Thomas Landewee started his percussion journey at the age of seven and received private lessons beginning at age 15. His formal training began at Southeast Missouri State University, where he studied percussion with Dr. Shane Mizicko, Dr. Christopher Wilson, and Jay Contrino. Thomas was recognized as the Music Department Presser Scholar and earned a bachelor’s degree in music education instrumental. In 2021, he started a master’s degree in percussion performance at Colorado State University, where he studies with Dr. Eric Hollenbeck and Shilo Stroman. At CSU he is an active member in the percussion ensembles, steel drum band, orchestra, and wind symphony. Thomas is an active PAS member and offers private lessons.
R!S: How do you find new pieces you are interested in playing? What factors do you consider when seeking out and/or choosing new solo or chamber repertoire?
Thomas Landewee: Watching videos and holding discussions with other instructors and students is how I find my repertoire. Once I find a piece I desire to play, I will research some information about the piece and composer. Then I consider my abilities, where I would like to challenge myself, and whether the piece will be enjoyable to learn and stick with. Finally, I consider my audience, because I always have one piece for the audience to leave excited about or have them hum on the way out.
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?
TL: As I spend time with a piece, my technique will relax and musical expressions tend to take the larger focus. When preparing for a performance, I try to hold several “live” mock performances to help settle my nerves.
R!S: How involved and in what ways is your instructor involved in your repertoire selection?
TL: My instructor does not tend to suggest pieces. We will discuss several different ideas and narrow it down after observing each selected work. When it is time to make the final decision, I have the final confirmation.
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?
TL: This depends on the reasoning of choosing my repertoire. Sometimes I treat my selections like choosing a book to read. I flip to a page or section, read a little bit to see if I will enjoy the content, and make my decision from there. Overall, when I start a work, I tend to finish it.
R!S: What is one particularly favorite piece of repertoire you’ve performed and why?
TL: One of my favorite solos is “White Pines” by Michael Burritt. It had color changes and many different emotions that could be delivered. It is technically challenging but can be a bit of a musical challenge, too. Not only was it a joy to learn but the ensemble I worked alongside also enjoyed it. In a chamber setting, one of my favorite pieces is “Donner” by David Skidmore. It was fun and engaging for the audience and provided a chance for a very musical performance.