Welcome back to the Chops blog! We’re already a week into 2016, but I’d like to suggest some New Year’s resolutions for the high school percussionist.
As a young and developing percussionist, you’ve got lots of room for growth and improvement. However, it can be easy to follow bad advice or spend time on the wrong things. The following suggestions are applicable to all young percussionists:
Learn more percussion instruments
A well-rounded high school percussionist is equally comfortable on mallets, timpani, drums, and accessory instruments. If you are unfamiliar with any instrument used regularly in your band, address those weaknesses this year.
Don’t know where to start? You can easily find guidance by asking your band director or percussion instruction. Chances are they have some experience, or can help you find someone who does. If you’re serious about percussion, and learning new instruments, you’ll need to find a private teacher. Private lessons will help you grow as a musician faster than anything else
Improve your music reading skills
The ability to read music separates the truly excellent and mediocre musicians. A strong reader spends less time figuring out what to play, which allows them to focus on how to play. They look at a piece of music and quickly identify each symbol on the page, and instantly understand how to perform it. Weak readers must spend time deciphering the melodies, rhythms, symbols, and words on the page before they attempt to perform the music.
How do you get better at reading music? Do these simple things while practicing:
- Practice SLOWLY.
- Count out the rhythms.
- Use a metronome while practicing and counting.
- To improve rhythmic reading, practice basic rhythmic patterns, such as sixteenth note check patterns.
- To improve melodic reading, practice scales, both major and minor.
Listen to more music
Great percussionists and musicians listen to new music regularly. Thanks to the internet, discovering new music has never been easier. Simply google an artist and listen to their music through a streaming service, or on YouTube.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
We’re already a week and a half into 2016, but you should make a late New Year’s Resolution to learn more percussion instruments, improve your reading skills, listen to more music, and practice more. The best percussionists and musicians have already made these four acts into habit. Join them, and you’ll have a productive 2016!