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Valley Forge Drummer has got Rhythm, Attending Berklee College of Music this Summer

April 16, 2021


Karlie Messer is a rockstar.

This talented and gifted percussionist has a passion for music and was just selected on a full scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music’s Aspire summer program. Aspire is a selective and rigorous five-week music performance intensive and is the world's most comprehensive summer music performance program. 

“It’s my calling,” Messer expressed. “Music is a very hands-on thing. It has a lot of methodical processes about it, but it still has room for human creativity. That’s probably what I like the most about it.”

Messer, a senior at Valley Forge High School, has only been playing percussion instruments since her sophomore year and quickly found the beat. She plays drum set, snare drum and mallet instruments.  She started her music career playing cello in her kindergarten orchestra but wanted to switch over to drums. 

“It was just a matter of going for it,” she said on joining the band and playing drums. “Music is always there in the end. Every single person on this Earth has rhythm inside of them. It's an essential part of almost every ensemble.” 

Kristopher Morron, Valley Forge Band Director, explained that Messer expressed an interest in joining the marching band the spring of her freshman year but missed the drumline tryout. In the fall of her sophomore year, she worked hard to catch up and be in the marching band for the last few football games of the season. After marching band season, Morron was able to get to know Messer more in class and discovered her talent.

“I quickly realized that Karlie picked up music and rudiments, or basic skills for snare drummers,” he shared. “There are 50 rudiments, and it usually takes a few years, or even a whole high school career, for a student to work through all 50. Karlie came in 10 at a time and got through them very fast.”

Because she was so gifted, Morron suggested Messer start taking private lessons and connected her with Jim Wall, a local musician in the Cleveland area. Ever since then, Messer has blossomed as a musician.

Messer said jazz is her favorite genre, specifically Latin jazz.

“I like being able to interpret music rather than just reading it off the page,” she explained. “I think that’s when my jazz brain starts to go off. I get my inspiration from drummers like Bill Hamilton and my private teacher Jim Wall. He’s not only a very good private teacher, but he’s also an incredible life coach. He got me into blues and jazz.”

As she has grown in her skills, Messer has been in performances with the Great Lakes Honors Band and various ensembles. She was even named center snare in the drumline and is a section leader.

Messer was also recently featured during a virtual concert and fundraiser at the Music Settlement’s Bop Stop. Her performance can be watched here:

“Performing in this fundraiser was the most fun I had since Covid-19 restricted our ability to be social and perform in a group,” she shared. “I love making music, telling a story without the use of words and being a part of something big.”

For future plans, this graduating senior has her sights set on getting an Associates of Arts Degree from Tri-C and then transferring to a four-year school. Some of the schools she’s looking into are Berklee College of Music, Baldwin Wallace University, Oberlin College, Cleveland State University and Bowling Green State University.

“She is definitely the kid you want in class,” Marcello DeAngelis, one of Karlie’s teachers at Valley Forge, shared. “She really gets the conversations going. She adds so much to the topic at hand, and she is such a joy to have in class. She also gets along with everyone. If she thinks someone is having a bad day, she will ask them what’s wrong and how she can help. It’s awesome.”

“Karlie loves music and is never hesitant to talk about music in class,” Morron added. “She is always excited to learn new things and share what she has learned already. She is always willing to help other musicians, help them learn their parts and help everyone stay organized. She is top-notch.”

“Mr. Morron has been one of the biggest influences, inspirations and motivators for the entirety of my musical career,” Messer sincerely said. “I don’t think I would be anywhere near where I am without his help and his advice. He is one of my favorite teachers.”

Messer added some parting advice for anyone who might want to start playing an instrument.

“Don’t be afraid of sucking or being bad at first, because as long as you are passionate about it and really want to do it, it is possible,” she expressed. “Anyone can learn. Just do it and have fun with it.”