Artist Connect: Derrick D'MAR Martin

Young Audiences of Northern California is celebrating our 60th year of providing arts experiences to students in the Bay Area. At this exciting moment in our history, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on the past 60 years as well as look towards the future of Young Audiences. The upcoming “Artist Connect” posts will feature artists who have been with us for many years as well as some of our new artists. We hope you enjoy a journey from our past to our future.

Talented drummer/percussionist, producer and songwriter, Derrick Martin has been performing internationally for the past 20 years. Having worked in studios from Los Angeles to New York, Derrick toured the world with Rock & Roll Legend Little Richard Band for 17 years. His assemblies focus on the drum set and its history in American music.

Talented drummer/percussionist, producer and songwriter, Derrick Martin has been performing internationally for the past 20 years. Having worked in studios from Los Angeles to New York, Derrick toured the world with Rock & Roll Legend Little Richard Band for 17 years. His assemblies focus on the drum set and its history in American music.

Getting to know...Derrick D’MAR Martin

Can you tell us a little bit about your art form?

My art form is playing drums. The program is called Drums & More. Drums have been a part of humanity since the beginning of time and even though my focus is on the drum set, which is one of the few instruments that was actually invented in the United States, I also cover some African percussion and the importance of rhythm and pitch in our everyday communication. Playing drums is fun for students on another level because you get to be free, loud, soft, happy, subtle and aggressive all from the same source. It’s a lot like just being human.

How long have you been practicing your art? How did you get started?

I’ve been playing drums for over thirty years. I picked up my first pair of sticks around age 6 and began my formal studies in a middle school band program at age 13. I went on to major in music at Jackson State University and from there I started my professional career and I’ve been going nonstop since then travelling the world and being passionate about playing music and educating students.

How does your art form help connect students to what they are learning in school?

My presentation is called Drums & More. It covers the history of the drum set in American popular music. The presentation helps students in a kind of sly way. We deal with history, reading and communication fundamentals, mathematics and the importance of having a great attitude. I say in a sly way because all of these lessons are weaved into the drums. We deal with the history of where the drum set was created which gives me an opportunity to express the importance of always having a good foundation. I often use an example of learning to read. First you must know your alphabet, then you learn vocabulary words which enable you to build sentences and so forth. I explain to the students that before we can discuss the music we music focus on the foundation or beginning. This goes on through the entire presentation. I like to keep it exciting and upbeat. It moves quickly from one thing to the next. We also deal with math by explaining how to use counting to four to make music. This process not only deals with counting, but the students learn the importance of respecting each other and working together. I also have them all repeat my mantra which is, “Success is a learned behavior.” We discuss success as something we have a chance to practice each day. It doesn’t just happen.

How do the lessons and skills you teach students about or through your art form apply to their everyday life outside of the classroom?

The lessons taught through the Drums & More program are simple ones that carry over into every aspect of the students’ lives. Respect for education, arts and each other are the pillars of the presentation. We advise each student to learn to play an instrument. Not as a way to be famous or a professional musician but to make them better people. Playing music makes them learn discipline, time management and conflict resolution among many other valuable life skills.

Why do you believe it is important for every student to have access to the arts?

I simply believe that arts education is as important to a student’s life as are food and water. The arts have always been an integral part of education. Learning arts develops both sides of the brain in a way that is unique. The arts can also help children find positive outlets and ways to focus their time and energy in a positive and productive manner.

What are three words that describe your performances?

Energetic, Educational and FUN!

Quote from Dean of Students at K-8 School:

“{Derrick Martin] was so good the kids, faculty, and staff were talking about him all day and even this morning.  Best assembly ever.”


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Thank you to Derrick Martin for providing these responses.

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