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Maine South percussion teacher keeps the beat with Blue Man Group, Bulls drumline

When he’s not educating budding musicians at Maine South Significant College in Park Ridge, Thomas Benko is supplying the defeat for a established of blue-headed males or energizing Chicago basketball fans.

Benko, a aspect-time percussion instructor, performs with Chicago’s Blue Male Group at the Briar Road Theatre and is also a member of the Chicago Bulls drumline, Stampede. And if that’s not plenty of songs to fill his times, he’s also getting ready for the launch of his extremely initially album subsequent 7 days.

“I always convey to my students songs need to be aspect of your life in some way,” said Benko, who is now in his fifth calendar year at Maine South. “There’s only likely to be a tiny percentage of us who make it a career or a everyday engagement, but I always convey to them you can find pleasure actively playing in a great deal of distinct capacities. You can sign up for the community band, or you can be a client who listens to songs and enjoys it.”

Benko, a Roselle native, commenced actively playing the drums at age 9 — but it was two years before that desires of becoming a musician initially took form.

“My moms and dads took me to see the Doobie Brothers when I was 7,” he recalled. “The Doobie Brothers always had two drummers, and they appeared like they were owning so substantially pleasurable. They appeared like they were interacting really nicely and having fun with their role. I decided I wished to try out to do what they were carrying out and have as substantially pleasurable as they were owning.”

It took two years of convincing his father to permit him choose lessons, but it paid off. Middle faculty band and the significant faculty marching band followed, not to point out garage bands in which he performed the likes of Weezer and Green Working day. In university, Benko majored in songs and toured with a drum corps that done about the state.

In 2013, he auditioned for and earned a spot in the Blue Male Group band as a member of the revolving forged of drummers.

“Our work is really incredible,” he said. “We engage in a great deal of songs in the show. The Blue Gentlemen are naturally executing and actively playing drums as nicely, but the band is laying down a sonic landscape for the Blue Gentlemen to perform in. …. We’re the musical backdrop to their performing in the foreground.”

Benko, who dons paint and reflective clothes, but not the distinctive blue make-up of the principal-stage performers, describes Blue Male Group as “a really amusing, science fair rock show,” that, finally, requirements to be noticed to be understood.

“For me, I really like the role due to the fact the aspect — and my work particularly — is pretty eclectic,” he said. “There are instances when I have to be a really impressive rock drummer and other instances when I want to additional nuanced and engage in additional textural stuff.”

The role also necessitates a great deal of improvisation, Benko said.

“There are pieces that could possibly be a little little bit longer or shorter, primarily based on what is likely on [on stage],” he said. “For the musicians primarily, [the opportunity for improvisation] is a huge aspect of why it is really pleasurable to engage in the show. You have to remain on your toes, and there’s completely no phoning it in — at least not in my intellect.”

In 2011, even though continue to in university, Benko started a five-calendar year run with the Chicago Bears Drumline, executing at home video games and unique events. Two years in the past, he shifted to the Chicago Bulls Stampede drumline, which has also incorporated activity performances and stints at events like Lollapalooza, he said.

“We’ll set together a distinct show for every single activity we are involved in,” Benko said.

“Tom has been a good addition to the group,” said Stampede Drumline Director Adam Hill, who also teaches songs at Romeoville Significant College. “Adding some new standpoint and ideas to our ensemble, he is total of good vibes.”

To assist fork out his way by university, Benko taught significant faculty drum traces, which finally led to his work at Maine South co-educating with Band Director David Hutter in the classroom and giving private lessons to students as nicely.

A lot more and additional Maine South students are choosing to engage in percussion, he noted.

“We have a tiny army of percussionists at Maine South,” Benko said. “When I commenced there, we had 17. Now we have 42, and subsequent calendar year the amount will be in the 50s.”

Students genuinely like the lessons, which involve intermediate and highly developed percussion methods and applications, Benko said.

“We really get to dive into what they want to perform on independently and as a percussion segment. I feel that’s what has made it pretty well known,” he said.

This thirty day period, Benko will increase recording artist to his list of achievements. All over March 15, he expects to launch his extremely initially solo, instrumental album, “Rodina,” on electronic media platforms.

The title, Benko spelled out, indicates “family” in the Slovak language.

“It’s kind of like an homage to my next loved ones, which is my musical loved ones — persons who impressed me, taught me, engage in songs with me currently, even students at some points,” he said.

jjohnson@chicagotribune.com

Twitter: @Jen_Tribune

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