Staff

JOE KUERZI | Director / President / Founder

Joe Kuerzi started playing percussion at the age of 11 when he studied with Joe Fuhrman of the Armed Forces School of Music. Activities such as church league basketball and bee keeping fell along the wayside, as his pursuit of percussion became a lifelong obsession. Joe continued his studies with Al Place, Lawrence Stone, Dr. Richard McLendon, James Rago, Daniel Wooten and Michael Mann. Joe is a member of the Percussive Arts Society, Phi Boota Roota, and Phi Mu Alpha.

Still an active performer, Joe has performed in numerous musical organizations throughout the East Coast, Midwest and Southern regions of the country. Video performances of his rendition of the “Little Drummer Boy” are still a popular holiday treat.

Joe became active in the drum corps activity and spent over 20 years touring with numerous drum corps organizations. Joe was associated with the Phantom Regiment, the Northern Aurora, The Americanos and the Kiwanis Kavaliers. Joe served on the Drum Corps Midwest Board of Directors, the Drum Corps International Division II/III Board of Directors, was named Director of the Year for Division II/III and was a part of the design team that was the recipients of the Drum Corps International Spirit of Disney Award three consecutive years for shows that were recognized for being the most creative and entertaining in the activity.

As an instructor, Joe has been involved with the instruction and design with over 50 different high school programs and 19 state champion ensembles in four states. He has two quilts made from shirts of said groups and enough hoodies and member jackets to represent a different group every day of the month. Joe currently teaches in the Farmington Public Schools where he instructs the Percussion Classes at both Harrison and North Farmington High Schools, is the Assistant Band Director at both schools and is the Auditorium Manager at Harrison.

Joe is a founding member of the indoor percussion activity in Michigan. Joe has been associated with the following ensembles in the Michigan Color Guard Circuit: Novi Percussion, The Diddle Dogs, Harrison High School Percussion, Arthur Hill Percussion, Ferndale Percussion, Eastside Fury, North Farmington Concert Ensemble, Southgate Anderson Indoor Drumline and is the founder and Director for the last 10 years with Farmington United Percussion. Joe has served as the MCGC Percussion Liaison, and is a member of the MCGC Hall of Fame.

Joe currently resides in Pleasant Ridge with his wife Colleen and their two hound dogs, Biscuit and Gravy.

TIM LEACH | Business Manager / Treasurer

Tim (“Mr. Leach” to the kids) has been working in various volunteer staff positions with FUPE since its second year. He is currently the Business Manager for FUPE and the Secretary/Treasurer of Farmington United Winter Performance Groups.

Tim’s job is summed up simply by saying “He handles all matters not pertaining to music or music instruction”. (Tim's musical talent is limited..he can't even play the radio!!) But, if it needs to be found, purchased, paid for, collected, documented, moved, built, driven, repaired or coordinated, Tim is involved.

Tim has volunteered for the North Farmington High Marching Band by hauling their equipment to and from Band Camp for the past few years. Tim has also been a parent volunteer/ staff member with the Harrison High School marching band since 2003, currently as the Equipment Manager, Pit Crew Chief, and Tractor Driver Extraordinaire! Bring him a 7-11 coffee (1/3 French Vanilla Cappuccino, 2/3 regular coffee) and he is at your disposal!!!

KYLE MILLER | Program Coordinator

Kyle has served as a percussion instructor and designer for various music programs in Michigan for over a decade and has been with FUPE since 2012; serving as the Program Coordinator since 2016. His teaching approach focuses on fat diddles, chexercises, and relating the lessons learned in drumming to "real world" scenarios. This ensures students not only become ridiculously good drummers, but better people as well. Kyle is also endorsed as an Innovative Percussion Featured Artist - Percussion Educator.

An interesting fact about Kyle is that, through his journey as a performer, he has spent a marching season on every drum in a standard five person bassline. This journey began with the Michigan State University Drumline (2007 - 2010) where he learned very quickly that he was not “all that” like he thought he was in high school. He then became involved in the WGI activity, marching with the NorthCoast Academy Percussion Ensemble (2009) and representing the Dynasty Corporation at the 2009 Indoor Percussion Europe Finals in Belgium. This journey was concluded by marching with The Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps (2009 - 2011). While at The Cavaliers, he represented the Yamaha Corporation at the 25th National Cultural Festival (2010) in Japan and served as the Drum Sergeant for the 2011 Cavaliers Drumline; recipients of the Fred Sanford Award for Best Percussion Section in Drum Corps International.

