Name: Irja Maki
Category: World Percussion
Location: Marquette, Michigan, United States
I started playing percussion when I was around seven, inspired by my mother. She was a drummer in a punk band in high school, and lead snare in a Scottish pipe and drum core when I was a toddler. I learned my rudiments and basic drum-set grooves and when I could finally officially start playing percussion in the sixth grade I was enthralled.
Soon after I started playing as much as I could, I was in jazz band for five years, city band for around 4 years, and as many other ensembles I could take part in. I started taking private lessons with Carrie Biolo, who has been a huge inspiration to me in general. I have always said when I grow up I want to be a Carrie Biolo. Carrie has also given me an opportunity to teach at a week long summer camp Percussive Attack Camp, which has really been a privilege after being in attendance for the previous years. I also attended Batawagama Band Camp for four years studying with Roger Braun, who really gave me my first big experiences with world percussion.
I eventually found a study abroad program in Medie, Ghana when I was 16 called Dagara Music Center, where I stayed for three weeks studying West African percussion, dance, and song. I returned the next summer for six weeks, and hope to return for longer next summer. In Ghana I studied with Bernard Woma, Jerome Balsab, and Edward Greene. I have since taken that knowledge to Percussive Attack Camp, and to the local Halloween Spectacle.
I attended Lawrence University studying under Dane Richeson for a semester, before returning to Marquette. There I also studied with Luke Rivard bouncing gyil songs off each other and different Ghanaian dances. Currently I play in a couple local bands and take any opportunity to share my passion for world percussion.