Rich Holly's Percussion Place

Assorted ramblings and occasional updates in the world of percussion.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

2013 Patagonia Percussion Festival

I had a GREAT time in Argentina at the 11th Patagonia Percussion Festival, hosted graciously by Angel Frette. Many great concerts and clinics - in addition to me, guests were Tony Miceli, Fernando Meza, Andy Bliss, Casey Cangelosi, Evaristo Aguilar of Mexico and 3 of his students, Jorge Camiruaga of Uruguay, Brazilian Andre Juarez with his group Gato Preto, and the Bossa Duo from Colombia.

Here's a video of me with several of Angel's students playing my arrangement of "Senegal Calling," a Steps Ahead tune written by Mike Manieri:

Monday, March 08, 2010


My trip to Indianapolis was great! The Music For All - Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival was terrific. We heard several great groups and met many wonderful directors and students. In particular, two middle school percussion ensembles from Cobb County, Georgia, were amazing - Dickerson Middle School and Simpson Middle School. WOW! These groups play at an amazingly high level. Kudos to their directors, Scott Brown and Mike Lynch.

The other adjudicators were John Parks, Don Liuzzi, and Robert van Sice. We had a great time hanging, and enjoyed hearing and telling stories with the renowned conductor Colonel Arnald Gabriel. It was also great to see my good friends at Yamaha, John Wittmann and Chris Dolson.

I was also able to spend considerable time at the new Rhythm! Discovery Center, the new museum run by the Percussive Arts Society. Holy cow, is it terrific! It's in a terrific location right downtown Indianapolis, and it looks and feels wonderful. There are several hands-on and interactive exhibits, quiet rooms to play in, and several excellent uses of technology throughout. It's a must-see the next time you're in Indy.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I Know It's Been Awhile...

It's been 10 months since I posted to this blog. With my duties as Dean I haven't been able to keep up with as much in percussion as previously. To see my blog about the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts which I am posting to regularly, go here:

This winter I've been active presenting clinics and workshops. On January 27 I presented several sessions at the University of Central Missouri, where I was hosted by the gracious Mike Sekelsky. On January 27 I presented a session at the Missouri Music Educators Association convention, which was based on my book, "Majoring in Music: All the Stuff You Need to Know."

On February 13 I was an adjudicator of percussion ensembles at the Lincoln-Way Day of Percussion in New Lenox, Illinois. Eric Wellman did a great job organizing the day. I also presented a session demonstrating my concepts and techniques of how to practice.

This week I'll be in Indianapolis for the Music For All National Festival, once again adjudicating at the National Percussion Ensemble Festival. This festival is now actually named the Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival. Sandy was a one-of-a-kind musician, composer, editor, educator, author, businessman and leader who left us too soon, and it's great to see his name live on this way. Adjudicating with me will be John Parks, Robert van Sice, and Don Liuzzi. This is the third time I'll be at this festival, it's always a great time and we hear several excellent ensembles.

While in Indy I'll also be at the new Rhythm! Discover Center - the new museum of the Percussive Arts Society. I had every intention of seeing Rhythm! when it opened during PASIC 2009, but as some of you know I became ill and could not attend PASIC. I'm really looking forward to seeing it - the photos look amazing and everyone I know who has seen it has come away extremely impressed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wonderful Performance Featuring Ed Saindon

Today we were fortunate to have the amazing Ed Saindon as a guest artist on the NIU campus. Ed presented a jazz improvisation workshop in the afternoon, and performed this evening at one of our local music venues, The House Cafe. Performing with Ed this evening was my colleague Rodrigo Villanueva on drums, our fantastic alum Doug Stone on tenor and soprano saxes, and another fabulous alum on bass, John Tate.

Ed's been one of my favorite vibraphonists since I first heard him play, sometime in the early 1980's I think it was. I met Ed for the first time in 1990, and the past couple of years we've been in touch more. He is a warm, genuine human being who happens to be an absolutely incredible musician. Immediately following one of his solos tonight, before any clapping could start, one of the audience members yelled "WOW!" I'm pretty sure that sums up how everyone in the audience was feeling about Ed's playing. It was so great to see Ed and to hear him play again. I hope you get the chance to see and hear him, too.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

New Position at NIU!
(and other assorted percussion stuff)

Avid readers of this blog know that since July I've held the position of Acting Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Northern Illinois University. I'm extremely excited to report that following a several-month national search, I have been offered, and accepted, the position as Dean of the CVPA.