Kyle is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Accounting & Information Systems, specializing in Information Technology. By day he is a Cybersecurity Consulting Manager, leading elite groups of cybersecurity professionals and ethical hackers; helping organizations identify and fix vulnerabilities in their information systems before malicious evildoers have an opportunity to exploit them. When he is not working or teaching you may find him running the streets of Detroit, hiking mountains, or getting schooled in racquetball by the elderly.

JOHN MCFARLAND | Music Arranger

John Max McFarland is an active composer/arranger in WGI, DCI, and BOA. He is currently the Program/Music Coordinator for the 2016 DCI Open Class Bronze medalist Legends Drum and Bugle Corps from Kalamazoo, Michigan. From 2013 to 2015 he was the percussion composer/arranger for Pioneer Drum and Bugle Corps from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In WGI, John has composed and arranged for many ensembles ranging from Scholastic A Class all the way up to Independent World Class. Many notable clients include Eastside Fury (2012-2014), Notre Dame Indoor Percussion Ensemble (PIA Finalists 2012, 2013) and Ferndale Independent Percussion (2015 PIA Silver Medalists). John also composes marching band shows for high schools and colleges all over the country.

John received his degrees in Composition (B.M.) and Percussion Performance (B.M., M.M.) from Western Michigan University. He studied percussion under Judy Moonert. John has performed as the principal percussionist and Principal Timpanist for the University Concert and Symphonic Bands, as well as the University Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with the Kalamazoo Symphony and Battlecreek Symphony as a substitute percussionist. John was also a marching member of the Kiwanis Kavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps as well as the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps. John studied composition under Curtis Curtis-Smith, Dr. Richard Adams, and Dr. Robert Ricci. His compositions and arrangements have received international recognition with performances all over the United States as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan. John resides in Parma Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with his wife Sydney, his son Camden, his daughter Cadence, his 2 cats (Zoe and Minkah), his 4 greyhounds (Jason, Jasper, Lola, and Walker), and Italian Greyhound (Sophia).

ROB SIMKO | Battery Coordinator / Tenor Drums

Rob started concert percussion in the fifth grade. He marched with the Clinton High School Drumline from 1997-2001. Rob has also been a marching member of Eastside Fury and Great Lakes Percussion.

Rob began teaching with FUPE in the Fall of 2005, as the Tenor Tech. He has also taught at Ferndale High School Marching Band and currently serves as the Percussion Coordinator at Troy Athens High School. Rob has been teaching at Harrison High School Marching Band since 2007.

ANDY BROWN | Snare Drums

Andy has been on the staff of the Farmington United Percussion Ensemble since the 2016 season. His extensive background in rudimental percussion and the marching arts includes 5 years of DCI experience where he was a member of the snare lines for the 2010 Legends Drum & Bugle Corps, the 2011 Glassmen Drum & Bugle Corps, and the 2013, 2014 & 2015 Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps. In 2015, he served as center snare and section leader of the battery for the Cavaliers. Andy has also been involved with WGI, and was on the snare line of the 2015 Percussion Independent World silver medalists, Rhythm X. Having graduated from Michigan State University In 2016, Andy was also a member of the MSU drumline from 2012-2015. Now an urban planner working for the City of Flint, Andy enjoys spending his spare time educating the next generation of snare drummers.

CARL CONTI | Visual Coordinator / Bass Drums

New to the bass staff has Carl Conti been since the 2016. His marching percussion experiences includes five seasons of WGI with the Dominion Storm Indoor Drumline (2010-12) and NorthCoast Academy Percussion Ensemble (2014-15). In the summer of 2015, Carl was a member of the infamous Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps bassline. Carl graduated from Michigan State University where he studied Chemistry with a minor in Spanish. He was a member of the drumline at Michigan State from 2012-16. Carl is very excited to spread his love of bass to future generations!

TRAVIS COOK | Visual

Travis is the Director of Music at Lutheran High School- Westland and Guardian Lutheran School where he teaches instrumental, vocal, and general music classes. He is also in his second year as the Director of the Farmington Harrison High School Marching Band. An avid Tromboner (trombonist?), Travis can be seen and heard wielding his big bass bone all around Southeast Michigan with the Metro Detroit Jazz Orchestra, and the Oakland County Brassworks chamber ensemble.

JESSICA KUKLA | Cymbals

Jessica’s marching experience began at FUPE in 2011. Since then she has marched cymbals at Motor City Percussion (2012), Eastside Fury (2013-14), Northcoast Academy (2016) and on the Michigan State Drumline (2014-16). Outside of band, Jessica is in her fourth and final year at Michigan State studying editing and publishing and documentary production. She is excited to return to the “home team” and teach cymbals at FUPE this season.

