THE ROAD TO PERCUSSION
Percussion was not even close to my first choice of instrument. Back when I was in 2nd grade, I remember so badly wanting to play the violin, but my arms were too short to start on the 1/8 size violin that children normally start on. My parents got me a 1/16 size violin, but this instrument sounded awful. This pushed me away from the violin, and next, I wanted to play clarinet in 4th grade. Unfortunately, I dealt with a similar issue, in that I was struggling to reach the keys down at the bottom of the instrument with the right hand. Next up was trumpet, which was relatively a success. To make the reach of the valves a little easier, my middle school teacher suggested to my parents that I play a Shepherd’s Crook Cornet (to the left is a photo of me playing it as "Winthrop" from The Music Man) , and I played that instrument from 5th grade to the end of 7th grade. It was in 6th grade when I began playing percussion in school as well, and my passion for percussion took over, especially for marimba. My middle school had a little Ross 3.0 octave marimba, and I enjoyed playing it so much that I played a solo on that instrument for my school’s talent show in 7th grade. That instrument was the perfect size, for I didn’t need to be raised at all to play it. In high school though, the marimbas and other percussion instruments were much bigger.
NEEDING SOME UPGRADES
In high school, I needed to start playing on full-size instruments, and so I needed to be raised a bit. For the first couple of years, I connected two Gold’s Gym platforms (as seen in this video of me playing Tambourin Chinois) in order to play marimba, and used them individually to play other percussion instruments like the timpani and xylophone. Later I felt I still needed to be a little taller to get a full view of the instrument, and so my dad and I constructed a platform that utilized the Gold’s Gym Platforms as posts to hold a large wooden board that I stand on.
Photos courtesy of Jody Somers
Me at a performance with David Segal, drummer and co-founder of the Can-Do-Musos Foundation.
THE ROAD TODAY
Now I’m a graduate student studying percussion, and whenever and wherever I go to play, I’ll almost always have my platforms and/or my own adapted instrument with me. As I was kickstarting my career as a musician, I was and still am very grateful for the Very Special Arts Foundation and Can-Do-Musos Foundation for the opportunities they had given me to share my music. I also am immensely grateful for all of my teachers and professors over the 15+ years I have studied music for always offering their support for my goals and musical endeavors. Most of all, without the love and support from my parents and brother, including the years of taking me to lessons, the hard labor of making platforms and adapting instruments, and much more, my journey would not have been possible. Thank you so much, Mom, Dad, and Kenny.