The Responsibilities of a Professional Principal Percussionist

By Bill Cahn

Bill Cahn has been a member of the NEXUS percussion group since 1971, and was principal percussionist in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 1968 to 1995. Born in Philadelphia in 1946, Bill has performed with conductors, composers, ensembles, and artists representing diverse musical styles – Chet Atkins, John Cage, Aaron Copland, Chuck Mangione, Mitch Miller, Seiji Ozawa, Steve Reich, Doc Severensen, Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky, and Paul Winter. He has conducted programs with symphony orchestras, and his compositions for solo percussion, percussion ensemble and percussion with orchestra/band are widely performed. His fourth book, “Creative Music Making,” on freeform improvisation was published by Routledge Books in 2005.

The Responsibilities of a Professional Principal Percussionist

A symphony orchestra, or for that matter any large organization comprised of many different people, is a complex and frequently difficult-to-understand entity. Seventy to one-hundred highly educated professionals – all having unique backgrounds in the study of their particular musical instruments; many having different nationalities of origin; all having differing amounts of experiences as well as differing views on what constitutes “beautiful music” – are brought together for one common purpose, the performance of music. The fact that great music-making can occur at all in this environment of so many differences is truly amazing, and yet it happens regularly in orchestras all over the world. In this respect – the bringing together of many people having wide differences for the purpose of cooperating to make great music – the symphony orchestra is perhaps one of the highest achievements of human civilization and at its best, it is worthy of imitation in every other field of human endeavor. (more…)

Bringing Orchestral Excerpts out of the Practice Room

This evening I will be performing Debussy’s “La Mer” with the Indiana University Symphony Orchestra. Over the course of preparing this work, I have learned a great deal about performing an orchestral standard versus just learning the excerpt in the practice room. I have known and prepared the “La Mer” excerpts many times, but over the last two weeks have had the great fortune to prepare and play it with a live ensemble. To a seasoned professional, these points may seem like common sense, but to a student it was a very interesting and educational experience. (more…)

Timpani Lesson: Beethoven Symphony No. 1

Timpani Lesson: Beethoven Symphony No. 1

By Randy Max

Randy Max joined the Rotterdam Philharmonic as principal timpanist in 1988, where he performed the European premiere of the Timpani Concerto No. 1 by William Kraft. He has also performed extensively as timpanist with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, with whom he has appeared as soloist and toured North and South America, Europe and Russia.

Randy’s new timpani book and CD, Orchestral Excerpts for Timpani, provides authentic parts for 57 of the most-requested audition excerpts for timpani. On the enclosed 78 track audio CD is an orchestral performance of each excerpt, plus 21 play-along practice tracks. Today’s lesson is from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1. (more…)

Percussion Axiom TV: Episode #70 “Is the Accent Tap Exercise Underrated?”

Today we change it up a bit and talk about snare drum… Yes, you heard right. “Is the Accent Tap Exercise Underrated?” What are your thoughts?

For more episodes visit: Percussion Axiom TV
Is the Accent Tap Exercise Underrated?” What are your thoughts? In what context were you taught the accent tap exercise? How do you incorporate this concept in your teaching? Leave a comment.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on September 18, 2010 by Tom Burritt.

Dodging the ‘Curve Ball’ at Orchestra Auditions

By Lee Vinson

For more about Lee, more articles, and to see a sweet drum collection, see his website.

I refer to anything unexpected that comes up in an audition as a curve ball. This could be something pertaining to the music you are asked to perform, special requests from the committee, issues with equipment, or conditions in the performance space itself just to name a few. By recognizing some of these possible curve balls ahead of time we can better prepare for them or hopefully avoid them all together. For the purpose of this article we will be focusing only on circumstances that may potentially arise during the actual audition. (more…)

Oklahoma All-State Percussion 2010: Primary Snare

Check out Ben’s YouTube Channel for more educational videos. See him perform his multi-percussion work “Blade” here.

In this video Dr. Benjamin Finley discusses key technical issues in Tony Cirone’s “Portraits in Rhythm”, Etude #6. Ben, Director of Percussion Studies at East Central University in Oklahoma, prepared this instructional video for students who plan to audition for Round 1 of the 2010-11 OMEA All-State Auditions.

What are your thoughts about the pedagogical ideas Ben presents? When playing rolls do you use an open 3 stroke roll or more of closed roll? How do you make different kinds of sounds as it relates to articulation? (roof top accents/regular accents/tenuto markings etc…) Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on September 1, 2010 by tom Burritt.

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