Colorado Honor Band Association is a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides high quality music education for students in the greater Denver-metropolitan area. Our extra-curricular program fills a unique niche in the community with an education model that blends full-ensemble instruction, small-group training, and one-on-one coaching. In addition to year-round classes with seasonal performance opportunities, we hold a yearly overnight summer music camp and regularly travel nationally and internationally.
MISSION STATEMENT: To provide an inclusive instrumental music program that promotes youth development, fosters peer camaraderie, instills respect for culture, and develops a pursuit of excellence.
We are passionate about offering a music education program for all interested students that goes above and beyond the fundamentals of music and how to play an instrument. That's why we designed an inclusive program that upholds the highest standards of musical excellence and also provides a nurturing environment in which students can learn teamwork skills, thrive socially, and expand their worldview through travel.
Colorado Honor Band Association was founded in 1953 by Bill Thompson. What started out as a single 6-piece band in his living room quickly grew into two large bands called the Denverettes and the Denveraires. The organization continued to grow by leaps and bounds, finally reach its current form as Colorado Honor Band, featuring 4 full concert bands and a pop-rock band in a multi-level program that serves over 200 families annually. Since our inception, we have upheld the values of high quality instruction, inclusivity, and performance excellence.
Keith Farmer is the Co-Director of Symphony Winds. He graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education and his Master's Degree in Music Education from the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago. Mr. Farmer plays trumpet in the Colorado Wind Ensemble. He was the band and orchestra director at Elizabeth High School in Elbert County from 1999-2003 and he was the instrumental music director and fine arts department chair at Rock Canyon High School and Rocky Heights Middle School in Douglas County from 2003-2005. Currently, Mr. Farmer is director of bands and performing arts coordinator at Grandview High School in the Cherry Creek School District. He is the Instrumental Chair for CMEA, the region 1 representative for ASBDA and is a member and regional concert band festival host for CBA. Mr. Farmer is an alumnus of CHBA and has been on the CHBA faculty since 1995.
Orlando Otis is the Co-Director of Symphony Winds. He is a 1986 graduate of Louisiana Tech University, where he received his B.A. in Music Education. Mr. Otis began teaching in 1986 at Gateway High School. In 1992 he became the Director of Bands and Instrumental Music Department Chair for the Denver School of the Arts. He also directed the DPS Citywide Marching Band for six years, and the Denver All City Jazz and Symphonic Band for seven years. Mr. Otis went on to be the Director of Bands and Department Chair for the Performing Arts at Chaparral High School in Douglas County, Colorado, directing bands for eleven years that consistently received superior ratings locally and nationally. Currently, Mr. Otis is the Performing Arts Department Chair and Director of Bands for Legend High School in Douglas County. He received the 1996 “Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education,” the 1999 and 2001 IBM/CHSAA “Outstanding Educator Award,” and most recently, the 2000, 2002, 2005, and 2006 Who’s Who of American High School Teachers. His ensembles have performed at CMEA, the Tournament of Roses Parade, numerous Bowl Games, Hollywood Christmas Parade, and the Reno International Jazz Festival as well as in Hawaii, London, and Ireland. His professional affiliations include: CBA, MENC, IAJE, ASBDA, Kappa Kappa Psi, and Phi Mu Alpha. Mr. Otis is also in demand as a band clinician and adjudicator. He has been with on the CHBA faculty since 1998.
Sarah Starbuck is the Director of Beginning and Intermediate Bands. Mrs. Starbuck received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She currently teaches band and orchestra at The International School at Thornton Middle in the Adams 12 School District. When not teaching, Mrs. Starbuck enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters. She imagines them being future bassoon and trumpet players. Mrs. Starbuck is an alumna of Colorado Honor Band, and she has been on the CHBA Faculty since 2000.
Marie Watkins’ biography
Mrs. Watkins retired in May, 2020 after 31 years of being a
full-time band director in the public schools of Colorado. She
taught grades 5 - 12 during a career that went from Brush to
Brighton to Highlands Ranch and eventually to Powell Middle
School in Littleton Public Schools. Mrs. Watkins holds degrees in
music education from Wichita State University and from the
University of Northern Colorado. She is a member of the National
Association for Music Education, the Colorado Music Educators
Assocation, the Colorado Bandmasters Association, and the
American School Bandmasters Association.
Throughout her career, Mrs. Watkins’ concert and jazz bands
received Superior Ratings at many festivals around the state,
including at CHSAA Concert Band Festivals, Colorado Bandmasters
Association Middle School Festival, the Legend High School Jazz
Festival, the Durango Four Corners Festival of Music, and the
Cavalcade of Music Festival in Colorado Springs. Mrs. Watkins has
served as a guest conductor for various honor groups and as a judge
at solo/ensemble festivals.
