March 9, 2016
By Brad Muller | More Features
Many basketball players dream of making sweet string music with the perfect shot to win the game. South Carolina redshirt sophomore Jarrell Holliman is looking forward to making noise in a different arena as part of a symphony orchestra. The 6 feet, 7 inch, music major is in his first season on the Gamecock's basketball team after arriving on campus a year ago following one year at Elmhurst College in Illinois.
"Basketball and percussion are pretty much my life," Holliman said. "It's a very difficult schedule, but they're working with me to make it work. It's been amazing."
The Alpharetta, Georgia, native began his music career at the age of seven.
"I play anything orchestral," Holliman said. "That's snare drum, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, and all kinds of instruments. My mother, Renee, is a piano teacher so she got me all wrapped up in that sort of stuff. I just had to make sure I was quiet whenever she was teaching."
Overall, Holliman can play more than 15 instruments.
"I just really liked hitting stuff," Holliman laughed. "You know, as a kid you get the pots and pans out and hit them with a spoon. I actually took it seriously. I saw a marching band play and it really interested me. My sister hated it, but it's OK. She's a singer, so I had to deal with that all of the time, just like she had to deal with me.
"What I like about percussion is that there are so many instruments. You can make so many different sounds and so many beautiful sounds. Whenever I'm having a stressful day, I can go in and play a snare drum as hard as I want, or if I had a great day, I can go play a marimba beautifully."
Dr. Scott Herring, the School of Music Professor of Percussion, added that Holliman can play anything from snare drum to clay flower pots well. He noted that Holliman is the first music student who has been a student-athlete he has come across at the school, and acknowledged that the time commitment for the music and athletics pursuits present the biggest challenge in attempting to excel in both areas.
"As far as I know he is the first one," Herring said. "He is the first one since I have been here in my studio. For a music major, most professors expect the student to practice somewhere between two and four hours per day. So to do that and go to athletic practices, weight training, and actually go to class, the time challenge really comes out to the forefront. He is a very talented individual."
"He has a great demeanor to him," South Carolina men's basketball coach Frank Martin said. "The guys respect him, and he has a lot of pride in being part of what we do. He has a lot of pride in his music too. That just continues to add to how you develop a locker room where you have different people with different `likes' off the court and everyone learns from one another."
I eventually want to fill in the shoes of our seniors who are helping me right now. Basketball is great, but your body can only go for so long. Your hands can go for a while. I definitely came here for music, but I definitely could not give up basketball either.
As he grew up, Holliman graduated from pots and pans and his talents gave him the opportunity to play in the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra. He also performed in Alpharetta High School's marching band, performing at the school's football games. He would trade in his instruments for high tops once basketball season rolled around, and he also ran track. Holliman claims he enjoys everything about performing music, and he seems to get the same rush that an athlete might get when he or she is introduced in the starting line ups.
"When the conductor raises his hands, you're just about to play, and you know everybody's on the same page, and we're all going to make beautiful music," Holliman paused as if he is now sitting with the orchestra. "That's my favorite part."
When he is finished with basketball and earns his degree, Holliman aspires to be part of a symphony orchestra.
"It's very difficult to get into a symphony," Holliman said. "I have to get my master's degree first and maybe a doctorate. Once that happens, you audition everywhere. Someday I'd like to be in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra or the Chicago Symphony Orchestra."
For starters, he would like to play in South Carolina's philharmonic orchestra, but he knows that won't be easy, either.
"You have to be really good," Holliman said. "Right now, I'm just so young. I'm stilling trying to mature in my instrument. Getting to play in the South Carolina Philharmonic would be great."
In terms of his basketball goals, Holliman strives to excel there as well, and also has perspective on the game.
"I want to learn the system and everything else that I need to learn," Holliman said. "I eventually want to fill in the shoes of our seniors who are helping me right now. Basketball is great, but your body can only go for so long. Your hands can go for a while. I definitely came here for music, but I definitely could not give up basketball either."
It's not easy to balance his commitments, but Holliman has already learned to adapt when his music world and basketball world cross over.
"We had the exhibition game (against Allen University) late in the afternoon, then I had a dress rehearsal for a recital right after," Holliman said. "So after the game, I showered before everyone else, didn't eat, and ran over to the music building. I had the dress rehearsal until about 10 or 11 that night. Then I practiced my own stuff, did my homework and went to sleep.
"It was a long day but it was definitely one I enjoyed. It's difficult to do the mental switch, but it doesn't bother me too much."
Now he just has to make sure he has the jersey and shorts on under the warm up and the tuxedo hanging up in the locker room. As he attempts to hone his musical and athletics crafts, South Carolina has been a perfect fit for Holliman, on and off the court.
"The family atmosphere is what I like best," Holliman said. "When I first came here, everyone was welcoming. I didn't know anyone. I wasn't expecting to fit in immediately, but that's exactly what happened."
Herring has attended a game to support Holliman, but he also witnessed some of his basketball skills when the percussion students took a trip to Carowinds amusement park.
"They have those games at these parks where they make you shoot from three-point range, and the hoops are smaller than regulation size," Herring explained. "He shoots the first one, banks it off the backboard and it goes in. He turns around and says to the other students, `this one will be nothing but net.' And then `swish.' It was unbelievable."
Holliman has enjoyed support from teammates and coaches, and he looks forward to showing them some of his talents, other than what they've seen in the Colonial Life Arena.
"They've been asking when they can come see me play music," Holliman said. "I'll have a recital coming up, so I'll definitely invite them. It's something that I do that they don't know a whole lot about, so I think they'll come."
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