As part of our continuing commitment to furthering percussion education, we've assembled articles and advice from some of today's leading percussion educators. Much of the content you will find here is exclusive to vicfirth.com, written by members of our Education Team. As the number one source on the internet for percussion educational resource materials, we are proud to offer this service to percussion educators and directors world-wide.

Whether you're looking for something specific, or just want to investigate some of the many articles that we've put together over the years, this is the place to look!

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Matt Patuto The Practice of Practice
We have all been told that practice makes perfect and to achieve perfection one must practice for hours everyday. I am not about to say that I have a quick fix that will lessen your practice time but I do have a method that will improve your chances of achieving your goals...
Drumset, Marching, Concert
Fran Merante Counting Out Loud
There has never been one student of mine that has accepted this concept without resistance. I have students that have been with me for years and still have a problem with it...
Drumset
Christian Wissmuller
JAZZed Magazine
Conversations with Gary Burton
Renowned for his extraordinary four-mallet technique, Gary Burton has been one of the world's preeminent vibraphonists since his emergence in the early '60's...
Interview
Ivan A. Trevino Basics of Self-Publishing
Most percussionists I know dabble in composing. Only a few, however, possess the basic entrepreneurial skills needed to turn their compositions into supplemental income...
General
Scott Brown Developing a Successful Middle School Percussion Ensemble
A percussion ensemble is a great vehicle for developing not only technique and musicianship in young percussionists, but also interest and excitement about the world of percussion....
Ensemble
Tim Genis Art of Timpani
Reprinted with permission from Yamaha
The word 'pause' does not seem to exist in Tim Genis' vocabulary. The renowned percussionist juggles his time between serving as the Principal Timpanist for the distinguished Boston Symphony Orchestra, Head of Percussion at the Boston University School of Music...
Timpani
John Xeopoleas
Dawn Richardson
Wally Schnalle
Mike Curotto
Drumming Instructors Roundtable
Reprinted with permission from DRUM! magazine. What happens when you put four of the San Francisco Bay Area's premier drum teachers together in a small room?
Drumset
Stephen Flinn How to use transcription software to improve your drumming
Transcription software is a valuable learning tool for any drummer, and it’s often much more fun to work with than a one-dimensional drum book. You see, the software isn’t just intended for putting pencil to paper: today’s software is ideal for play-a-long and analysis purposes.
Drumset
Tom Mendola Drumming and Drugs
The physical and mental problems associated with drug use are well enough documented. My purpose here is to zero in on what it does to a drummer’s abilities. What I am about to tell you, I know from personal experience and observations of students and fellow drummers for over 40 years.
General
Ed Saindon The Art of Composition
Many musicians view composing as a mysterious process that cannot be analyzed, practiced, and learned. However, like improvisation, specific musical elements and devices used in composition can be analyzed and studied.
General
Ed Saindon Got Rhythm?
Many improvisers work on developing their improvisational skills primarily by exploring techniques related to note selection. While note choices, level of harmonic sophistication, and technical facility contribute greatly to a player’s overall sound and voice, rhythm is an often overlooked component in the study of improvisation.
Keyboard Percussion
Ed Saindon The Fulcrum Grip
The Fulcrum Grip is a four-mallet grip for vibraphone and marimba that incorporates finger control along with wrist and arm motion. I began experimenting with the grip’s mechanism several years ago...
Keyboard Percussion
Gifford Howarth “THE FOOTBALL FIELD vs. THE RECITAL HALL” … a mallet perspective.
There has been tremendous growth in the competitive arena over the past ten years in the United States. The indoor percussion activity has grown to an impressive size and has become a major ensemble in hundreds of high schools throughout the country.
Keyboard Percussion
Mike Coers The Mouse
A great way to begin the spring training season for the high school marching percussion section is to play exercises that incorporate both pit and battery. I have found that sometimes, due to time constraints and lack of “ tech “ personnel, it is advantageous to have full ensemble exercises available which incorporate multiple learning concepts.
Marching
Craig Collison Thoughts on Teaching Sight Reading on Mallet Percussion Instruments
A few months before the audition, high school students will come to me for lessons on their All-Region percussion music. The students usually come in fairly well prepared on their snare drum and mallet music. My task usually ends up tweaking their musical approach.
Keyboard Percussion
Karl Fitzgerald-Sloman Embracing Technology in Music Education
As musicians we are influenced by technology in all aspects of the profession. This includes being a performer, arranger, composer and educator. If you are not one with lots of technology savvy, then this article is written to help you...
General
Joe Jahnigen Stewart-isms
