Matt Savage received his Bachelor’s in Music Education from the Crane School of Music at State University of New York at Potsdam and his Master’s in Performance from the University of Southern California. He played snare in the Watkins Glen Squires and the Bayonne Bridgemen Drum and Bugle Corps and performed with many jazz and “world” ensembles. He has taught the Velvet Knights, Bluecoats and the University of North Carolina (UNC). He is a WGI judge and sits on its steering committee.
DeLucia: When did you start to play drums?
Savage: I think in my mother’s womb! I’ve always been a drummer! Mickey Hart wrote, “To all those who feel the power of the drum and don’t know why …”—that’s me!
DeLucia: Major influences?
Savage: My early teachers John Sears, Jimmy Ahearn, Tommy Reitano; my corps teachers Len Carey, Herb Flower, Joe Wormworth, Bill Calhoun, Bob Dubinski as well as Tony Maiello and Jim Petercsak [Crane School]. And of course, my parents, who were so supportive of my aspirations.
DeLucia: What attracted you to marching percussion?
Savage: I went to a parade when I was 10 and was amazed at the power and uniformity of the drum line and the volume of the brass. I’ve been addicted ever since!
DeLucia: Memorable experiences?
Savage: Playing the National Anthem when the USA hockey team won the 1980 Olympics, winning high drums with the Bridgemen, teaching the Velvet Knights and UNC, writing “The Savage Rudimental Workshop” and designing my signature sticks from Pro-Mark.
DeLucia: Any hip tips?
Savage: As drummers, we shouldn’t play the drums; we play the sticks! A master drummer knows how to manipulate the sticks, how they react to the drum, fingers, wrists and arms, how they are an extension of the body.
DeLucia: Any unfulfilled goals?
Savage: I want to be the percussionist with James Taylor. I find myself incredibly affected by his music.