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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Profile: David Booker-Earley, jazz percussionist

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David Booker-Earley is a 13-year-old jazz percussionist at Jean Childs Young Middle School. The school's band won this year's Youth Jazz Competition at the Atlanta Jazz Festival.

Why did you start playing percussion instruments?

It started a long time ago when my older brother came home one day, twirling his sticks, playing a lot of stuff I didn’t know what was. So it just looked pretty cool to me and I thought I’d try it out.

Do you bang on the table when you’re eating dinner?

Oh, yes. Anything I can use to beat on is my instrument. I even played on the concrete with my hands one time. It hurt, but I made a cool song there.

How does your family feel about you banging on things all the time?

My brothers, they bang along with me. My sister, she sings with us. All of us are really percussionists inside. But sometimes they might tell me to stop because they’re trying to watch TV.

Are there any obsessed girl fans at school?

Kind of, sometimes.

What do they say to you?

Sometimes they don’t know how to express themselves in a well thought-out manner. They come up and just stare at you, I wave and walk away, and they follow me.

Do people think percussion is easy?

Sometimes, yes they do. They think we have the easiest part in the world. But technically drumming is not so easy. You have to know when and where to play.

What is the right way to play the triangle?

You have to hold it in the air, maybe eye level, so that the sound will bring out to the audience. You have to pull the sound out.

How does the right way sound?

Like a one-note doorbell. It’s like a beautiful little melody, a distinct little sound. It’s a very pleasant sound.

What do you think about the movie Drumline?

I liked the movie a lot. I like Drumline because of all the cadences they did. My oldest brother showed me a lot of things from Drumline. Some stuff I did get, and I was like, “Wow, I just did that.”

Did Nick Cannon inspire you?

I’m not sure it was him, but whoever wrote the cadences made me think, “I gotta really step my game up.”

Do you know a good drummer joke?

This one is probably the most familiar joke. Why are chickens so good at being percussionists?

Why?

Because they had drumsticks.

I’ve never heard that one, actually. Have you heard the one – what do you call a drummer who broke up with his girlfriend?

What?

Homeless.

[Laughs] I’m gonna use that one.

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