• Student Teaching

    All music educators must go through the final test of becoming a real teacher known as student teaching. As a young percussionist, I feel there are some things you, the reader, should know about how to have a fun and positive student teaching experience.

    1. Know your role. So many of us in the percussion world have been fortunate enough to work with marching bands during the fall and get them to perform beautifully by the seasons end. When I was student teaching during marching season it really helped me to establish a positive and non-threatening relationship with the existing percussion director. Many of us have had experience with Drum Corps, and offering that information can be beneficial but not everyone works the way you do. The most important thing is to always remember that you are a visitor to the program and always consult with the directors on ideas you may have that way you are not going behind each others backs on approach, technique, or music changes. Address concerns, but also know when to let things go.

    2. Be flexible. Even though I am a percussionist, I dove right in to teaching a majority of the woodwind, brass, colorguard, and visual block sectionals. Since student teaching is a time to work with every group and develop band directing skills, take advantage of every opportunity presented. The key to making this part successful is proper planning, reviewing of instrument pedagogy, and remaining professional during on-the-spot teaching moments. Having a plan for every day is essential to making this a smooth process, even if you think you won't teach a certain class that day, always have a plan in case the copperating teacher is sick or has somewhere to be during that class. 

    3. Be thankful. These cooperating teachers are taking on the responsibility of your experience at not much benefit to them. At the end of your short time together, think about what they gave up to have you there and SHOW THANKS for their sacrafices. Do you think you stumbling through teaching a woodwind sectional your first time really helped them progress as a program? Probably not, so its always a great idea to show thanks in some way, shape, or form. I gave a few gift cards out to the directors at their favorite restaurants as a small token of thanks and in return they offered me awesome letters of recommendations when It came time to ask for them. Karama is a real thing and it can help when you least expect it. 

    4. Go above and beyond. No one wants to be the last one to leave the band hall on a late school night and be back the next day bright and early. Since you as the student teacher are not there full-time like the directors are, offer to stay as late as necessary to get the job done whatever it may be. There were times I set up the band hall after school and let the directors go home early just to show them that I really cared about the program, and them as people. They have families too and practicallly live at the band hall. Show some initiative and thanks for all that they do by making their lives a little easier. It makes you look good in the process too and shows the directors that they can trust you to get the job done when the going gets tough. 

    5. Have fun. Remember why you wanted to become a director in the first place. Was it because of your inspiring lesson teacher?, your funny mentor director? life-long friends in band? whatever the reason, I am glad you are reading this and care enough to think about these things. The best part about teaching is how you can inspire young people to become better adults. Enough said.

    College is done and I am looking forward to the next chapter in life with graduate school.

    Take care.


  • PASIC 2015 in San Antonio, TX


    PASIC is the most wonderful time of the year. Reuniting with old friends and making new ones! That’s what it’s all about…

     This year we were able to make our rounds as 3G Percussion and connect with artists, composers, and product companies. Every year we’re just constantly baffled and reminded how amazing it is to be a percussionist during this time. The creativity and innovations in our field are keeping the percussion spirit well and alive!

    Here is a quick recap and big name groups that sparked our interest this year! 

    There were a lot of great performances this year for chamber music. We were able to see the international group, TorQ Percussion, from Toronto, Canada. They performed all works for percussion quartet. These guys are great musicians and we encourage everyone to check them out!

    The NanaFormosa duo from Taiwan was outstanding! These ladies play with such a virtuosic style and are just incredible marimba players. The Bach performance was dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Paris tragedy, and was absolutely breathtaking.

    New Morse Code featuring Mike Competello (percussion) & Hannah Collins  (cello) performed an outstanding concert in the Lila Cockrell Theater. In many ways, combining percussion and any other wind or string instrument can be difficult. We as percussionists tend to stay away from wind and string players because they always push and pull tempo and we ask ourselves, “why can’t they just play in time?” Well, it’s not always about playing things in time. There is a lot to learn from our fellow wind and string friends. (next blog topic!)

    Of course, Gene Koshinski gave a fantastic presentation on the art of two mallets on marimba. For those that don’t know, Gene recently published a book called “Two” in 2014, which consists of two mallet solos on marimba that highlight the hidden potential in two mallet playing. Gene is a fantastic marimbist, and composer for percussion.

    We were glad to have attended PASIC 2015 in San Antonio and cannot wait till next year. Perhaps in the near future we will register to present a clinic of our own! There are lots of things cooking in the kitchen for 3G Percussion (already within this next year) and we’ve never been so excited!

  • Percussion. Community.

