Robert J. Damm
Professor of Music and Director of Music Education Partnerships (1995 – present)
Music Building A Room 1
Ph.D., University of North Texas,
As Director of Music Education Partnerships, I share my knowledge and that of other professional musicians with school-aged children by presenting literally hundreds of programs throughout Mississippi. Recent examples include facilitating recreational drumming sessions for teenage boys and girls sentenced to the Juvenile Detention Center, and directing a Brazilian Percussion Ensemble for middle school students, a children’s African Drum Ensemble for a community Kwanzaa celebration, Native American Programs at area elementary schools, a Celebration of African Heritage, teaching about African music and culture for Girl Scouts of Northeast MS, and performing with legendary blues guitarist Jesse Robinson in k-12 schools.
All of my work at Mississippi State University since 1995 has reflected my passion for world music and for music education. My projects as a percussionist in solo and chamber settings as well as concert programming as director of the percussion ensemble demonstrate my interest in the musical traditions of Bali, Brazil, Cuba, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Japan, Trinidad, and Zimbabwe. An active performer, my recitals have showcased many world music instruments such as amadinda, berimbau, bongos, cajon, congas, djembe, doumbec, frame drum, gyil, steel drums, and udu. My programs have also featured diverse musical styles in which I played the xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, timpani, multiple-percussion, and drum set. My freelance performing activity since 1995 includes work with Big Joe Shelton and the Black Prairie Blues Ambassadors, the State Messengers jazz combo, the Bill Cooke Trio, Jesse Robinson and the Hip Waders, Blues Axis, the Starkville-MSU Symphony, and the Delta Symphony. I have served as President of the Mississippi Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society and as host for two “Day of Percussion” clinics. I founded the MSU percussion ensemble in 1995, provided studio instruction in applied percussion, and taught other percussion classes for nine years while also teaching the core classes of the music education curriculum.
I strive to be on the cutting edge of current thinking and scholarship in the field through active membership in professional associations, conducting research leading to publications and presentations, and attending professional development workshops concerning Orff Schulwerk, multicultural music education, classroom technology, problem-based learning, creativity, and other contemporary issues. My continued education has included the study of music and dance in Cuba and Ghana. I have served on numerous university, college, and department committees, which has given me experience in cross-campus communication, decision making, and collaboration. I work closely with my friends in the African Student Association, who call me “Babatunde,” (which means “Father who has come back to us”) in order to offer high quality cultural programs such as Global Fusion, International Fiesta, and especially African Night. I direct the African Student Association’s African Drum Ensemble and also facilitate numerous community drum circle events.
Professional Teaching Experience
Previous teaching experience includes public school band directing in the Krum, TX Independent School District (94), the Burleson, TX Independent School District (93), and the Dallas City/Laharpe, IL School Systems (87–90) and serving as instructor of percussion and music education at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX (92–94).
Honors and Awards