Hit That

I play percussion in a local community orchestra. Specifically, I usually play what is collectively called (after three adverbs) “mallet percussion”: things with keyboards and tuned notes, rather than the “battery” (things you, y’know, batter).

Most of my time is dedicated to the triangle (which is much harder than it looks), the chimes, the bells/glockenspiel, and the xylophone. For the uninitiated, these are chimes, this is what I mean by bells, and of course this is everyone’s favorite token X word.

(I wasn’t always a percussionist and, in fact, I’m not entirely sure I can call myself one with a perfectly straight face. I’m an accidental percussionist, by way of years of saxophoning and many more years of pianoing. Hence the mallets; I lack the chops for battery. Yes, it’s harder.)

The reason I tell you all this is to set up the sharing of a hilarious discovery. If you’ve ever spent time in a band room, you’ve probably seen The Posters. Ubiquitous, creased, oft-laminated souvenirs of a time when the director had energy and funds to attend music conferences. Perhaps (s)he even inherited them from a predecessor. They’re always outdated, featuring musicians who were “small world” famous years before.

And the musicians in them are always stiff, fussy looking folks in black tie — especially if they are mallet percussionists. Take, for instance, this lovely lady whose benign visage has popped up in several band rooms I’ve frequented:

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Sometimes they loosen up a little. Give us an action shot, looking away from the camera. Maybe even a look of distracted elation or concentration as they nail a particularly tricky lick:

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Both of these posters have been wilting on the wall of our orchestra’s rehearsal space for as long as I’ve been a member.

And then, this week, they were joined by a third.

A new mallet percussion poster.

Ah, but this is no Mona Lisa of the mallets, no earnest devotee of the keyboard. Here we have no bow tie, no artful black and white photography. All of these things are far too buttoned-up for this, the Casanova of the Marimba.

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Men only wish they could achieve the sheer suaveness of the popped-collar multimalleted alpha male. Women swoon at the sight of his erected music stand.

He stares into the eyes of the anonymous middle school percussionist. To some, he seems to say, “You will never be as hot as I am.” To others, he seems to promise things the average twelve-year-old has yet to imagine. He is… the most interesting percussionist alive.

And to the exhausted-to-the-point-of-giggles adult amateur percussionist, he whispers huskily, “You have GOT to blog about this.”

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