
(Class of 1984)
Forward they go together,
Onward they surge ahead.
Inward they bond together
to the very end.
Waves crash around the ship-mast,
yet still they hold
fast to the Fight! Fight! Fight!
for SaMo Vikings Bold!
Ra! - Ra! - RaRaRa!
Ra! - Ra! - RaRaRa!
Ra! - Ra! - RaRaRa!
S! A! M! . . . O! H! I!
For many years Samohi borrowed On Wisconsin as their fight song.
The joke was to call it On WisMonica.
For the 2000 school year, Dr. Hammer, the associate band director, and class of 1984, wrote Samohi's own fight song. For a school with it's own Alma Mater, and with such a long history, it was time for Samohi to have it's own fight song. Vikings Bold became the new fight song for the new century.
Kevin McKeown has joined the Samohi Band program as a Director of Bands. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Mr. McKeown and his family left “The Troubles” behind in 1982 to come to Santa Monica for a new life. He is a proud alumnus of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Mr. McKeown started playing clarinet in 4th grade at Grant Elementary, and he attended John Adams Junior High and graduated from SAMOHI. Mr. McKeown attended UCLA for his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education.
Under the direction of Gordon Henderson, he was a four year drum major for the UCLA Bruin Marching Band, known as “The Solid Gold Sound.” He went on to earn a Masters of Music in Instrumental Conducting, becoming the Graduate Associate Conductor of the UCLA Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band, under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas Lee.
Before joining the faculty at SAMOHI, Mr. McKeown taught at John Adams Middle School, S.M.A.S.H. Middle School, and at every elementary school in the SMMUSD. he has developed and continues to conduct collegiate level wind ensembles at Santa Monica College and the Clare Trevor School of Arts at the University of California, Irvine. He is an active adjudicator, clinician, and guest conductor throughout Southern California, and has previously held positions at CSUN, CSULA and Long Beach City College. Mr. McKeown is an active member of SCSBOA and CBDA and is on the Board of Directors of Elemental STrings, a youth orchestra for 4th and 5th grade string students in the Santa Monica community. Outside of teaching and conducting, Mr. McKeown enjoys spending time with his family, riding his bicycle, eating great Japanese food in his Sawtelle neighborhood, and working on his ongoing pursuit to carry a single digit handicap in golf.
Terry Sakow began teaching at Santa Monica High School (Samohi) in 1990. During his tenure at Santa Monica High School the bands grew to 270 students from 80 his first year.
Between 1995 and 2006 he served as Chair of the Santa Monica High School Music Department overseeing the entire music curriculum, and also serving as consultant for a massive renovation of the school auditorium, and the music facility.
At the end of his time as department chair, the music department enrollment reached an excess of 800 students, and the music facility and performance hall are now state of the art facilities. The band program at Santa Monica High School has developed into one of the finest and most comprehensive of its kind in California during Mr. Sakow's tenure.
His ensembles have received top honors at adjudicated performances, and are considered amongst the finest bands in California. The Santa Monica High School Wind Ensemble performed at the California Music Educators Association Convention in 2006. The Wind Ensemble also performed in Carnegie Hall in 2007. Many past members of the Wind Ensemble have continued their music education at prestigious conservatories, universities, and schools of music.
Mr. Sakow was born in Yokosuka, Japan. Because his father was in the U.S. Navy, Mr. Sakow grew up in Japan, Hawaii and California, beginning his musical studies in the 6th grade in Poway, California as a trumpeter in the school band. Mr. Sakow earned a Bachelor of Arts in music from UCLA in 1989 and later a Masters in Music Education from the University of Illinois in 1997.
His musical mentors are Karl Fitch, Lar Best, Marc Davis, Gerald and Linda Anderson, Chris Schwabe, Samuel Krachmalnick, Dr. Thomas Lee, Gordon Henderson, Gary Rosenblatt and Dr. Abel Ramirez.
Mr. Sakow is also the principal trumpet player of the Santa Monica College Orchestra and the Santa Monica College Concert Band. Despite his busy schedule as a high school band director, he still finds time to perform on the trumpet and is invited to perform with many community and university ensembles around Southern California.
Michael Corrigan has been an instrumental music educator in California for thirty-nine years. Mr. Corrigan received his bachelor’s degree in music from California State University, Long Beach.
