1. The sound of percussion. Anyone passing a percussion instrument is tempted to touch it and get a sound effect from it. For this reason, in the past, percussion instruments were considered to be within the range of any musician at all. Even in the very best orchestras, non-solo percussion parts were often left to other permanent members of the orchestra who were not even percussion players but just happened to be available at the time.
2. Is it a pianissimo or a pause? How many times have you seen a percussionist, or drum player, ecstatically going through a series of movements while no sound actually reached your ears? Well, this concept is dedicated to them.
3. Understanding ordinary people's difficulties. Many years ago I was listening to a virtuoso violinist colleague of mine giving a lesson,and I saw something I have never been able to forget. The tutor was getting irritated because his pupil was just not able to go through a technical passage perfectly, in spite of its having been played over and over again by the tutor. At last the pupil burst out, "Maestro, there's no point in your letting me hear it again - with your hands you can do whatever you want!"
4. Musical talking and studying. Words can be sad or happy, spoken slowly or rushed, according to what you want to emphasise. It's the same in music. But be careful not to exaggerate because sometimes a forte may be extremely pleasing, whereas a piano may sound unpleasant. It all depends on the expressiveness and quality of the sound.
5. Don't get carried away by the metronome!. I'd like to remind those who would even go to bed with a metronome to sleep in time that in computerised music the "humanise" option (which makes the rhythm less precise) has had to be added to give a performance more credibility.
6. Not avoiding unnecessary curves on the marimba. Many students devote an incredible number of hours to studying the marimba without worrying in the least about checking the correctness of their movements. The most common mistake consists in increasing the trajectory of the mallets to avoid the distancing shift - something that everyone seems to do naturally on the drums.
7. How I judge an exercise for you. Sometimes the faults we develop during training and carry on into professional life are caused by being too impatient to go on to higher levels of playing before we are technically ready to do so. At other times, instead, these faults are caused by not having the right graduated and specific technique exercises to hand when we need them. Exercises in technique are a form of gymnastics to help you to acquire the right methods for proper playing: knowing how to judge how valid even these modest musical creations are means making confident progress.
8. Rhythm and relaxation. When night clubs were in vogue and music was played practically all night, there used to be an elderly drummmer who could even play half asleep around four in the morning when soft music brought on drowsiness, earning the nickname of the "sleeping drummer". This odd fellow was almost certainly playing in a totally relaxed manner. But if the band had started up on a faster beat instead of playing sleepy slows, requiring mallet-playing instead of restful brushes, then it would have been quite another kettle of fish for our drummer.
9. To me it's all the same. The correct playing of written signs is often neglected because it requires patience and dedication. So it often happens that when you're playing, for example, linked notes with round dots (staccato legato), or notes with hyphens (supported, almost stressed, notes),or slurred notes, the differences tend to disappear.
10. Careful with muscle reinforcement exercises. It is not only medical drugs that can cause physical harm, if they are untested. A pupil of mine, already into professional playing, told me about a drummer whose arm had swollen up alarmingly after his tutor had made him do forearm-strengthening exercises. I myself, in one of the conservatories I taught at, have come across the sort of boy who was a victim of these "technical innovations" and who had to have cortisone infiltration in his elbow to be able to continue playing, like some tennis players.
11. Know the past and understand the present. There are amateur artists who go in for informal painting because they know nothing about perspective, and composers who write contemporary music because they are ignorant of harmony and counterpoint. There's nothing wrong in people giving vent to their creativity without bothering about the rules. But if you want to be professional, and care about teaching too, then before telling others about the results of your own ideas, it's best to start from the history and the rules to realise what has already been done and to have some sort of grounding on which to base your own innovations.
12. Knowing how to read between the lines. To learn how to treat various composers and to interpret various types of music properly, it's not enough to read music alone. Knowing the origins, and understanding how technique and music have evolved in the various kinds of music, means also learning how to use the annotations appropriately. A forte in a Mozart chamber orchestra piece can hardly be compared to a forte in a Wagner piece with its numerous strings and brass instruments of all types. Legato staccato in a Verdi opera can never be the same as that used in jazz, where the first thing to remember is that all traces of scholarly perfectionism have to be done away with.