“To call it a game-changer would be a massive understatement.”
That is the reaction of Dr. Jeff Crowell, a music and percussion professor at UWEC, to the new instruments and equipment received by the percussion program in fall 2019. The gear would go on to outfit the new Pablo Center at the Confluence and to update inventory at Haas Fine Arts Center. Crowell says that the purchase has given the music program the freedom to play a larger variety of pieces, and allows students to choose between similar instruments.
“It's an unbelievable amount of equipment,” he says. “We used to have essentially two concert snare drums… Now we have ten. So it's like, which one are you going to go pick? What do you feel like? Is it this kinda small one or this kinda-kinda small one? So it's been a challenge to really help the students understand that now that you have so many choices, you really need to figure out what you're going to pick. You can't just grab the snare drum.”
Dr. Crowell says that having the new equipment, especially instruments such as marimbas and vibraphones, allows him to teach percussionists in his office rather than taking up practice room space. They also don’t have to rely on a truck to bring their larger instruments to the Pablo Center - it is housed there permanently instead.
The program now has access to music it couldn’t play before. “It's just amazing to have just the multiples of equipment so that we can do big pieces,” Crowell says. “Maybe two or three of the pieces we did this semester and recorded - there's no way we could have done those before the gear, because we just didn't have that much equipment. We just physically didn't have it, and so it's been not only a great sonic world that's opened up for choices, but it's also, as far as a literal amount of equipment, it has changed our ability to program music.”