Drumming to a different beat
One of the most charming events hosted by Bravo! is the educational programs, now in its third year collaboration with the local library system. Several times during the course of the summer, distinguished members of visiting orchestras conduct interactive performances for children.This past Tuesday afternoon, one such event was held at the Gypsum Library with about 60 children in attendance, ranging in ages from 3 to 10 years, with a few pre-teens thrown in for good measure. The majority of the kids sat crossed-legged on the floor in rapt attention. Adults, both library staff and parents, were also in the audience.Joe Pierera, percussionist for the New York Philharmonic for the past seven years, exposed the audience to several instruments that make up the percussion section.
Pierera described each instrument, teaching the group what to listen for and coaxing a range of sounds from the instruments. He also provided the children with the opportunity to touch, hear and even play exotic drums, such as the Middle Eastern Dumbeck, Brazilian Sundro and a Brazilian tambourine – the Pandeiro.Pierera’s delight and love of music undoubtedly brought new found appreciation to the assembled kids. Pierera teaches back home in New York to a private clientele, and the Live! at the Library series is one way for him to give back to the world part of the gift he has been given. Obviously thrilled to be here, he said, “It has been a great experience for me. I hope to come back next year.”Watching up close was a treat, as Pierera’s hands flew over the surface of the drum, his fingers, palms and hands blurred, coaxing different rhythms from the instrument.
And getting audience participation was only a matter of selecting a few hands that were waving frantically to be called upon. Just about everyone who wanted a chance to play was allowed to.Pierera would first describe the “pattern” or “color,” as he referred to a particular rhythm, and then demonstrate loud and soft techniques, before asking the young percussionists to try their hands at it. “Listen, memorize and play what you hear,” Pierera said. And the beat, rhythm and sounds came back with enthusiasm and resonance.For those in the audience who were not playing an instrument, which was either a drum, tambourine, maraca or some other implement selected because it was small enough to fit tiny hands, were asked to clap along. At one point the beating of the drums became reminiscent of old “Tarzan” jungle movies.
In some instances, asking the name of some of the kids, he would have everyone repeat the name to the rhythm and create music out of the word.The next Live! at the Library is scheduled Thursday at the Avon Public Library and Friday at the Minturn Public Library with New York Philharmonic bass player John Deak.Stew Mosberg is a freelance writer and the author of two books on design. Often finding himself beating a different drum, he can be reached at WrtrF@aol.com