Kevin Donahue is one of the newest percussion instructors at the 402 Arts Collective. Although born in Des Moines, Iowa, Kevin has lived the majority of his life in Omaha, Nebraska. He is one of five siblings in his family. Although he claims that he is kind of the black sheep of the family when it comes to being musically inclined, Kevin did inform the 402 that he is related to Tim Halperin who was featured singer/songwriter on American Idol.
I have vague memories of trying to bang on different things around the house as a small child. Having seen Wayne's World, I felt a certain connection with Garth. Drums were always something I thought about doing, however it wasn't until I was in 7th Grade that I first sat behind a full kit. At that moment I knew I had to try to get behind a kit again.
Kevin played in his first band when he was only 13 years old. He didn't realize he was any good until a couple years later when he played in a battle of the bands. His band competed against other high school bands in the area. Later on in high school, Kevin discovered that he could hold his own on the drums as well as started playing some out of town shows. It wasn't until he graduated from UNO with a Sociology (with a focus in Anthropology) degree and was faced with the question, "What do I want to do for the rest of my life?" that he officially decided to pursue music as a career.
There is a drummer/recording engineer in town, Steve Micek, who I met as a late teen. I looked up to him musically. He since has become a bit of a mentor. We played in a band together a few years ago and he really pushed me as a drummer to try things that were outside my comfort zone. He really stretched my style into areas I didn't think I was capable of. He has given me countless pointers and advice regarding equipment, recording, drumming and life in general. I am so appreciative of his generosity over the years.
Another influencial person that help convince Kevin that he should pursue drums as a profession probably didn't know he was doing just that. Kevin's guidance counselor in high school saw Kevin play in the battle of the bands. He told Kevin that drums might be something worth pursuing.
I wasn't a bad student by any means, but I think he could tell I was passionate about music and that if nothing else interested me as much as music, then music is what I should do. Having a guidance counselor at a college prep school recommend pursuing music meant that I should at least consider it.
Another monumental stepping stone in Kevin's life happened the summer after high school. A musician he liked was playing in town and the owner of Antiquarium Records downtown gave him a demo of Kevin's band at the time. After his tour was over, he contacted Kevin and his band and offered to help them get some music together and schedule a tour. The tour didn't come till spring break Kevin's freshman year of college. Kevin is grateful for this experience because without it he believes he would still think being a "real" musician is unattainable for the average person.
Songwriter Simon Joyner asked me to be in his band. Over the last 3 years we've worked on albums together and have toured the country together. In high school Simon was one of my favorite artists and I always thought he'd be this mythical figure that I'd sometimes get to see play live but would probably never meet, let alone play with. Something about playing with your idols makes you feel like you can do anything. Through playing with Simon I've had a lot of other opportunities arise including backing a band from New Zealand and helping score a film.
Kevin's main focus as an instructor is to make sure his students have fun as they learn. He believes hard work is important but ultimately if you aren't having fun as you learn then it is not worth it.
Everyone has something they love and I hope my students can find that one thing, whether it be drumming, painting, playing sports or anything else. If that one thing is drumming, then I hope to show my students beyond a shadow of a doubt that nothing is more fun than playing the drums.
The 402 Arts Collective strives to find working professionals like Kevin to pass along their knowledge to the next generation of musicians, artists and creatives.
I think someone should choose the 402 for the personal connection that comes with taking lessons there. Where I took lessons as a young person didn't seem to stress personal growth, interpersonal connections or having fun at all. It seemed to be about getting in there, getting a lesson and leaving. I think the 402 is different in that there are teachers who want to connect with students and have fun with them while they both learn about themselves and about the art they chose. All the the teachers at the 402 seem to be in it for the right reasons. By that I mean that it seems like the whole collective is in for the betterment of the community, not just to make money. I like that and I am happy to be a part of it.