KoSA’s co-founders and directors, Aldo Mazza and Dr. Jolán Kovács, had been planning a big celebration for their 25th anniversary. When the world changed in March 2020, the directors of KoSA had to rethink their planned celebration in a very different way. Determined to “Just Drum On,” which was the theme of this year’s camp, KoSA’s 25th edition was held online. Twelve renowned artists delivered their classes on Zoom July 6–10 with great warmth and passion in a carefully designed educational program that did not disappoint.
The week kicked off with Jim Riley’s informative presentation on getting great sound out of the drums as well as creating grooves and fills that serve the song. Aldo Mazza’s classes in Cuban technique and rhythms demonstrated his expertise of this country’s music and traditions. Mazza has spent nearly two decades perfecting his knowledge of these rhythms and his classes focused on his very successful method book on the subject. Bill Bachman followed with a terrific session on “Technique, Musicality, and Healthy Hands for the Long Play.” Bachman shared his personal struggle to relearn to use his hand and arm after suffering a stroke many months ago. His emotional story inspired participants and faculty alike to just keep going in the face of challenge. Later that afternoon, Rick Van Horn offered advice on using the right tools for the job when considering stands and other hardware, as well as on the safest and most efficient way to lift and transport heavy gear.
The next day, the KoSA camp was graced with the presence of the reputable jazz drummer Mike Clark. From his home in Manhattan, Clark expertly demonstrated various techniques such as ride cymbal techniques and phrasing, as well as his signature licks on the drum set. Following this great session, Marcus Santos pumped up the Zoom room with his class on different Brazilian instruments and rhythms using a drum pad. The faculty torch was then passed on to the superbly talented Chester Thompson who gave an amazing class on building independence on the drumset.
Celine Dion’s percussionist, Paul Picard, delivered a tasteful performance at the KoSA Academy recital hall alongside Aldo Mazza on the drums. His classes focused on explaining which percussion sounds and instruments he uses to spice up Celine Dion’s performances, and he patiently guided students on the proper techniques of playing certain instruments such as cabasa, shaker, triangle, etc. Participants also interacted with the legendary David Garibaldi as he explained how he views “Creativity and Process” in his linear drumming style .
John Riley fascinated participants with his class on “Movement and Motivic Development.” While all classes were typically one-hour long, the virtual platform allowed faculty to attend each other’s classes, which they did with great enthusiasm. This resulted in marathon-like question-and-answer periods and virtual happy hangs where faculty and participants mingled together.
On the last day, Jim Norris, well-known publisher of the successful magazine The Canadian Musician, gave a great talk on how to set and achieve goals, keep yourself motivated, and constructively deal with setbacks and disappointment. Faculty alumni Allan Molnar gave advice on creative strategies for online teaching and ensemble performance. Participants then had a chance to use these strategies as they prepared a virtual performance. This concert, which was open to the public, featured solo and ensemble performances by faculty and participants. It also served as a competition for the participants with wonderful prizes to be won by KoSA’s generous sponsors. It was a fitting end to this new way of doing things, which may remain with us for a while. As one young participant from Canada aptly put it: “I was nervous about attending KoSA online, as I had such a great experience last year in person, but this year’s camp exceeded my expectations. When there is warmth and passion in teaching, it can transmit through any medium. Thank you KoSA!”
KoSA was graciously sponsored by Sabian, Ludwig, Hudson Music, Pearl, Evans, LP, Gretsch, D’addario Canada, and Alfred. For more information on all things KoSA, visit kosamusic.com.