As percussionists from around the world make their final plans for PASIC 2016 in Indianapolis this week, I wanted to share the power of PASIC and the impact it can have on your life, whether you are attending your first or forty-first convention.
Those of us who have attended the Percussive Arts Society International Convention before all have similar stories, but one thing is certain – without PASIC and PAS, we simply would not be where we are today. Beyond the four incredible days of world-class concerts, clinics, panel discussions, competitions, committee meetings, labs, and time in the exhibit hall where we are all kids in a candy store, PASIC is about the people. It’s about seeing old friends, making new ones, and developing relationships. It’s about being late for a concert or a meeting because you run into someone on your way there. It’s about forgetting to eat lunch. It’s about seeing former teachers and thanking them for all they have done for you, bringing your students for the first time, and learning your new role as a mentor to those young PAS members that suddenly look up to you. If you attend PASIC consistently, these relationships can be long-lasting, and can lead to opportunities such as jobs, internships, graduate school, publications, summer workshops, and performance collaborations.
When I was 18, I attended my first PASIC (1989) in Nashville, TN. My 5 roommates and I drove down from Ball State University in my blue Plymouth Reliant K and when we finally arrived at the host hotel, we immediately noticed legendary drummer Louis Bellson standing in line in front of us. We all looked at each other and whispered, “That’s Louie Bellson!” To our shock and amazement, Mr. Bellson turned around, smiled, and introduced himself, talking to us as if we were old friends. His kindness, humility, and generosity had a profound impact on us, and my experience as a PAS member was forever changed. Moment of impact #1.
Two years later, at PASIC 1991 in Anaheim, CA, I was walking through a restaurant to grab a quick bite to eat when I passed the table of University of Michigan Percussion Professor, Michael Udow. I almost went to Michigan for my masters and to this day always enjoy seeing him at PASIC. What made this experience unique, however, was who he was dining with – legendary marimba virtuoso Keiko Abe. While I would like to think that any friend of Dr. Udow’s was a friend of hers, she politely smiled, said hello, and shook my hand. Moment of impact #2.
A few years later, PASIC once again created the conditions for a chance encounter. Heading up to my room to change for dinner, I found myself in the elevator with some friends and on walked the unmistakable Steve Gadd. I remember saying “Hi, great to meet you “and engaging in incoherent small talk that I’m sure he had heard a million times before. We were awe-struck. Moment of impact #3.
If you have been to PASIC before, the most powerful thing I can say about it is it will change your life. It has for many of us, and will continue to do so for those arriving in Indianapolis later this week. There is inspiration everywhere you turn. The PASIC experience makes you want to quit (because everyone is so good!) and it makes you want to practice. It humbles, motivates, recharges, rejuvenates, and changes you.
Dr. Paul Buyer
Second Vice President, Percussive Arts Society
Director of Percussion