Mr. Corrigan is also beginning his third season as conductor of the Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble. This auditioned group draws students from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties. They perform in the new Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall of the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
Mr. Corrigan has previously taught at Mater Dei High School (twenty-five years), Yosemite High School (five years), Clovis High School (seven years), and Aliso Niguel High School (two years). He has produced highly successful marching bands at each of his assignments (including recent state champions at Aliso Niguel). His groups have consistently received unanimous superior ratings in local festivals, as well as festivals throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. He also served as the Music Resource Specialist for the Capistrano Unified School District during his tenure at Aliso Niguel.
Mr. Corrigan has served as president of the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA), and president of the California Band Directors Association (CBDA). He is currently a Head Judge for SCSBOA. He adjudicates numerous festival and marching band events throughout the United States, and is frequently called to guest conduct select honor groups. His bands and orchestras have received “Unanimous Gold” recognitions at Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center.
His bands and orchestras have traveled extensively. Past performances include:
Three European Tours (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, England, Ireland).
Two Canadian Tours (Vancouver, Calgary)
Two Western United States Tours (California Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada).
Two Hawaiian Islands Tours (Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Molokai).
Two New York Tours (Carnegie Hall).
One Washington D.C. Tour (Kennedy Center).
Mr. Corrigan has received recognition from many music educator organizations, including:
Legion of Honor Award - John Philip Sousa National Foundation.
Distinguished Service Award - California Band Directors Association.
Band Educator of the Year - California Music Educators Association.
Honorary Life Member - Southern California School Band and Orchestra Assoc.
Kathleen Janert - Associate Director of the Samohi Bands
In August of 2008 KATHLEEN JANERT was appointed Associate Band Director at Santa Monica High School where she teaches Concert Bands, Marching Band, and a Piano Class.
Ms. Janert was born in San Antonio, Texas. She started piano lessons at age 4 and in the sixth grade, began playing the trumpet in the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio. A very accomplished trumpet player in high school, she continued her studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio for two years and then completed her Bachelor of Arts in Music at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005.
After completing her degree, Ms. Janert was appointed band director at Wood Middle School in San Antonio. During her tenure there the band program’s enrollment increased significantly. The Wood Bands also received top honors at the district University Interscholastic League Concert Band Contests under her direction.
Ms. Janert plays her trumpet with the Santa Monica College Band and is an instructor for Harmony Project, an inner city music youth program. She really enjoys the beautiful weather in West Los Angeles!
Abel Ramirez - Associate Director of the Samohi Bands.
Dr. Abel Saldivar Ramirez holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from UCLA. In 2008, Dr. Ramirez was appointed Acting Director of Bands at the University of Illinois School of Music in 2008.
Prior to accepting an invitation to begin graduate study at UCLA in 2000, Ramirez enjoyed a highly successful career as a Texas 5A high school music educator. From 2003 to 2008, Dr. Ramirez served as the Director of Bands, Head of the Conducting Division, and Chair of the Instrumental Area at California State University, Los Angeles. As the conductor of the CSULA Bands, Dr. Ramirez raised the wind ensemble to a level of national prominence, receiving numerous invitations to perform at state and national conferences. In 2007, the CSULA Wind Ensemble performed as the featured wind ensemble during the Fresno State University Wind Band Conference, as well as the California Music Educators Association/MENC Conference, which was held at the Ontario, California Convention Center. Most recently, the CSULA Wind Ensemble accepted an invitation to perform at the 2008 College Band Directors National Association Western/Northwestern Division Conference hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno.
Dr. Ramirez’ musical knowledge, teaching experience, and artistic conducting expertise is diverse. He has conducted countless wind ensembles and symphony orchestras, opera, and numerous musicals. In addition, Ramirez maintains a highly active schedule as a consultant, clinician, and adjudicator for wind bands, orchestras, marching bands, and jazz bands from across the United States and in Australia and Europe. He has served on the advisory boards for American Classic Music and Music America. Most recently, he was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute for Latin American Music Study at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.
