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Drummer Phylshawn Johnson teaches what she knows: rhythm

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:46 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Phylshawn Johnson, right, a professional musician, gives Webb Sheely, 15, a drum lesson June 20 at Access Percussion. She helped Sheely prepare to audition for the jazz ensemble at Rock Bridge High School.

COLUMBIA — When Phylshawn Johnson, 31, isn't playing music in one of the four bands she's in, she's giving drum lessons at Access Percussion and Columbia Academy of Music.

For Johnson, it's fun getting to see her students learn and progress.

"It's cool sort of how the light comes on in the mind when the rhythms and the body come together," she said. "Lining everything up is cool to see, especially in a beginner."

Johnson remembered when that moment happened to her, when she started playing music as a 6-year-old in her mother's church.

"I got into music at an early age just because my mom and my dad listened to music a lot," she said. "I would always sing and dance along to the radio."

She remembers the first time she saw a band at church with her mother: "I was just instantly drawn to the music that was happening."

She joined Oak Park High School's band in Kansas City and formed her own rock band by graduation. She later attended MU, where she was a part of the MU Concert Jazz Band.

While Johnson primarily plays drums, she also plays guitar, bass and mandolin and does a little singing. She's been the drummer for the band Violet and the Undercurrents for almost two years and also plays the drums in The Megan Boyer Band and Mr. History. She plays the mandolin for Zorya.

Johnson plans to continue teaching and playing drums, but has been learning how to record and hopes to become an audio engineer. Her favorite part about playing music is connecting with the audience and music at the same time.

"It's kind of like this cycle of energy and if you get the right crowd and the right song and the right everything, it just makes this cool vibe and it feels like you're floating," Johnson said. "It's really sweet."

Supervising editor is Katie Moritz.

In a February 2012 Vox magazine feature, Johnson shared her favorite music.


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