Koontz to Present on Steel Drum in Japan

photo of Koontz

Jason Koontz, professor and director of percussion studies at Eastern Kentucky University, has been selected to travel to Japan Oct. 14-28 as part of an exchange program with the Madison County International Committee (MCIC) and the Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project (KEEP).

Koontz will educate more than 400 elementary, middle and high school students on “The Steel Drum Music of Trinidad and Tobago,” using a PowerPoint presentation, video and performances on his own steel drum. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in rhythm exercises.

“There are a few steel bands in Japan, but most Japanese people, like most Americans, probably know very little about it,” Koontz said. “My desire is to expose them to this fantastic art form. I am sure that they will enjoy it and appreciate it. In my experience, this type of music is always a hit for everyone who experiences it.”

Koontz’s lectures will provide students a better understanding of the musical traditions of Trinidad and Tobago, including steel drum instruments, traditional rhythmic patterns and the global spread of the art form.

“It will also be a great opportunity to talk about EKU and our own Steel Band in the Department of Music which I direct,” Koontz said. “I will be leaving the students with some EKU keepsakes (wristbands and pens) that the Admissions office has agreed to donate to this exchange.”

The Sister-City Agreement, originally formalized in 1988 between Berea and Kiyosato and later broadened to become an agreement between Madison County and Hokuto City, requires that the selected artist host the Japanese artist during the spring. Last May, Koontz hosted Japanese artist Taisuke Yamasaka. The two collaborated on percussion pieces that were performed for students at Glenn Marshall Elementary, Foley Elementary, Model Lab School and White Hall Elementary during a four-day presentation period.

“This is a great opportunity for me to learn more about the Japanese culture and its music,” Koontz said. “This experience will undoubtedly enrich the world-music teaching that our MUH 371 and MUS 171 students currently receive, and it could also spark some creative or collaborative efforts between Japanese artists with our own EKU students and faculty in the future. It is a great asset for our future international recruiting efforts. Through KEEP and the MCIC, the students we interact with will have a direct link to Madison County and EKU.”

Published on September 05, 2013