Any conductors here?

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Hawkwings
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Any conductors here?

Post by Hawkwings » 2005-08-03 10:28pm

I was wondering... are there any people here who have experience leading musical ensembles? Can be concert conducting, marching band/Drum Corps, etc.

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Post by The Wookiee » 2005-08-03 10:45pm

Why, look no further than the lovely Zaia.
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Post by President Sharky » 2005-08-04 01:09am

I've led a Chamber Orchestra and conducted a few rehearsals with the string section of a high school-level symphony orchestra. In September, I'll be the conductor of the school show pit orchestra.

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Re: Any conductors here?

Post by fgalkin » 2005-08-04 01:16am

Hawkwings wrote:I was wondering... are there any people here who have experience leading musical ensembles? Can be concert conducting, marching band/Drum Corps, etc.
Heretic! Do you not know of the Z?!

Have a very nice day.
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Re: Any conductors here?

Post by muse » 2005-08-04 01:18am

fgalkin wrote:Heretic! Do you not know of the Z?!

Have a very nice day.
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It's not Z, it's Zed!
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Post by fgalkin » 2005-08-04 01:19am

She lives in America, so it's Z! And I've had enough of your "Zeds" when I was learning English back in Russia. *thwap*

Have a very nice day.
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Post by muse » 2005-08-04 01:24am

But she's an honorary Canadian since she's said in the past that she would like to live in Quebec, so it's Zed! So there! *thwap*
ø¤ º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø
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Post by Hawkwings » 2005-08-04 01:46am

so what sort of experience does Zaia have?

I'm actually looking for advice, as I'll be leading a marching band soon. I've already gotten advice from people around me, but I figure I'll ask here too, just in case.

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Post by President Sharky » 2005-08-04 02:12am

Well, I can't help much with Marching Bands, so I'll defer to Z, who I guess is a more experienced authority.

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Post by Zaia » 2005-08-04 06:42am

Hawkwings wrote:so what sort of experience does Zaia have?

I'm actually looking for advice, as I'll be leading a marching band soon. I've already gotten advice from people around me, but I figure I'll ask here too, just in case.
Marching band advice? Oh goodness, I've got an extensive background with marching band at both the high school and college level. At the heart I'm a pit percussion instructor (and a damn good one at that), so I'm not anywhere near as strong with the drill side of things as I am with the music side of things, but I've done it all. It's sort of an addiction with me, actually. I started teaching high school pit when I was a sophomore in college and I've had a very hard time kicking the bug since then. I've taught just pit, pit and battery, whole band (music caption head), and written/arranged the pit score. I've also taught indoor percussion for three years, two of those years competing in the KIDA circuit (and kickin' some arse by breaking old high-scoring records, baby! Booyah!), which is related to regular ol' marching band but won't be terribly helpful if you're looking for drill advice since the indoor circuit is, well, indoors. (Shocking, I know!) :D

So, yeah. I don't know what sort of advice you're looking for or how intense your program is, but I'd be happy to help if I'm able, hon. Either post your question here (I'm actually going to move this to the music forum since it's purely music-related), or feel free to PM me if you would like to get completely in-depth. Are you just out of college, then, if this is you're looking for marching advice? Or have you taught younger kids and just taken a new position with a marching band? Or are you not the supreme lord marching band director but just want to do a good job teching or something? Regardless, welcome to the club! We're a straaaange bunch, but we don't bite too hard. :D
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Post by Ford Prefect » 2005-08-04 06:48am

Is there nothing she can't do?
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Post by kheegster » 2005-08-04 09:45am

I occasionally catch myself air-conducting when listening to symphonies or concerti, but beyond that, no.
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Post by Hawkwings » 2005-08-04 12:07pm

Yes! Zaia's a Pitskie! And an arranger! And has done indoor percussion!

Anyways, my background:
I'm actually in high school right now, going to be either drum major or pit section leader, and as such, am expected to teach the rookies a lot of fundamentals during camp, along with all the other duties that I'm expected to do. I've done a season of marching band in pit, and a eason of winter percussion on snare, so I'm well-rounded on the percussion side of things.

Our program is fairly competitive, we have a reputation for being the best in our division, and as such, we kinda have to live it to it. We've got a crew of about 60 people? Depends on the number of incoming. We are a corps-style band, none of that flashy show stuff for us. Our supreme lord marching band director defers his authority onto his marching band staff, of which there's likely going to be a visual instructor, battery instructor, pit instructor, and possibly several "floaters" that aren't paid and sorta don't do much.