I am looking forward to continuing the work on the several initiatives in which I've been involved in this year as well as pursuing new ones. We have so many wonderful things going on in the arts at NIU, it's a real honor for me to know I'm now the permanent Dean.

If you care to read the official press release, it's here.

I can hardly believe it's been nearly two months since my last post. Just a few of the goings-on since then: I was an adjudicator at the National Percussion Festival, run by Music For All, in Indianapolis in March. The other adjudicators were John Tafoya, Cort McClaren, and my good friend Jim Campbell. It was a great time - great friends, great music, and for a great purpose. I was also able to spend time with my good friends Michael Kenyon and Scott Deal.

My colleagues here at NIU, Liam Teague and Robert Chappell, performed a recital in March. I played on one tune - Robert and I revived our old "Dueling Xylophones" schtick with several changes and updates. The recital is online here. To get to the piece I'm on , you can click on the bottom scroll bar to move ahead - the piece begins at the 47 minute mark.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


My new book is now available! "Majoring in Music - All the Stuff You Need to Know" is published by Meredith Music Publications and distributed by the Hal Leonard Corporation, the world's largest music distributor. The official release date is March 1, but it is available now at Amazon, Tower, Borders, Barnes and Noble, and Target for pre-sale, most with a deep discount. (I also see it's for sale by some Japanese book sellers!)

The book is divided into three main sections: The Academic Stuff, The Musical Stuff, and the The Life Stuff. In those sections are subheadings dealing with advising, time management, studying, practicing, music theory, music history, aural skills, positive attitude, health, roommates, and many other similar items that are of importance to the ultimate success of a music major. Each of these includes tips and strategies for improvement.

I was very fortunate to get some wonderful quotes from leading university music educators and administrators that are found on the back cover of the book. Here are parts of the quotes:

"Rich Holly's guide is direct, succinct, and to the point; a must read for both prospective or current music students and those who support them (parents and others). "

" invaluable guide for all prospective and matriculating music students...covers every important aspect of their college lives in an informal, enjoyable, direct and perceptive manner."

"...terrific suggestions will help young aspiring musicians. My own 17-year old son is contemplating a music career, and it will become required reading for him."

"...written with the compassion of a caring advisor (and parent), with wit and real-life anecdotes, Holly presents invaluable lessons and wisdom...."

"...provides a wealth of knowledge for any student who wishes to pursue a degree in music...."

Many thanks go out to the several readers I had and to my research assistant, Kerry O'Brien, and to my family for allowing me the time to write and edit. If you know anyone who is considering majoring in music, or has already made the decision to do that, this book is meant for them.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Okay, I might be biased since my colleague Greg Beyer here at Northern Illinois University hosted the event, but today was one fantastic Day of Percussion for the Illinois chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. For most of the day we had 250 attendees, and for the evening concert the attendance was over 300.

The day began with an "uncontest" for middle school and high school players to play their solo and ensemble pieces for a judge to get comments on improvement so that they're more prepared in a few weeks when the state solo and ensemble contest takes place. Several dozen students took advantage of that great opportunity. We then had a terrific clinic by Vadim Karpinos of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, an amazing masterclass by She-e Wu, a truly unique and engaging performance by Aiyun Huang, and then several of the universities in the state performed individually and then together in a wonderful "summit" of Illinois percussionists.

Vadim Karpinos

She-e Wu

Aiyun Huang

The evening concert featured So Percussion, who played beautifully. (We were fortunate have had So in residence here at NIU for the past 3 days - the students were incredibly happy to have them here and are even more motivated than usual.)

So Percussion

In addition to how musical and inspiring all the clinics and performances were, what always impresses me the most is that the finest artists in our field are some of the most wonderful people you'll ever meet. And, as these things always go, it was great to see so many former students as well as colleagues from all over the state here and to have a chance to catch up on what they're doing.

Greg did an amazing job marketing the event and organizing the event. Everyone I spoke with had a really great time and was really grateful to be able to be here for the day.

Greg Beyer