With Jim Campbell, the proof is in the legacy. As a renowned performer, teacher, composer, author and respected figure in the development of the contemporary percussion ensemble, Campbell's fingerprint on the world of percussion is undeniable. Currently Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at the University of Kentucky (UK) in Lexington, he also holds the positions of Principal Percussionist with the Lexington Philharmonic and drummer with the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra; he is also past president of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS). Although known for his long past association with the Rosemont Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps, where he has served as principal instructor, arranger, and Program Coordinator, Campbell was also Percussion Director for the McDonald’s All-American High School Band, and has performed at countless national and international festivals.
Speaking for Campbell, it is all about giving to his students. His success in that regard is self evident, and has been honored; under Campbell's direction, the UK Percussion Ensemble has won the prestigious PAS Collegiate Percussion Ensemble Contest three times (2007, 2004, 2001), and has performed at several Percussive Arts Society International Conventions, The Lotus World Music and Arts Festival, The Bands of America Percussion Ensemble Festival, and alongside many world-renowned international guest artists. The ensemble will be featured this year at PASIC 2007. The UK Indoor Drum Line and the UK Steel Band have both received the highest accolades and continue to perform constantly.
Most recently, Campbell has been selected a University of Kentucky "Provost's Distinguished Service Professor," selected by the Provost, based on nominations submitted by deans. The designation is effective for a three year period, from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2010. According to Provost Kumble Subbaswamy, Campbell's "accomplishments as a performer and as a teacher in undergraduate and graduate education are indeed first class and his years of dedicated service to UK and the Percussive Arts Society rounds off a prestigious and dedicated profile of the consummate citizen of the college."
It's easy to understand what Campbell is like as a teacher and mentor when you ask his students. "He was not only a great professor to me but he is, to this day, my mentor and close friend. Over the years he has shown a deep sense of caring and kindness that is very special. He is a great role model," notes Dr. Michael Gould, Associate Professor of Jazz Percussion & Improvisation Studies, University of Michigan.
Campbell's students and UK alumni have been selected as finalists in the Percussive Arts Society International Solo Competition a total of nine times, finishing in first place five times, a record achievement matched by no other institution. Some continue to perform internationally with groups and in symphony orchestras. Other graduates have secured successful teaching careers in public schools and major universities. Many students have performed with or have instructed Division I nationally competitive drums corps, such as the Cavaliers, Blue Devils, Cadets and Bluecoats.
"I could certainly speak on how he goes out of his way to help his students develop successful careers," adds Rob Parks, Percussion Director at Newman Smith High School in Carrollton, Texas. "He has placed me in several roles of responsibility through my years as a grad student, which allowed me to develop as a performer, teacher, and colleague. Jim has influenced, and continues to influence, my daily decisions even though he's almost 900 miles away! His tutelage over the years has saved me from making so many poor decisions in my first few years of running my own program. I know that his guidance has pushed me ahead of where I would've been had I gone anywhere other than UK. Jim has had an everlasting effect on how I conduct myself as a percussion pedagogue. I love him dearly as a person and as a teacher."
"I started taking percussion lessons when I was 10 years old," recalls Campbell. "Since then, I've always had good role models as teachers. I noticed how much they enjoyed their profession and I knew some day that I would follow that career path. Once college started, I helped pay my bills by teaching private lessons and drum line and percussion ensemble at area high schools. I love the diversity of my career: teaching, performing, community outreach, service, research, composing, consulting. It's never dull!"
Campbell first became involved with Yamaha in 1986, when percussion consultant Fred Sanford asked him to get involved with their marching percussion clinic staff. Over the years, Campbell has contributed in many was as a Performing Artist and consultant in both marching and concert percussion. When asked what makes Yamaha instruments so special, Campbell replied, "The instrument design is solid, innovative and aesthetic, and the sound of the instruments resonates with my own musical concepts."
"I was lucky to study with Jim both at UK and while I marched with the Cavaliers," says Glenn Kotche, drummer for the band Wilco. "He trained us developing percussionists to be musicians first, and created an environment where creativity was valued and encouraged. Jim is a legend in the marching percussion world because of his contributions and innovations, and it's great to see how that experience in writing and arranging has informed his current output of award winning literature for the contemporary percussionist."
An active composer of concert and marching percussion, Campbell has published with Hal Leonard Publishing, C.L. Barnhouse Co., C. Alan Publications, Innovative Percussion, Row-Loff Productions, HoneyRock Publishing, Meredith Music and the Alfred Publishing Co., with whom he serves as Percussion Team Author for the Expressions Music Curriculum. He won First Place in the PAS 2005 Composition Contest for his work, Garage Drummer, scored for multiple percussion solo with CD accompaniment.
In closing, Campbell notes, "Be passionate about your own development as a musician and take every opportunity that comes your way. Make yourself relevant to your community and profession."