General Education & Transfer

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Melissa Adao, History of Hip Hop Culture

Melissa Adao sitting on steps
Melissa began training at the age of 17 and since then, has soared into an amazing journey of hip hop, jazz and modern dance experiences. Her dance community background includes local companies like Unity Dance Ensemble, Urban FX, EKetc, and Super Galactic Beat Manipulators. Representation through Bloc Dance and Choreography has opened opportunities for her to work with artists like Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Andy Dick, Athena Cage, No Doubt, and Nickelodeon’s "Taina".


She earned her B.A. in Dance from San Diego State University and her M.A. from California State University, Long Beach. She is a dance instructor at MiraCosta College, Mesa College, and Grossmont Community College. Melissa invests her time in training and preparing her dancers for professional opportunities, as well as developing tools and confidence to use in everyday life. She also impresses the importance of educating the cultural and historical significances of our past in order to preserve our future dance community.


Melissa’s work has been seen showcased at various venues such as Diversionary Theater, White Box Theater, The Neurosciences Institute, RAW Space Off Broadway, David and Dorothea Garfield Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theater, and more. Her work “In The Wild” received Runner-Up at Young Choreographers Showcase and Prize. Her full-length production “HIP HOP cabHOORAY” received Outstanding Production at San Diego International Fringe Festival in 2015 and Outstanding Dance Production in 2017.

Aside from teaching and choreographing independent gigs, Melissa is a performer/choreographer at the San Diego Zoo. She is also the Founder of Outreach Through Dance, a production company that produces dance showcases and events to benefit various charities and organizations in the San Diego community. OTD works closely with Make-A-Wish San Diego, The John Brockington Foundation, Pacific Arts Movement, and various non-profits globally.

Farhad Bahrami, History of World Music

Farhad Bahrami was born to Iranian teachers on a Fullbright scholarship to the U.S. His childhood was spent in Texas, Tehran, and Oxford. Farhad came to San Diego in 1979 to study engineering at SDSU. In 1984 he graduated with a bachelor's in music (composition) and computer science. He received a master's in music (ethnomusicology) from SDSU in 2007, having pursued his interests in music in parallel to his career in software. Farhad's interests and influences are broad and include Persian and Western classical musics, rock and jazz, many world musics especially Azeri music and flamenco, and the Beatles. He has directed Dornob Collective, a San Diego-based Persian fusion band since 1984.

Farhad has been a member of the Grossmont College Music Department Faculty since 2019. He teaches Music 116: Introduction to World Music - a virtual tour of the world's music, and starting in Fall 2019, will direct the Grossmont Middle East Ensemble ("Caravan World Music Ensemble"), open to all students and community members.

Office: 230-I
Phone: (619) 644-7254

Randy Beecher, Great Music Listening

Randy is a well known member of San Diego's professional musical community.  Mr. Beecher graduated from SDSU with a Bachelor of Arts (B. A.) degree in Music and a Master of Music (M. M.) degree in Musicology.  

Mr. Beecher has a 24-year career as a musician, specializing in piano entertainment. As a performer, he is renown for his relaxed stage presence and ability to encourage audience participation.  Beecher's musical prowess and diversity span the early classics of the '30s and '40s -- George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin -- to modern composers such as Andrew Lloyd Weber and Marvin Hamlisch. 

His public performances include Humphrey's, Hotel del Coronado, Red Tracton's, L'Auberge Del Mar, La Valencia Hotel, Bahia Hotel, Town & Country Hotel, and the Westgate Hotel. He also has performed privately for numerous celebrities including: Ann Bancroft and Mel Brooks, Dick Van Patton, Jenny and Sid Craig, Tim Conway, Dick Enberg, Tony Gwynn, Tommy Lasorda and members of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Randy even shared a piano bench with internationally recognized composer/arranger Burt Bacharach.  Mr. Beecher continues to be sought after for weddings and other social and business functions nationally. His regular performances at Mille Fleurs, in affluent Rancho Santa Fe, continues to draw a local and national following.  
For more information on Randy Beecher, including professional bookings, please visit his homepage at:

Randy Beecher joined the Grossmont College Music Faculty beginning in the Fall 2000 semester. His course schedule includes Class Piano and Great Music Listening.