Like all great jazz players, Bill Stewart has a unique vocabulary of original motifs that he draws from while improvising. These compositional devices work as a springboard for improvisation as well as bringing continuity and form to his playing.
Drumset
John Hadfield Applying South Indian Rhythmic Concepts to the Drum Set
I learned this South Indian composition from the amazing percussionist Jamie Haddad. Initially, this composition was shown to me of frame drum, but I have taken it and applied it to drum set.
Drumset
Bill Cahn Interview with Bill Cahn
The following interview with Bill Cahn occurred in November 2007 at the request of Joe Spurlock, a student of percussion at Ohio State University.
General
Cary Nasatir Taming the Volume Beast in the Percussion Section
Without a doubt, the question I get asked the most from music educators is “how do I deal with the volume from the percussion section?” In my clinics I usually joke that “yelling at your drummers just gets them madder!”
General
Mike Otto The Drum Teacher's Website
One of the best promotional tools the private teacher can have is a teaching website.  Websites have become the new business card.  Today’s fast-paced society finds most of the information it is looking for online.  If you’re not there, someone else will be.
General
Dave Mancini Musician or Professional Musician?
The information I am providing in this bulletin is the result of my 30 plus years in the music business. I gained this knowledge from my own personal experience in the business and in the “School of Hard Knocks,” as we in the business fondly refer to the real world. Learning and applying these skills is what enabled me to have a successful career and to continue having a successful career.
General
Mike Coers What is Quality of Sound?
There is a big difference between "hearing the execution" from segment to segment in the marching battery and the actual "sound quality" produced by the segments as a whole. Sound Quality may be described as a "presence" of sound that is unique and intentional.
Marching
Jeremy Seinkoler Getting Into Character
I had a drum student for a number of years who went on to study acting at a prestigious program in England. He was an extremely bright and sensitive kid, whose enthusiasm for drums was second only to his passion for acting. We were talking one day about the similarities between acting and drumming, about the notion of “getting into character” both for different acting roles and for playing drums on tunes with different feels.
Drumset
David Helman To Read or Not To Read?
Anyone for Tennis?
A student comes to me for his or her first lesson, with the idea that maybe it’s just like my tennis lesson; We will “hit” a few things around, talk about the “grip”, and go home. Sure, I agree, let’s hit around the kit and have some fun, no problem. But the reality is it’s only a 30 minute lesson in a week of seven days. How can I extend the learning process to cover the whole week?
Drumset
Jeremy Steinkoler Understanding Song Form
Having taught rock band workshops for the past thirteen years, I’ve worked with dozens of drummers who are in a situation where they’re trying to learn five songs in the course of eight weeks.
Drumset
Dan Garvin The Recording Teacher
Today's teachers have an amazing amount of instructional material at their disposal, from books to videos to play-along CDs. But the technology of today has also opened a new avenue for the teacher: home recording.
Drumset
Donny Gruendler The New Versatility
Remember when your band teacher told you “if you are versatile, you’ll always work”? As a result, you worked on swing tunes, shed that bossa nova groove, whipped out the metronome and even brought a pair of brushes for that ballad in jazz band class. You ARE going to be versatile and become a gigging musician one day.
Drumset
Sherrie Maricle Introduction to Jazz and Big Band Reading
Sherrie Gives us an introduction on how to approach teaching the fundamentals of performing with a Jazz or Big Band ensemble.
Drumset
Joe Bergamini Using Musical Ensembles to Teach
Studying drums is a fun journey, but playing alone is not the full picture. Creating energy with other musicians is another level of expression that must be experienced to be fully appreciated and understood.
Ensemble
Brandon Kurzawa Teaching Music: Music Majors, Choose Education
As we arrive towards the end of another school year, I am reminded of how important it is to assist our graduating seniors on the transition from high school into college. So many music students have the dream and desire to be a working and successful performing musician and the attraction of performing music for a living continues to be glamorous in the ever-changing music industry.
General
Brandon Kurzawa Teaching Music, Teaching Percussion: A Balance In Curriculum
Percussionists, more commonly referred to as drummers, are a unique group of musicians.  Drummers are often recognized, and referred to as non-musicians and the old familiar saying, “There are four members in the band - three musicians and one drummer” is often comically stated when speaking of drummers and percussionists. 
General
Jeff Hoke Sticking with a Plan: The Hybrid Sticking System
The following approach to sticking will create the consistency, accuracy, comfort, and improved dexterity crucial to the developing snare drummer. There are two primary sticking systems used today: the alternate system and the Straight system.
General
Peter Magadini The Speed Rating Chart.
How fast are your hands? Vic Firth educator Peter Magadini has developed a series of excercises to help you find out. The Speed Rating Chart is designed to help drummers develop both their endurance and hand to hand stick speed.
General
Matthew Patuto

