Monday, November 19, 2012

An Experience of A Lifetime!

This past Sunday, Spirit hosted the Day of Percussion- what a phenomenal experience! How often is it that you get so many brilliant, famous, and pioneering percussionists in the same room, teaching young people about what makes them passionate?  Not very frequently. This was an extraordinary opportunity and the students that attended were blown away. Percussion is basically about hitting things. It was so interesting how each clinician brought their own unique approach and vision of that concept to what they were playing! We talked a lot about how drumming was the second voice of music, preceded in history only by the human voice.  And how fundamental concepts, like rhythm and story telling, apply to every style of percussion - whether it be African or Brazilian Drumming, Orchestral percussion, Drum set, Front Ensemble or Drum line. The clinicians brought us a fresh outlook on percussion, and inspiration that makes me determined to keep fighting for every note and every new thing I can learn! Special Thanks to Colin McNutt, Thom Hannum, Keith Aleo, Grant Braddock, Eduardo Leandro, and Ian Hale. We are so grateful!

Monday, November 12, 2012

We Enjoy Because They Sacrificed!

We had a terrific WP rehearsal this past weekend. It was definitely a long one- 6:30 am- 11:30 pm! We got so much accomplished including learning the beginning of Book 3- New Life. The layering of all the mixed-meters makes for a fantastic effect! It's super challenging, but will be so cool once we get it.
The rest of the day was sub-sectionals cleaning parts of the show as well as polishing exercises that we will perform for the upcoming Day of Percussion. We ended the day in ensemble - putting together Books 1 and 3,and playing the "Batucada" (A full participation Brazilian drum circle). Being Veterans Day, I realized I couldn't do any of these activities I love so much (including winter percussion) without those, past and present, who have fought for our country. Thank you Veterans!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On the Floor

Spirit of America WP just voted on the design for the 2013 floor! We met on Election Day and cast our own ballots choosing between two designs that depict themes of eternity and the circle of life in South American culture. The design we all chose is in process, so we can’t show you yet…but you can be sure it will be a different look for Spirit Winter Percussion. It stands in stark contrast to the luminous palette of color we have played with until now, and yet it will still capture the energy and strength of our show concept.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Grant Braddock

As a drummer and percussionist for Broadway's Lion King, Grant is obviously very knowledgeable about World Percussion. However, his expertise extends far beyond that into drum set, keyboard, and everything percussion. He is one of the coolest, hippest guys out there – and he can play the shekere like no-one else – it's insane how cool it is!
Day of Percussion - Nov 18th - Check out the Insanity

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Eduardo Leandro

Eduardo Leandro is a native of Brazil. He is currently the  Artist-in-Residence at the State University of New York-Stony Brook, as well as clinician for Vic Firth. He has performed in music festivals throughout the world. A killer keyboard artist and a licensed pilot – he is also an accomplished conductor who shares his talents everywhere. A brilliant musican who generously shares his passion for percussion.

Day of Percussion – Nov 18 – Don't Miss It!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Keith Aleo

Don't let the Zildjian affiliation lull you into thinking that Keith is just a "cymbal guy". He is an accomplished percussionist in every sense of the word. He earned his BM from Eastman and his Masters from the University of Miami. He was a member of the Florida Philharmonic ('89-'03) and performed with the BSO under the direction of James Levine.  He has recorded several orchestral works and conducted countless workshops and masterclasses both nationally and abroad.  His excitement for the medium is contagious- and orchestral percussion suddenly takes on a whole new "coolness" when you work with him.
Day of Percussion - Nov 18 - Please Join Us

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Colin McNutt

Colin has his roots right here on Cape Cod where he graduated from Barnstable High School. He earned his stripes, working his way up the DCI ranks, as a player ('92 tenor solo champion), tech , and instructor. He is presently the Percussion Caption Supervisor and Arranger for the ten-time DCI World Champion Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps. Colin has served on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he is an alumnus with a double-degree in Classics and Music Education. He is a sought-after clinician with Yamaha, Zildjian, REMO, and Vic Firth.
He is also a friend. I have known him for over 16 years – and his untiring devotion to the art of percussion never ceases to amaze me. Sure, he is a great instructor – but his care for the player, the "student" holding the sticks, is what impresses me most.  He finds your very best - and you'll surprised by the discovery.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thom Hannum

Thom Hannum has been teaching at UMASS/Amherst since 1984 - establishing a program which continues to produce quality players and instructors who have shaped the face of Drum Corp. He has long been regarded as one of the nations foremost percussion arrangers, instructors, and clinicians. His pedigree is unparalleled: a member of the DCI Hall of Fame, coach of the '87 Cadets drum line that scored the sports only “perfect 20”, and a charter member of the design team for the Tony Award-winning show BLAST!.
I have attended Thom's workshops: they are uplifting and encouraging. Excellence can be intimidating – but when excellence is a way of life - it becomes inspiring. Day of Percussion - don't miss this opportunity to be inspired by Thom.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day of Percussion - Nov 18th

As a new blogger on the Spirit of America site my first order of business is to bring some fresh perspective to the fast approaching Day of Percussion.  The cast of percussionist is unbelievable - Thom Hannum, Colin McNutt, Keith Aleo,  Eduardo Leandro, and Grant Braddock.  It just doesn't get much better than this. So whether you are an accomplished percussionist - a basement drum-kit wannabee - or anywhere in between there is something for you at this event.  Please, do not feel intimidated - they are all very approachable and encouraging clinicians and teachers. In addition to all that - it's free! Please click on the poster for more information - and stay-tuned to this blog for more detailed information on each of the clinicians. And by all means - Save the date!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


The group visiting South Africa landed home today, earlier than we thought we'd see them. Its interesting to note that even though they've been gone a week, I really missed them. I think feeling of being connected is from all the work that we've put into Spirit together.
Welcome Home!

