Kids are absolutely amazing creatures. Aliens even. As an educator, I'm entrusted with guiding some of these "extraterrestrials" through the world of percussion.
Generally, kids will try pretty hard at what they're trying to accomplish: obtaining a new baseball mitt, winning at a new video game, beating the dog in a race back into the house - there are thousands of things on their "cool" list they'd love to accomplish.
Lately, I've been taken aback by a group of youngsters that have been quietly and unassumingly working hard in their bedrooms and basements, practicing month after month all in the hope of reaching a goal that -- in some cases -- may be very difficult to obtain.
One within this group started his journey late - by two years - yet he's having some of the same successes the "on-timers" have grasped.
I'm taken aback because the amount of effort, discipline and patience they've each shown in their quest has been beyond their years. I've witnessed students far older be less determined!
Jack, Brandon, Joe and Matthew
Jack Perinovic, Brandon Niles, Joe Grizzle and Matthew Kirchburger are fifth graders, and have been working intently the past several months, all in the hope of securing a spot in the percussion section of the Menomonee Falls School Band Program next year.
Because I have a professional relationship with the band directors in the area, I have a good idea what abilities they would like to see in the band program percussionists. I teach these same skills to my students, and expect them to follow my instruction as these habits produce excellent players.
But that's the point: These guys have their grip analyzed weekly, are challenged to sight read, must have their foot tapping continuously and evenly to ensure tempo, have their dynamics scrutinized, count rhythms aloud accurately while playing, and the list goes on.
Week after week, they open themselves to constructive criticism, yet they all take it in stride and get the job done. They're in fifth grade!
For comparison, I've been in a position of having to interview, hire and train employees for a business. I've had to make cleaning lists, ensure dating of product for rotation, pass health inspections - a myriad of details I had to oversee while operating a corporate location. My employees then were 16 and up. The store was very successful and ran great.
Here's the rub: The help was older, but I had to be much more persistent to ensure they completed their assigned work properly and on time. And they were paid!
It's wonderful to see great parenting skills, talent and a youngster's demeanor come together so nicely. It's so rare to have a group of kids tackling the same goals at the same time, and in the same fashion.
Well done, guys. No matter what the future brings, you should aways be proud of the percussionists you're becoming!
Trevor Maliborski just completed another Solo and Ensemble competition as part of the Fall's band program. He played a Class A drum set composition called "Homage to a Bebop Drummer," written by Murray Houllif. Class A represents the highest difficulty level for a piece in the Solo and Ensemble competition.
Trevor had many new skills to learn before he could even attempt to play his piece: keep his sticks lower to play at the fast tempo (helps to play more economically because there's less ground to cover in the air), relax his left hand more (tensing up the hands while playing works against your speed and flow) and learn to play the notoriously difficult swing pattern of the ride cymbal against certain snare and bass drum patterns (independence of limbs).
Week after week, he made great progress. Trevor was focused.
Sure, he hit bumps along the way. Trevor will undoubtedly smile when he reads this: "Trevor, let's do "H" to the bottom one more time please." He knew inside it wasn't really going to be one more time. Sorry, my friend!
But, Trevor persisted - without flinching.
Remarkable, because when he started working on this solo composition, he'd only been playing his instrument about two and a half years!
Generally speaking, I have tenth graders succeed at Class A solos all the time. But, this is because these players usually start their percussion journey the summer before sixth grade,
Trevor received his percussion overview class the summer before eighth grade, so his accomplishment came with two full years' less experience. Awesome!
Even more stunning, Trevor received a well-deserved first place performance rating from the judge!
From the very beginning, I could tell that drumming was something he was eager to do. And, during the competition on St. Pat's Day, he proved it.
Great job, Trev. I can't wait to experience what you accomplish next!