Faculty Artist Recital – Friday, January 31

Faculty Artist Recital – Friday, January 31...

My upcoming Faculty Artist Series at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music @ CSULB will be presented on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 8pm in the Gerald R. Daniel Recital Hall. I have decided to perform the first half of the concert without a break. (More about that in a separate post on programming). The program will be: Red Arc/Blue Veil – John Luther Adams A Minute of News – Eugene Novotney A New Collaborative Piece with Martin Herman Pitch Drop – Dave Gerhart Warm It Up – Tom Osborne Kembang Suling – Gareth Farr Concerto for Marimba – Eckhard Kopetzki Assisted by: Martin Herman, Mark Uranker, & Darrin Thaves I have included a flyer below. Please feel free to share it with anyone you think would be interested in attending. Thanks for your support and I hope to see you...
New Release: Tempo Distortion #4 – Single

New Release: Tempo Distortion #4 – Single...

I am proud to announce that I have a new single that was released on iTunes and CDBaby. The piece is called Tempo Distortion #4 and was written by my friend and composer Steve Kornicki. Tempo Distortion #4 is a conceptual study in simultaneously occurring patterns in different tempi for solo marimba and pre-recorded and processed marimba sounds. Check it out and let me know what you think. Thanks for your continued...
New CSULB Percussion Program Website

New CSULB Percussion Program Website

At the beginning of the month, I created a new website for the CSULB Percussion Program. I wanted a place where I could post photos, videos and stories about the percussion program. I also wanted a place to reach out to our community and let people know about all of the great concerts and events that are going on in the percussion program. It has been a great semester! We wrapped up the year with our annual Caribbean Holiday Celebration concert with guest artist Liam Teague. I will post a recap to the entire semester in the coming weeks. Until then, please check out the new site and thanks for your continued support of the CSULB Percussion...
Tumblr Update

Tumblr Update

I am not sure if I am the only one still using a RSS reader to consume content on the web. For me, it is the easiest way to read new content. If you have no idea what I am talking about, head over to Wikipedia for a quick recap. Once you find some RSS feeds that you are interested in, a RSS Reader is a handy tool that collects new articles and collates them into a central place so you can read them. On my iPhone/iPad, I prefer to use an app called Newsify. I like the interface and sharing possibilities that this app offers. One of the problems that I have discovered is that I tend to share 2-4 articles a day (with Buffer App to Facebook, Twitter and G+ and once they have been shared, I can’t go back and search through them. I have decided to start using my Tumblr page to collect these articles for future reading, inspiration and searching. If you would like to follow my Tumblr account, please click here. Happy...
Technology in the Modern Percussion Studio

Technology in the Modern Percussion Studio...

We are all bombarded with technology everyday. Laptops, smartphones, tablets, and recording devises have had a positive impact on the way I teach lessons. It seems like everyday there is a new app, device or service that promises to change the world. Without going into a debate about which platforms are better, I am going to detail how I use technology in my percussion studio. I hope this article will lead to a discussion about what others are using in their classroom. Obviously, this post doesn’t apply to only percussionists and it will be great to hear what other instrumentalists are using in their studios. Dropbox Dropbox has become my main source of storage and sharing for all of my students. I used to use Google Docs, but it wouldn’t allow me to upload videos. I have multiple folders that I use and share with my students. This is how I use Dropbox: 1) A Folder for the Entire Percussion Program I share this with all of the students in the studio It contains the following documents: course syllabi, the studio handbook, the academic calendar, the weekly schedule, the roster and my lesson schedule It contains a folder for each percussion group. I use the folders to put part assignments, readings, recordings and videos for the specific repertoire we are preparing. 2) A Folder for Each Private Student I share this with the individual student It contains a Microsoft Word that lists the student’s goals, weekly assignments and lesson notes. It also contains lesson videos, handouts and recordings I really like the ease of using Dropbox. I can drag anything into the folder to share it with my students. There are two problems I have found with using Dropbox: 1) If someone drags something out of the folder, it disappears from every one’s folder. (This is only an issue in the beginning when people don’t know how to use Dropbox.) 2) The process of setting up the studio folder takes time. You have to copy all of the email addresses into the web interface. Luckily, this only happens once a semester. The upside to using Dropbox far outweighs the downside. Dropbox is a free service and includes 5 GBs when you sign up. For most people, that is plenty. You can purchase addition storage ($99/year for 100GBs). You can also get free upgrades by inviting people to use DropBox, linking your FaceBook or Twitter account, and leaving feedback. I have been using Dropbox for a couple of years and I have acquired 25 GBs from inviting people and taking advantage of the promotions they offer. Video Video is an important element of my studio, not just to record performances but also to check out technical issues. I use video in a lot of lessons and here are some of the ways I utilize it: 1) Recording Performances of Pieces Once a student is ready to perform a piece, I tell them that during their next lesson we will record their performance. After I record their performance, I put the video into Dropbox. When I am recording a performance, I always record from the front of the instrument. When you record from the audience perspective, you can hear musicality (phrasing, shaping, dynamics) as well as body or facial issues that need to be addressed. 2) Recording Technical Issues When working on technical issues, I prefer to record from the side of the instrument. For example, place the camera at left...
PASIC 2013 – Thursday Recap

