Dane Richeson, holding a collection of wooden mallets, looks into the camera.
Portrait on Main Hall Green: Dane Richeson (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.


Dane Richeson, professor of music in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, has crafted a performance and teaching career that has allowed him to explore music around the world and share performance space with a widely diverse array of talented artists.

As director of percussion studies since 1984, he leads the Lawrence University Percussion Ensemble (LUPÉ), which has released two well-received albums and has been honored by the Wisconsin Music Educators Association and the Percussive Arts Society. He was given Lawrence’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015.

As a performer, Richeson has been featured as a solo marimbist, contemporary chamber music percussionist, world percussion specialist, and jazz drummer and has performed with such notable artists as Bobby McFerrin, Gordon Stout, Nancy Zeltsman, and Gunther Schuller.

His research has allowed him to live, study, and teach in three distinctly different cultures: Ghana, studying the music and dance of the Ewe people; Matanzas, Cuba, where he worked with celebrated Afro-Cuban drummers; and Salvador and Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he studied the drumming traditions of the State of Bahia.

We caught up with Richeson to talk about interests in and out of the classroom.

In the classroom 

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

That I care about them as individuals and understand—and am sympathetic to—the challenges they will face during their undergraduate journey. I think most students don’t realize that some of their professors have had very challenging experiences in their own college years. My mentors held high standards that helped me get through challenging periods and improved my chances of a career in music.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited? 

Creating music with my colleagues and students. Witnessing the progress and growth of each student in my studio across the four years. Encouraging my students to not be afraid of taking chances and making mistakes. In addition, traveling abroad to research the music traditions of indigenous cultures outside of Europe.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

I have been fortunate to have performed in many countries around the world with a variety of great artists and in many styles of music. I never thought that I would have had these experiences as a performer. Being afforded to take sabbaticals to places I dreamt of visiting while very young to study the drumming traditions, e.g., Ghana, Brazil, Cuba, has been a life-changer.

Out of the classroom 

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing? 

When I was young, I wanted to be an astronaut. 

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

Alexander Gym’s all-weather track. I am usually the only one there when going for a slow run; always a nice breeze—geese, hawks, and eagles keeping you company while running in circles. Peaceful.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

Hard to narrow it to one. For books, Black Elk SpeaksEssays and Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson. For recordings, Alina by Arvo Pärt; Love Supreme by John Coltrane. For viewing, Battlestar Gallactica (2004–09) series; Cinema Paradiso.