Blue Man Group encourages kids to pursue music dreams

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January 23rd, 2012

Omaha, NE – The Blue Man Group has left town. But before the performers headed out, they stopped by a middle school in Omaha to talk about music, performance and doing what you love.

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Blue Man performer Kalen Allmandinger (right) chats with Blue Man drummer Ramsey Roustom (left). (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

“We have a big bass drum… we call it the big drum, and the part goes like this,” said Kalen Allmandinger, a member of the Blue Man Group, as he stood before a group of middle school students and drummed a high-energy beat.

“We’ll play the piece for you, and then we’ll ask for volunteers,” Allmandinger said, as a few brave students looked around hopefully, and others shrugged down into their seats.

Allmandinger, and three other members of the Blue Man Group and its accompanying band, stopped by Beveridge Magnet Middle School last week to talk to young musicians and performers – and show them what goes in to a world-class production.

Comprised of performers coated from head to foot in blue paint, the Blue Man Group has toured the world with its unique production that combines music, movement and theatrics on stage. The group was in Omaha for a week-long performance at the Orpheum Theater.

Conner McGonigal (right) drums carefully, while Allmandinger coaches, and Blue Man performer Bhurin Sead looks on. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

But at the Beveridge Magnet workshop, the group wasn’t dressed in its traditional blue get-up. Instead, the performers greeted a few dozen students, dressed down in jeans and shaggy haircuts, to talk about following their dreams to a career on stage.

Michael Petrucci, a drummer for the Blue Man Group’s band, said he went to his parents when he was eight years old, and told them he wanted to play the drums. “A lot of my friends growing up were just like into riff raff and trouble and stuff,” he said. “I was lucky to find something young to get into. So I’ve been drumming my whole life. And after school, I would practice. And sometimes in school, when I should be studying, I was practicing.”

Most of the students at the workshop were band majors. Beveridge Magnet focuses on visual and performing arts, and allows its students to pick a major in the arts. Conner McGonigal, 12, is a band major. He was one of a few brave volunteers from the audience, who stepped up to perform with the group.

Most of the Beveridge Magnet Middle School students who attended the workshop are band majors. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

“Don’t be afraid, really lay into it,” Allmandinger coached, as McGonigal drummed with careful concentration.

McGonigal said it was a “neat experience” to play with professionals, and it was also inspiring to hear how they got to be where they are. “It was really cool because they were just normal people starting out” he said. “And then they turned into, you know, stars on the road and everything. So it was really cool to hear their story.”

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