Recital Review, The Big Picture, My Philosophy

I was thankful for the people who came to hear me perform a selection of songs last night. There has been some questions during the process that I have yet to answer.
Hopefully, answering them now will satisfy those people. Let me start off by saying that I actually had a method to choosing the songs – YES folks – drummers and percussionists are always thinking and organizing shit! Shocker there! Although I do know the stereotype is how the drummers and percussionists do not care about being “professional.” Just look at the incredible way we dress, rehearse, etc. (HAHA)
Anyway, I decided that it would make for a fantastic performance to have my half-recital focus on all the percussion instruments including drum set. I figured that since my masters degree is going to be in music education, I decided to arrange the recital to my philosophy I hold when going to teach music.
I decided to do the following:
  • Snare drum solo (rudimental)
  • Marimba solo (two-mallet, song)
  • Timpani solo (standard)
  • Auxiliary solo (original composition)
  • Drum set (world music)
I decided to do this because it emphasizes the basic components of one’s music education. I believe that all music students should be able to perform “specific categories” of musical literature because it develops both the skills and practicality of the art of performance.
Different Percussion Instruments
As a percussionist and drummer, it is imperative that one know how to play EVERY main instrument in the music family. Snare drum, marimba, timpani, drum set and auxiliary percussion are the main instruments. All the other instruments fall into one of those five categories. Knowing how to play each of these categories makes one a better and well-rounded musician. Not to mention (from experience), it makes one very marketable for a diverse field – and a competitive one.
Types of Instrument Literature
This is a big section, because it encompasses a lot. First, in percussion there are two categories: rudimental and etudes.
Rudimental means techniques and skills. I believe that snare drum is the perfect instrument to perform rudimental pieces because they can incorporate the 40 snare drum rudiments and snare playing techniques that each drummer and percussionist should know – BECAUSE THEY ARE USED IN EVERYTHING IN LIFE!!
Etude is a solo. It can be a basic solo – or I believe it should mean a specific kind of etude such as: sonata, march, etc. It should generally be accompanied by another instrument to ensure that one can practice “running through” or rehearsing literature with another person thus developing communication skills and interpretation – because it is all about how the composer wrote the music and how the player interprets what the composer wrote.
For auxiliary percussion, I believe these instruments are underrated. Meaning this: people do not know that tambourines and conga drums and world drumming can have fun techniques and rhythms one can play. Even better would be to write for an instrument in this group because it is a good introduction to song writing for bigger instruments including mallets, snare drum, etc. Good percussionists and drummers must be able to play “toys” because those are very important in any musical setting.
Lastly, for drum set – I believe it should be based off a type of style – Jazz, Rock, etc. Generally, it should be with a group of other musicians playing a few pieces. Within the pieces should be independent skills – trading measures, filling and drum soloing. Interestingly, I believe this will not only enhance the experience of working with people, rather learning and showing off the ensemble skills that a drum set player should incorporate and have.
Connecting to the Music Profession
The new trend in the music scene today is being a “in the pocket player” meaning: that you can do something in case of an emergency situation. I respectively disagree with this for a few reasons. First, it is okay to be a “pocket player” however a drummer is like a toolbox – in the toolbox are countless skills, techniques and tricks to use in any situation. It is more about being a technical player that will have the “pocket player” personality follow, rather than solely being a pocket player – which is most of the local and national music world today. This is why drummers that are not musically trained are not good at all, in my opinion.
In order to play drums, you have to understand the pedagogy and history of the instrument, and the techniques that are taught so the drummer can learn to respect the instrument.
Sadly in my opinion – there is no appreciation for music and its education anymore due to too many drummers in both the local and national scenes that only want the gigs, supporters and the attention rather than the knowledge of how to properly and technically play drums. We need every drummer to be musically trained so we can bring back an understanding of music, its styles and its place in music today – this can then help other people, especially all non-trained drummers, appreciate the art of music and not take it for granted.
Structure
I believe that when having a recital, one should introduce each instrument and the “objectives” for that instrument and its piece. Meaning this:
My first piece is going to be on the snare drum. I chose to do a piece entitled ” (insert title here).” I decided to do this piece because it will emphasize the rudiments of a snare drum – which are 40 patterns that are used in any musical situation. Just a hit on an object is considered a rudiment – a “single stroke.” (then explain piece history here).
