The Percussionist MO: 7 Things They All Do

Percussion: the heart of the ensemble. The rhythm of the band. In regards to practice, they are (have to be) the most diligent section. Whether we want to hear their diddles or not, we can always rely on percussionists to drop us a great beat.

Equinox Percussion performs for the SuperBowl LIII halftime show.

1. They find rhythm in everything.

Shopping carts, ceiling fans, Siri, dryers, footsteps, highway zipper pavement... it all has a rhythm. Percussionists will find it, and they will drum to it. 

2. Their expression has 2 categories: Mean muggin' and full-on performance.

When we think about performance quality, we usually think about color guard. But percussionists are the unsung heroes of performance! A look at any band photo will show percussionists doing 1 of 2 things: either maxing it out as much as the color guard or mean muggin' all the way! 

3. Anything can be a drum stick.

Anything... really. Anything. Drum sticks, bread sticks, pretzel sticks, fingers, your friend's fingers, toes, Twizzlers, etc. Much like guard folks, percussionists will use whatever they can get their hands on and drum with it. Where there's a will, there's a way.

4. Anything can be a practice pad.

Again...literally anything. The body is a great practice is the car. Or the cat. Or your friend's head (we've seen it happen). Playing a percussion instrument means precision is key and unity is essential. So if there's a chance to practice but there's no practice pad in sight, percussionists will do what is necessary to get in quality drum time. If that means drumming on a friend's head to nail that tricky herta pattern, well...a sacrifice is a sacrifice. 

5. Friends don't let friends drum alone.

Percussionists illustrate a pack mentality. Occasionally one may find a lone drummer practicing his/her skills comfortably in the middle of Algebra. But ultimately, drummers prefer to practice in a group. They are often seen outside band rooms, in corners of the classroom, or spending lunch practicing. They are a tight knit group that enjoys the rhythms of many, all drumming in unison.

6. They love a good stick trick.

And they're always practicing new ones. If there's a new way to toss a drum stick, mallet, etc., they'll find a way to do it. Because why not? Stick tricks look really cool!

7. They vocalize drum patterns.

If you're a percussionist, it's pretty safe to assume that you've practiced your rhythms with your mouth. Or learned new songs that way. Or explained a cool lick in your favorite DCI show by verbalizing the rhythms. After all, you're the heartbeat of the ensemble. If you don't live the music inside and out, who will? 

About the Author Danielle Lavrenz

Danielle Lavrenz lives for pageantry and the marching arts. Passionate about colorguard, she has marched since she was in 7th grade. She marched with the Morton High School band program for a total of 6 years, including 3 years in their circuit-level winterguard. She was a 4 year camper at the Music for All Summer Symposium and marched in the 2009 Bands of America Tournament of Roses Parade Honor Band. She went on to attend Murray State University, where she studied English Education, was an active member in the MSU Racer Band, and was devoted to her sisters in the Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity. She marched with The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps in 2010, 2011, and 2014 as well, earning a bronze and gold metal during her tenure. She has teched, choreographed, and directed for Marshall County High School, Calloway County High School, Bethel University, Morton High School, Waukesha North High School, and Greendale High School. Lavrenz is a member of the DSI Marketing Team and currently resides in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where she teaches at Greendale High School. She is also a staff member at the Music For All Summer Symposium.

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