So basically, my question is, do you have tips for teaching basics, both for marching and pit? On pit, specifically it's introducing them to a new instrument, the keyboard. Oh, and timpani, I've never played those much and have no idea how to teach for it.

Oh, and finally... ever considered moving to Oregon? Our pro completely awesomely good pit instructor/arranger moved to Oklahoma to start a new music store right after he finished writing out parts for us...

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Post by Zaia » 2005-08-04 02:30pm

Hawkwings wrote:Yes! Zaia's a Pitskie! And an arranger! And has done indoor percussion!
Pitskie? That's cute. I call my students pitlets. :D
Anyways, my background:
I'm actually in high school right now, going to be either drum major or pit section leader, and as such, am expected to teach the rookies a lot of fundamentals during camp, along with all the other duties that I'm expected to do. I've done a season of marching band in pit, and a eason of winter percussion on snare, so I'm well-rounded on the percussion side of things.
Ugh, drum major? Dude, why would you want that? It's a huge pain in the ass and honestly, almost no one will ever look at you, so you'll bust your butt for nothing, basically. And your friends will get pissy with you when you tell them what to do (at least sometimes they will). It's much more hassle and not nearly as educational as being pit section leader. Then again, I'm in favour of performing without a drum major full stop, so maybe I'm just a little bit biased...:D

What shows did you do? Any music I would know?
Our program is fairly competitive, we have a reputation for being the best in our division, and as such, we kinda have to live it to it. We've got a crew of about 60 people? Depends on the number of incoming.
Ok, so then you'll probably have 8-10 pit members, yah? Any idea how big the battery's going to be? Are there any rules about who can join the pit? Piano/keyboard experience? Another band instrument experience? Able to read music? Or do they just take anyone they can get? (I hate that. Makes people treat pit like it's a second-class section and it fucking rocks the socks off everyone else.)
We are a corps-style band,
Nice! I went to a few Cadets camps back when I was still of age to do junior corps, but ended up using the corps money I had to study abroad in Australia instead. But all the groups I've taught have had Cadets alumni teaching so corps-style groups are just about all I know.
none of that flashy show stuff for us.
Good, I hate flashy crap. Talent goes much further.
Our supreme lord marching band director defers his authority onto his marching band staff, of which there's likely going to be a visual instructor, battery instructor, pit instructor, and possibly several "floaters" that aren't paid and sorta don't do much.
Oh, yeah, the techs who are either recent graduates or college kids who like to socialize and get the high school kids in trouble. I know their kind! Bastards.
So basically, my question is, do you have tips for teaching basics, both for marching and pit?
My knowledge of marching tips is very limited, because I never had to teach my kids more than just basic marching technique. Roll the feet, starting on the heels, moving fluidly along the outside of the foot to the ball of the foot. That's a roll-step, and is the basic forward step. Backwards you keep on your toes, heels way way way up high--toes roll a tiny bit back onto the ball of the foot, but no more than that. That's very important because backwards technique is hard and really important when it's rainy and the field is wet and slippery. Keep on your toes and you'll stay upright; if you use too much of the rest of your foot, you'll probably fall. For the battery (not sure if you have to deal with their marching or not), the bass drums (and cymbal players, if you have them--bleh) will use regular marching technique because they should all be turned so their drum heads are facing toward the sideline, but the snare and tenors will probably crap-step. I don't know if y'all do left-foot step-offs or right-foot step-offs, but either way, the drummers who face forward will have keep their calves (or ankles, depending on whether you're marching 8-to-5 intervals or something else). Other than that, even spacing for all so no one trips over anyone else, and that just about exhausts my knowledge of marching technique. Unless we get into all the bits about standing at attention... *grins evilly*
On pit, specifically it's introducing them to a new instrument, the keyboard.
Do you know Kraus scales? That's what I teach first, the C major Kraus scale (form I), but before that I meticulously go through proper technique. I'm sure you've been taught some technique already, but this is what I teach: Feet should be shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, body facing flat toward the keyboard, arms loose, elbows just slightly away from your sides--then onto the grip. The mallet itself should lay diagnally across your hand, with it touching the top knuckle of your pointer finger and at the base of your pinkie where it connects to your hand. When you curl your fingers around the shaft of the mallet, the mallet should stay between the top knuckle of your pointer finger and the pad of your thumb. That's your fulcrum, and that has to be the strongest part of your grip. You should be able to hold the mallet with just your fulcrum, and be able to wiggle the mallet some without it falling out from between your pointer finger and thumb. After you check to see if you can do that, lightly curl the rest of your fingers around the shaft, keeping your fulcrum tight and the rest of your fingers pretty loose, with the mallet angled to fall where your pinkie meets your hand. Only an inch or two of mallet should stick out from the back of your hand. Once the grip is good, turn your hands so they're flat--palms facing straight down to the ground (if you can't see your pinkie knuckle, they aren't flat enough, and if your pitlets can't see their pinkie knuckles, you can draw a circle or a flower or a tiny smiley face or something on their pinkie knuckle and tell them that their hands are only flat enough when they can see whatever art you created on their hand).