SCOTT LEHMAN | Front Ensemble

Scott has worked with numerous high school and independent percussion ensembles in the region. In fact, if you hear the phrase, “Weren’t you just on the floor with all these other groups?” you might be at an MCGC show, and he’s probably nearby. In addition to FUPE, Scott currently works with front ensembles for Novi High School’s fall and winter programs, and Eclipse Percussion (formerly Ferndale Independent).

Experience in the marching arts began for Scott at Lake Orion High School, where he spent two seasons in the front ensemble and one season as drum major. While earning a Bachelor degree in Media Communication, Scott assisted with Lake Orion Percussion’s inaugural season in 2010. He then played synthesizer for Eastside Fury from 2011 to 2013, including one season as front ensemble section leader. The following year, Scott instructed Eastside’s rhythm section.

During the day, Scott works for Lawrence Tech as a Media Production Coordinator. During fleeting moments of free time, Scott can also be found on improv stages around Metro Detroit with his troupe, Skeleton Farm, or in the skies over Pontiac as he works toward a private pilot’s license. Scott is excited to work with a great group like FUPE!

EVAN MAHONEY | Snare Drums

Evan is a Michigan State graduate who earned his degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. He has been a part of several groups throughout Michigan during his drumming career. He first became familiar with FUPE during high school, marching here his Junior and Senior year. FUPE propelled him on to MSU, where he was a 4-year member of the snare line and the best dead battery guy MSU has ever seen under the instruction of Jon Weber. He has also marched at Eastside Fury and has taught the Jackson Northwest Marching Mounties.

During his free time, Evan loves to play golf and tennis and is very serious about his Fantasy Football. With his new job at Quicken Loans, Evan is more than excited about the opportunity to come back to FUPE and give back to the group that made him who he is today!

TOM MACHOWSKI | Auxiliary / Drum set

Tom has been playing drums since 1965. He began Marching in High School and was a member of the Western Michigan University Marching Band.

Tom played drumset for various “rock and roll” bands. He also was in the percussion section of the Farmington Community Band for 14 seasons. Tom still marches in several parades each year.

Tom is a member of PASIC and has several private students. Tom has been with FUPE since its inception, and has been an integral part of the group. His main focus is on the drumset and auxiliary parts players.

AUSTIN SCHACHINGER | Tenor Drums

Austin is a alumnus of the Farmington United Percussion Ensemble, marching from 2011 to 2013 on Tenors. He was also a marching member with the Michigan State University Spartan Marching Band Drumline from 2013 to 2016 and the NorthCoast Academy Percussion Ensemble from 2014 to 2017. He has served as a percussion instructor for various programs in Michigan over the past few years.

Austin is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Economics. By day Austin is a works at Quicken Loans as a Mortgage Banker. He is very excited to be working with the home team this winter season.

ROBERT SCHMIT | Front Ensemble

Bobby is a Dutch citizen who happened to find his way to Michigan just to teach band. He started his percussion career in South Carolina where he graduated from the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. During that time, he marched Xylo/Glock with Palmetto Percussion in 2013. His Michigan experiences include North Coast Academy from 2014-2015 on Marimba, Quads and Sampler Guy at Motor City Percussion from 2016-2017. Along with those groups, he has been a part of the Michigan State Drumline from 2014-present on Quads and is finishing out his final year with group on Bass. He has taught several high schools in the area along with Motor City Percussion. Bobby will be graduating from MSU in the spring with a degree in Mechanical Engineering along with a minor in Computer Science and Music.

Blake Koschmider | Bass Drums

Blake, originally from St. Johns MI, now spends most of his time wandering the sidewalks of Michigan State University. During the day you might find him at the Michigan State College of Music, in classes or practice rooms, attempting to better himself as a musician. At night you are likely to find him playing bass drum, or hanging with his roommates. If it is fall you will find him rehearsing with The Michigan State University Spartan Marching Band Drumline (2016-present). During the summer Blake spends his time as a member of The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps and will be finishing his second summer as a member of the bass drum section in 2018. In past summers Blake has spent time teaching various groups throughout the state of Michigan.

Blake plans to graduate from Michigan State University in 2021 with a degree in Music Education. He is very excited for the opportunity to aid in the education of this ensemble.

JIM REBBECK | Creative Consultant

I’ve been involved in winter percussion, marching band and drum corps for a while (50 years in 2016 whew!) as a marching member, instructor, arranger, caption head, judge and unit director. I keep doing this because of the people involved and the satisfaction of seeing young people become a team to reach common goals. The goals for my kids never involve scores or winning but the challenge of becoming the best you can be. I firmly believe if ordinary kids and ordinary people do extra things they become extraordinary.