Indoor Percussion Tips: Getting On and Off the Floor

Now that most of you are getting into the contest portion of your indoor season, you find yourselves rehearsing your group on the basics of getting on and off the competition floor in a swift and stress-free manner. Some groups struggle with this aspect of the show day, and that can have a negative impact on the most important part of the day – your performance.  I have a unique perspective on this topic.  Being a Timing & Penalties judge for the Indiana Percussion Association (IPA), I get to see many groups enter and exit.  Here are a few tips that you can use to make sure you’re ready for a quick and efficient entrance and exit:


  1. Make sure your students, staff, and parent helpers move with a sense of purpose and that each individual knows what their job is once they’re inside the competition area. Practicing a complete run-through with help BEFORE you go to your first show is a must.
  2. Purchase cable wheels for all of your mic/speaker cables. Tangled cables should never be a reason that your set-up time takes too long. The knots never seem to want to come out, and the longer it takes to work on it, the higher the stress level in your staff and performers. A product like this one will help immensely:
  3. The battery section seems to be the ones that are responsible for unfolding the tarp (make sure you have checked the Director’s Packet for horizontal or vertical timeline info). Once the battery is allowed into the gym, have them put their drums down and quickly get the tarp ready to move across the timeline. When the tarp is completely unfolded and in its proper place, they can get their drums and begin to refocus solely on their performance.
  4. Parents or non-member help don’t always get the placement of your electronics, speakers, and stationary props in the right places. If these things do not move once you’re in the competition area, tape their placement onto your tarp, and use brightly colored tape so that it’s easily seen. This increases the chances of your gear being set up correctly the first time, which makes set-up time much quicker and easier for you and your help.
  5. Doing steps 1-4 in an efficient manner will also ensure that you can effectively sound check your electronics.  Many of today’s indoor shows rely heavily on voice and sound samples, and virtually all movement groups mic their front ensemble. Therefore, it is imperative that you make time to sound check before your group plays their first note.


  1. Whatever job students, staff, and parents had getting on the floor, give them the same job getting off of the floor. If anyone should require additional help with equipment, people can go back and help them once their gear is out of the competition area.
  2. Move everything off the tarp as quickly as possible. If you have props in the back or on the sides of the floor, move them off the back or off to the sides of the tarp. This allows the folding crew to get the tarp folded across the timeline quickly.
  3. Your battery section is most likely responsible for folding the tarp at the end of their performance. Once the show is over, the drumline should move their drums out of the gym, then quickly come back in and get the tarp. If there’s not enough time to get them all the way out, then have them put the drums on the wall closest to the performance exit. Make sure they do not set gear behind the timeline.
  4. Your group must pick the tarp up and carry it out of the gym. You are not allowed to fold your tarp back onto your tarp cart, so don’t waste time standing and waiting with a cart you can’t use. Get it out of the way and help other people that may be having difficulty with their equipment.
  5. Lastly, just because you’ve crossed the timeline and your interval time ends, that doesn’t mean slow down and take your time getting out of the gym. Adhering to your interval time is essential to the show running smoothly and on time, so move with the same kind of purpose that you moved with during set-up.

Directors and staff – Be sure to thank all of the extra help you have getting on and off the floor. A lot of you couldn’t do what you do or use what you use without their help.

Best of luck to all of you this indoor season!

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