Valley High School Choirs
Haley Gibbons is one of two choral directors at West Des Moines Valley High School, where she has taught since 2012. She directs two curricular ensembles, Concert Choir and Valley Singers, as well as award-winning co-curricular groups: Vocalese jazz choir and Choralation show choir. Choirs under her direction have performed at the Luther College Dorian Choral Invitational and with top collegiate ensembles from Iowa State University and Drake University. In March 2019, her jazz choir, Vocalese, was selected to perform at the National American Choral Directors Association convention. Ms. Gibbons earned her Masters of Music Education degree from Florida State University, where she studied with Andre Thomas, Kevin Fenton, and Judy Bowers. She received her undergraduate degree from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
Valley Southwoods Choirs
Heather Nail is a graduate of Drake University where she received her Bachelor of Music Education with Vocal Emphasis and Master of Science in Education Leadership degrees. She has been teaching in West Des Moines for ten years. She is originally from Norwalk, IA. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Ryan, and daughter, Hailey.
Prior to joining the Southwoods school community, Mrs. Nail taught preschool for seven years and was named the 2006 Early Childhood Educator of the Year. She then taught elementary general music for the Des Moines Public Schools. During her time in Des Moines, she was a part of the Great American Singing Challenge with a mission of creating “A musically able and active population” through the use of sight-singing computer technology. She also worked closely with fellow teachers to create Artful Learning units following the Leonard Bernstein model of teaching, which incorporates music, visual and kinesthetic arts practices into the delivery of other academic subjects. In 2009 she served as the music department representative on the Iowa Core Implementation Team for the district.
Mrs. Nail has had opportunities to help with auditions for the Heartland Youth Choir, to lead sectional rehearsals for the Des Moines Public Schools Elementary Honors Choir, and to adjudicate for solo contest at Stilwell Jr. High in West Des Moines. While at Drake she also worked closely with John Armstrong during his workshops, gained experience in teaching using the Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance model, and has obtained levels one and two Orff music teaching certification, and level one Kodaly music teaching certification.
Heather is currently a member of the National Association for Music Education, the Iowa Choral Directors Association, and Jazz Educators of Iowa. Mrs. Nail currently serves as the Iowa Vocal Jazz Championships Chair and serves the West Des Moines School district as a representative on the building and district leadership teams, Southwoods school improvement team and the West Des Moines Teacher Leadership Committee. In 2017, she was the first recipient of the Barbershop Harmony Society/ NAfME Music Educator Award.
Dr. Matthew Erpelding
Valley High School Choirs
Matthew Erpelding is a member of the vocal music staff at Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa. He conducts the A Cappella Choir and the Select Treble Choir; as well as Vocal Point, the preparatory vocal jazz ensemble; and Ignition, the preparatory show choir. Prior to his appointment at Valley, he was the Director of Choral Activities in Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA, where he conducts the College, Concert, and Chamber Choirs, and teaches courses in music education and choral conducting. Dr. Erpelding was an award-winning Director of Choral Activities at Hopewell Valley Central High School in Pennington, New Jersey, as well as at Boylan Central Catholic High School in Rockford, Illinois. Dr. Erpelding likewise has considerable experience as a church musician. He conducted the Sanctuary Choir at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Rockford, Illinois, and was the director of the Chapel Choir, Youth Choir, and Bell Choirs at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Additionally, Dr. Erpelding served as a member of the conducting faculty at the Performing Arts Institute at Wyoming Seminary in Wilkes-Barre, PA, from 2012-16, and is in frequent demand as a guest clinician and conductor.
Dr. Erpelding was awarded the Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, as well as a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Northern Illinois University. His conducting teachers include Timothy Stalter, Eric Johnson, Tim Peter, and Weston Noble. Dr. Erpelding’s choral works have been performed around the world by community, school, and university ensembles, and are currently available for purchase through Earthsongs Choral Music, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and Heritage Music Press. An award-winning educator, musician and scholar, Dr. Erpelding is a member of both the American Choral Directors Association and NAfME: The National Association for Music Educators. He currently serves as the Ensemble-Specific Repertoire and Resources Chair for ACDA-PA, and previously as the Higher Education Representative to the Curriculum/ Instruction Committee for PMEA District 7.