PASIC 2015 Recap!

Wow what a week in San Antonio! I always have a blast at PASIC and this year was no different. Sadly I was not able to clone myself and did not attend every event and class I wanted. It can get quite overwhelming at times and of course I wanted to check out the exhibition floor and catch up with some many friends I don’t get to see often.

Here is a quick recap of some of the highlights for me.

The Symphonic Committee is working on some new ideas for the Mock Audition and Symphonic Labs so keep your eyes peeled for those in the coming year.

Brian Del Signore – Preparation for Snare Drum Perfection

In a brief introduction Brian touched on a lot of really important topics to play snare drum at the highest level including focusing on playing soft, improving your weak hand, importance of recording yourself, and unique ways of using the metronome. All good things for any aspiring percussionist to work on.

MY CLASS!

First I want to thank Michael Metz, Sam Crowley, and Aaron Covey for playing! They all played very well in a very intimidating environment! I think the concept of working on preparing an audition solo for an audition was received very well and all three left with some good new ideas! I also have to thank Malletech for providing such a great instrument and Leigh Stevens for teching the instrument beforehand! Couldn’t imagine having a better marimba tech than that!!

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Symphonic Panel Discussion

There were a whole lot of Symphonic activities on Thursday! This was sandwiched right in between the Mock Audition and Rob’s class. The panel was moderated by Phil O’banion and included Brian Del Signore (Houston Symphony), Richard Kvistad (San Francisco Opera), Sam Bacco (Nashville Symphony), Richard Weiner (Cleveland Orchestra), and myself. There was some great discussion on the differences between how we lead our sections, which I very much enjoyed. However, we all agreed on a lot of aspects of our job that are paramount. Mostly that we need to put players in the best position to play well and that doesn’t always mean that we (the principal) plays the typical principal part. It was also nice to hear others say that it is our job to stand up for and have our section’s back when tension between conductor and section escalates. Not that that every happens….

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Rob Knopper

Rob gave a great class on how to self record and learn from this recording process. It wasn’t just about gear, it was more about the process of how to analyze the recording and how to improve from it. He made some good points about eliminating multi-tasking so that you can focus on one part of the process at a time. Normally we are playing and listening and analyzing all at the same time. That’s very inefficient! A great point he made was that in traditional practice you are only fixing the first problem you notice. When you self record, you can see and hear the most important problem first rather than just the one you happen to notice first.

Then he brought myself as well as Sarah Gartin, and Jean-Baptiste Leclere on stage. We separated the recording process into 3 aspects. I was the player. Sarah was the analyzer. And JB came up with the solutions to fix the issues. This was quite fun, especially since Rob decided to surprise me with some rep I wasn’t expecting to have to play…

PASIC All-Star Percussion Ensemble

I must say I am pretty out of the loop when it comes to percussion ensemble rep right now as I just don’t get a chance to play it or hear it very often. This concert programmed by my old teacher Michael Burritt was a real breath of fresh air. It was programmed extremely well and the college students played at an extremely high level. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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Jean-Baptiste Leclere

I was immediately impressed with JB’s tambourine playing ability. He started with some brief history of the riq and demonstrated some pretty impressive technique and how it relates to the tambourine. He spoke briefly about how to use the head on the tambourine to your advantage. We have a tendency to forget the tambourine has a drumhead attached to it. I always try to think about how much head sound I want in my tambourine sound and JB had an interesting way to think about it. Since you are using your hand and not a stick you can think about the tambourine head like a conga head and use the same or altered techniques like a conga. Very cool idea.

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Jerry Noble

Jerry focused on commonly played repertoire that uses accessories. We have a tendency to forget about how prominent these “toy” instruments are in some standard repertoire. He also spoke about how these are typically the instruments you play when subbing for the first time with a professional orchestra. He had some great comments for the students who played and really got them to play with a lot more confidence.

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UNCG Percussion Ensemble

Eric Willie has done a great job of promoting and raising this studio to a high level. I have given several masterclasses there in recent years and the bar keeps getting raised. I was a little late for the start of this concert but really enjoyed the last 3/4 of it. The students and Eric not only played well but were extremely well rehearsed in the logistics of the stage changes. I particularly enjoyed the new mallet quartet by Michael Burritt.

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Zildjian Testing Room

This was new this year and I think will be a regular event as it was a huge success! Zildjian rented out a few conference rooms in the Hyatt hotel and had a TON of cymbals available to try and out and buy. The Zildjian Staff as well as Rob Knopper, JB Leclere, and myself were there to help potential buys pair up some cymbals. You can really get something unique when you buy cymbals this way because you can swap out a top or bottom cymbal that you don’t like and create a perfect pair. It was fun to help people find the perfect top and perfect bottom cymbal. When we found those perfect matches, people’s eyes lit up! Let’s hope Zildjian does it again next year!

THAT’S A LOT OF CYMBALS!!

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While I boarded the plane completely exhausted from the early mornings and late nights of socializing, I left San Antonio full of inspiration. I have a lot of playing coming up and the tank is on full for the practice sessions needed. I hope those that attended had a great time and a big thanks to those who came up to me and had nice things to say about my book that was released last year. It was a little overwhelming actually and meant a great deal. Thank you!

Looking forward to next year!

WJ

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