About Freedom

Freedom Percussion is a WGI Independent World performing arts group based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Freedom aims to provide youth activities that enhance personal growth and development through excellence in education, entertainment, and competition. Those who perform with Freedom get the opportunity to excel musically, grow mentally, and create lasting relationships with their peers.

Recent News


Mike Davis

Michael Davis (also known in the pageantry arts circles as Mike D) absolutely adores his position as director of Freedom Percussion. Michael is entering his 28th year in the percussive arts. His groups have won numerous awards for marching band and indoor percussion. Michael is also a music judge for Drum Corps International (DCI) and has judged marching band contests and Indoor percussion contests all over the United States.

Michael is very grateful for the Freedom Percussion teaching staff that volunteers it's countless time and efforts to teach kids that come through Freedom Percussion every season. Michael also loves all of the parents that volunteer their time to cook, drive trucks, help with uniforms, fundraise and countless other things to make sure that the Freedom Percussion train keeps on rolling season after season.

Michael would also like to thank his wife Luisa for being kind and patient soul and, being very supportive of the activity he loves so much.

We also couldn't do this activity without our sponsors. Innovative Percussion, REMO, Mapex and Majestic, Meinl, Box 5 software and Field and Floor FX.

Michael Is very excited to see what the future brings for Freedom Percussion this year. And to all future members of Freedom Percussion, family is what is most important to us. We hope you have the chance to join our family while learning how to become a better performer, musician and person.

Here's to Freedom Percussion!
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Kristin Collins
Assistant Director | Cymbal Technician

Kristin Collins was born and raised in the St. Louis area. Her performing arts experience began in competitive dance at age three, where she trained and competed in several forms of dance for 15 years. She has also been involved with the marching activity for 15 years, starting on clarinet and finishing her high school career at Francis Howell Central as the Drum Major. After her first two years in Marching Mizzou as a clarinet player, she was handed her first pair of cymbals as a junior at the University of Missouri, where she marched in the drumline for two years. She was also a member of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, which gave her an opportunity to perform and study music on a tour of China.

After graduating in 2010 with a B.S. in Atmospheric Science, she was a member of Gateway Percussion's cymbal line in 2011 and 2012. Kristin is an environmental scientist who has taught many forms of music for 11 years, including marching band, drum major camps, and winter percussion all over the St. Louis area. After five years teaching the cymbal line at Freedom Percussion, she is excited to begin her sixth year as the cymbal tech.
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Herschell Clark
Music Caption Head

For over twenty years, Herschell has been involved in the marching activity as a performer, educator, adjudicator, and fan. His competitive career began with the 3-time WGI PSA finalist Francis Howell North, under the Direction of Mike Davis and Mark Thomas. He then attended Southeast Missouri State University, where he was percussion section leader for all but his first year as a member of the Golden Eagles Marching band. After graduating with a degree in computer information systems, he began consulting and teaching several ensembles in the St. Louis area. He’s currently the percussion director at Marquette High School.

Herschell has been on staff with Freedom Percussion since its inaugural 2009-10 season. In that time, he’s served as a visual designer/caption, front ensemble technician, and as of 2015, ensemble caption. In 2014, he assumed the role of front ensemble arranger and music coordinator. Herschell is a member of the Innovative Percussion educational team, and proudly endorses their products.

Herschell is excited to return for his eighth year with Freedom Percussion
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Alan Barone
Visual Designer

Alan Barone is currently the Percussion Director and Assistant Marching Band Director at Victor J Andrew HS in Tinley Park, IL. Under his direction the Victor J Andrew HS Percussion Ensemble has been recognized as one of the premier ensembles in both WGI Scholastic A and Open Classes. The Victor J Andrew HS Percussion Ensemble affectionately known as Andrew Percussion has been a consistent WGI Finalist and Medalist. The ensemble was the Scholastic A Class Champion in both 2014, 2016, and silver medalist in 2011. In Open Class, Victor J Andrew HS was the silver medalist in both 2012, 2013, and the bronze medalist in 2017 and 2018.

In addition to his percussion duties at Victor J Andrew HS, Alan also serves as a drill writer and show designer for groups across the country.  

