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Band Teacher's Corner: Percussion Introduction

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Percussion Introduction

Where to Begin

Not sure where to start yourself or your students? Need some basics?

Snare Drum 101:
1) PAS 40 Essential Rudiments. Rudiments001.pdf Rudiments002.pdf

-- The most important rudiment a percussionist will ever learn is single strokes, even stroke heights.  This will be used on EVERY INSTRUMENT they will ever play.  Never underestimate the power of control with this one rudiment!

For more information on my approach to teaching the rudiments in order, CLICK HERE for my suggestions.

Go to Teacher's Resources for more book suggestions.

- Play the instrument in the center of the bar. On the flat/sharp bars you may hit close to the edge of the bar when playing fast passages on Xylophone, Marimba and Vibraphone. Try not to play on the node/string/bolt.  The sound is poor.

- Rolls on mallet instruments (and Tympani) are single strokes

- Roll on two notes at once by alternating stickings, single strokes

- Use examples in C Major so they can learn to understand how the instrument works. Start everything in C, with a great understanding of whole and half steps, each bar on the instrument is a half step, and they will get it. Add flats and sharps too soon, and you will see their eyes glaze over (and may never see them on the instrument again!).

- Select mallets based on musical needs and instrument type.

- Bells/Orchestra Bells/Glock/Glockenspeil are all synonymous. Mallets that work best are hard poly or plastic, or brass

- Xylophone/Xylo - wooden or imitation wood instrument. Mallet selections range for this instrument depending on purpose.  Hard mallets are great so the instrument is heard. Yarn wound or cord wound mallets soften the sound, but the hardness of the mallet is determined by what is on the inside.  Some may be hard at the core, some may be soft. NO BRASS mallets, or the bars will get wrecked.  If the Xylo is natural wood, do not go too hard with the mallets. Stick with a medium plastic to prevent damage.

- Marimba/Mar - Marimbas are larger than a xylophone. If you have a piece that calls for it but you don't have one, not to fret.  Use yarn mallets on the lower end of your Xylophone.  Best mallets are yarn or cord wound, rubber of nearly any grade of hardness.

- Vibraphone/Vibes - This may be used plugged in for the oscilators to work and vibrate the sound waves like a vibrato (hence the name vibraphone), or unplugged for a glassier sound. Cord wound mallets are best, rubber mallets may also be used. Plastic and poly will be too hard for this instrument and will damage the bars. Hard center cored but yarn or cord wound vibraphone mallets can be used for a louder, harder attack.

Morris Goldenberg's book starts mallet players off with simple, easy to read exercizes which encourages reading and proper execution of playing spots by giving ample time to move from note to note. For a sample page CLICK HERE

Tympani 101:

- The tympani need to be tuned. Depending on the size of the drums, they each have their own range which roughly follows these guidelines when properly tuned and maintained. This is essential!!!  If a tympano is not properly tuned to it's range, the pedal mechanisms will not work properly. Contact Celene or a local professional to tune them up for you to ensure they are working properly! They DO NOT tune like snare drums or toms. The heads need to be balanced, pedal pressures need to be adjusted, and the tuning gauges need to be calibrated.

- Approximate ranges:

32" drum - Low D - A

29" drum F - C

26" drum Bb - F

23" drum D - A

Still have questions?? Contact Celene here.

Other Links:

Band Teacher's Corner: How to Buld a Percussion Success Story

Band Teacher's Corner: Preparing for Festivals

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