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School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

Percussion Studio

Kurt Gartner, D.A.
Professor of Music
School of Music, Theatre and Dance
130 McCain Auditorium
Manhattan, KS 66506

785-532-6899 fax

Alumni News

Benjamin Yancey received his Doctorate in Percussion Performance and Pedagogy with a secondary area of Ethnomusicology from the University of Iowa in the summer of 2018. Prior to that, he earned his Master of Music degree from Kansas State University. Currently based in the Iowa City area, he serves as adjunct professor of percussion at the University of Iowa, Iowa Wesleyan University, Monmouth College, and Kirkwood Community College. Yancey also serves as the drumline technician at Liberty High School and as percussion arranger for the Rock Bridge High School marching band.

Dr. David Whitman (M.M.) teaches and performs in the San Diego area, including his appointment at San Diego State University.

Jack Donovan (M.M., 2017) has been appointed Instructor of Percussion at Winona State University. Donovan is pursuing the D.M.A. degree from the University of Minnesota (Fernando Meza, Director of Percussion Studies). Jack received his B.M. from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in Percussion Performance under Dr. Jeff Crowell. He was the Graduate Teaching Assistant in Percussion at K-State from 2015-2017, and has numerous performance credits including drum corps and international chamber music appearances.

Dr. Jeff Hewitt (B.M.E.) is currently teaching band & percussion at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, MO. He is also a founding member of the Kansas City Percussion Group and the Vice President of the Kansas Percussive Arts Society. In 2016, Dr. Hewitt served as the tour administrator, performer, and clinician of the World Percussion Group during their two-month university tour across the U.S., culminating with a showcase performance at PASIC. Jeff earned a D.M.A. from the University of Arizona, a M.M. from the University of Missouri, and a B.M.E. from Kansas State University.

Johannah Dietrich (B.M.E. 2013) currently teaches Drumline and 5th grade Band at Jason Lee Middle School in Tacoma, WA and is also the Percussion Instructor at Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, WA. She is playing bass drum on her second NFL Drumline, this time for the Seattle Seahawk's Blue Thunder Drumline. She offers the following update:

"Things are going well here in Washington for me even taking on distance learning! Here's a link to one of my middle school drumline's performances. I had 40 6th-8th grade kids in my class who had never been asked to read music before. We got lucky and had this performance right before the shut down!"

Kirstyn Norris (B.M., 2017) has been accepted into the graduate program at the University of Illinois, where she will begin her M.M. studies with William Moersch and Ricardo Flores. Among other honors, Norris was a winner of the KSU Honors Recital Competition and recipient of a research grant from the K-State Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry.

Craig Archer received his Bachelor's in Music Education from K-State in the spring of 2014. He is currently the Percussion Instructor at Blue Valley Northwest High School. He has been a member of the worship team at University Christian Church in Manhattan and also performs regularly in various jazz, rock and folk bands in Northeast Kansas.

Dave Roth(B.M.) is a freelance percussionist in New York City. Active on the Broadway scene, Dave played A Christmas Story at Madison Square Garden last holiday season. Dave also has a wealth of experience as a chamber musician, clinician, and teacher, and is an official Ambassador of the Alzheimer's Association.

Bryce Craig (B.M.) earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Kansas State University and and Master of Music degree in Music Composition from Central Michigan University. Currently, he is a composer, music editor, and audio specialist for C. Alan Publications.

M.M. recipient Greg Coffey moved from Manhattan to Nashville, where he had the opportunity to tour with several country artists, most notably, Jaimie Lynn Spears, for a couple of years. While in Nashville, he was also able to write, record and engineer with some incredible musicians, release two records on an independent label, and spend off time playing on Broadway, with bands as well as the dueling pianos concept. After Nashville, he moved to Cleveland where he was offered an opportunity in Private Equity, building a company based on the Nashville style of dueling pianos/entertainment. They now service 4 major MSA's (Cleveland, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Houston), and have won The Knot Best Of four years in a row. Also, he works with some other equity partners to close on new businesses to purchase and scale.

Ryan R. Laney holds a B.M.E. from The University of Northern Colorado and a M.M. from Kansas State University. He writes music designed to be interesting for both the casual listener and the true musician, offering compositions with high audience and performance appeal. Ryan's compositional output is primarily focused on percussion solo and ensemble literature with a growing number of works for wind instruments. Many of his compositions and arrangements can be heard performed around the world in countries including Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Mexico, Thailand, Italy, Japan, China, South Korea, Belgium, Russia, and across the USA. Ryan is a member of the Percussive Arts Society, The National Association for Music Education, a Percussion Music Online Official Composer, and is currently Director of Bands at Broomfield High School in Broomfield, Colorado.

Chris Exum (B.M., M.M.) is the Assistant Band Director/Percussion Instructor at Washburn Rural High school. At Washburn Rural, Chris assists with the marching band, concert band and directs the WRHS Jazz Combo and oversees all things percussion. In addition to his musical duties, Chris is also a part of the REACH program which assists incoming freshman make the transition into high school by working with them in the areas of time management, organization, test taking strategies and education and career planning. Chris Exum is also a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, K.M.E.A., C.M.E.N.C. and a member Percussive Arts Society (P.A.S.).

Emory Dease (M.M.) joined the faculty of Seaman High School in Topeka, KS in the fall of 2011. He completed his Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from Central College, and more recently, his Masters of Music Performance from Kansas State University. While at Kansas State, Emory served as the percussion graduate assistant and drumline instructor. He has formerly held the position of Percussion Director at Blue Valley North HS and Newton HS (IA).

Brad Regier (B.M.E.) is Assistant Professor of Music Education at Illinois Wesleyan University. At IWU, he teaches courses in music education, supervises student teachers, conducts the Symphonic Winds, and provides oversight to the music education program. Previously he taught instrumental and general music courses in Chase County, Kansas and Cairo, Egypt, and continues to clinic bands and percussion ensembles throughout the Midwest.

Send your updates and images to Kurt Gartner