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But his music lives on, through his recordings with the Dallas Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, dozens of publications, and, most importantly, students who continue to share his methods and character with students of their own.
He was also a huge fan of drumset legend Gene Krupa. At the bottom of the box was a very yellowed envelope. Peters, Mitch was telling me that you would like to have a report on his progress. I am happy to state that Mitch is perhaps the finest student I have had to date. He seems to have no trouble at all grasping the material and comes back with it worked down as well as I can play it myself in many cases.
He shows marked aptitude for music and drumming, and although I have no idea how he performs, he does wonderfully on the lesson material. Given experience, he is going to be a very good drummer some day, and I would heartily recommend his following music as I believe with his talent and interest, he will be able to do well in the music business; it is a tough business, but there is room for a few to make a good living out of it on the top.
Sincerely yours, Bob Bass. While still an undergraduate, Peters joined a groundbreaking percussion ensemble: the Marimba Masters.
Although Godfrey offered them an engagement in Las Vegas, all the players agreed to stay in school, so additional fame would have to wait a few more years. In the spring of , the Marimba Masters recorded their only, eponymous LP record.
The recording featured popular and classical music, along with an expanded percussion section of bongos, maracas, and other percussion instruments.
He was so young—and that smile! It was so wonderful to watch. Beck, Professor Emeritus of Percussion at Eastman. Mitch was always there with the smile and the talent to take care of business. He will be missed, but never forgotten. Army Symphony Orchestra, which was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany. When it was over, the other players in the symphony gave him a standing ovation!
He served as principal percussionist in the DSO for eight seasons — When he went to print his first book, he had to order a minimum number. The local drum shop asked if they could sell the extra copies, and they sold out. In , Peters moved his family to California when he joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra as a section percussionist. Four years later, he became the co-principal, a position he held for another nine years.
During his time with the L. When conductors returned and repeated repertoire, rarely did they have anything but thumbs-up for Mitch! He was a joy to work with, cooperative rather than ambitious.
He always put successful musical performances ahead of anything else. They taught me how to play cribbage! Meeting all the musicians and conductors was a lot of fun. I still get chills every time I listen to that. I learned so much from studying his recorded performance with Bernstein and the L. Phil, that I always think of him whenever I play the piece.
Mitch was truly one of the great percussionists and gentlemen of our time. In , he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sabian cymbal company.
That same year, after 37 seasons with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as both a percussionist and timpanist, Mitch Peters retired from the daily rigors of being an orchestral musician, but he continued to teach—and to play. The next morning at a. I told him it was two pages of quarter notes played on a piece of pipe with two ballpeen hammers, and that he could sight-read it.
He even went so far as to say that if all jobs were like that, he might not have retired from playing so early. Peters also wrote two volumes of Stick Control for the Drum Set. The etudes from his snare drum books have been performed thousands of times in auditions and recitals by high school and college students. Even the simplest pieces offer opportunities for phrasing and thoughtful playing. His etude books progress naturally and in a way that is challenging enough to be satisfying, without being frustrating.
One such student was Ruth Komanoff Underwood, a retired professional percussionist who gained national attention as a mallet percussionist with Frank Zappa. Someone who was outrageous as a classical player, but yet refined and musical in the so-called wild genres.
He was not judgmental, regardless of the genre, but helped you achieve your musical goals. I only had eight lessons with him, but he made a profound impression on me. His first college position was at California State University-Los Angeles in where he taught for 15 years.
Peters began teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles in the early s and spent almost three decades there until he retired in He had such a strong work ethic and set high standards for himself and his students.
Even though he was unassuming and humble, he was able to get amazing results from his students. Former students and colleagues gathered to speak about him and play his music. Twenty-three former students and colleagues filled the stage with a moving rendition of the popular etude. His family—daughter Michelle and her husband, Harley Feinstein, son Mitchell Peters II and his wife Lauren, and three grandchildren and one great-granddaughter—were in attendance.
Mitch was dedicated to excellence. He excelled as a timpanist, percussionist, composer, and teacher. His legacy of percussion music and educational methods will contribute to provide inspiration and challenge to percussionists for generations to come. Anyone interested in making a contribution can contact Valentina Martinez, Associate Director of Development, at or visit giveto. He has left a legacy that is an inspiration and an example for future generations of percussionists.
He was a true gentleman, musically and in life. For me to have had the opportunity to be first a student, and then, as the years passed, a colleague and friend, has been a remarkable blessing in my life. I know this generosity of spirit—the essence of Mitch Peters—will live on in his wonderful compositions, his students, and the professionals he inspired. Hall of Fame Video.
Mitchell Peters Elementary Snare Drum Studies