Oberlin Blogs

My Favorite First-Years

February 22, 2019

This year, the Oberlin percussion studio gained seven new first-years! This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, class of incoming percussionists. It also made our whole studio a lot fuller, and the best part is that I just gained seven new friends. They have all just completed a very successful first semester here and are ready to take this one with full force. 

I asked them to answer three questions: 
1. So far, what's your favorite memory of Oberlin?
2. What's the biggest lesson you’ve learned last semester?
3. What is your favorite part about being in the percussion studio?

My interjections are labelled "RG," which will elaborate more on their responses.

Andrew 
Rochester, New York

A male student sitting in front of the Finney Chapel organ.
Andrew also is involved in the organ department.

 

1. So far, what's your favorite memory of Oberlin?
Being the Assistant Stage Manager for an opera and getting to meet the composer and librettist. 

RG: Every Winter Term, Oberlin puts on an opera. This year, it was composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek's Proving Up.  It was based on a short story of the same name from Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove. The opera focuses on a family's home and land during the height of the Homestead Act, which was enacted after the Civil War. 

2. What's the biggest lesson you’ve learned last semester?
"STAND UP!" (This is what Mr. Rosen says when I'm slouching.) 

3. What is your favorite part about being in the percussion studio?
Marimba Christmas.

RG: Marimba Christmas is an annual celebration of the holidays in our studio. We all play seasonal music on marimbas together, and we end the semesters with a performance for all the students in the Conservatory Lounge, as well as one at Kendal, Oberlin's retirement home. Mr. Rosen brings his fluffy dog, Mago, to all the events! It's a hit. 

Zach
Tiffin, Ohio

A male student dressed in a tuxedo.
Zach!

 

1. So far, what's your favorite memory of Oberlin?
Playing with the Oberlin College Choir at Carnegie Hall. 

RG: We took two first-years to Carnegie Hall. I think they were some of the youngest instrumentalists to go. We needed two more people for Tarik O'Reagan's Triptych, which featured eight percussionists and choir.

2. What's the biggest lesson you’ve learned last semester?
"Don't overthink."

3. What is your favorite part about being in the percussion studio?
Oberlin Percussion Group's Secret Santa.

RG: Every year, our percusson studio has a Secret Santa party. We pick names out of a hat and get someone else a gift. Usually, they are homemade and are super funny gifts that include percussion jokes. 

Elan
Minneapolis, Minnesota

A headshot of a male student holding mallets.
Elan!

 

1. So far, what's your favorite memory of Oberlin?
Playing in the Contemporary Music Ensemble.

RG:  At Oberlin, one of our main ensembles is CME, or the Contemporary Music Ensemble, which plays new compositions by living composers.

2. What's the biggest lesson you’ve learned last semester?
Time management.

3. What is your favorite part about being in the percussion studio?
How we all help each other out and foosball.

RG: We really do all help each other out with pretty much everything. Also: This year, the Conservatory installed a foosball table in the lounge that is right by our percussion practice rooms.

Quinn
Minneapolis, Minnesota

A piece of cake with a male student on it.
Quinn!

 

1. So far, what's your favorite memory of Oberlin?
Playing cymbals in Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.

RG: Since Oberlin is all undergraduate students, you will be able to play big cymbal parts like this. 

2. What's the biggest lesson you’ve learned last semester?
Loud and soft are the same, one is just softer.

3. What is your favorite part about being in the percussion studio?
The Oberlin Percussion Group memes.

RG: We all like to have fun together!

Thomas
Hong Kong

A male student stands on the stage of Carnegie Hall.
Thomas!

 

1. So far, what's your favorite memory of Oberlin?
Performing with the choir at Carnegie Hall.

2. What's the biggest lesson you’ve learned last semester?
When you play soft, think loud.

3. What is your favorite part about being in the percussion studio?
"PASIC DUDE!"

RG: Every year, the studio takes a trip to PASIC, which is the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. It takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is a huge event for all kinds of percussionists. Mr. Rosen drove us all in a big van! 

Matthew
Seattle, Washington

A male student in a tuxedo!
Matt!

 

1. So far, what's your favorite memory of Oberlin?
Going to PASIC for the weekend with the studio family!

2. What's the biggest lesson you’ve learned last semester?
Go to class and do your best.

3. What is your favorite part about being in the percussion studio?
The best part of being in the percussion studio is having our own wing of the practice building to call home.

RG: We have seven practice rooms, plus our percussion studio, to practice in. Usually, there is always a room open to practice in. 

Tyler
Allentown, Pennsylvania

A male student holding shaker instruments.
Tyler!

 

1. So far, what's your favorite memory of Oberlin?
Working with Zooid and the Contemporary Music Ensemble over Winter Term.

RG: During Winter Term, composer Henry Threadgill and his ensemble Zooid did a residency at Oberlin. They played and worked with CME on Threadgill's newest work. Their project culminated with an extremely full and successful performance at Cleveland Museum of Art. 

2. What's the biggest lesson you’ve learned last semester?
Improving my chamber musicianship from playing in small ensembles.

3. What is your favorite part about being in the percussion studio?
Getting to work closely with all these great teachers like Mr. Rosen, Tim Weiss, and Jamey Haddad.

RG: That's right! Since our studio is small, we get to work closely with professors in our classes and ensembles. One of the best things is that Mr. Rosen lives in Oberlin, so he is always there for us.

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So there you have it, folks! It looks like these kids have taken Oberlin by storm. There are so many unique opportunities for percussionists here, and they start from the time you enter Oberlin.  

This studio means the world to me, and I am so happy that every one of them chose to come here. 

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