This year a girl who I gave drum lessons to last summer is going into high school. This got me thinking about mallets (not entirely random). I also remembered that the song I wrote to be a Nerdfighter (quite some time ago) was about mallets. So, what was it that got me started on mallets? Well, let's find out.
Back in 5th grade I joined band as a percussionist. Mr. Taylor picks six kids from each class to be percussionists (by the way, by my senior year there was only two of us left). He always starts us on mallets. I don't remember much from that year. I just remember having to take a bell set home (he gave all percussionists bell sets so they can practice) and I remember hating that bell set, because he was big and unwieldy and I hating taking it on the bus. So, it's possible that that's why I avoided the mallets for awhile after that.
Over the years, I mainly played snare drum (obviously not just snare drum, but I did enjoy playing snare drum). In 8th grade I began taking drum lessons with Amy Begin (now Amy Arnett-Tomasek) and realized that I was playing snare drum wrong (mostly just holding the sticks the wrong way). At that point, I tried to avoid snare drum. I mostly did auxiliary percussion, but one day I looked at the mallets, just sitting off to the side by themselves. I started playing them.
So, I was bit by the mallet bug, so to speak. Going into high school, I realized that there was this whole new thing that I had never done before, since I only started doing mallets near the end of 8th grade. Originally, concert band percussion was divided into two sections: mallets and everything else. Originally, I was planning on trying out for both, but I eventually decided to do just mallets. There were only three people auditioning for just mallets. One was a senior, the other was a junior. I somehow was able to get first chair (not that that mattered that much. . . there was a lot of that's in that sentence). So, I was put into Wind Ensemble with Amanda Grubbs and had a lot of fun that first year playing mallets with her. The next year, there were three people trying out for mallets again. One was a senior (he was the junior from the previous year) the other was a freshman. Again, I was first chair and was put in Wind Ensemble. The last two years, the two sections were combined and it was just percussion. It never mattered to me, because I always played mallets. In both years I ended up in Wind Ensemble (not always as first chair). One thing I would like to say is that it never mattered to me what chair I was. With percussion, chairs don't matter as much as it does for the rest of the band. I also knew that, no matter what, I would be playing mallets, because I was the only one who volunteered to play them.
So, that's how I ended up playing mallets. It's possible that I would have drifted to mallets at some point without Amy, but I do think that she sped up that process, though maybe not quite the way she would have intended. She certainly helped me start playing mallets and helped me learn to play them better. I also would have to thank Mr. Taylor for making me a percussionist in the first place, Amanda Grubbs for playing with me that first year and showing me how fun playing mallets can be, Ratamacue (my former drum group led by Amy) for giving me the opportunity to play mallets in other locations than Hillsdale High School, and the HHS drumline for allowing me to play mallets for four years and hone my skill.
What's the story of how you came to play your instrument (if you play an instrument)? If not, what do you love to do and how did you come to do that particular activity?
I have newspaper pants,
Jeffrey Adam Guion