7-year-old drummer totally rocks

PUNXSUTAWNEY (AP) – Seven-year-old Alex Shumaker totally rocks.


Anyone who knows the young drummer is not suprised to find him either winning lip sync battles or jamming on stage with famous classic rock bands such Foreigner and Jefferson Starship.

The little rocker, who started drumming at the age of 5, got interested in the musical instrument after purchasing a DVD of a live concert of the band Journey and fell in love with Deen Castronovo, the band’s current drummer, according to his parents, Robb and Brooke Shumaker, of Punxsutawney.

After that, “he got an exercise ball out and the kitchen utensils and started drumming on it. He broke all my kitchen utensils and his dad came home and cut him a pair of plastic coat hangers,” Brooke said. “That’s what we let him use until he got his drum set.”

A set of toy drums in the hands of a young child is something most parents might try to avoid because of the noise.

The Shumakers said they were no different than most and had no intention of buying him a drum set.

But thanks to his grandparents, Mary Jane and Al Martin of Treasure Lake, Alex got his first drum set the following week.

“We didn’t think he would keep doing it,” Brooke Shumaker said. “We just thought he’d do it for a little bit and then it would be over.”

It wasn’t long before Alex started getting the feel of the beats of songs and then he just kept progressing, his parents said.

He would just watch the Journey DVD and start playing by following it.

The Shumakers, who have no musical background, responded to their only child’s natural talent by enrolling him in weekly 30-minute private lessons with Brian Rowan, of Punxsutawney, in May of 2012. Rowan also works at Spotts Music in DuBois.

“He’s growing musically. He’s shy whenever he’s around people, but he’s not shy whenever he’s performing,” Brooke Shumaker said.

Thus far, the first-grader at the Longview Elementary School in Punxsutawney has performed on stage on Groundhog Day with a band from South Carolina that performs at the event, Brooke Shumaker said. The band sends him a song and he learns that song within a week, she said. Several other local bands will let him play along with a song or two as well.

Alex said he gets excited when he gets to perform before an audience and is never really nervous.

“I just pretend I’m in my room practicing by myself,” Alex said.

Alex enjoys attending concerts with his parents when he is not drumming. He has even been pulled on stage by members of Foreigner and Jefferson Starship, Brooke said.

“He has met a lot of his idols during these concerts, including Deen Castronovo of Journey and Chris Fraiser of Foreigner,” his mother said.

Most recently, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon and actor Paul Rudd had a lip sync contest during the Tonight Show, which inspired Foreigner to have its own lip sync contest. Entries had to be sent to Foreigner with the #tonightbattle hashtag.

“We showed him the video of Paul Rudd and Jimmy Fallon and asked him if he wanted to shoot a video,” Robb Shumaker said. “He went upstairs and got his wig.” Alex has two wigs from Halloween, a rock star wig and one for his KISS costume.

Alex decided to lip sync “Jukebox Hero,” by Foreigner.

“Foreigner chose the top five best videos,” Brooke Shumaker said. “Alex was chosen and the contest went on to a fan vote. Alex was voted grand champion and awarded tickets and backstage passes to a Foreigner show of his choice. Alex has challenged Jimmy Fallon to a final lip sync battle to settle the winner once and for all.”

There is still no word yet if Fallon will accept the challenge.

“It was just something fun and on a whim,” Robb Shumaker said.

Alex said he is excited to see one of his favorite bands again for a fourth time.

In addition to the drums, Alex is branching out to other instruments including the guitar and keyboard. Rowan’s 14-year-old son, Garrett, is giving Alex guitar lessons, Brooke Shumaker said. Garrett is a phenomenal guitar player, she said.

Although Alex likes to practice his passion for drumming for hours, his other interests include golfing, baseball and basketball. Last year, Alex even won a local golf championship in the 5-9-year-old division, according to his parents.

While watching Alex perform several of his songs from his set list such as “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns N’ Roses, “Night Train,” by Jason Aldean, “Cruise,” by Florida Georgia Line and “Separate Ways,” by Journey, it’s easy to see performing comes naturally to him.

Asked what he would like to be someday when he grows up, Alex said, “I’d like to be a drummer in a famous band.”

Which band?

“My own group,” Alex said.