Percussion Academy students will perform in concert on April 25


Article by Linda Relyea

high school students stand with various percussion instruments in a large room dryden hill stands in middle of group

Photo by Linda Relyea
The Percussion Academy, started November 7 and continues on Tuesday evenings until April 24.

The Adams State University Department of Music presents an Evening of World Percussion, featuring the ASU Percussion Academy, the SLV Community Steel Band, the ASU Steel Band, the Central American Marimba Band, and the Samba Band in concert at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, in Richardson Hall Auditorium.

Dr. James Doyle, associate professor of music, always wanted to start a community music school to provide musical outlets for people who want to do music for fun, regardless of age. He consulted with his percussion students last fall and the percussion academy for middle and high school students was born.

Adams State students who assisted Doyle include Emily Johnson, operations and logistics manager; Dryden Hill, lead instructor; Andrew Naughton, lead instructor; Kevin Johnson, lead instructor; Zachary Carpenter, instructor and logistics; Delaney Armstrong, clinician; and Jeslyn Dees, clinician. "I was also looking for a way to involve my students deeper into the community and provide service learning opportunities," Doyle said.

Johnson, Class of 2019, duties included supervising all time management aspects of each academy. "On any given night we could have a full ensemble rehearsal, six private lessons, and a clinic all happening." She also compiled all the volunteer instructor information as well as student statistics and created easy-to-read graphs. "I am getting real-life experience in the industry I want to enter after I graduate."

The ASU Percussion Academy was available to middle and high school students for a small fee. The students were taught a variety of styles including steel pans, African hand drumming, Brazilian Samba, drum set, drum line, concert percussion, Central America and Zimbabwean marimba.

Alamosa High School freshmen Lauren Manzanares, and Evan Stultz enjoyed the experience. "Learning about marching drumlines was my favorite," Stultz said. "It is a really great program," Manzanares added. "I enjoyed learning from Adams State students and would recommend this program for others." Bryssa Curtis, a seventh-grader at Ortega Middle School, said the academy was "some of the most fun I have ever had."

Whether his students will earn a music education, music business, or percussion performance degrees, they will find themselves teaching and interacting with young percussionists. "This gives them an opportunity to get this experience now, under my guidance. Adams State students benefit from this, while SLV students have the opportunity to explore the world of percussion."

On Mondays, the Adams State students come up with lesson plans and then break-out to work on individual lesson plan assignments in preparation for Tuesday night's class. After every percussion academy class, Doyle and his students debrief for an hour or so to evaluate how everything went, suggestions for improving, and what new information was discovered.

"Long term, it is my hope the high impact practice of having my students engage as instructors, operations managers, etcetera, will give them real-world experience while still students and thus lead to great careers after they graduate," Doyle added. "It is also our hope to build a strong community of middle school/high school percussionists who see their future at Adams State, either as a music major, or majoring in something else, but their time on campus made them comfortable. And of course, they could continue to play music regardless of major."

Johnson will return to her position as the operations manager for Music in the Mountains in Durango, Colo. this summer. "I definitely feel like this opportunity to work as the Percussion Academy's operations manager set me up for success."

The Percussion Academy concert on April 25 is free to AS&F and Friends of Music, $1 for students, and $5 for adults. Members of the SLV Boys and Girls Club will join the ASU Percussion Academy and sing a tune.

The Percussion Academy was generously sponsored by the South Fork Music Association and a grant from the Office of Title V Initiatives/Center for Teaching, Innovation, and Research.