Judges Info

NHS Band Photo: Knutsen Photography

Steve Lyons

Head Judge

Steve Lyons holds a BA degree in Music Education and Theory/Composition from Western Illinois University where he studied with Dennis Johnson, Dale Hopper, and Roland Vamos. He earned his MA degree in Music Education from the University of Minnesota where he studied with Dr. Frank Bencriscutto and Eric Becher. In his 37th year of teaching high school band in Illinois and Minnesota, Steve is celebrating his 30th year as band director at Champlin Park High School in Champlin, MN.

An advocate of lifelong learning and playing, Steve is in his 10th year directing the St. Louis Park Community Band. Other guest conducting appearances include the St. Louis All-Suburban Honor Band, the Schmitt Music Strike Up The Band Honor Band, the Anoka-Hennepin 8th Grade Honor Band, the University of Minnesota-Duluth Maroon Honor Band, the Three Rivers Conference Honor Band, and the Augustana University Gold Band.

An active composer and arranger, Steve has arranged extensively for marching bands in Minnesota, Illinois and Kentucky. Recent original concert works include Three Rivers Suite and 14 Below for concert band and Leave Only Footprints, Take Only Photographs for Woodwind choir celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the National Parks Service. A recent work, MelaNoMore, premiered at Orchestra Hall and raised money for cancer research at Mayo Clinic. His most recent piece, Tales From The Old Fisherman was commissioned by the SCMBDA Second Year Honor Band.

Steve resides in Champlin, MN with his wife Tami where they are the proud grandparents of 6-year old triplets.

Patrick Lyons

Percussion Judge

Patrick Lyons has been an active instructor, designer, adjudicator, consultant, performer, and volunteer within the upper Midwest’s marching arts scene for the better part of the last 20 years.

Patrick is one of the founding staff members of the organization River City Rhythm in 2008. He started as an instructor/designer with their indoor drumline and has served in a variety of roles during that time including snare drum instructor, battery supervisor, visual designer/drill writer, ensemble coordinator, and eventually became the ensemble’s director in 2013. Under his leadership, the group received notable recognition including seven straight WGI finalist appearances, 4 consecutive WGI PIO fan favorite awards from 2012-2015, and a WGI PIO bronze medal in 2016 before stepping away from the group after the 2018 season. When RCR started its Drum Corps in 2015, Patrick served as the bass drum instructor where he helped the line win the 2017 DCI I&E bass drum ensemble competition. Since then, he has taken on additional responsibility with the corps each year. He’s been the battery coordinator, percussion caption head/supervisor, and most recently full corps ensemble and staff coordinator – a position he still holds to this day. Patrick has taught, designed, and consulted for a variety of high school marching arts programs in both Minnesota and South Dakota – something he continues to actively engage in.

Mr. Lyons has performed in a variety of marching ensembles including the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps, Minnesota Brass Drum and Bugle Corps, Minnesota Brass Indoor, Minnesota Vikings Skol Line, and the Minnesota Timberwolves PACKcussion. Patrick is an active member at large on the Minnesota Percussion Association Board of Directors. He’s also proud and honored to be part an active adjudicator for both the Minnesota Percussion Association and Tri-State Judging.

Emily Savage

Guard Judge

Emily Savage has been performing almost all her life. From the age of 3, Emily trained at Northland School of Dance in Minnesota. Her focus genres of dance were French ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, and musical show. She began dance competitions at the age of 4 and went on to win many state high-point titles. Emily first stepped onto a football field to dance during the Super XXVI halftime show at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Emily has been involved with the marching arts for over 25 years. Growing up in the Minneapolis area, Emily attended Champlin Park High School. For four years she was a member of the marching band and winterguard. In 2001, Captain Emily helped lead her winterguard to be the first school from Minnesota to be a Scholastic A Class Finalist at Winter Guard International in Dayton, Ohio. Upon graduating, Emily marched with Minnesota Brass, Inc. Drum & Bugle Corps in 2001, 2002, and 2004. She also marched and aged-out with Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps in 2003 and 2005.

Emily has worked with various color guards across South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. She was the color guard caption head at Sioux Falls Lincoln High School from 2011-2019. Under her leadership, the Lincoln Colorguard accumulated numerous titles and caption awards, including Best Color Guard at Minnesota’s Youth in Music competition at US Bank Stadium. Emily helped design marching band shows that were Finalists in the Bands of America Super Regional in St. Louis. She currently writes color guard choreography and is a visual consultant for various high school programs. Emily is also a member of the Tri-State Judges Association.

Emily is in her 16th year of teaching in the Sioux Falls School District where she is an elementary school librarian. Emily has her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Minnesota State University - Mankato and a master’s degree as a reading specialist from the University of Sioux Falls. Emily and her husband Tyler live in Sioux Falls with their three daughters, Hannah, Gracie, and Lucy.

Phil Snyder

Phil Snyder teaches instrumental music for the Waconia school district in Waconia MN where he directs middle school concert bands, high school jazz band, and high school marching band alongside an incredible team of educators.

Phil maintains a busy schedule as professional drill designer, clinician, and adjudicator working with high school and college marching bands throughout the country. Marching ensembles at nearly every level of competition from 12 states have used his designs earning 14 state championships over the years. As an adjudicator he has judged marching ensembles for Tri-state, USBands, WSMA, Georgia, Illinois, Connecticut, Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota.

Over the past two decades, Phil has been a performer and instructor for the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps, music instructor for the DCA World Champion Minnesota Brass Drum and Bugle corps, designer for the Colt Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, and consultant for RCR Drum and Bugle Corps.

Phil is an outspoken advocate for music education at all levels and enjoys a busy schedule as a guest presenter, consultant, and freelance trumpet player. He studied trumpet performance at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and music education at the University of Minnesota.

Dave Gudmastad

Dave Gudmastad retired after 40 years of teaching high school band programs in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. He served as Director of Bands at Winona Cotter High School for 25 years. After retirement, Dave continued to work as an instructor in the Music Education Department at Winona State University.

Dave was named the Minnesota Music Educator of the Year in 2007. In 2015, he received the Youth in Music Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dave currently teaches at the Winona Middle School and the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts. He continues to serve as an adjudicator for large group, solo/ensemble, jazz ensemble and marching band festivals throughout Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Andrew Eric Nelson

Andrew Eric Nelson is director of bands and music department chairperson at Milaca High School. He is a 1988 graduate of Litchfield High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and the 1987 MMEA All-State Band.

He was a high school recipient of the John Philip Sousa Award, as well as the National School Choral Award and the United States Marines Semper Fidelis Bandman award. Mr. Nelson received his Bachelor of Science Degree Summa Cum Laude from St. Cloud State University in 1993, and His Masters Degree in Education from St. Mary’s University in 2004. Active in the Music-Education field, he is a member of the Minnesota Chapter of Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity, and a past president of the Central Minnesota Band Directors Association.

In 2007 Mr. Nelson was awarded Milaca “Community Member of the Year”, and in 2014 he was a Semi-Finalist for the Education Minnesota Teacher of the Year. In 2019 Mr. Nelson was awarded the Minnesota VFW SMART/MAHER National Citizenship Education Teacher Award of the year for his work with the Milaca Public Schools Veterans Day Concert. Mr. Nelson has twice conducted bands at the MMEA Mid-Winter Clinic (Red Wing 2002, Milaca 2006) and in 1998 his Marching Band at Blaine High School performed a halftime show for the Minnesota Vikings.