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Local Drumming God: Greg Hersey

Follow+Greg+Hersey+on+Instagram+%40greghersey+and+marvel+at+his+drumming+godhood+status.
Follow Greg Hersey on Instagram @greghersey and marvel at his drumming godhood status.

Follow Greg Hersey on Instagram @greghersey and marvel at his drumming godhood status.

Ananta Arora

Ananta Arora

Follow Greg Hersey on Instagram @greghersey and marvel at his drumming godhood status.

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What is practice for a music major?
Local drummer Greg Hersey, graduate of UNF School of Music with a Masters in Percussion Performance, explains, “While I was in school, obviously I was practicing much more, especially in grad school. That’s the time to really work on your craft.”
Hersey remembers school as a time of intense work on skills, “I was able to practice 5-6 hours a day on specific things that I knew were gonna benefit me.”
Now, in his private home studio, Hersey offers both traditional and online lessons for percussion students of all levels of experience. In addition, he also helps the school band programs at Atlantic Coast High School, Providence School, and Episcopal School of Jacksonville. “Now, I consider some of my practicing to be through my teaching. So when somebody says practice, it’s not necessarily always playing. I can practice how I’m teaching by listening to music, score study, just being surrounded by music.”
Hersey, 25, has been playing drums since he was 10. Hersey grew up surrounded by music and drums. He and his younger brothers were inspired by their dad. “He’s the reason why I played drums and had an interest in it.”
A house full of drummers can get pretty loud. “My poor mom, she does play, and she can play, but you know, especially when I was living at home, we would have four or five drumsets in the house, like at all times. It was ridiculous.”
Hersey began endorsing companies 4 years ago and is currently sponsored by several brands, including DrumDial, RimRiser, and OneBeatBetter. Hersey explains, “I was seeing other drummers on Instagram, in magazines, and on social media. They were endorsing these companies or products, and I thought why can’t I do that? Just because they’re a bigger name or touring with somebody?”
These connections started with an email. “Just having that relationship with them, that’s what these companies want to see–that you’re using their product and you have somewhat of a following or that you’re, you know, pretty good.”
Hersey continues, “I guess with endorsements or sponsorships there’s a common misconception of people wanting, like, free stuff–that they’re just reaching out like, ‘hey, man, I love your sticks. Can you send me a bunch?’ and that’s not exactly how it works.” He says endorsements are a give-and-take.
Due to his steadily building his name and reputation, companies now seek him out. “It’s insane, I think that’s the coolest thing ever.”
Hersey has amassed a large following on his Instagram account
(@greghersey), with almost 12k followers. “The thing with social media, and specifically Instagram, is that your material, or whatever you post, can reach such a wide audience so incredibly fast.”
Bolles percussionist, Srivikram Margam S (‘17), is a big fan of Hersey, studying his Instagram religiously. “Greg is extremely technically skilled, yet maintains a distinct groove that adds real soul to his playing. He is very inspirational to new drummers like me. I’ve learned a variety of techniques merely by watching his Instagram posts.”
Contemporary drummers like Benny Greb and Mike Johnston inspire Hersey. Greb, a German percussionist and composer, teaches both online and at the Hamburg School of Music. He tours globally, speaking at various drumming conventions. Hersey hopes to meet and study with him someday.
Johnston pioneered online teaching for drums using YouTube. Hersey said, “He’s such a cool, genuine guy. That’s the other thing; there are a lot of great drummers and a lot of the great drummers are weird, kind of jerks or dickheads.”
Hersey was so nervous when he met Johnston that he felt like he was going to cry, but it went well. “When I saw him, I was like ‘Hey, man’ and before I even introduced myself he was like ‘Oh, you’re Greg, dude what’s up?’ Your idol, like, knowing who you were, it was awesome.”
Hersey emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind when listening to other drummers and musicians to really appreciate them, saying, “As I’ve gone through school, my tastes have changed, I guess.”
Having graduated college almost a year ago, Hersey is now working full-time. In addition to teaching lessons and at schools, he performs locally in wedding and corporate bands around town, and works in musical theater pit orchestras.
Hersey says his goal is to do more of what he’s doing now and, “just try to stay as busy as possible.”
However, he would love to take his skills on the road. The drummer said, “I’ve looked into doing like a touring production that goes around the country. I think that would be cool.”
“I think like the dream job would be doing something like the drumset player for the Blue Man Group, or like a big time show, or Cirque du Soleil. I think that would be awesome!”
Hersey stresses for aspiring drummers that being really personable helps you stick out from the competition. “Be open-minded, be proactive, and don’t be a jerk.”
Hersey feels good about creating a life as a working musician, finding the sweet spot between a stressful job and one that is fulfilling. “I think that is that middle ground, that if you have this really high-end job that’s really stressful, yeah, you might be making a lot of money, but if you’re not happy, what’s really the point?”
Hersey points out the importance and versitilty of musicians: “If you think about it, we’re constantly surrounded by music. There’s music everywhere.”

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Local Drumming God: Greg Hersey