Punxsy Teen Musician’s Online Following Continues to Grow

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (EYT) – While concerts may be put on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, live-streamed online music is a growing trend, and that holds true even for local musicians like 13-year-old Alex Shumaker.

Shumaker’s journey began when he was just five years old and became obsessed with collecting CD’s of his favorite musicians.

“On weekly trips to Walmart he would pick a CD instead of a toy,” his mother, Brooke, explained.

Shumaker fell in love with the music of Journey, Foreigner, Styx, and REO Speed Wagon, and picked up a DVD of Journey along with his CDs, and started mimicking the drummer with kitchen utensils.

“I would come home and pick up our exercise ball and start beating on it with kitchen utensils. I broke a lot of utensils,” Shumaker said.

His mother took a photo of his amateur drumming antics and posted it online to share with friends and family, but that photo ended up spurring something more.

A short time later, Alex had his first real drum set, a children’s-sized one that his grandparents decided to buy for him.

“It was really just so fun to play, and it still is now. I thought it was the coolest thing ever.”

He started lessons shortly after his sixth birthday, but ended up taking things backwards, in terms of how drumming is usually taught. He started out learning drumming by ear, mimicking what he could see and hear, and his teacher simply helped him through anything he was struggling with. They waited until he was older to begin learning how to read music.

The children’s-sized drum set served him well for that first year, but he soon began to wear it out, and on his seventh birthday, his parents and grandparents got him his first adult drum set, which he continues to use as his travel set to this day.

The year he turned seven marked another milestone, as his mother launched his Facebook page, where they posted videos of the songs he was working on. The page soon took off, as it grew from friends and family, to people from across the state, then across the country, and beyond.

“Back then I used to be so happy if I got 50 or 60 likes on something. Now, my last video on Sunday on YouTube has over 37,000 views,” Shumaker said.

The jump from Facebook to YouTube occurred in 2016, after one of his videos was pulled down from Facebook due to licensing issues.

While they still operated the Facebook page and post videos there, they have to be cautious about copyright and licensing issues.

However, despite the issues, Alex’s following has continued to grow, with over 435,000 followers on Facebook, and about 46,000 on YouTube.

“It’s been a big leap, and it’s really amazing,” Shumaker said.

Some of his most popular videos have also been shared on other popular Facebook pages and have grown to a total of over 100 million views, between all of the different shares.

While his online presence is the focus at the moment, with the COVID-19 pandemic putting a stop to live concerts for a while, Shumaker has had his share of stage time, as well.

He has been on stage with Wynona Judd, Jefferson Starship, and Foreigner, and has done sound checks with Jason Aldean, Foghat, Florida Georgia Line, and Fire House. He has also had the opportunity to sit in with various other nationally known acts.

One of his most popular videos is from three years ago, when he got the opportunity to play with the band Jackyl at Ohio Bike Week in Sandusky.

“It was jam packed,” Shumaker said. “I look back now and ask myself how was I not nervous?”

Drumming isn’t his only talent, either. Shumaker also plays guitar, golf, basketball, and baseball.

Looking to the future, his family is currently working on building a music studio, with a soundboard for recording, onto their home.

Shumaker said he hopes the delays due to the COVID-19 outbreak don’t delay his plan to release a studio album sometime in December 2020 or January 2021.

He also hopes to continue his music and make a career from it, planning to attend college as a music major. However, he likes to have a back-up plan, and said his love of sports and statistics make the options of sports analyst or sports commentator enticing, as well.

Whatever the future may hold, he’s still very grateful for the experiences music has created for him.

“All of these opportunities I’ve gotten have been awesome.”

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