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Keynote Presentations

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

Mark Adam will discuss 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 will be explored, encouraging a broader, more culturally responsive musician from our learning spaces. Using Powerpoint, live performance and listening examples in his presentation he will walk participants through tools to access as broad a representation of themselves in their own pedagogy as possible, thus encouraging them to teach beyond their self-defined expertise area. A new expertise will be defined around the skills of listening and connection. The goal is for us to mentor musicians who respond to multiple communities in more thoughtful ways. This workshop will also aim 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.

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. Mark’s interests include percussion performance, pedagogy, music production, improvisation, and contemporary music. His workshop aims to introduce a percussion pedagogy practice that meets us in this very particular time when cultural educators need to adapt to changes.

Recognizing and managing risk factors for playing-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Playing-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMDs) are very common in drummers, yet injury prevention education is often missing from drum set curricula. This presentation will provide an overview of the research on PRMDs in drummers and outline 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 will also be discussed. Participants will be 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.

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. She has presented this work at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention and the Performing Arts Medicine Association’s Annual Symposium, published findings in top peer-reviewed journals in the field (e.g., Medical Problems of Performing Artists, Journal of Popular Music Education), received research funding from the GRAMMY Museum, and has successfully translated this work to members of the music community at large (e.g., CBC Radio, Drum Talk TV, the DrumeoBeat, and interviews on multiple podcasts).

Creating useful percussion inventions

In this workshop/discussion, Darrell Bueckert will be presenting 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 will give 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 will learn how to build their own triangle hanger and Bueckert will demonstrate how this greatly improves the performance of intricate orchestral works such as Brahms Symphony No. 4 and España by Emmanuel Chabrier.

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. He is a graduate of the University of Manitoba (B.A.) and the University of Saskatchewan (B.Mus. Mus. Ed. and M.Ed. in instrumental music). As an orchestral percussionist, Darrell has played for numerous internationally known conductors and artists, Broadway musicals and touring ballets, as well as local choirs and theatre groups. In addition to his orchestral work, Darrell also performs regularly with ensembles that span a very wide variety of genres. 

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

Gina Ryan’s presentation will introduce 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 “Hauntology” 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.

Gina Ryan is a Professor of Percussion and Music Education at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). Her research interests include music identity and relationships, creativity, and international music education and her work has been recently published in Research Studies in Music Education, Percussive Notes, Canadian Music Educator, Revue musicale OICRM, and The Instrumentalist. As a passionate advocate for new music, Dr. Ryan has commissioned, composed, and performed music for stages around the world and has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician in Canada, Japan, China, Thailand, France, and the United States. Her recent work focuses on sound exploration and music as social action. She has been the recipient of several grants and awards, including a three-year grant from the Fonds Québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble Fellowship grant. She has recently returned to Canada after living in Thailand for a decade where she was the Honorary Professor of Percussion at Payap University, co-founder of the Chiang Mai New Music Ensemble, and the Senior School music teacher at Prem Tinsulanonda International School.

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

Michael Schutz’s lecture-recital 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.

Michael Schutz is currently an Associate Professor of Music Cognition/Percussion at McMaster University inCanada. 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. Prior to McMaster, Michael spent five years as Director of Percussion Studies at Longwood University, taught percussion at Virginia Commonwealth University, and performed frequently with the Roanoke Symphony,Opera on the James, Oratorio Society of Virginia, and the Lynchburg Symphony. Active in the promotion of new music, Michael premiered internationally renowned composer Judith Shatin’s trio Time To Burn, and subsequently recorded this piece on a release from Innova Recordings. Invited solo performances include guest appearances with the University of California, University of Virginia Percussion Ensemble, Ontario andVirginia/DC “Day of Percussion,” Project: Percussion Festival, and the Alvin Lucier Festival. Since 2013, he has served on the percussion faculty of the Penn State Honors Music Institute.

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

The workshop will focus 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 my students. The presentation will be a mix of discussions of the experiences of Sparks and her students tracked over the course of this year as we discuss and reflect on this topic, and will provide room for comments and feedback for the participants to join in on the conversation. This session will provide participants with an opportunity to hear about this unique studio and its resulting experiences and will have the opportunity to share their ideas and thoughts about how these experiences are similar or differ from their own studios.

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. She is the principal timpanist/percussionist with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, with whom she recently gave the virtual premiere of a brand new percussion concerto Waking the Lion (the in-person premiere is scheduled for next April), composed by renowned Canadian composer Alexina Louie. Victoria completed her bachelor’s in music and in education at the University of Manitoba and received her Masters degree in percussion performance at Butler University. With a balanced focus on performance and education, Victoria is committed to student learning, through a focus on creating a strong and supportive environment in order to allow her students to thrive independently and also to grow as a team by encouraging each other. Victoria led a panel discussion on studio culture in online environments for the CPN in the fall of 2020 and is eager to facilitate open and supportive conversations among percussion colleagues across the country in the same way that those relationships are developed within our studios.