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NIU Artists. Never. Quit.: Reggie Thomas, Liam Teague, Bobby Broom and Rick LoPresto

April 1, 2020

As NIU and the world around us deals with a global pandemic, artists continue to find ways to express themselves. In the College of Visual and Performing arts the learning and teaching hasn’t stopped, it’s simply evolved to meet the needs and limitations of the situation. Over the coming days, we’ll be featuring how NIU students, alumni and faculty in the arts are continuing to do what they love.

Reggie Thomas, Liam Teague and Bobby Broom
Faculty in the School of Music

Reggie Thomas and his wife Mardra Johnson Thomas participated in a Facebook Live Shelter in Place concert, Saturday, March 21. The concert also included NIU School of Music faculty members Liam Teague and Bobby Broom.

Reginald “Reggie” Thomas is Coordinator of the internationally recognized Northern Illinois University School of Music’s Jazz Studies program.

Thomas came to NIU from the Michigan State University College of Music, where he served as Professor of Jazz Piano. Prior to his position at MSU, he was Professor of Jazz Studies at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville and was SIUE’s Director of Black Studies.

Rick LoPresto
Alumus, School of Music

School of Music alumnus Rick LoPresto, who teaches instrumental music at Bernotas Middle School in Crystal Lake, Ill. and directs the Seventh Grade Band, Jazz Lab Band and Jazz Ensemble, is part of a group of music educators who have created a virtual jazz ensemble to share music with the online community and their students during the “shelter in place” time in Illinois.

Here they are, performing “The Jazz Police.” Rick’s in the NIU School of Music shirt (third trumpet.)

Rick LoPresto teaches instrumental music at Bernotas Middle School in Crystal Lake, Ill., where he directs the Seventh Grade Band, Jazz Lab Band, and Jazz Ensemble. He also co-directs the Sixth Grade Band and teaches group lessons to Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grade Bands.  His bands consistently earn high ratings at IGSMA Contest and his students have consistently earned placement in the ILMEA District VII Junior Jazz Bands. The Bernotas Jazz Ensemble has also earned consistent high marks at Music In The Parks Festivals, including caption awards for Outstanding Jazz Soloist in 2009 and in 2015. He started his teaching career in the Waukegan, IL schools, where he taught elementary through high school band and elementary orchestra.

Rick has been an active adjudicator with several music organizations, including the Illinois Grade School Music Association, Illinois High School Association, and several regional elementary, middle, and high school districts. He has served multiple terms as the ILMEA District 7 Junior Jazz Representative and as the District 7 Junior Band Representative.  He is part of the ILMEA professional development network of teachers. He has presented at the Texas Music Educators Association conference, the Midwest Clinic, and three times at the Illinois Music Education Conference. He plays trumpet with the Palatine Concert Band and serves on the board and as the band’s librarian. He earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill, where he studied trumpet with Mark Ponzo and conducting with Fusao Kajima and Stephen Squires. He is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (professional music fraternity), National Association for Music Education, and Jazz Education Network.