Institute of Percussive Arts prepares high school students for college

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Angel Ulloa

The Institute of Percussive Arts is a program to help high school students interested in percussion arts.

Julia Hettiger, Staff Reporter

High school students in El Paso now have the opportunity to hone their percussion skills through a student-run program at UTEP.

The Institute of Percussive Arts, an initiative under UTEP and the mentorship of music professor Larry White, aims to help students expand their knowledge of percussion through ensemble performances and master classes.

Students who join the IPA learn extensive percussion ensemble literature in a small group setting. They also hear from guest speakers and attend eight weekly rehearsals to prepare for a recital.

“The intention of the Institute of Percussive Arts is really designed to give high school-aged students an opportunity to come to UTEP and learn from some of the best students who have come out from here as well as receive three master classes from prestigious music directors and highly acclaimed musically involved people in El Paso,” said Anthony Yrigoyen, founder and junior music major.

The program was started by UTEP students Yrigoyen, Matt Fernandez and Adrian Flores, who wanted to present percussion students with a program they may not have had access to before.

“Matt Fernandez inspired us all to come together and really inspire the students of El Paso to come out and challenge themselves to do something they would not normally have the opportunity to do at their high schools,” Yrigoyen said. “For him to come up to us at rehearsal one day and say ‘hey, you want to start this program,’ is pretty phenomenal.”

Fernandez said he was inspired to start the program because there weren’t many outlets for students to play in percussion ensembles outside of their own school.

“We wanted to provide a diverse source for the students to learn from as well as an outlet to meet and perform with other like-minded percussionists,” Fernandez said.

Percussion covers a range of instruments including drums, cymbals and xylophones and involves any instrument that is played by striking it.

The founders also serve as instructors for the students, helping them prepare for their recital and build teamwork and communication skills as well as work on other aspects of the IPA.

“We divide our time equally between the two ensembles we have and we all have a role in each other’s ensembles, where we share information,” Yrigoyen said. “We also do our own fundraising and are out in the field looking for sponsorship so that we can buy the kids t-shirts, and we can have water for them to drink when they come to rehearsal.”

Before getting into the program, students must audition.

“They come to UTEP, and they have to play either an all-region snare solo, as well as a mallet solo, and if not, some solo of their choosing,” Yrigoyen said. “We judge them based off their musicality and their accuracy, so that we can see if we really want that student to be in this ensemble, and if they can be successful around other students that are also working for the same goals.”

This is the first semester the program has been in action. Edgar Santellanes, a student at Del Valle High School and member of the IPA, said since the program is still relatively new, they have spent their time getting to know one another and rehearsing, and have received their first master class.

“The class was on ways to practice or how to practice efficiently, and getting as much as we can from a practice session,” Santellanes said.

The students in IPA are currently rehearsing for their upcoming recital on May 22 at the Fox Fine Arts Recital Hall. For more information about IPA, visit their website at intituteofpercussivearts.com.

“Our future with IPA is something we really look forward to,” Yrigoyen said.

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected]