What is Percussive Storytelling?
Percussive Storytelling is a program I created in 2009 to bring classical music and storytelling to kids in fun and accessible ways. Pretty simple! However, the history of Percussive Storytelling is a bit more complicated, so please read on if you are interested — if not, no worries, just go right ahead and book a program!
Percussive Storytelling was originally created in response to my growing dismay at the dwindling audience for avant-garde percussion-theater concerts. While I loved combining theatre and percussion, I grew frustrated at a disconnect between the art, the audience, and myself. So how did I cope with this frustration? By jamming out on drums! I was improvising on a table of instruments when I realized a circular pattern I was playing on blocks and bells sounded, oddly enough, like a bicycle. In a fit that was one-half innovation and one-half perspiration, I wrote The Lost Bicycle, composed the music, and BAM!, Percussive Storytelling was born.
Speaking of improvisation, I really do love to improvise, and Percussive Storytelling is built around composed improvisations, or set forms with a flexible interior, allowing the performer to live in the moment. Think of it as an amorphous solid, like peanut butter — you can put peanut butter on bread or inside a cookie, where it takes on different forms; yet at the end of the day, it’s still just peanut butter!
The stories come from everywhere: original stories, folktales, adapted stories, tried and true classics, and of course my zany daughter and son. Instruments and compositional styles come from all over the world, thus making the program multicultural and interdisciplinary, two areas of particular interest and passion for me as an artist and educator. The beauty of Percussive Storytelling (at least to me) is in its simplicity; anyone can do this anywhere! True, I have a doctorate in percussion — I might be able to move my hands fast and know a lot about instruments — but Percussive Storytelling can be replicated immediately in classrooms, libraries, throughout the country right now!
I welcome all comments, questions, and collaborations. Use my stories! Use the concept! Feel free to contact me if you need help finding stories, instruments, or anything else related to Percussive Storytelling.
What’s on the horizon? Too much to say! There’s a children’s book, a second album, more videos, and possibly a teacher workbook. Needless to say, Percussive Storytelling is my passion, and I love being known as the SplatBoomBang guy; onomatopoeia works for me!