UpBeat is a percussion-based music program that helps students understand what it takes to be an integrated, successful, complete person.

UpBeat principles:

Everyone plays, everyone creates, and everyone gets it.

Clarity is reached when we openly discuss confusion and ways to improve.

Engagement, honest self-assessment, and repetition lead to mastery.

We share our music with the world through recordings and performances.


UpBeat students experience:

Heightened ability to be present and focused

Improved memory/recall and spatial reasoning

Enhanced team-building skills

Increased levels of self-honesty, self-expression, self-confidence, and self-worth.

UpBeat is led by Brian J. Harris, a percussionist, composer, educator, and business-owner. He is the author of the UpBeat curriculum and the coordinator of UpBeat for the University of Arizona. Alex Meredith is a local Tucson percussion instructor who works with kids of all ages at CDO High School, the Tucson Philharmonia Youth Orchestra, and the UpBeat program. Jeff Hewitt is a freelancing percussionist in Southern Arizona, and he currently serves as the administrator for the World Percussion Group.

In 1999, Brian J. Harris felt that his beginning private percussion students could learn to hear, play, read, and write rhythms more effectively using a language-based method. For the next five years, he designed and tested material which, in 2004, became his beginning snare drum book The Snare Drum Plays the Zoo. By tapping into their natural language expertise, students around the world have since been transferring spoken animal rhythms into musical rhythms on percussion instruments.

Using his beginning book alongside his other focused curriculum concepts, Brian has guided a number of his own private students to receive scholarships, performance opportunities, and top honors on a national level.

In 2013, Lead Guitar founder Brad Richter invited Brian to adapt his percussion curriculum for use in the UpBeat pilot program at Nosotros Academy, a Tucson charter school for at-risk students. Students and faculty at the school loved UpBeat, and the program was an immediate success. UpBeat has grown exponentially in the past three years, with eleven programs in ten Tucson-area schools planned for 2016-2017.