Office:  230-I
Phone: (619) 644-7454 x3617
E-Mail: :

Derek Cannon, History of Hip Hop Culture

Derek is an accomplished performer and music educator having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music, and Master of Music degrees from San Diego State University (SDSU).  During his time as a student at SDSU he won many soloist awards at jazz festivals throughout the state.  Derek has maintained an active performing career which includes performances with Natalie Cole, Clark Terry, The Four Tops, The Temptations, and Jon Faddis to name a few. As a BMI affiliated composer Derek has also written and produced music for several recording artists in the Chicago area. 

Internationally, he has performed at The Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, The North Sea Jazz Festival in The Netherlands, The Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy, and The Montreal Jazz Festival in Canada.   Derek’s recent recordings include “Coup d’ Eclat,” with Monette Marino, 2010, “From Me To You,” with Paula Prophet, 2010, “Free Your Mind,” with Walter Beasley, 2009, “Destiny,” with Kamau Kenyatta, 2008, and “Come On Over,” with Allison Adams Tucker, 2008.   

In addition to being a member of the music faculty at Grossmont College, Mr. Cannon has also chaired the Jazz Studies Department at Chicago State University (1995-1999), and is a member of the jazz studio faculty at San Diego State University.   Derek Cannon has been a member of the Grossmont College Music Department Faculty since 1993.  His classes include Music Theory, Jazz Improvisation, Elements of Jazz, and he is the founder/director of the Afro-Cuban Ensemble.   In 2002, Derek was elected to the prestigious "Who's Who Among America's Teachers." 

As a faculty member of the Jazz 88.3 Summer Jazz Workshop, Derek Cannon works with middle school and highschool jazz musicians preparing them for programs across the country, including Grossmont College Music Department's Jazz Studies program. This is just one of the many ways Mr. Cannon engages in music outreach in our community.
Office 230-E
Phone (619) 644-7257  

Justin Grinnell, History of Jazz Music

Justin Grinnell playing bass

Justin Grinnell is a San Diego-based freelance musician and music educator. A versatile acoustic and electric bassist, Justin is comfortable performing a wide variety of musical styles such as jazz, latin, funk, rock, pop, musical theater, and classical. 


In May 2005, Justin received his Master's Degree in Jazz Performance from San Diego State University. While attending SDSU on a full scholarship, he had the opportunity to travel, perform, and teach in South and Central America as a member of two faculty-student jazz groups. At this time, Justin studied privately with internationally acclaimed acoustic bass soloist, Bert Turetzky. 


After receiving his Master's degree in Jazz Performance from SDSU, Justin was accepted into the Henry Mancini Institute's 2005 Summer Education Program on a full scholarship. HMI provided Justin with the opportunity to work with one of Los Angeles' premiere session bassists, Nathan East, as well as Billy Childs, Dave Liebman, Christian McBride, and Vince Mendoza. 


Justin is currently performing and composing for several jazz-influenced groups. In addition to leading his own groups, Justin is also a member of the Brazilian Jazz-inspired Danny Green Trio. The trio's debut CD, "With You In Mind," won the 2009 San Diego Music Award for Best Jazz Album and their 2012 sophomore release, "A Thousand Ways Home," was recently nominated for the same award. Justin is also a member of the ARC Trio, a creative collaboration stretching the boundaries of modern jazz. 


Although Justin is often performing in familiar San Diego jazz hotspots, he is also no stranger to San Diego's best-known theaters: the Civic Theatre, the Old Globe, Spreckels, and the La Jolla Playhouse. Justin has spent a lot of time at these venues as a pit orchestra member for a number of Tony Award-winning musicals, such as A Chorus Line, Avenue Q, The Drowsy Chaperone, Spamalot, Grease, and The Color Purple. 


