Audition Starter Pack

I was very fortunate as a student to have a lot of resources available to me. I could always borrow my teacher's snare drum or mallets, and I didn't have to purchase much of anything starting out. However, it was always on my mind, and I began making lists of things I thought I'd need for not only auditions, but things I could use all the time. I wanted to give one of those lists here, just to get people started and to give an idea of things you should invest in now with certainty. If I only had this list of items, I would be perfectly capable of doing my job at the CPO, taking an audition, attending school, etc. 

Marimba:

Xylophone:

Glockenspiel:

Vibraphone:

Bass Drum:

Tambourine:

Triangle:

Triangle Beaters:

Timpani:

 

3 Things I Wish I Knew in College

1) Keep up your chops for the instruments you don't play as often

Going down an orchestral path, playing extremely hard marimba solos was not really a focus of mine. Before going to college I did have decent marimba solo chops, but once I arrived there, I didn't use them as much, and they slowly deteriorated. If I could do it over again, I would've kept up as many solos as I could and tried to learn a lot more.

2) Answer as many questions as you can, then ask the rest

I loved asking questions in college. The one thing that has changed is that, now, I search for answers more by myself than by actually asking someone else. On average I can answer or find the answer of at least half of the questions I have, and then I can ask an outside source or teacher the rest. Take charge of your education, answer your own questions, confirm or challenge those answers, and then ask the ones you cannot answer yourself. The learning really happens in the process of you finding the answer, not just entering in the question and getting the answer from someone else. 

3) Jam out with your friends

The one thing I wish I did, and that I now do with one of my former classmates, is jam. Just either playing duets together, or playing stick control to music, or even improvising on world percussion instruments. A big part of playing musically is feeling free enough to take chances or to make strong choices, to play off of someone else's ideas or energy, to have and share your own ideas. Playing with other people in a supportive environment, and even outside of the structure of college was really helpful to me and I wish I did it more often.    

Relax and Rebound

As we play a lot of things are going on. We are either constantly moving from one instrument to the next, or playing complicated rhythms. In any case, relaxation is key to making it easier to accomplish the things we want. Therefore, removing any unnecessary movement or tension will help streamline your playing.

Common Tension Areas

  1. Everywhere

  2. Anywhere

Relaxation helps maximize the rebound of the stick, and unnecessary tension in any part of the body will hinder it. The Free Stroke is our example of how much rebound there actually is. We must become familiar with this feel and generate all of our strokes from it, going for as much rebound as possible, letting the stick do all the work. Our hands are merely guiding it to a certain destination at a certain speed and time.

The Free Stroke

  1. Stay loose and let the stick rest in the hand (like a small pet)

  2. Feel the complete weight of the stick (as heavy as possible)

  3. Lift from the back of the hand/Let go from the back of the hand

  4. Let stick rebound back up *WHILE HAND STAYS DOWN*

  5. Once #4 is comfortable, follow the stick back up

What is the most comfortable, natural, easiest way to move? Throughout each part of the stroke, finding the path of least resistance makes playing easier, allowing the rebound to be exploited. This can also be a way to find and stop habits that could be detrimental in the long run. Unless we allow the stick to rebound and do the work, our body will absorb it and we will overwork, causing multiple problems (i.e. tendinitis, carpal tunnel, etc.)

The Mechanics

  1. Stroke Types (Up, Down, Taps, Full) [Ex. 1-7]

  2. Finger Strokes [Ex. 1-3]

  3. Multiple Bounce (Double/Triple Stroke, Moeller Stroke) [Ex. 8-14]

  4. Forearm Moeller Whip [Ex. 4-10]

  5. Elbow Moeller Whip [Ex. 4-10]

  6. Shoulder Moeller Whip [Ex. 5-8]

  7. “It doesn’t have to stop there”

By simplifying our movements, removing unnecessary tension, and allowing the stick to rebound and do to the work, not only will our technical facility improve, but our careers will last longer. Stay loose, throw the stick, let it bounce, follow it through, repeat. Doing these things will make anything we play that much better.


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