RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • Five-Question Friday: Brian Graiser

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jan 15, 2021

    Brian GraiserDr. Brian Graiser is a contemporary percussionist, composer, and teacher who serves as the Adjunct Instructor of Percussion at Sam Houston State University, where he directs the University Percussion Ensemble and Bearkat Drumline, and teaches applied lessons and percussion methods. While his musical exploits are highly diverse, he is best known for his work with the vibraphone, highlighted by such efforts as his DMA Project, "Concerto No. 1 [Lulu]: Creating the World’s First Concerto for the Four-Octave Vibraphone," and his service as President of The Vibraphone Project. 

    Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a percussionist and educator, what career could you see yourself having pursued?

    Brian Graiser: I could probably see myself as a writer of some kind. I entered college as a double major in music and journalism, but that didn’t last more than one semester. I really do enjoy writing, but the honest truth is that I can’t envision myself being truly happy and fulfilled in any other field but music. I may never make enough money to live in a mansion or own a yacht, but I’ve also never gotten up in the morning and said to myself, “I wish I didn’t have to go to work,” and that’s pretty fantastic!

    R!S: As a freelance artist, what's one of the weirdest gigs you've taken or oddest jobs you've had outside the industry?

    BG: My wife and I (as the REFLECT harp+percussion duo) went on a national performance tour in the summer of 2019, and one of our concerts was at a Tibetan Buddhist center which, to my amazement, was led by a monk hand-picked by the Dalai Lama! He watched me load in and set up all of my gear for nearly two hours, pleasantly observing and smiling the whole time. I eventually felt pretty awkward and broke the silence by saying to him, “I guess this is sort of like a mindfulness meditation,” to which he responded, “Oh, lots of mindfulness!” To this day, that exchange has helped me feel a bit less frustrated whenever I have to schlep my gear around; maybe I’ll achieve true enlightenment if I set up enough cymbal stands!

    R!S: What's one thing about you that your colleagues or students would unanimously proclaim?

    BG: I took a risk and actually passed this question along to my students, and the one common word that they shared in describing me was “understanding.” I’m pretty happy with that; it’s important for teachers to remember that our students are real people. It wasn’t that long ago that I was on the outside looking in, working a warehouse job while preparing for graduate-school auditions. It makes me appreciate the diverse backgrounds and tenacity of my students; we all have obstacles we need to overcome, and theirs are just as valid as mine.

    R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?

    BG: Without question, my favorite instrument is the vibraphone—especially the extended-range, 4-octave vibraphone. For one thing, the instrument’s cool, pure sound has always resonated with me. For another, and I know this is going to rile some people up, when you objectively consider all of the additional possibilities and responsibilities created by pedaling and mallet dampening, the vibraphone is more technically demanding and has greater potential for expressivity than any other keyboard instrument, including the marimba! I used to be shy about making that statement, but it’s proven to be true time and again. I’m absolutely willing to publicly debate this point!

    R!S: Where did you grow up, and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?

    BG: I grew up in Marietta, Georgia, a northwest suburb of Atlanta, and was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome when I was five years old, which led to a boatload of social problems. One of the biggest reasons I chose to pursue a career in music was that being a percussionist in high school had an enormously positive impact on my life. Not only did it help me to find my footing socially, but the physical act of hitting instruments was literally therapeutic and helped to reduce my symptoms. I have since learned that playing percussion is a form of “proprioceptive therapy,” but all I knew at that age was that it felt good and calmed me down. That’s powerful stuff!

  • Industry News — January 2021

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jan 13, 2021

    Gru Gear MaskGRUV GEAR
    KarbonZero Mask
    Premium lifestyle brand Gruv Gear launched its new Karbon Series face masks to help protect people during travel or in public places, especially during the COVID pandemic. The lightweight KarbonZero reusable mask has a stylish and luxurious design. The breathable, multi-layered face mask is fully compatible with optional, disposable PM2.5 activated carbon filters. The five-layer antibacterial filters are designed to block droplets, pollen, and pollution also. KarbonZero masks come with a pinch-seal nose bridge and easy-to-adjust straps for a custom comfort fit.

    The new masks feature satin-brushed side panels with an air mesh ventilated center panel for comfort. The mask can be purchased with or without a pack of 10 filters. Guidelines recommend that the filter be replaced every one to two weeks. Owners may also keep their KarbonZero masks looking fresh by occasionally hand washing with warm water and gentle soap, and allowing it to air-dry.

    To learn more about Gruv Gear and its products, visit gruvgear.com.