As for playing areas on the keyboard instruments, on the natural keys you should stay over the resonators, and for the accidentals, in the center of the bar too (if it's slow enough and you have time to reach that far). Otherwise you want to strike the key directly between the very edge and the node (where the string is thread through the key). It should be a smooth, legato motion, but make sure the rebound is still quick. If your rebound stroke doesn't bounce right back up, you run the risk of tangling yourself in your mallets when you play at faster tempos.
Oh, and timpani, I've never played those much and have no idea how to teach for it.
Grip on timps is the same as keyboard mallets and matched grip for snare drum (ahh, the beauty of not playing traditional! I hate traditional grip--no educational value except that it's fun and looks cool, otherwise it's worthless and potentially harmful). If you have someone in the pit who plays a string instrument or who is gifted with a strong musical ear, put him/her on timps because tuning will come easiest to someone who's either naturally good at tuning or who's had to practice tuning constantly (like a cellist who has to use his/her ear to tune instead of just pressing down a fingering to get the right note). Playing position on the timpani is the section of head right over the pedal, about 2-3 inches in from the rim of the drum (except on the smallest drum, the 23" drum is more like 1-2 inches from the rim). Rolls on the timps are all single stroke, so don't let any snare drummers do buzz rolls or double-stroke rolls on them.
Oh, and finally... ever considered moving to Oregon?
I have, actually. I'm contemplating a move at the moment, and I did consider Oregon before I figured that, if I was going to spend $500 on a 5-hour flight to my new home, I'd rather live in the UK. :D
Our pro completely awesomely good pit instructor/arranger moved to Oklahoma to start a new music store right after he finished writing out parts for us...
Oklahoma? What on earth for?! :P

Seriously, man, that sucks. It's very helpful to have the arranger nearby to rewrite music as the season progresses. Goodness knows the shows I've worked on have never stayed the same for more than three days at a time...
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Post by Hawkwings » 2005-08-04 04:03pm

We're looking at have 6-8 in pit, probably closer to 8. There are 3 people returning with experience I think, and the rest are all new. We'll have to drag out all the pit instruments for this season. As for who we take, well, right now the new people who are signed up are the lazy ones, the ones that aren't that great on their instrument, and the ones that are just there because their boyfriend/giflfriend is in marching band. They all play another band instrument, and read music, so it's not completely hopeless. Still, motivation and actually working looks like it's going to be a problem this year.

I should be able to take care of marching OK, especially the crab-step since I had to use that during winter percussion.

I have no idea what Kraus scales are. The technique stuff all looks pretty familiar. One question, assuming both mallets playing on the same note, the angle between the mallets looks to be about 60 degrees? Also, have any tips on 4-mallet technique, specifically Stevens grip?

All of our instructors except one are graduates, actually. Our battery instructor graduated in 2000, our band camp pit instructor in 2002, our season pit instructor in 1996, and the floaters graduated in 2004. Two of the floaters have done drum corps and are actually on tour right now (Seattle Cascades). They'll actually be capable of helping. We have two members of our marching band in drum corps too, in Oregon Crusaders.

As for moving to Oregon, you take a cross-country road trip! Sightsee, buy crappy souveniers, and spend 16 hours each day in the car!

Our shows last year were:
Marching band: Mangione, songs of Chuck Mangione. Songs were Mangione Opener (Feels so good/Children of Sanchez), El Gato Triste (the sad *alligator* :wink: ), and Land of Make Believe. Of course, we spliced parts so that the end result was fairly different from the stock music.

