Charlie Daugherty is a percussionist and educator based in Murfreesboro, Tenn. She has taken the stage in many capacities including at PASIC, solo and chamber competitions, local gigging, studio recording sessions, and world-class WGI and DCI groups. Charlie is an active teacher in the concert percussion and marching arts scenes in the Central Tennessee area. She has worked with various high school concert percussion groups as well as their WGI and BOA groups. She is the front ensemble coordinator for Audio Theater (WGI), and is a percussion staff member at Music City Drum Corps for the 2022 season. Charlie holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Kent State University, and is a graduate student and teaching assistant at Middle Tennessee State University.
R!S: How do you find new pieces that you are interested in playing? What factors do you consider when seeking out and/or choosing new solo or chamber repertoire?
Charlie Daugherty: Media is the easiest and most accessible way. I follow many percussionists on social media, and I keep up with plenty of YouTube accounts. I have a lot of friends who are out of state, and it’s good to see them posting videos of what they’re playing. I think we’ve all sat down and spent (probably too much) time on YouTube watching pieces that provide some inspiration, but I truly think this is the best way. Seeing percussionists perform live is also a way that I find new pieces and inspiration. Every year at PASIC, on my drive home, I’m listening to the pieces that I heard and that I’d like to play. Whenever I decide on a piece, I usually talk about it with my professors to get their take on it. Dr. Mueller and I often have discussions about future rep. We talk a lot about things I need to do versus the things that I want to do. Everyone should play a Bach, a Stout, a Sammut, a Bobo, etc., and then maybe I’ll want to add in a little something outside of the standards, so I’ll navigate a timeline for when and how it will all work with what time I have. There is a lot of planning for me when it comes to rep, and I am careful with making sure I will see success because of the number of other responsibilities I have in my life.
R!S: What do you find changes about the way you play a piece as you “live” with it for a while? Do you typically perform a piece once or multiple times?
CD: As I live with a piece for a while, I find details that I may not have picked up on before, and it’s always so exciting when I hear a new thing within the music for the first time. My favorite experience of this is with one of the Bach cello suites. I’ve had that piece in my hands for years now, and even still I will find new inner voices or motives that I didn’t notice before. I typically perform a piece several times in both informal and formal environments. If I am preparing a piece for a specific competition, concert, or performance, I will always try to play it for my peers as much as I can or get a recording of it to keep for future purposes.
R!S: How involved and in what ways is your instructor involved in your repertoire selection?
CD: During my undergraduate playing experience, Dr. Holm would often make suggestions or give me options to choose from. As I progressed through the repertoire and as my ability increased, we transitioned to me choosing my own rep with his approval. As a grad student, I choose all of my own repertoire by myself. However, I’m always interested in having discussions with my professors. Because of my respect for my teachers, I always want their opinions on the piece itself and their thoughts on whether the piece I’ve chosen is going to be a good fit for me or the percussion studio. As I mentioned before, a lot of planning goes into this. Having that mentor there to help push you while making sure you’re staying realistic is something I value very much.
R!S: Do you finish every piece that you start to learn? If not, why not? If a piece seems like a poor fit or you struggle unusually with a piece, how do you proceed? Do you “bail” on the selection or what changes do you make to allow yourself to complete it?
CD: When it comes to “bailing” on a piece, a lot of factors aren’t necessarily musical. I have bailed on chamber pieces due to issues such as facility reservation, scheduling conflicts between performers, and, of course, COVID restrictions. When it comes to solo works, I can’t recall a time where I bailed completely on a piece. However, I have bailed on certain movements within a solo to fit time limitations for auditions or competitions. There have been times where I’ve become frustrated or felt disconnected from a piece for a while, and I have wanted to bail on it. This is rarely a physical or “hands” issue; this frustration is a mental issue. I have always been the type of person to follow through and live my life with intention, so even when I feel like throwing in the towel on a piece, I don’t. First, I have to remember the reason and the moment when I said, “Heck yeah, I’m gonna do that.” Some things I do to make it happen include taking time for mental repetitions, extensive listening to various recordings, visualization, finding new practice techniques, or just taking a break from it for a while to work on something that feeds my soul for a little bit. Usually when I do that last method, I come back way stronger and refreshed.
R!S: What is one particularly favorite piece of repertoire you’ve performed and why?
CD: My favorite solo piece I’ve ever played was “Caritas” by Michael Burritt. This was nearly four years ago, and I am a much better player now than I was then. However, that piece is what made me fall in love with the marimba. I have many fond memories of playing the second movement in our recital hall and experimenting with depth, warmth, and phrasing in the rolls of that movement. After I performed that piece, I felt that I was ready for the next step of repertoire, and I had a greater understanding and appreciation for the intricate beauty of the instrument and the art form that we live in.