John Burn

Giant Steps Big Band

Weare thrilled to welcome John Burn as director of the Giant Steps Big Band program!

John brings a wealth of experience as a top jazz educator, and is the Director of Bands and Orchestra and the Music Department Lead at Homestead High School, where he has taught since 1991. John is a Past-president of: California Music Educators Association, California Band Directors Association, California Music Educators Association Bay Section, Santa Clara County Band Directors Association, and the Santa Cruz Jazz Festival Board of Directors.

John has received several significant commendations including: the 2023 National Federation of High School Associations Region 7 (California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada & Hawaii) Outstanding Music Educator Award, a 2019 Grammy Music Educator Award Semi-finalist; the 2015 CBDA Distinguished Service Award; 2014 School Band & Orchestra Magazine’s California representative in their annual article, “50 Directors that Make a Difference”; the 2010 CMEA California Band Director of the Year; the 2009-2010 Homestead High School Teacher of the Year; and he is a 2009 Inductee to the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Legion of Honor.

John is active as a guest conductor for honor groups and as an adjudicator for band, orchestra and jazz festivals. He has conducted seven different honor bands and orchestras so far including the 2018 California All-State Honor Junior High Concert Band. He has directed the Jazz Band, Orchestra and the Concert Band at Cazadero Performing Arts Camp. He is a regular adjudicator for CMEA Bay Section Band, Orchestra and Jazz Festivals and has also adjudicated concert and/or marching events in Santa Barbara, CA, and Reno, NV.

John is a contributing author in the book, “Teaching Music Through Performance in Orchestra,” Volume 4, GIA Publications, 2021, and has presented sessions at state and local conferences in California and Alaska.

Bands and orchestras under John’s direction consistently earn high ratings at regional, state, and international festivals, including performances in the Musikverein in Vienna, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the Kobe Jazz Festival in Kobe, Japan, Carnegie Hall in New York City, and Disney Hall in Los Angeles. The Homestead Marching Band performed in the 2011 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

John plays lead trumpet in a semi-professional jazz band called, “The Footnotes,”  and is marching with the “Saluting America’s Band Directors” Band Director Marching Band in the 2023 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade as he did with this band in the 2022 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.

John holds a B.A. in Music Education from UCLA and a Master’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Illinois, and graduated from the high school where he now teaches, Homestead High. John lives in Santa Cruz, with his patient and supportive wife, Allison.

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