CONCERT perspective:
Profiles in Percussion with James Campbell, PAS Hall of Fame

James Campbell has received worldwide recognition in nearly every aspect of percussion: as a performer with the Lexington Philharmonic and Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra, as an author in the development of award-winning contemporary percussion literature, and as an educator in his many years of work in Drum Corps International and teaching at the University of Kentucky.

He is a recipient of the Percussive Arts Society Lifetime Achievement in Education Award as well as being an inductee in both the DCI and Bands of America Hall of Fame. Most recently, James was inducted into the P.A.S. Hall of Fame. We are honored to have him as a long time member of our Zildjian family of valued artists and educators.

Mark Wessels and Anders Åstrand sat down with James to talk about his storied career, his perspectives for selecting cymbals in the orchestral and percussion ensemble literature, and teaching students the value of dedicating time to the accessory percussion instruments.

Mark Wessels, Zildjian’s Director of Education talks with James about getting his start at 10 years old – studying with Mitch Markovitch and playing in the Guardsmen Drum & Bugle Corps from Mt. Prospect, Illinois – to eventually judging & teaching in DCI with the Rosemont Cavaliers, and remembers a few of the influential percussion teachers in his career and his beginnings as the first full time percussion instructor at the University of Kentucky.

James Campbell has a conversation with Anders Åstrand about his history with the Avedis Zildjian Company, his concept of cymbal sounds in the percussion ensemble and orchestral literature and  philosophy of teaching students the importance of studying the accessory percussion instruments in his University of Kentucky studio.

James Campbell has received worldwide recognition as a performer, pedagogue,  author and is a respected figure in the development of the contemporary percussion ensemble. He has toured extensively throughout The Americas, Europe, and Asia. Currently Provost’s Distinguished Service Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, he also holds the positions of Principal Percussionist with the Lexington Philharmonic and drummer with the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra.

James also serves as Past-President of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) and received their PAS Lifetime Achievement in Education Award in 2019, which recognizes the contributions of the most highly regarded leaders in percussion education.

Having worked with several DCI member drum and bugle corps, James is well known for his long past association with the internationally renowned Rosemont Cavaliers, with whom he served as principal instructor, arranger, and Program Coordinator. He was inducted into the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame in 2008. He served as Percussion Director for the McDonald’s All-American High School Band and was inducted into the Bands of America Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals who have greatly impacted the nation’s band activity and music education.

As a performer, James has appeared at the International Society of Music Education World Conference, International Patagonia Percussion Festival, Journèes de la Percussion, PercuSonidos Percussion Festival, Swedish Arts and Musicians Interest Organization, Australian Percussion Eisteddfod, MENC National In-Service Conference, Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic, MusicFest Canada, All-Japan Band Clinic, The Music for All World Percussion Symposium, State MEA conventions across the country, and frequently appears at Percussive Arts Society International Conventions (PASIC).

Among his award-winning works for percussion, James has published with Meredith Music, C. Alan Publications, Innovative Percussion, Row-Loff Productions, Bachovich Music Publications, Alfred Publications, and Tapspace Publications. James is an artist and endorsee for Innovative Percussion, Evans Drumheads, Meinl Percussion, and a member of the Black Swamp Percussion Educator Network. He is an Artist and Educator for the Avedis Zildjian Cymbal Company and a Performing Artist for Yamaha Corporation of America, Band & Orchestra Division, who recently presented him with their Legacy Award.


In this lesson series, Zildjian artist James Campbell will break down the fundamentals behind playing concert crash and suspended cymbals in the band and orchestra. From strategies and practice tips to create consistent cymbal crashes to overall musicianship and teamwork, this is a resource that students and teachers alike can learn from!

CLICK HERE to dive into the lesson series!


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