Mr. Sparks works with various school districts, churches, choral ensembles, and theatrical productions throughout the United States as a percussionist, drummer, teacher, consultant, writer, and producer. Sparks has served on the TMEA All-State Jazz Band selection committee for several years, adjudicated jazz band, drum-line competitions and his former students (Terreon Gully-Stefon Harris, Christian McBride; Taku Hirano-Bette Midler, Fleetwood Mac; Kendrick Scott-Terrance
Blanchard; Eric Harland-SF Jazz Collective; Marci Chapa-Beyonce) are some of the leading drummers and percussionists in the music industry. Professor Sparks serves on the faculties of Lone Star College-Kingwood/North Harris and Texas Southern University; previously held faculty positions include University of Missouri, St. Louis, University of Houston-Moores School of Music, Eastern Illinois University, The MET-Contemporary School of Fine Arts United States Percussion Camp, and University of Illinois-CU Summer Camp. Mr. Sparks holds Bachelors of Music (Performance) from the University of Illinois-CU and a Masters of Art (Performance) from Eastern Illinois University.
Marvin Sparks has done extensive research on the African influence in Cuban music and has studied with master percussionists including Oscar Sully (an African master drummer), Famoudou Don Moye (percussionist with the Art Ensemble of Chicago), John Santos (ethno-musicologist in Latin Music), and Cuban percussionists Carlos Aguilla, Fermin Nani, Roberto Vizcaino, and Migeul Nodal. Sparks has studied drum set concepts with Ndugu Chancler, Freddie Gruber, and Ed Thigpen. His research has been conducted at Eastern Illinois University, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, the DuSable Museum of African American Art and at Centro Nacional de Escuelas de Arte in Havana, Cuba. Sparks has studied marching concepts with Ralph Hardimon, Glenn Crosby, Pedro Orey, Johnny Lee Lane and orchestral concepts with Gordon Peters, Sam Denov, Tom Siwe, and the late Jamz Dutton.
As a performer, he has worked in various genres of the music industry, including; Orchestral: Chicago Civic Orchestra, Scott Joplin Orchestra, Texas Master Chorale Orchestra, BlackNote Ensemble, Ensemble Theatre, Broadway Musicals; The Color Purple, The Wiz, Ragtime, Titanic, King and I, and Will Rodgers Follies: Jazz Artists; Max Roach, Joe Henderson, Sandip Burman, Roy Ayers and Ernie Watts: R&B and Gospel; Calvin Owens Blues Orchestra, Maxx Traxx, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Mattie Moss Clark and the Clark Sisters, Shirley Caesar, Lakewood Church Orchestra (w/Israel Houghton and Cindy Cruise), 2nd Baptist Church and James Cleveland. Sparks has recorded over 200 commercials for Radio and TV as a writer, player, and producer.
As a soloist and clinician, Professor Sparks has presented at the International Association of Jazz Educators, Texas Bandmaster Association, Texas Music Educators Association, Percussive Arts Society International Convention, Caribbean Studies Association International Convention, U of Northern Colorado, Chicago State U, East Tennessee State U, Eastern Illinois U, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Mid-West Band and Orchestra Convention, and served as a staff member of the United States Percussion Camp. Presently, Sparks freelances in the Houston area, teaches at Lone Star College-Kingwood and North Harris campuses, Texas Southern University and is a member of the Metropolitan CME Church Music Ministry. Marquis Who's Who Publication just honored Mr. Sparks with inclusion in their 2007-2008 edition of "Who's Who in American Education" publication. He is an educational consultant for Sabian Cymbals, Vic Firth Mallets and Sticks, Evans Drum Heads and Latin Percussion Music Group.