    HOSHINO U.S.A.
    Assumes Distribution of Tama and Other Associated Brands in Canada
    Beginning in 2021, Hoshino U.S.A. Inc. will be the distributor of Tama Drums, Tama and Bergerault Marching and Concert Percussion, and Hardcase Drum cases in Canada. For inquiries, dealers may contact the Hoshino U.S.A. sales dept. directly at customerservice@hoshinousa.com.

    TRX International ArtistsTRX CYMBALS
    Additions to International Artist Roster
    The TRX Cymbal Company has announced the addition of several outstanding, young drummers from around the world to its international artist roster. From North America, that includes Faith Benson (Crimson Apple, Bea Miller), Antoine Fadavi (King Princess), Gary “Smash” Foster (The Bad Dreamers), Jamie Leigh Schultz (independent), Jack Mudd (Emblem3, Tegan Marie, Kid Politics), and Lindsey Raye Ward (independent). From Central and South America, additions include Ricardo “Oso” Cortez (Ha*Ash) and Pauline Roberts (Cinema). From Europe, the TRX roster has added Georgia Challinor (Luke Rainsford), Šimon Bílý (Mirai), and Dominik Smutný (Sebastian). From Asia, the roster now includes Victoria Gridzhan (independent), Victor Han (independent), Subin (independent), Noriko Terada (Tap Dogs), and Jinwoo Yeo (independent).

    To learn more, visit the TRX website at trxcymbals.com.

  • Rhythm! Discovery Center: What We’re Up To Now by Rob Funkhouser

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jan 10, 2021

    If you’ve ever cracked open the back page of any issue of Percussive Notes, you are aware that PAS runs a museum, the Rhythm! Discovery Center, in downtown Indianapolis. R!DC houses the large collection of instruments that PAS has gathered over several decades and serves as the main arm for community outreach in the Indianapolis area. Over the last three years, museum operations have matured on most relevant fronts, with major support coming in for collections management, museum remodeling, and partnerships with arts organizations around Indianapolis. In 2019 especially, certain aspects of the museum were humming, having served over 20,000 visitors, including 5,000 students who were able to attend at no cost, and curating 29 performances both in the museum and in other public spaces. In this blog entry, the first in a series covering current activities at R!DC, I will give an overview of the last few years of growth, and recap the strange productive environment of 2020.

    In terms of the last few years of growth, R!DC received support from local and national foundations including the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, the Grammy Foundation, the Eli Lilly Foundation, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. This support has led to projects including cataloging the Gerhardt Collection of 78s, revamping and improving the collection storage capability and conditions in the museum, and redesigning much of the interactive media throughout exhibits in the museum. All of these projects will be covered in greater depth in future entries in Rhythm! Scene

    Working in a museum, especially a small specialized one like R!DC, is a balancing act between day-to-day operations and long-term projects, as everyone tends to wear a lot of proverbial hats in the course of work. There are always lists of things to do at any given time, and navigating priorities is part of the normal course of each day. During a typical year, slow movement on long-term projects is complemented by the flurry of activity of daily operations. In terms of the museum, this typical way of working was turned inside out in 2020, with progress on long-term projects becomming the occupation of daily work, as operational duties were lightened by the museum being closed to the public. 

    When staff was able to access the museum, we turned the whole place into our work area, spreading out projects over a large part of the space that is usually part of the exhibits. (See the accompanying pictures to get an idea of a bit of that madness.) In spreading out, the staff was able to process a large number of objects from being stored loose on shelves to being boxed, placed on more protective shelving, and entered into the collection database. To accomplish this, an assembly line was set up to pull an object from its resting place, make sure it was properly numbered and tagged, photograph it, update the description and metadata, box it (often in custom built boxes), and find a new place for it in collection storage. The staff accomplished what would normally be a few years’ worth of work based on normal time constraints in just a few months. 

    Museum Images

    All told, over 800 objects were processed and are now living in new, better protected homes in the collections storage area, as shown in the accompanying photo. Following this push, staff followed up with research to bolster the data already in the collections database and continued cleaning the information for inclusion in the newly available online collection. As of now, most of these freshly processed objects are available to view at rhythmdiscoverycenter.pastperfectonline.com. I would encourage anyone who is interested to check out that site, and click around some random object records to get a feel for how the digital collection is taking shape, and to get some insight into what is held at the museum.

    Collection Storage Shelf

    Collection Storage Shelf

    In a series of R!S Blog posts this year, I will be detailing some of the other projects from the last few years that have helped shape Rhythm! Discovery Center into a more capable and agile branch of PAS, as well as detailing how things develop throughout the year. Be sure to also look for articles in Percussive Notes that will detail some of the archives projects that have been happening this past year. 

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Percussive Arts Society
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Indianapolis, IN 46204
T: (317) 974-4488
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