Kelly Yacco, our drum instructor, has been teaching drums for over 30 years. He has taught hundreds of students at his studio in New Hartford ranging in the age from 5 to 75 years old. Kelly has been playing drums since the age of 11. Professionally, Kelly has studied in NYC with drum greats Dom Famolaro, Liberty DiVitto, Leroy Clouden, and Babe Castelli.

Throughout the years, Kelly has been the driving force behind several bands as well as the band he originally started with at the age of 19 called Touris. Touris made their comeback after several years of not performing, at the HGS Holiday Concert this past December.

Kelly came to HGS as a contracted employee in July of 2013. Assistant Executive Director Zig Malowicki and Music Teacher, Teresa Dunn, met Kelly {in 2013} to consider launching a Drum Program {as a pilot program} – with three boys from D cottage. At the time, the music room housed a very small Suzuki drum kit. Kelly – after teaching the boys their first lesson purchased a beautiful red “Premiere” drum kit to be used for instruction. The boys did extremely well throughout the process of learning and loved taking drum lessons. Shortly after that time, the interest in drum lessons for students on campus began to grow!

Kelly’s goal was to teach each student in a way that made them feel proud of themselves but strive to be better each time. His passion was infectious as was his ability to make each student smile and feel great about themselves.

Kelly has been the director for six years now and has recruited the finest musicians from the community to perform with our kids for our concerts. And with each concert, Kelly has his top student drummers perform with the band.

As the years progressed, Kelly introduced the students to several types of percussion instruments. He has donated top of the line drum kit equipment, including $1,000 worth of cymbals, our student drum kit from proceeds of Kelly’s Christmas CD, djembes, dun duns, and congas, which has resulted in our students feeling proud to play such beautiful instruments.

Four years ago Kelly and Music Teacher Teresa Dunn began to research the positive effects of hand drumming for children who have suffered trauma, emotional abuse, learning, and behavioral challenges. They worked for months with Jim Donovan [Director of Percussion Intervention St. Francis University] and became certified Drum Circle Facilitators. The agency then purchased a beautiful collection of djembes for the students to begin a new chapter with the Drum Program – Drum Circles and The Shepherd Drummers.

Our Djembe Ensemble, under the direction of Kelly, has performed numerous times on campus and has become recognized by the community as a very entertaining group over the past four years. The list includes performances at Preswick Glen, The Sitrin Home, Utica International Day, Utica Tomato Pie Day, the Alex Kogut Memorial Run, The Veterans Outreach Center, Village of New Hartford Band Festival, The Rotary Club, RCIL Wellness Fair, American Heart Association kickoff Gala, Boilermaker Run to the Drums, among more!

In addition to Kelly teaching on campus and directing The Shepherd Drummers – he has recruited TOP NOTCH PROFESSIONAL TALENT to entertain, educate, and engage our kids. Kelly has been instrumental in bringing in Mark Schulman – Drummer for Pink, Rich Redmond – Drummer for Jason Aldean, Aaron Spears – Drummer for Usher, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and Stephen Perkins – Drummer for Jane’s Addiction.

With each performance, Kelly’s goal has been to ENGAGE THE KIDS to be part of playing with professionals and remember the experience forever. Kelly has made a positive impact on many students at HGS. The Drum Program benefits many students and is open to EVERY STUDENT AND STAFF WHO WOULD LIKE TO LEARN TO PLAY THE DRUMS!

If you and your department is looking for a positive, energizing team building experience – contact Teresa Dunn to arrange Drum Circle.

A huge thank you to Kelly Yacco for changing children’s lives!

Please direct all media inquiries to Sean Farrell.
Phone: 315.235.7773

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