Slate Magazine by Ellen McSweeney – 12/12/17
@Percussion Podcast – 6/29/17
How to Beat Perfectionism – 6/22/17
Inflection Point Radio Podcast – 6/14/17
Folks Magazine – January 5, 2017
Philadelphia Inquirer–2016 Best classical music book. She practiced her music so much that she hallucinated flies on her instruments. And was proud. So it is in Sticking it Out, a tragic-hilarious memoir by San Francisco-based percussionist Patti Niemi about the cost of being a musician.
NPR’s Fresh Air – July 14, 2016
Phildelphia Inquirer – June 26, 2016
“One of the funniest-ever classical-music books . . . and certainly among the best written.”
San Francisco Chronicle – May 28, 2016
Nerds On Tour – April 14, 2016
“A shattered-mirror insight into the bizarre world of hitting things with sticks.” — Neil Peart, bestselling author, lyricist and drummer for Rush
Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews–March 28, 2016 In this absorbing memoir, Niemi, a longtime percussionist with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, shines a spotlight on the musicians at the back of the orchestra with their drums, xylophones, marimbas, triangles, and bells, and recounts what it took for her to join their ranks. Niemi’s interest in playing the drums began during childhood, and by the time she finished high school in 1983, her determination to master any instrument she could “shake or smack” brought her to the ultra-competitive environment of the Juilliard School. There, she wryly notes, the message she and other students received was “You are what you do…. Now go practice.” Niemi was already an anxious individual, and her quest for musical perfection soon triggered panic attacks and turned her into “a walking piece of anxiety-filled meat.” After a teacher repeatedly sexually harassed her, her stress became almost unbearable. Niemi explains how she overcoming these hurdles and shares her hard-won insights with a mix of candor and self-deprecating humor. Not surprisingly, readers will find that her story goes over with a bang.
“Through her keen, unflinching eye, the book is fantastically blunt, almost clinical and peppered with enough humor to keep it realistic . . . Niemi gives us a look into a world not often talked about — the cutthroat, competitive world of becoming a professional classical musician.” —No Recess! Magazine
San Jose Mercury News–5/9/16 As a young musician, Patti Niemi decided to become a percussionist, entering what is possibly the most male-dominated section of the orchestra world. In her revealing memoir, Niemi — a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra since 1992 — details her journey from early training to professional achievement. It’s an eye-opening tale of demanding teachers, grueling practice schedules, severe performance anxiety and bias against “girl drummers” — a funny, poignant first-person account of the fierce commitment it takes to succeed in classical music.
“By turns reflective and dramatic, poignant and hilarious, Sticking It Out offers an irresistible portrait of the artist as a young percussionist. In deft and swiftly drawn narrative strokes, Patti Niemi charts the formation of a career in music — the endless hours in the practice room, the stomach-churning anxiety of auditions, the blend of competitiveness and camaraderie that shapes relations among up-and-coming musicians — and she does it with wit and personality to burn. She’s as adept at writing as she is at standing in a corner and banging on things.” — Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
“Sharp like a flam, resonant like the end of a roll, Sticking It Out is everything you want a music memoir to be . . . funny, honest, and memorable.” — Kevin Smokler, author of Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School
“Patti Niemi’s oft-hilarious memoir shatters images of percussionists as fearless aggressors who drive and pound their way through life. Instead, it presents the image of an emerging artist pounded by fear and insecurity. As she tells her tale with disarming candor, Niemi opens the door on the mental and artistic challenges facing all aspiring classical musicians in an era of shrinking avenues for professional practice. After she takes us through the wringer, as it were, she enables us to breathe a huge sigh of relief, if not make a joyful racket, as she lands her gig with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Brava!” — Jason Victor Serinus, journalist, Opera News, San Francisco Classical Voice