- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) - Seven-year-old Alex Shumaker totally rocks.

Literally.

Anyone who knows the young drummer is not suprised to find him either winning lip sync battles or jamming on stage with famous classic rock bands such Foreigner and Jefferson Starship.

The little rocker, who started drumming at the age of 5, got interested in the musical instrument after purchasing a DVD of a live concert of the band Journey and fell in love with Deen Castronovo, the band’s current drummer, according to his parents, Robb and Brooke Shumaker of Punxsutawney.

After that, “he got an exercise ball out and the kitchen utensils and started drumming on it. He broke all my kitchen utensils and his dad came home and cut him a pair of plastic coat hangers,” Brooke said. “That’s what we let him use until he got his drum set.”

A set of toy drums in the hands of a young child is something most parents might try to avoid because of the noise.

The Shumakers said they were no different than most and had no intention of buying him a drum set.

But thanks to his grandparents, Mary Jane and Al Martin of Treasure Lake, Alex got his first drum set the following week.

“We didn’t think he would keep doing it,” Brooke Shumaker said. “We just thought he’d do it for a little bit and then it would be over.”

It wasn’t long before Alex started getting the feel of the beats of songs and then he just kept progressing, his parents said.

He would just watch the Journey DVD and start playing by following it.

The Shumakers, who have no musical background, responded to their only child’s natural talent by enrolling him in weekly 30-minute private lessons with Brian Rowan of Punxsutawney in May of 2012. Rowan also works at Spotts Music in DuBois.

“He’s growing musically. He’s shy whenever he’s around people, but he’s not shy whenever he’s performing,” Brooke Shumaker said.

Thus far, the first-grader at the Longview Elementary School in Punxsutawney has performed on stage on Groundhog Day with a band from South Carolina that performs at the event, Brooke Shumaker said. The band sends him a song and he learns that song within a week, she said. Several other local bands will let him play along with a song or two as well.

Alex said he gets excited when he gets to perform before an audience and is never really nervous.

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