Bonding Through Music

The choral, orchestra, and band programs at Carlsbad High School (CHS) strive to offer fulfilling educational experiences for students. In addition to providing a creative outlet for self-expression, these performance-based classes also help students learn valuable lessons that can be applied throughout the course of their lives. Join our conversations with music directors Jessie Bullock, Jessica Allen, and Peter Manzi to learn more.

Q&A with Jessie Bullock, Choir Director

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What music classes and programs do you teach?
I teach four choirs at Carlsbad High School: Lancer Choir, Encore, Chamber Singers, and Sound Express. Lancer Choir is the beginning choir. Anyone can join Lancer Choir, regardless of choral experience. Encore is the Intermediate Women’s Show Choir. This is an auditioned choir that focuses on show choir and beginning music theory. They also sing a few a cappella numbers outside of their show choir set. Chamber Singers is the Advanced Mixed Choir. They focus on more classical choral repertoire and attend several choir festivals throughout the year with professional adjudication. They also learn more advanced music theory and sight reading. Chamber Singers teams up with Sound Express once a year to perform a major choral work as a concert choir with the CHS Orchestra. Sound Express is the Advanced Mixed Show Choir. This is an auditioned choir that competes in several competitions throughout the show choir season. Sound Express is the ambassador choir for the school and goes into the community to recruit people for choir at CHS.

What is your professional background? How long have you been teaching at CHS?
This is my fifth year at CHS. I have been teaching since 2010. I studied music education with a choral emphasis at Azusa Pacific University. I student-taught at Burbank High School, which has one of the top 10 show choirs in the country (they won show choir nationals last year).

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I have two favorite things: students and music. I always say that my goal is not just to create good musicians, but good citizens. I try to instill a good work ethic in the students, and also teach them to work well as a group.


Jessie Bullock At – A – Glance

Name: Jessie Bullock
Profession: Choir Director
Community: Vista
Education: BA in Music Education with Choral Emphasis from Azusa Pacific University
Family: My wife, Kristen, and son, Jordie, live with me in Vista
Hobbies and Interests: I like singing, obviously. I also enjoy performing with Carlsbad Community Theater.
Favorite Spots in Carlsbad: I enjoy walking the C Walk from the village going south down toward Tamarak and back!


How has the program grown or evolved over the years?
CHS choirs have started getting higher placings all around since I have been teaching at the school. My next goal is to grow the size of each choir.

What opportunities for performance are available to CHS?
From competitions, festivals, concerts, and caroling during the holidays to performing on television for the Teacher of the Year awards, the choirs have a lot to contribute to the community.

Are there any upcoming performances the community should look forward to?
The CHS Choral Program puts on the annual pop show on June 1 and 2 this year. They will also be performing at several competitions and festivals all over Southern California.

How many performances do you put on a year?
We put on three big performances at CHS every year. We have our holiday show in December, our Broadway competition and festival set debut in February, and our pop show in June.

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How can the Carlsbad community get involved or support CHS music programs?
We are always looking for help with grants or donations. We fundraise $150,000 per year to be able to go to competitions, hire a professional band for our concerts and competitions, create personalized choral arrangements of songs for our competitions, create and maintain our costumes, etc. You can donate at CHSchoral.com.

Why is music important for students?
Music creates an outlet for students to express themselves in ways nothing else on campus can. There are several students whose only reason to actually come to school is to participate in choir, orchestra, or band. Choir creates a family environment that no other group has. We can all perform as individuals on the stage, but it works much better when we can all work as one group of people supporting each other. To quote a freshman student, “I thought choir was going to be just another class. I didn’t know it was going to be life.”

Do you have any favorite memories or experiences from your time at CHS?
This year, Sound Express got to participate at a competition to sing with Foreigner on stage. We went with four other choirs from San Diego County to compete by singing before the opening band at the concert. I knew the performance would be judged by audience reaction, so I chose a song by Cheap Trick, who happened to be the opening band for the concert. After our sound check, one of the roadies for Cheap Trick stopped us and got Robin Zander to come listen to us. Robin loved us so much that he cried. He asked us to come back again for a meet-and-greet and sing for the rest of the band. The band gave all the kids signed guitar picks and even dedicated a song to us during their set in the concert.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
If you would like to join choir at CHS or know anyone else that would, please have them contact me at jbullock@carlsbadusd.net.

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Q&A with Jessica Allen, Orchestra Director

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What music classes and programs do you teach?
String Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra at Carlsbad High School.

What is your professional background? How long have you been teaching at CHS?
Music performance in oboe. I have played with the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, North Coast Symphony Orchestra, and hired for various holiday events. I have been teaching at CHS for four years.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Sharing my experiences with students and helping them enjoy high school through music.

How has the program grown or evolved over the years?
I have formed two semi-pro groups, so they learn all kinds of management skills with opportunities to engage in professional settings with patrons. Students help create the concerts and even take over the entire process from start to finish at the last concert of the year.

What opportunities for performance are available What opportunities for performance are available to CHS?
The two semi-pro groups do most of the performing when it comes to community and private events. Chamber orchestra is the next most performing group. They do bigger events like the Carlsbad Music Festival in the summer, and recruiting at the middle and elementary schools. String orchestra is more of the general high school orchestra experience. They perform seven times a year, and focus on strengthening their skills to be able to do well in Chamber orchestra.

