The Santa Monica High School Band was established in 1915 under the direction of Arnold Wagner. The band is one of the oldest high school bands in California, and has a rich heritage due to outstanding instruction, a long history of community support, and its location in proximity to the entertainment industry and premier west coast artistic community.

The band flourished and grew in the 1950’s under the direction of Dick Wagnon, and is currently under the direction of Terry Sakow and Kevin McKeown (read about our directors here). Mr. Sakow is believed to be the longest serving music teacher at the high school; he began teaching here in 1990.

Click here to see Samohi Band photo and video archives.

Click here to see Samohi Band program archives.

School Songs

Alma Mater: “The Hymn of Praise” by Ken Darby (Class of 1928)

Ken Darby (May 13, 1909 – January 24, 1992) was an American Academy Award and Grammy Award winning composer, vocal arranger, and conductor. He has shared in winning an Oscar three times and was nominated for three others.

Oh Samohi,
Dear old Samohi
Queen of the setting sun
For you we toil,
for you our banners fly
We win for you, when victory’s won.
All hail to thee, Mighty Samohi
Our faith in the ne’er will fail
For the love that we give
is thy power to live
To thee, All Hail!


Fight Song: “Vikings Bold” by Dr. Carl Hammer (Class of 1984)

For many years Samohi borrowed “On Wisconsin” as their fight song. The joke was to call it “On WisMonica.” For the 2000 school year, Samohi’s Associate Band Director Carl Hammer, Samohi Class of ’84, wrote Samohi its own fight song. For a school with its own alma mater, and with such a long history, it was time for Samohi to have its own fight song. “Vikings Bold” became the new fight song for a new century.

Forward they go together,
Onward they surge ahead.
Inward they bond together
to the very end.
Waves crash around the ship-mast,
yet still they hold
fast to the fight-fight-fight
for SaMo Vikings Bold!

Ra! – Ra! – RaRaRa!
Ra! – Ra! – RaRaRa!
Ra! – Ra! – RaRaRa!
Goooooooo Sa-Mo-Hi!

(repeat chorus)

S! A! M! … O! H! I!
Vikings, Vikings,
Sa-mo-hi (unhh!)


Past Directors

Michael Corrigan 2009 – 2012

Corrigan BioMichael Corrigan received his bachelor’s degree in music from California State University, Long Beach. He had previously taught at Mater Dei High School (twenty-five years), Yosemite High School (five years), Clovis High School (seven years), and Aliso Niguel High School (two years). He has produced highly successful marching bands at each of his assignments (including recent state champions at Aliso Niguel). His groups have consistently received unanimous superior ratings in local festivals, as well as festivals throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. He also served as the Music Resource Specialist for the Capistrano Unified School District during his tenure at Aliso Niguel.

Mr. Corrigan has served as president of the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA), and president of the California Band Directors Association (CBDA). He is currently a Head Judge for SCSBOA. He adjudicates numerous festival and marching band events throughout the United States, and is frequently called to guest conduct select honor groups. His bands and orchestras have received “Unanimous Gold” recognitions at Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center.

His bands and orchestras have traveled extensively. Past performances include:

  • Three European Tours (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, England, Ireland),
  • Two Canadian Tours (Vancouver, Calgary),
  • Two Western United States Tours (California Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada),
  • Two Hawaiian Islands Tours (Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Molokai),
  • Two New York Tours (Carnegie Hall), and
  • One Washington D.C. Tour (Kennedy Center). 

Mr. Corrigan has received recognition from many music educator organizations, including:

  • Legion of Honor Award – John Philip Sousa National Foundation,
  • Distinguished Service Award – California Band Directors Association, 
  • Band Educator of the Year – California Music Educators Association, and
  • Honorary Life Member – Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association.

Kathleen Janert 2008 – 2009 

Kathleen Janert – Associate Director of the Samohi Bands

In August of 2008 Kathleen Janert was appointed Associate Band Director at Santa Monica High School where she teaches Concert Bands, Marching Band, and a Piano Class.

Ms. Janert was born in San Antonio, Texas. She started piano lessons at age 4 and in the sixth grade, began playing the trumpet in the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio. A very accomplished trumpet player in high school, she continued her studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio for two years and then completed her Bachelor of Arts in Music at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005.

After completing her degree, Ms. Janert was appointed band director at Wood Middle School in San Antonio. During her tenure there the band program’s enrollment increased significantly. The Wood Bands also received top honors at the district University Interscholastic League Concert Band Contests under her direction. 

