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Oh Canada, 2021: A new type of percussion education & expertise

Mark Adam is an associate professor and acting director of Acadia University’s School of Music. Mark has made various contributions to the Canadian Percussion Network through consultation and video presentations during the 2020-2021 COVID-19 music response. In his presentation, Mark discusses how percussion education can work across the music diaspora, engaging students as listeners of people and cultures instead of as expert interpreters of particular styles. New markers of student success is explored, encouraging a broader, more culturally responsive musician from our learning spaces. The goal is for us to mentor musicians who respond to multiple communities in more thoughtful ways. This workshop aims to expose unintended musical biases we create in our students and how we may re-engage with ourselves as pedagogues and as musicians to avoid these.

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Recognizing and managing risk factors for playing-related musculoskeletal disorders

Nadia Azar is an Associate Professor of biomechanics and ergonomics at the University of Windsor. As the founder and director of the Drummer Mechanics & Ergonomics Research (DRUMMER) Lab, Dr. Azar’s overall research goal is to do for drummers what sport science is doing for athletes: help them to achieve their peak performance while reducing their risk of injuries. Her presentation provides an overview of the research on playing-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMDs) in drummers and outlines the general risk factors for developing repetitive strain injuries and how they apply to playing the drum set. Strategies for identifying and managing these risk factors are discussed. Participants are invited to reflect upon and discuss their own exposures to PRMD risk factors, and how they might apply risk factor mitigation strategies within their own drumming practices.

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Creating useful percussion inventions

Darrell Bueckert is the Principal Timpanist with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and the Percussion Instructor for the Department of Music at the University of Saskatchewan. He also served one term as Adjunct Professor to the College of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Regina. In this workshop/discussion, Darrell Bueckert presents some of his inventions that address certain weaknesses in existing percussion instruments and equipment. Two items particularly pertinent to the orchestral performer are the construction of bell plates and Bueckert’s new design for a triangle hanger. The construction of bell plates became necessary for the performance of new orchestral work, and while resources such as The Physics of Music Instruments by Fletcher and Rossing (Springer-Verlag 1991) were helpful in understanding the acoustical theory, Bueckert gives first-hand insight into the challenges that arise when constructing the physical instrument. The new triangle hanger design solves the problems of existing triangle hangers that have prevented players from achieving optimal performance. Participants learn how to build their own triangle hanger and Bueckert demonstrates how this greatly improves the performance of intricate orchestral works such as Brahms Symphony No. 4 and España by Emmanuel Chabrier.

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Social commentary through the creation of multi-media works for percussion

Gina Ryan is a Professor of Percussion and Music Education at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) with research interests in music identity and relationships, creativity, and international music education. As a passionate advocate for new music, Dr. Ryan has commissioned, composed, and performed music for stages around the world. Her presentation introduces new works she is creating for percussion exploring pressing social and cultural issues. This includes an interdisciplinary project with visual artist Liz Hassall, titled ‘Hauntology: The stain specters can leave,’ premiered recently at Earth Day Art Model Telematic Festival (Indianapolis). This explores the nature of personal and shared memories, following Jacques Derrida’s concept of “Lullaby Haze” to reflect on the many layers of truth, the continuous cycle, and malleability of memory, and the stains specters can leave on our perceptions. Ryan will also perform her work ‘Lullaby Haze”, focusing on the increasing pollution problem in Chiang Mai caused by massive burning. Ryan is passionate about creating art to engage with social issues and will use this as a launching point to discuss complex issues of ecological change and population growth contributing to increases in pollution.

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Gender and percussion: what should we be mindful of now?

Victoria Sparks is the Percussion Instructor in the Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba. She is an active orchestral, solo, and chamber percussionist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The workshop focuses on an exploration of the ways that individual and group dynamics affect the creative and learning environment within the percussion studio. One of Victoria Sparks’ goals this year is to explore a unique occurrence in her studio. For the first time in her 12 years of University percussion teaching, Sparks will have a studio this fall that is comprised of 8 people, none of whom identify as male. This is unusual in the percussion world, and her aim for the year is to explore how this irregular student make-up affects the culture and thereby the creative and learning environment for her students. The presentation is a mix of discussions of the experiences of Sparks and her students tracked over the course of this year and she provides room for comments and feedback from participants to join in on the conversation. This session provides participants an opportunity to hear about this unique studio and its resulting experiences and gives participants the opportunity to share their ideas and thoughts about how these experiences are similar or different from their own studios.

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From concert hall to research lab and back: Connecting percussion performance and research

Michael Schutz is currently an Associate Professor of Music Cognition/Percussion at McMaster University in Canada. Recently designated “University Scholar” in recognition of his work bridging music perception and performance, he directs the percussion ensemble and teaches courses on music perception and cognition. His presentation uses pieces for solo percussion to demonstrate musical implications of his perception research. His team’s focus derives from practical musical questions — such as how body movements play a surprising role in shaping the musical experience. Schutz’s talk will explore this issue through the context of two projects exploring the multi-sensory nature of the musical experience. The first is a novel musical illusion in which musicians use visible gestures to change the way music “sounds.” Some expert performers capitalize on the fact that although these gestures have no acoustic consequences, they are crucial in shaping the way in which audiences perceive performances. The second explores how “moving to the beat” can actually help audiences listen more accurately, with a particular focus on the complex relationship between musical training, expertise, and musical movement. Together, these projects raise interesting philosophical questions about what music “is” and how it is best experienced.