I just returned from the 50th annual Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in Indianapolis where I was fortunate enough to do so many of the things I love – perform for and talk to an attentive audience about composing for percussion as a percussionist, chat with hundreds of new friends and old at the C. Alan Publications booth while I attempt to sell them music, visit with my awesomely supportive sponsors (Yamaha and Vic Firth) and RUN!
Every year at PASIC I realize how much I talk about (er… annoy people with my posts about) running on Facebook (and here I go again). One of the first things out of people's mouths when I haven't seen them for a year is "Man, you've been running a lot, huh?" It has become something that defines me and I'm okay with that. Let me tell you why though. A couple of years ago, I mused about Why I Think All Classical Musicians Are Pre-Programmed to Be Runners, talking about how similar the disciplines are, whether you are preparing for a marathon or a recital. Potayto, Potahto.
While in Indianapolis this past weekend, more of the career & networking benefits of running became apparent. Over the summer, I volunteered to organize the PASIC Fun Run, which in the past has occurred on Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. during the convention. Historically, the attendance has been rather poor and I was determined to improve on that, so I expanded from one morning to three and plastered the social networks (tweeted with hashtags, created FB events, harassed friends & "friends" on their FB walls) to get the word out.
What we ended up with was a terrifically eclectic group of percussionists each morning that had this common thread of running (and drumming). Where else are you going to hop from conversations with percussion professors from New Mexico, Missouri, Connecticut, Texas & South Carolina to the President-Elect of PAS to husband/wife drummer/percussionist for actor/musician Gary Sinise's Lt. Dan Band? We didn't set any speed records. We didn't run terribly far. We did have a lot of fun, meet new people and talk about anything from marathons to the new Schwantner Percussion Concerto to the mess at Penn State to our upcoming concerts & recitals. Even people who didn't join us for the runs each morning used topic of the Fun Runs as a conversation ice-breaker since I had posted about it so much leading up to the conference.
In the clinic I co-presented with Josh Gottry at the convention, I encouraged the young percussionists & budding composers in the audience, in the spirit of networking, to approach performers and composers they might have put up on a pedestal. They're all people. I think any two people can have at least one common thread that can break the ice – be it percussion, sports, politics or even…
Good for your health. Good for your career.