Blogs

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Hello all,  As I am sure, all of us are currently expanding our repertoire in the percussion field. Please take a moment to stop and remember how far you have come from when you first picked up a pair of sticks or mallets. I say this because a thought dawned on me after a long day of practicing for an upcoming recital. We never really stop to appreciate the hard work and hardships that we have faced while striving to become better percussionists and overall musicians. Remember when you got that first piece that really challenged you. Remember how much time and effort you put into doing everything correctly to make that piece really speak to your audience and ...
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Affecting People

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Being a generally well-versed human being is in my opinion related to everything I do, especially my primary output: music (through percussion as my vehicle). As a part of that, I keep up with current events and am a subscriber to the New York Times daily briefing, which I read every morning.  It is often difficult to keep up with the news, especially as an emotional being. I often see what's wrong and wonder what I am doing to make a difference, or if I am even capable of having a positive impact.  Today was the hardest morning, possibly of all, since I've been consistently reading the news. I woke up to this: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/10/us/san-bernardino-school-shooting.html?_r=0 ...
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This was my second PASIC that I attended and it did not disappoint! Whether it was the evening concerts, a competition, the expo, or the masterclasses/clinics, each event was so different and had something in particular to offer. It's amazing to be able to be exposed to such diverse topics and performances and overwhelming in the best possible way to be surrounded not only by everything percussion but all the talented percussionists and musicians who share the same interests as you. I highly recommend this convention to any percussionist at any level--the opportunities and inspiration are endless. Also, is it PASIC 2017 yet?
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The Preferred Modes Unlike one-dimensional vibrating air columns and vibrating strings, vibrating circular membranes are two-dimensional. A two-dimensional circular membrane can have many modes of vibration occurring simultaneously; symmetrical (concentric modes), asymmetrical (diametric modes), and composite modes (which are combinations of the two). With respect to how modern timpani produce pitch, it is the asymmetrical (diametric) modes, and not the symmetrical (concentric) modes, or the composite that produce the sustained sense of pitch. For good timpani sound (one that is rich with near harmonic overtones), you want to mute the inharmonic symmetrical ...
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For a long time, I've been pondering a way to physically engage my muscles before I would play anything. I know, we all know, how comfortable it feels to step up to an instrument and pick up some implements with actually warm hands. It's a great feeling, and does make a significant difference - for all of us. I have always had this mind set: When I play, I use my muscles, that's why it actually feels good when they're warm; it's like working out, you can't lift weights before you've warmed up through getting your body moving through cardio or dynamic stretches/exercises, and you can't stretch your muscles (static stretches) before they're warm from the ...
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Hey everyone, Seems like these blogs are super dry so I'm gonna do my part and try to freshen it up. I recently attended the student delegate meeting at PASIC15 and we discussed ways to improve the community of PAS and one of the main ways was to just keep posting. Not a lot of people post often in these blogs but anything helps, especially us delegates. Let's all do our part and contribute to this wonderful community! The future of PAS depends on us. That being said, something I've been thinking a lot about lately is how I can use my time wisely. Us musicians and music majors know that we are very lucky to have even one or two free hours ...
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For some of us, blogging can be tough! Some of us are readers, some are writers, and the lucky ones are both. I fall into the reader category — constantly consuming content from all across the digital sphere, and typically contributing very little (otherwise known as a lurker). Even when I feel the sudden urge to blog, there are always a few brick walls I run into: 1) Time 2) Topics 3) Actually writing the blog content All 3 of those things relate to each other, and although I can't offer you advice at the moment on making more time to blog (maybe someone should write a blog about that :D?!), I thought I would offer ...
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Groovy

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Watching a recent performance, I was reminded how unimportant notes are to music. Hear me out This performer probably played every singly correct pitch, and probably played every rhythm in perfect time. A tuner and a metronome would agree. But I didn't hear any music at all. One of the works performed was a composition by Akiho - known maybe mostly for his work with pans. The piece was for a solo instrument played with a recording. The recording had so many variances of sound, so much rhythm. The performer who is extremely technically proficient, who played every pitch and every rhythm, played only that, pitch and rhythm. Music ...
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First time posting a blog here, so forgive me if this is out of form or out of place in some way. I've always experienced creative blocks and periods in my practice where I seem to be completely out of ideas, or I am stuck in a rut of the same stuff and can't figure out how to progress through. I was hoping this post could be a place for people to share their own personal methods of working through writer's/creator's block and keep progressing! Thanks
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Third Coast Percussion is organizing an outdoor performance of Inuksuit, John Luther Adams’s massive work for 99+ percussionists and other musicians, hosted by the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN on Saturday August 15 with a rehearsal on Friday August 14. Contact Sean Connors ASAP if you're interested! sean@thirdcoastpercussion.c
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Summer Practice

