UTM Roots of Rhythm

Roots of Rhythm

UTM Roots of Rhythm

Roots of Rhythm is a one-of-a-kind experience that elevates cultural awareness about music from around the globe through energetic performances and engaging audience participation activities. It is an interdisciplinary voyage that encompasses world history and geography through the lens of music, coinciding with the National Standards for Arts Education.


Our program explores music of the African Diaspora – music that has originated in or is related to Africa. Audiences can see, hear, and experience

  • Steel drums and tamboo bamboo instruments from Trinidad and Tobago
  • Shona marimbas and mbiras from Zimbabwe
  • Dununs/ djembes/West African Malinke rhythms from Guinea/Mali
  • Brazilian Samba instruments
  • Much more!

By focusing on the cultures of Africa, Brazil, the United States, and the Caribbean, students and audience members observe how different societies have interacted through music. This immersive arts integration program encourages audiences to gather information through listening, participating, observing, and visualizing. Through the UT Martin Percussion Ensemble's Roots of Rhythm presentation, the possibility for community and student enrichment is limitless!


Roots of Rhythm is now in partnership with the Tennessee Arts Commission, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to help fund arts activities in Tennessee. Please click the Funding Information tab above to find out more information about funding through the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Roots of Rhythm Promo Video


Thanks to our sponsors

Funding is available through the Tennessee Arts Commission!


Roots of Rhythm is now a proud partner with the Tennessee Arts Commission, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to help fund arts activities in Tennessee. The UTM Percussion Ensemble is on the certified artist roster list for the TN Arts Commission's Ticket Subsidies Program.


Please note that funding applications should only be submitted by programs who have received confirmation of a booking date/time from us – Contact us here.


For more information about the Student Ticket Subsidy program, review the Application Guidelines on the STS webpage. Please contact Dr. Brady Spitz for more information on fees and availability. Should you choose to bus your students to UTM, please add your bus fees to the requested grant total so that you are awarded enough to cover your expenses and our fee.


Once you receive confirmation from the TN Arts Commission, please forward that to us.


Click a heading below to expand/collapse information.


Example Funding Application

Please click the following link to download an example of a completed grant application: Grant Model - Tennessee Arts Commission


Frequently Asked Questions

What grant should my school apply for to get funding for Roots of Rhythm?

You should apply for the Student Ticket Subsidies Program. Roots of Rhythm is listed in the Teaching Artist Roster as UT Martin Percussion Ensemble – Roots of Rhythm Presentation. This should be listed as the Artist/Event Title and Name of Artist/Group in the grant application. Please see above for an example of a grant application.

When should we apply for the grant?

In our experience, applicants have had the most success when they submitted the grant application as early as possible, even as early as the same day the grant becomes available. Grants must be submitted a minimum of 30 days before the event to be funded. Grants applications should only be submitted by programs who have received confirmation of a booking date/time from UT Martin Percussion. Click the following URL for more information about when the grants will become available.

How much should we request from the Student Ticket Subsidies Grant?

Please contact Dr. Brady Spitz to inquire about fees. Pricing plans exist for us to come to your school, for you to visit us at UTM, and for virtual presentation options. All booking should be confirmed with us before submitting the application.

When will we hear back whether or not we received the grant?

You should hear back about whether or not you received the grant within 30 days of the application being submitted. Once you receive confirmation from the TN Arts Commission, please forward those emails to us.

If we receive the grant, how does funding work?

Once all appropriate steps are completed, the Tennessee Arts Commission will pay the school, and the school will pay the artist.

If we do not receive the grants, how much do we need to pay for Roots of Rhythm?

In the event that either you do not wish to fill out the grant, and/or the grant is rejected, please let us know so that we may discuss an appropriate fee for the presentation. Our program involves lots of equipment, trucks, vans, and time, so it is very costly. We must cover expenses, and raise money for repairs, instrument tuning, and guest artists to continue educating our students and growing our program.

What is a DUNS number on the grant application?