In May 2007, Dr. Ramirez made his Carnegie Hall conducting debut. Shortly afterwards, Ramirez was appointed resident guest conductor for the International Honors Wind Symphony, which he founded in a collaborative effort with Distinguished Concerts International New York. Dr. Ramirez will conduct the premiere performance of the International Honors Wind Symphony at the Lincoln Center Avery Fisher Hall in May, 2009.
Dr. Carl Hammer Assistant/Associate Director of the Samohi Bands and Jazz Band Director
Dr. Carl Hammer was born and raised in Santa Monica. He attended Grant Elementary, John Adams Junior High and graduated from Santa Monica High School. He received his musical education under the direction of legendary Santa Monica music teachers - including Sherman Plepler, Darell Mettler, Richard Wagnon, Lida Beasley, Jim Hile, Christopher Schwabe and many others.
He received his BM in music education from Brigham Young University and his MM and DMA in trombone performance from the University of Southern California.
After graduating from BYU, he taught band, orchestra, general music and choir in the Alpine School District in Utah, and then returned to Santa Monica for his graduate studies at USC. While studying at USC, he was invited to work as the assistant band director at Santa Monica High School. As the program grew, he continued to accept more assignments, including teaching positions at John Adams Middle School and Lincoln Middle School. Eventually the high school program became large enough that he became a full time associate director of the Santa Monica High School Bands with Terry Sakow. He also served as conductor of the Santa Monica College Band.
During his time at Samohi, Dr. Hammer restored the Samohi Serenaders - the Samohi Jazz Ensemble as a curricular class. He established the school's first vocal jazz ensemble. He also reestablished the SCSBOA Band and Orchestra festival hosted by Samohi. Many veteran adjudicators evaluated these festivals as the best organized and best run festivals they had ever attended. Dr. Hammer's ensembles regularly received superior ratings at festivals, and his custom arrangements and compositions for the marching band became widely admired.
Dr. Hammer wrote Samohi's first fight song, replacing the fight songs previously borrowed from other schools. He continues to arrange and compose music for bands, orchestras, choirs and other ensembles, as well as perform on trombone, piano and pipe organ, teach music and adjudicate.
Jeff Edmonds - Assistant Director of the Samohi Bands
Douglas Hargis - Director of the Samohi Bands
Gary Horimoto - Assistant Director of the Samohi Bands
Dr. James Hile - Director of the Samohi Bands
Dr. James Hile served as Director of Bands at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In this capacity he conducted the Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Pep Bands and the Marching Tar Heels. He also tuaght undergraduate and graduate instrumental conducting and band arranging. Prior to his appointment at UNC, Dr. Hile served as Assistant Director of Bands at the University of Illinois.
He has studied conducting with Dr. Harry Begian (U. of Illinois) and Dr. Clarence Sawhill (UCLA). Dr. Hile earned his bachelor's degree in music education from UCLA. He taught at Santa Monica High School where he established one of the finest high school band programs in California. He completed a Master of Science degree in music education and a doctorate in Education at the University of Illinois.
Hile has gained a national reputation not only as a band arranger, but also as an outstanding educator. He has received several awards for outstanding teaching at Santa Monica HS and was nominated several times for the "Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching" Award. he was honored with membership in the "Order of the Golden Fleece" for outstanding contributions to the University of North Carolina. He has also been awarded the "Citation of Excellence" by the National Band Association.
He returned to teaching in the public schools at Highland Park High School in Illinois. He maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator. He returned to California to conduct the 1998 All Southern California High School Honor Band and later returned to Santa Monica to be honored as a Guest Conductor at the 2001 Stairway of the Stars.
Lida O. Beasley (August 4 1934 - Friday, May 7, 2010)
Past Band and Orchestra Teacher - John Adams Junior High School, Santa Monica High sChool and Santa Monica College.
Thank You Mrs. Beasley for your work with Santa Monica Students. Love - the Samohi Bands
Terry Sakow, current director of the Samohi Bands for the past 20 years, stated "One of the main reasons music education has survived in Santa Monica is because we've had exceptional teachers . . . and on that list, if not at the top of that list, is Lida Beasley."
Neil Hofland, longtime extraordinary Santa Monica Band Parent Association Past President, wrote an article about just one of Lida's many incredible musical performances with her beloved Santa Monica Students.
