by Lynn S. Schwebach
Sitting late one afternoon at a coffee shop with Northern Colorado drummer Jordan Pasquin, I asked him what inspires his passion for drumming. Without hesitation, he said creativity. I smiled.
“That’s what I blog about,” I told Pasquin. He didn’t pause, continuing to discuss what drives his passion for drumming and creativity.
“What I value the most in any musician is creativity,” Pasquin said.
Asked to explain how a drummer employs creativity, he said by experimenting with dynamics, different volumes, finding new ways to hit the drums. Also, he added, using different types of electronic and technical innovations.
Drummer Paul Romaine, a former teacher of Pasquin’s, said that Pasquin’s ability to improvise rather than imitate clearly makes him a creative drummer.
Romaine, who is the artistic director for the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts, and a faculty member at the University of Colorado Boulder and Metropolitan State University of Denver, said that many musicians learn how to simply play songs as they are written.
Fire in the Belly
“Lots can imitate but most don’t get to the innovate stage,” Romaine said, “which is improvisation.” Pasquin, he said, can improvise. “And, he has fire in his belly. He goes after what he wants; seeks out help and every learning opportunity available to constantly improve.”
Pasquin currently plays with several Northern Colorado bands, including a Big Band, the Mile High Mood Swings, a Rhythm and Blues band, The Sophisticats, and the Metal bands Unreasonable Human and Awaken the Masses. He also sits in for other bands and plays for many area musicals. And he plays with a church band.
Romaine said being a professional musician isn’t easy. You need to have the ability to play all different musical genres, have the technical facility – plus have the “social chops.” That is, he explained, the ability to get along with all kinds of people. Jordan has all of those tools, Romaine said.
When I asked Pasquin what genre of music he preferred to play, he said that he doesn’t have a preference. “I learn from playing each genre because there’s carryover; it’s like life – one thing affects everything else.”
But, he added, I love combining two genres. “So, for example, I love to take jazz and incorporate it into metal.”
Berklee College of Music
Which is probably the most creative kind of playing out there, according to Pasquin. And, coincidentally, what probably got him into one of the most prestigious music schools in the world, Berklee College of Music.
Out of 930 percussion applicants for the 2014-2015 school year, the College admitted only 135 – and Pasquin is one of those selected. He enters this renowned institution this August with a $10,000 Berklee scholarship.
Located in Boston, Berklee focuses on the study and practice of contemporary music. Its student body represents 96 countries, and its alumni have collectively won more than 250 Grammys and Latin Grammys.
Berklee alumnus and guitarist Thomas Welander said that it’s Pasquins ability to play every style of music out there and play it well – that makes him so valuable as a musician.
“Jordan is versatile,” said Welander, who first met Pasquin when he started playing with The Mile High Mood Swings. Welander, who also teaches at Aims Community College and the Loveland Academy of Music, quickly recognized Pasquin’s unusual talent and started helping him get gigs for musicals and other bands in Northern Colorado.
But not only is Pasquin versatile, he sight-reads well and also can simply hear music – and then play it.
“To have someone that young with these sets of skills is very rare,” Welander said. “I can call him up and ask him to sit in on a two to three hour set because I know he can do it. And do it well.”
Welander graduated from Berklee in 2005. To get into Berklee, Welander said, you already have to be a performer.
And if you have ever had the opportunity to hear Pasquin drum, you know he can perform. His drumming is physical – you notice immediately how it supports and adds to the experience of the other musicians, yet it doesn’t fade into the background.
Pasquin met me after working an 8-hour day with the Poudre School District as a groundskeeper. Taking off a couple of years after high school to try and save for college, Pasquin works days and plays drums nights and weekends. He started taking drum lessons in fifth grade but it wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school that he saw himself as a professional musician.
Creativity with a Capital “C”
I asked Pasquin if he has any other things he likes to do or enjoys. He looked at me confused. “Drumming is all. I work and I come home and I drum. If I’m not working for the school district, I’m drumming. On the weekends, I’m drumming.”
A single-focused, driving passion is what the creativity experts say define all creative domain changers, along with a combinatory process. This process involves studying and learning related fields or topics – or even unrelated topics – and combining this new learning with what has been stored in memory. Pasquin’s love of all musical genres and his constant learning of new drumming styles and genres in order to combine them with his already learned knowledge defines Creativity with a capital “C.”
So I suggest that if you haven’t had the chance to hear Pasquin perform, you should do it now. When he becomes a music legend, you can boast to your friends that you heard him play – and tell them that it was incredible.