Winter Percussion: The Wall, based on the album by Pink Floyd. I couldn't tell you the names of all the songs, cause I forgot 'em, but one of them was "Another Brick in the Wall". Ooh! And we have moving props too, coming together at the end to make a wall across the floor, then we knocked it down.

Finally, my being drum major is far from guaranteed. There are 2 peple who ant the position, and our band director is going to decide after a few days of band camp. If I don't make it, then the percussion instructors have to fight over whether I'm going to play snare (traditional grip, gasp! And our instructor wants to tilt our drums too!) or pit SL.

Left foot step-off all the way!

EDIT: our marching band show this year is "Appalachian Spring". Go to JWPepper's website and search appalachian spring if you want to listen to it, we're playing Episode 1, Episode 2, and Finale.

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Post by Saurencaerthai » 2005-08-04 10:55pm

Zaia wrote:
Oh, and timpani, I've never played those much and have no idea how to teach for it.
Grip on timps is the same as keyboard mallets and matched grip for snare drum
It is important to keep in mind that there are three methods of playing: French, German, and American. For French, the mallets are primarily gripped by the thumb and forefinger with the thumb facing up. The hands are closer together and the player relies highly on the bounce off of the head. With German, the pamls face down and much more of the stroke comes from the wrist. American is a sort of in between the two.
(ahh, the beauty of not playing traditional! I hate traditional grip--no educational value except that it's fun and looks cool, otherwise it's worthless and potentially harmful).
Perhaps this is true in the realm of marching percussion, but I tend to dissagree for anything else. Within the drumset context, it offers another approach to the kit. I personally find it more comfortable to play with in the jazz context and even in harder contexts such as funk. I have also seen numerous people use it within an orchestral context. Potentially harmful? Only if you're really doing it wrong. In that case, though, it doesn't matter how you do it, you will get hurt.

--------------------

A few things to add on timpani:

1. Try not to choke the sound of the drum when playing it. This means that once the mallet has struck the head, do what you can to get it away from it so that the head can resonate freely. Some people would describe it as "pulling the sound out of the timp."
2. Try not to let the timps ring longer than the written note unless notated otherwise. Generally, if there is a rest after a note, it is good practice to mute the drum at the beginning of that rest. For example, if there is a whole note C followed by a quarter rest, you would let the note ring for four beats and mute it on the fifth (or first, if you're working in 4/4.) Obviously, this is not always practical, but generally it is something to strive for.
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Post by Zaia » 2005-08-04 11:12pm

Saurencaerthai wrote:It is important to keep in mind that there are three methods of playing: French, German, and American. For French, the mallets are primarily gripped by the thumb and forefinger with the thumb facing up. The hands are closer together and the player relies highly on the bounce off of the head. With German, the pamls face down and much more of the stroke comes from the wrist. American is a sort of in between the two.
Yes, but if the kid is teaching timpani for the first time, he should stick with the grip that is the same for all three main percussion instruments. Why make things more complicated right now by adding French and American grips to the list of stuff for him to go over with kids brand new to percussion? One of the big perks of teaching the German timp grip and the matched snare grip is that it's faster learning for students because they're the same as the mallet grip. From what he wrote, Hawkwings doesn't have a pit instructor so he's it for now. Teaching kids who don't know anything about timpani all three grips is a waste of valuable time. In another setting, no, but in marching band, at this point in the season, and without an instructor, it would be.
Perhaps this is true in the realm of marching percussion, but I tend to dissagree for anything else.
Well, marching percussion is what we're discussing.
Within the drumset context, it offers another approach to the kit. I personally find it more comfortable to play with in the jazz context and even in harder contexts such as funk. I have also seen numerous people use it within an orchestral context. Potentially harmful? Only if you're really doing it wrong. In that case, though, it doesn't matter how you do it, you will get hurt.
In the marching setting, the fad of the past decade or so has been to play traditional on flat drums, fully extended to perpendicular. You do that for a few weeks and let me know how your left wrist feels.
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Post by Hawkwings » 2005-08-05 01:41am

Actually, we'll have a pit instructor for band camp, then a different pit instructor during the season, for regular rehearsals. The schedules only work this way. As for teaching, well, if I'm gonna be pit SL I'd better know a thing or two about everything! Our school seems to use French grip for Timpani, I'm not sure though, I'd have to ask. Agreed though, that German would be easier to teach. However, if the person gets really used to it, it may be hard for them to learn a new grip. I guess it depends on what I find out when I get there though.

