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Intern Spotlight: Casey Collins

Happy new year, everyone! We start the year with a third Intern Spotlight, this time featuring the amazing Casey Collins!

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Where are you from?

Minneapolis, MN

What is one thing about yourself that you’d want everyone to know?

I love the triangle.

Give us a link to something about you.

Here is a video of a piece written by my good friend Zack Baltich. I had the pleasure of playing the killer vibes part.

What are you up to these days?

I work in the artistic department of the Minnesota Orchestra. I am also pursuing a Master in Arts Administration from the University of Kentucky.

When did you intern with TCP?

May – August 2013

How did you connect with TCP?

I actually had reached out to Fifth House Ensemble about an internship, and knowing I was a percussionist they suggested that I connect with TCP, so I did!

Did you gain anything from the internship that you’d like to share?

This was probably the most valuable experience I had during my undergrad. I learned a lot about what it takes to run a successful arts organization, especially the logistics planning.

What else did you do while interning with TCP?

My first day I was tasked with digitizing the music library, you don’t want to know how many hours that took over the summer…

Did you leave a legacy or mark on the organization that you’re particularly proud of?

Other than purchasing and helping install the biggest window A/C unit I’ve ever seen, I’m really proud of my work on the Emerging Composers Partnership. Sean and I worked the whole summer planning and drafting proposals for this fantastic project.

Favorite memory from the internship?

There are many, but probably my favorite was assisting in the recording of “Haunt of Last Nightfall” by David T. Little. Watching the recording process for this large piece was awesome, and the guys killed it!

A GIF or YouTube link that sums up your experience with TCP?

Balance!

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If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?

I think being the cartoon version of David S. Pumpkins would be fun.

Can you share a funny or embarrassing story?

When assembling a marimba I put the accidental bars on the natural rails and started to put the naturals on when Rob said “I think we should switch those around”…must have been a long day!

 

As you can see, an internship with Third Coast Percussion is a great learning opportunity and a fun adventure. If you’re interesting in learning more about an internship with Third Coast, please contact Sean Connors at [email protected].

For now, we will take a little hiatus from Intern Spotlights. Thanks SO much to Bri, Casey, Cameron, and all the other incredible interns we have had over the past couple of years. Your work is so valuable, and our organization couldn’t function without your contributions. Stay tuned for another treasure from Colin’s Corner and more!

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Colin’s Corner: The Pak

Welcome to Colin’s Corner! In this series of blog posts, our resident superhero and studio manager Colin Campbell will take you into his world of incredible craftsmanship to show off some of the instruments and works of art he creates for Third Coast.


This summer, I was tasked with building/acquiring the special instruments required for Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Organ and Percussion Orchestra and Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra.

The first instrument that I made for the Harrison concerti was the “Pak.”

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Harrison gives the following notes in the score:

Entity: Korean clacker
Material: Solid hardwood, about 3/8” thick. 6 slats, tapered.
Spacing: about 3/16”. 3 standard 3/8” cut washers will do.
Construction and operation: Tie the slats and spacer washers firmly together with rawhide or nylon cord. Grasp the end slats and pull the lower ends wide apart, so that all 6 slats should fan out evenly. Swing it together briskly.

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I chose to tackle the pak first because it seemed the simplest to construct. A Google image search turned up some useful pictures of traditional Korean examples. The only materials required were wood, cord, and washers. I made the pak from a single board of African mahogany. Mahogany is a prized hardwood for furniture, and has been used to make drum shells as well.

Making six identical pieces is easier said than done. The curved profile of all six slats needed to match exactly, and the holes for tying them together needed to be lined up. In traditional woodworking, I would have used a pattern flush-trim bit on a router, and trimmed the wood around the perimeter of a master template made from acrylic or MDF (medium-density fiberboard). But since I had recently acquired a CNC carving machine (Inventables X-Carve), I decided to create a digital template instead.

Luckily, Harrison gives dimensions for the slats in his sketch. Using a vector drawing program (Adobe Illustrator), I made a 2D drawing of the slat’s outline and two holes.

After a couple of test cuts, the CNC “computer numerical control” cutting went surprisingly smoothly. I crosscut each segment of the mahogany board to length, clamped it down to the machining bed, and the machine did the rest. I was able to produce six identical slats with relative speed and ease.

For most of my wood projects, especially pieces that are handled often, I prefer to sand down to 400-grit. It is only slightly more time-consuming, and I feel that the result is well worth it. Usually I don’t use stain, but in this case I wanted a rich, lustrous dark finish similar to the traditional Korean examples I had seen. I went with my favorite Java gel stain from General Finishes. Applied properly, it beautifully expresses the woodgrain, and adds a rich transparent color. Finally, I finished the slats with clear satin lacquer. This is the origin of the now world-famous phrase “put some lacquer on your clacker.”

