Tag Archives: Marimba

WGTB Camp 2014!

I have learned one thing this week: my ability to not go ballistic when working with small children is better than I had previously thought. That being said, I am tired. Very tired. I only really worked with the older kids, who in theory are better behaved. But still, they’re just kids. Somehow “Sit down and don’t talk” mean very different things to a 6-year-old and an 18-year-old.

For anyone not familiar with We Got the Beat, here’s some info. The basic rundown: We Got the Beat is a Fresno-based youth percussion performance group focused on getting young kids playing a wide variety of percussion instruments, from keyboards, to drum set, to Afro-Cuban and Brazilian instruments. Without a doubt, We Got the Beat was the foundation for me to be where I am today. Through the group and the connections I made, I met my first percussion teachers and got my first instruments.


Those connections only led to more opportunities. But ultimately, I have We Got the Beat to thank for my ear for and my enjoyment of music. Without the group, I wouldn’t have a love for Jazz, nor would I find marimba to be so fascinating.


I came to a profound realization, though, being at camp this particular year. I’ve become so wrapped up in my studies of minutia in performance, that I nearly forgot something We Got the Beat taught me, to enjoy playing. What I like most about We Got the Beat is that everyone who joins the group enjoys doing what they do. They have fun playing music, and get to see just how much fun is possible.


When it’s over for these kids, some never go on to do much with the technical aspects of playing that they learned. Some leave music altogether. Others of us branch out and find what we truly love about playing and pursue it deeper and deeper. Now that I’ve delved into a pretty deep hole for myself, it’s both comforting and exciting to remember where I started.

Whelp. A Lot of Stuff Happened.

Ok. There’s literally no way for me to condense everything that has happened in the five weeks since I last posted into a reasonable post, so I’ll give you pictures and summary where I can.


1. Merced Symphony

I played a percussion-heavy rendition of Carmen with the Merced Symphony. That was fun. I got to play with my private teacher as well as a few other percussionists I had known before.



2a. CCDOP (Acronyms FTW)

I competed in the Central California Day of Percussion Solo Competition, Snare Drum and Marimba categories, and I placed 4th in each. That was fun. Also included in that weekend was the 23rd annual Central California Day of Percussion, which was just really stinking awesome because I got to see some great percussion ensembles play, including We Got the Beat (pictured below), and got to hear Anthony Cirone play his own etudes from Portraits in Rhythm. That was really fun.



2b. YPO/Fresno Phil Side-By-Side

Also that weekend was the Youth Orchestras of Fresno Side-By-Side concert with the Fresno Philharmonic. That was…fun, and a little bit crazy. Actually, a lot a bit crazy. But The percussionists and I enjoyed ourselves, and we made it out of that concert as better people. I promise I’m in this photo. Or at least part of me is.

side-by-side(photo courtesy of Youth Orchestras of Fresno Facebook Page)


3. AP Testin’

For obvious reasons, I have no photos of the tests I took.


4. SF Symphony

My family and I went up to San Francisco to celebrate the end of AP testing with the San Francisco Symphony. I know, it’s a terrible picture. Considering that it was dark, we were in the second balcony, and it was from my phone, I am willing to let that one go. The symphony played amazingly, and the entire time I was thinking, “Wow. MTT is on stage, conducting live, right here in front of me. Is this real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a crap seat, no escape from the balcony.”







5. The Week of Nothing

Seriously: the week of May 18th, I did NOTHING.


6. Graduation

That was fun. This picture is from the morning of the ceremony, but the ceremony was that evening. Since we couldn’t have phones, I literally have zero pictures from graduation. Everyone else in my family seems to have a million, but I’m to lazy to get them off of their cameras. Don’t judge. I just graduated: it was exhausting.




This last weekend, I competed as a semifinalist in the Southern California International Marimba Competition. I loved playing, but the judges were brutally honest in their feedback. But, I got to see a lot of friends and play for some of the greatest marimbists alive right now, so that was definitely a positive experience. I may or may not have a video of that performance. If I do, I’ll post is as an addendum. Otherwise, just trust me that it went alright.


So there you go. That’s been my last five weeks, and right now, I’m feeling pretty accomplished. That was a lot to do. And now it’s done. And I shall eat pasta, because I’m really hungry and have nothing else to do.




NorCal Day of Percussion and KVPR

This week has been quite the adventure. We didn’t have school (thank the maker!) and yet there was no shortage of things to do. I started off (or middle-ed off?) the week on Wednesday playing marimba for the Valley Public Radio Young Artist Spotlight program (see video http://sh.st/wx7JZ).

Then, on Saturday, I got to attend the Northern California Day of Percussion. To my knowledge, it was the first NorCal DOP and it started what I hope will be a great annual festival. I had never seen UMusic (a Bay Area youth percussion group) perform before. Along with my involvement with our own Central Valley group We Got the Beat, I can’t describe how glad it makes me to see such young players being exposed to great music. And BOY can they play.


My only hope is that some day I might be able to help out another, similar ensemble. I feel like combining what I’ve learned from We Got the Beat (and Louisville Leopards!) with UMusic ideas would just result in this awesome awesomeness. I know, what a way with words, right? Because each one of those ensembles is just plain awesome. Awesome.

Okay, I should stop saying awesome and go write a paper that’s due on Friday. Silly AP classes.

Mallet Wrapping 101

I took my first stab at wrapping my own mallets today. That was interesting. I went off of this tutorial from a Boston percussionist. It took me about 20 minutes to figure out what counerclockwkise meant. It was fun and all, but my hands hurt because I kept winding too tightly.


Of course this was like most first-time adventures, a learning experience. Here’s what I learned:

1. Wrapping mallets is hard to do well.
2. Obligatory second item on list to make one thing I learned into an actual list.
3. Ok, I also learned not to cross too many layers in the center, otherwise
your mallets get all pointy.

It was actually a really cool challenge for me. Most of all, it challenged my perfectionism. I know these first attempts aren’t great. I have a lot of work to do, but I think I’m up for something new.


I feel like this is sounding way too dry, and I’m really tired, so I think I’ll wrap up. Haha. Get it? Boy I’m tired.