Alex Smith is Professor of Percussion at UCM, where his responsibilities include teaching applied lessons, percussion ensemble, and percussion methods course instruction. He directs and writes for the UCM Marching Band percussion section. He also assists in the instruction of ethnomusicology and music technology courses. He received the Somer’s Teaching Award for his work as a teaching assistant in the integrative arts and humanities course “Music of Africa and the Diaspora” (2015). Smith is a D.M.A. candidate in Percussion Performance at Michigan State University, where he also received his M.A. in Ethnomusicology and M.M. in Percussion Performance. At MSU, Smith studies percussion with Professor Gwen Dease and Dr. Jon Weber. Smith received his B.M. in Percussion Performance from East Carolina University studying with Dr. Jon Wacker and Mr. Chris Nappi.
Smith is a member of Without Borders, a percussion quartet that has toured in Taiwan, Japan, and the United States. He has performed with The Lansing Symphony Orchestra, The Brass Band of Battle Creek, The Carolina Brass Quintet, and the Michigan-based reggae band Speak Easy. He performed with the MSU Wind Symphony at the Midwest Clinic (2013), Carnegie Hall (2014), and the College Band Directors National Association Conference (2017). With the MSU Percussion Ensemble he performed at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (2013 and 2018) and the McCormick Marimba Festival (2015). He also performed with MSU’s salsa band Salsa Verde. In 2005 and 2006 Smith marched with the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps and has since instructed marching ensembles at the high school and collegiate levels such as the Michigan State University Drumline, East Carolina University Drumline, Eastside Fury, Green Hope High School, and Okemos High School. He is a published composer with Tapspace, and one of his works was performed by MSU at their 2018 performance at PASIC.
In the area of ethnomusicology, Smith is a student of Dr. Michael Largey with research interests involving consumption culture and the sustainability of percussion instruments in the academic percussion community. He has published his work in peer-reviewed journals and invited publications such as International Journal of Music Education, Ecomusicology Review, Percussive Notes Online Research Edition, Perspectives in New Music, The Journal for Musical Arts in Africa, and The UCLA Echo Blog; he presented his work at the 2018 National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy, the 2013 and 2014 Ecomusicology Conferences (also serving on the conference committee), the 2015 Ecojustice and Activism Conference, and the 2015 McCormick Marimba Festival. Smith owns his own percussion instrument craft company that specializes in making instruments from more sustainable alternatives to traditional and environmentally problematic materials. His other research in ethnomusicology has brought him to Brazil and Ghana with funding from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (2008) and the Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship (2017).