Advanced Search | Search A!:
Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

Artistic Reflections II Gives Young Percussionist a Chance to Perform

"I Enjoy Many Different Varieties of Art...None Can Have the Effect on People That Music Can."

By Alan Fey | January 28, 2008

As the son of two musicians, I have literally grown up listening to music. Even as a young pianist, I much preferred being the performer on stage, and I plan to make music performance my life's work.

I began studying piano at age seven and began percussion at 11, at the recommendation of my piano teacher. Keyboard percussion (marimba, xylophone, bells) came quite naturally to me as a pianist, though I still learned to play snare drum and timpani, as most beginning percussionists do. Though I kept up my piano throughout high school, I knew by my sophomore year that I wanted to study percussion in college. I was fortunate to have many chances to perform in college — both in ensembles and as a soloist. Through these opportunities, I realized that I wanted to dedicate my life (or at least a part of it!) to performing music for others.

I began focusing mostly on the marimba near the end of my undergraduate years for a few reasons. As I said before, it has always been easier because of my background in piano. I also believe the marimba is the most beautiful and versatile of percussion instruments: it can be a lyrical and gentle instrument as well as a driving and impressive instrument — it is sometimes compared to the organ! I still regularly play many other percussion instruments such as those found in the orchestra — timpani, tambourine, xylophone — and some less-traditional instruments such as the djembe, congas, and the bodhran. I also have continued playing the piano as an accompanist for a few voice students at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

One of the hardest parts of being a musician is getting the chance to perform. As a student, I was required to play in a certain number of ensembles — although I would have done it willingly — so I had many opportunities to perform through the school. However, now that I am a free-lance musician, I have only been asked to perform because of connections I already had. Including the Artistic Reflections II concert, I will be performing in three concerts this spring — all three of which came about through connections with my parents or my home church here in Bristol. It is hard to get opportunities to perform, even with so many connections.

I have often been asked the question "What's the most rewarding part of being a musician?" This is always an easy question for me! Being able to see the audience respond to a performance, whether with a smile, a tear, or even a laugh. If I can see that even one person has been affected by the music, I feel that all the practice and work I did leading up to that performance was worthwhile. I enjoy many different varieties of art, but I believe that none can have the effect on people that music can.

Alan Fey, 23, graduated magna cum laude in May 2007 from Belmont University with a Bachelor of Music in percussion performance. In the fall of 2008, he will pursue a Master's Degree in percussion performance. The son of Steve and Vicki Fey, directors of Music Ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Alan is a 2003 "graduate of distinction" of Tennessee High School, where he was drum captain of the Mighty Viking Band for two years. While in high school, Alan studied piano with Ann Holler of Bristol and percussion with Dr. Rande Sanderbeck of East Tennessee State University. Alan spent his junior college year at the Carl Maria von Weber Hochschule fur Musik in Dresden, Germany, where he studied with the timpanist of the Dresden Staatskapelle and played in the conservatory's orchestra.

Artistic Reflections II

Alan Fey, a young percussionist, will play a composition specifically written for him, on the marimba, during a concert/art program entitled Artistic Reflections II on Feb. 10.