Concluding this series of posts on the benefits of choosing more accessible performance and practice literature, I’ll take a moment to address the final payoff from this approach: preparation for successful lifelong music making. In my experience, encountering overtly challenging music outside of academic contexts is fairly rare. On the contrary, most performance opportunities for professional and semi-professional musicians rely on the ability of the performer to prepare a quantity of music in a relatively short time. Additionally, this music is often selected based on its appeal to the potential audience, rather than the specific interest of the performers. As a result, much of this performance literature is quite accessible, if not sight-readable. Many community chamber ensembles read as much as they rehearse and few professional musicians have more time to practice than they did during their college studies. Those who pursue music as a hobby rather than a career may practice even less, so the skills and experiences that aid in developing sight-reading comfort, allow for encounters with a large body of literature, and create habits to intuitively make musical decisions are those that provide the greatest likelihood of successful life-long music making.
As a final thought, it has always been my conviction that anything which allows an individual to make music in a way that is satisfying for both performer and audience and can be sustained as a life-long habit is a good thing. Moreover, music of any difficulty can be of some value to any performer. That being said, based on the benefits presented in this series of posts, my contention would be that practicing and performing more accessible literature, selected carefully at a student’s level, provides enough additional significant musical benefits to warrant priority over that which may be more difficult. For a time, that potentially means selecting repertoire that isn’t at the forefront of competition lists or featured on YouTube or Facebook pages. Thankfully though, the amount of quality, engaging, developmental percussion literature is far more extensive than even ten years ago and being added to by recognized composers for our instrument, providing extensive choices for percussionists to choose wisely in preparing themselves most effectively for continued successful music making.