Justin recently began his doctoral studies at the University of Southern California. Besides studying privately with Los Angeles' first-call jazz bassist, Darek Oles, Justin's enrollment at USC has already given him the opportunity to study with internationally-recognized jazz artists Peter Erskine, Russ Ferrante, Bob Mintzer, and Alan Pasqua. 


In addition to his performing schedule, Justin is also a dedicated music educator. In addition to teaching at Grossmont College, he frequently serves as an adjudicator and clinician at local jazz festivals. 

If you'd like to read more about Justin and his musical activities, then check out his website and regularly updated itinerary at


Business Email: (preferred mode of contact)
Phone: (619) 644-7254
Office: 230-I


Justin has been teaching in the Grossmont College Music Department since Fall 2005. His current courses include MUS 105: Music Theory I and MUS 111: The History of Jazz.

Jeff Hofmockel, History of Rock Music

Jeff has been a “gigging guitarist” in San Diego since 1972, and in the 70's worked with many local “Top Forty” bands, including Nimbus, Soul Expression, Showboat and others.  Jeff worked with many blues artists in the mid-70's, such as Tom Cat Courtney and His Blues Dusters,  Kansas City pianist Bob Jeffries and Jamaican blues artist Louis Majors. In the mid-70's Jeff was also a member of rock band Jamul, who had a Billboard Top 100 hit with their rendition of “Tobacco Road.”  From 1978 to 1988, Jeff worked mainly with “oldies” band the Ducktail Revue at the Sheraton Harbor Island, Mission Valley Hilton Hotel, Hanalei Hotel and many other restaurants and clubs. With the Ducktail Revue, Jeff has performed as an opening act for the Platters, the Coasters, Frankie Avalon, the Diamonds, Little Anthony, the Drifters, the Hollywood Argyles, the Kingston Trio, the Bellamy Brothers, Roger Miller, the Association, the Four Freshman and Mel Tillis.   As a member of Reeves In Motion, Jeff  backed up the Coasters, and as a member of the Belair Boys, Jeff opened for the Four Tops.  Jeff has also performed with “oldies” bands Rama Lama, the Impostors, and the Midnight Hour.

Since 1995, Jeff has mainly worked with Breez’n, a variety band that does smooth, Latin and straight-ahead jazz as well as pop, disco, classic rock and rhythm and blues.  Breez’n has  played many wedding receptions, corporate events and private parties, along with restaurants, night clubs and many summer “Concert in the Park” events.  Breez’n has played at the KIFM Jazz Festival every year since 1996, and also performs yearly at the Del Mar Electronics Fair.  Besides continuing to perform with Breez’n, Jeff works with various straight-ahead jazz combos and alternative rock band Kitten With a Whip. Jeff also plays at the Comedy Store on Sunday nights,  “riffing” between comedy acts!

After graduating from high school in 1970 and attending UCSD as a math major, Jeff began his musical studies at Mesa College in 1972.  Jeff continued to take music classes at San Diego State University through the 70's and 80's while continuing to “gig” and work part time delivery jobs, finally receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1990.  Jeff returned to SDSU to complete his Master of Music degree in Jazz Guitar Performance in 1998.  While a student, Jeff studied jazz guitar with Everett Gonsalves,  Peter Sprague, Bill MacPherson and Art Johnson.  Jeff also performed with the SDSU Jazz Ensembles and Jazz Combos, including 1997 concerts with the “A” band backing up Gary Lefebre, Ellen Johnson, Louis Bellson and Pete Christlieb.  Jeff also taught three semesters of Jazz Guitar Ensemble and a semester of Jazz Combo while a grad student at SDSU.

Jeff has taught History of Jazz at Grossmont College since Fall 2005.  Jeff is one of two staff Jazz Guitar instructors, and has taught Class Guitar and subbed for Music Theory classes. Jeff has performed with the Grossmont Jazz Ensemble, the Grossmont Jazz Faculty and fellow teacher Paul Kurokawa.

