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Nikki Glaspie, one of the premier drummers in music today, joined students in the Master of Music in Contemporary Performance (Production Concentration) program for a recent seminar.
A founding member of The Nth Power, a funk, jazz, and soul outfit from New Orleans, Glaspie has been touring since 2002 with artists such as Beyoncé, Maceo Parker, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, GRiZ, and others. These experiences provided her with a clear vision of herself and other musicians as she developed the skills needed to succeed as a band member and bandleader.
“When touring at different levels you have to have different skills. Be pliable, valuable—you have to deal with the punches,” said Glaspie. “You will find people that do not necessarily think as you do, and you have to understand them and recognize that there might be differences.”
“When you become the bandleader you have to learn to make decisions, pull the trigger, live with your decision, and take critique from the people you are making decisions for,” said Glaspie. “It is important to hear what they have to say. People have to trust you, transparency is key”.
During the lecture, Glaspie also highlighted the role of music as a healer in the world today, emphasizing the responsibility that students have taken on by pursuing a career in music.
“I want you guys to understand that you have accepted to do something that is bigger than you. Music is the science of making people feel. You can bring out any type of emotion from a person. It can be anger. It can be sadness. Hopefully, it’s happiness and warmth, but sometimes people need to be angry; sometimes people need to be sad,” Glaspie said. “But we are ambassadors. We are able to touch the souls. It’s an honor and a privilege.”
As a final piece of advice, Glaspie told the students to be better human beings, and to keep their eyes and their ears open. “You always have something to learn, even if it is how not to do something. If you are able to understand how the brain works and how people respond to each other, that will open you many doors of communication with your audience. Being a musician gives you the power to say things that they otherwise wouldn’t want to hear,” she said.
The day after the seminar, Glaspie joined students at a virtual performance forum and provided insights to bands that played live at the event.