Meet Laramie Rodriguez:

A Passion for Music

By Jennifer Hafer

There’s nothing wrong with Laramie Rodriguez’s eyesight, but he’d rather play music than read it.

“That’s what I love about jazz,” Rodriguez said. “Jazz is about improvisation, and that’s what makes it fun.”

A native of the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez comes by his preference of playing by ear honestly; his first instrument as a child was a guira, a percussion instrument that sounds like a maraca, but is actually a sheet of metal perforated with a nail, shaped into a cylinder and played with a stiff brush. The guira is a signature instrument of the Dominican Republic’s national dance, the merengue.

While his musical roots lie in the lively and joyful folk traditions of his homeland, Rodriguez is a classically trained pianist and clarinetist.

“My dad is a musician; he plays the trumpet and the guitar, and he sings,” Rodriguez said. “I inherited my good ear from my dad.”

Rodriguez, a music education major, transferred to Kennesaw State University last year to play piano, but on the advice of music department chair Peter Witte, he also continues to play the clarinet.

“I thought I was done playing the clarinet when I left high school, but since I want to be a high school band director, Peter Witte said I should play a band instrument.”

So, on top of his 20 hours of course work, Rodriguez takes piano and clarinet lessons. He is a member of the KSU Jazz Ensemble, KSU Orchestra, KSU Wind Ensemble and KSU Jazz Combo. He’s also the music director of his church, sings in the choir and plays in the church orchestra.

“Music has always been a love in my life,” he said. “It’s my passion.”

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