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Educational Resources

Metronome Strategies for Improving Your Timing
By Dr. Dave Gerhart
By now, I am sure you know the importance of practicing with a metronome. As drummers/percussionists, we are supposed to have good time, but do you just practice with your metronome or do you interact with your metronome during your practice session? It is my belief that most people use their metronome as a listening devise, and I want to advocate the use of a metronome as an accompaniment partner. In this article, I will describe the two ways we use a metronome and offer exercises to help improve your timing while using a metronome.

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Metronome Strategies for Improving Your Timing

Reading on Keyboard Percussion: Establishing Strong Fundamentals
By: John Willmarth
Percussionists have the unique challenge of trying to develop facility in a variety of instruments very early in their development. Splitting time between snare drum and keyboard percussion often causes percussionists to lag behind the rest of the band in reading skills. Because most band methods feature short excerpts, elongated rhythms, and familiar melodies, it is common for students to rely on memorization. Students often become disillusioned as the band method and repertoire progress because memorization becomes too difficult. Unfortunately, once poor habits become ingrained, they can plague a musician for years to come. These problems can be avoided if proper sight reading fundamentals are formed from the beginning.

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Reading on Keyboard Percussion: Establishing Strong Fundamentals

The Multi-Part Technique Program For the High School Front Ensemble
By: Dave England
Every summer you look forward to the fresh start that begins with your high school front ensemble. There are new faces, new hopes, new enthusiasm, and new abilities. You sit down to develop a technique program and find yourself asking the question, “How do I write exercises that will warm them up, maintenance their technique, advance their skills and meet all of their individual ability levels?” It’s difficult to come up with a series of exercises that will address all of those things at once.

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Brazilian Percussion
By: Dr. Robert LedBetter
Samba is the most characteristic and most popular form of native Brazilian music. Origins of Samba can be traced by to the 17th century in the state of Bahia, where slaves captured in the African regions of Angola and Congo landed. Tribes from these areas brought with them their semba gatherings (also known as umbigada or belly bumping) and the music spread with the slave trade throughout the country (much like the beginnings of Blues, etc, in the US)

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Marimba: An Interpretation
By: Mark Ford
Developing your interpretation of the music you play is one of the most important and satisfying aspects of music making. Your interpretation reflects your ideas and feelings about the music. Unfortunately, younger musicians usually concentrate only on understanding the notes and rhythms of a marimba solo. Obviously, this is important, but it’s only fifty percent of the job. Communicating your emotional connection with the music through your interpretation is essential to the “magic” of music. Think about how a certain performance or piece of music has touched you in the past. When you perform you want to connect with an audience in the same way that music connected with you.

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Patience is a Virtue
By: Ben Toth
Honing one’s percussion skills (and ultimately one’s musicianship) is an endeavor worthy of a lifetime’s pursuit. Much of the percussion repertoire, both solo and ensemble, can take months to learn, involving countless hours in the practice room. In fact, the road towards playing a large-scale master-work for percussion really begins long before the piece has even been selected and requires years of technical and musical development. This technical and musical development serves as the foundation on which to build one’s musicianship.

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Steps to Learning a Musical Composition
By: Tracy Wiggins
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You are rolling along in your lesson, and everything is going fine. You get to the end, and your teacher says, “Okay, now I want you to learn this for next week.” At this point he or she hands you a new piece of music and sends you away. You look down at the piece of music in your hands and think to yourself, “Now what?” I hope this article will help answer that very question. I will present the system I utilize for learning a piece of music, be it a solo, ensemble, orchestral or conductor’s score. This is my approach to doing it and every musician has his or her way. This is by no means Gospel, but it works for me.

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Developing Your Technical Skills
By: Michael Kingan
I constantly find myself giving advice about how to practice basic technical skills. Sometimes it’s high school students who are trying to develop and reinforce good habits. Other times it’s college freshman who, throughout high school, relied primarily on natural ability but in college suddenly need several hours of practice a day just to keep up. From beginners, who need to be walked through their practice routine, to advanced players, who are trying to take themselves to their own next level, they all seem to crave direction on how to continue developing their technique.

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What's Your Plan?
By: Rich Holly
You practice several hours a day (or at least you know you’re supposed to…). You buy the books and music your teacher tells you to (although there’s that stack of materials in the corner you’ve yet to even look at…). You subscribe to 5 music magazines (yet you can’t remember the last time you actually read one of them….). You listen to a lot of music (but can’t seem to find the time to decipher what the drummer is doing…). Well, the good news is that you’re not alone!

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The Musical Big Band Drummer
Ed Soph
Have you ever heard a passive/aggressive big band drummer? You probably have. This is the drummer who plays loudly and assuredly when there are figures to be read, but timidly and repetitively when there is nothing to read other than “Play 12 bars time behind trumpet solo.” Often, one sees this drummer counting while playing those twelve bars. When written figures reappear on the chart, the drummer comes back to life with an exuberance expressed with over-playing accents and cymbal crashes, and fills with no relationship to the band figures that those fills are supposed to connect.

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