Julia Gaines wanted to play drums in her junior high school band. She sat in the classroom on the first day of band, listening to the director call roll; when he read a student’s name, the student would call back the instrument he or she wanted to play. By the time he called for Julia, not one girl had called back “percussion!” So, lackluster, she responded “clarinet.” Julia resigned herself — her dad had suggested clarinet, and it was a more “girly” instrument, she thought. But then roll call reached the T’s, and a girl named Karen Thompson proudly told the class she wanted to play drums. Hearing that another girl was interested, Julia shot up her hand: “Oh, oh, oh, I want to play percussion, too!”
From blues and punk to rock and roll, Arthur White has at one point in his life played in nearly every kind of band, but now he believes he has finally found “the perfect gig.” As the director of MU’s Jazz Performance Studies program and Assistant Professor in the School of Music, White now handles all things jazz at MU.
Women are still a small minority in the field of percussion, Dr. Gaines says.
Julia Gaines introduces us to the marimba and its appeal.
Dr. Gaines teaches classes in drums and gourds to students at Lee Expressive Arts Elementary School in Columbia through the school district’s Partners in Education Program. Every year, the classes perform in a percussion recital hosted by the MU School of Music at the Missouri Theater.
The nature of McKenney’s work ranges from dissonant, angular pieces that could be featured in science-fiction films to beautiful, balanced choral pieces intended to be sung in church. “The vocabulary that I use for a particular composition will depend upon the genre I am writing for.” He is often commissioned to compose something for a particular instrumentation, such as orchestra, symphonic wind ensemble, woodwind quintet, marimba and electronics, choir, or brass and percussion.