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Berkshire Percussion Day

7 February 2016

On Sunday 7 February over 50 percussionists joined together at the Open Learning Centre, Bracknell, for the 2nd Annual Berkshire Percussion Day. Organised by Head of Percussion, Nathan Cole, our special guest was Professor Matt King from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Royal Marines Band.

Divided into four sections, the day started with a CPD training opportunity for Percussion teachers. This session explored teaching gifted and talented students, exam and non-exam schemes of work and preparing students for college auditions. The staff were really engaged by Matt and left with no doubt about the importance of their role for inspiring young percussionists of the future. Students arrived at 10:30 to register for the main workshop of the day with Matt. Everyone was inspired by his passion for and unique ability as a percussionist. All students were able to play and explored basic rudimental playing on pads and then more specific techniques related to tambourine, cymbals, marimba and snare drum playing. More experienced students were put through their paces individually and one student remarked ‘this is a day I will never forget!

Lunch gave way to a short concert from our Berkshire Youth Percussion Ensemble, featuring three contrasting pieces. The younger percussionists were really inspired by this and Matt was suitably impressed with the standard of this county ensemble. The final part of the day involved 2 hours of rehearsals, with 4 separate percussion ensembles. Working with Berkshire Maestros teachers, the various groups focussed on relevant material to develop and enhance their ensemble playing techniques. The day concluded with short presentations of the work covered to parents.

Sincere thanks must go to Matt King for his brilliantly inspirational leadership and how he tailored his delivery to the needs of our students. Thank you, also, to Nathan Cole and the percussion team, and also Hilary Smethurst-Evans, who provided the all-important chilli lunch. Here’s looking forward to next year!

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