Ed Littlefield is a percussion specialist, and has been working with band students at Evergreen and Highline High Schools in the Highline School District.

Music and self expression have been part of Ed’s life for as long as he can remember. “I was singing and dancing in my Alaska Native dance group at four years old. I started playing violin when I was six, studying the Suzuki method, and I still play violin to this day!”

“In fifth grade I found out that I could hit something to make music and chose to work on percussion. I continued through middle school, high school, and college, playing all genres of percussion music and singing in a lot of choirs – both jazz and classical. I also play the trumpet because I wanted to learn a wind instrument to help in my teaching ability.”

Drum students on a Zoom call.
Ed works with percussion students along with Evergreen High band director Jeffrey Steen.

Although multi-instrumental, Ed’s focus has primarily been on percussion. “Throughout years of study I found that percussion could be as expressive and musical as any other instrument. I wanted to play an instrument that was able to be an accompanying instruments as well as a soloing instrument. And as a percussionist I get to play all different genres of music.”

Like all musicians, music teachers played an important role in Ed’s development. “Every music teacher is influential in some way. I have a list very long of some great teachers but there were three that had a big impact on me.”

“Ginny Packer was my middle school teacher, and she had a power to encourage me and my classmates to do our best, not just in music but everything we wanted to do. Daniel Bukvich was my main professor at the University of Idaho. He showed me how to not limit myself by focusing on one instrument, and that being proficient at many things made me a better overall musician.”

“Lastly is my good friend and mentor Bob Athayde, who is the band director at Lafayette Middle school in the Bay Area. He implicitly taught me so many things about music, but throughout the years being able to watch him work really influenced the way I teach.”

Drum students on a Zoom call.
Ed works with Highline High percussion students via Zoom.

When it comes to favorite memories from school, Ed wrote an original arrangement of a Tlingít (Alaska Native) song that was sung by his high school choir his senior year. “This was the first time I was able to make the connection of the traditional cultural knowledge I was learning from my elders and family to what I was learning in the Western music world. This experience influenced everything I did from that point on in my music career.”

“Music is an art form that is found in every culture. It is a way of expressing yourself without words and creates connections not only with your fellow musicians, but with everyone that is listening. Music also helps make connections for learning and will affect how you perform in other areas life.”

When it comes to teaching, Ed says “I absolutely love seeing the “I finally got it!” moments students experience. When you struggle through something and then accomplish it there is a rush, and I enjoy helping my students experience that feeling. Helping students be successful at music will help them be successful at anything they do.”

Music plays a vital role in Ed’s life today. “Music is a release where I can share experiences with other people in real time. I’ve heard that playing music with other people is the closet thing we have to telepathy. Being able to experience and remember that feeling helps me through those tough days that we all have.”

“I encourage everyone to play music for the rest of their lives. There is no reason that musicians can’t focus on other areas of life while still creating art. Making connections through music has been an amazing experience my entire life, and my hope is that others can make those connections and create lifelong friendships.”