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Teacher Feature - Damon Knepper

Damon Knepper Tucson Teacher

Damon Knepper (he/him) is a native Tucsonan, born and raised on the north side of town. He started his musical journey performing as a percussionist in elementary school, continuing throughout middle school and high school. After high school, Mr. Knepper immediately began performing at the next level, earning a spot in the front ensemble with the Academy Drum & Bugle Corps, where he performed from 2010 – 2013.

In addition to performing, Damon earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Arizona in 2016 and Master of Music Education degree from the University of Florida in 2018.

Mr. Knepper has been teaching at Ironwood Ridge High School since the spring of 2016 serving as Associate Director of Bands & Orchestras from 2016-2021. He became the Director of Bands & Orchestra in the fall of 2021. This is his eighth year as a teacher at IRHS, after six years of serving as the percussion director at two other high schools in the Amphi school district. In addition to being a full-time high music educator, Mr. Knepper has been also a private percussion teacher and in-demand music arranger. Mr. Knepper's ensembles regularly receive top ratings from adjudicated competitions & festivals throughout the Southwest. He was honored to be selected as one of Yamaha’s “40-Under-40 Music Educator” class in 2022.

Damon Knepper Music Teacher

Damon Knepper is a proud member of the following music organizations:

  • National Association for Music Education

  • Percussive Arts Society

  • Vic Firth/Zildjian Education Team

  • Conn-Selmer Education Team

  • American Society of Composers and Publishers

Outside of perform and teaching music, Mr. Knepper enjoys cooking, traveling, graphic design, video games, attending performances for the local Tucson music scene. Most of all spending quality time with his amazing wife, family, and friends.

We asked Damon six questions about his life as a music teacher:

What Instrument Do You Play?

Percussion, with drumset as my primary instrument.

Best flavor of Pop Tart?

Oooh, this is a tough one… I’m gonna go with Wildberry. It’s the perfect combination of childhood nostalgia and artificial fruit flavoring.

Favorite Piece to Conduct?

"Russian Christmas Music" by Alfred Reed.

Baton, Pencil, or just your hands?

I like to use my baton for marches and most symphonic literature. For lyrical pieces, I prefer just using my hands. The classic “pencil baton” has saved me in quite a few rehearsals though… 😅

What Instrument do you WISH you knew how to play?

The banjo. It’s on my musical bucket list of instruments to learn.

Best piece of musical advice you’ve been given?

I was told this piece of advice by a very wise mentor: “Whenever you feel overwhelmed or stressed out as a music educator, remember why you fell in love with music in the first place.” I try to remember this simple advice throughout the school year. It’s really helpful during fall all-day marching rehearsal camps and during the overlapping crunch of spring concert season, festival season, and next year‘s music/leadership placement auditions.


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