Steve Powell sitting behind a drum kit

A Chat with JMI Alumni Steve Powell

We recently reached out to JMI Alumni Steve Powell about what he’s been up to since graduating from the Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at JMI in 2016.  Steve was the recipient of the Brad Rogers Memorial Award as the highest achieving student in his graduating class. Read below to find out how his career has been progressing since graduating:

Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you play?

My name is Steve Powell and I play drums and percussion.

What have you been doing since graduating from JMI?

Since graduating JMI in 2016 I have been focusing on teaching drum kit privately at my home studio and at Resonate Music, where since 2023 I now teach full time.  My student base has grown to around 50 per week from ages 7 – 70.  I have created my own curriculum of exercises and transcribed songs and continue to write and transcribe more material.

What has been one of your biggest musical highlights in your career thus far?

Steve Powell with his studentsIn 2016 I put on my first student concert with 13 of my students and since then performer numbers have more than doubled.  It has proven to be such a great experience for students, keeping them motivated to practise and having a goal to work towards as well as parents having a chance to see the result of all their hard work.  Getting all the students and their families together has created our own little drumming community that supports and encourages students.

What are your future goals in music?

I want to get my students playing with other musicians and hope to organise jam sessions exploring different styles of music.  I hope to also have my own drum teaching studio one day.

How has studying at JMI helped you to get where you are and towards your future goals?

Having the opportunity to learn from outstanding teachers with a wealth of knowledge that has provided me the skills (especially learning music notation software) and confidence I needed to build my teaching business.  Most importantly my lessons with Dave Sanders really changed my approach to playing and teaching the drums and his patience and support was second to none!

What advice would you have for someone thinking about studying music and especially jazz?

Give it a go!  Even if you don’t listen to or have much of a connection with jazz music right now, this is a place for all types of musicians and a chance to connect and play music with others.

JMI Alumni Steve Powell with his book Beat RootsAny advice for current students as they complete their Bachelor?

It’s easy to say just listen to jazz but what really sparked my interest in this music was first learning about some of the history, the artists and their stories (I read a Jazz and Blues encyclopedia from cover to cover!).  Discovering their music along with their stories was really exciting and provided a deeper connection to the music for me.  Then…. listen, listen, listen!

What musicians/bands have you been listening to at the moment?

These days it’s all over the place!  Most recently Basie and Ellington, Ska/Rocksteady/Reggae, Japanese Math Rock and Rodriguez.

Any music links of yours we can listen to?

Holy Smokes Organ Trio: https://nathanleonard.bandcamp.com/album/holy-smokes-organ-trio-vol-1

The Resonators (covers band): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI5k8XoFSvA

Inventure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMmsF_OAAFY

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