Click Here for Link
Every once in awhile, an extraordinary teacher touches the lives of her students in a way that forever blesses them, the school that they are at, and the community they live in.
Lida O Beasley (affectionately known as LOB, from her signature on all student passes and papers) taught band and orchestra at John Adams Junior High School, orchestra at Samohi while simultaneously serving as assistant band director, and founded the SMC orchestra and restored the SMC concert band. She taught in Santa Monica during the 1970's, 80's and 90's.
"We are all dwarves mounted upon the shoulders of giants." (attr. Bernard of Chartres - 12th cent.) Lida was one of the giants who created a tectonic shift in music education in Santa Monica. No-one in Southern California had ever heard junior high kids play with such emotion and musical expression before. She radiated beautiful music, and lit the fire in her students so that they also projected that beauty in their performances. She taught her students to love each other and to work together like a family. As parents began to understand the positive impact of her work in their students lives, they mobilized to support and preserve that work through support of music education.
Mrs. Beasley was fiercely protective of her students, and ferociously fought against any administrator, teacher or other adult who might hurt them. Her work, along with her colleagues and loyal parents, saved music education in Santa Monica from multiple attempts to cut or eliminate these world class student programs. Her quality instruction and motivation set the standards that today's students and teachers work to live up to.
It is safe to say that our music programs in Santa Monica would probably resemble the many schools in our area who have suffered from the elimination or drastic reduction of music education that deprives their students of quality music education - had it not been for the work of Lida and those who rallied around and with her to protect her students. When you cut or eliminate music, you inadvertently negatively impact all academics, and take the life and spirit out of a school. And that negatively impacts the entire community.
For students and friends of Lida Beasley - Andrea Rappaport (Samohi Alum, 1984 - horn player in the band and orchestra) created a fan page on Facebook for those who are not already friends with her. Many messages from her students were passed on to her in the week before she departed.
Many students, parents and friends are saying thank you and recognizing the extraordinary gift that LOB gave to Santa Monica. It is a good thing to say thank you to the teacher(s) in your life who made a difference - and especially the ones who awoke in you the gift of music.
Christopher Schwabe - Assistant Band Director
Christopher Schwabe was the director of orchestras at Samohi, and at that time the orchestra director and band director assisted each other in their assignments. Before permanently moving to Samohi in 1997, he served as director of instrumental music at Lincoln Middle School for 24 years. He received his B.M.Ed from Indiana University and his M.A. from Ball State University.
Christopher taught at SMC, the Idyllwild School of Music and Arts, and the School of Performing Arts' Early Development String Program at USC, where he earned the Outstanding Teacher Award for extraordinary service to string pedagogy. He has served as a master teacher to many student teachers and has conducted numerous honor groups.
After retiring from Samohi, he was coaxed out of retirement to establish the Mira Costa High School Orchestra Program. From its modest beginnings as a single class of eighteen students in the fall of 2002, the Mira Costa orchestra program grew and developed into three orchestras, including a full orchestra.
He has the distinction of taking two different high school symphony orchestras to Carnegie Hall, having conducted the Santa Monica High School Symphony Orchestra in 2002 and the Mira Costa High School Orchestra in 2006. Following his Disney Hall Concert in 2009, Mr. Schwabe retired from teaching at Mira Costa.
Director of the Samohi Bands
Assistant Director of the Samohi Bands
Richard B. Wagnon - Director of the Samohi BAnds
Richard Wagnon received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Redlands in 1947 and a Master’s Degree in Music Education from USC in 1952. In 1953, he began at Samohi where he taught music for 14 years.
A visionary, Wagnon established the "specialized program" still in use today, with separate teachers for band and orchestra. Under his leadership, the Samohi band marched in the Rose Parade two consecutive years. The Samohi Serenaders won top honors in the Hollywood Bowl Battle of the Bands as the number one high school jazz band in Los Angeles County.
Following his tenure at Samohi, Richard served as music supervisor for the SMMUSD for 20 years. He brought in many talented teachers and welded his music staff into a cohesive force for music education. As the district's reputation for excellence grew, Mr. Wagnon sought out well-known composers to conduct their music at Stairway, including Meredith Willson, Alfred Newman, Ferde Grofe, Nelson Riddle and Carmen Dragon. Richard served his last three years in the SMMUSD as Principal of Franklin Elementary School.
