Georgia Gwinnett College percussion club drums its way to class accreditation

By Charlotte Reames, Class of 2021

The signature beat of drumming vibrates down the halls of Georgia Gwinnett College. It’s been a long time in coming for senior public administration student Hunter Mosley and his cohorts, who were eager for an outlet to express their musical creativity. 

In the early days of GGC, there was no drumming club or percussion instruments. Those who were interested in drumming met periodically to play. At that time, GGC students of all skill levels huddled over buckets that once stored pickles to practice drumming techniques from around the world. 

Eager for a community focusing on musical expression, Mosley, alongside a few other students, first initiated Grizzly Percussion in 2012. Later, Mosley “re-founded” the club in 2017 when he returned to school after a brief stint in the workforce.

At its start, the club lacked funding for instruments, but the students made do with what they had. Much of their equipment has been student donated, which was an improvement from pickle buckets. 

“This first generation...they’ve built something from scratch,” said Todd Mueller, Ph.D., associate professor of music and advisor to Grizzly Percussion. 

As the pandemic raged on last year, Grizzly Percussion continued to meet and practice while socially distancing, donating their personal time to the club.

The community involvement and grassroots beginnings of the organization are at the heart of its success, according to Mosley.

“It puts the power back into the hands of the people who are part of it,” he said. “It gives them the tools to create their own expression.”

Last year, the club mastered an Irish drum called the “Bodhran,” a traditional Celtic instrument. They wrote a song and entered it into the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS) Southern Conference, an international organization that holds a national event for the academic community and the public to celebrate Irish culture. Today, GGC is one of the few higher education institutions in Georgia to offer instruction on the Bodhran.

According to Mueller, the club’s notoriety has “snowballed” recently. Club members can be found participating in on-campus concerts, drumming on the campus green and playing for community events. These activities led to more traction for development. This semester, GGC officially established its first Percussion Ensemble class

“The academic class would not have happened if it wouldn’t have been for the club,” said Muller.

Grizzly Percussion has bigger plans for the future, including several more ensemble courses, a drumline and a larger presence in the Lawrenceville community. 

Just recently, GGC’s School of Liberal Arts commissioned a set of steel drums for Grizzly Percussion. According to Dr. Marc Gilley, associate professor of music and associate dean, the set will be shipped to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago, a dual-island country in the Caribbean where the steel drum originates.

This progress means a lot to Mosley who dreams of how these drums will expand the Percussion Club’s offerings, interest and membership.

“I believe everybody’s got a bit of rhythm in them,” said Mosley. “You could just be riding down the road in your car and tapping the steering wheel. It’s something simple that everybody can do.”

Charlotte Reames is a student intern with the Georgia Gwinnett College communications team, and is a current recipient of the Antonio Damián Scholarship. See more information about GGC Scholarships.

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