I'm painfully familiar with "pulling the sound out", I learned that with the keyboards last year.

Oh yes, how do you properly mute a timp?

As for traditional on flat drums, my left hand feels fine. The only problem I has was a permanent bruise/callous on the pad of my left ring finger where the stick rested. That *hurt*. I'm teaching myself match grip, mostly for variety and additional options. I guess I don't have problems because it was the way I was taught, and it's the only way I know how to play snare.

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Post by Saurencaerthai » 2005-08-05 10:19am

Zaia wrote:Yes, but if the kid is teaching timpani for the first time, he should stick with the grip that is the same for all three main percussion instruments. Why make things more complicated right now by adding French and American grips to the list of stuff for him to go over with kids brand new to percussion? One of the big perks of teaching the German timp grip and the matched snare grip is that it's faster learning for students because they're the same as the mallet grip. From what he wrote, Hawkwings doesn't have a pit instructor so he's it for now. Teaching kids who don't know anything about timpani all three grips is a waste of valuable time. In another setting, no, but in marching band, at this point in the season, and without an instructor, it would be.
I fail to see what is so diffacult about showing them the three methods during a lesson and saying "Why don't you try each of these a little bit this week and see if one feels better than another?" They then can mess around and see what feels better. If they find one they like better, go with that one. If they have no preference, it's up to you. I know it can be a very personal thing, seeing as while I play French most of the time, I have a friend who will only play German.
Zaia wrote: In the marching setting, the fad of the past decade or so has been to play traditional on flat drums, fully extended to perpendicular. You do that for a few weeks and let me know how your left wrist feels.
During the school year I do at least an hour of just exercises on a flat, hard practice pad using traditional grip. The only time I EVER had trouble was during a period where I accidentally practiced some bad technique. Otherwise, my wrists feel great.
Hawkwings wrote: Oh yes, how do you properly mute a timp?
Put your hand on the head and make the vibrations stop. Granted, you don't have to put your hand dead center, but experiment a little bit to see what works best for each person. I personally just rest the heel of my hand on the head.
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Post by YT300000 » 2005-08-05 08:39pm

I'm sorry, but I can't help thinking of Seinfeld.

I tell ya, I never really understood the importance of the conductor. I mean between you and me, what the hell is this guy doing? Do you really need somebody waving a stick in your face to play the violin? Does that really help you out? I could see how we need him at the beginning. Okay, tap-tap-tap, start. Okay, I can see how you need that. But once we're going, okay, once it's all happening, what do we need him for then? I don't see the cellist looking up, go, "I'm confused. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do." And the conductor goes, "Do this. Like this" "Oh, okay, thank you very much."

Much funnier with his facial expressions and movements, but still good.
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Post by Hawkwings » 2005-08-05 11:42pm

ha, that's a good one! Anyone who's ever been in a band with drummers, however, knows the answer.

Oh! I just made an accomplishment! I input our entire marching band show, minus percussion parts, into Sibelius! I'm such a bored band geek...

(I *do* have a score, incase you were wondering...)

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Post by Uraniun235 » 2005-08-06 02:30am

The thermal conductivity of Uranium is (300 K) 27.5 W/(m·K). Image

But seriously, I was assistant conductor for my junior year high school spring musical. I also conducted the band at a couple of pep band events (the Presidency had a couple of minor perks)... once in costume, as the rehearsal for the play I was in at the time was taking a break.

For the sake of completeness here is the costume I was in when I pulled that stunt. Sadly I have no pictures of the actual conduction. :(
Image

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Post by Zaia » 2005-08-06 05:54am

Saurencaerthai wrote:I fail to see what is so diffacult about showing them the three methods during a lesson and saying "Why don't you try each of these a little bit this week and see if one feels better than another?" They then can mess around and see what feels better. If they find one they like better, go with that one. If they have no preference, it's up to you. I know it can be a very personal thing, seeing as while I play French most of the time, I have a friend who will only play German.
Based on the nine years I've taught pit and the three years I've taught indoor percussion, I know that if you have too many newbies learning everything from scratch at the beginning of the season (which this is), their little brains all shut down from overload. So, if the choice of grip was going to be up to Hawkwings here (which apparently it isn't since he isn't going to instruct them during the season like it originally sounded), then starting them all out with German and then getting into the other grips later in the season with those students who will actually play timpani during the year (because it will probably only be a couple of students) is the way to go, in my opinion. Yes, overall, of course they should all know all of the grips, but at this point in the season, dealing with new students and a student leader who himself has no personal experience on the instrument? You deal with what you know, which is matched grip, aka German.
During the school year I do at least an hour of just exercises on a flat, hard practice pad using traditional grip. The only time I EVER had trouble was during a period where I accidentally practiced some bad technique. Otherwise, my wrists feel great.
Exercises on your own and roughly 30 hours a week of intense marching band rehearsal are two completely different things. Again, from my own fairly extensive marching band experience, I've seen enough injuries to be able to sway die-hard traditional fans (meaning the directors and battery instructors I've worked with) into trying and ultimately staying with matched grip for marching band.
"On the infrequent occasions when I have been called upon in a formal place to play the bongo drums, the introducer never seems to find it necessary to mention that I also do theoretical physics." -Richard Feynman

