J. Benjamin Jones
Graduate Teaching Assistant
J. Benjamin Jones, a native of Gastonia, is currently earning the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Wind Conducting at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he studies with Dr. John R. Locke and Dr. Kevin M. Geraldi. Ben holds a Bachelors degree in Music Education from The University of South Carolina (2008) and a Masters Degree in Instrumental Conducting from UNCG (2018). Prior to his graduate studies at UNCG, Ben taught in the public-school system of North Carolina as the Director of Bands at Ashbrook High School in Gastonia. Under his direction, the Bands of Ashbrook received consistent superior ratings at the North Carolina Music Educators Association Music Performance Adjudication Festival and at marching and concert band competitions throughout the region. During the eight years of his tenure, the band program grew from 49 to 125 members and regularly placed students into collegiate music programs across the Southeast.
While at UNCG Ben has served as the co-conductor of the University Band and Symphonic Band, and guest conducted with the Wind Ensemble and Casella Sinfonietta. He has also performed with the Trumpet Ensemble and has served as a graduate teaching assistant with the undergraduate conducting classes. Ben is an active guest clinician and adjudicator and has worked with bands throughout the Carolinas in both Marching Band and Concert Band settings. As an advocate for music education and building leaders in school music programs, Ben has presented leadership training workshops for a number of high school programs, and worked with young music educators throughout North Carolina. He is a member of the National Association for Music Education, the North Carolina Music Educators Association, CBDNA, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Cole Hairston is a North Carolina native currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he studies with Dr. Kevin Geraldi and Dr. Jonathan Caldwell. He taught public school in North Carolina for five years. During this time he taught band, chorus, music specialization, and math. In his fourth year of teaching he was awarded Teacher of the Year for his school and was a top 5 finalist for Teacher of the Year in Gaston County.
Cole earned his Masters degree in conducting from the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he studied conducting with Scott Teeple. In Wisconsin, Cole was the head conductor of niversity Band while guest conducting with the Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, and Wisconsin Marching Band. He also had the opportunity to guest conduct local music programs and chamber ensembles. In addition to conducting, Cole also studied clarinet with Alicia Lee and performed in the Wind Ensemble. He was accepted to play clarinet with the World Youth Wind Orchestra Project in Austria during the summer of 2018. Cole earned the Bachelor of Music Education degree from UNC Greensboro.
At home Cole loves to spend time with his wife and two dogs. They love to explore and try new food while moving around the country.
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Carolina Perez is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in Instrumental Conducting at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where her primary teachers are John Locke and Kevin Geraldi. In 2012, Ms. Perez completed the Bachelor of Music Education degree from UNCG, graduating summa cum laude. Ms. Perez was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow and a recipient of the “Thomas J. Stone Award for Outstanding Musicianship.” Prior to returning to school, Ms. Perez served as the Director of Bands at Eastern Randolph High School for four years and as Band Director at East Union Middle School and Forest Hills High School for two years. Bands under Ms. Perez’s direction have earned consistent Superior and Excellent ratings at concert and marching band festivals throughout North Carolina. While teaching, Ms. Perez worked to cultivate strong student leaders (including training young Drum Majors to conduct with proper technique) and led and participated in several commissioning projects to foster new concert band works for young students.
John R. Locke
Director of Bands Emeritus
Since 1982, Dr. John R. Locke has served on the UNCG School of Music faculty as Director of Bands, Director of Summer Music Camps, conductor of the Wind Ensemble, and conducting teacher. He holds the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from West Virginia University and the Doctor of Education degree from the University of Illinois. Prior to his arrival in North Carolina, Dr. Locke held teaching positions in music at West Virginia University, Southeast Missouri State University, and the University of Illinois. He has conducted band performances throughout the world including National Conventions of the MENC, CBDNA, ABA, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Strathmore Center in Washington, DC, Lincoln Center in New York City, Dvořák Hall in Prague, Innsbruck, Bologna, and Rome, Italy. Twice, the UNCG Wind Ensemble earned critical acclaim from The Washington Post newspaper following concert performances in the nation’s capital. Under Locke’s leadership, the UNCG Wind Ensemble has released 21 commercially available compact discs including fireworks! which was a Grammy Entry List 2011 CD in two categories, “Classical Album of the Year” and “Best Orchestral Performance.” In addition, he has guest conducted the U.S. Air Force Band, U.S. Army Field Band, U.S. Navy Band, “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, the Dallas Wind Symphony, as well as numerous university bands including University of Illinois, Iowa, LSU, Alabama, Florida, West Virginia, Idaho, Georgia, Nebraska – Omaha, Long Beach State, Troy, Bowling Green, South Florida, Furman, Youngstown State, Boise State, Morehead State, Eastern New Mexico, Washburn, Kennesaw State and numerous all-state honor bands and intercollegiate bands. Dr. Locke has served as Editor of The North Carolina Music Educator and has published articles on band and wind ensemble literature in the Journal of Band Research and in Winds Quarterly. He is Past-President of the North Carolina Music Educators Association representing 2,200 members. Dr. Locke is a recipient of Phi Mu Alpha’s Orpheus Award and has received the National Band Association Citation of Excellence on three occasions. He is a National Arts Associate of Sigma Alpha Iota. In 1989, Dr. Locke was among the youngest conductors ever to be elected to membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. In 1994, he received the Phi Beta Mu International Fraternity Outstanding Bandmaster of the Year Award, presented at the Mid-West International Band Clinic in Chicago. Dr. Locke is Past-President of the Southern Division of College Band Directors National Association and hosted the Southern Division Convention at UNCG in February 2000. In 2002, Dr. Locke was nominated for the O. Max Gardner Award, the highest award in the 16-campus UNC System. He also received the “Outstanding Music Teacher Award” in the UNCG School of Music in 2003. In 2005, Dr. Locke was elected President of the American Bandmasters Association and received the Albert Austin Harding Award from the American School Band Directors Association. In 2007, he received The Old North State Award from NC Governor Mike Easley “for dedication and service beyond excellence to the state of North Carolina.” In 2009, Locke became Editor of the Journal of Band Research, the premiere scholarly band publication in the world begun in 1962. In July 2012, Locke was honored by NC Governor Beverly Perdue with The Order of the Longleaf Pine Award, the highest civilian honor in North Carolina. In 2014, Locke was named the Marion Stedman Covington Stedman Distinguished Professor of Music at UNCG. At UNCG, Dr. Locke is the founder and director of the Summer Music Camp program, now the largest university music camp in America, enrolling over 2,000 students annually and served by a staff of 170 professionals. He is also the founder of the Carolina Band Festival and Conductors Conference. Since 1977, he has administered summer music camps for over 65,000 students. He is in constant demand as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator for band festivals throughout the United States and Canada.
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Nicoletta is currently pursuing the Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she studies with Kevin Geraldi. At UNCG, Nicoletta is Assistant Conductor with Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia, and Casella Sinfonietta. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and studied conducting with Robert McCashin and Stephen Bolstad. Nicoletta is an enthusiastic educator and enjoys working with musicians of all ages and backgrounds. From 2015-2018, Nicoletta served as the Music Director of the JMU Campus Orchestra and played an active role in growing the organization from 11 to 50 members. She continues to mentor elementary through high school students in public schools, after-school programs, and summer enrichment opportunities. Recent teaching engagements include positions with the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program (Virginia), Henrico County Public Schools (Virginia), Music Orchard (Virginia), Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (Michigan), and UNCG Summer Music Camp. Nicoletta is a member of the National Association for Music Education, American String Teachers Association, American Viola Society, and College Orchestra Directors Association.