Isaiah Sterling

Isaiah Sterling is a junior at Missouri Western State University that exhibits incredible talent and skills inside and outside of the music industry. 


Sterling is a graduate of Lansing High School and after attending a few percussion lessons with Dr. Joshua Knight at Missouri Western his senior year, he knew that he would call Missouri Western State University home for the next four years. 


“I was able to meet Isaiah on a typical recruiting trip,” said Dr. Knight, “and we had also taken the Missouri Western drumline on a tour and they performed at Lansing High School. I think that was his first exposure to Missouri Western. After that I took a couple trips back and worked with the Lansing High School percussion ensemble. From that I was able to build a relationship with Isaiah,he was a talented high school student with a ton of potential already.”


Sterling is a recipient of the Golden Griffon scholarship at Missouri Western as well. He received scholarships in both academics and music including 2022 NABBA Percussion Solo Competition Winner, 2022 Mid-Missouri Percussive Arts Trophy Recipient and a member of the Fountain City Brass Band in 2021 and 2022. 


Sterling plans to graduate from Missouri Western in May 2024. After graduation, Sterling plans to go straight into a masters program for percussion performance, then pursue his doctorates. With this, he should attain his career goal of teaching at a college or university. 


On campus, he is involved in several bands including jazz ensemble, percussion ensemble, wind ensemble and marching band. Outside of campus, Sterling teaches drum lessons at the St. Joseph Arts Academy to students of all ages ranging from five to 60. 


Sterling’s favorite band that he is a part of is jazz drumming.


“Jazz drumming is a lot different than something like rock drumming and any other percussion I have studied,” Sterling said, “because with percussion, I study the marimba, xylophone, timpani, vibraphone and snare drum. But in jazz, I just play drums which is my favorite thing and I think jazz ensemble is where I can get the most expression and creativity.”


Sterling won the “Outstanding Leadership” award in 2021 and 2022 for the marching band. He also serves as the section leader of the drumline. 


“Isaiah has a combination of drive, persistence, emotional maturity, time management skills and incredible musicianship that you don’t see in every student,” said Dr. Knight.


Along with the awards and being recognized at both state and national levels, he is noticed inside the classroom by his peers and professors. Sterling’s professors speak very highly of his character and skills.


Dr. Halligan is the Director of Athletic Bands. He  has been a professor, mentor and director for Sterling since this past fall. Dr. Halligan has been able to develop an understanding of who Sterling is as a musician, person and student, inside and outside of the classroom. 


“He’s very well rounded, as a percussionist specifically. He is a good mallet percussionist. He’s a good snare drummer and good drumset player. Not only can he just do it but can play at a very high level and he is able to sight read,” Dr. Halligan said, “as musicians and educators that’s what we are trying to get students to be able to do because that is what is needed in real life settings.”


“(Sterling) always shows a willingness to go above and beyond,” Dr. Knight said, “willing to help others, help his teachers, help his peers. He is always willing to give his time. He never seems to be overwhelmed or overworked; he just has a way of carrying it well. He is probably one of the best students I have ever had, one of few students that I have had that are like that.” 


Sterling will most definitely go above and beyond throughout his time at Missouri Western and after in all his life endeavors.

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