For drumming, as with most things in life, you really have to “go for it” to achieve success. This mantra manifests itself in a variety of ways for marching percussionists.
Whether you are a bass drummer aspiring to play quads, a marimba player hoping to expand from two mallets to four, or a seasoned marching vet looking to march a World Class drum corps, to be successful you really need to commit yourself and go for it.
As every ensemble becomes stronger, the competition to be a part of those ensembles grows stronger, too. It is important— especially in high school—to communicate your goals to your instructors, so they can help put you on the right path to success.
Your teachers, coaches and instructors take notice of how committed and dedicated you are to achieving your goals, and your effort can sometimes be just as important in an audition as how well you play.
To play as part of a drumline with good sound quality, it’s critical that you and the people surrounding you all commit to every tempo, dynamic change and rhythm. If you are not constantly aware of how you are playing in time, you are probably too slow or too fast and either impacting the drumline tempo or not playing together with the guy or girl next to you. Playing with great sound quality also requires a consistent strong approach to the drum.
As a performer you are being asked to do many things with your body, from marching at fast tempos to dance and movement techniques. As you are flying around the field or gym floor, you need to constantly push yourself to make your dot and to control your drum.
Committing to a character or an emotion is a huge part of marching percussion, and the audience only buys into it when you truly go for it.
It all becomes easier with time, but it’s worthwhile to regularly remind yourself when picking up those sticks or mallets to really commit and go for it!
About the Author
Lane Armey is the battery percussion coordinator for Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif. During the past 10 years, he has worked with various groups including Northwestern University and the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.