Micah Lewis’ musical career has taken him from the University of Memphis to Yokosuka, Japan, where he served as a Musician 2nd Class in the U.S. Navy and a percussion instrumentalist for the Seventh Fleet Band, and now back to the United States.
Lewis, a Memphis native, earned his Master of Arts degree in Jazz Studies and Pedagogy from the UofM in 2013. This spring, he was promoted to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band and now is stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. He recently described his experiences at the UofM and as a U.S. Navy musician.
Question: How did you end up playing music in the Navy’s Seventh Fleet Band in Japan?
Answer: It was my next duty station working in the United States Navy Fleet Bands.
Q: Why did you choose to enroll at the UofM?
A: I enrolled at the University is Memphis because it was the best option for me to pursue my musical education. It was also the closest University to my home.
Q: What do you do in the Navy’s Fleet Forces Band, and is that your main role?
A: I am a percussionist/drummer, and that is my main role.
Q: How did you come to be a percussionist, and what do you enjoy most about those instruments? Do you play other instruments, too?
A: I became a percussionist without realizing the implications of being a musician. I started out playing the piano and always wanted to play drums. My father played piano and wanted my brother and sister and I to play the piano, as well. In my early years, I did not enjoy the piano so I moved to the bass guitar to play in church and around the Memphis area. Finally, my father bought me a drum set … the rest is history! My obsession with rhythm was codified within myself and I had to quickly nurture it to build it up.
Q: What type of music do you play in the Navy?
A: I have the privilege to play different types of music from classical to metal music in the Navy Band. I got a chance to play folk and new songs from different southeast Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Philippines, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Singapore, Indonesia and Myanmar.
Q: What do you remember best about your time in the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the UofM?
A: I remember the faculty at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music because they were very helpful in my development as a musician. The music faculty were equipped with most, if not all, of the answers to the questions I had about music, and they let me exercise what they imparted to me.
Q: How was the UofM instrumental in your musical career?
A: The University of Memphis broadened my musical palate by introducing me to a side of music I was not accustomed. Being at the University of Memphis helped me strengthen the musical concepts I grew up with while opening my mind to different sides of the musical spectrum.
Q: What did you enjoy about your time stationed in Japan?
A: I enjoyed every bit of Japan and what it had to offer. From Japanese cuisine to the entire culture, it was a very rich experience!
Q: What do you plan to do with your musical talents after you leave the Navy?
A: I would love to still be active in performing and producing musical projects. I would also love to continue teaching privately and educating young musicians.
Q: If you were going to suggest a music student to study at the UofM, what would be your message?
A: The University of Memphis is a great school for your studies. I have had a great experience attending the University of Memphis. I realize my experience may not be the same as others. However, being a native Memphian and now have traveled to many countries, I can truly declare the University of Memphis can and will give you the resources and opportunities you need to succeed.
(Photo: Musician 3rd Class Micah Lewis plays the drums for local residents during a concert at Bien Dong Beach Park as part of Pacific Partnership 2017. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Madailein Abbott.)
— Phillip Tutor, CCFA media coordinator, email@example.com