Joshua with Dame Evelyn Glennie
Joshua Simonds is just beginning his second year as Executive Director of PAS. Before moving to Indianapolis, he lived and worked in Chicago for nearly 15 years. There he worked at the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, becoming Executive Director in 2013. He holds a Masters in Arts Management degree from American University in Washington, D.C. and a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach.
Rhythm!Scene: How did you get started in percussion?
Joshua Simonds: I started playing piano in 4th grade. When the junior high school band came to my school when I was in 6th grade, I asked if I could join. The teacher said yes and asked if I played anything. I told her I played piano, and she said I could play xylophone and bells. I said, great, and then asked, “What are those?” The rest is history.
Joshua with Vic Firth
R!S: Who was your percussion idol growing up?
JS: Once I finally got into drums and percussion I was in high school, and by that time it was all about Neil Peart. I collected every Rush CD, and I could air drum all the songs.
R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
JS: That is a hard question. I love timpani, and was actually pretty good at it, although I would let Raynor Carroll, my former teacher, confirm or correct that assessment. I also love playing steel pan and wish I could play the pandeiro.
Joshua with Emil Richards
R!S: What was one of your most memorable performances as a student percussionist?
JS: During my junior year of college, I studied abroad at Kingston University, just outside of London. It was an amazing opportunity, and while I was there we were lucky enough to get to perform Elgar and Walton at the Royal Albert Hall. I also marched drum corps with the Velvet Knights, and anyone who has marched drum corps knows just how memorable that is.
R!S: Who were key or memorable teachers in your musical education?
JS: I was lucky to have great teachers from elementary school all the way through college. But my junior high band teacher really pushed me, and without her I would not have followed music as a path. Thank you, Mrs. Clauss!
Joshua with BYOS
R!S: If you could tell your 18-year-old self one piece of musical advice, what would it be?
JS: Be confident!
R!S: What was your introduction to PAS?
JS: In 1997 PASIC was held in Anaheim, California. That was both my first PASIC and my intro to PAS.
Joshua with Gregg Bissonette and Jim Riley
R!S: What’s the first section you read in a new issue of Percussive Notes or Rhythm!Scene?
JS: I read all the lists to make sure they are correct. I obviously would rather not have to call and apologize to anyone! It is important to me, in my position, to make sure the Board of Directors, Board of Advisors, Past Presidents, Sponsors, and Donors lists are printed correctly. I also always look at all the advertisements, and so should everyone reading this!
R!S: What sort of music activities are part of your job: performing, teaching, composing, recording, engineering, other?
JS: The largest part of my job having to do with music activities is programming, whether it is a new program or event at Rhythm! Discovery Center, a new PAS project or initiative, or the exciting task of putting PASIC together.
Joshua with Steve Smith
R!S: What is your most prized percussion-related souvenir?
JS: I know it is a stretch, but I have a photo with my college teacher, Dr. Michael Carney, who passed away a few years ago. It was taken the day I graduated from college. He was very supportive of me doing something other than performance or education, but always told me I needed to be a good player no matter in what field I worked. I do not think I would be here at PAS if not for him.
R!S: If you aren’t playing or teaching percussion or working at PAS, what are you doing?
JS: I love spending time with my daughter, Audrey, and wife, Jaclyn. We have only been in Indianapolis for a year, so we are still exploring. I am also a huge sports fan, so I like to follow all my teams year-round.
Joshua with Glenn Kotche
R!S: What music or station is playing when you turn on your car?
JS: That depends on a few things: (1) What is my mood?, (2) Is my 6-year-old playing with the stations?, or (3) Am I researching something? Otherwise, it is typically ’80s music or whatever pops in my head. I’m thankful to Spotify for letting me listen to anything, anytime.
R!S: What’s the first app you open on your phone or first program you start on your computer each morning?
JS: The first app I open is my iPhone e-mail app, and the first program I open at work is Outlook. Hmmmm…it appears that I might have an e-mail addiction.
Joshua with Chad Smith
R!S: On that note, if you could send an e-mail to all student percussionists, what is one thing you would tell them about PAS?
JS: There is a place here for you, and your voice matters. Get involved in your local chapter. Become a student delegate. PAS is here for you and for those who will come after you.