Meet Our Directors

Jim Miller has more than 30 years’ experience in instrumental music education, having taught in Iowa, Wisconsin and Colorado.  He returned to Iowa in 2001 to lead the band program at Cedar Rapids Washington High School.

 Jim began his career in Montezuma, Iowa, and then moved to Bellevue.  Following his years at Bellevue, Jim was Director of Bands at D.C. Everest High School in Schofield, Wisconsin, teaching several concert bands, jazz band and marching band.  He spent six years on the horn staff with the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps, where he met his wife Pam. 

 In 1989 Jim accepted the position of Director of Bands and Fine Arts Department Head for Ponderosa High School (Parker, Colorado) in suburban Denver, investing 12 years in the highly competitive program.  The Ponderosa Marching Band consistently earned a top-3 standing and was state champion several times.  It was also the featured United States marching band in the 1999 St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin, Ireland, and was the Best in Show at the Limmerick (Ireland) International Band Festival in 1999.  The marching band made numerous appearances at Mile High Stadium as the featured half time band for the Denver Broncos.

 Jim is a past President of the North East Iowa Bandmasters Association.  He has been honored by NEIBA receiving the Phillip Sehmann Excellence in Teaching award in 2007 and the Karl King Distinguished Service Active Award in 2010 and 2011.  He earned his BME from Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, and holds an MA from Adams State College, Alamosa, Colorado.  Jim grew up in northeast Iowa, learning trombone while playing in his father’s band, John Miller in Dysart.  He was named an Outstanding Teacher of Instrumental Music in the Douglas County School District (Colorado) for three consecutive years.  Jim is active as a clinician and judge throughout Iowa.  He is currently or was previously a member of the Wisconsin Bandmasters Association, Music Educators National Conference, the Colorado Bandmasters Association, and the Iowa Bandmasters Association.



Joel Nagel is in his seventh year as a music teacher at Washington High School, where he directs the jazz ensembles, conducts the second concert band, assists with the marching band, coordinates All-State audition preparation, and teaches Advanced Placement Music Theory. He is also in his seventh year as an adjunct instructor of low brass at Coe College (Cedar Rapids, IA).

Nagel earned a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa. He played lead trombone for the Downbeat award-winning UNC Jazz Lab 1 as well as the nationally renowned UNI Jazz Band One. In 2010, Nagel was a member of UNC’s Vanguard Combo, which was recognized as Downbeat magazine’s “Best College Jazz Small Group.”

Nagel has received individual awards as a jazz trombonist and as a composer. In 2010, he was a finalist for the International Trombone Association’s J.J. Johnson competition, and he was the winner of the National Jazz Solo Competition at the Eastern Trombone Workshop, hosted at Fort Myer in Washington, D.C. Nagel has been active as a composer and arranger for many of the ensembles in which he was a performer. His writing for UNC’s Vanguard Combo culminated with a 2010 Downbeat student music award for “Best Original Song” for his piece, Almost Just About.


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