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Performing Arts


 Full-Time Faculty

Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith, PhD


Personal Website

Office: B-315

Office Hours:

M 11:00 - 12:30 pm

W 8:30 - 9:30 am

Th 2:00 - 3:00 pm (online)

F 10:00 - 11:30 am

Taylor Smith joined the Cuyamaca College faculty in 2008. He earned a PhD in Musicology from Claremont Graduate University, and MA in Music (Historical Performance Practices emphasis) from CGU, and a BMA from BYU-Idaho. Dr. Smith frequently performs on double bass, viola da gamba, bass guitar, and as an electronic musician.

Chair of Performing Arts

Intro to Music Technology

Intro to the Music Industry

Music Industry Seminar

Digital Audio Recording and Production

History of Rock Music


iu-4.jpegJames Sepulvado


Office: B-316

Office Hours:


Mr. Sepulvado currently serves as Director of Bands and Professor of Music at Cuyamaca Collge in El Cajon, CA, an eastern suburb of San Diego. After a two year hiatus, James restarted the Concert Band at Cuyamaca College and since that time the group has experienced record high enrollment and performed ambitious literature including David Maslanka’s Symphony No. 7 in the Spring of 2017.  Prior to his appointment at Cuyamaca College, James served as Instrumental Music Director at Point Loma High School in San Diego, CA from 2008 to 2016. During his tenure the Band, Orchestra and AP Music Theory programs more than tripled in size and the program was recognized for musical excellence and community service.  James has carried over his belief in the importance of community performance from the Point Loma area where his high school groups performed over 100 times a year to east county where he is working to replicate that level of community engagement. 

James has studied tuba with Eric Weirather, Kelly Thomas and Brent Dutton and has studied conducting with Eric Weirather and Gregg Hanson.  As a freelance professional tuba player James has appeared with Seaside Brass, Westwind Brass and the San Diego Winds. Mr. Sepulvado is a member of the American Federation of Musicians Union, Local 325. James is President and co-founder of the San Diego Winds.


Adjunct Faculty

Joe Bigham, PhD

History of Rock Music

History of Jazz

Rock, Pop, and Soul Ensemble


Jonathan Davis

Class Guitar I & II

Jonathan Davis began playing the electric guitar at the age of 13, and made the switch to classical at 17. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Classical Guitar Performance from the University of Arizona and his Master's degree (also in Classical Guitar Performance) from the University of Akron, where he was awarded a full scholarship as a graduate teaching assistant.

Mr. Davis studied privately with Professors Thomas Patterson and Stephen Aron (at the Universities of Arizona and Akron, respectively) and in addition has performed in master classes for some of the most well known guitarists in the world, including Pepe Romero, David Russell, Paul Galbraith, Odair Assad, and others.

Jonathan Davis has experience performing classical music in a variety of settings, including solo, chamber, and as a member of an orchestra. In addition, he has also played electric guitar in various rock bands and theater productions.  In addition to teaching at Cuyamaca, he also teaches class guitar at Helix High School and a studio of private students.

His debut solo CD, Très Viste, features music ranging from the Baroque to the Twentieth Century.

unspecified-2.jpgAmity Ecker

Intro to Theatre Arts

Amity is thrilled to be part of the Performing Arts Faculty at Cuyamaca College where she is currently teaching Intro to Theatre Arts.  She holds an M.A. from San Diego State University in Theatre Arts and received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of San Diego.  She is the Theatre Director at Grossmont High School where she has run the theatre program since 2002.  She has received numerous awards for outstanding direction from National Youth Arts and several education awards from the San Diego Theatre Educator Association. As a professional voiceover actor, she has lent her voice to everything from Volvo commercials to movie trailers.  She is excited to bring her passion for all things theatrical to Cuyamaca College!

Amy Hacker

Intro to World Music

History of Rock Music

Amy Hacker has been teaching World Music and Music History courses since 2008, after earning her MA in Music, with an emphasis on Ethnomusicology, from San Diego State University.  She also owns and directs an Indonesian Gamelan ensemble, called Kembang Sunda, which performs regularly throughout Southern California.  Ms. Hacker is well versed in musical traditions from around the world and has performed in various ensembles including:  Javanese, Balinese and Sundanese gamelan;  West African drumming and dance;  Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian drumming;  Japanese Butoh dance;  East Indian Odissi dance;  and Zimbabwean Mbira and Marimba music.  She has also traveled extensively and researched musical practices in over 30 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America, including living in Indonesia for three years.  Her educational and personal experiences combined together give Ms. Hacker an in-depth understanding of musical cultures from around the world that she passes on to her students.

