Concert Audition Etudes Updates

It’s almost that time again: time to hold auditions to sort percussionists into their concert ensemble for next year!

For the last several years I’ve been using Concert Percussion etudes I’ve composed as the audition material (I’ve posted about that before here). This year I’ve given them and overhaul to make them an even better assessment tool.

Here’s what they look like after the update:

First, there are four separate etudes: Snare, Mallets, Timpani, and Auxiliary Percussion.

The following skillsets are evaluated by each etude:

Snare: repeating and alternating full strokes, dynamic contrast, repeating and alternating accent-tap differentiation, buzz rolls, flams, flam taps, flam accents, paradiddles, sixteenth timing patterns, and triplet interpretation.

Mallet: double stops, full stroke technique, arpeggios, major scales, chromatic scales, rolls, double stop rolls, sixteenth timing patterns, triplet interpretation, dynamic contrast, and has an optional four-mallet section. The mallet etude may be played on standard size marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, and (most) glockenspiels.

Timpani: full stroke technique, sixteenth timing, dynamic contrast, roll technique, dampening, accent tap differentiation, movement around the drums, forte-piano crescendo rolls, and tuning. The timpani etude does require four standard size timpani (but I have plans to create a version that requires only two drums).

Percussion: This etude is written so that one player can play all of the following instruments in one pass. It also gives the the chance to practice – and you the chance to evaluate – how they change from one instrument to another in performance.

The following instruments are used:

  • Hand Cymbals: crashes, dampening
  • Suspended Cymbal: rolls
  • Tambourine: general playing and rolls
  • Triangle: general playing, muted playing, rolls, dampening
  • Bass Drum: general playing and dampening

Some of the BEST features of the etudes include:

  • They are SHORT. Just 45 seconds per etude to evaluate ALL of the techniques listed above. Realistically, you can complete each student’s audition in just 5 minutes.
  • All the etudes fit together to create a percussion ENSEMBLE etude. Meaning you can conceivably rehearse them in class with kids playing snare, mallets, timpani, and auxiliary percussion AT THE SAME TIME! Then after a rep or two have the kids swap which part they are playing. Repeat as necessary.
  • They are FREE! Download them and use them in your program. Enjoy!

BYHERNDON – CONCERT AUDITION ETUDE NO .1

 

 

Rehearsal Plans (vs. Lesson Plans)

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.

2019 Recap

Great and Small, my solo keyboard work with optional audio accompaniment, was named an Editor’s Choice by Music Distributor J.W. Pepper.

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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 DraconisWater 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.

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Snare Start-Up: What To Do Before You Start

Snare Start-Up: What To Do Before You Start

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!