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Hello to anyone who happens to be reading this! I just wanted to bring up a topic that has been on my mind lately and for obvious reasons, that being, summer practice. I’ve been really enjoying my summer practice because, though I do spend time trying to keep up with my four mallet technique, rudiments, sightreading, etc, I like to look at summer as an opportunity to work on concepts that I find myself wishing I had more time to work on during the school year. For me, this means a lot of playing instruments besides percussion such as piano, but it also means a lot of drum set work. I’ve specifically been focusing on my time and overall feel. For anyone else ...
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Of course, there are MANY opinions on how to determine how many of each drum should be in the battery. My opinion? It's all about context. For every 3 trumpets, have 1 snare drum. This ratio creates a natural balance between the sections. Sure, one snare drum sounds thin and lacks presence up at the “box,” but balance is key. And, hey, three trumpets will sound thin too, so at least they’re matching in the presence department. For every 2 snare drums, have 1 tenor. Tenors are the least important voice within the battery. However, they shouldn’t be cut just because it’s easy. They add an interesting texture to the overall ...
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Grad School

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Going to college I think most freshman have an idea in their heads that they just have to play music all day. They know it's not true. And that changes REALLY quick. There is so much to do. Theory, history, aural skills, composition, orchestration, pedagogy, and it goes on and on. You adjust fast. But its quite a shock. I am finding the same going to grad school. I auditioned, was accepted, and am ready to play! With the same idea in my head that I just get to play music all day! - Even though I knew it wasn't true. I will play. A. LOT. But looking at syllabi and entrance proficiencies. It got real fast! So, can someone ...
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Motivation

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It's almost summer break from college, which this summer means a break from lessons and required practicing. It also means that I have plenty of time to practice before I head off to work at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. So why do I struggle to get myself in the practice room? I like to view summer as a sort of detox from all of the school requirements. This also means that I have the opportunity to remember why I practice and study music. I hope that when I return from break I will impress my teachers with my dedication and hard work even when it is not asked of me. Even more, I hope to practice for myself. I ache to remember that feeling I had freshman year ...
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percussion

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Teaching k-2, my students are learning about the parts of the orchestra. Using video clips to assist learning (and because no kindergartener focuses the last 10 days of school), I have been using orchestra clips, and videos. Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom was a 1953 disney film about the parts of the orchestra. It is memorable for the students because of the caveman that are quite silly to them. Boom - representing percussion - things you hit, rattle, shake, strike. The children walked around for the rest of the day hitting their stomach and saying "boom", much like the caveman (Yes, the classroom teachers hate music day). Using videos of the Dallas ...
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I am coming to you from the storm-ravaged DFW metroplex! At the University of North Texas, I am pursuing my DMA in Percussion Performance with a related field in Wind Conducting. Today, in my conducting class, we had our final exam, where we conducted the 3rd of the 3 Grade II-III band pieces that we have studied the entire semester. It made me think about how there is so much correlation between conducting an ensemble and performing an instrument. While on the podium, the conductor is responsible for guiding his or her group through the music being played. He or she, in addition to waving a baton, must keep tempo, bring out important voices, convey ...
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Historically Informed Performance is a much-debated term, and both music historians and performers have difficulty defining it exactly. There are many ideas of what HIP consists of, but at its most basic level, it means performing music with special attention to the technology and performance conventions that were present when a piece of music was composed. For many years, this approach was applied primarily to music composed before 1750, from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. In recent years, however, the drive towards historically informed performance has made musicians reconsider how they perform Classical- and Romantic-era repertoire as well. ...
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​ I have, just in the past few years, become very interested in learning everything I can about percussion instruments even though I think I might know all about them. When I first saw Neil Grover and Garwood Whaley’s book The Art of Tambourine and Triangle Playing I thought, “They wrote an entire book on playing two accessory instruments?” I was intrigued as to what information could fill a book about just the tambourine and the triangle so I bought a copy. It was the best thing I ever did. A few weeks later, I was asked by a local orchestra to play the tambourine part in Scheherazade. The ...
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Recently I was giving a private lesson to a student when I found a speech tucked away in her high school band music. The page started with “I’m here to talk about women in percussion,” and concluded with, “Play because you love it, and be fearless”. I was instantly inspired. What an incredibly courageous and smart young lady! I had been teaching this student for about three months and not once had I thought about the fact that she was a female percussionist facing the same challenges that I continue to face today. In her speech the student spoke about how rare it was to see a female percussionist, given that most percussionists are men. She then encouraged ...
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Region’s Largest Steelpan Festival Returns to Chicagoland Great Lakes Steelpan Festival Returns to Crystal Lake for 2015 Potts & Pans is proud to announce that the Great Lakes Steelpan Festival is coming back to Crystal Lake on April 11, 2015. At this one day only festival, attendees will have the opportunity to hear bands from across the midwest, a 50+ piece steelband, and world renown educators and performers! There is no other festival of this nature and magnitude in the area, and it only comes once a year. Crystal Lake, IL - April 11, 2015 - http:// www.steelpanfestival.com - Great Lakes Steelpan Festival is coming ...
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