Percussion Education Weekly Reads 3/15/15


I hope you had a great week. I have been busy preparing for the premiere performance of Passageways, a new piece by Baljinder Sekhon, for solo steel pan and percussion ensemble. I am premiering the piece in Chicago on Saturday, March 28 with the CYSO Percussion Ensemble (Ben Wahlund, director). Click here for more information. If you are in Chicago, come by and check it out. Below are some reading materials for the week. Enjoy. (more…)

Fractalia by Owen Clayton Condon

Third Coast Percussion member Owen Clayton Condon writes music influenced by minimalism, electronica and taiko drumming. His newest piece, Fractalia, written for Third Coast Percussion in 2011, is a sonic celebration of fractals, geometric shapes whose parts are each a reduced-size copy of the whole (derived from the Latin fractus, meaning “broken”).

The kaleidoscopic fractured melodies within Fractalia are created by passing a repeated figure through four players in different registers of the marimba. Condon’s acoustic and electronic works, including Fractalia, have been featured as the soundtrack to video and light installations at Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” and Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate,” the famous sculpture (affectionately referred to as “The Bean”) in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Percussion Education Weekly Reads 3/8/15


Hello again. I am back! Happy Daylights Savings (in the US). The past three months have been a whirlwind and things are finally starting to settle down. So, you may ask, where have I been? Well, I am preparing a long post about this transition on my website but the short story is that I have started working for Yamaha Corporation of America on December 15, 2014 in Buena Park, CA. I am the Percussion Product Manager and I am excited about the new opportunities and team I am working with. (more…)

Audition Advice 101


Auditions are just around the corner and I thought it would be a good idea to crowd source an audition advice post so that we can give some advice to incoming freshman and transfer students who will be auditioning soon. To start off the discussion, I thought I would present my observations and suggestions from past auditions and ask other teachers and percussionists to add their comments below. In a couple of weeks, I will compile all of the comments and create a master list of audition advice. (more…)

Percussion Education Weekly Reads 11/30/14


It is Thanksgiving week here in the US. I am always grateful when I can visit and spend time with my family. I also wanted to thank everyone who has supported Percussion Education over the past 5 months. This website has been something I have wanted to do for a long time and I appreciate when you take the time to watch the videos, make comments or send me emails. I look forward to continuing to build this community in the future. This week, I had two guest contributors who submitted their writing. If you haven’t had a chance to read their posts, please check out the links below. The end of the semester is near. For the university students who read this blog, please remember to get plenty of sleep, eat well and good luck on your upcoming juries. Happy Holidays! (more…)

Engaging Young Percussionists


Today’s post is by guest contributor Jeff Phipps. Jeff is the Educational Sales Manager at Steve Weiss Music. Did you know that Steve Weiss has a dedicated Percussion Educational website? The site features Frequent Percussion Questions, School Specials, Videos and more. It is definitely something I wish I would have known about earlier.

Engaging those trouble makers in the back of your band room…

Ah yes, the percussion section, ever so important to the whole sound of the ensemble and ever so responsible for sounds you rarely want to hear. Talking too much, horsing around, not watching the conductor, not playing in time, etc. These are unfortunately traits of the average student percussionist. But why? We could say it’s just drummers, that’s how they are. But is it really? Are kids born thinking they are the greatest thing since sliced bread and then they become trumpet players? Or are they destined to be trumpet players from the start? But seriously, we usually accept that a student’s personality drives what instrument they choose and so drummers tend to all be the same type of kid. Maybe that’s true, but maybe we are contributing to the behavior in some way, or even feeding it in a direction we don’t want it to grow. (more…)

Listening Coordination Between Players in an Ensemble Setting


Today’s post is by guest contributor Simon Boyar. Based out of New York, Simon is a world renowned percussion artist and the owner and founder of Boyar Music Studios in Westchester, NY. An accomplished solo artist, producer, composer/arranger, and educator, Boyar’s talent’s stretch across the music industry.

Listening Coordination

The ability to comfortably hear and respond to multiple voices/ideas during a musical performance: In music, listening skills are everything. We tend to work on them primarily from a personal perspective. However, once listening skills are on a solid path of development from the individual’s perspective we must then begin to consider listening coordination between players on a larger scale. This is something that is not often thoroughly examined. In today’s environment of excellent chamber music writing for percussion, listening coordination between players is possibly one of the most important skills to master. (more…)

Two Hand Bones Rudiments

Looking for a new instrument to add to your arsenal? How about the Bones? This video features James Yoshizawa in an advanced bones instructional video. James is a former student of mine and received his BM in Percussion Performance from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music in 2009. Since graduation, he continues to work hard making a living in Southern California and plays regularly with the The Katisse Oddsemble.

If you are new to bones, here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the instrument: “The bones are a musical instrument (more specifically, a folk instrument) which, at the simplest, consists of a pair of animal bones, or pieces of wood or a similar material. Sections of large rib bones and lower leg bones are the most commonly used true bones, although wooden sticks shaped like the earlier true bones are now more often used. If metal spoons are used instead, as is common in the United States, this is called “playing the spoons”. The technique arrived in the U.S. via Irish immigrants, but has a history stretching back to ancient China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.”

James has put together an excellent video and handout describing his approach to incorporating rudimental drumming as a means to strengthen his technique on the bones. I am extremely proud of James and I hope you take the time to check out this video.

Percussion Education Weekly Reads 11/23/14


This has been a busy week. PASIC 2014 is over and it was great to catch up with everyone. Above is a photo of my good friend Tom Burritt at the Innovative Percussion booth. I am also extremely excited to announce that I am joining the Yamaha Corporation of America as the Percussion Product Manager. I am looking forward to the possibilities this brings me and my family. At this point, I don’t know what this means for my blog, but I hope to continue posting regularly. Have a great week and Happy Thanksgiving.

The Composer of Serial’s Soundtrack Comes Clean about its “Ambiguous Score by Rebecca Greenfield

How to Determine Your Freelance Rate and Get Paid What You’re Worth by Ryan Castillo

When Mistakes Are Good: A Counterintuitive Strategy for Rapidly Fixing Bad Habits in Our Technique by Dr. Noa Kageyama

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