Apr 30, 2021, 08:00 AM
Rhythm Scene Staff
Dr. Joshua D. Smith is the owner of Ox and Lamb Percussion Publications and is a freelance percussionist based in Lexington, Kentucky. As an educator, Smith is the Director of the Morehead State University Concert Band, teaches in the percussion studio of Morehead State University, and is the Director of the University of Kentucky Drumline. Smith earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of North Texas, a Master of Music Performance degree from James Madison University, and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree from the University of Kentucky. As a performer, Smith maintains a healthy schedule that includes intimate venues for solo recital performances and orchestral halls for symphonic engagements, and he has contributed to CD and DVD recordings through the GIA/Windworks label. Through memberships with numerous orchestras and ensembles, Dr. Smith regularly performs some of the finest literature in orchestral repertoire, encompassing works from Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov to those of Bernstein and Stravinsky, and he has also been featured at Carnegie Hall.
Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a percussionist and educator, what career could you see yourself having pursued?
Joshua D. Smith: If I had to choose another path, it would be either as a graphic designer or an architect. My original major in college was electrical engineering. After a year of classes, my grades were fine, but I noticed that the other folks in that major simply were not “my people,” and I transitioned over to music education. It was the best decision I ever made.
R!S: As a freelance artist, what's one of the weirdest gigs you've taken or oddest jobs you've had outside the industry?
JDS: I call it my $100 drum roll. Years ago, I lived close to a Toyota manufacturing plant, where every year they had a party for workers who never missed a day of work. They rented out a local arena and filled it with almost 20,000 workers, and over the course of the evening, they drew names and gave away 10 new cars to anybody who did not miss work. Before every car, they wanted a drum roll. I did not have to practice, I did not have to haul a lot of gear, and got paid $100.
R!S: What's one thing about you that your colleagues or students would unanimously proclaim?
JDS: I try to be as friendly as possible with everyone I meet. I think people get a sense of that when we interact. It’s not difficult to make people feel special, even during a 30-second conversation in the hallway.
R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
JDS: When I give presentations at elementary schools, I show them my favorite-named instrument, which is the Caxixi! The kids always love saying that word. For many years I have also focused on concert/classical vibraphone, which I thoroughly enjoy as well.
R!S: Where did you grow up, and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?
JDS: By the time I got into high school, I had lived in five different states. During grade school, I lived in Buffalo, New York, and in that school system, band class started in 2nd grade. The band director came around and asked if anyone wanted to play percussion, because they still needed some people. I thought it would be fun, and I was hooked from the first rehearsal. I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone as a seven-year-old.