Southeast Missouri State University student publication

SEMO hosts fourth annual percussion festival

Thursday, March 2, 2023
Farmington High School student Jonah Hagerty gets ready to perform "Catching Shadows" during Thursday night's concert.

For the past four years, high school percussion ensembles from Southeast Missouri have gathered for the SEMO Percussion Festival, a day full of fun, learning and rehearsing. It was also a recruiting event for high school students. This event was held on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Director of percussion studies Shane Mizicko was in charge of organizing this years percussion ensemble event, as well as prior years.

Mizicko said theres lots of organizing that goes into this event. This consists of contacting band directors, inviting schools, scheduling and coordinating all of the large instruments. One of the main reasons that schools love coming is because most of the big equipment is provided, so they dont have to lug around and keep track of all of the equipment, Mizicko said.

Three high schools were able to attend this year; Jackson, Perryville and Farmington. Each high school played four to five pieces during their clinic, and two of SEMOs percussion ensembles played, as well.

The SEMO percussion ensembles and Farmington High School performed in a concert later in the evening as well.

Music performance major and percussion student, Angel Evans gave some insight on what its like for college percussion students.

For our ensemble, we rehearse on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We start off by getting the music and listening to it together. Then we do a blind run-through of us just sight reading. As time passes, we get a feel for the music and learn how our parts fit in with one another, especially when working with instruments that arent used in a typical orchestral setting, Evans said.

As Mizicko worked with the high school students, he offered feedback on how they could improve their pieces.

"Maybe try using different sticks so you get a lighter sound, Mizicko said. "Maybe try hitting the drum on the edge so it gives it more of the effect this piece is trying to achieve.

After just a few minutes of working with Mizicko, the high schoolers started to feel more comfortable, they began asking him questions about how they could improve their pieces and what they could do so they can perform their pieces better for competition. Mizicko gave feedback such as what kinds of different sticks they could use to get a better sound or where they could hit the instruments to get the sound they were going for.

Its always fun because students get to see what we do here, as well as play and get an educational experience. They also get the opportunity to work with myself as well as other clinicians and they get feedback before heading off to competition, Mizicko said. I love meeting and working with the students and just seeing how much they progress in such a short time.

Sophomore music education major Joel Prange performed in the SEMO percussion ensemble on Thursday night.

I really enjoyed performing. Its my first time since high school, and even then, I was just a piano player in a winter concert so this is my first actual time performing in a small percussion group. I really enjoyed it, Prange said. I was super impressed with the high schoolers. I think they also got a lot out of this experience and I think Dr. Mizicko did a great job working with them.

The SEMO percussion students were excited to see what the high schoolers had been working on and what they were capable of doing.

A lot of high schools in the area dont have percussion ensembles, so its exciting to see how this generation of students perform and what they are playing. Its also cool to talk to some of the students who are planning on attending Southeast in the fall and to see what pieces they are currently preparing, Evans said.

The high school students are hoping to qualify for State Solo and Ensemble after their performance at District Solo and Ensemble later this month.