Andrew Muñoz Altamirano

My Breakthrough Performance on Marimba

Well I´ve had a couple of good life-changing moments with music, the first one being the moment I was able to play my very first drum beat. From that day on my life has never been the same. It brings back a ton of memories when I look at that beat up pair of VF 85 A drumsticks (I still have them. One of them is signed by Steve Smith, which is a pretty big deal for me considering I live in Costa Rica and he doesn´t visit that often!).

I´ve had a long and happy relationship with music since that day, and I have to say my REAL game changing moment happened not so long ago, when I began to study classical percussion at the University, I remember being really nervous because I had to play a marimba piece in front of a large crowd. I had just started learning to play marimba that same year, so I was kind of insecure. I prepared myself the best I could but I still felt like a fish out of the water (I was used to playing my dear drums). I didn´t really get the essence of playing marimba and how different it was from playing drums, so my teacher showed me a video of Ney Rosauro playing his own "Prelude nº1 in e minor". It was amazing! I watched the whole video about 5 times and then went back to preparing for the big night.

When the moment came, I just sat behind the stage, thinking, remembering, breathing, etc until it was my turn to go out, THAT is when it happened... They called my name. I took a deep breath and went out to the stage holding my mallets. I stand in front of that beautiful marimba, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, thought about Ney´s video, opened my eyes and started playing. Something changed. I dived inside the music, inside the piece, I felt every note, I loved, I suffered, I got angry, I whispered, I shouted, without saying a word!! My mallets became the only way to communicate with the world in that brief moment of bliss. I came back to myself after playing the final note and the first thing I heard while still looking down at the keys was a huge applause. I bowed at the audience and went backstage.

Nothing was ever the same again, I know it sounds kind of dramatic, but for the first time I experienced the power of music. I loved music before that moment, but after that day, after feeling that incredible connection with my instrument and the music I was playing, I knew music was going to be my life. After everything was done and all my classmates had played, some people came to me before I left to congratulate me, telling me that while the piece I played wasn´t as high-level as others that were played that night, my performance was the one that was most felt, and that would be most remembered from that night. I can´t describe how I felt after hearing those things, but what I can say is that my life changed that night, I got to know a glimpse of what this wonderful world of music is all about, my vision of the marimba, along with the congas, the cajon, the drumset and all those beautiful instruments changed. I got a taste of their essence and I wanted more...

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In celebration of Vic Firth Company's 50th anniversary, we've spent an entire year celebrating Game-Changing Moments in drumming -- including yours! To everyone who shared a story with us this year, thank you! Drumming is a shared experience and we are all brothers and sisters! Your stories have inspired us to continue making the best sticks possible and to continue changing the game for drummers everywhere.


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