I just returned from PASIC in San Antonio. I had a blast reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. Enjoyed the expo room, and the "hang". Also saw some performances and presentations - Chris Lamb, as usual, reminded everyone that we should be humble....as long as he still has a stick bag.
However I was most struck by the emeritus section, lead by Alan Abel and Richard Weiner. Full disclosure - I studied with Alan so I'm going to be inclined to like what he does.
However, there is more to this then my "fanboi" status for a former teacher and mentor. When I looked on that stage one thing struck me more than what they played or how they played.
These guys, to a person, joined their orchestra before it was "hip" to be an orchestral player.
They won their jobs before the modern audition system, before mallet endorsements, custom drums, before blogs, subscription websites, summer seminars or anything available now to both students and professionals. No excerpt books, "vlogs" or annotated guides to study.
What they did have was passion, ears, hands, and brains. Of course, some had mentors in early conservatory programs - nothing however, like the resources, support or guidance available today.
They listened, adjusted, strived to make good sounds, and in general just did their job really really really well. Every day.
They wrote their excerpts out by hand, and learned by doing, by trial and error, and by being open to criticism. That criticism, just as an FYI, was not couched in the warm and friendly lingo of today's modern, emotionally connected world....
Make no mistake, today's musicians ( myself included) are highly trained, smart, talented and dedicated. This is not "back in my day..." Post. I love where we are as percussionists - some of the best playing and teaching is happening right now, all over the country. The level is higher than it has ever been, and we are not even begun to fully explore percussion as a chamber or solo/concerto instrument.
No doubt, this is a fantastic time to be a Percussionist
However, the next time I hear "well I can't do this because of that... " or "I just don't have the right mallets or sticks...." Or my personal favorite - "well no one told me what to do?!?"
Go watch a video of Alan and Richard playing Scherazade... And then go practice
Trust me, someone a long time ago played snare drum better then you....and they did it without a a video tutorial.
Go shed......and strive to do them justice