“No one cares what we don’t play.”   -Paul Buyer

This quote is about having the courage and conviction to take something out of your arrangement, concert, or show, no matter how badly you want to put it in. In marching band, it can be about deciding not to play a cadence, drum feature, or stand tune simply because it is not ready at that point in time to play at a high level.

In my Working Toward Excellence presentations, I share a story about my percussion ensemble concerts. If we start the semester with five pieces and after a few weeks are struggling to keep up with all of them, I will not hesitate to cut one, bringing the total down to four. While my students might be upset at first, this quickly fades after a few days as something magical begins to happen. They can breathe, their stress level decreases, and their mindset of learning, preparing, and cleaning four pieces becomes much more manageable because now they have more time. They are spinning fewer plates.

I tell them, “The audience isn’t going to sit there and wish we were playing the piece that Dr. Buyer cut. They’re going to listen to the pieces that we do play, and whatever we present to them is going to be excellent. No one cares what we don’t play.”