Dubose teacher 'steels' the show

  • Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mike Greer performs a warmup exorcise with one of his steel drums classes at Dubose Middle School. MICHAEL QUIRK/JOURNAL SCENE

 
Unless you are watching Jack Black in School of Rock you might find it unique to see a teacher performing music for and alongside his students. That is one of the things Dubose Middle School students get with Mike Greer.
A native of Magnolia, Ky., Greer has been a percussionist since he was 7-years-old. After earning his undergraduate degree from Miami University in Ohio, he earned a masters degrees in percussions performance and teaching from Eastern Kentucky University.
Greer took an 8-month hiatus from his undergraduate studies to go perform in England. He was a percussionist in the original London cast of Blast! and performed in the famed West End. The ensemble then traveled to New York City to perform on Broadway.  After being told that he would not be able to take time off for his wedding, Greer quit and went back to school.
In the fall of 2005 he was hired by Joseph Pye to become the new band director at Dubose Middle School. Due to the growing number of steel drum classes, he only held the position for a semester before becoming the steel drum director in Jan. 2006. Since then Dubose has become the largest middle school steel drum program in the country.
“We have six steel band classes and 65 kids in the program,” said Greer. “We have great support by the district and are up to 39 instruments.”
Greer said that his years of performing have translated well to his time as a teacher.
“As a musician, not everything goes as planned and you have to improvise. It’s the same way in the classroom, things are always changing and you have to adapt.”
Despite being a teacher, husband and father, Greer still manages to find time to perform music outside the classroom. He plays drums for the country music band Gracious Day. He is also the principal timpanist for the North Charleston Pops Orchestra, performing popular music like Beetles tributes. As a solo artist he plays steel pans at weddings, corporate events and other private occasions. His favorite venue to perform at is with the Ashley Ridge Church Worship Team.
“The highlight of my week is Sunday morning,” said Greeg. “I am the drummer and I look forward to it every week.”
Students have come to see Greer’s performance at the church as well as with the Pops. Those performances in front of his students gain him credibility in the classroom.
“Whether it is the kids going to my performances or if I show them when I was in Blast! it definitely earns credibility with the kids,” he said. “They need to see and hear you play at a very high level.”
Greer plays alongside the students in class and finds it helpful not only as a teacher but as a musician.
“Playing every day with them helps me stay on top of my game,” he said. “I’m in a position to inspire them.”
Gracious Day’s next performance is at Planet Rocks on Oct. 26. Greer will also be performing with the Pops on Dec. 7 at the performing arts center, and on Dec. 13-16 at the Singing Christmas Tree at Summerville Baptist Church.

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