Watch the 5-year-old drummer who already has a college band scholarship

Little Jeremiah Travis has a full band grant at Alcorn State University in Mississippi, beginning in 2032.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Joe Dziemianowicz

This 5-year-old little drummer boy’s talent is so big he’s snared himself a band scholarship — for college. Now that’s an early acceptance.

Meet Jeremiah Travis, of Greensburg, Louisiana, who attends kindergarten at St. Helena Early Learning Center and plays snare drum in the band at nearby St. Helena College and Career Academy. On Nov. 5, the pint-sized percussion prodigy was presented with full band grant at Alcorn State University in Mississippi, beginning in 2032.

“I can’t say if he’ll stay with the drums, but I hope he does,” said his mother, Nicole Jackson, 40, who also has two daughters, ages 21 and 12. “He’s always loved to beat on something.” For his first Christmas, Jeremiah’s mom and dad, James Travis III, got their son a drum that played the ABC’s when it was tapped on. “He never stopped playing with it,” she adds. “He’s still obsessed with drums.”

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The youngster’s cousin Kenya Brooks, 16, who also plays drums, is a mentor. And when St. Helena percussion instructor Brandon Dorsey, 26, an Alcorn State grad, met Jeremiah, the teacher saw that the student was “going to be special,” he told TODAY Parents. Besides natural talent, Jeremiah has commitment. “It takes a lot of time and a lot of work and dedication from the jump,” said Dorsey. “The key to success: Practice, practice, practice.”

Jeremiah Travis, 5, is a drumming prodigy with a big future ahead of him. Nicole Jackson

Jeremiah does, does, does. Ask Mom, who says, “We’ve got drum sticks everywhere. My table gets beaten up. My pots and pans. The basketball. My car headrest. Even the church pew.”

The beat also goes on when Jeremiah plays the snare drum alongside his uniformed fellow band-mates at St. Helena Hawks ballgames and special events. Jeremiah, who also plays sports and video games, “is the Energizer Bunny when it comes to drums,” said Dorsey. “He keeps going.”

There’s a wide gap between kindergarten and college, but the award is a feel-good motivator. “We wanted to honor Jeremiah for all he has been doing in terms of percussion,” Everson Martin, assistant professor/band director at Alcorn State, told TODAY Parents. “It’s a gesture to motivate him to polish his craft. He’s got a rare talent for his age. If he’s still interested when it’s time to attend college that’s great. We want to help him become the remarkable young man we think he can be.”

Martin declined to get into “figures and numbers” about the value of the band scholarship, but tuition in 2019 at Alcorn State is $6,888 for Mississippi residents and $7,084 for out-of-staters. “The scholarship will contribute toward his studies and tuition and other costs,” said Martin.

In the meantime, Jeremiah’s drumming has made him a local celebrity, according to Jackson. “We were at Walmart’s picking up my mom’s medicine,” she said. “The woman behind the counter kept looking at my son as if she recognized him. When I spoke to him and said his name, she said, ‘Omigod, I thought that was him.’”

Up next for Jeremiah and the band: A Christmas concert. “We have to do ‘Jingle Bells,’” said Dorsey, adding that the young rising star will have a pa rum pum pum-pum-style showcase. “And ‘The Little Drummer Boy.'”