Thoughts About Marching Percussion

As the indoor percussion season comes to an end, here are seven thoughts that can help you continue to improve as students, instructors and ensembles.

1. There are two facts that you must accept as true:

     a. The “perfect” scoring system does not exist.

     b. The “perfect” judge does not exist.

2. In any ensemble, the role of percussion is twofold:

     a. To drive the vehicle.

     b. To color the musical portrait.

3. The percussion arranger must serve two masters:

     a. The needs of the particular music at hand. Is the music better or worse once the percussion is added? Less is often more!

     b. The abilities of the particular students in his or her ensemble. Don’t write beyond their capabilities.

4. Teachers, instructors and technicians must serve two masters:

     a. The integrity, intent and accuracy of the written music.

     b. The individual and collective interests of each and every student in terms of musical growth and psychological well-being. Always teach the student—the person— first and foremost. The material will follow.

5. Three “R’s” are essential to a thorough education: Reading, ‘Riting, Rudiments. The Percussive Arts Society (PAS) has documented a list of 40 rudiments, which can be found at

6. Instructors have the following obligations during critiques:

     a. To be prepared and professional at all times.

     b. To maintain his/her dignity and integrity.

     c. To know the rules and their applications.

     d. To interact with everyone—including judges, administrators, students and competitors—honestly, forthrightly and professionally.

7. Each production is a journey. The entire show is a longer journey:

     a. Is the trip smooth and clear or is it bumpy and confusing, with too many detours?

     b. Is the destination clear?

     c. Is the result worth the trip?

Enjoy the upcoming corps and band seasons!

About author

Dennis DeLucia

Dennis DeLucia is a percussion teacher, arranger, clinician and judge. A former member of the West Point Band, he is best known for his successes with championship corps and bands. He has been inducted into three of the major Halls of Fame: Drum Corps International, WGI Sport of the Arts and the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

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