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USC - Roland DrumlabThe University of Southern California Thornton School of Music announces a new partnership with Roland to create the Roland Drumlab, the first of its kind in the nation.

Although many music schools require its students to take courses in keyboard proficiency, the Roland Drumlab now makes it possible for USC Thornton to also be the first to require drumset proficiency as part of its newly created Popular Music Performance program debuting in the fall. Associate dean and program director Christopher Sampson explains, "In order for popular music students to understand and be proficient in rhythm, time awareness and groove, USC Thornton is applying the keyboard lab concept to the drumset."

Thornton faculty member and Roland artist Peter Erskine was instrumental in the creation of the Roland Drumlab. Erskine explains, "The purpose of the class is not only to instruct students how to play the drums, but also to provide a historical overview of the instrument, to explain its role in the development of popular music, and to enable developing musicians and songwriters to understand the role of drumming from both sides of the kit. What better way for a songwriter to effectively communicate song requirements than by having had the first-hand experience of sitting behind the kit."

USC - Roland DrumlabThe Roland Drumlab was made possible with the generous support of the Roland Corporation, which assisted in acquiring 10 TD-9SX V-Drums sets and their teaching lab conferencing system. Roland development manager Steve Fisher remarks, "We're proud and honored that USC chose to partner with Roland for this innovative program. It's just one of the many cutting-edge endeavors that continue to make USC one of the nation's leaders in music education." Erskine asserts, "This system enables simultaneous instruction as well as practice capabilities for an entire classroom of students. We are now able to offer our jazz drumming students a place where they can practice at most any time day or night." Sampson adds, "The Roland V-Drums provides the traditional feel and sound of an acoustic experience, but in an electronic environment."

In addition to Roland, USC Thornton's jazz and popular music departments also received assistance from Vic Firth, Inc., which supplied drumsticks and educational materials; the D'Addario Company, with Real Feel practice pads; the Drum Workshop Company with state-of-the-art drum hardware and drumkits, and the Zildjian Company provided cymbals.

Not surprisingly, interest in this course is not solely restricted to percussion majors. Opera, jazz, and even chemistry and communications majors have already made this class a top elective course at USC. "The best musicians I've known in my career, whether they play piano, sax or bass, were all really good drummers as well," acknowledges Erskine, "Notable examples include Jaco Pastorius, Michael Brecker, Chick Corea and USC Thornton's own Bob Mintzer."

About the USC Thornton School of Music
The University of Southern California's Flora L. Thornton School of Music, founded in 1884, is the oldest continually operating cultural institution in Los Angeles. The USC Thornton School consistently ranks among the top one percent of the nation's music schools and conservatories, with a unique combination of innovative programs such as popular music performance, recording science, and scoring for motion pictures and television, as well as a long and illustrious tradition of classical music performance studies in all major instruments. Graduates of the USC Thornton School attain prominent positions with a multitude of major ensembles, recording studios and businesses in the music industry, performing on stages and in studios around the world. Among the school's celebrated alumni are Michael Tilson Thomas, Marilyn Horne, and Herb Albert. For more information about the USC Thornton School of Music visit www.usc.edu/music, or call (213) 740-6935.