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Rowan County Middle School Band Director Nickolaus Diedrichsen counts for his beginner band students as they play in class. Diedrichsen has been the band director at the middle school for 11 years and was named Teacher of the Year this year by the Kentucky Music Educators Association.

He teaches it, plays it, loves it

story by Jennifer Kerrigan

Music swells above the field behind Rowan County Middle School where the high school marching band rehearses. Brass instruments and woodwinds can be heard far beyond the practice area. Band Director Nickolaus Diedrichsen has his full attention on his percussionists, encouraging them silently with nods and smiles.

It's quite different from the music he played later that night, a groovy reggae set that fills each corner of the dim-lit Cheapside Bar & Grill in Lexington. It's not his first choice in music – that's jazz – but the rhythm of his drums doesn't give him away.

But he loves all music and always has.

“I never remember a time in my life when music wasn’t one of the most important things,” he says.

Originally from Lordship, Connecticut, he came to Kentucky to attend Morehead State University as a Music Education major. On campus, he met his wife, Hannah, who studied theater and vocals.

“I had to compete with his drumming,” she jokes, looking back at the beginning of their relationship. “'Must drum' should be his motto.”

He also is a middle school music teacher, an amateur hunter and a family man. His sons Louis, 4, and Sam, 2, share his love for music, often singing, humming or trying to play his drums at home.

At the Rowan County Middle School, he teaches band, piano and recently he got the opportunity to join his love for drumming with teaching a class called Viking Success. The 45-minute class is on a four-and-a-half-week rotation, where middle schoolers who don’t need extra help in reading and math take an elective.

Leann Akers, who met Nickolaus in college and whose son Wiley is in the marching band, credits him with being instrumental to her son’s love of music.

“He’ll listen to jazz music at home, where other kids are listening to pop music," she says "That’s because Mr. D. is like, ‘you have to listen to this musician,’” she says.

The class presents a teaching challenge. “It’s a class that’s designed for the kids to have fun," he says. "I’m teaching non-band students about my own instrument. I’ve never done that before.”


Rowan County Middle School Band Director Nickolaus Diedrichsen plays with 6th grader Makayla Hamm in his beginners band class. Students dressed up for Halloween in anticipation of that night's dance.


Nickolaus Diedrichsen and his son Sam, 2, check for eggs at their chicken coup in the backyard of their Morehead home.


Nickolaus Diedrichsen, his wife, Hannah, and their 2-year-old son Sam play in the living room of their Morehead home.


Louis Diedrichsen, 4, jumps off a picnic bench in the backyard of his Morehead home before a hike with his dad, Nick, 38, and brother Sam, 2.


Rowan County High School Band Director Nickolaus Diedrichsen spends his entire day listening to music — starting at 8 a.m. with his beginners band class through afternoon marching band practice and even late-night gigs on the side.


Sam Diedrichsen, 2, crawls on the porch of his Morehead home, pretending he's a dog, after an afternoon playing outside.


Sam Diedrichsen, 2, "plays cars" in the refridgerator at his Morehead home .


Nickolaus Diedrichsen holds back the family dog from going for his son Sam, 2, and his afternoon snack.


Nickolaus Diedrichsen, 38, is the band director at Rowan County Middle School by day, but at night he subs as a drummer for various bands including the Lexington reggae band Knot Dreaded. While Jazz is his favorite genre to play, his rythmn still rocked Cheapside, a low-light bar in Lexington, as if he had been born to play with the band.

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