South Valley Band Project

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NM Jazz Workshop's South Valley Band Project

The South Valley Band Project has joined the Berklee City Music Network, a national network of institutions offering the Berklee PULSE™ music method to under-served teens at no cost to them.


Professional musicians teach group classes and provide individual attention to middle school students who want to learn to make music. Instruction includes music appreciation, rhythm, melody, harmony and ensemble playing.

Super Support

The South Valley Band Project provides free arts programming to low-income South Valley middle school students during out-of-school hours.

New Skills

The South Valley Band Project is focused on helping keep middle school students engaged and on-track in school and out of trouble—all while learning new skills and having fun playing music.



Nick Baker

Nick Baker is a multi-instrumentalist and the Head Instructor of the South Valley Band Project. He earned his Master’s degree in Percussion Performance from the University of New Mexico and plays drums, vibes, percussion, and accordion in numerous local bands. He teaches both private lessons and for groups, and he has shared his talents by teaching several NMJW programs.


Wade Knight

Wade Knight is a local bass player, composer, and educator who works throughout the Southwest. He participates in a wide range of music-making projects ranging from classical to country to jazz. In 2014, he earned a Master’s degree in music from the University of New Mexico, and he has enjoyed being a part of the Albuquerque community ever since.


Ronaldo Baca

Ronaldo Baca is an guitar teacher with experience teaching students of all abilities and levels, including public school groups. He studied flamenco guitar in Andalusia, Spain and continues to perform in that genre. He has an extensive performance career playing classical, Latin, and gypsy jazz and enjoys his work as a composer.

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Artha Meadors

Artha Meadors, a native Albuquerquean, has spent 20 years playing the electric bass guitar in a multitude of genres. As a teenager, he played bass and drums in jazz and rock bands while studying gospel and R&B under the guidance of many church mentors. During the New Mexico All-State Jazz competition, he received the Louis Armstrong Award for jazz drumming. Artha has a passion for all types of music, including metal, country, jazz, gospel, and avant-garde. Previously, he taught the summer Jazz Camp for the NM Jazz Workshop and he currently teaches privately. Artha is returning to the South Valley Band Project this fall after some time away.


Donny Tesso

Donny Tesso was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona, and grew up among the band members of his father’s band. Music was a constant inspiration. In more than 30 years in New Mexico, Donny has performed, recorded, and toured as a bassist or musical director with many regional and national artists and bands, including Lifetime Grammy recipient Flaco Jimenez, Nelson Rangell, and Matt Marshack. He also worked with popular regional artists and bands, including the late New Mexico icon Al Hurricane, Al Hurricane Jr., Lorenzo Antonio, Sparx, Darren Cordova, Gonzalo, Jerry Dean, Tiny Morrie, Roberto Griego, and El Gringo.


Jeremy Barnes

Jeremy Barnes is a multi-instrumentalist who has collaborated with musicians in England, Turkey, Hungary and Romania. Since 1996, he has played professionally and toured worldwide. He is a member of the bands Neutral Milk Hotel and A Hawk and a Hacksaw, and has worked with Beirut, Iggy Pop, the BBC Concert Orchestra and The Swans, among others. He runs a small music label dedicated to releasing music from around the world.


Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith is a classically trained percussionist, keyboardist, and self-taught guitarist. He has worked for the New Mexico Philharmonic’s Young Musician Initiative (YMI) teaching drumming and violin and has taught cajon technique at the National Institute of Flamenco. He works extensively in digital music production. For 20 years, he has provided musical accompaniment for UNM dance classes.