    Last night was a very exciting time for us as we played some great music at a local coffee shop on campus at the University of Houston. We have been wanting to get out of the practice rooms, and concert halls for such a long time, and finally... we succeeded. We realized that we as music students often get trapped in the settings of our music building, performance venues, and practice rooms. There are pros and cons to this. Yes...students need to be engaged in concerts at the university and supporting their colleagues. Yes.. students need to be soaking in as much information as possible in the academic environment. However, we think more music students in school should reach out to perform in other venues outside of the concert hall. I call this the education outside of my education. Learning how to manage yourself in a real world gig is very important. Performing for people that are not your colleagues is also very important, because they might notice things that your friends don't see right away. I think it is very important that we can have additional influence on what non-academic music students are exposed to. If we want people to support what we do, why not try to reach out to them more? Why not expose them to our music outside of the concert hall? huge issue for a percussionist can be the amount of equipment to transport. So..for us, a solution became music for easily portable instruments such as keyboards, bells, gongs, cymbals, chains and drums.  There are many great composers who have written music that use these portable instruments which is why we currently wish to use this music as a vehicle to reach out. Our mission is to create a buzz about the art of percussion in any way possible.

     In addition, we as creative artists, and educators tend to talk ourself out of the things we want to put out in the world. For us, we were in that same boat. We hesitated on playing any type of music in public for the fear of hearing “This is terrible music, they are just playing random stuff”, or “This other group played it better”, or “They are just a copy of another group.” Well, we held ourselves back from performing for about 4 years ever since started 3G back in 2011…dumb, right? The only reason we finally got over this and started to share percussion music was because we realized that even the greatest failure that could come of us playing was not anything to be upset about. If people hated the music? so what. If we sound like another group? so what, ideas are made by other ideas . We have learned and come to accept that any doubts and fears can be overcome with action. A famous person once said “JUST DO IT!” So…we did it, and it was a great.

    We got a chance to talk with some people who really enjoyed the music. One student said “it’s very relaxing.”  Another student even started making beautiful artwork in his notebook during our performance, which he indicated was to resemble what the music felt like in his mind (see below). The music allowed people who were in conversations, or studying to actually get a different, more calm experience than a typical rock band event (I love rock bands). For us, it was a blast. Our friends Juwan Blanton, and Joshua Ramirez are great percussionists who helped us make this event possible by performing with us. Percussion. Community. Being able to connect with students at the nook and with our friends was a great moment for us. 

  • The Art of Conducting

    We would like to share this video for anyone who is interested in the art of conducting... or just music in general!  This video portrays some very intellectually rich content that may inspire young conductors. Many of the most respected conductors are seen in this video and offer their thoughts on rehearsal strategies, musical interpretation, and memories of the past. Enjoy!

    Click here to watch "The Art of Conducting"

  • Mark Applebaum.

    This morning, we were talking about Mark Applebaum’s TED Talk mad scientist video. If you haven’t seen it here is the link.

     We first saw Mark Applebaum present a clinic at PASIC 2014 in Indianapolis. There he presented his new piece “The Metaphysics of Notation” performed by John Lane, professor at Sam Houston State University, along with several of his colleagues. We have to admit Mark’s artistry was new to us so it was a little overwhelming to grasp. However, a few months later we came across his mad scientist video, and with a greater insight of avant-garde concepts, we are able to accept and understand Mark’s artistry. His presentation in the TED Talk video is well crafted and takes the audience step by step in why he does things the way he does. For any medium out there exploring new avenues for music, I would recommend using this video as a resource. For Mark, “classical music” is becoming boring, in which, he uses that as a catalyst to generate new music for new/non-traditional instruments that is more intriguing. Therefore, Mark has opened the door for himself on whole world of creativity. 3G Percussion believes in this new world of creativity and the potential for the future. Funny enough, we often come across colleagues that stubbornly lock themselves in their rooms of traditional means of music and never explore new worlds. John Cage expressed his thoughts on this very matter.

    “If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.”

    - John Cage

  • Helping Hand.

    A few weeks ago at the So Percussion Summer Institute, a group of percussionists gathered on the campus of Princeton University to work with So Percussion for an intense two-week workshop. Over those two weeks, we were able to work closely and build relationships with other musicians from around the U.S., Australia, and Brazil; as well as student composers from Yale, Princeton, and Peabody.  Within our busy schedule, So Percussion managed to organize a few hours for a service project in collaboration with Outreach Northeast, an aid organization based in New Jersey, to fight child hunger in Mercer County. With the help from everyone involved in the percussion festival at Princeton, we managed to package 25,400 macaroni and cheese meals. This was an incredible experience and one that we did not expect to have at a music festival. We are truly inspired by the fact that the members of So Percussion took the initiative to communicate with a service organization to make a difference in people’s lives. It was the right time for them to utilize the number of people due to the ongoing festival. This act of generosity is exactly what we hope to incorporate within 3G Percussion.