Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

Percussionist Justin Moon has performed with the Orchestra at Temple Square since 1999.

Inside the Orchestra at Temple Square: Percussionist Justin Moon

Here’s a peek inside the Orchestra at Temple Square through the eyes of one of its talented percussionists, Justin Moon, who has been a member of the Orchestra since it was established in 1999.

Why did you choose to be a percussionist?

I followed my older brother into percussion, and my dad’s response to him when  he chose percussion was, “Can’t you play something musical?” But lucky for my brother and me, my dad went along with it long enough for us to both get hooked. In spite of “not being musical,” I think the music just isn’t quite the same without our section.

What is like to play percussion instruments? 

The percussion life is grand. If you summed up percussion in four words, it would probably boil down to “hit things with sticks.” But there is so much more to it than that. We may not have to deal with tuning (except timpani), embouchure, finger positions, or breathing, but there are still many different techniques for something that seems as simple as “hit it with a stick.” For example, things get much more complex when the job is to hold four sticks in your hands at once and hit four different notes. Or consider playing eight different instruments in one song, each with its own unique stick, mallet, beater, and technique.

Percussionists don’t usually play in every measure of the music. How do you know when to come in?

A large part of the job is knowing how to count and coming up with all kinds of mental tricks to keep your count. There’s a knack to knowing exactly where you are in that 107 measures of rest before your big entrance. During rehearsals I spend most of the time building a mental index of cues to listen for so I don’t have to count ALL of those 107 measures and can correct my count when I get off. I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing where the 12th measure of a 16-bar phrase is. That gives me just enough time to get ready for my next note.

As a member of the Orchestra of Temple Square, what do you enjoy the most?

For me, some of the best parts of being in this organization are when I’m not playing. I’ve always felt the percussion section is the best seat in the house. In many of my still moments, the music of the Choir and Orchestra becomes a rich wave of sound washing over me and often stirs my heart in gratitude and love. I distinctly remember several times where the force of the testimony carried in the music of the Choir and Orchestra held me captive until the song was over. I am deeply honored and grateful for the chance to perform with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra  at Temple Square.