Program Notes

Musings at the Coffee Shop is an intermediate to advanced solo for snare drum and coffee mug. Yes, you read that correctly. This crowd-pleaser emulates the low hum-and-tinkle soundscape of the wee morning hours in a coffee shop and requires a bit of play-acting from the performer.


Honestly, I hate coffee. I know, I know; few understand my revulsion to the substance. Many of my family, friends, and colleagues insist they need that powerful jolt of caffeine to really get started with their day, and that transition from bleary-eyed to bright-eyed is what this piece is all about.


In the first movement, the player comes onto the stage and groggily approaches the snare drum, but turns to the audience and says, “Not until I’ve had my coffee.” Then, they proceed to make a pot of coffee onstage. While the coffee brews, the performer plays the first movement. The movement ends a bit sluggishly, and so the performer pours and drinks a cup of coffee. Newly energized, they begin the second movement with newfound vigor… until they once again run out of steam. They take a few last swigs of coffee, toss the mug offstage, and end the piece with an energetic roll and rim shot.


Of course, players have many options for performing this piece. Though the title is Musings at a Coffee Shop, if you don’t drink coffee, it’s perfectly fine to substitute tea or hot chocolate—frankly, it’s what I would do. The size and shape of the drinking mug, and the amount of liquid that is actually consumed onstage is up to the player as well, though I recommend plastic or another sturdy material, since the mug is flung bodily offstage.

Performance Notes

Regardless of what drink you make, it is not advisable to try and drink a whole cup of hot liquid all at once. If you can not "chug" a cup of coffee in one go, I would suggest pouring only a few sips into your cup with your back turned to the audience.