For this, my next instalment on basic ensemble training knowledge I would like to share some thoughts and resources regarding the development of our percussionists. And yes, posture and hand position play an important role in percussion performance, so once you have the templates clearly established, be prepared to remind your percussionists 70 X 7!
So often in our rehearsals our percussion sections get left out, either through ours, or our percussionist’s mis-understanding, lack of confidence, lack of specific knowledge/role models, or the fact that they are simply isolated by too great a distance from our podium. Sometimes we fail to understand how to employ the sequential and systematic learning approaches found in our method books, or lack proper materials, or instruments, to prepare our students to meet the challenges in our performance repertoire.
What other section in our ensemble is presented with so many performance challenges? Physical distance between unlike instruments, the need to develop individual/group organisation skills, the ability to master performance technique for so many different kinds of instruments, and the list goes on.
And do we actually know the different percussive sounds our individual scores demand? Can we describe them? Do we actually know what kind of sound the composer wishes to hear at a particular point in the score for each instrument? Can we articulate it? Can we demonstrate the sound for which we desire?
Sometimes we have to admit that we just don’t know enough…yet. Once again, 'we don’t know what we don’t know’! But, we need to know! Do we know where to find the answers, and is this important? However, it is a plain fact that the success of our bands and orchestras lie in the effectiveness of our percussionists to possess the techniques, reading skills and passion to cover and musically meet the challenges of modern ensemble repertoire. If we are fortunately endowed with a fine percussionist tutor/staff, we still need to reinforce their teaching and direction. And we still need to be able to articulate that special sound we wish our percussionists to produce.
Another important point for consideration is the need for we musical directors to be able to build and encourage our percussion sections to become vibrant communities of shared challenges, learning journeys and ultimate joy of being a part of an important group of musicians within our ensemble.
For the developing of an effective and engaged percussion section, it is essential that we hold in our repertoire of teaching strategies, the accurate physical and aural templates for percussion. To this end I have chosen several video demonstrations and written articles covering what I consider to be the most important fundamentals of percussion performance.
This next portion of my presentation for beginning and training knowledge acquisition, and development provides you with both written and video resources for percussion instruments technique. These resources specifically explain and demonstrate posture, hand position, stick/mallet angles, and proper sound production. Also provided within this section are several approaches and specific exercises for introducing developing basic technique.
Percussion Basics Websites:
Vic Firth Percussion 101 – This is an absolutely fabulous video site covering almost every aspect of percussive techniques and individual instrument description, including: selecting mallets, sticks and beaters and suitable instruments as well as practical maintenance tips, such as replacing heads, snares and simple repairs.
The site also presents descriptive techniques and demonstrations that cover the major points of snare drum, bass drum, timpani, tom tom, cymbals - both suspended and crash, and triangle performance. Also included is an excellent series of videos demonstrating most of the basic Latin and auxiliary percussion performance techniques. This is an incredibly comprehensive resource and I highly recommend it for broadening your knowledge of this absolutely essential and often little appreciated or understood section. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=vic+firth+percussion+101
Here are further resources:
Snare drum technique:
- The following site is impressive, as it features a young student teaching basic snare drum rudiments! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj2AgAs-3gQ&feature=related
Mallet performance sites:
In my next post I am hoping to share some thoughts on the importance of getting the breathing concepts we share with our wind students unified and maybe less contradictory. After all it is a topic fraught with difficulty, and there are many diverse philosophies swirling around this important issue...
By the way, just as a reminder, I have added several new articles for your consideration in my "Publications and Articles" section. However, you will need to obtain a password to access the section. Please contact me.
I hope that you may find all of my resources useful!
Thank you once again for reading!