It has been a while since we have featured a post by Adam Sliwinski. In Adam’s previous post he wrote about his collaboration on Steve Mackey’s It Is Time. In today’s post, Adam interviews Russell Hartenberger about his career as a percussionist. This is a great read and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Thoughts from Very Good Musicians – Russell Hartenberger
By: Adam Sliwinski
I thought it would be fun to ask some musicians whom I admire to write about some aspect of their work. My first email was to Russell Hartenberger.
Russell is one of the prominent figures in percussion history. He is a founding member of the percussion group NEXUS, one of the most important influences on So Percussion or any other percussion group. He is also a longtime core member of Steve Reich and Musicians, and a professor at the University of Toronto. I asked Russell to talk about the role improvisation has played in his work.
There are other great interviews with Russell here:… [Continue Reading...]
The results from Trinidad and Tobago’s Panorama 2014 are in and the winners are:
Large Conventional Steel Orchestras
1st place: 287 – Phase II Pan Groove
2nd place: 286 – Trinidad All Stars
3rd place: 283 – Renegades
4th place: 281 - Desperadoes
5th place: 279 – Exodus
6th place: 274 – Silver Stars
7th Place: 271 – Invaders and Skiffle Bunch
9th place: 267 – Fonclaire
10th place: 262 – La Brea Nightingales and Tropical Angel Harps
Medium Conventional Steel Orchestras
1st place: 284 – Pan Elders
2nd place: 281 – Buccooneers
3rd place: 277 – Sound Specialists of Laventille
4th place: 276 – Katzenjammers
5th place: 272 – Arima Angel Harps, Valley Harps and Couva Joylanders
8th place: 271 – Melodians
9th place: 266 – Steel Xplosion and Dixieland
Congratulations to Phase II in the Large Steelband category. The videos are being posted on YouTube and will be linked below when they become available. Please continue to check back.
Phase II Pan Groove Panorama Final 2014 Champion Large Bands
Pan Elders Panorama 2014 Champion Medium Band
Most of the percussionists in this world spend at least a part of their professional life educating. I think there are three vitally important questions that all percussion educators need to frequently be asking themselves. What are you teaching your students? Why are you teaching it to them? And, when/how are they going to use what you’re teaching them?
Why do high school percussion students need to learn how to march around on a painted tarp while playing really hard drum beats? Why should they be playing single hand strokes where the point is to look exactly like the person next to them? Is it really helping them to put in countless hours over the course of two separate marching seasons? Do students need to know all of their four mallet permutations? Why do college students need to play the absolute most technically and musically demanding marimba solos to graduate? How will any of this help them in their lifetime?
I’ve spent a lot of my time convincing my students that there are lessons wrapped up… [Continue Reading...]
I’m in the throws of another 3 week run playing percussion for the 2nd National Tour of Wicked the musical. And, for those of you who have played this show before, you realize exactly what that involves. After all, it didn’t make an exhibit piece in the PAS “Rhythm Discovery Center” for no reason. Playing shows can be a lot of fun (and you’ll meet some great people.. some who seem to enjoy the occasional “photo bomb” (see above).
I don’t know about you, but many of the opportunities I’ve had over the years, like this one, I simply wasn’t prepared for. It turns out there is quite an art to show playing. They can’t teach you everything while your in school.. but you can always do more in preparing yourself for opportunities.
In an effort to share so others don’t have to learn the hard way here are a few things I’ve learned in the pit that make a huge difference in playing shows… [Continue Reading...]
Today we feature guest author Julian Gibson, who addresses one of the most difficult aspects of being a musician… Criticism. Whether it’s receiving it or giving it, constructive criticism is what many of us rely on to improve both ourselves and our students. Julian offers some of his own thoughts and experiences in this post. Enjoy!
Criticism. I’ve had this issue since high school – perhaps an instructor made a bad call or told me off for something I felt I didn’t deserve. Most of the time I’m not sure of the “right” answer: When is it ok to criticize your teacher/professor/instructor? Under what circumstances? How do you go about letting them know?
