The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Dr. Monte Coulter

Naoki Ishikawa


UTC alum focus of TV program: Japanese television crew visits music professor

A television crew from Asahi National Broadcasting/ANB in Japan was on campus recently to interview Dr. Monte Coulter, professor of music. One of Coulter’s former students, Tokyo native, celebrated percussionist, and UTC alumnus Naoki Ishikawa will soon be featured in the Japanese television program “Poka-Poka Chikyu Kazoku  (Heart Warming Earth Family).”  

“Poka-Poka Chikyu Kazoku” is a weekly show that features the daily life of Japanese families who have settled in a foreign country or who used to live in a foreign country. Ishikawa’s family arrived in Chicago when he was 14 years old, and he spoke very little English. He later moved to Chattanooga where he mastered the language and attended the University. 

Ishikawa began his freshman year at UTC as an engineering major, but his heart was in the percussion ensemble.  He played the snare drum.

Ishikawa asked Coulter to meet his family and put in a good word for him.

“Naoki wanted me to tell his family he should major in music.  Instead, I told them he was a good musician, and he worked very hard, and had done very well,” Coulter told the television crew.

After Coulter explained that it would be possible for Ishikawa to make a living with a music degree, it took Ishikawa’s family a year before they decided to grant him permission to make the switch.  Not only did Ishikawa continue to work hard, he was honored for his work by The International Percussive Arts Society.  He was awarded top prize in snare drum for three consecutive years.

“If the piece wasn’t difficult, Naoki didn’t want to learn it.  He would sit for hours with a pad and stick and practice.  He had that kind of focus,” Coulter said.

In his professional career, Ishikawa has played snare drum in the Emmy and Tony winning tour of BLAST!  This musical performance brought the power, passion and precision of outdoor pageantry drum corps, bands, and color guards to the stage.

Besides “Poka-Poka Chikyu Kazoku,” Ishikawa has recently had more television exposure.  He is also involved in a program called “Shock,” with pop singer Koichi Domoto.

“The producer of the show saw my performance in Blast!  He invited me to teach Koichi Domoto to play the snare drum,” Ishikawa said.

Ishikawa has done a lot of travelling in his home country, where he says he does not mail his resume.  “I enjoy meeting people and making connections in a more personal way,” Ishikawa said.  He stays busy performing with musicians in Japan, mostly covering hip-hop and pop songs.

“I owe a lot to Dr. Coulter,” Ishikawa said.  “He was a huge influence on my music and my life.  He taught me about manners, how to behave.  I learned a lot from him and by his example.  He is a great person.”


February 1, 2005