Matt Goves (Percussion Instructor) has been active in the Greater Richmond area as a performer, clinician and educator since 1990. For the past 29 years he has worked with the Freeman band writing for and instructing the Marching Band in the fall and the Percussion Ensemble in the spring. He also serves as the percussion instructor for The Collegiate School and maintains his own private studio. Mr. Goves has had the pleasure of performing with the Richmond Symphony, The Commonwealth Winds and as a featured soloist the Virginia Commonwealth University Symphony. As well, he played an average of 250 shows a year with his band, The Ernies, whose music has been featured on video games, television shows and in movies. Most recently, Mr. Goves has become a student of Scottish Highland drumming and enjoys performing and competing with The Greater Richmond Pipes and Drums up and down the East coast.
Rob Blankenship (Director) has been teaching music in Henrico County Schools for 23 years. He has been the Director of Bands at DSF since 2006. In 2007 he took over responsibilities as director of the DSF String Orchestras. Under his direction, all of Freeman’s instrumental ensembles have earned numerous and consecutive superior ratings and awards at local, regional and state events.
Mr. Blankenship graduated from Douglas Freeman High School in 1992 and enlisted in the United States Army where he attended the Armed Forces School of Music in Little Creek, Virginia. He then served with the 26th Army Band at Ft. Hamilton, NY and the 1st Cavalry Division Band at Ft. Hood, TX. While in the Army, he was active as a clarinetist, saxophonist, vocalist and arranger. After leaving the Army, Mr. Blankenship attended Longwood College (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Virginia where he earned a degree in music education. At Longwood, he studied theory and composition with Dr. Gordon Ring and clarinet and music history with Dr. Charles Kinzer.
Mr. Blankenship’s professional affiliations include membership in the National Association for Music Education, the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association and the Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity. He is a regular performer with The Commonwealth Winds and The Richmond Pops Band. Mr. Blankenship has also had the honor and privilege of working with, and performing under the baton of Dr. Terry Austin.
As a composer, Mr. Blankenship’s music has been published by Claude T. Smith Publications and has been performed by numerous ensembles around central Virginia including the Richmond Concert Band, the Commonwealth Winds, the Longwood University Wind Symphony, the University of Richmond Wind Ensemble and the Richmond Pops Band. In 2012 he wrote "Hail To Longwood U" for Longwood University and it was later chosen by the University as their new fight song. Mr. Blankenship lives in Henrico County with his wife, Angie, and their two children, Jesse and Julie.
Julie Gaines Walton (Woodwind Instructor) is returning for her twelfth year as Woodwind Instructor at Douglas Freeman. She attended Albemarle High School in Charlottesville, VA and received both a BM in Music Education and a BA in Liberal Studies from Longwood University, where she was first chair flute in the Wind Symphony for two years and graduated summa cum laude. She currently integrates music in her work with senior adults as a chaplain in a local retirement community and is active in playing in the Richmond Pops Band and ensembles with friends and colleagues throughout the year. Julie is excited to be working with the talented students at Douglas Freeman and on our great team of Marching Mavericks staff members! Julie lives in Chesterfield County with her husband, Jeff.
Minh Pham (Color Guard Instructor) has shown her love for music and performing through her many years of choir and marching band. She is a Freeman High School alum and graduated last year from Virginia Commonwealth University in Business Administration and Marketing. She is currently the Extended Programs Coordinator at a local private school. She was a color guard member for four years at Freeman and served as captain during her senior year. Her love for color guard continues as she joins us for her sixth year. She enjoys working with all of the talented students each year!
Sarah Williams (Front Ensemble Percussion Instructor) is an in-demand percussionist located out of Chester, Virginia. Sarah graduated from Old Dominion University (ODU) with a Bachelor of Music Performance and a Master of Music Education with a concentration in percussion studies. While attending ODU, Sarah was a graduate teaching assistant with the Monarch Marching Band working closely with the drumline and conducting pre-game and half-time performances. As a performer, Sarah has been invited to play with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, the Charlottesville Opera, the U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band, the 2019 Women’s Achieve Summit in an all-female rock band with host Queen Latifah, and has performed at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, along with various churches, choirs, and community ensembles throughout Virginia. Currently, Sarah is pursuing a Master of Business Administration from the College of William & Mary and volunteers at the USO center in the Richmond International Airport in her free time.
Karl von Klein (Woodwind Instructor) started performing professionally on the clarinet and saxophone at age 15 and has been a music educator in the Richmond area for over 30 years. He earned a degree majoring in music from the University of Richmond, toured full time and appeared in Rolling Stone magazine with local band, Fighting Gravity, and was the Band and Orchestra Director at Maggie Walker Governor’s School for 11 years. He has played with the Richmond Symphony, The Commonwealth Winds, and extensively in pit orchestras and chamber ensembles. In addition to performing and teaching, he enjoys songwriting and producing music in his home studio. Mr. von Klein has been the Band Director at Collegiate School since 2020 and is excited to be a part of the Marching Mavericks staff.
Devin Esleck (Visual Technician/Brass Instructor) is the band teacher at Clements Junior High School in Prince George County, VA. Devin finished his student teaching with the Band and Orchestra in the spring of 2023 here at DSF. He also graduated from James Madison University with degrees in Music Education and Mathematics and plays the trumpet. Devin has enjoyed a variety of exciting musical opportunities, including two European concert series in the Netherlands and Italy, membership with the #2 Nationally Ranked James Madison University Brass Band, membership with the 10-time World Champion Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps, and musical performances with esteemed musicians Ricky Parell, Melissa Aldana, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Carter Beauford of the Dave Matthews Band, Pentatonix, and John Legend. Devin is also a member of the national honor society Phi Beta Kappa and is a graduate of Henrico County Public Schools. He is excited to return to DSF as a member of the marching band staff.
Douglas S. Freeman High School Bands
Rob Blankenship, Director