RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • Five Question Friday: Alexi Hummings

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Dec 02, 2022

    Alexi CummingsAlexi Hummings is a percussionist studying Music Performance at the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State. They are now in their second year and have had the privilege of playing with many fine ensembles at the school including the Percussion Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, Steely Pan Steel Band, and Symphony Orchestra. While their goal is to tackle the world through music discovering versatility in sounds, styles, and instruments, Alexi has always been drawn to melodic sounds like the piano, marimba, and vibraphone, recently delving into the sounds of jazz vibraphone and piano.

    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?

    Alexi Hummings: When it comes to finding new pieces to play, I like to let my ear lead the way. I'll ask friends and instructors for recommendations and try to find recordings on YouTube. Pieces that engage my passion as well as my technical abilities are going to be the most fulfilling pieces to work on.

    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?

    AH: After sitting with a piece for a while, it starts to fall into muscle memory and my focus is less on the notes and more on how I can express what I feel in the moment through the gestures and phrases of the piece. It becomes more improvised in a way, like a response to my environment and a product of my emotional state. I love to preform pieces more than once; the more I perform a piece, the more it seems to become a part of me.

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

    AH: My instructor is fairly involved in my repertoire selection. I look to him for recommendations if I'm looking for a specific style of music or a solo on a specific instrument. He has a lot of knowledge of composers and many books to pull from that can be helpful.

    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?

    AH: Sometimes I come across a piece that I feel like I don't connect with. There could be many reasons for that. Maybe the harmonic or melodic material isn't very stimulating, or maybe I'm having technical problems and I'm just not quite ready to tackle those things. When I need to put a piece down for a while, I like to give myself the freedom to say, "This isn't working right now; I'll pick it up again later." I've had a few pieces I put down for weeks or months even, and when I went back to them I was able to find something new and exciting I might not have noticed before, and the piece was then so much easier to play.

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

    AH: One of my favorite pieces of repertoire I've performed was “Rendezvous” by Dave Samuels. I performed it during my first semester with the Appalachian State Percussion Ensemble, and it was such a fun piece to play. Anything I can dance to I can play, and let me tell you, I was dancing on that stage! The piece was so fun to work on because it was exciting and challenging enough that I felt like there was always more to discover as far as ways to approach it technically and expressively.

  • Five Question Friday: Carlos Ibarra

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Oct 21, 2022

    Carlos IbarraCarlos Ibarra is pursuing his D.M.A. degree at the University of Kansas, where he studies under Dr. Sam Um. Carlos also manages a private studio based in Oklahoma teaching beginning through advanced percussion students. Carlos has been invited to perform at the National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy in Memphis, Tennessee with the Colour Me Crimson Quartet and has presented masterclasses and concerts in Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and California. Carlos earned his Bachelor in Percussion Performance degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University studying under Dr. Marc White and his Master of Music degree from the University of Oklahoma studying under Dr. Andrew Richardson and Dr. Emily Salgado.

    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?

    Carlos Ibarra: One of the most efficient ways I look for new music is by going to as many concerts and recitals as I possibly can. A few factors I take into account are the date the piece was written, the diversity of my program in terms of instrumentation, diversity considerations of the composer, and the length of a piece.

    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?

    CI: The longer I keep a piece in my hands, I find myself not only finding new ways to phrase certain passages, but I also find myself wanting to perform it in front of people more often. I believe that you won’t truly know what you want a piece to sound like without performing it at least a handful of times in front of various audiences.

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

    CI: While studying with Dr. Salgado and Dr. Richardson during my master’s degree, they really let me have my own choice of repertoire, which helped me a lot because it allowed me to choose pieces that I was truly passionate about.

    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 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?

    CI: I don’t finish every piece I start because sometimes I only want to play a couple of sections of a piece just to test it out. If I’m practicing a piece for a couple of days and I lose interest, I allow myself to choose something else, so long as I follow through with that next choice.

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

    CI: One of my favorite pieces is “Variations on Lost Love” by David Maslanka. This piece has always been a favorite of mine because of the wide range of emotions that the composer presents through the work, and it is also written by one of my favorite composers!

  • 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.

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