Esther Jordan Photo
Esther Jordan

Class Voice


Esther Jordan is a versatile singer, music educator and director who has performed various styles of music, from early music, opera, gospel, blues to light rock. She graduated from Grand Canyon University in Arizona with a B.A. in Vocal Performance and Music Education and earned her M.A. from San Diego State University. She has taught and directed in Arizona and California public and private schools, community theaters and churches. Esther has toured with performing groups in the United States and Europe. From 1994-1997 she lived in Japan where she conducted the Yokosuka Choral Society, Hand Bell and Chapel Choirs and performed in recitals. She also taught English in the Japanese public school system. Esther's past voice credits include soloist with the Phoenix Symphony Pops Concerts, featured artist with Theatre Organ Society of San Diego, soloist with San Diego Harmony Ringers and Camelot Strings. Currently, Ms. Jordan is Director of Worship Arts at Pacific Beach Presbyterian Church and is president of the San Diego Chapter of National Association of Church Musicians. She has been adjunct voice instructor at Grossmont/Cuyamaca Community College system since 1998 and is thrilled to be performing with Pat Setzer and Taylor Smith.

Merryl Nelson
Merryl Nelson

Faculty Webpage

Class Piano

Merryl Nelson is currently in her first year as Choral Director at Cuyamaca College where she is an adjunct professor of music education. In addition to her work at Cuyamaca, she is also the Choral Director at Granite Hills High School, involving 120 students in three choirs. Merryl has directed choirs of all ages for more than thirty years in public and private schools as well as churches. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance from the University of Redlands with additional study at the Eastman School of Music, Butler University, San Diego State University, University of California San Diego, Fresno State University, and Grossmont College. She also holds the Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from San Deigo State University.

In addition to teaching, Merryl is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association and the California Music Educators Association. In 2010, Merryl was awarded CMEA's Choral Educator Award for the state of California.

Scott Walton
Scott Walton, DMA

History of Jazz

History of Rock Music

Scott Walton is a bassist and pianist whose music negotiates the terrain between jazz, free improvisation, and classical avant-garde. Praised for his “dramatic” soloing (Downbeat), “graceful fluidity” (All About Jazz), and “propulsive energy” (OneFinalNote), the Downtown Music Gallery proclaims that Walton “consistently shines.” He has performed throughout North America and Europe in a host of collaborative contexts, and has recorded with Vinny Golia, Nels Cline, Myra Melford, and Bobby Bradford, among many others. Current projects include duos with Steve Adams, Tim Perkis, and Gilbert Isbin, the Michael Vllatkovich quartet, the Bill Horvitz Sextet, and Alex Cline’s Flower Garland Orchestra. Walton holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of California, San Diego, and has designed courses and implemented online music instruction for universities and colleges in California and Colorado. He has served as an adjunct instructor for Cuyamaca College since 2001
IMG_7263.jpeg Doug McCulloch has had a rich and varied music career as a composer and as an instructor.  He teaches a variety of music classes at Cuyamaca College in addition to his work as a composer and community musician.  Doug earned both his BMus and MMus in Music Composition at the University of Hawaii, with an emphasis in ethnomusicology and cultural studies within music composition.

May_Wedding_0334.jpgPaul Thomas May

Choir Director

Visit the Choir's Facebook page here!

Conductor and baritone Paul Thomas May is a stalwart vocalist and devoted church musician native to San Diego. Mr. May served as the Director of Music for St. Rocco Parish, the first and oldest Italian Parish in Cleveland, OH, for the 2017-18 season coordinating all liturgies and teaching music for the entire parish school. He is the former Director of Liturgical Music at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church where he was responsible for Saturday and Sunday morning Masses directing the OLMC Liturgical Choir (50+ voices) and Schola (20 Voices). Mr. May previously held the position of Bass Choral Scholar and Assistant Director for the Choristers (children’s choir) at St. Anne’s Catholic Church where he specialized in the performance and history of both Gregorian Chant and sacred renaissance/baroque polyphony. Though primarily a church musician, Mr. May is also the former director of the San Diego Mannskor, Norwegian Male Chorus, whose primary repertoire stems from the Northern European and Baltic regions. Additionally, he has worked closely with many other professional organizations in San Diego including the Bach Collegium San Diego, Folklore Music Guild, and San Diego Pro Arte Voices. His credentials include two degrees—Bachelor of Music and Master of Music—from San Diego State University in Professional Studies and Choral Conducting respectively. Mr. May is also the current director for the choir at Cuyamaca Community College and director of liturgical music at Our Lady of Grace Church in El Cajon, CA.


Department Staff

Derek-Bertram-8x10.jpgDerek Bertram


Music Technician

Office: B-204  Office hours:

M–F: 10:00am - 6:00 pm

Last Updated: 10/04/2018
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