Return from SA

Our group of 12 just cleared US Customs 15 minutes ago! It was a very productive week of teaching, and it was really exciting to see the progress that they had achieved with their new Resound donated instruments since last year when they were received. More later about the long term realizations of the week...overall a fantastic trip!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I love Fall

There is something so refreshing about the first days of fall on the Cape. Its before it gets all damp in your bones and you can't seem to get warm til the cheer of  Christmas...Its the time of year when we turn our fresh fall energies to Fife and Drum, Winter Percussion and Wind Ensemble. Thereof is always something happening in Spirit of America Band- just ask the people who are on their way home from South Africa ! 

Today is the last day

I am sure that our people in South Africa are packing with a mix of excitement to come home and wishing they could just tie the two halves of the world together.  I look through all the photos and see smiles and experiments on brass both trumpets and trombones, clarinets, and silks.  If you have a face book account you can click here and see some of the pictures......

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Give back to Giving

I heard today that there have been between 40 and 50 kids at the music classes every day in South Africa.  I have to say I'm not surprised because Spirit of America members are known for their energy, kindness, and infectious excitement. How super cool that must be to just share the joy of music. We all hoped that this would be the result from the overwhelming hours that all the members of the band worked to make this possible.  What an exciting thing to see happen.  Well, off to Wind Ensemble....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thrilling ! Seriously...

I'm so psyched.  I just read one of the posts on the Spirit of America blog from South Africa and they are having a blast.  Its so exciting to hear that they are encouraging the students to want to do more...That is what we wanted when we went over the first time and its really happening !! (I knew it would)  How cool is that ?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"On the Other Side of The Globe..."

Back at home, we had our "normal" Monday night rehearsal- but it was pretty out of the box! While the woodwinds rehearsed the Finzi Romance for the upcoming Wind Ensemble recording, the brass and percussion sections helped build and paint a set for Elements Theatre Company! We got to run chop saws, nail guns and table saws... and splash some paint around too- what fun! One of the unique things about Gloriae Dei Artes Foundation is that each group helps each other out, making the work load a lot more manageable - and a great time in the process!

Hello from the Drummers in South Africa!

It’s only Day two, and it’s already been an incredible journey with the drummers at the Enkaya Arts Center in Durban. This morning we had the same percussion group we’ve had every morning. It’s a really small group or four or five, and they’re older and really catch on to all the concepts we’ve been throwing at them. Two of them are already moving around the different drums on the tenors quite confidently. They’re quality of sound and rebound is pretty impressive! We got to show them our WP Final performance this morning which they really loved also. We hope to show it to the rest of the kids tomorrow.
They all have a really strong interest in learning to read and write music- a big step from learning about how to play music last year. We’ve been able to take them and work with them in small groups, or even individually to understand how music works and how to read it. A lot of their music training has been based on solfege, so traditional written music is a whole new concept for them. Plus we've had to brush up on our English theory to make sure they understand us- everything is quavers and crotchets, semi-quavers, and so on!

Workshops Day 2

The second day at Ekhaya ended with a bang! As theory, and technique had worn down the kids patience a little, we decided to do an expo and general jam session. The african drummers showed off there new repertoire and the SOA battery and Ian played a challenging but awesome exercise written for a DCI corps. The kids were thrilled as they took up the chant "we want more!" We didn't have much choice, so we gave them an encore.
After the percussion, it was the brass' turn to let loose. We played a bunch of South African tunes...kind of a jazz improv session...Amazing Grace, Great is Thy Faithfulness, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, God Save the Queen, and the South African National Anthem. A lot of these kids play really well by ear, so they excelled as they improvised on these songs they have heard for their whole lives. It was really fun to let loose and play for the fun of it.

Why South Africa again?

Barbara de Angelis is quoted as saying,  

"Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible - it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could."

While I know very little about Barbara de Angelis, I can tell you that she has captured the essence of the reason we went and will continue to go to South Africa.  When our group arrived a few days ago there were South Africans looking for their friends from the visit last year. Think about it... a year later they heard some of us were coming and came to see if by any chance their friends were in that group.  That is a strong connection for both sides. The joy that Barbara is taking about is what is shared between the South Africans and us. 

Drumming of my Heart

Something happens when I am practicing drums together.  The joy of creating a sound together feels awesome when its just how it was written.  I feel like I'm a tiny puzzle piece from a big puzzle that fits just right in its spot.I'm starting to understand the reason Africans have used drumming for centuries to communicate with each other...

Todays fun Photos from Durban

Today after a jam session in Durban

A few of the Students at Durban