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Post by The Dark » 2005-08-06 07:09pm

Zaia wrote:
Hawkwings wrote:Yes! Zaia's a Pitskie! And an arranger! And has done indoor percussion!
Pitskie? That's cute. I call my students pitlets. :D
Pit pigs down here...we needed to play it up, since we had a huge band. I think my musicians wanted to kill me after I kept telling them at least half of what the audience will "hear" is how big your movements are.
Anyways, my background:
I'm actually in high school right now, going to be either drum major or pit section leader, and as such, am expected to teach the rookies a lot of fundamentals during camp, along with all the other duties that I'm expected to do. I've done a season of marching band in pit, and a eason of winter percussion on snare, so I'm well-rounded on the percussion side of things.
Ugh, drum major? Dude, why would you want that? It's a huge pain in the ass and honestly, almost no one will ever look at you, so you'll bust your butt for nothing, basically. And your friends will get pissy with you when you tell them what to do (at least sometimes they will). It's much more hassle and not nearly as educational as being pit section leader. Then again, I'm in favour of performing without a drum major full stop, so maybe I'm just a little bit biased...:D
Why would you ever want to be drum major? It takes you away from the performance of the actual music, and makes you a human metronome. There's a reason we invented those damn things :P . Of course, I'm probably biased too, since I was pit captain (we elevated it to being equal with battery captain since the sections were both large).

