COS Music Department

Faculty & Staff


Full-time Faculty

Brian Johnson

Music Theory

Brian Johnson received his Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Illinois State University and a Master of Music degree in Piano and Voice Performance from Northern Illinois University.  Additionally, he has completed all course work for the Doctorate of Music degree in Piano Performance at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  Brian served as chairman of the music department at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland and taught as an adjunct professor of music at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.  Currently he is the Worship Arts Pastor at Grace Community Church in addition to teaching at COS.  

Among Brian’s notable performances are a cable television performance of Saint Saens Second Piano Concerto with the Columbia Orchestra (Columbia, Maryland), five concert appearances with violinist Daniel Heifetz (University of Maryland faculty) on the Queen Elizabeth II, a chamber music series for the Montana State Alumni Foundation with Ilse Marie Lee (Montana State University faculty) and Taichi Chen (violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra) and a performance of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with the Helena Symphony and Tulare County Symphony.

Chamonde Porterfield-Pyatt

Keyboard Instructor

Chaumonde Porterfield-Pyatt started studying piano at age 7, and was performing by age 10.  With her studies under Effie Curtiss from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, she spent her early years as a student accompanist for local schools, community events, and a church musician.  After graduation from COS, she was a double-major in voice and piano at San Francisco State University with John Tegnell and John Toms, voice; and Vladimir Brenner, piano, who was the pianist with NBC Symphony under Maestro Arturo Toscanini.  Her highlight was to perform with Maestros Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland and Jose Krips with the San Francisco Symphony.  She also studied organ with composer/organist Richard Purvis.  Her degrees are AA, BA, BS, MA, and holds a Fellow of Music from Wessex Theological College – England.

Upon returning home to teach at COS after spending years as a private teacher in voice, piano and organ, being a church musician in different states, helping to create and teach in the classroom music program for Grades 4-6 through the Visalia Unified School District, and performing with the Tulare County and Kings County Symphonies, Chaumonde became active at the local, state and national level with legislators through the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, the Community College Association, COSTA, and the Music Association California Community Colleges.  Currently, she is on the MACCC Executive Board, as well as the Liaison to CTA, CCA and NEA.

Through MACCC, Chaumonde established the annual “California Community College Music Day” on May 11th during a California Joint-Legislation Committee process for the Official state “Teachers Appreciation Week.”  She has received numerous awards for her dedication and performance in music and legislation through the local, state and national organizations.

Chaumonde taught and designed a music appreciation class in the COS Correspondence Curriculum Program at Corcoran State Prison, as well as helped establish teaching music online, as well as refine the importance of piano proficiency for all music majors.  To meet new demands of transfer, she was responsible to bring new curriculum to COS, such as the History of Rock and Roll, and the History of American Folk Music.

​John Sorber

Choral Director and Voice Instructor

John Sorber recently became the head of the choral and vocal department at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. He is currently the California Music Educators Association (CMEA) Central Region Choral Representative and served as the 2016 Anaheim Convention Center Site Manager for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Western Division Conference. He also served as the California ACDA Ethnic and Multicultural Music Repertoire and Standards Chairperson from 2013-2015. Mr. Sorber has taught elementary, middle school, high School, community college, community chorus and church choirs. In addition to his teaching, Mr. Sorber has served as a choral adjudicator, honor choir manager at local and national levels, BTSA mentor, tenor soloist in classical choral works and musicals, and has taught voice students privately.
Mr. Sorber is excited for the new adventures that await him at COS and he opened the choral program at El Diamante High School which now consists of five ensembles and over 250 singers. The EDHS choirs have traveled and competed extensively in locations throughout California, the USA, and abroad. In 2016, the Chamber Singers performed for the California Arts Education Summit and the EDHS Choral Department has received command performances at the Fresno State University Choral Festival for ten consecutive years. Both the Chamber Singers and Concert Choir have received superior ratings and gold medals at every festival since the schools opening and the Chamber Singers have also performed for the CSU Long Beach and USC Invitational Choral Festivals. The Concert Choir was also invited to perform for the CMEA 2007 Convention.  In addition, Mr. Sorber co-directed the 2016 EDHS musical and has been the vocal director for ten EDHS musicals.
Recently, Mr. Sorber was selected to conduct the 2016 Stockton “Real Men Sing” and conducted the 2015 CMEA Capitol Section High School Honor Choir. In 2010, he directed the Fresno State University Community Chorus in preparation of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which was performed with the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been the guest conductor for the Fresno/Madera CMEA and TKMEA Middle School Honor Choirs and "Real Men Sing" in Visalia, Fresno and Bakersfield. During his teaching career, Mr. Sorber has received the “Crystal Apple Award” for excellence in teaching (2014), the CMEA Central Section Choral Educator of the Year (2006), the TKMEA Choral Educator of the Year (2006), the EDHS Teacher of the Year (2003), and the "Excellence in Education" award (2002).  