Are there any upcoming performances the community should look forward to?
Our Spring Concert will be held in the CAC at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26, which is in preparation for our competition. Choir and Orchestra concert on May 18 at Mira Costa College, 7 p.m. We will be performing Bach’s Magnificat.


Jessica Allen At – A – Glance

Name: Jessica Allen
Profession: Orchestra Director
Community: San Marcos
Education: Bachelor of Music from California Baptist University
Family: Robert Allen and Olivia Allen
Hobbies and Interests: Beach volleyball, traveling, and family adventures
Favorite Spot in Carlsbad: Vinaka’s


How many performances do you put on a year?
With all of the groups, we put on four concerts and two competitions. However, with the chamber orchestra it can be anywhere between 15 to 20 times a year. The semi-pro groups perform around 15 times a year.

How can the Carlsbad community get involved or support CHS music programs?
Come to our concerts and spread the word about the great things that are going on with the music programs at CHS.

Why is music important for students?
More and more, students are being advised to pursue all things STEM. As Steve Jobs has said, “technology alone is not enough.” The most important skills, according to Google’s Project Aristotle, are soft skills that can be found in the arts. As music teachers, we know that very few of our students will continue on to become professional musicians, but the skills that they learn in the class now are the ones that all employers are looking for.

Do you have any favorite memories or experiences from your time at CHS?
When the students made me laugh so hard I started crying. Also, the first time we went to a competition where I did not conduct them – they did so well, I teared up.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I am so grateful for the people I work with. Peter, Jessie, and I try to collaborate as much as possible. We have pretty great relationships with the middle school music teachers as well, which is really what keep our programs growing – without them, there would be no us.

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Q&A with Peter Manzi, Band Director

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What music classes and programs do you teach?
I teach Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Percussion Ensemble, Winter Drumline, Jazz Band, and AP Music Theory at Carlsbad
High School.

What is your professional background? How long have you been teaching at CHS?
I am currently in my 12th year of teaching and have been at CHS for the last four years.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Getting to use music as a tool to help shape the young men and women in our program into well-rounded citizens. Through the CHS band program, I am able to not only teach them about music, but also life skills, such as teamwork and time management. They also learn the benefits of hard work. There is nothing more satisfying as a teacher than watching the students come in as scared freshman and watching them cross the graduation stage as confident seniors and seeing that progression happen over four years.

How has the program grown or evolved over the years?
My first year at CHS was spent working on gaining trust with the students while continuing to build upon the tradition of music excellence established over the years. Since then, I have watched the band grow not only in membership, but also in musicianship. The band continuously receives high ratings at both local and national competitions. In April 2017, the Wind Ensemble won Grand Champions at the Festival of Music Competition in Chicago, IL.

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What opportunities for performance are available to CHS?
In the CHS Band Program, students can participate in the following groups: Marching Lancers, Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Drumline, Color Guard, Jazz Band, Percussion Ensemble, Chamber Music Ensemble(s), and Musical Pit.

Are there any upcoming performances the community should look forward to?
March 7: Pre-Festival Concert at 7 p.m. (Lancer Arena)
March 14: CUSD Combined Band Concert at 6 p.m. (Lancer Arena)
June 1: Spring Concert at 7 p.m. (Carlsbad Community Church)

How many performances do you put on a year?
With all of the CHS band groups combined, we put on about 40 performances a year.

How can the Carlsbad community get involved or support CHS music programs?
First, donate any instruments collecting dust in your closet to any of our CUSD schools. We’ll find a good home for it. Next, donate annually to our music programs. Even with the support CUSD gives to our programs financially, it’s up to our boosters to raise any additional funding needed to run our programs during the year.


Peter Manzi At – A – Glance

Name: Peter Manzi
Profession: Band Director
Community: Oceanside
Education: Master of Music Education, VanderCook College of Music; Bachelor of Music (Inst. Music Education), Millikin University
Family: Paul and Sharon Manzi (Parents), Simba (Dog)
Hobbies and Interests: Playing Texas Hold’em, Old School Nintendo, and playing with my dog, Simba
Favorite Spots in Carlsbad: Performing on the Lawn of Choice Juicery with the CHS Jazz Band


Why is music important for students?
Outside the research that shows that students who study music perform better in school, through the school music program we can teach so many other important life skills. Additionally, we create memories to last a lifetime.
I always tell the students, you won’t remember the geometry proof you did sophomore year. However, you’ll always remember that feeling you got walking off the marching band field or concert stage after an amazing performance.

Do you have any favorite memories or experiences from your time at CHS?
My favorite memory with the CHS Band happened in April of 2017 while we were on our Chicago tour. I had the pleasure of getting to showcase the talents of my students in my hometown in a concert at the church I grew up in. Before the concert, I asked the students if they’d allow me to pass the baton to my mentor growing up to conduct the encore. Once we finished our concert to a standing ovation, I was able to surprise my mentor (and first private lesson teacher on percussion) to conduct the group. I don’t think I stopped crying for 10 minutes as his wife and myself looked on. It was one of those moments where it wasn’t about “Carlsbad Band,” but it was about using the power of music to bring a community of people together and honor someone so special to me.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
It is an honor and a privilege to work at Carlsbad High School and help mold the musical skills of my students. Jessica Allen, Jessie Bullock, and I all work tirelessly to create musical opportunities for our students so that they may shine for all to see.