Derek Dreier is an eclectic musician and educator, versed in a variety of musical traditions.  With a passion for teaching and outreach, as well as a formidable commitment to his craft, Derek is a musician primed to meet the demands of an expanding musical world.

As a performer, Derek’s abilities traverse many musical landscapes.  Derek has worked in Chicago and throughout the midwest as a freelance jazz drummer, and for five years was a member of the Minneapolis based Jana Nyberg Group.  With the JNG, Derek performed and toured extensively, including appearances at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, and culminating in recording the group’s second album Fever.   While jazz drumming is Derek’s bread and butter, classical percussion is the centerpiece on his musical table.  Derek was a member of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Symphony for the 2009/10 season, during which time he also performed with the Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Dubuque symphonies.  He has
performed with orchestras in Indiana, Iowa and Massachusetts, and participated in the 2012 and '13 Castleton Festival and the 2009 Indiana University Summer Music Festival. Derek's experience extends below the stage, with pit work including Opera productions of Carmen, Magic Flute, and La Bohème, and Musical productions of Godspell, Drood, and Always...Patsy Cline, among others.  The spice of Derek’s musical menu incorporates vast experience with non-western traditions, specifically of the African diaspora.  Derek studied and performed Batá drumming of Matanzas, Cuba under the mentorship of Michael Spiro, was instrumental in founding the Bloomington, Indiana based Latin Jazz Collective and previously was a member of the Wisconsin based salsa band Vale Todo. Derek’s career highlights include memorable concerts with Joshua Bell, Michel Camilo, Jamie Laredo, Maria Schneider, Kenny Wheeler, Bobby Watson, and conductors Lorin Maazel, Hugh Wolff, Leonard Slatkin, David Robertson, Giancarlo Guerrero and Mario Venzago.

As an educator, Derek shows a commitment to students of all ages and abilities.  Derek is currently the percussion instructor at Urbandale High School and Merrill Middle School, while also maintaining a private studio at his home in Des Moines. Other teaching experience includes the Beverly Arts Center on Chicago's south side, extensive work as percussion instructor and ensemble director in the Iowa City Community School District, and previously at Augustana College (IL), Indiana University and Lawrence University’s Academy of Music.  As a clinician Derek has presented classes at the University of Iowa, Indiana University, and Lawrence University.

Community outreach plays a vital role in Derek’s musical identity.  He was a Beneficent Society scholarship recipient and Community Performance and Outreach Fellow at New England Conservatory.  As a CPP fellow, Derek’s work focused on populations with physical and cognitive disabilities, and included a semester residency at Vinfen in Boston, a center for developmentally challenged persons.  CPP Director Tanya Maggi described Derek as “one of the most focused, driven, and professional graduate students I have ever worked with.”  Prior to NEC, Derek volunteered percussion classes at Camp Courageous (a year-round camp for people with disabilities) and developed community relationships as the director of Indiana University’s World Percussion Ensemble.  Derek was the drummer for Bethany Congregational Church in Foxboro, MA from 2010-12 and has toured extensively with the University of Iowa Newman Singers.

Derek studied for two years at the New England Conservatory and holds a M.M. degree from Indiana University and a B.M. from Lawrence University.  His primary teachers include, Will Hudgins, John Tafoya, Michael Spiro, Dane Richeson and James Dreier.  


Derek's primary goals in life are:  

1)  Be a member of a professional orchestra

2)  Go on tour as the drummer in George Jones' band

3)  Run the Boston Marathon



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Chicago, IL, USA