Calgary Drummer, Percussionist, Composer, Educator...

Home Teachers
Band Teacher's Corner - Preparing for Festival

Percussion Preparation for Festivals and Concerts

Festivals and concerts take a lot of preparation musically and logistically.  For the percussion section, there are many pieces of equipment shared amongst percussionists including auxiliary toys, mallets, cymbals and beaters.

First, create a master instrument list. Remember to include the stands, beaters or mallets for each instrument, as well as towels to create trap stands to put instruments and mallets on. Here is a general list of suggestions that will help you to remember what to bring.

  • Mallet Bag with xylophone, bell, tympani, bass drum and suspended cymbal mallets, as well as several sets of sticks for snare drum. Bring several options for mallets as the concert hall may require a specific hardness or softness of mallet for desired articulation. Mallets provide staccato and legato articulations for many instruments and help to create dynamics
  • Snare drum and concert height snare drum stand (for standing to play) or seated height stand (for drum set)
  • Bass drum, bass drum stand, beaters of several articulation possibilities (some halls require different beaters harder or softer for best articulation) and a chair or stool for resting the foot on (to use the knee for dampening) if required
  • Auxiliary instruments. Most common:
    • Triangle, triangle clip and beaters
    • Tambourine
    • Suspended cymbal, suspended cymbal stand with plastic sleeve (protects the cymbal from metal on metal stress fractures), felts and wing nut, suspended cymbal mallets
    • Hand towels to create auxiliary instrument stations
    • All other instruments as needed which may include claves, vibraslap, bongos, congas and conga stand, toms with tom stand
  • Drum set: include all hardware including cymbal stands, hi hat stand and hi hat clutch (with felts), bass drum pedal, drum throne (seat), tom mounts, tom legs (for floor tom, if applicable), cymbals, seated height snare drum stand, toms and snare drum
  • Music!!  Because percussionists often share music, ensure you have an extra set of percussion music with you, and remind them to bring their music

CLICK HERE to download a PDF of common percussion instruments as a checlist for you.


Other Considerations

If equipment is provided at the festival, it is still expected that you will bring all mallets and sticks, a snare drum and stand, and auxiliary instruments. Ensure that the tympanist has time to tune the tympani, as there are many different challenges with playing on different typmani including the tuning notes on the tympani, tuning mechanisms, and tuning guages (which may or may not function or be properly calibrated).

Give your mallet players an opportunity to warm up on borrowed xylophones, vibraphones, tubular bells and marimbas, as there different designs, types of bars (graduated bars which start small on low end and get fatter towards low end, or ungraduated bars which are all the same) as well as different instrument ranges (from 2 octaves to 5 octaves, with different bottom notes).  Help them to feel organized, and ensure they are ready to go before you start!  See my article "creating a percussion success story" for more strategies for your section.

I hope this guide was helpful to you! If you have specific questions,  you can contact Celene by clicking here for advice or to book a consultation.