After retirement, Richard continued playing trumpet in the Los Angeles Police Band, the Santa Monica College Emeritus Band, and his own Friday Jazz Group. He returned for the 50th Stairway of the Stars in 1999 as the Guest Conductor for the evening.
The Santa Monica High School Marching Band offers opportunities for student leadership. The band directors choose student leaders through audition, interviews and by invitation.
The drum major audition may consist of a four part process. Candidates should successfully demonstrate competency in all four parts to be considered for this position. The directors may choose two drum majors - one for parade band mace work and one for field conducting. Both should be competent conductors and mace performers since they will back each other up as alternates.
The directors may choose 0, 1 or 2 drum majors.
Auditions often occur during the final exam time for A Period. Candidates compete in the following areas:
In the Samohi Viking Marching Band, section leaders are an important part of student leadership. A successful section leader should demonstrate commitment, integrity, and achieve a high level of musical proficiency. A section leader should lead by word and example. Section leaders are student teachers for this ensemble. Student leaders should invest more time into this program than a regular marching band member.
Please be prepared to provide brief answers to questions from the teachers/drum majors - a sample of questions that may be asked are:
Each student is encouraged to study with a private teacher who is a specialist on that student's instrument. Private teachers address the unique technical challenges of each instrument, and training in literature written specifically for that instrument. The individual achievement that results from private instruction cannot be duplicated in an ensemble setting.
As a student becomes more proficient, the love of music increases. A student who attains a high level of musical achievement in high school often continues to play a musical instrument in college and in adult life.
A student who participates in private instruction demonstrates a commitment to music. This will be considered when selecting students for our most advanced groups, and in filling student leadership positions.
All music students are strongly encouraged to prepare solos and small ensembles for performances. Performances can and should happen throughout the year.
During the second semester, SCSBOA (Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association) hosts numerous district and regional solo and ensemble festivals. These festivals are similar to the SCSBOA band and orchestra festivals, except that they are designed to specifically evaluate student solos and small ensembles.
Students receive ratings and evaluations - and often individualized feedback from the adjudicators. Command performances are offered to a select few students who give exceptional performances. Students are free to attend any solo and ensemble festival - and are especially encouraged to participate in the SCSBOA Solo and Ensemble festival hosted by Santa Monica High School.
The SMMUSD Festival is usually held in May. Please see Mr. McKeown, Mr. Sakow, Mrs. Swenson or Mr. Aiello for more details.
Several professional associations sponsor honor groups throughout the academic school year. These auditions provide an excellent educational opportunity for students because the audition process itself is a highly valuable experience - whether or not the student makes it into an honor group. The process of preparing to perform for critical evaluation with a reward at the end tends to initiate a more focussed and energetic preparation process from the student.
For those students who make the audition, the reward is the opportunity to participate under the direction of exceptional and outstanding conductors, along with many of the most talented and highly motivated young musicians from Los Angeles County, Southern California, and California.
Before auditioning and committing to an honor group, be sure the verify the legitimacy and value of the honor group with Mr. McKeown and Mr. Sakow. There are a few "honor" groups and youth orchestras that may be more interested in making money, or building the reputation of a particular director, than providing a valuable educational experience for the students.
Students who wish to audition for honor groups must practice honorable behaviors and abilities to be eligible, and to receive the directors recommendation. Please follow these guidelines:
The following links lead to audition information for approved Honor Ensembles:
SCSBOA (Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association) All Southern Honor Band, Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble
CBDA (California Band Directors Association) All State Honor Band and Jazz Band
CODA (California Orchestra Directors Association) All State Honor Orchestra
Additional Extra Curricular Groups PDF
This award is presented annually to a senior music student who plans to pursue music in college and has made significant contributions to the Samohi Music Department. Interviews are usually conducted in May/June.
Preliminary auditions at each school will determine 8 finalists. A final performance will determine scholarship awards, 1st through 4th in each grade category (Grades 9-10 and Grades 11-12). All those who place will be honored at a luncheon. The first place winners will perform at the luncheon. Auditions are usually held in April/May/June.
The Silver Rank
The Directors Award
Most Improved Freshman
Most Valuable Freshman