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Man enough to be a Sister

Percussionist Mark Trojanowski became Sister Hazel’s drummer in 1995. In 1996, when the band’s debut record went platinum, his decision to play for the band proved to be a smash hit.

“I think (there are) a lot of little factors that went into knowing it was going to be a big part of my life,” said Trojanowski, 35, of his musical tenure. “I had two uncles that played drums. That’s how it started.”

In Elmhurst, NY, Trojanowski began taking drum lessons at the age of 10. Later, his family relocated to Spring Hill, where he attended Springstead High School and played in the school’s concert, jazz and marching band as well as the All-State Florida Concert Band and the All-State Florida Jazz Band.

After graduating with Springstead’s class of 1988, he decided to double major in jazz performance and music education at North Texas State, which is world renowned for its jazz band. Shortly before starting his college career, he dropped his music education major to focus solely on attaining a degree in jazz performance. Trojanowski planned to play music, not teach it.

“It forced me into doing whatever it took to be a player,” he said.

His plan certainly worked.

Following his graduation from NTS, Trojanowski played for the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, which he said was his first “road experience.”

Shortly after, he was granted an opportunity that gave him years worth of road experiences.

“All of a sudden, the Sister-Hazel thing kind of fell in my lap,” Trojanowski said. “It just kind of happened.” We released (Somewhere More Familiar) ourselves and started getting radio play.”

Before Trojanowski knew it, the record had gone platinum. Sister Hazel toured for nearly two years straight, making an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and playing for thousands of fans nationwide.

Ten years later, Sister Hazel continues to tour.

“Right now, there’s no end in sight,” Trojanowski said. “It’s been an awesome experience.”

As Sister Hazel prepares to record a seventh album this year, Trojanowski knows that his versatility as a percussionist will continue to revolutionize Sister Hazel’s sound.

“I really like to play all kinds of music,” Trojanowski said. “Being able to play as many styles as possible is going to lead to more opportunities.”

Trojanowski said that a drummer serves an important purpose in any band, and he sees it as his responsibility to use his training and education to better Sister Hazel’s music. He can play a variety of styles and has mastered a range of percussion instruments in addition to the drum kit fans are used to seeing him play.

“Just having that background helps,” he said. “I think in general, having a good sense of music, you’re going to be able to add creative input to whatever situation you’re in.”

Trojanowski encourages percussionists of all levels of skill to continue to strive for high achievements.

“Have that never-give-up attitude.” Trojanowski said. “Go out there and search for the opportunities.”

For Trojanowski, the opportunities have been astounding.

“I look at it as a privilege that I get to go out there and play music for people,” he said. “You can’t ever take it for granted, that’s for sure.”