For the Greater Good

Lane Armey

Unlike a lot of sections in the band, the percussion section is often very limited regarding the number of positions available for certain instruments.

Everyone cannot march snare drum; the musical balance with the wind players would be horrible. Your group is likely limited by equipment. If you have three sets of tenor drums or marimbas, then you cannot easily put more students on those instruments. Plus there is a need to round out the entire percussion section to create a cohesive blend and balance, such as having five bass drummers and adding specialty textures and colors through cymbals and other accessories.

Getting the Right Mix
As you go through your program’s audition/placement process, your instructors are looking to find the right mix of putting members where they want to go and where they will most succeed as well as deciding what is best for the overall ensemble.

One of the hardest decisions as a percussion instructor is determining placements that are best for the group and getting the buy-in and acceptance from the students.

Many young percussionists have never gone through an arduous audition process or may be used to being a standout performer in middle school or previous ensembles. Leading into the start of each season, everyone must readjust to be being part of the team.

Maximizing Your Role
If you absorb all the information given to you by your staff during your audition, accept the decisions made, and then work hard to max out your role, you will put your group on the road to success. You will set a great example for other students and definitely endear yourself to your staff.

Even if you do not march with your first choice of instrument, it is what is best for the drumline. The biggest lessons are not mastering left-hand paradiddles but how to work together as a percussion ensemble to achieve your goals.

About author

Lane Armey

Lane Armey is the battery percussion coordinator for Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif. In the past, he has worked with various groups including Northwestern University and the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.

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