Notes-Worthy: Mel Hoaks

Notes-Worthy: Mel Hoaks

C.U. Bands and Fans' Terry Brown chats with MEL HOAKS:

How long have you been playing drums and what bands/musicians have you played for?

I have been playing for over 50 years. Starting in grade school and high school band, marching bands and musicals in high school. The list of bands and musicians is long and diverse. But I currently work with Cliff Stoker, Jesse Howell, No Secret and occasionally Candy Foster and Friends.

I also work with Danville Light Opera, and I'm getting ready to do my seventh musical.

Tell us about teaching drums to children; what is the most satisfying part of teaching a child music?

Teaching is one of my passions, especially kids. To watch a child gain focus and confidence and listening to their stories is remarkable. I have learned to be patient and not give up. I have had students with attention disorders, self-confidence issues, special-needs children, and watching them become excellent drummers is rewarding. Then there are the prodigy kids, it doesn't get better than that as a teacher.

You are involved at Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System and with helping veterans. Tell us what Drum Circles is and how it is providing healing to veterans.

A few years ago while performing at the VA, I overheard a conversation regarding a drum circle for the patients through a music-therapy program. Immediately, I volunteered to be a drum-circle facilitator and now work with residents, as well as substance-abuse and psych-ward patients. Hand drums offer the opportunity for socializing, plus they show concepts on how to control anxiety, stress, depression and how we can affect blood pressure, heart rate and general attitude through music.

The rewards are tremendous; when a veteran who has limited use of hands increases circulation to gain feeling and dexterity, or opens up and tells you their story. I've had two patients improve their mental health after telling their personal story while playing; that is a major breakthrough.

Every couple of months, I take guest musicians to perform at special events, and the veterans get to see some of the top acts in the area. I first started this as a teenager doing USO shows and now work with those veterans.

Topics (1):Music

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billbtri5 wrote on May 18, 2017 at 4:05 pm

....Mel is the Man....