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A Musical Feast

Kyle Peters ’15, a composer, educator and professional percussionist, is creating new goals and dreamscapes, one beat at a time.

An alumnus of The Crane School of Music with a bachelor’s degree in music education, Peters holds the position of percussion instructor at the Eastman Community Music School of the University of Rochester, where he builds and transfers skills daily to his studio of 45 students. Drawing from the very best of his experiences at SUNY Potsdam—like dedicated faculty who opened doors and helped him to hear opportunity with his own ears—Peters takes Crane with him like an invisible family.

“I remember my mother saying, ‘These are going to be the best four years of your life.’ I recall just thinking how cliche that is, but it was true,” Peters reflects. “The percussion studio at Crane is a special place—the Alley. I am forever grateful for my time at Crane and in the Alley.”

Peters made a group of fast friends at Potsdam, met his fiancé Madeline Morizio '15, and counted himself among the fortunate to learn from Crane Distinguished Teaching Professor James Petercsak, who directed the Crane Percussion Ensemble before his recent retirement. Mentored by Petercsak and pushed to achieve his best, Peters moved on from SUNY Potsdam to earn his Master of Music in Percussion Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in 2017. Shortly after, he was offered the position of percussion instructor at the Eastman Community Music School and began playing with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, simultaneously achieving his career goals of playing professionally and teaching.

“Crane encouraged me to be organized in building curriculum and provided me with the confidence in communicating and educating students of all ages,” Peters says. “I was pushed musically, and I had experience performing all styles of music, which allows me to provide my students with a well-rounded percussion education.” 

Peters’ love of music took shape at his school district’s music program, where he and his friends spent much of their time. His parents, both educators, were staunch supporters of his particular form of magic. Peters and his twin brother Shane attended the Crane Youth Music camp in 2010 and knew immediately that Crane was the place for them.

“CYM was a new experience for the two of us,” Peters recalls. “We had never been away from home for two weeks, and we were in an environment surrounded with music all day long. I was sad to leave after the program ended, but eager to have a successful college audition.”

Peters returned to the camp as a counselor in 2013-14 while enrolled at Crane, became a percussion assistant in 2015-16 and an instructor of percussion at the camp in 2017. Inspired to keep giving back, he makes the trip north to Potsdam each summer, hoping to pass on the spark of inspiration he received there.

“Some of my favorite memories were just sitting in the Alley with the entire studio,” Peters remembers. “While we probably all should have been practicing, we spent hours just hanging out, joking around, and having fun in that hallway. We were like a family.” 

 Article by Bret Yager, photos by Jason Hunter