Amber Fox earned a Music Business degree from Middle Tennessee State University and has been involved in a wide range of percussion activities including collegiate percussion ensembles, symphonic bands, Winter Guard International, and Drum Corps International. Her extensive performance experience in Drum Corps includes 2006–07 Memphis Sound, 2010 Spirit of Atlanta, and 2011–12 Blue Stars.
After graduating in 2015, she moved to Boston, Mass. to work with Vic Firth and Zildjian in their Customer Service and Education departments, where she was a vital member of the team for the three years. As PAS Programs Manager, Amber works directly on such programs as Group Memberships, Days of Percussion, Competitions, Scholarships, and PASIC.
Rhythm!Scene: How did you get started in percussion?
Amber Fox: I didn’t actually choose percussion as a young student; I wanted to play flute. The band director at the time said my lip shape would make it very hard to play flute, so I started in percussion instead. It’s crazy to think that one decision someone made for me way back then put me on the path I am on now.
R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
AF: I’ve focused on marimba for many, many years, so it is definitely my favorite. However, thunder sheets are a close second.
R!S: Who was your percussion idol growing up?
AF: I attended a Janis Potter masterclass at UNT (University of North Texas) during my undergrad studies at the University of Arkansas. Prior to that I had used Janis’s mallets and loved them, but getting the chance to hear her perform live and talk about her unique views on concert marimba sound quality and “power strokes” really had an impact on my path moving forward.
R!S: What was one of your most memorable performances as a student percussionist?
AF: All of my memorable performances were during my years marching drum corps. My most memorable was probably opening the 2011 drum corps season with Blue Stars.
R!S: Who were key or memorable teachers in your musical education?
AF: I learned the most about being a performer and musician from my time with Blue Stars. I owe everything I know about ensemble balance, musical direction of phrases, and individual sound quality to Neil Larrivee. Neil was by far my most memorable teacher, and he later became a mentor, coworker, and friend.
R!S: What sort of music activities are part of your job—performing, teaching, composing, recording, engineering, other?
AF: Other than my work at PAS, I also teach a front ensemble at a local high school as well as a front ensemble for a WGI Independent World Ensemble.
R!S: What was your introduction to PAS?
AF: I was introduced to PAS through my college percussion studio.
R!S: What is one thing you wish all student percussionists knew about PAS?
AF: We’ve all been there. Most of us have been percussion students at some point in our lives, so we know exactly where you are coming from and what struggles you face.
R!S: What’s the first section you read in a new issue of Percussive Notes or Rhythm!Scene?
AF: It depends on the issue; I’m usually drawn to anything that is about marimba or keyboard percussion.
R!S: What is your most prized percussion-related souvenir?
AF: I have a huge signed drumhead from Memphis Sound 2007, the year we won Division III Drum Corps International World Championships and Division III Best Percussion.
R!S: If you aren’t playing or teaching percussion or working at PAS, what are you doing?
AF: On the weekend when the weather’s nice I love to bike. I also am really into coffee, so any time I can, I’m checking out new and local coffee shops or just hanging at some of my favorite ones.
R!S: What music or station is playing when you turn on your car?
AF: Spotify; I’m a HUGE Spotify fan. Currently I’ve been steady streaming Spotify’s Low-Fi Hip-Hop Playlist or the COLORS’ Weekly Releases Playlist. I also have a few artists I listen to regularly: J Cole, 6lack, Noname, and Ben Howard, just to name a few.
R!S: What’s the first app you open on your phone or first program you start on your computer each morning?
AF: Again, Spotify. I always open Spotify first thing on my computer. It’s also playing all day in the office, and I check the Spotify Discover Weekly playlist every Monday morning when it updates.
R!S: If you could tell your 18-year-old self one piece of musical advice, what would it be?
AF: Don’t get tunnel vision. Have a direction but don’t back yourself into a corner. Be open to the possibilities.