Travis Harwick, 10, displays a handful of autographed drumsticks from drummers he has met. Harwick currently plays for three different bands.
Travis Harwick is no stranger to the spotlight.
With numerous public concerts under his belt, including, most recently, a Saturday solo with the likes of Matt Greiner of Billboard-topping metalcore band August Burns Red, the 10-year-old has gotten used to the intensity of playing in front of hundreds, even thousands.
But what it always boils down to, long after the applause and bright lights have faded, is his love, his passion, for the drums.
“I started playing when I was 4 years old,” the Marlborough Elementary student said. “My first memory was breaking the drumheads on the toy drum set my parents got me. I’ve been playing ever since.”
Harwick’s parents, Scott and Karen, said they knew from early on their son wouldn’t be putting down the drum sticks any time soon.
“He immediately enjoyed playing and we started him in lessons a few weeks later,” Karen Harwick said.
Those lessons brought the then-first grader to a week-long summer camp at the School of Rock in Fort Washington during the summer of 2008. For five days he practiced his craft and rehearsed, culminating in a live performance.
There, his mom and dad saw him thrive and revel in playing in front of an audience. He was soon enrolled full-time at the school. The school, with 100 locations both nationally and internationally, combines music lessons and rehearsals in a performance-based curriculum.
Harwick attends at least once a week, usually on the weekends, in between a year-round travel soccer schedule.
Dedicating himself to his music has truly paid off. He is proving to be one of the region’s most promising drummers.
“I’ve never seen a drum prodigy before, but if I were to think of one, my first answer would be Travis,” said Greiner, who gives Harwick lessons when not touring internationally with his band. “I’ve seen him go from pretty good to really good to great in no time. He is so passionate; more and more every day. He is pulling away from his peers, even at the School of Rock.
“When I go into a lesson with him I know I have to pull out my best stuff.”
Harwick’s drum instructor at the School of Rock, Darren Ellis, cited his “drive, determination and excitement” about playing his instrument. The school’s music director, Jim Love, agreed.
“Travis is one of our incredible young drummers […] Along with his talent, the energy and enthusiasm he exhibits when he is drumming is quite remarkable for his age. He has developed a maturing in his playing, well beyond his years, which can be attributed to his dedication to the drums.”
In addition to his precision on percussion, Harwick has been writing drum parts for songs. He has also begun dabbling on guitar.
While he focuses on rock and metalcore music, attributing his influences to regional artists like Lancaster-based Greiner, Adam Gray and Grant McFarland, Harwick also feeds off of big-name artists like Neil Peart (Rush), Travis Barker (Blink-182) and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater).
He is currently a part of three different bands. He plays with the School of Rock house band, junior house band, and an outside band called Cyanida.
With those groups, he has performed at a Philadelphia Union soccer game, Brownies in Villanova, World Café Live and The Note in West Chester. He has also performed locally at the Sarah Parvin Soccer Fest and various local community days. This year, he will be performing five songs as part of a high-energy Queen concert at the School of Rock.
He has also been interviewed for music industry website metalinsider.net.
Despite them being the catalyst for an often chaotic lifestyle, Harwick says he wouldn’t ever want to be without his instruments and his sticks.
“I love playing drums because it expresses me,” he explained. “I get to do whatever I want on them. And I love school too. I get to hang out with all of the friends I made and do what I love to do, play drums.
“After school I do my homework, eat dinner and usually have either drum lessons, house band, or junior house band practice, or soccer practice. If I have an occasional free night, I practice my drums at home. I practice as often as I can.”
“We love to watch him perform and that makes the hectic schedule worthwhile,” Scott and Karen Harwick said.
Travis Harwick said he is just striving to be better at something he loves. With his dedication, he has the potential to go far.
“I would like to continue drumming, mainly perform in a band,” he said of his future. “If that doesn’t work out I would also like to teach.”
Come what may in his future, for now not much can beat the heat of a live performance.
“It’s awesome,” Harwick said with a confident smile. “You never know who could be watching.”