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Percussion Warm-up Tenets and Procedures

General Procedures

  • Address the percussionists first – best if prior to beginning a warm-up  session. 

  • Tell them that their warm-ups include:

    • individual technique development

    • ensemble unification

    • intent and balance – specifically focus on balance and timing as a group

    • agogic emphasis to help with winds, brass, and strings phrasing and timing

  • For large percussion sections have practice pads for those wishing to work on stick technique   if mallet options are not available.

  • Place multiple percussionists on octaves of keyboards.

  • Do not use bass drum or cymbals during the warm-up (unless for a specific purpose).

Personal Technique Reminders

  •  Proper hand grip and hand placement

  •  Appropriate combination of use of fingers, wrist, forearm

  •  Proper placement of stick or mallet onto the instrument

  •  Eyes up, particularly upon starting strike (know the “feel” of the location or height of the  instrument).

  •  Percussionists must breathe “in-time” with the other instrumentalists to ensure unity with winds,  brasses, and strings.

  •  When the ensemble is working on legato, percussionists work on roll technique on snare  drum and mallets.

Percussion Ensemble and Listening Reminders

  •  Can each percussionist hear every other percussionist always? Demonstrate the octaves and  colors  produced by each instrument and each percussionist.

  •  Is the balance appropriate within and beyond the section – not only hearing each other, but  also  the entire percussion section

  •  Do the sounds of the mallets being used match each other and the  sound required for the  musical  moment – in other words, is the right mallet being used?

  •  Are all percussionists performing with the same weight or accent (e.g. is everyone giving the  same weight to beats one or three, etc.)

  •  Is everyone perfectly together within the section and with the entire ensemble?

  •  Is everyone phrasing together with the same intent and intensity?

  •  Remember – warm-ups are never just an exercise or time-filler.

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