Brady Spitz is a percussionist, timpanist, and educator based in Martin, Tennessee where he is the Director of Percussion at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He has extensive performance experience with classical, contemporary, and world percussion in a diverse group of musical environments. He has performed with the Houston Symphony, Hawaii Symphony, the Houston Grand Opera, and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestras among many others. Dr. Spitz maintains an active freelance percussion schedule and has appeared on stage alongside artists such as Idina Menzel, Weird Al Yankovic, and The Who. As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with a diverse group of artists, including Claire Chase, Mario Davidovsky, and Percussion Group Cincinnati. His duo Sonic Boom is working to create a repertoire for organ and percussion where very little has existed before, yielding several upcoming international engagements.
He has given performances and clinics across the United States, as well as performing at the Percussive Arts Society’s International Conventions in 2005, 2008, and as a featured soloist with Hamiruge’s 2009 appearance. He was the director for the Houston Baptist University Gamelan Ensemble’s appearance at PASIC in 2019. He maintains an active research interest in Lou Harrison’s American Gamelan repertoire and the American Gamelan movement.
Previously, he was the front ensemble director and co-designer for the nationally-recognized Northshore High School Indoor Percussion Program, a group that won four consecutive Texas State Championships, multiple WGI Regional Championships, and was a World Class Finalist at the 2014 WGI World Championships. In his decade of private studio teaching, his students placed highly in all of the state-wide solo competitions, received consistent Superior Division UIL ratings in both solo and ensemble playing, and auditioned into some of the top colleges and conservatories in the nation.
Dr. Spitz holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Rice University, where he was awarded the Benjamin Armistead Shepherd Teaching Fellowship. He also holds a Bachelor of Music Performance in Percussion, magna cum laude, from the University of North Texas College of Music and a Master of Music in Percussion Performance from Louisiana State University. His teachers include Matthew Strauss, Richard Brown, Mark Ford, Christopher Deane, Brett William Dietz, Ed Soph, Paul Rennick, Jim Atwood, Jose Aponte, Poovalur Sriji, and Ed Smith.
Mr. Spitz is an endorser of Innovative Percussion and Black Swamp Percussion.
Jerry Emmons is a freelance percussionist and music educator based in Jackson, TN. Jerry has a holistic view of percussion: both he and his students are versed in every corner of the percussion world, including chamber music, orchestral percussion, marching percussion, solo percussion, world percussion, and jazz.
Jerry completed his master’s degree in music at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH, and his bachelor's degree in music at the University of Tennessee at Martin in Martin, TN. In addition to the numerous ensembles at BGSU and UT Martin, Jerry has performed with Gateway Indoor Percussion, the Memphis Repertory Orchestra, the Adrian Symphony, the Jackson Symphony, N/A Ensemble, the Paducah Symphony, and the Toledo Symphony. Jerry has also been active in the rock, blues, folk, and jazz communities in northwest TN, southwest KY, and northwest OH, playing drum set and auxiliary percussion.
Jerry is an active music educator and has worked with numerous programs in the West TN and Northwest OH areas. Jerry is currently an Adjunct Lecturer of Music at the University of Tennessee at Martin and is the Percussion Coordinator of the Aviators Marching Band. Jerry is also the Percussion Specialist for Union City High School and Middle School.
Jerry currently lives in Jackson, TN, with his wife Lizzie, his dogs Rue and Frankie, and his cat Rimsky.
My teaching philosophy is rooted in the idea that a musical education is unique in its ability to help students achieve self-actualization physically, intellectually, and emotionally. It also helps connect them with their society and their culture in deeply meaningful ways. To accomplish this, I strive to create an environment that inspires students to continually grow their musical skills and knowledge, connects them to the world outside of the academy, and molds them into lifelong advocates for their discipline. In my decade of experience as an educator, I’ve learned that this environment requires the creation of a feedback loop, wherein the students are thrust into a cycle of purposeful risk-taking and constructive failure. When this loop becomes self-sustaining, the student is ready to become a conscientious and valuable citizen, contributing to the musical life of their community.
This approach to teaching is constructivist in its essence, valuing experiential learning across all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy and prizing inter-disciplinary synthesis above all. It involves a methodical and rigorous approach to building technique, a combination of provocation and confirmation to create musical/emotional maturity, and an effort to be as inclusive as possible across all performing traditions. It is also vitally important to me that my students, no matter their life circumstances or prior education, become aware of the widest possible musical world and be given the tools to find their place within it. Groups of diverse students, exposed to numerous and sometimes wildly disparate musical environments, are often the most fertile ground for the spark of artistic creation.
At any moment, I work to engage with my students on three levels:
It is my belief that these relationship layers can be present in any type of instructional format, often blurring the line between lecture and lesson. It has been my experience that this ambiguity often resembles the way knowledge is acquired in the real world.
My students are also part of a community where success is shared and service to others is expected. Being part of a strong and nurturing peer network is one of the things that really drives success, and success sustained over time becomes a tradition of excellence that students can find purpose in. This passion and peer network also make it likely that the learning will be a lifetime experience and not isolated to the students’ time in college. Ultimately, my proudest achievement will always be helping connect students with each other in their tireless search for their elusive “best self.”