Nick Birmelin

About: Nick Birmelin

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  • Role : Winds, Brass, & Percussion
  • Website :
  • Experience :
  • Specialist in : Brazilian Percussion, Beginning Drumset, Tuneful Sequence, World of Music and Percussion, Saturday Music Project Faculty (Percussion and Ensembles), and Creative Aging (Brazilian Dance & Percussion)

Instrument you teach: Percussion, Drum set, Tuneful Sequence, World of Music

Do you play any other instrument in your spare time? Piano, guitar, and cavaquinho

Education: I attended Berklee College of Music and University of New Mexico. I have learned with many different teachers over the years in New York, Cuba, and Brazil. I continue to travel regularly to Brazil to learn more about Brazilian music, dance, and culture.

Where are you from? Born in New York, raised in New Jersey.

Favorite age group to teach: I teach all ages and enjoy teaching every age.

Favorite song: “Axis Bold as Love” – Jimi Hendrix

Favorite piece of music: Gymnopedie #1, Erik Satie – but my favorites are always changing

Favorite food: Any dumplings they have in Chinese Dim Sum.

Favorite color: Green and blue

Do you have any pets? No

What’s your favorite musical memory? I am always creating new favorite musical memories, but…I have fond memories of a 20-person Brazilian drum group I put together for the Brazil-US soccer game at the NJ Meadowlands two summers ago. I have fond memories of playing at various Samba Schools in Brazil (Salgueiro and Mangueira). As a teacher I am continually amazed by my student’s ability to learn and adapt musical ideas. Many of my musical memories, ideas, etc…are inspired through my teaching.

What do you like best about teaching music? I like to see how my students apply what they have learned, so that they can develop their own ideas about music. In addition, I want my beginner students to walk away with a solid foundation and the necessary tools to read rhythmic notation. If a student who has no prior experience can walk away with those essentials as well as a basic understanding of how to play with others I am satisfied.

Who is your favorite composer or musician? Miles Davis

What was the first piece of music you ever learned? Yankee Doodle

How many hours a day do you practice? One to two hours

How long have you been at TBMS? Since 1997

Accomplishments: I have been Co-Director and musical director of Grupo Ribeiro Dance Company for the past 5 years. We have produced numerous Brazilian shows/events in the NY area and continue to develop new events. In 2002, I received a grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation to develop a series of musical pieces to be accompanied by photographic images, in conjunction with the Hoboken historical society and the Hoboken based group Hippopotamus.

I led and organized “Grupo Ribeiro Youth” (a 15-piece kids group) in a performance with notable Jazz Saxophonist Sadao Watanabe at the 2010 Japan Day in Central Park. We performed for several thousand  people in the culmination of the Japan Day festivities.

I have been the musical director at Quenia Ribeiro’s Samba Afro Brazilian class at Alvin Ailey Extension since 2005.