PASIC 2013 – Thursday Recap

My morning started off with a visit to the exhibits. I can’t imagine a PASIC without a trip to the exhibits and the Steve Weiss booth. After a quick visit to the booths, I went to see the Michigan State Percussion Ensemble. They preformed the entire program from memory including Rain Tree and Xenakis’ Peaux. (For a complete listing of all of the College Percussion Concerts, check out the post I wrote on DrumChattr.com). After this performance I attended a Brazilian clinic by Marcos Santos and Grooversity. He introduced Brazilian rhythms to the audience in a super high energy presentation. It was interesting to hear some of the early Candomblé rhythms and how they evolved into Samba. One of my student’s from CSULB got to perform on this clinic. (Photos below). For more information about Marcos’ clinic, check out his handout here. Most of the afternoon was spent in the exhibits. It was great to catch up with friends, meet new people, and visit my endorsers. One of the highlights was Remo’s new mesh drum head. It feels like a drum head but has little to no sound. It is similar to what is used on the Roland electronic drum kits. I am interested in seeing how they hold up in a university practice room setting. I will report back once I get a set. I had the opportunity to meet Remo Belli, founder of Remo Drum Heads, as well as check out some of the new drums. (I have posted some photos below). Brad Dutz, one of my colleagues at BCCM, was demonstrating the new HandSonic by Roland. These electronic hand percussion instruments have sure come a long way and the new unit is smaller and has an external USB port to bring in more sounds. Thursday has become New Music Day and there are numerous performances throughout the day. Dr. Eugene Novotney and the New Music Committee has done a great job curating the selections and I look forward to future focus days. I wasn’t able to attend many of the performances, but I heard a lot of great things about the Mark Applebaum concert. Unfortunately, it is impossible to attend everything at PASIC. I did sat in on the Percussion Ensemble Reading Session and got some great ideas for future programming. The list is included in the link above. For dinner, I had a chance to sit down with Tom Burritt and Thom Hasenpflug. It is always great to catch up with friends and I was especially interested I picking their brain about the job opening at CSULB. They gave me a lot of information to think about. The evening concert was Maraca2, a British percussion duo. They played a high energy program and one of my highlights was the new piece that was commissioned from Casey Cangolisi. After the concert was the first annual DrumChattr PASIC hang at Scotty’s. It was fun to meet new people and hang out with DrumChattr friends. Thanks to everyone who came out for the hang. See you next year. PASIC 2013 Thursday Marcus Santos 2 PASIC 2013 Thursday Marcus Santos 2 PASIC 2013 Thursday Marcus Santos 3 PASIC 2013 Thursday Percussive Manifestos PASIC 2013 Thursday Remo’s New Mesh Drumhead Silent Stroke PASIC 2013 Thursday Dave Gerhart and Remo Belli PASIC 2013 Thursday Fried Pickles at the DrumChattr Hangout PASIC 2013 Thursday Michigan State Percussion Ensemble PASIC 2013 Thursday Michigan State Percussion...
PASIC 2013 – Wednesday Recap

PASIC 2013 – Wednesday Recap

It is Wednesday night and PASIC is in full swing. Today was a travel day and I arrived in Indy around 6pm. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the Technology Focus Day hosted by Blair Helsing. The evening concert featured performances by “Emerging Artists.” Some of the highlights included: Stop Speaking by Andy Akiho Performed by Gordon Hicken fzzi by Dan van Hassel Performed by Joseph van Hassel Songs I-IX by Stuart Saunders Smith Performed by Gene Koshinski Rogosanti by James Wood Performed by Garrett Mendelow The weather is extremely cold (as you can see in the photo below) but I am looking forward to a great PASIC. I am going to blog daily about the events. PASIC 2013 Trip Cold Weather – Dave Gerhart PASIC 2013 Trip Downtown Indianapolis – Dave Gerhart PASIC 2013 Trip Downtown Indianapolis – Dave...
Snare Drum Warm Ups

