The image and responsibility of percussionist in the musical world has evolved far beyond it's beginnings of just “beaters on a drum”. Since then it has transformed into something of its own musical and visual art form. A percussionist is a musician that plays ALL percussion instruments. Here at Heights High School we strive to build the “Complete Percussionist.” This class of percussive performer is not only well versed in battery percussion but also pitched percussion, and vice versa. While it is cool to have super technical battery skills or super fluid mallet technique, it is important that we all venture into the areas we aren’t as strong or comfortable at to create a balance. This balance will lead to each player being able to pick up any percussion part and be able to function and hold their own in any musical setting. That includes college programs if students wish to continue.
Battery (Marching Battery):
Battery is the section of percussionist that marches on the field while performing music. They are also the percussionists that play in the stand. Being a part of this section takes strong rhythmic accuracy, tempo control, visual awareness, and most importantly physical ability. It is not a requirement to be perfect at these aspects from the start, but it is necessary once the spots have been placed and the season has started for these students to grow towards that perfection.
This section includes sub-sections of snare drum, Bass drum, Multi-Tenors/Quads, and sometimes Marching Cymbals. This year we are looking to have 3 snares, 4-5 Basses, 2 Quads, and possibly 4 cymbals for in the stands (All numbers subject to change).
Front Ensemble (Pit):
Front Ensemble is the section of percussionists that performs music along the sidelines (the “Pit) during the marching show. While the front ensemble doesn’t require the same amount of physical demand of the battery percussion, the front ensemble replaces it with musicality, musical knowledge, visual awareness, and most importantly musical awareness.
This year we are looking to have 1-2 marimbas, 1-2 vibraphones, 1 xylophone/bells, 1 Chimes, 1 synthesizer, 2-3 Rack Percussionists, Concert Bass/Gong, and possibly 1 Timpanist. Let it be known that front ensemble is not a Battery reject section.
The Percussion section (Drumline) is the combination of both Battery and Front Ensemble that make up the Heights Percussion Department. While the drumline is a part of the band program, the drumline can perform without wind player assistance and still provide a great amount of musicality.
Basic Percussion Terminology
1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s: the number indicates the number of strokes to a given beat duration. Basic examples:
o a “1” over a single eighth note is playing 1 eight note.
o “2’s” over a single eighth note is playing 2 sixteenth notes.
o “3’s“ over a single eighth note is playing 3 Sextuplets.
o “4’s” over a single eighth note is playing 4 thirty-second notes.
12 Major Key/Scales: A scale that consists of step pattern of whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step. Major scales general are described as happy sounding scales. Examples of major scales are C, F, B flat, E flat, A flat, D flat, G flat, B, E, A, D, G Major scales.
Auxiliary Percussion: Any small percussion instrument that provides color and effect through its unique timbre. Examples- Woodblock, triangle, splash cymbal, tom-toms, gong, crash cymbals.
Mallet Percussion: Any Pitched percussion instrument that is typically played with mallets. Examples are Marimbas, Vibraphones, Xylophones, and Bells.
Pitched Percussion: Percussion instruments that are capable of playing multiple pitches within the 12 tone scale. Examples are Marimbas, Vibraphones, Xylophones, Bells, timpani, and chimes.
Rack: A collection of instruments that are usually attached to a rack, cart, or collection of stands. Usually consists of cymbals, small drums, and other small percussion instruments.
Sub-Sectionals (Subs): Where the section breaks up into smaller, more individualized groups. Example- Battery Percussion splits into snares, quads, and basses and work individually.