Phil Smith

Percussionist, author, and educator Phillip Smith is joining the teaching faculty at TMU as adjunct instructor in percussion.

Smith earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the University of Tennessee and a Master’s Degree in Music from the University of Memphis.  He has also studied privately with Ed Soph, Steve Houghton, and Jeff Hamilton.

Smith has been an active and innovative educator for the past thirty years. In addition to his new appointment with Truett McConnell, he also teaches at Georgia State University and Talladega College. His various educational appointments have allowed him to not only be a percussion lead but also teach classes in Music Theory, Percussion Methods, Jazz History, Music Appreciation, and various performance ensembles. Previously, he taught at the University of Memphis and the Atlanta Institute of Music. Smith is also an active clinician, performing at several NAMM conventions, the Berklee College of Music, and various music stores across the United States.

Coming to TMU allows Smith to teach and mentor church and school musicians to use their artistry to glorify God.  His own statement sums this up:  “I am a lifelong Christian raised in Athens, Tennessee, and a member of East Athens Baptist Church. Currently, I am a member and staff percussionist at First Baptist Church of Atlanta. One of the essential parts of my musical life is connecting and bringing people toward Christ through music. I confidently pronounce that a Christ-centered life is the best way to achieve an informed and fulfilling existence in artistry and education. Subsequently, I believe that my ability to demonstrate my beliefs and experiences will show students a path to navigate an incredibly diverse world.”

Dr. Ken Gabrielse, Dean of the Felix Manz School of Music, is excited about this adjunct hire. “As a small music school in a Christian, liberal arts setting, it is thrilling to be able to partner with Phil Smith, an incredible performer, educator, and church musician.”

“We are also going to benefit from Mr. Smith’s experience in writing, producing, performing, and podcasting about all things percussion,” said Gabrielse. “Our students will greatly benefit from his standing in the profession and his years of ministry in the local church. Our goal is for Mr. Smith to be able to build a studio which teaches church and educational leaders.  We want to be the place where young people come to learn to lead with excellence in their playing.”

Smith performing.

Smith has performed with many recording artists across many diverse genres, including Donald Brown, James Williams, George Coleman, Bill Anschell, Charles Davis, Diane Schuur, Mickey Rooney, and Tierney Sutton. He has also played on numerous commercial sessions and several movie soundtracks. During assorted world tours, he was awarded the opportunity to be an artist in residence at several international jazz festivals.

Since 1993, Smith has been a contributing writer to Modern Drummer Magazine.  He has had articles published in the popular columns “Jazz Drummer’s Workshop.”  Recently, Smith has been published in ‘Percussive Notes Magazine,’ the official peer-reviewed journal of the Percussive Arts Society.

In 2016, Smith began publishing “Drummer’s Weekly Groovecast,” a podcast geared toward drummers of all levels. Since its inception, the show has published over 200 hours of exclusive, educational content and has listeners on six continents. It continues to be one of the most popular drumming podcasts in the world.

Smith is an endorsing artist for Aquarian Drum Heads and Regal Tip Sticks and Brushes.


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