The Harbinger Online

Featured Artist: David Ronning

David Ronning Featured Image

Q: How long have you been a percussionist?
A: I started taking drum lessons in the fourth grade and then in fifth grade I joined the school band. I first started playing a mallet instrument, which is like a xylophone and a marimba. I then got really passionate about the marimba in ninth grade.

Q: Why did you start playing percussion instruments?
A: I was originally playing piano; I don’t play too much anymore, just for fun. But then I decided to move to drumset because I thought it would be a little more exciting, and then from there I found my passion in marimba. It’s so hard to say because I love all the instruments. I feel that it’s the most beautiful music, especially the percussion ensembles because it is taking beats and melody and mixing this rhythm and harmony in a really beautiful way that not everyone hears, so it’s really special to me.

Q: What do you do in band now?
A: The great thing about being a percussionist is you can play so many different instruments. But the basis of all of them is the same, like how you read the rhythms [is] all the same. And so it’ll vary what I play in the band but I love to play the marimba, especially with four mallets, two in each hand, which is very exciting that I started this year. And then on drumline I hope to play snare next year, but I was on tenors this year, so it really varies what I’m playing.

Q: What types, or how many types, of percussion instruments do you play?
A: I have played timpani, marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, bells, chimes, snare drum, I play bass drum on drumline, tenors, I know how to play the field snare (I haven’t yet, but I can), and then there are so many auxiliary instruments. I also play the djembe drum a lot, but [with] auxiliary instruments there are too many to count. Those are cymbals, triangles; those are little parts but they add a lot to the band. I also play piano.

Q: How important are the drums or the percussion instruments in a band, in general?
A: We are the rhythm, and the melody, sometimes (not with drums for the melody, only with malleted instruments that can have pitches. So pitch percussions such as timpani or mallets). But the drums keep the beat going even if we are not playing during parts of a song, [but] during the parts that we do play we’re the heartbeat of the band. We just sort of keep the song going and we have a lot of auxiliary instruments such as suspended symbol, which is perfect for transitions and adds so much color to a musical piece that you can’t get with other sections.

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