COS Music Department

Faculty & Staff


Full-time Faculty

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

Michael Tackett

Instrumental Director and Conductor

Michael Tackett is a Professor of Music and Director of Bands at College of the Sequoias, Visalia. Mr. Tackett graduated from Bowling Green State University (Ohio) with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and a Masters in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. In 2002 he moved to Denver, Colorado where 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 the 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, he led the group in winning three Western Band Association Class 4A State Championships.


Mr. Tackett has served eight years as conductor for the College of the Sequoias Music Theatre Program and ten years for the Tulare County Office of Education Musical Program. He has currently conducted and/or directed over thirty five 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, and The TKMEA Middle School Honor Orchestra and Band. During marching season he also adjudicates for the Western Band 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), and Orchestra Educator of the year in 2011. Michael loves his job and the students he his blessed to work with.


Staff Accompanist

Treasa Bonnar

Bio coming soon...

Adjunct 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.

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 studied cello with William Van den Burg and Gabor Rejto, and then with Laszlo Varga at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she received degrees in European History and Cello Performance.  She concurrently played in the Santa Cruz and Monterey symphonies.  Her PhD is from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, where she studied 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, articles for Strings magazine and the London Cello Society, and entries in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and The Reader's Guide to Music.  She is also a contributing author to The Cambridge Companion to the Cello.  In addition to teaching at COS, Dr. Walden has been principal cellist of the Tulare County Symphony for over twenty-five years.  She performs widely throughout the Central Valley and her private cello students have been 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: 9/28/2016 1:10 PM