This way, the audience knows what the performer is working on, what to expect, and about the instrument and its piece. This is an excellent method to set a scene for the instrumental performance. It is also the most organized and efficient way to emphasize what percussion and drumming entails in the world of studying music.
A half-recital should be no longer than 45-50 minutes in length, in my opinion. A full recital should be double that time: 90 to 100 minutes in length. No one, in my opinion, is willing to sit through a 2 hour recital.
The full recital should be geared toward a specific instrument or two – with pieces that entail longer length. For example, my full recital in two years will be focusing on timpani and drum set.
A few days ago I had my “dress rehearsal” — yes, me! — I drove to campus to meet my applied lesson teacher. It was so exciting. In a half year, I was ready to present an example of what I have been working on in my lessons. How cool is that! For whatever reason, things have been going much easier since I had a system going for both practicing also rehearsing.
Being a music student – a true music student – practices hours and hours a week. More than athletes. For us, it is about perfection. That is why all of us are disciplined, structured and more prepared for life than most people especially athletes that settle for “first” interestingly not for the moral motivation to be better than first place. However, that is another story for another time.
There is much less pain – in comparison to the months preparing for the show when I believe there was a lot of stress. Progress went faster than I could have imagined – already waiting to present my performance …. it makes you anxious and pumped.
The only issue for me was stamina …. in that I believe I have none. No matter how good I feel, my body is on its own schedule and there is nothing I can do to speed that up. However, with recital preparation – things have changed. I can do better in having more stamina to do what I can do. It all comes with perfect practice.
The journey – folks it has not been an easy one. The revolving wheel of studying, practicing and rehearsing … on top of school work … it got old a long time ago.
The journey I had putting this recital together is not just one of the physical. It is also one that is mentally driven and very emotionally challenging. You are pressured and really pushed to meet perfection that it has also opened a window into the very fiber of my being that has allowed me to realize just how much I truly can take. Each time as I have gazed through the doors of the practice rooms, I have seen much more than I expected: not just my true sense of strength and resilience, but how all of it is connected with the people who have traveled this path with me: my professors. Not to mention both my parents and friends too. I love you guys!!
Many times, I have decided to quote the first two stanzas of Rudyard Kipling’s The Law of the Jungle. There is no question that I have learned more about letting the pack be my strength these last few months than any other time in my life. The pack has taught me to ask for help when I need it and to do nothing more in return than say “thank you.”
The pack I am talking about are my professors – Craig, Anthony, Jesse, Dr. Irving, and countless more. No one will understand the impact that music teachers have on someone like me who strive to be the best I can be in music but also in life.
Also my band teachers in public school. Mrs. Curtiss (who came to the recital), Mrs. Skrebutennas, Mr. Duffy and Mr. Clement. If it was not for any of them, I would have not continued my journey in life with music.
The future –let me see … picture if you will, a relatively small physician’s office. We are talking the size of my living room folks. After you are asked to walk out of the exam room toward the door so your gait can be assessed, you turn and stop. To your delight you see smiles on your doctor’s faces. They ask, “How long now?” You respond, “Many more years of suffering, recovering and overcoming.” They shake their heads in disbelief and say,
Let us all go look at the next injury or health problem.”
… not funny or understandable to people who read this. I get it, however I am referring to the fact that nothing in life ends because it all continues. That is the beauty of life. You take what you learn and build on it. Music helps people … including me … accomplish just that. My rock hard support system of family, friends and professors and teachers make myself believe that with a little bit of effort, I can actually become the best I can be in all that I do. For that, I am fortunate enough to leave life tomorrow knowing I am on the paths to doing the right things. This is what music makes of me. This is what music can teach me. This is what music is for me. This is what music can do.
It is not about the amount of people that see you or the amount of people you have worked with. It is about what you do to contribute to better your life and others around you. Studying music and being a musician does just that. I am happier than I ever am each day and I am glad.
Fortunately, another recital is not too shabby, yet and I should be able to keep the addition of adding more thoughts and ideas to my realm. I am hoping each day … no one will say anything peculiar … or will they.
Oh …. music has taken the lead folks. What a recital!

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