Rejection: Summer Festivals

From Rob Knopper, percussionist with the Met Orchestra.

Let’s go back to 2007, two years into my undergrad at Juilliard. I knew that I wanted to be an orchestral musician, but I felt like I was struggling so much in my playing and practicing that even a sub gig in the Antarctica Symphony Orchestra would have been the successful achievement of my life at that point. whether it was for a performance, an audition, juries, or even informally playing for my friends, I always had one achilles heel: soft snare drum playing. (For you non-percussionists out there, replace soft snare drum with whatever technique is ruined by your nerves.)

I had wanted to go to summer festivals since high school, yet every live audition ended the same way –rejection. This kept happening for about three years – senior year of high school, and freshman and sophomore years of college. After one of these auditions, I’d had enough.

I went home to my hometown in Chelsea, Michigan, lived in my parents’ basement, and learned every Delécluse étude that I could. I think I learned somewhere between 15-20 of them. It was an extremely long summer, and I practiced ten to twelve hours each day. But I slept well, lived comfortably, and focused deeply on the art of snare drumming. When I came back to school that fall, I had a different level of technique and of comfort on the instrument. I felt, more than ever, that I owned my snare drum playing in a way that I had never felt before. I was ready to take on anything that came at me on the snare drum.

Link to the rest at Also check out his FREE audition cheat sheet.

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