Managing Communication Overhead with a Rehearsal Schedule

Having a lot of staff members can be great! But, only if you communicate effectively…

For every staff member you add you add a little Communication Overhead. Meaning that for every staff member you add you have to pay a little time in communication in order to receive quality work from them. If it is just you, zero time communicating. If you add a staff member, you should be communicating with them about plans for the rehearsal and goals for the group. If you add two, that’s even MORE time and so on…

For this reason Josh Kaufman in The Personal MBA suggests that you limit staff to between three and eight people. Any more than that and you spend a considerable amount of time communicating and it begins to detract from the effectiveness of the team. People get confused and work against one another, or they simply don’t know what to do so they don’t contribute.

For indoor drumline and marching band I follow his advice and limit the staff to two people in the fall and eight (the max) for indoor.

In addition, almost every rehearsal since spring 2014 I’ve posted a schedule like this in an area that can be seen by students and staff.

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 10.14.13 AM

I usually spend no more than 10-15 minutes creating and posting it and it communicates to EVERYONE what the plan for the day is. I try to get it up an hour in advance so that staff members who find themselves in charge of running part of rehearsal can plan. I also encourage staff autonomy by not telling them EXACTLY what to do all the time. Notice the Pit has a lot of music time scheduled, but I don’t say exactly what to spend it on. I do this because I trust my staff and I want them to know that. No one feels trusted and valued if you micromanage them. Conversely, if they ask me what I’d like them to work on, I always have an answered prepared to supplement the plan in the schedule.

I first saw one of these posted by Rhythm X and thought, “They know what they’re doing. I’ll give it a shot.”

I haven’t been disappointed! Try it out with your group and let me know what you think.

 

 

Percussion Ensemble Repertoire Recommendations: High School Pieces with Variable Difficulty Levels

Enlight348

One of the challenges of selecting percussion ensemble repertoire for educational ensembles is handling the different ability levels that are present within an ensemble.

Invariably some students are more advanced and become bored with “easy” parts. Conversely, some students are still developing basic skills and can be overwhelmed (and not educationally served) by advanced repertoire. Sometimes those students are in the same class…

What do you do?

One solution is to choose percussion ensemble pieces that include parts of variable difficulty levels.

What follows are three suggestions for just those types of pieces.  I’ve included links to Tapspace where you can find more information about the pieces and I’ve listed the general difficulty level of each part in each piece, below. I use a 5-tiered system for ranking the difficulty levels of the parts: Easy, Medium-Easy, Medium, Medium-Advanced, Advanced.

I have programmed these pieces multiple times with my groups over the years. I return to them for their educational merit and because they provide the opportunity to meet every student wherever they are in their percussion education.

I hope these pieces serve you as well as they have me and my students 🥁

Now The Day Is Over by John Willmarth

  • Glock: Medium-Easy
  • Marimba 1: Medium-Advanced
  • Marimba 2: Medium
  • Vibe 1: Medium
  • Vibe 2: Medium-Easy
  • Chimes: Easy
  • Piano: Student, Medium |Accompanist, Easy
  • Percussion 1: Medium-Easy
  • Percussion 2: Easy

Dystopia by Jim Casella

  • Glock: Medium-Easy
  • Vibe 1: Medium
  • Vibe 2: Medium
  • Marimba 1: Medium-Advanced
  • Marimba 2: Medium-Advanced
  • Timpani: Medium
  • Piano: Student, Medium-Advanced |Accompanist, Medium-Easy
  • Chimes: Easy
  • Percussion: Medium-Easy
  • Military Drum: Medium-Easy
  • Snare Drum: Medium-Easy
  • Tam-Tam: Easy
  • Tom-Toms: Medium
  • Cymbals: Easy
  • Bass Drum: Medium-Easy

The River by Seth Adams

  • Glock: Medium-Easy
  • Chimes: Easy
  • Vibes: Medium
  • Marimba: Medium-Advanced
  • Piano*: Student, Medium-Advanced | Accompanist, Medium-Easy
  • Timpani: Medium-Advanced
  • Bass Guitar*: Student, Medium-Advanced | Accompanist, Medium-Easy
  • Percussion 1: Easy
  • Percussion 2:
  • Percussion 3:
  • Percussion 4: Easy

*Though it is more effective with them, The River may be performed without Piano and Bass Guitar.

2018 Recap

I’m very grateful for another active year around byHerndon!

Here’s some of what went on:

  • The North Gwinnett Middle School Percussion Ensemble performed Begin Transmission at the Georgia Music Educators Association In-Service Conference.

Screen Shot 2018-12-29 at 2.56.59 PM

  • I had two new pieces published through Tapspace:
    • Song Without Words for percussion ensemble
    • Great and Small for solo keyboard percussion with audio accompaniment
    • Another piece was also accepted for publication so stay tuned for more info on that later…

Happy New Year!