A DUNS number is a unique 9 digit number assigned to businesses. this number can be looked up or requested at the following URLhttps://fedgov.dnb.com/webform/index.jsp.

How many performers are in Roots of Rhythm?

We have approximately 25 performers in the UT Martin Percussion Ensemble.

What is the Reservation/Confirmation Number?

We will provide this to you when we have confirmed that we will be visiting your school.


For all schools/venues hosting Roots of Rhythm:

Schedule Details

  • Arrival: 45 minutes before start time
  • En-route Call: You will receive a call from one of us when we are en-route to you. Please answer your phone if an unknown number appears.
  • Packup: We will tear down and pack up immediately after our show. Please budget approximately 30-45 minutes for us to be completely out of the performance space.

Items to Have Ready/Do Before We Arrive:

  • Parking/Check-In: We will have one or two 26 foot Trucks filled and we need to park them as close to the entrance doors as possible. If we need to park in a special place or report to an office to gain entrance to the performance space, please give let us know ahead of time. Our schedule is very tight.
  • Accessible Door Ways: We have large instruments so access to a double door will be needed. Please remove all bars in the middle of double doors
  • Performance Area: Please clear any items possible from the performance area. We know venues will range from cafeterias to varying sized stages, but if there are desks or other items which can be moved, please do so. We need as much room as possible.
  • Microphone: A speaking microphone or PA is not necessary but can be very helpful with large groups.
  • Table: for promotional materials and giveaways.
  • Power: one grounded electrical outlet is required at the performance area
  • Presentation Fee: prepared ahead of time either via grant stipulations or amount agreed upon by host
  • Weather: We play rain or shine. If it’s raining, helping us think through logistics that will keep our students and instruments dry would be great.

Optional Items:

Water and/or snack of some kind

Please don’t feel obliged to buy bottled water for us, but if some cups of tap water could be made available, it would be wonderful. The students (and their teachers) work very hard on these tours and it’s important to keep up the spirits (and hydration) of the troops! Sometimes hosts provide snacks or a meal even depending on the time/day/venue. In most cases, this is discussed with each host in advance if needed. There are 25 of us.


This is certainly not expected, but with all of our teachers and students performing, we rarely get good documentation of our performances. If you have someone on staff who would be qualified and have the opportunity to take some photos and/or videos, please share those with us.

Please contact Dr. Brady Spitz to inquire about booking.

We Come to You

Roots of Rhythm Tour – End of September each year.

You Come to Us

We offer Roots of Rhythm performances on campus at UTM throughout the year by request. These shows are eligible for the TN Arts Commission Grant as well. Please note that Tennessee Arts Commission Grants are only available for programs during school hours. They will cover transportation and admission costs.


The UT Martin Percussion Society invites you to visit our campus and view the Roots of Rhythm program during the annual Civil Rights Conference. We offer one evening show and one early afternoon show. Please check the Civil Rights Conference page to get more information about tickets and pricing

Experience Roots of Rhythm Virtually

We offer Roots of Rhythm in a number of virtual configurations. Please send us an email so that we might tailor a program to your school’s virtual needs.

  • Discovery Park Dinner
  • Soybean Festival UTM World Percussion
  • UTM World Percussion
  • UTM World Percussion
  • Soybean Festival
  • UTM World Percussion
  • Percussion concert at soybean festival
  • Percussion Student playing at soybean festival
  • Roots of Rhythm concert
  • Roots of Rhythm concert
  • Alumni Music Conert
  • Alumni Music Conert
  • Student teaching music lessons
  • Concert at Soleil Garden Center
  • Roots of Rhythm concert in school gym
  • Roots of Rhythm presentation
  • Percussion concert at Soleil Garden Center
  • Roots of Rhythm presentation
  • Roots of Rhythm presentation
  • Percussion Concert
  • Roots of Rhythm Presentation in Watkins Auditorum
  • Roots of Rhythm presentation
  • Roots of Rhythm Panorama
  • Roots of Rhythm Presentation in Watkins Auditorium