Office: 230-I 

Phone:  644-7254

Campus E-Mail:

Lorie Kirkell, Great Music Listening

Lorie Kirkell is an acclaimed American cellist, who has developed a glowing career on the West Coast as soloist, recitalist, and chamber music player. After her studies on the East Coast with distinguished cellists Raya Garbousova and Bernard Greenhouse, she spent some time doing freelance work and repertoire development. She then came to the West Coast where she earned a Master of Arts degree in music at the University  of California San Diego and studied with the well known cellist Peter Farrell. Her research into repertoire moved into the 20th century as well as performance practice of music of earlier times. After this, a long series of recitals and solo appearances began and continue with noticeable frequency and high critical acclaim. She has appeared as principal cellist with orchestras for the Bolshoi Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. Ms. Kirkell has performed at the Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, Civic Theater, and with many other music organizations. She is the Director of the Novellus Ensemble.

Lorie Kirkell has been a member of the Grossmont College Music Department Faculty since 2002.  Her classes include Great Music Listening.

Office:  230-I
Phone:  (619) 644-7254

James Morton, History of Rock Music

I was born in Deer Park, Texas, a small town adjoining the big city of Houston. Early memories include looking for crawfish in ditches, the infrequent hurricanes and being afraid of snakes in our back yard. The earliest musical memories I have are listening to show tunes and light classical pieces on my parents’ record player (“Oklahoma” and Strauss waltzes come to mind), and listening to rock ‘n’ roll on a small radio. It was during these early years that music struck me as having to do with patterns. I remember how my father showed me how to make a major chord from any starting point on the piano, using a pattern of steps. I also remember focusing on the bass line in Bobby Lewis’ “Tossing And Turning,” in which I heard the same 1-3-5 chord steps then played on a different pitch (it was a IV chord). It is interesting that my first musical impressions were not drumming orientated, but rather the whole picture.

As I entered middle school, I started learning three instruments simultaneously: piano, guitar, and drums. I believe it was a natural musical curiosity that spurred these sessions. No lessons, just an interest. Soon, I received my first drumset, a cheap red sparkle three piece from a Sears catalog I had purchased with money from a paper route. What fun that first set was. I think everyone’s first set is special, even if it is basically junk, like mine was.


From set to bands, almost immediately. First groups were with kids my own age who had their first guitars. I also started playing with older country music musicians who must have really had a drummer deficit going on, to tolerate a 13 year old. Anyway, my dad would drive me to these beer joints, and the musicians would drive me home. Believe it or not, that was a great training ground. Dealing with people, keeping time, and perceiving song forms started to gel at this point.


The Beatles came, the Sears kit got sold, and a Ludwig blue oyster pearl kit took its place. More rock bands, high school band, and more experience. My high school mates at Lee High School in Houston included Billy Gibbons of Z Z Top and jazz saxophonist Ronnie Laws. Both musicians were hot back then.


My family had moved away by then, and I stayed in Houston by mutual consent. Relatives and musicians offered a place to stay, and one particular family made a strong impression on me: the Robinson family, two parents (both in the Houston Symphony, five kids, all musicians). The idea of a musically disciplined life was presented to me. All the Robinson kids are successful and accomplished musicians today. Memories of symphony concerts and rehearsals with Andre Previn are part of this mix.


Somewhere in my senior year the group I was in lucked out a bit and got signed to Decca records. Tours resulted in traveling and opening up for the Who and Paul Revere & the Raiders. Both bands were fun, and in both groups it was the drummer (Keith Moon and Joe Correrro, Jr.) that was the lively and friendly one of each band. I guess that tells you something about drummers.


Other artists I played or shared the stage with over the years: Andy Williams, saxophinst Ronnie Laws, Sly & The Family Stone, bassist Hal Robinson, pianist Cecil Lytle, jazz guitarist Mundell Lowe, and saxophonist Eric Marienthal. Two guitar players whose playing always inspired me were Fred Benedetti and Mike Keneally. My drum sets got smaller and smaller.


