RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • Five Question Friday: Scarlett Maples

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Sep 23, 2022

    Scarlett MaplesScarlett Maples will be a junior at the University of Alabama this fall. She is majoring in Music Education with two minors in Psychology and Educational Policy and Reform. At UA, she has been a member of the University Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Music Education Ensemble, Tuscaloosa Youth Orchestra, and the Million Dollar Band. Scarlett is also a member of the Percussion Studio and Percussion Ensemble, performing at PASIC 2021. Scarlett was a front ensemble member of the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps for their 2022 season and teaches private lessons, band camps, and drum major clinics in the Tuscaloosa area.

    R!S: How do you find new pieces that you are interested in playing? What factors do you consider when seeking out and/or choosing new solo or chamber repertoire?

    Scarlett Maples: I typically enjoy playing lesser-known solo pieces so that I can musically shape and craft it the way that I'd like to, instead of having a preconceived idea of how it should go. When looking for repertoire, I often ask older students in my studio for suggestions or take up the search on YouTube and/or Spotify. Recently, I've also found that Instagram is a great way to find new repertoire.

    R!S: What changes about the way you play a piece as you “live” with it for a while? Do you typically perform a piece once or multiple times?

    SM: As I live with a piece for a while, I definitely get more comfortable with it and don't have to focus as much on the technical aspects, allowing me to spend my efforts tweaking and building the musicality behind it. It also gives me the time to experiment, trying new things or taking risks with it, to make it MY piece and MY performance, something that my professor encourages us to do. Usually, I perform a piece once or twice and then move on from there, starting a new piece the following semester.

    R!S: How involved and in what ways is your instructor involved in your repertoire selection?

    SM: I very much like to find my own solo repertoire. Obviously, it must fit within my physical limits as a younger percussionist, but I typically provide my professor, Dr. Lynge, with a list of pieces that I like around week two of the semester, and he chooses one that he feels would best help me further my technique and musicality. As for percussion ensemble repertoire, Dr. Lynge is always open to suggestions and ultimately chooses things that he thinks will be fun and challenging for us to play together.

    R!S: Do you finish every piece that you start to learn? If not, why not? If a piece seems like a poor fit or you struggle unusually with it, how do you proceed? Do you “bail” on the selection or what changes do you make to allow yourself to complete it?

    SM: I was actually presented with this scenario this past spring semester. Dr. Lynge chose a solo marimba piece that I didn't necessarily vibe with for my jury, and I struggled for the first half of the semester to learn it because it honestly felt like a chore to be in the practice room on it. I got to my lesson after spring break, and he could immediately tell there was a disconnect between myself and the piece. We had a conversation about it and switched my piece so that I could enjoy finishing a solo from the previous semester. I think it's completely fine to bail on a piece that doesn't bode well for someone; however, I think that revisiting it after growing as a musician is a healthy choice because you may find that you love it later!

    R!S: What is one particularly favorite piece of repertoire you’ve performed and why?

    SM: My favorite ensemble piece that I've performed is titled "Amen" and was composed by my graduate student mentor and friend David Curtis. I love his style of composing, and the fact that the piece was mainly improvisation with his solo on top and soundscape track underneath. I played the bowed vibraphone and, having never done that before, can say it's one of the most beautiful sounds ever. Taking the PASIC stage with some of my best friends and putting our whole hearts into this piece was an amazing experience that I'll never forget.

  • Five Question Friday: Robert Grahmann

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Sep 09, 2022

    Robert Grahmann

    Robert Grahmann is a percussionist currently studying musical performance at Arizona State University. In addition to a variety of ensembles at ASU, Robert has played with Phoenix Theatre Company and as a soloist at the Arizona PAS Spring Festival. He is an active member in the local jazz community and takes a particular interest in small chamber ensembles and contemporary works, having participated in ASU's PRISMS Contemporary Music Festival. Robert will graduate from ASU Barrett in Spring 2023 and is looking into possible graduate school programs.

    R!S: How do you find new pieces that you are interested in playing? What factors do you consider when seeking out and/or choosing new solo or chamber repertoire?

