School of Music Alumnus Hits the National Stage

May 13, 2023
As the drummer for the band CAIN, Aaron Raney (B.M. '15, applied music) is taking the lessons he learned in McCrary practice rooms and applying them onstage in arenas packed with thousands of fans.

When the Christian country trio comprised of siblings needed a drummer for a New York City gig, Raney was recommended. He stayed in touch with CAIN while touring with Chris Band, and when CAIN resurfaced from a pandemic slowdown to perform at the Ryman Auditorium for the 2020 K-LOVE Live livestream event. The success of their collaboration was so strong that CAIN invited Raney to become their drummer and tour manager. Now he's part of the GMA Dove Award-nominated band and on the road for tours with groups like Casting Crowns.

Reaching national stages took years of hard work, and Raney credits his undergraduate years with the School of Music and Percussion Studio for teaching him vital lessons. Ensembles like the Baylor Symphony Orchestra and Golden Wave Band taught him how to perform for an audience and how to carry himself like a professional, and chamber music classes taught him non-verbal communication skills.

"When you're in an arena and everyone is 50 feet away from you, you better know how to communicate non-verbally!" said Raney.

Performance majors in the Baylor School of Music are required to take at least four semesters of Chamber Music. The Baylor Percussion Group often give performances outside of the School of Music, and the students are responsible for rehearsals outside of their hour-long class time. Since he says the time to move equipment limits actual rehearsal time, his groups would often schedule night extra rehearsals to put the music together.

"Everyone was expected to show up with their parts learned, on time, in the right mindset to put all the music together," Raney said.

The Baylor Music influence began for Raney before he was even a student, when he started taking lessons with Professor of Percussion Dr. Todd Meehan as a high school sophomore. Meehan's encouragement, loyal coaching, and belief in him, Raney said, is the reason why he pursued music in college. Under Meehan's guidance, he went from placing last in ensemble auditions during his freshman year to placing first in the Wind Ensemble auditions during his junior and senior years. Beyond percussion, Raney says Meehan was invested in his personal wellbeing. Other mentors include Mr. Stephen Heyde and Dr. Ed Taylor, the latter of whom gave Raney drum set lessons (and he still uses some of Taylor's warmups today!).

"The rigorous music classes and high musical standards that Baylor has," said Raney, "are the foundation on which my musical ability is built on and has grown."