Talk to enough drummers, and you start to notice a bit of a pattern emerge. It doesn’t matter the tempo or genre; they all seem to be the most relaxed folk on the planet. Clearly there’s something to the myth of venting all of your frustrations on stage. Of course, there are also great nuances to percussion, and despite being one of the most accessible groups of instruments, the learning curve to become adept can be steep. With the Sydney Drum & Percussion Show, Rob Walker of the Australian Music Association hopes to not only showcase some of the best and brightest drummers out there, but welcome the wider public into a crucial facet of Australia’s music industry.
“We want to promote music making and the products you make music with,” says Walker. “The musical community is a very welcoming and loyal one, and these sort of shows really bring lots of people together. Everybody learns from each other and it gives a lift to percussion enthusiasts. If we have an ethos, it’s that we want to bring the community together and share it with new people.”
While this is the inaugural drum show, Walker and the AMA have enjoyed success with their annual Melbourne Guitar Show, in which seasoned musicians, emerging acts and the general music-loving public converge for a weekend of entertainment and insight. The plan is to replicate that success with an instrument that is often hidden in plain sight; though drums may form the backbone of a band there is much about them that remains unfamiliar to the general public. It is Walker’s hope to bridge that divide by making percussion as accessible as possible.
“It’s really important that everybody gets some hands-on opportunities,” he says. “We’re finalising a place now where people can go and have a good old hit (and) have the experience, and have people in the room to help show them what to do. And there are workshops on orchestral percussion, marimba and timpani. There will be a variety of activities for people who are in any way interested in music and percussion.
“But I think the question is a good one - how do we attract people who might not already be a part of that space, or who don’t already have that interest? Drumming is used in nursing homes, in music therapy; all sorts of applications, which (are) much broader than your usual drum-kit in a band. We’ll be presenting information sessions on that as well. So I feel there will be wide interest there and, without being disparaging to drumming, it is one of the few instruments you can just get right into play(ing) straight away.”
In addition to live performances from the likes of Gang of Youths and the industry-celebrated Loz Benson, there are workshops and panels and drumming circles that members of the public are encouraged to join and experience first hand.
“You don’t need formal lessons to hit something, so we’ve organised a couple of drum circles for people to come along and sit in,” he says. “I’ve seen a lot of them before, and I tell you, everyone who’s sitting in that circle has a smile on their face. It’s fun to watch. There’s also drumming for health and well-being (and) drumming for exercise in that recreational drumming movement.”
Most importantly, Walker’s intention is to help firm the foundation of the music industry at large; to bring the community together in a time when live music is taking blows from all sides.
“As always, the challenge is just to keep the live music scene strong, so there’s plenty of work for everybody, so there’s plenty of opportunities for people to get out there and play,” he says. “Making sure there are enough places to play, that’s a challenge. That’s key to our whole industry. Keeping music healthy, and keeping it alive. (Musicians) need to keep the faith, and play because you love to play. There are great organisations out there – like Music Victoria, which has done a lot of lobbying with the government. And there are lots of issues up in Sydney, but there are also lots of people out there trying to fight that. As long as people are demanding live music, there will be places where they can go and see it. That’s what we’re trying to do with this show. Boost our industry and work together as a group of musicians and associations to present it in a really positive light.”
The Sydney Drum and Percussion Show will be taking place on Saturday May 27 & Sunday May 28 at Rosehill Gardens. For more information visit australianmusician.com.au.