Jim Yakas joins VanderCook College of Music as Assistant Professor of Percussion. Most recently, he was a full-time Instructor of Percussion at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he was also Assistant Director and Percussion Coordinator of the UT Arlington Marching Band. Jim is currently pursuing a Doctoral of Musical Arts in Percussion Performance from the University of North Texas. He holds a B.M. in Music Education from the University of North Texas, and a M.M. in Percussion Performance and Pedagogy from Northern Illinois University.
Jim’s diversity in percussion education and performance has led him to many unique opportunities. He spent a total of 12 summers in drum corps activity spanning from performing as a snare drummer with the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps to being a staff member and arranger to eventually becoming their Percussion Coordinator in 2003. Jim is also an active performer on the steel drum, having traveled to Trinidad/Tobago and Korea as a member of the prestigious Northern Illinois Steel Band. He also has studied hand percussion with Michael Spiro and Orlando Cotto.
Jim has been a clinician at the Percussive Arts Society International Conventions, Texas Music Educator's Association Convention as well as many Percussive Arts Society State Conventions. He is an active Yamaha Artist/Endorser as well as a Vic Firth Stick and Mallet endorser. Jim also endorses Sabian Cymbals and Remo Drumheads.
Nick Petrella is the Director of Education for Sabian Ltd., and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Percussion at the University of Missouri - Kansas City Conservatory of Music. As a performer he has commissioned and premiered over a dozen compositions and has many solo and chamber music performances to his credit. Nick has played with several large ensembles including the Kansas City Symphony, the Fort Worth Symphony, Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Michigan Opera. In 2002, he and pianist Diane Helfers Petrella formed the Petrella Ensemble, which has appeared throughout the US, Europe and in Mexico. In September 2008 he was the percussion coach for Xenakis’ Pleiades at the 114th BBC Proms Festival in Royal Albert Hall.
He received a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Iowa, a Master of Music from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Penn State University. Nick was on the faculty of Oakland University from 2002 to 2006 and was the Director of Percussion Studies at Texas Christian University from 1996 to 2001. In 1998, the TCU Percussion Ensemble performed as the first percussion ensemble invited to the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. During the 1992-93 academic year, Nick was invited to develop the percussion pedagogy course at the Royal Northern College of Music, England. It was the first of its kind in the United Kingdom. He was the percussion coach for two consecutive years with the World Youth Orchestra, in Switzerland and Taiwan, and has been an adjudicator for many marching, solo and percussion ensemble competitions throughout the US. He served as the percussion instructor/arranger for the TCU Marching Band from 1996-2001, the University of Iowa Marching Band from 1994-1996 and the University of Michigan Marching Band from 1990-1992.
Committed to percussion education, Nick has published numerous articles in US and European music journals. He is the author of two Carl Fischer publications: The Ultimate Guide to Cymbals w/DVD and The Multiple-Percussion Book w/CD, which has been translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish. In 2006, Nick and Diane published The Musicians Toolbox, Thoughts on Teaching and Learning Music, distributed by Alfred Publications. He has been a consultant to many companies in the music industry and holds twelve designs for sticks, mallets and percussion accessories currently on the market. Nick has appeared as a clinician, teacher and performer throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia.