Michael Pettingale


Green Army Patrol (Snare, Quads and “Toys”), Trash Can Trio, Jambalaya Jazz Band

MIKE’S Experience Working at “The Park”:

Working and performing at the Disneyland Resort has taught me many positive things that I have taken into my personal life. Let’s start with learning to adjust, adapt and be prepared for anything. Atmosphere entertainment is a bit different than performing on an indoor stage. You are often performing outdoors in areas where there is no stage, so you are constantly adjusting to things like weather conditions, changing show locations, the proximity of the crowd and its size. I also learned to never come into work expecting that your day is going to be the same as the day before. Depending on who you are working with that day, you may have to switch to a different part, so you better be prepared to adjust your mindset and jump into a different part than you’re used to playing. Another thing I learned was how to adjust my playing technique to avoid muscle fatigue. In the Trash Can Trio and Green Army Patrol show, for example, we weren’t always playing on a surface that matched the type of rebound you would expect from a tuned drum. The consistency of the playing surface of the instrument can change over time due to warm weather, over-usage, and other factors. Finding different ways to modify and adjust my technique helped me to continue performing without my chops getting “stripped”, and continue to match the sound of the other drummers performing with me. My ability to improvise and listen is another skill that improved while working at Disneyland. The first time I played with the Jambalaya Jazz was without a rehearsal since they needed someone to play bass drum at the last minute. The band leader said don’t worry about having to learn the music beforehand, and said I can learn it that day. I went nervously into that first day with an open mind. Thanks to the wise tutelage of Mr. Matt Matson, I learned the show without any music after a few sets. By the end of the day, my listening of his playing was so locked-in that I was able to predict what he was going to play next. That was the first time I could ever remember having that connection with another musician. Another thing I learned is how to take criticism, and see it as just feedback and nothing more than that. As a musician, performer, and human being in general, it’s easy to take oneself too seriously. Everyone has their triggers, and if we’re not aware of them we can take criticism personally. I’ve learned that whether I think I’m right or wrong about a mistake that I may or may not have made, it’s important to listen to the person giving the feedback whether it be a lead, stage manager, maintenance choreographer, or a fellow musician. I’ve learned to be generous with my listening, get clarity on what they’re saying without judgement, and respond by looking at how it can improve my next show. Lastly, the biggest thing I learned is to find a way to have fun no matter what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold outside, it doesn’t matter if you are physically tired, it doesn’t matter if you are dealing with personal issues outside of work, your feelings about the people you’re playing with don’t matter, and it doesn’t matter if you played the same show for the one-hundredth time. It also doesn’t matter how accomplished you are as a musician. You are expected to smile, come out of your shell, engage with the audience, and entertain at a high level. The guests are not there to revel in your musicianship. They are there to be entertained and have fun!


What I Have Learned From MIKE:

I love that Mike’s drumming and listening experiences are so vast and different from my own.  Besides having a solid marching percussion background, Mike has gone deep down the Brazilian music rabbit hole, and is an incredible percussionist.  Check out these YouTube links to check out some of the Brazilian recordings Mike has turned me on to: Baden Powell, Airto Moreira.  But I think what I appreciate about Mike the most is his judgment free conversation and advice.  There are very few people on this planet that I can open up to completely without fearing ridicule or judgment.  Mike is one of those guys, and by example has challenged me to try to be less judgmental and a better listener to others.

Check Out Mike at the Park:

Green Army