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PAS New Jersey Day of Percussion 2002

Part One: Performances

What's the PAS?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) is "a music service organization promoting percussion education, research, performance, and appreciation throughout the world."

Officially formed in 1961 from a group of fourteen concerned percussionists, today the PAS has more than 7,500 members in chapters throughout the United States and around the world. In addition to inducting some of the most important people in percussion into its Hall of Fame, the PAS Composition Contest has encouraged the creation of hundreds of new works, many of which are now part of the standard percussion repertoire.

If you'd like to support drums and percussion, and receive access to lots of online info and free events to boot, think about joining the PAS. There's even a special online ePAS membership available at a reduced rate. (See the Percussive Arts Society in the sidebar for more details.)

In 1971, the PAS began holding performances and clinics called "Days of Percussion." These are free events that feature the world's top drum talent. I highly recommend that you find your local PAS chapter and go out to these events.

Glenn Weber

I attended this year's DOP at the New Jersey Chapter, which was organized by NJ Chapter President Glenn Weber (who also happens to be a former instructor of mine), and I had a great day.

In addition to the talent on stage, there was certainly no lack of talent in the audience. Top notch drummer Danny Gottlieb (a Morello student) was there as was session drummer Andy White. For those of you not familiar with Andy, he (not Ringo) appears on some of the early Beatle recordings and he has worked with a number of great artists including John McLaughlin, Jimmy Page, and Tom Jones. Damon Weber, Glenn's son and also an in-demand performer and teacher, was there too.

I was surprised to meet a number of my site members there as well, one of whom came all the way from Massachusetts to catch the event.

For those of you who could not attend, here in words, photos, and audio is what you missed.

Percussion Ensembles
I admit I'm not a big fan of percussion ensembles but I couldn't help but appreciate the hard work and skill that went into the performances put on by two local area high schools.

First up was The Ridgewood High School Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of Gary Fink.

Director Gary Fink
Director Gary Fink

Ridgewood H.S. Percussion Ensemble
Ridgewood H.S. Percussion Ensemble

The students performed percussion ensemble pieces that included the use of the human body and voice, as you'll hear in the first of these two audio clips:

Click for audio of Ridgewood High School Percussion EnsembleStreaming audio clips:
Ridgewood H. S. Percussion Ensemble
(Don't have RealPlayer? Download it free)

The Tenefly High School Percussion Ensemble, led by Dr. Walter Schneider, was next to perform. Listen to a sampling of their performance:

Click for audio of Tenefly High School Percussion EnsembleStreaming audio clip:
Tenefly H. S. Percussion Ensemble
(Don't have RealPlayer? Download it free)

Evelyn Glennie
Next on the agenda was a Masterclass held by Evelyn Glennie. For those of you who don't know her, Evelyn was the world's first and still is the only full-time solo percussionist in the field of classical music. Since 1985, she has traveled the globe working with more than a hundred major orchestras and collecting 44 awards (including a Grammy) along the way. To make her story even more incredible, Glennie has been profoundly deaf since the age of twelve (meaning she only hears sounds of extremely poor quality).

How does she do it? She performs barefooted and predominantly identifies notes from the vibrations she feels in her feet and body.

Evelyn Glennie

I was disappointed that Evelyn didn't actually perform. Instead, she critiqued student performances as they played on a snare drum, marimba, and timpani. Here, in a nutshell, is what she recommended for improvement:

  • Snare Drum: The musician should only use the dynamic level notated in music as a guide. For instance, within any written dynamic level (such as MF - mezzo forte), there are many different dynamic levels. Apply more than one when you play.

    As short as it is, I think the following audio clip will give you a good idea of Glennie's ability as she demonstrates dynamics on the snare drum. Her approach to making a snare drum solo sound less mechanical, is to pretend that she's playing a melodic instrument such as a violin:

    Click for audio sample of Evelyn Glennie on Snare DrumStreaming audio clip:
    Evelyn Glennie on Snare Drum
    (Don't have RealPlayer? Download it free)

  • Marimba: When playing 4-mallet chords, she prefers performers to vary the accents of various notes in the chord according to the mood of the piece. She also stressed the need for visualizing the music and demonstrated her technique of dropping her arm to accent notes without creating tension in the arm. (Stay loose! Yeah, I love it.)
  • Timpani: Here Evelyn stressed the importance of interpreting any piece of music in your own way. This is what separates average performers from the exceptional ones. Also, in a piece with a repeating theme, she suggested varying the theme slightly each time to keep things interesting.

In addition to the above, Evelyn had a general tip for percussion ensemble members that deals with the visual aspect of performance: "Lower your music stands so the audience can see your faces and body movements as opposed to the wall of black created by the music stands. This will put you more in touch with your audience."

All in all, it was a good session and I believe the audience (and the students whose performances were being ripped to shreds, I mean, critiqued) learned a lot!

Danny Raymond
How would like to put on a pair of white shorts and a shirt (like a member of the Walt Disney World sanitation crew), go to Disney World everyday, play drums on garbage cans, and get paid for it! Yes, these kinds of gigs actually exist and Danny Raymond is lucky enough to have one. And he's been doing it for the past twelve years!

Active in the Orlando Florida area as a teacher, clinician, and performer, Danny presented a program on Rudimental drumming, which as appropriate for a drummer who is the 1989 and 1990 Drum Corps Associates Individual Snare Drum Champion.

Danny stressed the importance of learning rudiments for all drummers, regardless of style. He also recommended listening to drummers of all styles and suggested that you record yourself using audio and/or video for self-improvement.

And, concerning drum corps competitions, Danny suggests going against the stereotype and doing something different. (I couldn't agree more.)

Here's an audio clip of a solo Danny wrote that has been published with Rudimental Publications and in the recent Pro-Mark snare solo book Ziggadabuzz. Check it out:

Click for audio of Danny Richmond's Snare SoloStreaming audio clip:
Danny Raymond Snare Solo
(Don't have RealPlayer? Download it free)


Click the following link for PAS New Jersey Day of Percussion 2002: Part 2!


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Links Related
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Related Links on Site

PAS NJ Day of Percussion Performances: Part 2
Evelyn Glennie
Joe Morello
New Jersey School of Percussion

Related Links on Web

Percussive Arts Society
William F Ludwig