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Dr. Alex Smith | Percussion


Dr. Alex Smith
Assistant Professor
Location/Building: HUD 116
(660) 543-8897


Dr. Alex Smith is Assistant Professor of Percussion at UCM, where his responsibilities include teaching applied lessons, percussion ensemble, and percussion methods. He also directs and writes for the UCM Marching Band Percussion Section and instructs undergraduate and graduate ethnomusicology courses. Smith received his D.M.A. in Percussion Performance at Michigan State University, where he also received his M.A. in Musicology/Ethnomusicology and M.M. in Percussion Performance. At MSU, Smith studied 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 2017) 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, collegiate, and independent 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 his piece The Building of Asgard was performed by MSU at their 2017 PASIC performance. His first album, Determined Volumes, was released in October 2020 under the pfMENTUM label.

In the discipline of ethnomusicology, Smith is a student of Dr. Michael Largey with research interests involving consumption culture and the sustainability of percussion instruments in the percussion community. In spring 2019 Smith conducted ethnographic research in Ghana for eight months with a Fulbright-Hays DDRA Award. 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, and The UCLA Echo Blog; he presented his work at the 2019 Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting, the 2019 Ghana Studies Association Conference, the 2018 National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy, the 2013 and 2014 Ecomusicology Conferences, the 2015 Ecojustice and Activism Conference, and the 2015 McCormick Marimba Festival. He is a member of the PAS World Music Committee. Smith builds his own instruments, often 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 (2016 and 2017).

Personal Website

UCM Percussion


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