N. Scott Robinson at Winthrop University

NSR with BMW and Winthrop percussion students

NSR with BMW and Winthrop percussion students

We had a great time with N. Scott Robinson at Winthrop during the first week of April, 2009. Students had an opportunity to study with Scott privately and in group sessions on all types of frame drums including tar, riq, bodhran, and kanjira. His handouts on technical development (which we understand will soon be part of his new book) were very helpful. Scott does a fantastic job communicating with students in a clinic setting. As part of his residency, he also presented a PowerPoint slide presentation titled “The New Percussionist.” You can find more information about this terrific presentation at www.nscottrobinson.com/presentations.php.

We were most excited to have the opportunity to perform several of Scott’s compositions on our spring percussion ensemble concert, including Ghanaba Celebration for singer/handclappers, Sankofa for congas, shekeres, djembes, and African bells, Trio for Ogun for three congas and three conch shell trumpets (which we performed at PASIC in Austin last November), and a work commissioned by the Winthrop University Percussion Ensemble, Carnatic Variations for tars and bodhrans with solkattu. Scott also performed two of his solo compositions on the concert, Shaken, Not Stirred for riq and Global Positions for ghaval. All pieces are available on NSR’s website, by the way. Check them out at www.nscottrobinson.com/ordering.php (well, maybe not the new piece just yet, but it’ll probably be up soon).

Scott was a featured clinician at the South Carolina Day of Percussion held at Winthrop April 4, 2009. His clinic on hand drumming and brushes was full of very practical hints on performing in a variety of real-world settings.

My students had a great hang with NSR at Winthrop and SCDOP. He’s a wonderful musician, composer, teacher, and friend.

Thanks, Scott!


Welcome to the B. Michael Williams blog


Welcome to my news page and blog.  Over the years I’ve had experiences or insights that I thought were worth sharing with a wider audience, but may not have been so significant or thoroughly researched as to warrant a published article. Perhaps this blog will be the perfect venue for little tidbits I’ve discovered about this and that.

I guess I’m a bit of an anomaly in the percussion world, but maybe not. After all, percussionists are by nature “jacks of all trades.” I began my career as an orchestral percussionist and high school band director, then did some research and writing on John Cage, wrote some pieces for frame drums, studied West African drumming, and later learned to play a lamellaphone from Zimbabwe. Some years ago I remember asking a colleague what he’d thought of an article I’d recently published about Stockhausen’s percussion solo No. 9 Zyklus. His response was, “You wrote that? I thought it was another Michael Williams.”

The fact is, diversity is what we percussionists do best. My teacher at Northwestern University, Terry Applebaum, always said, “Our virtuosity is our versatility.” I took that wisdom to heart and it is a major platform in my teaching philosophy. Anyway, I hope to engage you on these pages with some observations, experiences, and my own questions about a variety of topics; frame drums, djembe, contemporary percussion, percussion education, mbira, and my own musings about everything from Almglocken to Zen.

Thanks for visiting… and come back any time!