Toboggan From Above

Continuing a five-year tradition, the 9th Grade Percussion class worked up Toboggan after the Fall Concert to perform at the Winter Concert.

They only had a week to do this! It’s a good example of how “easier” pieces can be appropriate for more advanced ensembles if the timeframe is short.

I was able to catch it from the catwalk in the auditorium.


Begin Transmission in Percussive Notes

The following is from Percussive Notes, Vol. 55, No. 2, May 2017:

The repertoire for beginning students is thankfully expanding, and Begin Transmission by John Herndon is a fantastic addition for providing students an opportunity to apply skills learned in the first year of percussion study into an accessible and lively piece.

Although written for 13 players, Herndon provides the performing ensemble with options to omit parts for smaller ensembles of eight players.

Begin Transmission takes a fairly simple theme derived from the first five notes of the D-minor scale and manipulates the timbres and textures around it to create a very fun and engaging ensemble work lasting just over two minutes.

It is the perfect piece for a young ensemble, using only eighth-note rhythms and larger—with the exception of the snare drum’s use of sixteenth notes at the end of the piece.

Another great feature of the work is Herndon’s use of timbral changes for the percussion parts, where players are asked to either switch instruments or play on the rim instead of the head.

The mallet parts are simple and repetitive yet entertaining, providing a great experience for players and audience members. The accompanying players often lay a groundwork of steady eighth notes under the melody, providing the piece with constant forward momentum from beginning to end.

Herndon successfully wrote an exciting piece for students to apply newly learned skills.

This one is worth a look!

-Matthew Geiger

Toboggan in Percussive Notes

The following is from Percussive Notes, Vol.55, No. 1 – March 2017:

Toboggan is a simply delightful work by John Herndon for beginning or intermediate percussion ensemble that depicts a short, fast ride on a small sled. At least ten players are needed, and the piece uses standard percussion instruments that should be found in every band room.

The composer states, “The piece starts by capturing the excitement of finding new-fallen snow. The descent swishes and jingles at high speed through sudden direction changes, patches of rough snow, and the gentle rising and falling of fresh powder. Toboggan ends, as sled rides often do, with a playful crash into a snowdrift.”

The parts are expertly written to accommodate the varying levels of a middle school percussionist while providing a fun challenging experience for all. It is especially excellent that Toboggan gives players a chance to apply some basic technical skills (scales, natural sticking, reading, and dynamics) that most beginning and intermediate percussionists would be working on already.

Toboggan would be a welcome addition to any fall or holiday concert and will help codify important skills for percussionists.

—Joe Millea

2016 Recap

2016 was a big year for byHerndon Music!

  • ‘Begin Transmission’ was published by Tapspace Publications
  • The byHerndon website opened it’s doors
  • ‘Stellar’ (performed by the Milton High School Indoor Drumline) was selected as a Percussion Scholastic World Class Finalist at WGI World Championships
  • ‘Relativity’ (performed by the Milton High School Marching Band) was selected as a finalist at the BOA Powder Springs Regional
  • ‘Toboggan’ was performed by the Broken Arrow Percussion Ensemble at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic

I’m looking forward to the opportunities afforded by 2017 and wish everyone a happy new year!