Keeping time in music and college

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One and Two and Three... Joseph Nicholson '06 counts out the beat and starts the music. A drummer for most of the ensembles on the Adams State College campus, Nicholson is liberal arts major with an emphasis in music.

He said it is the bass player's responsibility to keep the time.

"It's my job to make sure everyone hears the tempo, and I don't have a problem with that," Nicholson said.

Nicholson sings tenor in the college's choirs and is a percussionist in three different bands on campus.

He and his wife, Bonnie '05, met in choir Nicholson's freshman year and were married in August of 2005.

"I love married life," Nicholson said. "I couldn't be happier."

He said he also loves college. "I don't want to leave."

Nicholson started playing the drums in the fifth grade. He auditioned at Adams State College because of Bruce Anderson '01.

"Bruce is quite possibly the best drummer I've ever heard," Nicholson said. They met when the Adams State band held a workshop at Nicholson's high school in Breckenridge.

"My forte is the drum set," Nicholson said.

He also plays an assortment of African drums, snare, and timpani, and has a working knowledge of the keyboard.

He said he has seen many faculty changes in the Music Department during his college career.

"I've had the opportunity to work with two different choir directors, two different jazz conductors. It gave me the chance to learn other's styles," Nicholson said. "The current music professors are great, I hope they all stay."

Nicholson said music is a challenging major and it encourages students to become close.

"At Adams State, I've met some of the best friends I've ever had," Nicholson said. "The music students all work as a team. We support one another."

A former department head for music once said 'no one pays to hear the wrong notes.'

"We all work hard," Nicholson said. "We all put a lot of time into practice and then more time practicing individually."

He said he puts more time into practicing for jazz band than he spends on science homework.

"I practice on my own about three hours a week on drums, four hours a week on piano, and two to three more on vocal stuff outside the classroom," Nicholson said.

Nicholson started college knowing his father had been diagnosed with cancer just a year before. He passed away during Nicholson's freshman year.

"I didn't do so well that first semester after his death," Nicholson said. "I went home every weekend. My dad made me promise I'd finish college, so I stuck it out."

Nicholson said his progress as a musician is gradual.

"Sometimes I've improved by leaps and bounds, but most of the time it is just a little at a time," Nicholson said. "I believe playing in the jazz band doubled my skill in a semester. It forces you to get better."

He said his muse comes when he's home alone.

"If I'm not playing video games, I'm playing the keyboard," Nicholson said.

For his senior recital he is using the Latin language in his compositions.

"I love the Latin language," Nicholson said. "Latin is so easy to set to music, it flows."

Nicholson's senior recital starts at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 19 in Leon Memorial Hall.

"It will be an hour of all original music written by me and performed by my friends in the Music Department," Nicholson said.

Nicholson said his pieces are a cross between classical and 20th century music and he plays because he enjoys bringing pleasure to the listening audience.

"Music is one of the true ways to express your self," Nicholson said. "It is opening my soul to everyone."