    Robert Grahmann: I find new pieces by hearing them either in concert or through recordings that companies, performers, or composers put online. Usually, when I hear something I like, I look into other works by that composer as well, and sometimes spend time browsing the publishing company’s pages. If I'm choosing chamber repertoire, I usually think about what instruments my friends play and if it's logistically feasible. For any type of piece, I think about if it is musically enriching for me to learn, if it presents something new and intriguing, and if I think people would want to hear it more than once.

    R!S: What changes about the way you play a piece as you “live” with it for a while? Do you typically perform a piece once or multiple times?

    RG: I tend to shift my focus to different parts of a piece during the process of learning and sitting with a piece. The music I'm learning and how I play it is always informed by what other music I'm listening to at the time as well, deliberately or not. As a younger student, I used to often only play a piece once when I learned it, but now I am finding that I have more opportunities to play a given piece.

    R!S: How involved and in what ways is your instructor involved in your repertoire selection?

    RG: Dr. Compitello is fairly involved in my repertoire choices, at least insofar as I usually play what he recommends. We usually discuss why it would be good for me to learn a particular piece, which helps me to know what he believes is important for me to learn and to make informed choices of my own both now and in the future.

    R!S: Do you finish every piece that you start to learn? If not, why not? If a piece seems like a poor fit or you struggle unusually with it, how do you proceed? Do you “bail” on the selection, or what changes do you make to allow yourself to complete it?

    RG: I usually finish learning a piece that I start, though I have abandoned the process occasionally. Sometimes I feel as if I've gleaned all I can from learning a particular piece before finishing it, so my practice time is better spent elsewhere. I will say that I think the best pieces are rewarding throughout the learning and performing process.

    R!S: What is one particularly favorite piece of repertoire you’ve performed and why?

    RG: Last year I learned and played Juri Seo's vibraphone quartet “VV.” I particularly enjoyed the rehearsal process for this piece, largely because I enjoyed working and spending time with my colleagues with whom I played the piece. This piece really rewarded digging into the composite rhythm and how my part fit into it musically, and it was nice to be able to perform this several times for various concerts and recitals.

  • Five Question Friday: Taylor Pfaff

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Aug 05, 2022

    Taylor Pfaff

    Taylor Pfaff is a junior Music Education student at Morehead State University. At Morehead she is currently involved in Symphonic Winds, Concert Choir, Percussion Ensemble, and Steel Band, and she was the first female to make the snare line in the Marching Band. She is also the President of the Morehead State Percussion Club and Secretary of the state chapter of the National Association for Music Education. Taylor is a sound technician for Baird Music Hall and a Resident Advisor in housing. After graduation, Taylor plans to teach elementary music and later earn a master’s degree.

    R!S: How do you find new pieces that you are interested in playing? What factors do you consider when seeking out and/or choosing new solo or chamber repertoire?

    Taylor Pfaff: I find new pieces by researching on sites such as YouTube, Tapspace, C. Alan Publications, and Steve Weiss Music. I consider my skill level and ability when seeking out solos and repertoire and, in simple terms, what sounds interesting to me.

    R!S: What changes about the way you play a piece as you “live” with it for a while? Do you typically perform a piece once or multiple times?

    TP: I find that I am able to zoom in and out of the piece by focusing in on details as well as the overall purpose of the piece I am wanting to portray to the audience. As a college student, I typically only get to perform a piece once, and then I move on to learning more repertoire.

    R!S: In what ways is your instructor involved in your repertoire selection?

    TP: My instructors give great advice on pieces they think would help my growth as a percussionist.

    R!S: Do you finish every piece that you start to learn? If not, why not? If a piece seems like a poor fit or you struggle unusually with a piece, how do you proceed? Do you “bail” on the selection, or what changes do you make to allow yourself to complete it?

    TP: So far in my career, I finish learning every piece. Typically, every piece given is something I must complete for my degree, therefore I have not had an experience where I chose to not finish a piece. Typically, if a piece isn’t going well, I practice the hard section and come up with a plan to complete it, and the easy sections will be the last to learn.

    R!S: What is one particularly favorite piece of repertoire you’ve performed and why?

    TP: I have two favorite pieces I have performed so far. The first is an ensemble piece titled “Electro Phantasm” by Caleb Pickering. I love how each part blends with the others and how the piece builds off of each section. One solo I like that I’ve played is Ney Rosauro’s “Marimba Concerto No. 1.” I worked very hard on this piece to compete in a competition, enjoyed learning it and perfecting it, and I was able to win the competition.

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