Gustavo Agatiello

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Career Highlights
  • Vibraphone, piano, and drum set player
  • Performances with Herb Pomeroy, Yoron Israel, and Ed Saindon
  • Publications in Percussive Notes
  • Diploma, Berklee College of Music
In Their Own Words

"The first instrument I studied was my mom's classical piano; she was a music teacher. When I was 13, I started music school. I tried a few instruments, but decided I liked classical percussion. At 14, when I was about to start high school, I was very busy: I was a swimmer, did judo, took drawing lessons, did theatre and choir. Then my parents sat me down and told me that in high school my studies were going to require a lot more time, so I had to make some choices. At that point I said I wanted to concentrate on music."

"Growing up in Argentina after the dictatorship, there were not many resources in schools. I had some really good teachers, but music education was very sloppy. That turned out to be a positive, since I had to teach myself a lot of things I'd missed, espectially when I started teaching myself the vibraphone. That process has given me the sensitivity to see my students' missing links. I'm very sensitive to those things because they were in me at one point or another."

"The vibraphone is easy for a beginner; all we have to do is hit the bars to get the sound. The important thing is to get past the rudiments to make the instrument expressive. That's where the challenge is, and that's where many people stop. They rely on physicality—they try to get away with the visual aspect of playing."

"When you reach the point where things get difficult and you start to move slow, you can get frustrated. I tell students this is a process like anything else. I don't think anyone works as hard as musicians do. Practice is endless. So be patient, trust the process, and know that if you're true to the music, you'll do fine."

"Good music is made of very simple elements: expression, articulation, dynamics, and silence. Balancing all those things is important for any instrument, but particularly an instrument like the vibraphone. Playing an instrument is like having a conversation; when you don't have anything meaningful to say, you listen until you have something to enrich that conversation and make it worthwhile. To me music is always about that."