Making Souls Sing

Written by: 
Jessica DeLeĆ³n
Kaylie Hardeman performing, throwign a drumstick in the air
Kaylie Hardeman ('13)

Kaylie Hardeman ('13), a freelance percussionist and music educator, says her job doesn't feel like work.

She performs for entertainment groups such as the Dallas Mavericks Drumline, FCDrum and Dynamic Rhythm Entertainment.

"It's really great to do what I love with people who I love, and put smiles on people's faces when we perform for them," Hardeman says. "Drumming keeps my hands in shape, and it helps me become a better performer every time I play a gig."

Hardeman is currently performing in the Tony- and Emmy-winning Broadway show Blast!, which is on tour in Japan through October. In addition to giving lessons and clinics in many high schools across the North Texas region, she also performs in the "3 for All Drumline," a local branch  of the national organization, The Artist Outreach Inc. Volunteers travel to elementary after-school programs to talk to students about the importance of the arts.

Hardeman understands the importance of inspiring young people with music. As a five-year-old she saw a parade in her hometown of Hurst and knew she wanted to be a snare drummer in a marching band.

"I remember hearing and seeing the drumline play some really cool cadences. I've been hooked ever since!"

Hardeman distinctly remembers the passion she felt seeing the drumline, but she also felt reserved about because she was a girl.

"I remember my mother telling me that day to never let that stop me from going after what I want, because 'girls can do anything boys can do,'" she says. "Mothers are always right. I feel beyond fortunate to be able to share this art with young women, and I hope to show them the same thing that my mother told me when I was young."

She got plenty of practice at UNT, where in addition to the Green Brigade, she played with several ensembles, including the 2:00 steel band, wind bands, the Afro Cuban Ensemble, the classical percussion ensemble and the indoor drumline. She also learned how to prioritize her time efficiently.

"Being part of the band taught me more than how to play my instrument at a high level," she says. "I learned a lot of life skills like preparation and professionalism that I have found extremely valuable in the professional music world."

And as a member of the Green Brigade drumline, she learned plenty from director Nicholas Williams ('97, '04 M.M., '09 D.M.A.) and percussion coordinator and assistant professor Paul Rennick, who was a composer and arranger for Blast! and was inducted into the 2017 Drum Corps International Hall of Fame.

Hardeman says Rennick completely changed the way that she plays and listens to music.

"He has also taught me how to just go for the things that I want in life, and not to be afraid to take risks," she says. "If I have my eyes set on a percussion opportunity, then I should go for it, no questions. He is the reason I've had so many life-changing experiences in my percussion career, and he has provided with me with many of those opportunities."

Those opportunities have resulted in some enthusiastic praise for her work. During one Dallas Mavericks Drumline performance, a woman approached Hardeman and told her, "Your drumming makes my soul sing."

"That's exactly why I love playing music, especially drums," she says. "I'll never forget that moment!"

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