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Don't be afraid to make a terrible racket!
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Born in 1912, Viola had older sisters who formed the Smith Sisters Orchestra. The only instrument not already take was the drums. Viola didn't do too well with them at first, but learned quickly, and was soon playing jazz in her father's ballroom. In the 1920s, they traveled and performed all over, probably in Vaudeville type performances. As the group traveled, Viola talked to other drummers, and got all of the tips and tricks from them that she could. When her sisters got older and left the band, Viola found it hard to get gigs, because people didn't believe that women could be professional musicians, so she put together another band of all women, The Coquettes. The drum kit she used had twelve pieces, far bigger than the kits used by other drummers. The group became popular, and got a lot of publicity and accolades, and when World War II started, Viola wrote an article for a magazine outlining why women musicians should be able to step into roles previously held by men who were off fighting the war. Viola was one of the most acclaimed drummers of the twentieth century, and continued playing until her death in 2020. She opened musical doors for many women.

Good Points
Traveling performers of the early twentieth century are fascinating, and young readers today won't even know about Vaudeville, so it's great to have picture book biographies of pioneers in entertainment.

Like many picture book biographies, this has a one page explanation of more information about Smith's life, as well as a list of musical terms and further resources. It's too bad there isn't a photograph or two included, although I understand that copyright issues might make this difficult. This is a good overview, but it would be nice to have a more complete biography of this icon before too much time passes. My curiousity was certainly piqued after reading this.

The Fastest Drummer would be a great picture book to read to classes during Women's History Month, along with The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by Laura Veirs, The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell by Selina Alko, Me llamo Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz/la vida de Celia Cruz by Brown, and Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music by Engle. Just be prepared with a play list of the great songs that are available from these performers to really complete the experience!
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