By Ryan Richardson
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Local drummers took direction from a music professional on Saturday when Jim Riley, drummer for Rascal Flatts, hosted a free drum clinic at Missouri Southern State University.
“It might be loud in here today,” Riley said with a grin before launching into a pair of drum solos.
Over 25 attended the clinic, where Riley performed and spoke, discussing practice, technique, song composition and the music business. Riley, named “country drummer of the year” by Modern Drummer magazine, said that he savors the opportunity to perform at clinics.
“Anytime that I can get out of a venue and connect with drummers and musicians on a level like this, it’s a privilege,” Riley said. “My goal is to connect with students. I like working with the young men and women who have the same passion for drums like I do.”
Missouri Southern junior Michael Chilton said the opportunity to learn from an accomplished drummer was a unique experience.
“It’s great seeing a different school of thought from my normal teachers,” Chilton said. “It’s very refreshing to see a different approach to technique and to see something that I might incorporate in my work.”
Chilton is a member of Southern’s pep band and has played for 12 years.
“This definitely shed some light on some breakdowns and moving around on a kit,” he said.
Brian Fronzaglia, director of athletic bands at MSSU, praised Riley’s technique and his willingness to perform for the students.
“Jim is one of the most well-rounded musicians I’ve met in a long time,” Fronzaglia said. “He’s a perfect tie-in to our new music industry degree program, and he showed not just technique today but also how to pursue a career in music outside of traditional avenues.”
Fronzaglia said he wants to continue to bring musicians to the school.
“We want to build a list of renowned musicians that can come to our school,” he said. “The opportunity for real world application not just in skill, but also in being a musician, is something that all of our students can benefit from.”
Saturday’s clinic was sponsored by Palen Music of Joplin.
Riley began studying percussion at age 12 and continued his studies through high school and at the University of North Texas, where he was with the school’s jazz program, orchestra, wind ensemble, percussion ensemble and drum line. He also played in the Drum Corps International Finals as a member of the Velvet Knights Drum and Bugle Corps. He worked for the Coppell, Texas, Independent School District and as a musician in Kansas City and Nashville before becoming the drummer for Rascal Flatts in 2000.