Danny Barsetti-Nerland is a student at Arizona State University, where he is studying with Dr. Michael Compitello and working on his DMA in Percussion Performance. Danny worked as a band teacher in South Tucson for three years before pursing his Master of Music degree at the University of Denver. Danny has worked with high school front ensembles, taught private lessons, performed with community band and orchestras, and played in other freelance opportunities around Arizona and Colorado.
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?
Danny Barsetti-Nerland: Most of the pieces I have found recently came from looking on the websites of Steve Weiss, Tapspace, C. Alan Publications, etc. and listening to the recordings that are available there. In addition, I have found really interesting composers and compositions from searching YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. I am usually looking for pieces that sound exciting or would be exciting for an audience.
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?
DBN: When I have worked on a piece on and off for a while, I usually come back to it with a fresh approach and the excitement that is lost after working on a piece for a while. As I work on the piece more, I begin to hear different lines from the music and find nuances that I hadn’t noticed while working on it in the early stages. As I get past the note-learning stage, I work on bringing the musical lines out instead of worrying about the technical aspects. I usually perform a piece a few times through the process, but the main performance comes from a recital or audition.
R!S: How involved and in what ways is your instructor involved in your repertoire selection?
DBN: I’ve had a wide variety of involvement from my instructors in regard to repertoire selection. In some cases, my teacher gives me repertoire that is extremely beneficial to my musical growth, and I don’t necessarily have a say in it. In other cases, if I am really interested in learning a piece, I show it to my instructor and explain why that piece stands out to me. Nine times out of ten, my instructors have been supportive of those musical choices and how I work on them.
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?
DBN: As I have gotten older, there are pieces that I will work on for a while and then take a break from them or stop working on them all together. A large part of stopping the piece comes from the amount of time invested in it without necessarily seeing the necessary growth. Also, there are some pieces that I have worked on that have been just a little out of my reach for when I needed to have it ready. If I have brought the piece into a lesson multiple weeks and not seen as much growth over those lessons, I usually try to get feedback on how I can improve on the piece or discuss putting the piece away for a while.
R!S: What is one particularly favorite piece of repertoire you’ve performed and why?
DBN: “Side by Side” by Michio Kitazume is a piece that I have played on and off for about five years, and every time I come back to it, I find new things to work on. It is an extremely drummy piece, but it has a wide range of dynamic contrast and musicality.