Stephen Rice began rhythmically striking things around the house when he was about five years old. In order to keep him from damaging the furniture, his parents bought him a Monkees drum set, and soon after, his first snare drum. Gradually, through high school and college, he came to focus that rhythmic striking in more artful ways. He briefly attended the Berklee College of Music where he studied drum set with Joe Hunt, and then moved on to earn his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where his percussion teacher was Peter Tanner. He also earned a Master of Music Education degree from UMass. From 1987 – 2023, he served as the band director at Brattleboro Union High School. For more than half of that time, he was the music department head, and for six exhausting years, he was also the band director at Brattleboro Area Middle School. He studied conducting with Malcolm W. Rowell, Jr. and Stanley DeRusha as well as with mime artist, Robert Rivest. Under his direction, the B.U.H.S. band marched in the 2009 Presidential Inauguration Parade for President Barack Obama and earned superior ratings at band festivals. In 2016, he received the Arthur Williams award for meritorious service to the arts from the Vermont Arts Council. He was honored as Music Educator of the Year by the Vermont Music Educators Association (2014), School Band and Orchestra magazine’s 50 Directors Who Make a Difference (2014) an Outstanding Leader in Arts Education by the Vermont Alliance for Arts Education (2003) and as Music Educator of the Year by the Connecticut Valley District Music Festival Association (2009).
As a percussionist and drummer, he has performed with the Vermont Jazz Center Big Band and Sextet, TUNDI Festival Orchestra, Massachusetts Wind Orchestra, Windham Philharmonic, Opera North, Marlboro Music Festival and many other local and regional ensembles. Some of his drumming and percussion students have gone on to perform in professional classical, folk, jazz, funk, rock, and country bands and orchestras.