Testimonials

Myself, my whole family, and my fans all loved your rendition of “Crazy Train”. Keep up the good work!
-Ozzy Osbourne Singer, Songwriter, Television Personality
After seeing our Zeppelin medley video of Kashmir, The Ocean, and Immigrant Song: “Too good not to share.”
-Jimmy Page Guitarist for Led Zeppelin
“I could not help but be impressed by the potential that each member of the Leopards represents for the future of music. I truly believe these young people represent the best opportunity we have to make a better tomorrow.”
-Carlos Santana Grammy Award-winning musician
It’s delightful. Wonderful to see all those marimbas! They definitely nailed it. The fact that they’re all UNDER 11 is astonishing. Please convey my appreciation and encouragement to them, and to their inspired and inspiring teacher. It is a wonderful piece of work, and part of an admirable program. I am very glad to know that such things are being done in the world.
-Neil Peart Musician and Author
They are such an important part of Louisville music culture. I mean, what better way to cultivate your talent and find out what really interests you . . . what aspect of music do you enjoy most and how do you get better at it and grow? Not to mention just developing social skills, making friends, bringing communities together, making life more interesting in general. I sure wish they were around when I was a kid. And just getting to hear the wonderfully joyous sounds they make, as a listener or fan of music in general is a real treat. I encourage anyone and everyone to go see them live! It is AMAZING – do not underestimate the Leopards! They are a powerhouse . . . a very moving musical experience.
-Jim James My Morning Jacket
The Leopards are a group of musicians that learned to play music from within and then realized they were all playing music as a band of talented young people. Diane Downs’s teaching method works and should be adapted by many
-Ndugu Chancler Studio Percussion Artist & Educator
As my musicianship continues to mature, I realize the importance of my ear, and the ability to listen is crucial. In all the years I was involved with the Leopards, we learned tunes solely by using our ears to pick apart each section of the song. Now as an educator, clinician, and performer, I explain to my students that your ears are your best friend and to use them for what they are here for: listening. Diane’s method of teaching is genius and it has never failed me in my many years of playing.
-Hannah Welton-Ford Former Leopard & Professional Musician, Drummer for Prince & Third Eye Girl
I recall very vividly, as if it were yesterday, how beautifully, artistically, yet professionally all of you played at the reception I attended before my lecture in Louisville. I hope you will keep practicing and performing, as you bring great joy to your listening audiences.
-Coretta Scott King Civil-Rights Activist
It was a pleasure working with the Leopards, and I was amazed at how well those youngsters played. Their director does a marvelous job with those kids, and I was really impressed.
-Joe Morello Legendary Jazz Drummer
Diane Downs is to percussion education as Suzuki is to violin pedagogy. Her work has the potential to usher in a positive revolution in how children learn, appreciate, perform, and create music. Diane’s work with the Leopards is more than an act of love, devotion, and passion — though it is all of these. It represents a reuniting of the ear with the heart, a reaffirmation of the genius within each child, a reconnection with Music’s essence. Every child she touches is transformed forever as a result of this utterly positive, challenging, but totally natural approach to music making. Diane’s work – emerging out of her own challenges as a ‘different’ learner — democratizes the experience of musical performance and makes it available to all. If Diane’s work can be codified and multiplied, it could help to bring about a new era wherein truly world-class music making becomes the experience of EVERY child. Thank you, Diane Downs.
-Harry Pickens Jazz Pianist, Educator, & Speaker
I believe my best feel for music stems from my training with the Leopards as an elementary student. Diane would describe complicated patterns with simple word phrases, and everything would click. Now, as a professional musician, I still find myself conquering complicated rhythmic ideas with this same method. My ears are at a complete advantage.
-Dani Markham Former Leopard & Professional Musician
Diane Downs has one of the best organized and most unique programs in the world. Not only is the talent of these young musicians being developed, but also, you can’t help but admire their level of discipline, respect, sense of pride, and focus in their performances. Diane is a jewel of an educator!
-Victor Mendoza Professor, Berklee College of Music, Yamaha and Vic Firth Performance Artist
The Leopards are a success because of the hard work and discipline of the kids, the support from their parents and the incredible vision that Diane Downs has that all her kids in the ensemble have creativity and talent. Success in music, success in life – it’s no coincidence.
-Dave Samuels Grammy Award Winning Musician