Essential Rhythms: Counting and Singing.
One problem I’ve encountered with the elementary or middle school student is their ability to hear rhythms.  The technique of hearing a rhythm before you play it is an essential part of being a good reader, but without knowing how long a note should be held, success is limited.

General
Mark Manczuk

Understanding the "Expression of Life" through Coached Listening
Recently, I've had some of my students come to me and say, "I'm trying out for jazz band and I want learn how to play jazz." I ask, "Do you listen to jazz?" If so, "How much jazz do you listen to?"

General
Steve Laffy

Reading the Dots... Your Way to Drumming Success
I look back over my 30-year career as a professional drummer – as a drumming coach, lecturer, book author and as a musician who has played and toured with many different artists in many different countries, playing on radio and performing on television, I can reflect on how I achieved all of the skills and knowledge I needed for my career to endure as long as it has.

General
Jeff Salem A Little Drumming in Everyone
Jeff shares his experience creating new drummers while involved working a gig on a cruise ship. He suggests that this might be a way to expand your private teaching practice - applying this concept in your community!
General
Jeff Salem The Importance of Reading Music
While it seems to be an obvious statement - Jeff's article offers additional insights as to why being able to read a chart has helped him "get the gig" more often than not as a professional drummer. An article worth sharing with your students!
General
John Thomakos Extreme Listening - Extreme Results
When it comes to developing musical proficiency on your instrument, listening is a key ingredient. Productive listening can positively influence and change your playing more than any other practicing. Knowing and understanding this simple but powerful concept, you hold the key to slowly cultivating and developing the sound and musicianship which you desire in your playing.
General
Norm Bergeron Applying African Music Concepts
The study of African musical systems holds an incredible wealth for the modern percussion educator and band director. Norm Bergeron gives us four African musical concepts that will help to foster and develop solid foundations of time, feel, groove and ensemble playing.
General
Nicholas Papador

Singles, Doubles, Triples: Rudimental Building Blocks as Applied to Four-Mallet Keyboard Technique
The continuing evolution and expansion of marching percussion is, in part, a result of numerous performers, educators, and clinicians who have explored the technical aspects of rudimental playing at a base conceptual and physiological level.