Snare Drum Warm Ups

As an educator and professional performer, I have noticed that over the years, my practice time has decreased for one reason or another. I have also noticed that the older I get, the harder it is for me start playing without first warming up. This summer, I decided to sit down and write out a snare drum warm ups/routine that I could do every day that would take 10-15 minutes. Today, I want to present my warm-up and talk about each exercise that comprises the warm-up. I know there are a ton of other warm-ups that have been posted and written down (see below for a brief list). Creating a warm-up routine is an individual process and what works for me will not work for everyone. It is my goal that you will take this warm-up, use it for a couple of weeks, and then begin to create your own. I know that over time, I will be editing and updating this warm-up, but here’s the warm-up as it stands: Snare Drum Warm-Up As I was putting together this warm-up, I wanted to accomplish these goals: 1) It had to be 10-15 minutes. If it was longer, I don’t think I would do it every day. 2) It had to hit the major muscle groups and technical demands required to play snare drum. 3) It had to be something I could share and continue to develop/adapt over time. With that being said, here’s the rationale for the exercises I chose: A: I wanted to start with 8 in a hand. I have been teaching Percussion Methods this semester (the first time since grad school) and in the Gary Cook book, he uses the term “cloning” when he has both hands play at the same time. The first exercise does 8 in a hand with both hands playing together. Make sure to start at a slow tempo and use a lot a big range of motion to the get the muscles loose. To take this to the next level, use the fulcrum in the back of your hand to warm up the big muscles in your arm. B: Now that the blood is flowing, I wanted to do some singles. I use Tempo Advance’s speed up function to increase the speed of the metronome by 2 every time I repeat this exercise. This allows me to start slow and increase the speed gradually throughout the exercise. C: Next are paradiddles. This is the first time I start to use my arms as I do a wrist lift to execute the accents. To make it different, I start the exercise with triple paradiddles. D: Next are flams. I go back to 8 on a hand and add flams at the beginning. This also introduces the down stroke on the last eighth note of each measure. E: More flams. This incorporates 4 flam rudiments that are very common in the Wilcoxin Rudimental books. As I was growing up, I didn’t practice Flamacues beginning on the LH as much as I should have and this helps to work on them. F: After 8-9 minutes, my hands are ready for rolls. I like to work on double and triple/multiple bounce rolls during my warm-ups so I can work on my fine motor skills. I generally do these exercises for 30 seconds and then switch hands. Make sure that once you start you don’t change the tempo. G: Long Rolls. Just Relax! That’s it. Try...
Teaching Musicality to Percussionists

Teaching Musicality to Percussionists

Am I the only one who doesn’t understand why young percussionists are not being taught musicality? Why is this and how can we fix it? My wife is a flute teacher and she teaches musicality to kids in 6 grade. So why is that percussionists get to college and don’t know the basics about shaping a line? Here are some of my beliefs as to why students don’t get taught about musicality: 1) Percussionists don’t learn a mallet instrument until high school. 2) High school percussionists don’t study mallet instruments with a private teachers. 3) Marimbas are expensive and not readily available for students to have at home. 4) There are too many instruments to learn and develop technique that musicality is usually the last thing to be addressed. And the list could go on and on. I know these are excuses, but we need to address the problem and try and find a solution and the best way to do that is to identify the problem. So, the problem has been identified. Now, how do we fix it? There are many ways to teach musicality, but in this post, I am going to offer up a couple of basic concepts for the young percussionist in hopes that we will begin to think about being musical. As you are developing your musicianship and musicality, remember that the more you learn about music (theory, ear training and analysis) in combination with listening will make you a better musician. Something you play today will (hopefully) be very different if you were to play the same piece in 5 years because of the knowledge and experiences you encounter as a musician. Rule #1: Do Something Just playing the notes and dynamics is not enough. You have to “do something with the notes.” If you sound like the playback of a midi file, you are not doing anything. The only way you are going to know if you are “doing something” is to record yourself. (Check out Adam’s post Say Cheese for great tips on recording). You don’t need a great recorder. Use your smartphone and record yourself once you can play through the piece. Try doing 2-3 performances and see what you like. Musicality is very subjective. But, you have to make informed decisions. (See the paragraph above about learning theory, analysis, etc.) Rule #2: Follow the Shape of the Line One of the basic rules of musicality is to follow the shape of the line. One concept I teach is to remove all of the stems and flags from the music. All you are left with are the note heads. You can visualize this or input the notes into Finale if you really want to see the final outcome. Now, take a pencil and connect all of the note heads: OK, it is time to play this line. As the line goes up, get a little louder and as the line goes down, get a little softer. Now come the subjective part. How loud or soft should you get? That is a good question. I am not talking about getting a full dynamic louder. A listener should be able to hear that you are getting louder or softer. A dynamic is not a finite value. There is “room” within a dynamic to add shape. Record yourself as see if you are actually shaping the line. Rule #3: Practice this a lot! As with anything we do, repetition is key to improving your musicality. I can’t stress...
Weekly Twitter Updates – May 2013

Weekly Twitter Updates – May 2013

May came and went so fast! It was the end of my first full year of the running the CSULB Percussion Program and I am proud of all of the accomplishments that my students achieved throughout the year. (More on this topic in a percussion recap).  I didn’t post much on Twitter this month, but I know that will change in the coming months. Highlights of the month include a Beverly Hills Bat Mitzvah with the LB Ballet (really!), a percussion master class at Cal Poly Ponoma, and a performance of Gershwin with the LBSO. Summer is around the corner and it is time to reflect and process. @davidphall Thanks Dave. I appreciate the kind words. in reply to davidphall I am honored to be featured on Composer Circle. #composer #triangle #radiolab #percussion @jadabumrad @rkrulwich http://t.co/6G1EfGzReZ Star Spangled Banner Cymbal Fail: http://t.co/Lt8Fz1qlmP via @youtube #percussion Awesome recovery by the cymbal player @drumchattr Navigation app Waze can now connect to Facebook and direct you to Facebook Events you’ve join… http://t.co/Y8LYyUEK8f Free course on design. Yes please!! Summer of Design Teaches You Core Design Principles via Email http://t.co/laf7rGuhok Biden enjoyed the sweet sound of the Steel Pan....