A Drummer and a Scholar

Hernly and Poynter shake hands over a drum set in front of a crowd of thousands at Red Rocks Amphitheater

Some drummers hit the road in a van full of band mates in search of music stardom. Others, like St. Petersburg College Music Professor Dr. Pat Hernly, take a more academic approach. Recently, Hernly combined his academic studies and performance experience to publish a chapter in the Cambridge Companion to the Drum Kit.

Hernly co-authored the chapter with his former USF professor, Carlos Xavier Rodriguez, who is Associate Professor of Music Education at the University of Michigan. The Cambridge Companion highlights emerging scholarship on the drum kit, drummers and key debates related to the instrument and its players. The chapter, titled The Aesthetics of Timekeeping, discusses ways to help students evolve in their craft.

“We wanted to show instructors how they can help student drummers progress from just being functional drummers who just keep the beat, to actively developing them into more artistic music makers who can be creative and expressive through their timekeeping.”

An Early Start

Hernly, who had studied piano and bass from an early age, picked up the drums at age nine, when he chose the snare drum in an elementary school band. By age 11, he had a full drum kit, procured from the classifieds and strategically placed in a corner of the family basement.

“I come from a very musical family,” Hernly said. “I was really fortunate that I could play all I wanted to.”

Hernly said that as his abilities progressed on the drums, he found that he loved playing in front of an audience.

“I always loved to play live shows. I loved the energy of a live performance,” he said.

But instead of taking his talent on the road, he, influenced by his music teachers, took it to college.

“I was so inspired by my high school music teachers,” Hernly said. “Because of them, I wanted to become a K-12 music teacher. But once I got into college, my eyes opened to different avenues to explore in the music field.”

A Mulitfaceted Career

Hernly earned a master’s degree in Percussion Performance at Indiana University, then a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of South Florida. Now a lead professor in St. Petersburg College’s Music Industry Recording Arts program, Hernly teaches music literature, commercial music, musical ensembles, music theory and percussion. He said that he has the best of all worlds.

“I love all the different ways that there are to do music,” he said. “That includes teaching, performing and doing research. Those three approaches are like three points on a triangle, and each one informs the others.”

Hernly, whose research has been published both nationally and internationally, has performed at many prestigious venues in the U.S. and abroad, including Lincoln Center, the Hollywood Bowl and Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. He has toured Latin America and performed with a Latin pop star. He also has performed locally with The Spanish Lyric Theater, world music/Latin jazz ensemble Manigua, Afro Cuban artist Freddy Montes, flamenco troupe Somos, and the soul-funk-reggae band, The Hip Abduction.

Following the publication, Hernly presented on the topic at Association for Popular Music Education (APME) International conference for music education research and teaching concerning popular music, as well as via Zoom at a music education symposium at a university in Turkey.

From Inspired to Inspirational

This summer, Hernly will play the part of the inspirational instructor – literally – in August as he takes the stage with Matt Poynter, a former student whom Hernly connected with his former band, The Hip Abduction. Poynter, now the band’s drummer, and Hernly, who will play percussion, perform with the group at the iconic Colorado venue, Red Rocks Amphitheater.

“I’m really fortunate that we’re at a point in music education research where commercial and popular music are important research areas right now,” Hernly said. “I’m also incredibly fortunate that I get to do music and work with great students.”

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