Keyboard Percussion
Giff Howarth Simply Four - For Mallet Technique as easy as 1, 2, 3... (4)
In this article, Giff provides a breakdown of how to correctly hold the mallets, describes the role of each finger, details the basic strokes and points out common problems beginners have and ways to fix them.
Keyboard Percussion
Mark Wessels Teaching the Beginning Mallet Player
Why is it that beginning percussionists have a hard time learning to READ keyboard music?! Usually it's because we set them up to fail! Mark Wessels takes a look at the problems associated with teaching the beginning mallet student how to read music on the "starter" bell sets and explores several strategies that can help.
Keyboard Percussion
Robert Van Sice Marimba Perspective
Robert Van Sice has identified two common issues to which many students might want to give thought: basic keyboard skill and repertoire choice.
Keyboard Percussion
Scott Brown and Michael Lynch

Drumming in the Dome
As the popularity of indoor marching band competitions increases, a growing number of band directors and percussion instructors find themselves dealing with balance and clarity problems that they had never noticed before or expected to deal with.

Marching
Brian Mason Developing the Front Line Percussion Ensemble
Marching bands of today are utilizing a wider variety of concert percussion instruments than ever before. This recent growth has increased the emphasis of percussion in the school music program and helped to give more students experience with tuned and accessory percussion instruments. When these instruments are grounded off the marching field and played in the area in front of the band, they are commonly referred to as the Front Line Percussion Ensemble or Pit section. This section has not only developed into a more integrated voice with the wind texture, but has become a more prominent element of the percussion ensemble itself.
Marching
Murray Gusseck NEWSFLASH!! Vic Firth Headphones Help Cure Sterile Time Playing
In his new article, Murray Gusseck, the percussion caption head for the 6-time World Champion Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps details the concept and implementation of playing along with recorded music privately, or in a group setting. Included in the article are 3 new technique exercises in printable PDF format and Quicktime video clips of Murray and members of the 2003 Santa Clara Vanguard performing the exercises.
Marching
Neil Larrivee The Inner Game of Indoor Percussion
Neil Larrivee, Vic Firth's Director of Education and Director for the 2000 WGI Scholastic World Champion King Philip Indoor Marching Percussion Ensemble, sat down with some of the top instructors in the WGI Indoor Percussion arena to give you helpful tips on how to best deal with the complexities of championships week. From what to do when you arrive in Dayton to what to expect in the arena's acoustical tendencies, this article is a must-read for ALL WGI instructors!
Marching
Travis Watson Percussion and the Design Idea
Travis Watson gives some insight into how to design a logical and effective show for the indoor marching arena.
Marching
Kurt Gartner Finding the Right Multi-Mallet
This article is a result of Kurt Gartner's experience in rehearsing and performing Illegible Canons, a multi-movement work for clarinet and percussion, composed by William Bergsma. The principles explained in this article may be applied to any multi-percussion piece.
Multi-Percussion
Arvin Scott Drumming for Success
Drumming for Success is a two-part youth and adult community-based program that Arvin Scott started in Athens, Georgia. This program provides a positive and fun-filled environment that fosters achievement, creativity and self-esteem.
Personal Growth
Cary Nasatir From Instructor to Clinician
As rewarding as teaching is, conducting drum clinics can be even more so. Music educators in secondary schools are craving help and direction with their percussion section, and Cary Nasatir is here to help you get started!
Personal Growth
David Mancini Beating Drugs, Gangs and Violence with Drums & Rhythms
Through music, kids could be encouraged, inspired and motivated, not only in their musical endeavors, but in other areas as well. Dave Mancini exerts us to be positive role models by encouraging them to use their creative talents in a positive way
Personal Growth
John Jamison Working with Challenged Students
John Jamison shares his experiences on the positive outcomes of working with challenged students.
Personal Growth
John Ruka Private Teacher Networking - A Practical Example
To follow up a previous article on how private teachers should network for mutual benefit, John Ruka gives a practical example of how several studios can combine resources at the holiday time to create a workshop that benefits students, teachers AND parents.
Personal Growth
John Ruka The Power of Networking
NETWORK: "A group of individuals who interacts around a particular mutual interest for the benefit of each and all!" How can the private instructor tap into networking? John Ruka explains.
Personal Growth
Mike Fraley Sightreading Made Easy
