Student Spotlight: Jeremy Davis

Cindy Liu, Asst. News Editor

Think of the word musician and several instruments usually come to mind: violin, piano, flute. While percussion might not typically get as much recognition as other instruments, Diamond Bar High School junior Jeremy Davis has stepped onto center stage with his accomplishments as a percussionist.

Six years after first picking up the drumsticks, Davis has been featured on the National Public Radio’s “From the Top,” a program which features talented youth musicians in the nation, where he played Takatsugu Muramatsu’s “Land” on the marimba.

“In my mind, [percussion] is the most fun… to play,” Davis said. “It’s not something like I have to [make myself] practice; it’s just a fun activity.”

Additionally, as the winner of the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award this year, Davis received a $10,000 scholarship. Davis first knew of the opportunity through DBHS band director Steve Acciani, who encouraged him to try out.

The scholarship, awarded to five exemplary musicians in the nation, was given to students based on recordings they sent in.

With the money, Davis plans to buy the assorted instruments he needs because unlike other musicians, percussionists need to master a variety of instruments.

While throughout his childhood Davis had his mind set on a future playing basketball in the NBA, his life took a complete turn after he decided to try out percussion with his friends from elementary school. In the years since his first experience playing in South Pointe Middle School’s band, Davis has went on to play in the DBHS Symphony orchestra in addition to several top orchestras, including the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America and the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra.

“With that big switch, I had to make a big decision with my life,” Davis said. “Beforehand, I was going to do professional basketball and hopefully be in the NBA and everything, [but] then I shifted and wanted to be in a professional orchestra.”

This past summer, Davis was accepted to play in NYO for the second year running. Last summer, during his time in NYO, a five-week program in New York, he performed in Carnegie Hall, studied from top professional musicians and went on a two-week international tour with the orchestra.

Davis studies with Kenneth McGrath—a freelance percussionist who played in top orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic—whom he credits with many of his achievements, including his experience with the NYO since McGrath introduced him to it.

“Jeremy is really fine musician: mature for his age in many regards including his technical abilities and innate musical instincts,” McGrath said via email. “Jeremy’s incredible work ethic and drive to improve his craft are two things that have certainly helped fuel his success.”

Although Davis was initially part of DBHS’s Drumline in his freshman year, he decided to quit because he felt overwhelmed. With his personal practicing sessions lasting about two and a half hours every day on top of his school work and other activities, Davis focuses on his dreams as motivation.

“[I know] that if I slack off,  I’m just hurting myself from my future and what my ultimate goals are.”