Understanding the Problem at Hand.

Don’t underestimate the importance of understanding the problem at hand. In our “neurotic” (obsessive) percussion culture we often concern ourselves too much with playing the geekiest, nerdiest, and most expensive gear. While this obsession isn’t necessarily a bad thing (and often is the most important thing) there are some instances, especially for younger players, where it can throw us off course.
As usual, I like to take things I learn in life and apply them to my teaching and playing. I recently got back to water skiing. And, as is often the case, I was reminded of something I learned way back in my skiing hay-day (too long ago) that applies to my profession today. You see, I learned to slalom ski (one ski) on mediocre to good equipment. After several years of experience I was invited to try a top of the line, very expensive ski. I got up, hit a cut as hard as normal and the next thing I knew I was eating serious water. I learned the hard way that… [Continue Reading...]

Flashback: It’s All About How You Spend Your Time

One final article. Have a great beginning to your year! (Originally posted on August 26, 2013).

For most of us in the college ranks, school has started or starts soon. I had orientation meetings on Friday as well as large ensemble audition placements with my students at CSULB. When I got home today, I received an email from the new Director of the Bob Cole Conservatory, Dr. Carolyn Bremer. She has been the chair of the Cole Conservatory for the past three years and was just elected Director over the summer. Below is the email she sent out (posted with her permission). Some of it is specific to to the BCCM, but a lot of it is applicable to music students everywhere. Have a great year and please add your thoughts below.

It’s All About How You Spend Your Time
By Dr. Carolyn Bremer

One of the most difficult aspects of life as a music major is managing your time. We put a lot of demands on you in ensembles, academics, lessons,… [Continue Reading...]

Flashback: Karl Paulnack Welcome Address

Here’s another article that I hope will help to inspire you as you begin the next school year. (Originally posted September 13, 2001).

Over the summer, I came across this speech that Dr. Karl Paulnack delivered to the parents of the incoming class at The Boston Conservatory. The speech is a thoughtful justification for studying music and the arts. If you have never read this speech, I would recommend that you sit down and take a couple of minutes to read through it. I hope it inspires you to forward the link to your students and make some comments below.

Check out Dr. Karl Paulnack’s website for more information about him and his studio at The Boston Conservatory.

Karl Paulnack Welcome Address
One of my parents’ deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn’t be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined… [Continue Reading...]

Time Management 101

Summer is almost over (Boo!) and this week, the Director of the Bob Cole Conservatory, Dr. Carolyn Bremer, wrote another great opening article for the department’s blog. Everyone should take some time and read this now!

Time Management 101
By Dr. Carolyn Bremer
August 2014

Opening speeches (notes) are meant to instill inspiration for the coming year but I can say quite honestly that inspiration is encountered every day at BCCM. Instead, this is about how to accomplish what you need to do, maintain your sanity, and reach your potential.

One of the most difficult aspects of life as a music major is managing your time. We put a lot of demands on you in ensembles, academics, lessons, classes outside of music, concert attendance, and learning from your peers. The theme of this missive is:

Time Management 101

You’re a Music Major. You have classes, you have to practice, you have rehearsals, you need to learn music for ensembles and for your lessons, you have theory and history and general ed homework, practice sight singing, practice for class… [Continue Reading...]

The Blue Devils win 2014 DCI World Championships

The Concord Blue Devils won their 16th DCI World Championship on Saturday night in Indianapolis. The Blue Devils scored a 99.65 (the highest score ever in DCI) in their final performance. The Bluecoats (97.175) won 2nd place and The Cadets (96.875) placed 3rd. The Blue Devils had an amazing year, winning every competition leading up to finals. The Santa Clara Vanguard placed first in percussion for their final performance.

For complete results and recap analysis, check out DCI.org. Congratulations to The Blue Devils.

Were you there or did you watch it live? What were your favorite moments of the season? Leave a comment and let us know what you thought of the 2014 DCI season.

Here’s the Blue Devils show from Salem, VA on 07/29/2014.

