As the nearly blinding lights focus on him, he channels any nervous energy and transforms it into his own artistic expression. This is how Luke Randolph experiences his performances.
Randolph, a senior music performance major, is halfway through his graduating semester. His passion for music began in high school.
“I wanted to write soundtracks and that’s what led me to want to get more into music,” he said.
A Joplin native, Randolph attended Raymore-Peculiar High School in Raymore, Missouri, where he played on the drum line and played viola in orchestra.
After graduation, he returned to Joplin to attend Missouri Southern. There were a few reasons he chose to attend: it was part of his hometown, he had family members attend the school, and it was priced right with scholarships.
As a Southern student, Randolph plays snare on the drum line and is part of the jazz band. He’s performed with Southern’s percussion ensemble, the wind ensemble, and jazz combos.
“[Music majors] are expected to do performances every semester. It’s part of like getting us ready for getting in the music industry,” he said. “Performing is kind of crazy because you spend countless hours in the band room and the practice room, just going over the same stuff.”
Stage fright can play a major part in how people view performing. Many might fear they’ll play their piece perfectly right before the performance but mess it up when they get on stage.
For Randolph, it helps him to imagine that he’s still in the practice room, so he practices the piece the same way he would perform it.
“Playing music for me, at first, was the most nerve-wracking thing in the universe,” he said. “I’ve found the more that I do it, the more I kind of space out when I get up on stage.
“I imagine that I’m going to hear every little noise from the audience and it’s going to be some sort of terrifying experience. But I get up there and I just play the piece like I normally play it.”
Instead of viewing performing as something he’s required to do for his degree, he looks forward to it. The way he sees it, this is his education, he’s paying for it, and it is important to work hard to succeed.
Realizing this was a big turning point for him personally. After realizing this, he began to work a lot more and music became more of a focus for him.
Outside of school, he is a guitarist in two bands: Desolate Earth, a metal band, and Eye Creatures, which plays a garage rock style music.
He recently started playing keytar in a skater punk style band called Animal and the Prey, and is also interested in art, specifically painting.
Throughout this semester, he had been preparing for his senior recital, which is a culmination of everything he’s worked on throughout his time at Southern.
Randolph will play pieces from notable composers recognizable to those familiar with the percussion world. The performance will include some challenging pieces, and he wants to have some diversity, from loud aggressive drumming to more chill, serene music played the xylophone and marimba.
He sees this recital as a place for creative freedom and to learn how to promote his own work. He wrote two pieces specifically for the recital, which allowed him to try his hand at composing.
For now, Randolph spends much of his spare time in the practice room. During this time, he plays random tunes that come to him. In experimenting, he realizes they sounds cool and grows into an entire piece.
“Composing, that’s my passion in life,” Randolph said. “I think music, ultimately is about emotion, and relating to other people. There’s some sort of connection that humans have with sounds that are pleasant to the ears.”