Mike Fraley outlines a systematic approach to sightreading that promises to take the fear out of being handed a new piece of music.
Reading
Mike Fraley Teaching and Reaching at the Middle School Level
Even under the best circumstances, middle school students can present special challenges. Mike Fraley gives us some techniques and tips that he uses when working with this unique group between the ages of 10 and 14.
Reading
Tom Aungst Reading with Animals
The ability to read music is vital for students at every level. Tom Augnst shows how learning to read music can be easy and fun, especially at the elementary level.
Reading
Jeff Hoke Selecting Solo Material for Grade School Percussionists
As solo and ensemble season approaches, one challenge posed to private teachers and band directors is the selection of appropriate literature for the grade school percussionist. An appropriate selection of solo literature is on in which the concepts presented are familiar to the student but also represent the next logical step in the student's developmental process.
Scholastic
Jeff Hoke Approaching the First Lesson: Suggestions for the Private Percussion Teacher
In the first meeting with a prospective student, the private teacher's initial approach is crucial. This is true regardless of whether the student is at the beginning, intermediate, or advanced level.
Scholastic
Chris Retschulte Incorporating Technology into your Everyday Teaching
Chris Retschulte provides some insight and perspective on using computers and software packages to improve and enhance the quality of the education you cna provide to your students.
Scholastic
John Pollard Keeping Percussionists Interested During Concert Season
Keeping percussionists interested during concert season can sometimes be a challenge. John Pollard gives us some suggestions that are designed to help instructors keep percussionists on-task and accountable during concert band rehearsals.
Scholastic
John Pollard The Honor Band of America: View from the Inside
Dear high school band students: Imagine meeting 100 of the best high school musicians in the country. Imagine the opportunity to stay with them for 3 days in a luxurious hotel and create lasting relationships with them. Imagine rehearsing in a lavish banquet hall under the baton of a master conductor, and performing for thousands in a majestic theater with world-renowned musicians. Now stop imagining, because each year members of the "Honor Band of America" experience this wonderful reality.
Scholastic
Tom Aungst Expectations for your Program
Achieving a successful high school program is nearly impossible without implementing a balanced feeder program. Tom Aungst, percussion instructor for the Dartmouth public schools (as well as percussion caption head & arranger for The Cadets of Bergen County) details his expectations for the elementary and middle school program, including rhythmic development, rudimental knowledge and use of primary percussion instruments.
Scholastic
Various Authors Preparing for the University Audition
Several University percussion instructors share what they look for in prospective students. Includes a great list of suggested audition pieces.
Scholastic
Various Authors Involving your Students in New Areas of Percussion
Some marching band students are not interested in jazz or ethnic drumming, and mallet students are not always involved in snare, timpani or drum set. Recently, we asked some of our educators how they were addressing this issue.
Scholastic
Craig Collison First Aid for the Concert Snare Drum: Problems and Solutions
Everyday a young, uninformed percussionist unknowingly transforms a beautiful and expensive concert snare drum into a very poorly sounding instrument. As professional performers and educators, we generally do not take enough time to educate the student and the band director on how to properly care for and tune a symphonic snare drum. The key to reversing this trend is to expose both the band director and students to the sound of a well-tuned concert snare drum. Craig Collison points out some common maintenance and repair problems and solutions. Most of this information will be common knowledge to the experienced percussionist, but can serve as useful information to the non-percussionist band and orchestra director as well.
Snare Drum
Mark Wessels Snare Drum Care: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Mark offers some comprehensive steps to getting - and keeping - your snare drum in tip-top working shape. An article in three parts.
Snare Drum
Mark Wessels Learning the Proper Snare Drum Grip: Part 1, Part 2
In this series, Mark Wessels and Jeff Queen demonstrate how to learn to grip the stick - the right way!
Snare Drum
Mark Wessels Learning the Rebound Stroke
Most percussion educators agree - the rebound stroke is the basis of good technique on the percussion instruments. Mark explains one method of teaching and perfecting this important technique.
Snare Drum
Vic Firth Tuning Exercises for Timpani
Today, most timpani come equipped with tuning gauges. However, these gauges are only as good as your ears! Vic Firth gives several exercises to help you develop your tuning skills.
Timpani

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