Prairie Percussion Workshop

A blog post about a workshop on a website that is (for now) all about this workshop.  I hope I’m not getting carried away but while I chew my nails through the month of June waiting for registrations to come in I thought I should maybe say a little something about why I started this workshop.

The idea wasn’t actually mine. My teacher, Jauvon Gilliam first had the thought but moved away from Winnipeg before the idea was able to get off the ground. The name was his idea, and when I “picked up the torch”…  so to speak…I liked the idea of honouring all the work he did in Winnipeg by using the name he came up with.

I have 2 major reasons for running this workshop.

1) To provide percussion students from brand-new beginners, to more experienced high school players, with access to the next set of skills that they need by giving them classes in every major area of percussion. To my way of thinking, versatility is the key to being a percussionist.  The more areas in which you are comfortable playing, the more opportunities you will have to play, whether its through school, community or even (one day!) professional projects.

To this end, students are divided into peer groups and go to classes is snare drum, timpani, drum set, world percussion, mallet percussion and auxiliary percussion, as well as attending masterclasses, seeing faculty performances and working in chamber ensembles. They really get a chance to try a little bit of everything.

2) The second thing I hope to build is community. The more these students meet the amazing professional musicians that come in to teach and perform, the music educators that volunteer their time to teach technical classes and the university students that assist and work with all of the students in these different areas, the more opportunities there are for people to connect.

I’m fond of joking around about the title of the book I’ll write one day, called “Drums and Life” which is what I’m always telling my students are the 2 things that I teach.  It sounds both obnoxious and cheesy, which is probably why I find it funny, but mostly, its why I do the things I do.  I believe in developing skills in young players so that they have the opportunity to excel at being a young percussionist.  Whether that means learning to play a xylophone part when you have always been a “bass drum kid” or that means you learn to play a timpani solo even though you never knew those were even a thing… from the drum set player learning to play crash cymbals to the pianist-turned-mallet player learning to play a drum fill. There is a chance for everyone to do something they never thought they could, or to push themselves in their favourite area to do more than they ever thought possible.

I took a chance starting this workshop, and I believe in what it is and what it is capable of becoming.

This little note is just a bit (for anyone who might want to know) about why I started this workshop, if you want to know more about what happens at the workshop itself, please click here.

The only cats worth anything are the cats that take chances, sometimes I play things I’ve never heard myself. – Thelonius Monk