Our program is fairly competitive, we have a reputation for being the best in our division, and as such, we kinda have to live it to it. We've got a crew of about 60 people? Depends on the number of incoming.
Ok, so then you'll probably have 8-10 pit members, yah? Any idea how big the battery's going to be? Are there any rules about who can join the pit? Piano/keyboard experience? Another band instrument experience? Able to read music? Or do they just take anyone they can get? (I hate that. Makes people treat pit like it's a second-class section and it fucking rocks the socks off everyone else.)
60 for percussion, or 60 total? I marched in a band of ~350, with 12-15 pit depending on the year. We unfortunately didn't have rules for who could do pit. We only ever got one person who hadn't done music before, and he learned quick. Mostly we got double-reed players, and were glad to get bassoonists because they could read bass clef.
Our supreme lord marching band director defers his authority onto his marching band staff, of which there's likely going to be a visual instructor, battery instructor, pit instructor, and possibly several "floaters" that aren't paid and sorta don't do much.
Oh, yeah, the techs who are either recent graduates or college kids who like to socialize and get the high school kids in trouble. I know their kind! Bastards.
Our percussion director was smart...he hired the best of the graduates (usually ex-officers) to be techs. I think every single one of our techs was ex-corps. Two had been with Magic, one with Crusaders, one with Scouts, and one was a Senior Corps guy, but I don't recall who with.
So basically, my question is, do you have tips for teaching basics, both for marching and pit?
My knowledge of marching tips is very limited, because I never had to teach my kids more than just basic marching technique. Roll the feet, starting on the heels, moving fluidly along the outside of the foot to the ball of the foot. That's a roll-step, and is the basic forward step. Backwards you keep on your toes, heels way way way up high--toes roll a tiny bit back onto the ball of the foot, but no more than that. That's very important because backwards technique is hard and really important when it's rainy and the field is wet and slippery. Keep on your toes and you'll stay upright; if you use too much of the rest of your foot, you'll probably fall. For the battery (not sure if you have to deal with their marching or not), the bass drums (and cymbal players, if you have them--bleh) will use regular marching technique because they should all be turned so their drum heads are facing toward the sideline, but the snare and tenors will probably crap-step. I don't know if y'all do left-foot step-offs or right-foot step-offs, but either way, the drummers who face forward will have keep their calves (or ankles, depending on whether you're marching 8-to-5 intervals or something else). Other than that, even spacing for all so no one trips over anyone else, and that just about exhausts my knowledge of marching technique. Unless we get into all the bits about standing at attention... *grins evilly*
I always found it helpful to split the step into triplets. Heel-arch-toe, heel-arch-toe. It takes a bit to get used to, but if you're ok with hemiola patterns, it'll make your steps more even.
On pit, specifically it's introducing them to a new instrument, the keyboard.
*snip*
As for playing areas on the keyboard instruments, on the natural keys you should stay over the resonators, and for the accidentals, in the center of the bar too (if it's slow enough and you have time to reach that far). Otherwise you want to strike the key directly between the very edge and the node (where the string is thread through the key). It should be a smooth, legato motion, but make sure the rebound is still quick. If your rebound stroke doesn't bounce right back up, you run the risk of tangling yourself in your mallets when you play at faster tempos.
Or tangling your partner, if you're playing two people to a marimba. I got my hand broken that way, so don't do it.
Oh, and timpani, I've never played those much and have no idea how to teach for it.
Grip on timps is the same as keyboard mallets and matched grip for snare drum (ahh, the beauty of not playing traditional! I hate traditional grip--no educational value except that it's fun and looks cool, otherwise it's worthless and potentially harmful). If you have someone in the pit who plays a string instrument or who is gifted with a strong musical ear, put him/her on timps because tuning will come easiest to someone who's either naturally good at tuning or who's had to practice tuning constantly (like a cellist who has to use his/her ear to tune instead of just pressing down a fingering to get the right note). Playing position on the timpani is the section of head right over the pedal, about 2-3 inches in from the rim of the drum (except on the smallest drum, the 23" drum is more like 1-2 inches from the rim). Rolls on the timps are all single stroke, so don't let any snare drummers do buzz rolls or double-stroke rolls on them.
I actually prefer French grip for quiet playing, but German is best for beginners and for "outdoor" timpani playing. I find it gives me a little more control if I'm trying to play soft. It's basically the timapni grip Z described with the hand rotated 90 degrees so the thumb faces up. It's a little harder to learn, and I'm notorious for switching grips with dynamics, but I find I get a better rebound off most timpani at the lower dynamic levels. Also, a good timpanist should be able to (eventually) tune all his/her timpani off just one note, since they need to be able to hear intervals for on-the-fly tuning, and be able to tune without striking an audible note. I've used two ways of doing this: first is to "pop" a note by placing a finger on the head and lifting it quickly (it's hard to describe without showing it...), and the second, which requires incredibly good pitch, is to hum the note into the drumhead and tune until it resonates the note back. When tuning, if you go above the note, don't try to push back down. Drop below the note you need and go up again, or else you will be flat after a couple strokes even if you're on pitch to begin with.

Saurencaerthai wrote:
Hawkwings wrote:Oh yes, how do you properly mute a timp?
Put your hand on the head and make the vibrations stop. Granted, you don't have to put your hand dead center, but experiment a little bit to see what works best for each person. I personally just rest the heel of my hand on the head.
For a quick dampen (such as at the end of a song), you can put more on the head. The arm up to the elbow was about the most I could do easily. You don't want to put weight on it, though. For general muting, release your bottom three fingers from the mallet, hold the mallet tight, and place the fingertips and thumbtip on the head without letting the shaft of the mallet touch (it will almost certainly buzz in my experience).


IMO, Winter Line is the pay-off for putting up with marching band :wink: . My freshman and sophomore years we did Holsinger. First was In the Spring, When Kings Go Off To War, and second was To Tame the Perilous Skies. Junior year we took off due to director's health issues and did more concert work. Senior year we went to WGI with a book of Samuel Barber's music - Overture to The School For Scandal, Adagio for Strings, and Medea's Dance of Vengeance.
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Post by Fleet Admiral JD » 2005-08-06 07:31pm

I'd like to thank Zaia et al., but especially Zaia. I just joined my school's Marching Band....I've played sax since second grade and never touched a percussion instrument...so I joined pit :D (For reference, you can join in seventh grade, I'm going to be a sophomore)

In all honesty, I'm just not "feeling it." Everyone else is the "YAY!! MARCHING BAND!1!!one" I'm just a "Marching band....shmeh." Type person. I don't see the greatness.
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