Abel Ramirez 2004 – 2008

Abel Ramirez – Associate Director of the Samohi Bands.

Dr. Abel Saldivar Ramirez holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from UCLA. In 2008, Dr. Ramirez was appointed Acting Director of Bands at the University of Illinois School of Music in 2008.

Prior to accepting an invitation to begin graduate study at UCLA in 2000, Ramirez enjoyed a highly successful career as a Texas 5A high school music educator. From 2003 to 2008, Dr. Ramirez served as the Director of Bands, Head of the Conducting Division, and Chair of the Instrumental Area at California State University, Los Angeles. As the conductor of the CSULA Bands, Dr. Ramirez raised the wind ensemble to a level of national prominence, receiving numerous invitations to perform at state and national conferences. In 2007, the CSULA Wind Ensemble performed as the featured wind ensemble during the Fresno State University Wind Band Conference, as well as the California Music Educators Association/MENC Conference, which was held at the Ontario, California Convention Center. Most recently, the CSULA Wind Ensemble accepted an invitation to perform at the 2008 College Band Directors National Association Western/Northwestern Division Conference hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno.

Dr. Ramirez’ musical knowledge, teaching experience, and artistic conducting expertise is diverse. He has conducted countless wind ensembles and symphony orchestras, opera, and numerous musicals. In addition, Ramirez maintains a highly active schedule as a consultant, clinician, and adjudicator for wind bands, orchestras, marching bands, and jazz bands from across the United States and in Australia and Europe. He has served on the advisory boards for American Classic Music and Music America. Most recently, he was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute for Latin American Music Study at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

In May 2007, Dr. Ramirez made his Carnegie Hall conducting debut. Shortly afterwards, Ramirez was appointed resident guest conductor for the International Honors Wind Symphony, which he founded in a collaborative effort with Distinguished Concerts International New York. Dr. Ramirez will conduct the premiere performance of the International Honors Wind Symphony at the Lincoln Center Avery Fisher Hall in May, 2009.

Carl Hammer 1995 – 2004

Dr. Carl Hammer Assistant/Associate Director of the Samohi Bands and Jazz Band Director

Dr. Carl Hammer was born and raised in Santa Monica. He attended Grant Elementary, John Adams Junior High and graduated from Santa Monica High School. He received his musical education under the direction of legendary Santa Monica music teachers – including Sherman Plepler, Darell Mettler, Richard Wagnon, Lida Beasley, Jim Hile, Christopher Schwabe and many others.

He received his BM in music education from Brigham Young University and his MM and DMA in trombone performance from the University of Southern California.

After graduating from BYU, he taught band, orchestra, general music and choir in the Alpine School District in Utah, and then returned to Santa Monica for his graduate studies at USC. While studying at USC, he was invited to work as the assistant band director at Santa Monica High School. As the program grew, he continued to accept more assignments, including teaching positions at John Adams Middle School and Lincoln Middle School. Eventually the high school program became large enough that he became a full time associate director of the Santa Monica High School Bands with Terry Sakow. He also served as conductor of the Santa Monica College Band.

During his time at Samohi, Dr. Hammer restored the Samohi Serenaders – the Samohi Jazz Ensemble as a curricular class. He established the school’s first vocal jazz ensemble. He also reestablished the SCSBOA Band and Orchestra festival hosted by Samohi. Many veteran adjudicators evaluated these festivals as the best organized and best run festivals they had ever attended. Dr. Hammer’s ensembles regularly received superior ratings at festivals, and his custom arrangements and compositions for the marching band became widely admired.

Dr. Hammer wrote Samohi’s first fight song, replacing the fight songs previously borrowed from other schools. He continues to arrange and compose music for bands, orchestras, choirs and other ensembles, as well as perform on trombone, piano and pipe organ, teach music and adjudicate.

Jeff Edmonds 1991 – 1995

Jeff Edmonds – Assistant Director of the Samohi Bands

Douglas Hargis 1984 – 1991

Douglas Hargis – Director of the Samohi Bands

Gary Horimoto 1989 – 1991

Gary Horimoto – Assistant Director of the Samohi Bands

James Hile 1977 – 1984

Dr. James Hile – Director of the Samohi Bands

Dr. James Hile served as Director of Bands at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In this capacity he conducted the Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Pep Bands and the Marching Tar Heels. He also tuaght undergraduate and graduate instrumental conducting and band arranging. Prior to his appointment at UNC, Dr. Hile served as Assistant Director of Bands at the University of Illinois.

