As a percussionist,
and Jr-High - High School band director I totally agree with
your article. When I went through school, the percussionist
were not challenged and we dredded counting a zillion measures
of rests only to play the occaisional quarter note. I got so
bored that my senior year I started playing the mallet parts
just to have something to do in class. This opened up a whole
new area of music for me and my high school plans of going into
architecture changed to music.
my seventh grade band of 35 has only one trombone for a bass
section (not much) so I have transposed the tuba parts up and
have a student using the bottom of our 4-1/3 marimba to play
bass. This is solving three problems at once:
percussionist has something to do.
2. The percussionists are reading (keyboard) music.
3. Our band gets to hear a bass part.
School Students I can see the benifit of doing this in bass
clef, but the middle school drummers are still learning to read
music so I transpose it to treble clef and just have them play
it at the bottom of the marimba. This way I don't confuse their
reading development by mixing up clefs and note names on them.
This does not seem to hinder their timpani reading skills as
timpani stay set with their pitches at their level of music
and do not require the constant note changes to have to read.
With the newer music writing programs (finale) I can scan the
music into the computer and transpose the tuba parts in no time.
This makes it very easy to fill in any music parts with the
keyboards and keep the percussionists busy. This way I can fill
in more parts with the percussion than just flute and oboe.
The percussionists then get to experince playing harmonic parts
rather than just the melody that flute and oboe usually play.
Working it right ( I haven't tried this yet) the keyboards could
play all the parts of the band and you would automatically have
a full percussion ensemble piece for them to play.