Who I am

photo by Lydia Bittner-Baird

A class act…a poet and the thinking musician’s percussionist – a maverick with grace and subtlety.” – Colin Currie


Most percussionists choose one of two avenues into the life of a percussionist: through drum set or piano.  Mike Truesdell picked the second…kind of.  Starting his musical career on a Cracker Jack box with a ruler taped to it, Mike mastered the art of holding this box under his chin until he graduated to a violin so small that could double as a Christmas ornament.  Everything went well for him until he was required to add vibrato to a note.  Then, after promptly discontinuing the violin, he started piano lessons with the irreplaceable Vicki Jenks, who fostered him in both piano and percussion until he was ready to leave the nest. 

Upon leaving the nest, he settled in at Lawrence University under the wing of Dane Richeson, a master in the art of…encouragement.  By encouraging travel, Dane inspired Mike to study abroad in Amsterdam with Peter Prommel and members of the Concertgebouw.  Then, upon graduation, Mike set off to Lucerne, Switzerland to work with Pierre Boulez and the members of Ensemble Intercontemporain.  In a rare moment of reflection, Mike was proud that his musical tastes had grown from “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” to Boulez.

Lawrence took a lot out of Mike…in a good way… but still he felt that grad school had to wait.  So it did.  In his two years in between schools, he started up the Savanna Oaks Percussion Ensemble (SOPE, for short), which turned out to be among the most rewarding experiences of his life, but because at first he really didn’t care for middle schoolers (especially in large groups), it took a bit to get used to it.  He learned to love ‘em, though, and they had a fabulous two years of playing at the airport, teachers’ meetings, lunches, and going to Red Robin. 

Also in that time, Mike teamed up with two of his great friends, Dane Crozier and John Doing and formed Spectrum Trio, the self-proclaimed “greatest group of all time.”  They were even the #1 album sales at PASIC in 2009!

Then, Mike decided to get on with the whole school thing and went to Juilliard, where he studied with Dan Druckman, Gordon Gottlieb, Markus Rhoten and Greg Zuber.  He even knew some folks from Lawrence U who were also starting up there!  For all the hype, it was a great place to go to school with some amazing opportunities.  He worked with world-class performers, conductors, and composers and met some close friends who he still plays with today!

After getting a Masters degree, Mike had a momentary lapse of concentration and decided to go back to school again, though this time for 5 years, to somehow grasp that illusive DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts).  He finished up with that degree, also at Juilliard, in May of 2016.  After a summer of fun in the sun of Ojai, California, Mike started up as Assistant Professor of Percussion at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.  And this is where he is sitting while he writes this bio.

Lots of people give a bad rap to companies and endorsements, but we would have a tough time in the music world without them.  Share the love, hug a percussion company today.  Huge shout-outs to Marimba One, Zildjian, and Black Swamp Percussion!

If you didn’t know where you were…more info about Mike can be found at www.miketruesdell.com


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