Percussion performance senior prepares to graduate, looks fondly on time at UI

Senior Tom Corbridge is getting ready to start his master’s degree at the University of New Mexico after graduating in May. With a passion for percussion, Corbridge looks to share his love with others through teaching.


Contributed photo of Thomas Corbridge, a senior percussion performance major at the University of Iowa.

Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter

When he was in middle school, Tom Corbridge began playing the trombone. After his brother got mad at him for picking the same instrument that he played, Corbridge switched to percussion — which would lead to a full-fledged career, and ultimately, a lifelong passion.

Corbridge is now a senior at the University of Iowa with a major in percussion performance and an arts entrepreneurship certificate. Following graduation in May, he will begin his master’s degree at the University of New Mexico, where he also has a teaching assistant position lined up.

Music is culturally immersive and breaks the boundaries of social issues like bigotry and racism, Corbridge said. He emphasized the uplifting nature of music and how it inspires a positive outlook on life — an important part of why he loves it.

“It’s a glimpse into other cultures, and I think that’s just such a unique kind of experience,” he said. “It’s something you can bring straight into your home, and while traveling is great, I think music can also be extremely eye-opening for a lot of people.”

Corbridge said that, for as long as music has been a part of his life, he has known it would one day be his career.

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In the future, Corbridge said he would be interested in becoming a professor of percussion, and that he ultimately just wants to keep teaching and playing.

“That’s kind of my goal, both professionally and artistically,” Corbridge said. “I want to develop my skills so I can help develop my students’ skills in the future.”

When Corbridge starts as a TA in the fall, it won’t be his first time teaching. In addition to percussion, Corbridge said that teaching is one of his long-standing passions.

In the summers, Corbridge works at Birch Creek, a music program camp in Door County, Wisconsin. Corbridge attended as a camper when he was in high school and said that spending two weeks focusing solely on music helped him to realize just how much he wanted to pursue percussion as a career.

Studying music at the UI has afforded Corbridge many opportunities, he said, especially job opportunities that have led him to other career endeavors.

“I’ve gotten jobs through University of Iowa, playing in musicals, but also my job at Birch Creek I got through working here,” he said. “Then I got a job through Birch Creek, so it all kind of stems from the UI.”

Corbridge said he spends close to five hours a day practicing. Since he has come to the UI, he said his mentality has shifted from “I have to practice,” to “I get to practice.”

In part, Corbridge attributes his success at the UI to this shift in thinking and encourages other students in music to pursue what makes them happiest.

“You really have to put the time in, but if it’s something you’re interested in, it shouldn’t feel like work,” Corbridge said. “It should just be fun, and that’s kind of how I’ve taken it.”