He has studied conducting with Dr. Harry Begian (U. of Illinois) and Dr. Clarence Sawhill (UCLA). Dr. Hile earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from UCLA. He taught at Santa Monica High School where he established one of the finest high school band programs in California. He completed a Master of Science degree in music education and a doctorate in Education at the University of Illinois.

Hile has gained a national reputation not only as a band arranger, but also as an outstanding educator. He has received several awards for outstanding teaching at Santa Monica HS and was nominated several times for the “Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching” Award. he was honored with membership in the “Order of the Golden Fleece” for outstanding contributions to the University of North Carolina. He has also been awarded the “Citation of Excellence” by the National Band Association.

He returned to teaching in the public schools at Highland Park High School in Illinois. He maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator. He returned to California to conduct the 1998 All Southern California High School Honor Band and later returned to Santa Monica to be honored as a Guest Conductor at the 2001 Stairway of the Stars.

Lida O. Beasley 1981 – 1985

1983LidaBeasleyLida O. Beasley (August 4 1934 – Friday, May 7, 2010)

Past Band and Orchestra Teacher – John Adams Junior High School, Santa Monica High sChool and Santa Monica College.

Thank You Mrs. Beasley for your work with Santa Monica Students. Love – the Samohi Bands

Terry Sakow, current director of the Samohi Bands for the past 20 years, stated “One of the main reasons music education has survived in Santa Monica is because we’ve had exceptional teachers . . . and on that list, if not at the top of that list, is Lida Beasley.”

Neil Hofland, longtime volunteer and President Emeritus of the Santa Monica Band Parent Association, wrote an article about just one of Lida’s many incredible musical performances with her beloved Santa Monica students.

Click HERE to read the article

Christopher Schwabe 1980 – 1981

Christopher Schwabe – Assistant Band Director

Christopher Schwabe was the director of orchestras at Samohi, and at that time the orchestra director and band director assisted each other in their assignments. Before permanently moving to Samohi in 1997, he served as director of instrumental music at Lincoln Middle School for 24 years. He received his B.M.Ed from Indiana University and his M.A. from Ball State University. 

Christopher taught at SMC, the Idyllwild School of Music and Arts, and the School of Performing Arts’ Early Development String Program at USC, where he earned the Outstanding Teacher Award for extraordinary service to string pedagogy. He has served as a master teacher to many student teachers and has conducted numerous honor groups.

After retiring from Samohi, he was coaxed out of retirement to establish the Mira Costa High School Orchestra Program. From its modest beginnings as a single class of eighteen students in the fall of 2002, the Mira Costa orchestra program grew and developed into three orchestras, including a full orchestra.

He has the distinction of taking two different high school symphony orchestras to Carnegie Hall, having conducted the Santa Monica High School Symphony Orchestra in 2002 and the Mira Costa High School Orchestra in 2006. Following his Disney Hall Concert in 2009, Mr. Schwabe retired from teaching at Mira Costa.

Robert Zachman 1967 – 1978

Director of the Samohi Bands

Gerald Anderson

Assistant Director of the Samohi Bands

Richard Wagnon 1953 – 1967

Richard Wagnon 1958 copyRichard B. Wagnon – Director of the Samohi Bands

Richard Wagnon received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Redlands in 1947 and a Master’s Degree in Music Education from USC in 1952. In 1953, he began at Samohi where he taught music for 14 years. 

A visionary, Wagnon established the “specialized program” still in use today, with separate teachers for band and orchestra. Under his leadership, the Samohi band marched in the Rose Parade two consecutive years. The Samohi Serenaders won top honors in the Hollywood Bowl Battle of the Bands as the number one high school jazz band in Los Angeles County.

Following his tenure at Samohi, Richard served as music supervisor for the SMMUSD for 20 years. He brought in many talented teachers and welded his music staff into a cohesive force for music education. As the district’s reputation for excellence grew, Mr. Wagnon sought out well-known composers to conduct their music at Stairway, including Meredith Willson, Alfred Newman, Ferde Grofe, Nelson Riddle and Carmen Dragon. Richard served his last three years in the SMMUSD as Principal of Franklin Elementary School.

After retirement, Richard continued playing trumpet in the Los Angeles Police Band, the Santa Monica College Emeritus Band, and his own Friday Jazz Group. He returned for the 50th Stairway of the Stars in 1999 as the Guest Conductor for the evening.

Ed Wells – 1953

Ragene Farris – 1947? – 1951?

Wade Thomas, Jr. – 1937? – 1945?

E. E. Farney – 1934 – 1937

Jack Sanderson Joyce – 1927 – 1934

Arnold Wagner – 1915