Alan lives in Lockport, Illinois with his wife Amy and their three children: Mia, Mason and Mora.
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Emme Harms
Visual Caption Head

Emme began her marching career at age 14 when she joined her high school marching band, which is now known as Shadow Drum and Bugle Corps. She went on to march mellophone at Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps from 2013-15 and served as a section leader in 2015. She then joined the brass staff at Shadow Drum and Bugle Corps in 2016 and is currently serving in the role of visual coordinator. In addition to DCI, she also works with several high school marching bands in a visual and movement capacity.

Emme was excited to join the WGI side of the marching arts for the first time last year as a movement technician for Freedom Percussion. She was proud to have a hand in such an powerful production and cannot wait to get started on 2019!
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Chris Cablish
Battery Caption Head

Chris has lived in Fenton, Missouri his entire life. After his parents gave him a guitar for his 9th birthday his interest was sparked and he quickly developed a life long passion for music and the arts that follows him to this day. Upon his entry into high school Chris joined the concert band, marching band, and winter percussion programs at Rockwood Summit High School. By the time he was a senior he played a leadership role in these ensembles and was honored to reach significant competitive success alongside his classmates.

After high school Chris spent a semester on the snare line at the Missouri State University Pride Band, but decided to settle back in St. Louis where he discovered his Freedom Family. He was a member of Freedom Percussion for three consecutive years before aging out in 2015 and was pleased to join the instructional staff for the 2016 season. Chris has also been a snare teacher and performer in the St. Louis Caledonian Pipe Band for 8 years. He is truly humbled by the hard work and dedication of the staff and students at Freedom, and cannot wait to get to work this fall as Battery Caption Head.
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Trelon Fletcher
Snare Technician

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Drummer since 4 years old. Current Undergrad at UMSL. Major in Cinema/Film. Marched 4 years at Mizzou (Snare). Marched 2 years at Freedom Percussion (Snare). Current Percussionist at StikYard and Drumline Tech at Mehlville High School. Hobbies include Traveling, Creating, Philosophy, Instructor, Music and Film Enthusiast.

New to staff of Freedom Percussion and very excited to experience more growth, knowledge and wisdom with the organization. I hope to use my gift in this world to inspire others to find their reasons to live/love. Remember “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
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Cottrell Turner
Snare Technician

Cottrell was born and raised in St. Louis Mo. He started playing drums at his church when he was six years old. Since then he has marched in numerous groups around the St. Louis Area. Those groups include Gateway open (2007), Intrepid percussion ( 2008-2009), Freedom percussion (2010-2012), Lindenwood University drumline (2009-2013), Six flags drumline (2007-2010, and the deadbeats percussion group (2014-2017). He is currently a member of Stikyard where he not only performs but also writes and choreographs.

Cottrell has also taught at a number of schools in the St. louis area. He served as a battery tech in 2013 at Francis Howell North HS and In 2014 he worked with Francis Howell HS.
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Mike Cernicek
Bass Technician

Mike Cernicek has lived in Missouri his entire life and has had a passion of drumming for the last 15 years. Starting his music career as a hobby at the age of 8 on a drumset. Mike continued his love for music at Francis Howell North. In 2013, he joined Freedom Percussion. After marching for five consecutive seasons on snare, bass drum, and then snare again, he aged out in 2017 with Freedom.

Mike has continued to give back to the marching community while teaching and writing music for various high schools including Orchard Farm HS, Fort Zumwalt South HS, Francis Howell HS and is returning to Wentzville Holt HS once again as battery technician for the 2018-2019 season. He is very excited to extend his knowledge and help strengthen the St. Louis area in percussive arts and will return to Freedom Percussion for his second year on staff as bass technician.
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Nick Pastor
Tenor Technician

Born in Pittsburgh and raised in O'fallon, Nick began his percussion career at Francis Howell High School, where he played quads for 3 seasons. After he graduated, he spent 2014 and 2015 with Freedom Percussion and 7th Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps, 2016 with Gateway Indoor and Spirit of Atlanta, Gateway again in 2017, and finally Cavaliers Indoor in 2018.