Japan’s “New World”

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Attention all auditioning orchestral percussionists: audition for Japan’s “New World” Symphony; the Hyogo PAC Orchestra. I recently returned from a healthy week long visit to HPAC for the PAC Percussion! series of concerts on August 2nd and 3rd. Every year in August the orchestra organizes two concerts (the same) featuring the PAC percussion section with a guest artist. For more information about this years concerts click here.

As it turns out there is an inspirational story around the orchestras inception. According to HPAC’s site: “During the decade following the great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995, the courage, persistence, and compassion of Hyogo’s local residents brought about a miraculous renewal of the devastated region.” In 2005 the orchestra opened as a symbol of cultural rebirth of the region. Since then it has seen it’s 4 millionth audience.

HPAC orchestra is a resident orchestra exclusively affiliated with Hyogo Performing Arts Center under artistic direction of Yutaka Sado. During a three-year term, 48 international core members… [Continue Reading...]

Top-end Style Bodhran Exercises

James Yoshizawa Drum Set DrumChattr

It has been a while since we have featured a video by James Yoshizawa. Today, James is here to introduce some Top-end style Bodhran Exercises. There are two ways to play the bodhran: 1) The Kerry Style (the most common way), which is played with a double-headed tipper (or stick) and 2) the West Limerick style (or Top-End style), which uses only one end of the tipper. The second style is the newer tradition and popular with beginners.

Download the exercises and check out the video. How many DrumChattrers play bodhran? Leave a comment below.

Mobius performs “Thank You (____)”

The Mobius Percussion Quartet is an up and coming group based out of Brooklyn/NYC. They have played multiple concerts and been guests with So Percussion. This piece is a new snare drum quartet by Jason Treuting. For more information about the piece, the composer and the group, read the text from the YouTube post below.

As I was deciding what I was going to post today, I came across this video in the suggested videos on YouTube. Being that I know one of the members of Mobius (Yumi Tamashiro is a former student of mine), I wanted check out the new piece and performance. The piece is a combination of performance art and music. In the piece, Jason explore textures, combinations of visuals and extended techniques for the snare drum. It was posted on July 16, 2014 and as of this post, it has been views 5,229 times and there are 84 Thumbs Up and 27 Thumbs Down. What I find interesting about this piece is all of the controversy from the comments on… [Continue Reading...]

Fixing Things

We live in a culture where things are either working or they’re not. And if they’re not working, we throw them away.

Apparently, there used to be these things called repair stores. These were stores that fixed your broken TV’s, washer and dryers and even blenders and toasters. The way products are made and purchased today, the vast majority of these stores have gone out of business. Our approach and feeling about the things we own has also driven these stores out of our lives.

We see this in the professional world all the time as well. A good example is the shelf life for professional coaches. An under-performing season for your team (maybe 2 if you’re lucky) typically means you’re looking for a new job. This is seen not only in sports but many professions including music. Fair or unfair, it’s just the way things work.

All this leads to some misunderstandings in the music world. Many students and teachers have the mindset of “this either works it doesn’t.” Students either get it or they don’t…. [Continue Reading...]

Website Review: Bulletproof Musician

20140713-171854-62334416.jpgThere are a lot of great websites for musicians, but one I keep coming back to every week is The Bulletproof Musician. The site, by Dr. Noa Kageyama (performance psychologist and Juilliard graduate), features a weekly blog post, coaching and an online training course. According to his site:

“The purpose of this website is to teach musicians how to overcome stage fright, performance anxiety, and other blocks to peak performance. The specific mental skills you develop will allow you to experience the satisfaction of performing up to your abilities – even when the lights are brightest. Wait, let me rephrase that. Especially when the lights are brightest.”

I wait anxiously every Sunday morning to read the latest blog post. Unfortunately, I have never had the opportunity to take part in his coachings or online course, but I have a couple of friends who have and they are incredible.

Recent posts have included:
Why I Should Have Paid More Attention in Music… [Continue Reading...]