Great News from A Friend!

A familiar face (and voice) from Forum Music Festivals shares some very exciting news, particularly for students of Big Band Drumming! Matt Johnson, longtime announcer at Forum, has published a new book. Check out details below – you’ll want to have this important resource in your educational tool box!

DRUMMER/MUSIC EDUCATOR MATT JOHNSON ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF BIG BAND LOOPS VOLUME 1 – AN INSTRUCTIONAL PLAY-ALONG BOOK FOR DRUMMERS 

Drummer and music educator Matt Johnson announces the release of his new instructional play-along book for drummers, Big Band Loops Volume 1, containing 13 fully-orchestrated big band play-along tracks by renown composer and arranger Tom Kubis and over 30 chart-specific practice loops with performance insights designed by Johnson for drummers with novice to advanced jazz drumming experience.

Big Band Loops Volume 1 will help any drummer expand their ‘fill’ and ‘setup’ vocabulary while they simultaneously practice solid timekeeping with the aid of recorded looped big band figures and full-song play-along tracks,” says Johnson, an accomplished studio drummer and the Instructor of Drum Set Studies at Fullerton College since 1993. “The book also provides drummers with the thrill of playing in a big band outside of the classroom or live performance setting, which makes it a very timely and effective teaching solution during this unprecedented era of remote learning.”

The downloadable eBook – available at www.drummermattjohnson.com/loops –  includes full drum set charts, notated loop examples, instructional text and high-quality sound files for every featured practice loop and song, providing a totally immersive play-along experience.

Johnson tapped his longtime friend Tom Kubis to provide the music for this fun and practical instructional play-along book. Since the 1970s, Kubis’ arrangements have been a popular staple in the music libraries of the top high school, college and university jazz programs, as well as professional big bands around the world, and have been featured on hundreds of CDs.

Adapting the Kubis library for a play-along experience felt natural to Johnson, the original drummer in the Tom Kubis Big Band. “Tom’s music is so fun to play and his charts are so well prepared that I have been using them for years when teaching my college and private students the fundamentals of big band drumming.” This book puts into writing those time-tested concepts and techniques for learning the traditional responsibilities of a big band drummer while reinforcing all-around fundamentally-sound drumming skills. 

Beyond his expertise in the big band arena, Johnson is versed in all forms of jazz, pop and world drumming styles. A founding member of the Tony Guerrero Quintet, they currently tours with Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-winning actress/comedienne Jane Lynch. He is an artist/clinician for Mapex Drums, Paiste Cymbals, Aquarian Drumheads, Roland US and Vic Firth Drumsticks. 

Big Band Loops Volume 1 by Matt Johnson, with music by Tom Kubis, is available as an eBook download for $35 at www.drummermattjohnson.com/loops

Great moments over 22 years…

We’re launching our 22nd season this year.  Lot of years, lot of directors, lots of kids, and lots of stories.  Middle School students who started with us at age 12 would now be 33 years old.  Yikes!  Some bring their own ensembles to a festival.  It’s a sobering thought, but a very gratifying one.

I remember the director who answered his ringing cell phone while onstage directing his band, then ran down the theatre aisle mid-performance to hand his phone to me.  On the other end was a mom looking for her daughter at the festival.  Wouldn’t you know the daughter’s name was Katie?  There were probably 45 Katie’s at that festival that morning.  Yes, we found Katie.

Then there were directors who arrived at the festival teary-eyed because they were retiring and this was their last outing with their students.  They cared so deeply for their students over a lifetime of teaching.  Forum Festivals played a part of their programs for so many years.  I was honored that we were friends and partners.  I shall never forget them and I think of them quite often.

One school’s entire clarinet section forgot their instruments at home a few years ago.  One adjudicator was on the faculty where the festival was scheduled that morning. “Wait just a minute,” he said and he left the theatre.  He scrambled around in the college band room and found clarinets for most of the section. (Yes, they had their own mouthpieces with them – go figure).

I’ve observed many acts of generosity between music students of different schools. It’s so heartwarming when kids just stand up spontaneously to applaud another school’s performance with no nudging from adults.

Last year, in the Bay Area, we welcomed a wind ensemble with a very talented young oboe player.  He really was quite phenomenal which became more and more apparent during the performance.  No surprise to anyone that he was awarded an Outstanding Student Musician award.   Following awards, the other students emptied the theatre and formed two lines in the lobby (no prompting from the adults). As the oboist left the theatre and walked between his classmates, they broke out in spontaneous applause, clapping him on the back as he passed.  It meant the world to this young musician. He will never forget it and I was thrilled to be there to experience it.

So, on the eve of our 22nd season, I’m pondering the stories along with the music that I’ve been privileged to witness.  Over the past 22 years, we think we’ve seen it all – the good, the bad, and the less-than-graceful.  But most of it has been good – and that is for sure.

Becky