Robert J. Damm

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, 1998 
M.S., University of Illinois, 1987
B.S., Quincy University (IL), 1986

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).

Professional Development

Playing drums in Mali Playing drums in Mali
Holding a baby in Mali With my brother in Mali
2015 Smithsonian Folkways Certification Course in World Music Pedagogy, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
2014 Maroon Institute for Writing Excellence (MIWE), MSU, MS
2012 PASIC Drum Circle Facilitator's Training with Christine Stevens, Austin, TX
2011 Sabbatical (3 months)
Research trip to study arts and culture in Mali, West Africa.  Primary research in jembe (drum) and bala (xylophone); secondary research in bogolanfini (mud cloth) painting.
2011 Living Blues Symposium, Ole Miss, Oxford, MS
2010 Drumagination rhythm facilitation workshop, Atlanta, GA
2010 African Dance Research: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY; New York Library for the Performing Arts, New York, NY; Duke University Special Collections, Durham NC
2009 Orff-Schulwerk Level III, Trinity University, San Antonio, TX
2008 PASIC Drum Circle Facilitator’s Training with Arthur Hull, Austin, TX 
2008 Underground Railroad, Jackson State University/NASA, Jackson, MS
2007 Orff Schulwek Level II, Belmont University, Nashville, TN
2006 Mississippi’s Native Nations, Museum of Mississippi History, Jackson, MS
2005 American Orff-Schulwerk Association National Conference: Birmingham, AL
2004 National Symposium on Multicultural Music: Knoxville, TN
2004 Rhythms of Africa: Music and Dance in Ghana, Africa
2003 KOSA International Percussion Workshop & Festival: Castleton, VT
2002 Cuban Music and Dance: Havana, Madruga, and Matanzas, Cuba

Honors and Awards

2018 World Neighbors Association's International Fiesta Hero

For his many years of performances at the International Fiesta

2017 MS Institutions of Higher Learning in Recognition of Black History Month

For serving as a role model and strong advocate for the advancement of diversity at MSU and in the state of Mississippi

2013  MSU College of Education Diversity Award

For demonstrating a significant commitment to enhancing diversity and promoting the concept of diversity and improved cross-cultural understanding through positive interactions with others

2012  MS Institutions of Higher Learning in Recognition of Black History Month
2010  International Fiesta Certificate of Appreciation

In recognition of years of service, support, and contributions to the promotion of intercultural relationships in the Starkville-MSU community

2009  MSU Hispanic Student Association: Service Award
2009  MSU Diversity Award by the President's Commission for the Status of Minorities

In recognition of faculty leadership and commitment to promoting diversity within Mississippi State University's community

2008  MSU African Student Association: Honorary Member

For involvement in its formation, continued commitment to its improvement, and promotion of African culture in Mississippi

2007  MS Alliance for Arts Education Higher Education Award

In recognition of excellence in leadership and service that includes active support of the arts in higher education

2007  MSU Humanities and Arts Research Program Fellow
2007  Girl Scouts of Northeast Mississippi Outstanding Volunteer
2006  COE Diversity Committee Award

In recognition for efforts in promoting and supporting diversity at MSU

2005  College Of Education Clyde Muse Service Award
2005  Ward-Stewart Outstanding Artistic Contributor of the Year Award

In recognition of outreach efforts to elementary students including Blues in the Schools, Native American Day, Brazilian Festival, and Black History Month's African Heritage

2004  Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) Distinguished Member: Friend of the Arts


Robert J. Damm Pinkster Drum Latin night with Bubba