Bob Becker: Blog

Wisconsin, Cymbals, and Prepared Drums – February, 2010

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During the week of February 14, 2010 I made visits to two schools in the University of Wisconsin network – UW Stevens Point and UW Madison. I was lucky with the weather as I had to connect through Detroit going and coming back, and at this time of year in the northeast, the more airports… Read more »

George Lawrence Stone’s STICK CONTROL

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George Lawrence Stone’s Stick Control for the Snare Drummer first appeared in 1935. With a terse two-page introduction followed by a mere 21 pages of what he called “practice rhythms”, Stone unleashed a new and powerful method of technical development for all styles of drumming. The “HOW TO PRACTICE” page alone is worth the price… Read more »

Bob’s interview with Justin DeHart

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Dear Bob, It was great to talk to you the other day, and have the opportunity to hang out with you while here in Banff. Thanks again for your willingness to answer some questions for my doctoral dissertation and larger project to collect anecdotes and interviews from various important senior/accomplished percussionists in our field. Your… Read more »

Bob’s interview with Gene Koshinski (re two-mallet performance)

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My name is Gene Koshinski, Professor of Percussion at University of Minnesota Duluth. I am currently finishing a document as my final step to completing my doctoral degree at The Hartt School in Hartford, CT. The title of my paper is: “From West Africa, through Vaudeville, to the Concert Hall: The Evolution of Two-Mallet Keyboard… Read more »

Ninth Annual Ragtime Xylophone Institute, 2009

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This year (2009) the Bob Becker Ragtime Xylophone Institute was held from July 27 through August 1. It was our ninth year for this annual event held at the University of Delaware in Newark, DE. The participants, pictured in the photo (left to right) were: Bob, Warren Dewey, Valerie Vassar, Zachary Nandapurkar, Harvey Price, Doug… Read more »

International Belgian Percussion Festival, 2009

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From July 7 through 10, 2009 I was a featured clinician and soloist for the First International Belgian Percussion Festival, held in Hasselt, Belgium. This was a very ambitious event, with a large international faculty. Besides myself, other clinicians included Marinus Komst, solo timpanist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; David Searcy, principal timpanist with the… Read more »

Roots and Rhizomes at the Banff Centre

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During June 13 through 22, 2009 I took part in the Roots and Rhizomes residency organized by Steven Schick and held at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada. Banff is located in the heart of the Canadian rockies, and must be one of the most spectacular locations in the world for this… Read more »

Millennium Park, Chicago

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On May 24 I again joined forces with Peter Soave, She-e Wu and the Northwestern University Percussion Ensemble, this time at the new Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s spectacular Millennium Park. Besides the Frank Gehry-designed pavilion itself, the park contains Anish Kapoor’s magical polished steel sculpture, Cloud Gate. Just before our rehearsal, I was surprised to… Read more »

Spring Activities, 2009

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I had a number of interesting and enjoyable tours during the first months of 2009. On January 9 and 10, I was in Minneapolis for the Minnesota Day of Percussion held at Anoka High School. This was a splendidly run and densely packed day of concerts and workshops. I presented both snare drum and cymbal… Read more »

Rudimental Arithmetic is now available.

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My new book: Rudimental Arithmetic – A Drummer’s Study of Pattern and Rhythm is available now from Keyboard Percussion Publications. Click HERE to read Mark Ford’s recent review in Percussive Notes (April, 2009). The book was in progress for several years and has been a real adventure for me to write. Somebody once said: “There are… Read more »

The Aesthetics of the Audition Excerpt

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Over the past decade I have attended dozens of clinics and masterclasses aimed at explaining methods for preparing orchestral percussion audition repertoire, and describing techniques for succeeding in an audition environment. I have also read numerous articles in percussion magazines, and viewed several educational DVDs addressing the same issues. Furthermore, professional performers (including myself) and… Read more »

Panel Discussion at PASIC, 2008

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For those of you who did not make it to PASIC 08, or for those who did and could not attend this event on Friday, the world panel discussion: “Early Pioneers of World Music in the Field of Western Percussion” with John Bergamo, Emil Richards, and me can be viewed in a six-part posting on… Read more »

Answers to questions about Rain Tree, by Toru Takemitsu

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Last year (2008), percussionist Dan Heagney sent an email to NEXUS with a question about the lighting effects in Rain Tree, by Toru Takemitsu. Here is his question and my response. DH: I was hoping you could help me with Takemitsu’s Rain Tree. I’m getting ready for a performance of the piece, but am having… Read more »

What is the meaning of “NEXUS”?

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I am often asked the meaning of the word nexus. It is from a Latin root meaning “tie”, and basically indicates a connection or bond among the members of a group or series. Some of us came across this term in the early 1970s while reading Harry Partch’s book Genesis of a Music. Partch speaks… Read more »

Answers to questions about “minimalist music” and Steve Reich

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Nancy Uscher is currently Provost of the California Institute of the Arts. The following correspondence involved questions from her daughter, Alessandra Barrett, now a student at CalArts, regarding the term “minimalist music” and my association with the composer Steve Reich. December 1, 2008 Dear Bob: I think I mentioned that Alessandra (my daughter) had decided… Read more »

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