Marty Hurley

Memorial Scholarship

Marty Hurley unfortunately passed away on September 12, 2011 as the result of a stroke.  He instructed at Summer Drummin' for 19 years from 1993 to 2011. Marty was Dr. Wooton's mentor, business partner, friend and family. He is best known for his work with the Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps and as Band Director at Brother Martin High School in New Orleans.  Below is his full bio. 

In memory of Marty Hurley we will give away four Summer Drummin' scholarships worth 50% off the tuition. To apply for the scholarship simply write a one page essay (single spaced) on why you want to attend the Summer Drummin’ Marching Percussion Camp.  Also download and fill out the questionnaire below. The winners will be chosen based off of need (50%) and quality and contents of the essay (50%).  

Click here to download the questionaire

Mail the essay and the questionnaire to:


Dr. John Wooton

P.O. Box 16326

Hattiesburg, MS 39404



June 6, 1946 – September 12, 2011


          Rudimental percussionist Marty Hurley suffered a stroke on August 14, 2011 and after several weeks at Tulane Medical Center, he passed away at his home in New Orleans, Louisiana on September 12.

          Born on June 6, 1946 in Neptune, New Jersey, Marty Hurley followed in the footsteps of his father, who served as an Army drummer during World War II. Throughout his long career in both drum corps and as an award-winning music educator in Louisiana, Marty shared his talent and love of drumming with literally thousands of young drummers across the country.

         At the age of seven, Hurley joined the O’Brien Major Police Cadets where most of the neighborhood kids marched at one time or another. Other corps he was involved with were the Neptune Shoreliners, Asbury Park Hurricanes, St. Joseph Modernaires, Jersey Cyclones, and, of course, the Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights (he aged out in 1967) and Hawthorne Caballeros (1968).

         “Bobby Thompson taught Blessed Sacrament’s drum line,” Hurley told Modern Percussionist in a December 1984 interview, “He was one of the first people to come out and really teach the drum corps – he and Les Parks, who did the senior corps. My father always said that when I got old enough I should march in Blessed Sacrament, because that’s where I would really learn the correct rudimental grip – that left-hand traditional grip.” That Thompson grip, with the curled pinky and straight middle finger, became a signature of Hurley and all his students.

         After graduating from Neptune High School, he attended Wilkes College (now Wilkes University) in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, earning a music education degree. During that time he also played in community orchestras in Wilkes-Barre and nearby Scranton. Following graduation, he joined the Air Force Band and was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi for four years.

         Hurley began his teaching career in 1971 when he assisted Dick Filkens – a former member of the Air Force Drum Quartet – with the Stardusters Drum Corps from Arabi, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. “I taught them all the stuff that Bobby had taught me, and it worked!” he told MP. In 1972, many of the members of the Stardusters joined the new Metairie-based Bleu Raeders drum corps, where Hurley served as the drum instructor for two years. In 1973, he joined the staff of the Black Knights from Belleville, Illinois, while continuing to teach the Bleu Raeders. He remained with the Black Knights until 1975.

         In 1976, Marty Hurley joined the staff of the corps for which he was best known – the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps from Rockford, Illinois. “I just loved the Phantom Regiment’s horn line,” he recalled in the 1984 interview, “and I said, ‘Gee, I sure would like to write some drum parts to all that.’ It was fun because it was a real challenge to write to orchestral music.” Some of his classic solos for the Regiment include “Flight of the Bumblebee” and Grieg’s “March of the Dwarfs,” two of his favorites.

         During his affiliation with the corps, the Phantom Regiment placed second in 1977, 1978, and 1979. He was also in integral part of the creative staff for the first two productions of the Khachaturian ballet “Spartacus” in 1981 and 1982. Hurley continued teaching the Regiment until 1983 before taking a few years off. He returned to the Rockford-based corps in 1987 and remained on their staff until 1992. In 2004, Marty Hurley was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

         Hurley was also involved in the design of Ludwig’s High Volume (HV) snare drum which the Regiment drum line used beginning in 1981. Similar to a regular marching snare drum, it had two inches cut from the middle of the shell, leaving the top half and bottom half joined by the tension casings. He told MP, “The HV drum came from trying to get a drum that would have a little more projection power – a little more clarity for a snare drum.”

         In 1974, Hurley took a job that he would have for the rest of his life – band director at Brother Martin High School in New Orleans. He started as the assistant to longtime director Arthur Hardy, working with the marching band, stage band, and second concert band before he took over as the head director when Hardy resigned in 1989. Hurley’s current assistant director is Dominick Caronna, one of his former students at Brother Martin.

         During his time at Brother Martin, Hurley’s ensembles consistently received superior ratings at local and regional contests and festivals. His bands performed for the Pope, two U.S. Presidents, two Louisiana governors, countless Mardi Gras parades and even the first-ever playoff game for his beloved New Orleans Saints football team.

         Hurley was inducted into the Louisiana Music Educators Association (LMEA) Hall of Fame in 2010. “I never expected it,” he stated in a New Orleans Times-Picayune interview on November 18, 2010. “It’s a great honor. It brings everything to a peak.” During his time at Brother Martin High School, he had 80 percussion students earn spots in one of the Louisiana All State ensembles.

         Hurley also served as the percussion instructor at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana for several years in the 1980s. He judged the finals of the Marching Bands of America National Championship twice and also adjudicated the Percussive Arts Society’s Marching Forum (now the Marching Percussion Festival) four times, in 1982, 1988, 1994, and 1996.

         As a percussion clinician, Hurley gave seminars at regional and national meetings of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC), the National Catholic Band Association (NCBA) Conference, the LMEA Conference, the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Convention, and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC).

         Hurley gave two clinics at PASIC with the Phantom Regiment drum line, in 1981 (Indianapolis, Indiana) and in 1988 (San Antonio, Texas). At PASIC ’92 in his adopted hometown of New Orleans, he served as the Coordinator for the Marching Forum held at the Superdome. At PASIC 2001 in Nashville, Tennessee, he taught a marching master class with John Pratt and Mitch Markovich. And at the Drummer’s Heritage Concert held at PASIC 2002 in Columbus, Ohio, Hurley was one of the featured snare drum soloists.

         In addition to the drum corps and marching band music that he wrote, Hurley composed numerous snare drum solos and drum cadences that were published first by his own company – Rudimental Percussion Publications – and currently by Row-Loff Productions. He also taught marching percussion camps all across the country, including one sponsored by the Phantom Regiment in Rockford and another popular one at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

         John Wooton, Professor of Percussion and Director of Percussion Studies at USM, first met Hurley when John joined the Phantom Regiment. They have continued to work together over the years, including the founding of Rudimental Percussion Publications together. “He always taught us to do what’s right. He never took shortcuts,” Wooton said in an August 28, 2011 article in the Times-Picayune. “He taught us that education was No. 1. It was more important than winning a trophy. You don’t see that too often these days.”

         There have been hundreds of comments posted on Facebook about the impact that Marty Hurley had on his students during the past four decades. One Regiment alumni wrote, “As a brass player, I was always a bit envious of the rapport that he had with his drum line. I did get to know him through the years though and know why he is so loved.” And another former student said, “Your legacy to percussionists worldwide will never be forgotten.”

         Marty Hurley is survived by his wife Paulette Purser and his brother and sister-in-law, Jimmy and Barbara Hurley.

Arthur Hardy contributed to this tribute