Christopher received his MFA in Drum Set and World Percussion Performance from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and his BM in Percussion Performance from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Christopher’s extensive study of percussion instruments includes pandeiro, congas, frame drums, riq, tabla, kanjira, djembe, timbales, drum set, and mallet percussion. He continues to study and integrate global music traditions to drum set and percussion while developing his unique sound.

As a Performer

Christopher Payne is a multi-faceted drummer and percussionist who fuses ethnic hand percussion, classical batterie, and drum set repertoire. His expertise, versatility, and innovation enhance a multitude of music genres that contribute to his performing, recording, and teaching career. His experience and adaptability allow him to be creative and supportive in various music situations, whether it’s playing percussion in a Salsa band or Brazilian Choro group, marimba in a percussion ensemble, or drum set for various theater, pop, soul, jazz, and rock groups.

Christopher has toured extensively, performing at prestigious concert halls and festivals worldwide, including Radio City Music Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the Royal Opera House in Oman, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Vancouver Music Festival, the Riot Fest, and The Beacon Theater, to name a few. Christopher has toured with the Grammy-nominated band DeVotchka and the ska-punk band Streetlight Manifesto. He has performed with jazz luminaries Charlie Haden, Bob Sheppard, Joe LaBarbara, Larry Koonse, Derek Oles, and Slide Hampton, as well as Palestinian Pop star and 2013 Arab Idol winner Mohammad Assaf. Christopher was selected by rock legend Mike Garson (David Bowie, Smashing Pumpkins) to perform his symphonic Jazz world premiere, Symphonic Suite for Healing. Christopher has also performed with the Jon Armstrong Jazz Orchestra at the Angel City Jazz Festival in Los Angeles, debuting a seven-song suite entitled Burnt Hibiscus

Christopher is a member of the internationally recognized orchestra MESTO, which specializes in Middle Eastern classical music, and the Indian/Jazz fusion group Mahadev. He is an active freelance musician performing and recording drums and percussion for independent films, commercials, jazz ensembles, various bands, and singer-songwriters.

Teaching Experience

Before joining Levine, Christopher was an adjunct faculty member teaching lessons, ensembles, and theory classes at LA City College, Los Angeles Pierce College, and Loyola Marymount University.

At Levine

Christopher joined our percussion faculty in 2022 and teaches drum set, hand percussion, and keyboard percussion.

More About Christopher

Learn more about Christopher on his website.