As a curious boy, Dr. Michael Ptacin ventured into his Middle School’s band room. Intrigued, he picked up a snare drum and began to play. Before he knew it, he was spending hours after school with his band instructor practicing his new-found hobby. Soon, this hobby morphed into a passion. Little did Dr. Ptacin know that walking into that room one day would eventually spark a career in percussion.
This school year, Greenhill welcomed new Percussion Director Dr. Ptacin into the Fine Arts department as a part-time employee.
Dr. Ptacin’s percussion career began in sixth grade with him learning how to play the snare drum. Soon after, his instrument was stolen. Following the incident, his band instructor introduced him to other percussion instruments such as the bells and xylophone. He then began to play the marimba, which became his favorite of all the percussion instruments due to its melodic resonance and similarity to the piano. These unexpected circumstances offered Dr. Ptacin a broader perspective on the variety of instruments available in percussion.
“Having my snare drum stolen actually allowed me to play other instruments and expand my horizons,” said Dr. Ptacin. “Sometimes, we don’t have control over what happens.”
The percussion students said that Dr. Ptacin has become a beneficial member of the Greenhill Fine Arts community by helping them enhance their technique and skills.
“His approach is very proactive, we have already started our percussion ensemble pieces a lot earlier than we would have before. He is also picking a harder repertoire and challenging us rather than selecting music that he thinks is at our level,” said senior Nikita Jindal, a percussionist.
Attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and becoming a Doctor of Musical Arts allowed Dr. Ptacin to form some of the best memories of his life.
“I enjoyed the marching side of music. I competed with a drum corps for five years. You get to travel around the country spending your summer on the road with different people playing in different environments,” said Dr. Ptacin.
Dr. Ptacin almost switched out of his major in percussion performance during his undergraduate years at UNC Greensboro, but after he played one piece, Maslanka’s Fourth symphony, he said he was convinced to stick with this major.
“I fell in love with the piece,” he said. “[Playing] it was such an amazing experience. I can’t explain what it was, but that’s the power of music. After that, I decided to continue in music.”
In addition to teaching the Upper School Percussion class, Dr. Ptacin teaches private lessons and serves as an extra member of the Dallas Wind Symphony. He is a substitute at rehearsals and occasionally performs at the concerts. According to his blog, Dr. Ptacin first heard of the Dallas Wind Symphony in his undergrad and has admired them since.
On November 14, Dr. Ptacin performed at the Myerson with the Dallas Winds symphony playing David Maslanka’s Fourth Symphony, Maslanka was the same musician that convinced him to pursue his career in music.
Photo by Sonali Notani
Originally published in the December 2017 print issue