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Friday August 22, 2014
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Multicultural Musician

 

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Churchville's fingers fly over his drums with amazing speed and dexterity. With the fingertips of his right hand he hits the small dayan in different spots, creating high- or medium-pitched notes that come in flurries of resonant pops. With his left hand he coaxes low rumbling noises out of the bayan. He makes it look easy, but each hand has its own rhythms, and each drum is played with a large variety of finger strokes, depending on the sound a player is seeking.

In addition to his day job, Churchville teaches percussion to private students. Clients' ages and backgrounds vary greatly. One student was a billionaire philanthropist, who explained that he wanted to learn how to be "free" on his bongos; another was a high school student preparing to audition for MSU's percussion program. In one poignant instance, a man with a closed-head injury took lessons to learn to move his paralyzed left arm again.

About half of Churchville's twenty tabla students are of Indian ancestry. He has traveled to India twice, once to study its music education system and another time to a festival where he had VIP access to "some of the greatest living tabla players."

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