I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 15 years old and I had just started playing drum set. Russ Miller was out promoting his solo album, "Where's One?" He did a clinic in my hometown where I got to learn about his technique and how he developed a lot of what I was watching him do. I was completely amazed by the level of precision he had and his flawless execution was astounding to me. That clinic was one of the most musically influential moments in my life. I saw what I wanted to do for the rest of my life right in front of me.
Two years after seeing Russ play, I had an audition for the US Army that would change my life forever. Up to this point in my life I had been gigging in nightclubs, at weddings and convention centers all over Florida with my Dad. I guess you could say that was part of my preparation for the audition. I had to do my audition in front of everyone in my high school band. We were taking pictures for the yearbook when the liaison giving me my audition came to the school. He flew all the way in from Atlanta, GA and had a very tight schedule so I had to do it right then and there. Boy was I nervous! I played some scales, various styles on kit and some rudiments for him. He must have seen potential in me cause I ended up getting the gig and went off to basic training 4 months later.
Fast forward to present day and I've been in the US Army Band Field for almost 14 years! Being afforded the opportunity to live in so many different places has opened up many doors for me both in and out of the military. I have played many different styles of music for a multitude of dignitaries in many different countries for 10,000+ audience members and in some cases over a million people for our broadcast audiences. I am currently stationed in Japan where I play with the United States Army Japan Band. One of the groups I play in called “Uncle Sam’s All-American Brass Band” just got selected as the best performing group out of every group in the US Army Band in the world for 2012! Can you believe they even let met front the band singing sometimes too?!?
I never thought that this kid from the small town of Lake City, Florida would have ever have the opportunity to do and see so much! The US Army Band audition was most definitely a game-changing moment I my life.
In celebration of Vic Firth Company's 50th anniversary, we've spent an entire year celebrating Game-Changing Moments in drumming -- including yours! To everyone who shared a story with us this year, thank you! Drumming is a shared experience and we are all brothers and sisters! Your stories have inspired us to continue making the best sticks possible and to continue changing the game for drummers everywhere.
We received thousands of amazing stories this year. Although it was difficult to choose only one story, we're happy to announce that Joe Russomano is our grand prize winner in the Game-Changing Moments contest!Read Joe's Story