Local drummer pushes for community music

<p> MIDDLEBURY &mdash; Middlebury&rsquo;s Will Smith saw an opening to bring more music into the community and took it, because he believes it is important to everyone to have music in their lives.</p><p> &ldquo;It brings the community together and it&rsquo;s just very good, especially for a place like Middlebury that doesn&rsquo;t have much live music outdoors,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very quiet town and I want to get something going here.&rdquo;</p><p> Smith, 22, recently opened the Drum Collective, a music studio in Marble Works where he runs hour-long community drum circles on Mondays. The sessions cost $12 per person, but he keeps a limited number of free tickets available&nbsp; on his website to pique interest and make the class accessible.</p><p> &ldquo;I put the free tickets out there, for now at least, and so people who can&rsquo;t pay or want to come for free can, as long as I allow that many spaces,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I need to make money, because it&rsquo;s going to be full-time, but I need people to be able to play for free also because I&rsquo;m really doing it for the town.&rdquo;</p><p> Smith explained that the drumming sessions are simple.</p><p> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a free flow of people who want to drop by and play drums,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I facilitate the drumming, which is basically teaching, but it&rsquo;s a lot less writing and paper and more playing and experience and having fun and being joyful. Any age is welcome, younger, older, anybody can join in.&rdquo;</p><p> Smith graduated from Middlebury Union High School in 2008 and studied for two years at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He traveled with a professor to Ghana in the summer of 2010, where he continued studying percussion.</p><p> He cites his time in Ghana as a significant influence in his decision to open the Drum Collective. He said that experience built off what he learned at Berklee.</p><p> &ldquo;I think my trip to Africa was huge,&rdquo; Smith said. &ldquo;In Ghana they had rhythm collective-type stuff. At both (Ghana and Berklee) I did these drum circles and it was very inspiring.&rdquo;</p><p> Smith is familiar with a wide range of percussive styles, some of which he studied at Berklee and some that he picked up in his travels. He enjoys sharing that knowledge in his drum circles.</p><p> &ldquo;I studied Brazilian percussion, African percussion, pretty much everything,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I know a lot of different rhythms and I will start the rhythm and people can join in.&rdquo;</p><p> Smith explained that drumming can connect people within the community.</p><p> &ldquo;Especially in today&rsquo;s age, people have lost touch with being grounded,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They need to get their hands on the drums and be on the heartbeat. People don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s that important, but subtle things like drumming can make a huge difference in the community&rsquo;s life and then that will expand out for the whole country.&rdquo;</p><p> Smith hopes to expand the hours of his operation for the benefit of the community.</p><p> &ldquo;For now it&rsquo;s just on Mondays,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s just not enough for me. I need it to be every day for the community, not just for me.&rdquo;</p><p> Smith plans on expanding the business by &ldquo; diving into it&rdquo; and spreading the word.</p><p> &ldquo;To grow the business I will just keep it open and show up every day and build the drumming and have it more often, and hopefully people will want to join in,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Once I get people feeding back, once I see that people will start taking the free lessons, then I will come in here more. Hopefully that&rsquo;s how it will grow.&rdquo;</p><p> Smith is happy with the Drum Collective&rsquo;s progress so far and sees a positive future ahead.</p><p> &ldquo;I feel very good about it, confident,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m just so passionate that I want to share it with the community.</p><p> &ldquo;I think that people need to give it a try, because a lot of people just want to stay at home, cooped up inside. Sometimes they don&rsquo;t feel like going out and doing stuff in town. But a lot of people say that this is fun. They should try it and drum with other community members and get connected with people, get to know each other so we&rsquo;re not too separated in Middlebury.&rdquo;</p><p> <em>More information is at www.drumcollective.org.</em></p>

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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100