If you are in the market for solo and ensemble music for your percussionists, here is a handy breakdown of my pieces.
It aims primarily at answering:
“How many people?”
“How much stuff?”
“How hard is it?”
Look it over and let me know if you have any questions.
Best wishes for solo and ensemble!
This year I’ve streamlined my rehearsal plans*.
My guiding principals are:
It must be possible to make and share quickly. There’s a lot to do everyday. If it can’t be done quickly, I’ll skip it and not benefit from it.
Simplicity is paramount. If it can’t be done simply…keep working until it can be done simply.
How it looks matters. Our students care about the image of their program. If you care about them, you’ll care about it too.
Make it accessible ahead of time so that they can be held accountable. I create this simple plan, take a screenshot, and send it to all the students via GroupMe before the come to class. If they aren’t on task when they come in I find a , “Have you not checked the GroupMe” goes a long way. I’ve even heard some of the kids say that to each other : )
Make it visible during class to stay on track. Even though they have it on their phones from before class, I project it on the screen in the room to consult during the period.
What do your rehearsal plans look like?
*Rehearsal plans are different than lesson plans. Rehearsal plans are helpful and functional. Lesson plans are burdensome bureaucratic busywork. No standards are linked to in my rehearsal plans because in music you always work ALL the standards.
Great and Small, my solo keyboard work with optional audio accompaniment, was named an Editor’s Choice by Music Distributor J.W. Pepper.
Several schools included my works on their programs for the Lassiter Percussion Symposium: Alpharetta High School performed Begin Transmission and Cambridge High School and Jackson High School both programmed Song Without Words.
I had the opportunity and pleasure to arrange percussion and/or electronics for: West Forsyth High School, Wilmington High School, Greater Atlanta Christian Academy, and East Jackson High School.
Two of my new percussion ensembles were published through Tapspace: Sic Semper Draconis & Water Music.
MacCallum High School included my arrangement of Gustav Holst’s Song Without Words on their Midwest program marking the third time in four years that I’ve had the honor of having my music performed there.
To help anyone judging Round 1 All-State Percussion Auditions tomorrow.
This sheet follows the GMEA All-State Percussion District Adjudication Form. You plug in numbers for rudiments, scales, tuning, and sight reading and it will automatically tabulate totals in those areas. If the instrument total scores add to to 85 or more it is conditionally formatted to turn the total RED to indicate you may have a second round prospect on your hands.
Open in Google Sheets to have all correct fonts and conditional formatting : )
ALL-STATE PERCUSSION – JUDGE SCRATCH SHEET
The following is part of a series of posts relating to starting students on snare and mallets.
The first day with instruments is a very exciting day for young students! They have all this stuff, they’re about to play music with their friends…THEY HAVE ALL THIS STUFF! But, that excitement can easily turn into chaos if there is not a clear plan that follows a logical path outlined by the teacher.
After helping with many Start-Up clinics over the last 12 years, here are some of my (and my wife’s) thoughts on the process to help as you start your student’s off right on snare drum.
Before the Start-Up Day
Before the start up day the students need an understanding of pulse, meter, and musical notation.
Pulse: They should understand that music happens in time with a steady beat known as the pulse. They should tap their foot in time with the steady beat (played by a metronome). Then they should clap their hands while tapping their foot in time with the steady beat. Then they should say the number “1” while they clap their hands and tap their foot in time with the steady beat. (This is laying the groundwork for the process of tapping, counting, and clapping rhythms which is a great practice to get in the habit of doing.) After they have done that for a while ask them, “How many beats do you think we have clapped and counted?” Of course no one will know. But it makes a nice transition to introducing meter.
Meter and Measures: Meter is when you group collections of pulses together so that you may more easily keep track of them. Have the student’s tap, clap, and count “1 – 2, 1 -2”. Have them do this for four groups. Ask the students if anyone knows how many beats went by. Someone may know the answer! If not, do it again but prompt them to keep track of how many times they count to two. Tell them that we’re going to refer to these groups of beats as measures. Repeat this process for three letting them know that now there are three beats in our measures. Then do the same thing for four.
Musical Notation: Illustrate how the music you’ve been performing may be written down with notation. Draw a staff and explain this is where we write music. Draw four quarter notes and explain that these symbols represent the rhythm that we have been clapping. Since they have already heard the term measures, draw bar lines and explain to them that these section the music off into measures.
Armed with that information the students should be ready to take on the Snare Start-Up!
It’s overcast this Sunday
As we sabbath on the deck.
A few leaves let go
As we creep closer to Fall.
Our conversation’s stoked
By a breeze blowing over breakfast.
We hold hands
and thank God for it all.
Great and Small is a programmatic work comprised of two delightful movements for solo keyboard percussion with optional audio accompaniment. These vignettes depict the powerful beasts Leviathan and Behemoth when they were still young, whimsical, and childlike. Deemed ‘’medium-easy” by the publisher, it is appropriate for older middle school or younger high school students and works well as their first solo piece.
As an educator, I found several benefits to studying this work with students. The length is ideal for younger percussionists, as each movement in the set is approximately two minutes. Neither movement requires four-mallet technique or similar advanced concepts, and the programmatic nature encourages conversation about character interpretation and expression. The entire piece is written using sixteenth notes as the smallest subdivision, exploring syncopated rhythms and interplay between the hands. This is especially noticeable in the second movement, “Budding Behemoth,” with many of these figures beginning on the left hand with a large leap. The first movement, “Little Leviathan,” includes phrase markings in the right hand to highlight the melody, something difficult to find in compositions for this ability level. Perhaps my favorite musical concept is the detailed use of dynamic contrast. Developing this at a young age is vital, and I am pleased to see an appropriate amount throughout both movements.
From a logistical point of view, the flexibility of Great and Small is wonderful for many public school situations. Herndon has composed the work so that any movement can be performed on a vibraphone, xylophone, or 4-octave marimba. While he recommends vibraphone for the first movement and marimba for the second movement, the option encourages students to take their own liberties bands on the equipment they have available. Furthermore, even through the audio accompaniment greatly enhances the piece, it is not necessary for performance. This allows for students to still gain from the work even if they are unable to meet the technological requirements, Very well priced, this composition is worth adding to your repertoire for younger students.
Vol. 57, No. 2, May 2019