Brian J. Harris began playing piano at age five and began formal percussion lessons at age ten. Growing up near Chicago, he played in junior high and high school concert, marching, and jazz bands, as well as with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra during high school. At age fourteen, Brian began his private instruction practice, teaching beginning percus≠sionists in the Oswego, Illinois, school district.
After high school, Brian attended the University of Arizona on a full scholarship. He graduated summa cum laude (4.0 grade point average) in three-and-a-half years with a BMA degree, specializing in percussion performance. He has studied percussion with Gary Cook (Director of Percussion Studies at the U of A School of Music and Dance), Robin Horn (freelance drum set artist), James Ross (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), Patricia Dash (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and Peter Erskine (Steely Dan, Stan Kenton, Gary Burton).
During his sophomore year at the U of A, Brian won a percussion audition with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. In addition to performing classical repertoire with the orchestra, he has been fortunate to play drums and percussion with many guest artists including Bobby McFerrin, John Williams, Henry Mancini, Rosemary Clooney, Neil Sedaka, Emmylou Harris, Judy Collins, Maureen McGovern, The Fifth Dimension, Bernadette Peters, Marvin Hamlisch, and Doc Severinsen. Through the years, Brian also enjoyed performing with dozens of jazz, rock, heavy metal, funk, classical, Latin,and country acts in Chicago, Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and London.
In 2000, after twelve seasons with the orchestra, Brian retired from performing to spend more time with his son, Patrick, and to focus on developing his teaching methods.
Arizona's Flinn Foundation awarded Brian the Distinguished Educator Award in 2012.
Check out this PBS Video which features Brian's teaching studio and philosophy, his book The Snare Drum Plays The Zoo, and UpBeat--the hand drumming outreach program he developed for University of Arizona's College of Fine Arts. Many thanks to producer Dan Kruse for his amazing work on this project!
Many of Brianís students have performed with the Tucson Philharmonia Youth Orchestra, Tucson Jazz Academy, Jazzwerx, Southern Arizona Honor Band, Arizona All-State Band and Orchestra Festival, Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, Arizona Symphonic Winds, the Foothills Philharmonic Orchestra, the
Arizona Percussive Arts Society Mass Marimba Ensemble, and the University of Arizona Percussion Ensemble. A handful of students have placed in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Youth Concerto Competition, the Tucson Philharmonia Youth Orchestra Scholarship Competition, and the Civic Orchestra of Tucson's Youth Concerto Competition. Others have been finalists in, and even won, the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the Tucson Daily Star Battle Of The Bands.
Some students have participated in selective summer programs including the Juilliard Percussion Seminar, Dave Brubeck's Jazz Colony, the Stanford Jazz Workshop, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and the Aspen Music Festival.
Beyond high school, many of Brian's students have gone on to win music scholarship offers from Berklee College of Music, DePaul University, Northern Arizona University, Peabody Conservatory, Rice University, University of Arizona, University of Southern California, CalArts, University of Portland, University of North Texas, Northwestern University, University of Michigan, Arizona State University, Lawrence University, Miami University, New School of NYC, and Manhattan School of Music.
Some students have gone on to work, perform, and/or record as freelance musicians with Phantom Regiment, The Academy, Army Band, A Perfect Circle, ASHES dIVIDE, and DEVO.
Brian has done clinics, workshops, and lectures for Young Audiences, Tucson Unified School District, Amphitheater School District, the University of Arizona Careers In Music program, and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. He enjoys sharing his teaching, home office, and small business ideas with future and fellow music teachers.
Brian endorses Vic Firth sticks and mallets.
Brian J. Harris Method | 4210 North Saranac Drive, Tucson, AZ† 85718
Phone: (520) 878-0363 | Fax: (520) 844-8166 | Email:
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