Mrs. Watkins continues to perform professionally on clarinet and
has performed with the Colorado Wind Ensemble, the Littleton
Symphony, and the Quintessential Winds.
Mrs. Watkins resides in Littleton with her husband, Steve, and their
two dogs, Jazz and Rose. She enjoys gardening, hiking, and
traveling when she’s not doing something related to music.
Note from Mrs. Watkins :
I am very excited to become a part of the Colorado Honor Band
family once again, this time as the director of the Concert Band. I
was one of the teachers of the Intermediate Band from June 2014 to
January 2016. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to work in this
organization again. I look forward to making music with you!
Master Class Instructors
Jayne Copland teaches our flute sectionals and master classes. She been living and working as a freelance flutist in Colorado for fifteen years. She maintains a busy private flute studio in Parker, Castle Rock, and Highlands Ranch. She works as flute specialist and section leader coach for Douglas County High School and Mountain Vista High School, where she conducts a high school flute choir. Jayne works for the Elementary Band and Orchestra Program “EBOP” at Highlands Ranch High School where she teaches beginning flute and clarinet. She also works for DC Downbeat, a beginning band and orchestra program through Douglas County High School and teaches beginning flute. She is section manager for Colorado Wind Ensemble and has been an active member on flute and piccolo for eight years. Prior to moving to Colorado with her family, she served as Adjunct Professor of Flute at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. She is honored to be on the teaching staff at the Colorado Honor Band Association.
Heather Davis is the Personnel Manager at CHBA and teaches our clarinet sectionals and master classes. Ms. Davis is a Woodwind Specialist in the Littleton Public Schools. She teaches flute, clarinet, saxophone, oboe and bassoon privately. Ms. Davis received a Bachelor of Music Education and a Master’s Degree in Wind Instruments from the University of Michigan. She is active as a clinician and adjudicator in the Denver area and performs with the Colorado Wind Ensemble and Woodwinds Three. Ms. Davis has been with CHBA since 1987.
Keith Ewer is the Director of Pop Rock Band and teaches our percussion sectionals and master classes. He received his Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Northern Colorado. Mr. Ewer is a free-lance percussionist and works as the house percussionist for the Arvada Center. He is also the coordinator for the Front Range Youth Symphony, teaches private percussion lessons, and gives percussion clinics at schools along the Front Range. Mr. Ewer has been on the CHBA faculty since 1982.
Sharon Gayley teaches our trombone, baritone, and tuba sectionals and master classes and is one of our Beginning and Intermediate Band center instructors. She is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. Ms. Gayley played baritone and trombone in the Denver Municipal Band and now sings in the Colorado Symphony Chorus. She taught instrumental music in the Aurora Public Schools and currently teaches general music, instrumental music, and hand bells at St. Mary's Academy. Ms. Gayley is a CHBA alumna. She was a member of the CHBA faculty from 1979 to 1992, then rejoined the faculty in 2002.
MELINDA HO specializes in modern and natural trumpet, holding degrees in music performance from Indiana University (BM) and the University of Colorado at Boulder (MM). An alumna of CHBA, she joined the faculty in 2017. Ms. Ho performs regularly with pit orchestras and ensembles throughout the Front Range area. When she isn't performing or teaching, you can find her riding or fixing a bicycle. Melinda also serves on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Wind Ensemble, and holds the position of Production Director with the Colorado Brass.
Barbara Shepherd Kuzera is one of our Beginning and Intermediate Band center instructors. She received her Bachelor of Music in Brass Performance from Boston University College of Fine Arts and Master of Music in Horn Performance from New England Conservatory of Music studying most recently with James Sommerville, Principal Horn of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Mrs. Kuzera has performed with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Arapahoe Philharmonic, and The Speaking. In addition to CHBA, she maintains a private horn studio in the Denver metro area. Mrs. Kuzera lives in Denver with her husband, Kris, and one-year old bundle of energy (and cuteness!), Oskar. She has been a member of the CHBA faculty since 2013.
Glenn Nitta teaches our saxophone sectionals and master classes. Mr. Nitta has his Bachelor’s of Music Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Mr. Nitta recently retired from his position as Band Director at Hamilton Middle School in the Denver Public Schools. He received the Mile High Teacher Award and plays professionally around the Metropolitan Area. Mr. Nitta has been on the CHBA faculty since 2005.
Susan Smith is the former Program Director of CHBA and she is also one of our Beginning and Intermediate Band center instructors. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley. She has been a teacher and administrator in both public and private education since 1972. Mrs. Smith has served as a clinician at the elementary level and an adjudicator in the Denver metropolitan area. She is a member of the Colorado Music Educators Association. She was nominated for inclusion in the 1992 edition of Who’s Who Among Rising Young Americans, received an award from the Governor’s Office for “Raising Colorado,” and was nominated for the 7 Everyday Hero Award and for the 2003 Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. Mrs. Smith has been on the CHBA faculty since 1968. She is the proud mother of three daughters and now has two granddaughters, one five and one four months old and a two year old grandson. In her words, “I am sure they will all be tuba players.”
Michael Vigliotti teaches our oboe and bassoon sectionals and master classes. He received a Bachelor of Music in Oboe Performance from Stetson University and earned the Master of Music in oboe performance from Southern Methodist University. Michael currently teaches privately and maintains a woodwind repair shop and reed making business. In addition, he teaches sectionals and masterclasses for schools in Littleton, Cherry Creek and Adams City. Michael performs regularly on oboe and English horn with the Colorado Wind Ensemble and Woodwinds Three, and he subs with Denver Philharmonic, Parker Symphony, and Lakewood Symphony. Before moving to Denver, Michael taught private lessons for nine years in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. He was principal oboe of the Texas Wind Symphony for eight years and has toured the country as Solo Oboist with the Mantovani Orchestra. He has been on the CHBA faculty since 2003.
Currently, Jeff is a music educator in the Aurora Public Schools in Aurora, Colorado. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and a Master of Music from the University of Colorado. Jeff has been repeatedly called upon to play with some of the world's most legendary and revolutionary musicians. Some of those performances include working with: Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Peaches and Herb, Bobby Vinton, Maria Schneider, The Delfonics, The Manhattans, and Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra. Locally, Jeffrey performs with Ron Ivory and the Miles Apart Band and is a Denver-based band Jakarta member.
Beginning & Intermediate Class Instructors
MELISSA GRUNDY teaches at our Kunsmiller center. Ms. Grundy has her Bachelor’s of Music Education from the
Metropolitan State University of Denver. Ms. Grundy has spent the last 20 years teaching band, orchestra and choir to Middle and High School students in Denver and currently teaches general music at Sabin World school in DPS. She has received the Mile High Teacher Award two times. She has been with CHBA since 2018.
Mike Snell is one of our Beginning and Intermediate Band center instructors. Mr. Snell recently retired from Douglas County Schools after teaching middle school and high school band for 27 years. Mr. Snell has received the Who's Who Among American Teachers distinction five times. Mr. Snell is also a five-time DCSD Apple Award nominee. Mr. Snell received his Bachelor Of Music Education Degree from The University of Northern Colorado and his Masters of Education Degree from The University Of Colorado at Denver. Mr. Snell is returning to the CHBA faculty this year after having conducted the Symphonic Band from 1990-2000. Mr. Snell recently received the Educator of Distinction Award from the Douglas County Band Directors.
STEVE MARTIN (Program Director) and directs the Concert Band (since 2008) along other groups with the CHBA. Mr. Martin graduated from CU Boulder and he received his Master’s Degree from Southern Oregon University. Mr. Martin retired in 2016 from D’Evelyn Jr./Sr. High School, concluding a 30-year career. Throughout his career, Mr. Martin’s ensembles have been selected to perform at the CMEA Clinic/Conference a total of 9 times, including 4 concert bands, 4 jazz bands, and an orchestra, from the elementary to high school levels. His career highlights also include five CBA State Marching Band Championships. In 2017, Mr. Martin was voted into Colorado Bandmasters Association ‘Hall of Fame’ by the membership of CBA. Mr. Martin serves as an adjudicator and clinician throughout the state of Colorado for Marching Bands, Concert Bands, Jazz Bands, and Orchestras. Once upon a time, he was also a CHBA summer camp counselor (1982). His roots to the honor band go back even further as he was a 7th grade student at the summer camp during olden times (1975).
Julie joins CHBA in June of 2019. We thrilled to have a person who is quite familiar with the CHBA organization. She is the mother of Melinda, one of our trumpet teachers, and was a CHBA mom for many years. Welcome Julie!
Anna Caldwell is our bookkeeper. She holds a BBA in Finance & Banking from Stephen F Austin State University (AXE 'EM, JACKS) and has over 11 years of accounting and bookkeeping experience. Anna and her family moved to Denver just over a year ago and are enjoying all the wonderful experiences that Denver and Colorado have to offer. When she is not busy working, Mrs. Caldwell enjoys outdoor adventures, exercising, volunteering and spending time with her children and husband. You can find her working in the CHBA office on most Monday nights. Stop by and say hello!