Lander student drums up talent for Jazz Ensemble concert
November 12, 2008
Durrell Jules, a Lander University music education major from Columbia, does not recall exactly when he was introduced to music, but he figures that his mother has been singing to him since his birth. He said his mother's talent was a direct influence in his decision to become a musician.
In his sixth-grade year at E.L. Wright Middle School, Jules began playing percussion with the middle school band, and in the eighth grade he had a band director who continues to influence his musical education at Lander, Dr. Robert Gardiner, Lander assistant professor of music and director of Lander's Jazz Ensemble. "When Gardiner came to my school, he introduced me to jazz," said Jules.
On Thursday, Nov. 20, at 8 p.m. Jules will join Gardiner and other musicians for the Jazz Ensemble concert in Lander's Cultural Center Auditorium.
Throughout middle and high school, Jules was a part of marching band and jazz band competitions. He became particularly interested in winter drum line competitions.
"After marching season is over most high school bands quit until the following year," said Jules. "Now a lot of percussionists have started a separate drum line season. In these competitions people create their own shows and come up with some very creative stuff that no one has heard before."
Jules said that some cities have area winter drum line groups. For instance, the Columbia area has a group called Palmetto Percussion. In other cases, schools have their own winter drum line group.
When Jules began looking at colleges he was recruited by Gardiner to be part of the Lander music program. Jules began at Lander in the fall of 2004. When he arrived he not only began expanding his music playing ability, but also had the opportunity to hone his skills as a music teacher.
In his freshmen year, Jules took a job with Ninety Six High School as their drum line instructor. Again, Gardiner was the one who mentioned the opportunity to him and encouraged him to take it.
"I was pretty scared at first," said Jules. "I was coming into the job at 17 years old, teaching people who were basically the same age. But it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be and I've learned a lot."
In the last two years, the Ninety Six Band, directed by David Vickery, has experienced major victories with Jules leading instruction for the drum line. According to Jules the group won the state band championship two years ago and barely missed the first place honor last year.
Apart from teaching, Jules has played drums for groups outside of Lander.
"I was invited to play with a spin-off group of the Swinging Medallions, the Double Shot Gang," said Jules. "It was extremely fun. We went to Canada this summer and played at the U.S. Embassy."
Jules expects to join the group again later this year.
At Lander, Jules is an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. He regularly attends meetings of Impact, an on-campus Christian group, and performs with Lander's Percussion Ensemble, Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble. Jules is also learning to play the piano.
The Nov. 20 Jazz Ensemble concert will be one of many in a long line of performances at Lander with Jules in the percussion section. During the concert Jules will be seen alternating between various instruments, from the xylophone to the drums.
The concert will feature a variety of jazz styles and music by composers such as Duke Ellington and Danny Elfman. Vocalists are Marina McDonald of Laurens and Michael Scott of Ramstein, Germany. The Jazz Ensemble will also play earlier in the day on Nov. 20, during Belton-Honea Path career day activities.
Admission for the Lander Jazz Ensemble concert is free. For information, call the Fine Arts box office at 864-388-8800.