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Can you imagine playing in front of a crowd of 26 million?
Eva Friedman is one of two snare drummers who accompanied Keala Settle from The Greatest Showman onstage at the Oscars in 2018. With 26 million people tuning in to the 90th annual Academy Awards, it was definitely a night to remember.
How does a drummer get a gig like this? Eva shares how she snagged the spot, what she did to prepare under pressure, and what it felt like being a part of the most viewed TV broadcasts in the United States.
The first phrase that comes to mind is “once in a lifetime”. My main focus aside from performing well was to be as present as I could and enjoy the moment. This was an opportunity that I never even considered popping up as an option for me, so I wanted to appreciate and enjoy the entire process.
The performance itself was a blast. Everyone on stage felt so grateful to be there and wanted to have fun giving the best performance we could. The following 24 hours were a bit of a blur. I had a little over 200 texts and calls from family and friends, as well as friends sending me very kind reactions from Twitter. I’m still so moved by the response we got, and I’m proud to have been a part of a moment that was able to touch so many people.
Day of, our call time was around lunch time. We did a full dress rehearsal of the entire show, and then waited in our holding area until it was time to line up to get on stage. We were the last of the five performances so there was a lot of downtime before we performed. There was a lot of energy in the room and I had fun getting to know everyone else.
I had heard from a few other drummers I know that they were submitting audition clips for the Oscars, and knew I had to throw my name out there. I asked for the contact information and for all of the audition requirements. I sent in a minute-long clip of myself improvising some marching band and rudimental stuff on snare drum, along with a few photos. The next day, I got the email that I had been selected.
We only had three rehearsals before showtime, so there was a lot of mental preparation and making sure I could spend those rehearsals being locked in and focused. In hindsight it was a bit excessive, but I didn’t listen to any music other than “This Is Me” for the entire week. On my own, I ran through the piece over and over again as well as solos 1-4 from Charley Wilcoxon’s 150 Rudimental Solos to make sure my hands stayed loose.
The biggest challenge for me was getting the choreography down quickly. Because there was so little rehearsal time, there wasn’t time to not hit a mark or be unclear about where I was heading when. I hadn’t done anything like that since marching band in high school, so I definitely felt a bit out of my element.
Knowing that it was being televised live also added some nerves. I tried really hard not to think about the magnitude of the moment and only think about the people in the room who would be watching.
It’s hard to narrow it down to a specific moment, but the performance itself was a moment I’ll never forget. Knowing what “This Is Me” is about, it felt very empowering sharing the stage with so many talented people and using our time to say something that resonated with so many watching.
Born in New Jersey but now living in LA, Eva Friedman covers the spectrum of drumming styles from marching, jazz, and fusion to pop, rock, and everything in between. Studying under renowned instructor Fred Dinkins, Eva has served as a sought after studio and live drummer for multiple artists including BABERS, Shayna Adler, and Tom Sless and the California Dream, as well as for her own project Staircase Spirits. On top of her Oscars performance, Eva can also be seen playing alongside Ringo Starr and others in XQ’s “Come Together” music video.
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