I had placed my college percussion professor on a pedestal when I was a freshman in college, and felt that he was all-knowing and greater than human. Gradually, I came to know him and become closer with him, and came to a grand realization; he’s human! All teachers are human, and make mistakes – my professor included, and he’s humble enough to let… [Continue Reading...]
In September, I shared my updated snare drum warm-up. It was my hope to start the conversation about creating a unified warm-up that hit all the basic building blocks on snare drum in a 10-15 minutes. I would love to hear if anyone has been using it and if it has worked. I found over the past 6 months, that it has helped me focus and prepare for my practice session along with getting me warm.
I also feel that while I enjoy using the warm-up I needed a metronome to keep me honest and continue to push me. So, I decided to program my metronome with the different lines so I could be more effective in my execution of the warm-up. (I have written before about my favorite metronome app for the iPhone. Tempo Advanced is a killer app and is the best $2 you will ever spend. It is now available on iPhone and Android and has recently been updated to include polyrhythms. More about that in a future article)…. [Continue Reading...]
Ever since the early 90′s when I first heard a live recording of the classic “First Circle” I’ve eagerly awaited every new Pat Metheny Group release. In 1995 while at Northwestern I was fortunate to study with PMG’s drummer Paul Wertico about the same time “We Live Here” was born. With “Imaginary Day” (1997) the group expanded their tune length and included some harder almost heavy metal elements to their style. In 2002 we saw the debut of Antonio Sanchez who replaced long time drummer Wertico (a move that frankly was a tough one for me). Then, in 2005, with “The Way Up”, it all changed for me. It blew away everything that came before it. One full album, with only 4 continuous tracks, featuring a heavy minimalistic/Steve Reich influence, that left you changed after listening to it in one sitting. While many saw it as alienating I was completely obsessed with it. Even keyboardist Lyle Mays, who I was fortunate enough to play with… [Continue Reading...]
The SnapShot Music and Arts Foundation was formed with the mission of providing arts access to students and the public by documenting the biographical history and musical performances of some of today’s greatest artists through film. They have over 4000 videos, including performances and interviews. We have featured their videos when we read Steve Schick’s book for BookChattr and today I would like to feature two interviews of Jazz great Jeff Hamilton.
Enjoy the two parts of the Jeff Hamilton interview. Be sure to check out the SnapShot Music and Art Foundation website for more amazing videos and lectures.
How you do anything is how you do everything.
This is so true for percussionists and musicians everywhere. As we all know, being a great percussionist requires control over a multitude of instruments. Maybe you’re not as great of a vibe player as you are a snare drummer. If you’re asked to play vibes at a gig at some point, it doesn’t matter if the shiny instrument is your thing or not. People are going to form their opinion of your playing over that part.
This quote runs so much deeper than just percussion playing. Teachers, do you approach every one of your students and ensembles with the same intensity? If you’re composing marching music for high schools, do you put as much energy into that lower class group as you do a world class ensemble? Do you respond to everyone that emails you?
I grew up playing hockey, and we would call this approach “taking a shift off.” An example would be a really good player who just refuses to play hard every time he’s on… [Continue Reading...]
What connects Mist from Alred Fissinger’s “Suite for Marimba”, Gordon Stout’s Mexican Dance #1, and Michael Burritt’s Preludes? The roll, or in one case the lack thereof. Today, we look at the marimba roll and trace it’s evolution since the early days of solo marimba. I’m curious about your thoughts to these ideas so please read on and leave your thoughts below the post.
“Mist”, the first movement from Alfred Fissinger’s (1950) important marimba suite is a good example of an early use of the marimba roll. “Mist” depicts a specific incident the composer experienced while serving in WWII and utilizes rolls in a pure chorale format.
Another even earlier use appears in Paul Creston’s well known Concertino for Marimba where, the second movement is mostly written in chorale style. These two examples are similar in their basic and traditional use of 4 part chorale writing.
Fast forward a bit to the… [Continue Reading...]