I love learning to tie a new knot. There’s a unique satisfaction that comes from the first time you get it right. Come to think of it, the feeling is very similar to the first time one successfully pulls off a new sleight-of-hand move or drum rudiment. Luckily for me, there is a veritable army of 11-year-olds on YouTube who have mastered the art of paracord tying. I cannot stress what a valuable resource YouTube is for makers of any stripe. It is a wondrous and powerful tool for self-teaching. Although the decorative knots I used to make my pak are non-traditional, I think they still look attractive and appropriate for the application. Of course, I chose a “TCP Green” paracord. The two main knots used are the lanyard knot and cobra weave. Felt washers were used in between each slat as spacers.

That was about it for this one. I was, and still am, pretty happy with the end product. It sounds great– a loud, clear “C-C-C-C-CLACK!” If you don’t have access to mahogany, maple or ash would be a good substitute.

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Intern Spotlight: Cameron Leach

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we have started an Intern Spotlight series. Our interns do amazing work, and we want to thank them for their incredible talent and tireless dedication. Next in the series is Cameron Leach, for whom major congratulations are in order: Cameron just won the Percussive Arts Society Solo Artist Competition! He documented his preparation for the PASIC competition with a series of Facebook videos; check them out for helpful hints and insight about competition prep. Congratulations, Cameron!

 

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Where are you from?

Hilliard, OH.

What is one thing about yourself that you’d want everyone to know?

I listen to Drake every morning to get me hyped up for the day. I’m sorry.

Give us a link to something about you.

cleachmusic.com – Website
@cleachmusic – Instagram
cleachmusic – Facebook
cameronleach – Youtube

What are you up to these days?

Right now I’m finishing my master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music. I’ll graduate in May 2018, then I’m moving back to Ohio to freelance and save money for large instrument purchases before moving elsewhere.

I’ve been really exploring what it means to self-promote, produce online content, and dig into the entrepreneurial side of the music business, and I’m looking forward to putting these skills to work once I get done with school.

When did you intern with TCP?

Summer 2017. I spent about 3.5 weeks with the group during their summer residency in South Bend, Indiana.

How did you connect with TCP?

Through the Arts Leadership Program at the Eastman School of Music. I also played JLA’s Inuksuit with them in Mishawaka, Indiana, during the summer of 2015, so the group was definitely on my radar for a long time. On top of that, my teacher and friend Ryan Kilgore had great (and funny) things to say about the guys from his time with some of them at Northwestern.

Did you gain anything from the internship that you’d like to share?

The internship really showed me what it means to run a successful chamber ensemble, in terms of both day-to-day tasks and long-term planning. I was astounded by the efficiency within the group, especially with how they delegated duties and roles to fit each member’s strengths. On top of that, the way they balanced individual practice, group rehearsals, and administrative work-time was really impressive.

What else did you do while interning with TCP besides work with the group?

Throughout my internship and the summer as a whole, I was busy constructing my website, press kit, Facebook artist page, business cards, etc., with Ali Prater, an incredible London-based designer. She brought to life my vision for a personal brand in terms of logo, feel, and aesthetic, and I couldn’t be more grateful. The time I spent with TCP was at the very end of this process (just before the launch), and they provided invaluable feedback and final revisions that helped shape the end result. The specific feedback I received were really parts of larger lessons that can be applied across the broad spectrum of the music business, so I really feel that it was a formative, albeit short, 24 days.

Did you leave a legacy or mark on the organization that you’re particularly proud of?

Hmm. I wish I had something a bit more profound, but unboxing drums and changing lots of drumheads counts, right?

Cameron Leave a mark 1     Cameron Leave a mark 2

Favorite memory from the internship?

“Hey Cameron, can you go pick up scuba tanks in Ann Arbor?”
“Hey Cameron, can you drive to Chicago right now?”

Kidding!

My favorite memory was when the guys took me out to the Crooked Ewe for my birthday!

A GIF or YouTube link that sums up your experience with TCP?

 

If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?

Timmy Turner from The Fairly Oddparents.

Funny / embarrassing story?

Singing karaoke with the gang in South Bend. (Rob had a good time, too.)

Rob had a good time, too.

 

As you can see, an internship with Third Coast Percussion is a great learning opportunity and a fun adventure. If you’re interesting in learning more about an internship with Third Coast, please contact Sean Connors at [email protected]. Keep checking back for more stories in our next Intern Spotlight, featuring Casey Collins!

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Intern Spotlight: Brianna Trainor

We’ve had some incredible interns join us at TCP over the years, and they often don’t get all the credit that they deserve for the hours and hours of work that they volunteer.  Over the next few months, we will put our former interns front and center for a much overdue round of applause in a series of Intern Spotlights.

First up, the extraordinary Brianna Trainor!

Bri headshot

Where are you from?

I grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin, and I completed my undergrad at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.

When did you intern with TCP?

January through June of 2017

What is one thing about yourself that you’d want everyone to know?

I am a Björk fanatic.

Share a GIF or YouTube link that encapsulates your TCP experience!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leEyy3mT7KQ

If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?

I’ve been watching a LOT of Bob’s Burgers lately, so I’ll go with Gene Belcher for his unique sense of humor and musical hobbies.

How did you connect with TCP?

Sean was my studio teacher at UWSP for two years!

What are you up to these days?

I’m a graduate assistant at University of Missouri with the Mizzou New Music Ensemble!

Did you gain anything from the internship that you’d like to share?

Insight into the inner workings of a not-for-profit arts organization, particularly grant applications, logistics/operations, and collaboration between artists.

What else did you do while interning with TCP besides work with the group?

I was a member of Ayodele Drum & Dance, I took djembe lessons at The Stude Drum Class, and I worked at Tano’s Pizzeria.

Favorite memory from the internship?

A few: watching the run though of Glenn Kotche’s Wild Sound in the studio, performing Inuksuit in Arkansas, and watching TCP win the GRAMMY!

Funny / embarrassing story?

On my first day as an intern, I was given several printing tasks. I assumed that I was expected to print wireless from my laptop, which I had never done before. Even though all four ensemble members and Liz were in the office, I was too embarrassed to ask for help, so I frantically googled how to set it up and do it so I didn’t look ignorant. It took me half an hour but somehow I got the first document to print. When I walked across the room and picked up the papers, David said, “Did you just print wireless?” When I replied, “Yes, wasn’t I supposed to?” everyone’s heads whipped around astonished like I had just invented fire. Apparently I was the first person to ever do it! We spent the next 20 minutes setting it up on all of our laptops and celebrating by wireless printing random documents because we could. Everyone else was laughing from excitement about being able to take this new step into the future and never have to stand up to print anything anymore. I was laughing from the sheer relief that I hadn’t made myself look stupid on my first day of work. Good first impression: check.

Do you have a legacy / mark that you left with TCP, something of which you’re particularly proud?

Laying the foundation and setting the standard for the Office Assistant staff position.

Sean says:

Bri spent literally days of her life editing, scanning, and copying music for the US Premiere of Marta Ptaszynska’s Voice of the Winds, which was brought to life by 100 percussionists spread all over the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Click here to see a snippet of the project that would not have happened without Bri’s blood, sweat, and tears.

As you can see, an internship with Third Coast Percussion is a great learning opportunity and a fun adventure. If you’re interesting in learning more about an internship with Third Coast, please contact Sean Connors at: [email protected]. Keep checking back for more stories in our next Intern Spotlight, featuring Cameron Leach!

But before that, we’ll take you to Colin’s Corner to learn about the instruments and artwork that our brilliant Studio Manager, Colin Campbell, has been building for us. Here’s a sneak peek of his “Third Coasters”: putting the “fun” in “functional”!

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Our first Grammy Award!

We are honored and humbled to have won this year’s Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music/ Small Ensemble Performance, for our album Third Coast Percussion | Steve Reich, released on Cedille Records.

This is our first Grammy win, and it was our first nomination. This is also the first time a percussion ensemble has won a Grammy in a Chamber Music category. Our crazy art form has come a long way, and we’re so thankful to our colleagues in the percussion field, our teachers, and all of the great percussion ensembles that have come before us for elevating this music that we love so much.

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We also had the incredible honor of sharing the stage with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, who performed with us on the third movement Steve Reich’s Mallet Quartet at the live Grammy pre-telecast performance. It was an unforgettable experience to perform with this exceptional musician.

Click here or on the image below to watch the video of the performance.

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Ravi is not only a phenomenal musician, he is a humble, down-to-earth guy who was an absolute pleasure to work with and hang with.

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We were fortunate to have our partners, family, our intrepid Managing Director, Liz, and some of our fantastic board of directors with us in L.A. for the festivities. We wouldn’t be where we are without them…plus they look good, don’t they?

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We also want to thank the incredible team that put this album together: producer, editor, mix, and master by Jesse Lewis, engineer Dan Nichols, assistant engineer Matt Ponio, and additional mastering by Kyle Pyke. Our amazing guest pianists David Friend and Oliver Hagen joined us on Sextet, and our mentor and friend Matthew Duvall joined us on Music for Pieces of Wood. Cedille Records was an absolute pleasure to work with throughout the project. The album was recorded at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, our home-away-from-home. Our managing director, Liz Pesnel, put forth an incredible effort towards this whole project, THANK YOU LIZ! And we also want to shout out our friends and neighbors Sonnenzimmer for the incredible album artwork.

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Oh yeah and it turns out we weren’t the only Chicago musicians at the Grammys.

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