The three Archuleta brothers — Will, Ellis and Bennett — all think alike when it comes to choosing musical instruments: percussion!
Will, who is a second-semester sophomore at University of North Texas, auditioned to be accepted into his school's piano program when he was a fifth grader in Austin, Texas.
His musical background included five years with piano and one year with guitar before he literally plunged into percussion.
Ellis, a freshman at Delta High School, began playing percussion in sixth grade in Austin. He entered the program with knowledge about percussion instruments because of watching Will's performances and enthusiasm for the instruments.
Bennett is a sixth grader at Delta Middle School and a beginner in percussion.
Will took weekly lessons from Trevor Detling, who directs the percussion department at St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, beginning in eighth grade and going through his senior year at McCallum High School, Austin's fine arts academy. Mr. Detling continues to mentor Will.
Ellis took weekly lessons from Mr. Detling, beginning in fifth grade. When, for some reason, Will or Ellis couldn't attend their lessons, Bennett would go for the lesson. Now, although they live in Delta, Ellis and Bennett still take lessons with Mr. Detling — through Skype and webcam.
Mr. Detling is considered a cool guy by the Archuleta brothers. In addition to teaching percussion instruments, he owns and runs ThunderDrums, a performance, publishing and studio enterprise. He publishes the study books that Ellis and Bennett are currently using. Mr. Detling will be playing at the Sundance Festival this year with a band.
The curriculum Ellis and Bennett are currently pursuing is marimba, drum set and snare drum.
In addition to private lessons twice a week, Will's curriculum as a performance professional major at University of North Texas includes marimba, vibraphone, drum set, snare and timpani. He plays in a number of ensembles and orchestras, and concert percussion ensembles where he plays percussion and sometimes piano. He participates in large lab bands and in the symphonic school band, where he has a lot of fun, especially with scores like Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. "Very cool piece," Will says.
Will's curriculum also includes Afro-Cuban music and steel bands. He participates in the Performing Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), which convenes annually. Held in Austin in 2012, it will be held in Indianapolis this year. The experience there will include music and instruments from Africa, North and South India, and Gamelon handcrafted wood instruments that originated in Bali and are hit with a hammer.
There is always one "car parts symphony" per session with instruments consisting of pie tins, eggbeaters, washboards, big metal tubs, pans, spoons — anything from the kitchen. "You always have to be ready to play whatever is called for," Will said.
Will plays percussion instruments at all the high levels any band or orchestral setting requires. He "dabbles" in piano and transcribes music for the required instrument.
Ellis plays marimba, snare drum set, most of cymbals, timpani, tambourine, vibraphone, xylophone and bell kit (glockenspiel).
Bennett is learning snare drum, drum kit and aspires to play the bell kit.
The Brothers Archuleta also sing. They sang in the children's choir at University Presbyterian Church in Austin, and Will helped direct the choir.
Ellis sings in the choir and as an occasional soloist at Presbyterian Church of Delta. He also led the singing at Crossroads Assisted Living center when the church members visited the residents with a caroling program. Bennett distributed the music, making sure that each resident had access to the carols.
In the summer of 2011 before he entered college in Texas, Will helped his mother, Alisa Secrest, and Ellis and Bennett move to Delta where Rev. Secrest had accepted the position of pastor of Presbyterian Church of Delta. Rev. Secrest's husband Larry remained in Austin to prepare and sell the family home.
The brothers' dad, Michael Archuleta, also lives in Austin.
Will spent the summer of 2012 in Delta and played a marimba concert at Chapel of the Cross in July. He also served as clinician for Delta High School's drum line last summer.
Will has performed professionally for several years. He frequently enters competitions and was semi-finalist, and the youngest entrant, in a competition in Southern California last summer. He performs a lot in the Denton area, around University of North Texas. He is often hired on a temporary basis to play with orchestras. "I hope to continue doing more performances this semester and next," Will said.
After completing his undergraduate work, Will plans to go to graduate school at Boston Conservatory, Eastman School of Music in New York or Northwestern in Chicago. After graduate school he plans to teach until performing takes off.
At Delta High School, Ellis is in the marching band, concert band and show choir. Will pointed out that Delta High School Marching Band placed fifth in the 2A competition this year.
Bennett plays snare drum in the Delta Middle School concert band.
When asked what drew the three of them to percussion instruments, Bennett immediately replied, "I like hitting stuff."
Will said, "During my sophomore year in high school my interest in percussion instruments went from a hobby to a passion. I have loved it ever since. Marimba is my favorite."
"Will is my role model," Ellis said. "I have observed him in performances, in competition, and he inspires me to get better. Also, I love the sound of the instruments."
Bennett added, "I feel the same as Ellis ... but I still like hitting stuff."
Bennett and Ellis attended the Inside Out Steel Band Camp in Austin in the summer of 2010. The camp was lead by an adult professional. Many students attended along with several adults.
Ellis and Bennett reflected on having their big brother home for the Christmas/New Year holiday. Bennett said, "Awesome!" Ellis added, "It's really nice to have Will here." Will was really enjoying the break also but looking forward to getting back to school.blog comments powered by Disqus