Mr. Sorber received his BA from Fresno Pacific University in vocal performance and music education and his MA degree in choral conducting at Fresno State University.  He resides in Visalia with his beautiful wife Shawna and their children Abigail and Charles.

Michael Tackett

Instrumental Director and Conductor

Michael Tackett is a Professor of Music and Director of Bands/Instrumental Music at College of the Sequoias, Visalia, Ca. Mr. Tackett earned a Bachelors of Music in Music Education from Bowling Green State University (Ohio) and a Masters in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. In 2002 he was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Lamont Symphony Orchestra/Opera Theatre and the Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Prior to his appointment at College of the Sequoias he served ten years as Director of Band/Orchestral and Musical Theatre Activities at El Diamante High School in Visalia. During his tenure at El Diamante his ensembles performed throughout the country. In 2007 his Orchestra competed in the National Orchestra Festival in Detroit, Michigan, and in 2009 his Wind Ensemble traveled to New York to perform in Carnegie Hall as part of the National Wind Ensemble Festival. As director of The El Diamante Marching Miners, Michael led the group in winning four Western Band Association Class 4A Championships.

Michael conducts for the College of the Sequoias Music Theatre Program and the Tulare County Office of Education Musical Program. He has currently conducted and/or directed over fifty musical productions for a variety of theatre companies across the United States. He has been a guest conductor with The Tulare County Symphony Orchestra, The Citrus Wind Ensemble in Southern California, The TKMEA Honor Orchestra and Band, and The Fresno-Madera Counties Music Educators Association Honor Orchestra. He currently adjudicates for the Western Band Association and the California Music Educators Association. 

Mr. Tackett has been awarded a Certificate of Merit from the National Band Association (2007), was named Tulare/Kings County Band Educator of the year (2008), Orchestra Educator (2011), and Teacher of the Year for Visalia Unified School District in 2013. Michael loves his job and feels blessed to work with such wonderful students.​


Staff Accompanist

Treasa Bonnar

Bio coming soon...

Adjunct Faculty

Robert Hinds

Commercial Music

Mr. Hinds is currently teaching recording arts classes in the Commercial Music Program.  He is a graduate of Lubbock Christian University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education and a Master's Degree in Media Arts Production and Performance from Fresno Pacific University.  Mr. Hinds has taught a variety of levels of choirs, bands, and technology courses from elementary through college including Visalia Unified School District, Fresno Pacific University, and First Presbyterian Church, Visalia.​

Deborah Nolan

Bio coming soon...

Valerie Walden​


Valerie Walden received her B.A. in both European History and Cello Performance from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  She subsequently earned a Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, where she also studied cello under Coral Bognuda.  As an internationally recognized authority on cello history, Dr. Walden has lectured at regional and national conventions.  Her writings include One Hundred Years of Violoncello: a History of Technique and Performance Practice, 1740-1840, published by Cambridge University Press; 32 entries in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians; articles for Strings magazine, the London Cello Society, The Reader’s Guide to Music, and book reviews for Early Music America.  Dr. Walden is also a contributing author to The Cambridge Companion to the Cello, and is currently preparing an edition of Robert Lindley’s Capriccios and Exercises, op. 15 for the distinguished Bärenreiter publishing house.  

Dr. Walden has been principal cellist of the Sequoia Symphony for over thirty years, and performs widely with the Trinitas Piano Trio and harpsichordist/pianist Mark KrolI. In addition to teaching at COS, she has maintained a large and successful private cello studio, with many of her students being regularly selected for numerous state and national honor groups.​

Jim Ziessler

Mr. Ziessler is currently an adjunct instructor in the Fine Arts/Music Dept. He is a graduate of Warner Pacific College, Portland, Oregon with a B.A. in Performance pipe organ and conducting. He has been an active member of the A.G.O. in Oregon and California. He earned his M.A. in choral conducting and composition from Fresno Pacific University, under the mentorship of Dr. Roy Klausen and Dr. Larry Warkentin. He has studied choral conducting under Dr. Donald Neuen of UCLA, and Dr. Joe Miller of UC Stanislaus. He has performed classical organ literature in numerous churches, and concert venues, throughout California, Oregon and Washington. He has been a regular guest organ accompanist for Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria, and Faure’s Requiem. He has taught private piano, organ, and voice for over 40 years. He has taught special education with Tulare County Office of Education.  Since 2003 He has taught: Beginning and Advanced Piano, Organ all levels, Music 10 and Music 01 at College of Sequoias. He has been the Performing Arts Director for The Creative Center, a school for disabled adults.  Former Minister of Music for Grace Community Church, Visalia and Tulare Community Church. More recently he was the choral conductor for Visalia First Presbyterian Church and now serves as regular assistant organist.​

Last Updated: 8/29/2018 2:22 PM