Southern’s Unsung Hero: Eric Green
Monica Zielinski – Managing Editor
After being caught playing the drums after the local drum corps practice, rather than being told to get off, the founder asked Eric Green if he wanted to play. He spent the first competition drumming scared behind the curtain, but that’s when he fell in love with drumming.
Drumline Director Eric Green has been teaching drums for 20 years and was hired at Southern in 2009. A New Haven native, Green said he first started drumming after joining a local team called Nation Drill Squad and Drum Corps.
“I really think music—drummin’ kept me motivated, kept me out of trouble. Coming from an inner city like New Haven, where I grew up, it was almost as they call it, a ‘soft thing’ to play drums, to love music. But I think drummin’ is what kept me off the streets,” said Green.
He was the assistant band director at James Hillhouse High School when SCSU’s former music department chairman, Jonathan Irving, Ph.D., and current chairman, Craig Hlavac, Ph.D., were interested in starting a drumline at Southern.
Hlavac said he and Irving were “really impressed” with him so they recruited Green for the program and he’s been “a great addition to the department.”
“He’s really built the drumline from an idea to a reality in only a few years,” said Hlavac. “What’s nice is that now they’re actually competing regionally and hoping to compete nationally within the next year to two years.”
The drumline this year has 15 members and five of them are Southern students. The majority of the club is comprised of local high school students and community members. Green said they’ve been having a hard time recruiting students from SCSU, so they hope to offer scholarships in the future to encourage them to join.
Hlavac said Green “has a heart for urban youth” and every summer, Green runs a free two-week camp to teach kids marching and fundamental drills. These camps help him spot students with potential and recruit them for the drumline.
Green played in the band at Hillhouse his freshman year of high school, but had a rough time getting to college. He played at Virginia State and music became his life.
A high school mentor instilled in him the values of what music can do for him. 20 years later, Green said he’s put over 16 kids into college.
“I think taking these kids, some inner city kids and showing them that the world is bigger than the neighborhood, the world is bigger than their block, the world is bigger than their corner, and really showing them that listen—you have this talent God gave you, utilize it. Take it to the next level.”
Johnny Stanley, a junior Hillhouse High School student, is a member of the SCSU drumline and said in an instant message that Green is a “great teacher and a wonderful director” who’s very knowledgeable and passionate about music.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better director than him. He inspired me to go to college and be musically inclined like himself,” he said.
Greene said the way to change kids is to take them out of the environment they’re used to. Taking kids from a high school setting and putting them in a college setting with young adults starts to mold them.
“We have to instill that belief in kids that music is a way out,” said Green. “I like the things that are going on at Southern because now they’re starting to reach out to these high schools and getting these kids in here, in the classrooms, in the bands, in the drumlines and showing them that listen, you have that talent, this is a place where you can come showcase it. This is where you need to be. And I love it. I just love it.”
Photo Credit: Monica Zielinski – Managing Editor