SAE Chicago Faculty Member Plays Percussion on French World Jazz Tour

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SAE Chicago Audio Technology Program faculty member JoVia Armstrong played percussion with the Black Earth Ensemble of Chicago on the Beyond Black tour, which performed concerts across France through October ’14. The headliners on the Beyond Black Tour were award-winning jazz flutist Nicole Mitchell and internationally acclaimed kora player Ballake Sissoko.

With campuses in NYC, L.A., San Francisco, Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago, and Miami, SAE's unique combination of practical and theoretical curriculum gives creative media arts pros a powerful competitive edge in their career pursuits. (USA.SAE.edu)

SAE Chicago faculty member JoVia Armstrong played percussion with the Black Earth Ensemble of Chicago on the Beyond Black tour, which performed concerts across France through October '14.

I think of SAE’s curriculum as being ‘get to the point’ education. It gives students a huge edge by preparing them to be job-ready once they graduate.

SAE Chicago Audio Technology Program faculty member JoVia Armstrong played percussion with the Black Earth Ensemble of Chicago on the Beyond Black tour, which performed concerts across France through October ’14. The headliners on the Beyond Black Tour were award-winning jazz flutist Nicole Mitchell and internationally acclaimed kora player Ballake Sissoko.

“Nicole liked the new style and sound of a hybrid percussion rig that I put together, so she asked me to join the tour,” says Armstrong, who was chosen as the Percussionist of the Year at the 2014 Black Women in Jazz Awards. “Our shows began at the Royaumont Abbey in northern France on October 12; continued at Le Hangar 23, an international art and performance venue in Rouen on October 16; and finished up at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris on October 18 and 19.”

Armstrong grew up in Detroit. Her interest in percussion began when she was 12 years-old and she taught herself how to play a drum set. As a student at Detroit’s Cass Tech High School, she learned orchestral percussion, and was a section leader in the school’s bands. She discovered world percussion during her freshman year at Michigan State University, and studied Afro-Cuban music and percussion performance.

After transferring to Columbia College in Chicago and earning a B.A. Degree in Arts, Entertainment & Media Management in 2002, Armstrong sought work as a session and touring percussionist. She soon developed a reputation as a serious, diverse, and creative player, and began building an impressive resume for her work with such artists as El DeBarge, Rahsaan Patterson, Eric Roberson, Frank McComb, Res, Omar, Michael Franti & Spearhead, and JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound.

“In between tours and studio work, I taught digital audio production and I loved it - so when the opportunity opened up to join SAE Chicago in 2012, I jumped on board,” says Armstrong. “I think of SAE’s curriculum as being ‘get to the point’ education, meaning we teach students what they need to know so they can be equipped to work in their desired field. It’s an accelerated and efficient approach that gives students a huge edge by saving them money on their tuition bills and getting them prepared to be job-ready once they graduate”.

Along with her teaching gig at SAE Chicago, Armstrong is currently writing new compositions for the third album of world jazz string and percussion ensemble Musique Noire. She’s also looking forward to another tour of Beyond Black in February ’15, which will make stops at venues along the German border.

As far as advice goes for SAE students and grads who’d like to supplement their audio technology pursuits by becoming working musicians, Armstrong has three recommendations: “be kind and respectful, say ‘yes’ to just about everything that an artist asks you to do, and continue studying!”

About SAE:
SAE Institute provides aspiring creative media professionals with a foundation of practical theory and valuable hands-on training in their chosen areas of concentration. Under the guidance of our faculty, which is comprised of working industry professionals, students gain the essential experience they need for entry-level jobs in the entertainment business. Our students are supported in their job searches by SAE’s international network of alumni, many of whom are leaders in the music, film, game arts, and live performance arenas. We offer programs in audio technology across our seven US campuses, along with a music business program at select locations, all fully accredited and focused on preparing students for employment when they graduate. Bachelor’s Degree programs in Animation, Audio, Film, Game Art & Graphic Design are available at the two locations of Ex’pression College, which is owned and operated by SAE Institute Group, Inc. SAE Institute Group, Inc. is a part of Navitas LTD. Learn more at USA.sae.edu.

About Navitas:
Navitas is an Australian global education leader, providing pre-university and university programs, English language courses, migrant education and settlement services, creative media education, student recruitment, professional development, and corporate training services to more than 80,000 students across a network of over 100 colleges and campuses in 27 countries. Learn more at Navitas.com.

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