Since aging out, he has spent time teaching local groups. He has been the Percussion Instructor at Wentzville Liberty High School since 2016, and taught Washington High School as the quad tech in 2016 and 2017. He is currently a substitute teacher in the Wentzville School District.
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Derek Peplaw
Battery Technician

Derek Peplaw was born and raised in the St. Louis area and discovered his passion for the marching arts and music at Francis Howell HS. After graduating, he began working as a Percussion Technician with the fall and winter marching programs of Washington HS, spanning from 2014 to 2017. He also worked as a Batterie Technician with Timberland HS in the fall of 2016 before he moved into the role of Percussion Director/Arranger the following year. He was a snare technician with Gateway Percussion (2017-2018) as well.

In WGI, Derek marched two seasons with Freedom Percussion (2014-2015) and two seasons with Gateway Percussion (2016-2017). In DCI, he marched with Gold Drum and Bugle Corps for two seasons (2014-2015) and aged out with the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps (2016), marching snare each season.

Derek spent three years at Saint Charles Community College (2013-2016) receiving an Associate of Arts degree with an emphasis in instrumental music. He then transferred to the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) spending three additional years (2016-2019) to receive his Bachelor of Music Education degree.

Derek is currently is the batterie instructor at Fort Zumwalt North HS, Percussion Director/Arranger at Timberland High School, and a freelance private percussion lessons instructor.
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Jason Mathis
Cymbal Technician | Visual Technician

Jason began his journey in the marching arts in 2012-13 playing trombone in the fall and started his cymbal playing career the during same year for the indoor season at Hazelwood Central High School. A year later, he started his first season with Freedom Percussion and has been a member ever since.

Jason is currently working his second season at Granite City High School, but has also taught at a handful of schools in the St. Louis and St. Louis Metro East area. Jason is currently starting his last year at Maryville University to obtain a Bachelors degree in Music Therapy.
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Conor Mathenia
Front Ensemble Technician

Conor Mathenia grew up in the St. Louis metro east area and graduated from Granite City High School. During his time at GCHS he was selected to perform in the Illinois Music Educators Association district and state honor band festival. He now attends Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as a percussion performance major.

Conor was a member of Freedom Percussion from 2012-2015 where he served three years as front ensemble section leader. He went on become a member of RCC Indoor Percussion front ensemble in 2016 and 2017. While in California, he taught several percussion programs including Esperanza High School and Chino Hills High School. He also spent four years as a member of the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps front ensemble from 2013 to 2016. He is extremely excited to be back for another season at Freedom as a member of the front ensemble staff.
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Katie Busby
Front Ensemble Technician

Katie is currently studying Music Education at the University of Missouri Saint Louis. Although orchestral percussion is her main area of study, she has also studied piano and West African percussion. She has performed at a variety of events including the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, the Mid Missouri Percussion Arts Trophy, the Missouri Music Educators Association Conference, and has helped facilitate many percussion clinics in the Saint Louis area. She has served as the front ensemble technician at a variety of high schools in the Saint Louis area, most recently Francis Howell North and Timberland.

Katie was a performing member of Freedom from 2013-2017 and acted as section leader of the front ensemble for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. She is excited to return this season for her 2nd year on the front ensemble staff.
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Ariana Cardenas
Intern | Bass Tech

Ariana Cardenas was born in California and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. She began her percussive marching career at the age of 16, shortly after switching from color guard.

Ariana began marching with Railmen Indoor Percussion and Dojo Percussion on Bass Drum for five consecutive seasons, eventually aging out with Freedom Percussion in 2019. She is currently giving back to the Nebraska community as battery technician for Elkhorn High School, and is excited to continue her career in the St. Louis area with Freedom.
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Nate Krofft
Sound Designer

Nate is a St. Louis native who began his marching career at Marquette High School where he participated in marching band and winter drumline. Nate marched an additional two seasons with Freedom Percussion before aging out in 2016.

Nate has practiced sound design as a hobby for the past 12 years and has been involved in the sound design of several St. Louis area marching bands as well as both the design and execution of the Freedom show since 2015.
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You may contact us through email at staff@freedompercussion.org or via Twitter and Facebook!