Travels over the years. Different artists, different places, and many lessons learned. Eventually settled in San Diego, CA, where I kept playing, teaching, and eventually writing. My first book with Mel Bay Publications, Killer Fillers, was written mainly in a coffee shop after gigs. From then on I’ve enjoyed a great relationship with that company. I’m so grateful they took on that first book.

I have always enjoyed transcribing drum parts, and one outlet for that was a column I started for Modern Drummer magazine. That continued for about ten years. If you are reading this biography on, well, you know where this interest and hobby ended up.


Today I still live in the San Diego area, and teach music at Grossmont College. Still playing, still teaching, and still writing drum charts, now for this site and my students. I appreciate your interest, and sincerely hope that you have success in whatever you choose to pursue.


Office:  230-I
Phone:  (619) 644-7254

Branden Muresan, Great Music Listening
Branden is a native of Southern California. He holds a Bachelor' s of Music in Violin Performance from San Diego State University where he studied with Igor and Vesna Gruppman as well as Juanita Cummins. Muresan completed his Master's in Music in Instrumental Conducting under the supervision of Donald Barra and Harold Warman from SDSU in 2000. 

During the past three years, he has conducted concerts given by the SDSU University Symphony and collaborated with SDSU Opera Theater for a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado.  Muresan has appeared previously as guest conductor for both the Grossmont Symphony and the Palomar Symphony Orchestras.  Muresan is on the faculty at both Grossmont and Palomar Community Colleges as well as substitute conductor for the Civic Youth Orchestra of San Diego.  Muresan served for three years as volunteer strings chairman for the Music Teachers Association of California, and is currently string coaching for the Helix High School Orchestra.  A resident of San Clemente, Muresan also gives private instruction for students from Mission Viejo to San Diego. Muresan currently occupies the STAT Pharmaceutical Company’s Mentor /Tutor Chair in the Grossmont Symphony and performs both as violinist and Assistant Conductor of the Palomar Symphony Orchestra.
Branden Muresan has been a member of the Grossmont College Music Department Faculty since 2001.  His classes include Great Music Listening and Introduction to Music, in addition to occupying the STAT Pharmaceutical Endowed Violin Chair in the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra..

Office:  230-I
Phone:  (619) 644-7254

Audra Nagby, Intro to Music

Audra Puccio-Nagby, Lyric Coloratura Soprano, has sung internationally as a soprano concert soloist since 2001, performing in works such as Handel’s Messiah , Lloyd-Webber’s Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s Creation, Faure’s Requiem, Mozart’s Missa Brevis in C , Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Bach's Magnificat, Monteverdi's Magnificat, Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Audra has a particular love for singing sacred music, believing that all gifts are given from God.

In addition to singing sacred music, Audra is an active recital artist, and in this past year performed Bach’s Wedding Cantata, Songs for Voice and Classical Guitar, By George! A Tribute to George Gershwin, and A History of American Art Song which she performed throughout the United States, in addition to giving Master Classes.

Audra has appeared on stage in a number of opera, oratorio, and musical theatre roles, as well. Her favorite opera roles include Tytania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Baby Doe from The Ballad of Baby Doe, and The Queen of the Night from Die Zauberflöte. She has also performed in several of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas, and was last seen as Mabel in Pirates of Penzance. Audra was honored to sing the role of Penseroso with Grossmont Symphonic Orchestra in Handel's L'Allegro Il Penseroso ed il Moderato, one of her favorite oratorios. Audra’s most memorable Musical theatre roles include Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady, and The Narrator from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. In addition to acting in musical theatre, she has also had the pleasure of being a children’s musical theatre director and choral music director for several years. She loves teaching as well as singing, and hopes that her passion for music will rub off on her students and inspire them to continue to grow in their musical pursuits.

Audra earned her Master's of Music in Vocal Performance from San Diego State University, and is currently living in San Diego with her two energetic little boys, her wonderful husband, and dog named Figaro. She maintains an active voice studio, and serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Teachers of Singing as well as the Grossmont College Friends of Music, and has been a member of the Grossmont College Music Faculty since the Fall of 2013.


Office:  230-I
Phone: 644-7254