"Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable."
~ Leonard Bernstein
Stewarts Creek High School Bands faculty and staff
Debra Burton, Director of Bands
B.M. Middle Tennessee State University M.M. Columbus State University
Debra Burton serves as the director of the Stewarts Creek High School Band in Smyrna, Tennessee. Prior to this position, she served from 2004 until 2015 as co-director of bands and orchestra, leader of the Academy of Music Performance, and chairperson of the music and art department at John Overton High School. Ms. Burton also served as a band director at Columbus High School (Georgia) from 2002 until 2004 and McGavock High School from 1997 until 2000. Ms. Burton has also taught at the collegiate level, having served as adjunct faculty at Belmont University and Columbus State University, where she taught undergraduate courses and seminars in music education.
An active member of the Middle Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association (MTSBOA), Ms. Burton is currently serving as the association’s thirty-eighth president. Prior to this, Ms. Burton served as an elected member of its executive board of directors. In addition, Ms. Burton recently completed a second term as a member of the board of directors for the Tennessee Music Education Association, where she served as the state band chair.
In 2007 she was inducted into Phi Beta Mu National School Bandmasters Fraternity and in 2010 was inducted into the American School Band Directors Association.
Michael Chester, Director of Bands
B.M. Middle Tennessee State University M.M. University of Illinois
Michael Chester serves as director of the Stewarts Creek High School Band in Smyrna, Tennessee. Prior to this position, he served as a graduate teaching assistant in the School of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to graduate work, Mr. Chester served the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools from 2004 until 2011, teaching at the middle and high school levels. He also served as adjunct faculty at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music from 2009 until 2011, and as Assistant Conductor of the Curb Youth Symphony from 1999 until 2011.
An active member of the Middle Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association (MTSBOA), Mr. Chester has completed a second two-year term on the organization’s elected board of directors, having served in a similar capacity from 2009 until 2011. He also serves as a member of the board of directors for the Tennessee Music Education Association where he serves as managing editor of the Tennessee Musician.
In 2011 he was inducted into Phi Beta Mu National School Bandmasters Fraternity and in 2010 was inducted into the American School Band Directors Association.
Elizabeth Bullen, Director of Color Guard
B.S. Auburn University
Elizabeth Bullen serves as Director of Color Guard at Stewarts Creek High School, in Smyrna, Tennessee. Mrs. Bullen is an accomplished choreographer and color guard specialist. Mrs. Bullen grew up in Alabama where she joined her local school’s band in 6th grade. Once in high school, she joined the marching band’s color guard where she began learning leadership skills as she served as the captain.
Mrs. Bullen attended Auburn University where she was a part of the Auburn University Marching Band’s Flag Line, performing and traveling all over the Southeast for the nationally televised regular season football games and post-season bowl games. During her tenure, Auburn University Marching Band was awarded the highly coveted Sudler Trophy. The Sudler Trophy is the only national collegiate award given by The Sousa Foundation to a university band that has a proven record of "excellence" for its marching band program. It is "awarded biannually to a college or university marching band which has demonstrated the highest of musical standards and innovative marching routines and ideas, and which has made important contributions to the advancement of the performance standards of college marching bands over a number of years."
Elizabeth has been working with the Stewarts Creek High School Color Guard since the opening of the school in August 2013. The color guard performs with the band during the school’s football games, pep rallies, parades, and various Town of Smyrna events in the fall and arranges a non-competitive indoor show each winter for entertainment and recruitment. Recently, the color guard performed with the band during the historic festivities to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Elizabeth lives in Smyrna, Tennessee with her husband Peyton.
Josh Nelson, Director of Percussion
B.M. East Tennessee State University
Josh Nelson serves as a percussion specialist for the Stewarts Creek Campus Schools, in Smyrna, Tennessee. His responsibilities include directing all aspects of percussion curriculum, instruction, and performance for grades sixth through twelve. Mr. Nelson also serves as Executive Director of Music City Mystique, a Winter Guard International (WGI) Percussion Independent World (PIW) 7-time world champion winter drumline, based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Mr. Nelson has been involved in drum corps for 20 years having marched with the Crossmen, Bluecoats and Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps. Mr. Nelson holds a Bachelor of Music degree from East Tennessee State University where he studied under Dr. Rande Sanderbeck.
Highly active in WGI Percussion, Mr. Nelson was a member of Music City Mystique from 2000-2003. Mr. Nelson joined the staff in 2004 and served as the bass tech until his appointment to the position of executive director in 2006.
Outside of his duties with Music City Mystique, Mr. Nelson is an active music teacher and arranger, visual designer, adjudicator, and clinician. Mr. Nelson is proudly endorsed by Innovative Percussion, Inc.