A Video Guide to Essential Percussion Techniques

This series of video lessons will provide students and instructors alike with a comprehensive introduction to the fundamental techniques for the most common percussion instruments. From instrument setup to maintenance to performance techniques, Vic Firth's PERCUSSION 101 will cover the essential skills necessary for today's all-around percussionist.

The curriculum for this series was compiled by members of Vic Firth's Collegiate Educator Program which includes some of the most influential university instructors in the country. Presented by percussionist David Skidmore in a relaxed, approachable atmosphere, this series is sure to become the most widely referenced video guide for percussion education!



Concert Bass Drum Tambourine
Crash Cymbals Suspended Cymbal
Gong / Tam-Tam Triangle
Keyboard Percussion Instruments Wood Blocks / Temple Blocks
Concert Snare Drum Marching Percussion
Timpani Drumset


Test your knowledge - or incorporate the quizzes into your percussion curriculum!


What is PERCUSSION 101?

The series covers instrument characteristics, maintenance routines, tuning, mallet selection and general playing techniques on the most common instruments as well as marching percussion. In addition, rehearsal techniques & exercises will help you to develop a great all around percussion program.

Who was PERCUSSION 101 developed for?

This project was originally developed for use in the college percussion methods class – to serve as instruction for non-percussionists who will be charged with teaching percussion in the schools. It quickly developed into a resource to find quick answers to common questions after these students went in the field. For current band directors, the "BAND DIRECTOR'S PERCUSSION SURVIVAL GUIDE" was the first implementation of this project. Type in your question, find a quick and applicable answer! It's as easy as that!

After we began to see what a truly valuable resource this was, we began to integrate study guides and online tests so that percussion students could also take advantage of the information. After all, how much time do you REALLY have in your classroom or private lesson studio to cover all of the percussion instruments fully? Generally, we fix the problems with gaps in knowledge as they occur instead of proactively covering all of our basics!

How can I integrate PERCUSSION 101 into my curriculum?

Whether you are a college percussion methods instructor, a band or orchestra director or a private percussion lesson teacher, we've made this resource a valuable "HANDS-OFF" teaching resource! The information for all of the instruments is presented in a series of videos which cover all the fundamentals, so student can watch on their own. Here are some recommendations for implementing this in your curriculum:

AS HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT OR CLASSROOM ACTIVITY: On each instrument "module", there is a STUDY GUIDE that students can download. This study guide will keep them on-task by asking simple questions on information that was included in the video (in sequential order). Simply assign an instrument to the student (giving him or her the appropriate link on our website), hand them a printed study guide, then collect the study guide as proof that they watched the videos!

certificateAS A TEST: At the end of each list of videos there is an embedded ONLINE TEST that can be administered through any web browser. The study guide questions are shuffled, and multiple choice answers are provided. At the end of the test, the student will be given a number grade with a copy of his or her completed test explaining all the correct answers.

If the student passed with a 70% or above, a "CERTIFICATE OF ACHIEVEMENT" is available for printing at the end of the exam (to hand in to you for recording in your grade book). The student also has the option of emailing the certificate to you (or their friends), as well as the option of posting it on their Facebook, Myspace or Twitter accounts.

But what about PRIVACY CONCERNS?

Vic Firth does NOT collect or share any information (name, email address, scores, etc) for any of the test participants. The "NAME" field at the beginning of the test is ONLY used for printing the "Certificate of Achievement" at the end of the test (the name appears on the certificate). Students are allowed to use any info in that text field (nickname, random numbers, student ID, etc). When emailing the test results, the email address IS NOT RECORDED for use by Vic Firth or anyone else.

Can I use the tests without being online?

YES! But we obviously would like to avoid letting students download the test itself... Send us a note and we'll be happy to email you a PDF copy that you can print and use in your classroom.

Any other questions?

If you have other questions, technical problems or simply want to leave us some suggestions on how to make this resource work better for you, please drop us a line!

About David Skidmore:

David Skidmore is active as both a performer and composer of music for percussion. David is a member of the Ensemble ACJW, Third Coast Percussion, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Lucerne Festival Percussion Group, and Collide. He is a dedicated advocate for the music of our time, having commissioned, premiered, and performed dozens of new works by many of the great composers of the 20th and 21st century.

David has been featured as a soloist with the Royal Academy of Music Orchestra in London, the Pacific Soundings series in Sapporo, Japan, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and the Chicago Civic Orchestra LaSalle Bank Chamber Music Series. As a chamber musician, David has performed for the Music on the Edge series in Pittsburgh, the Cleveland Art Museum Concert Series, June in Buffalo, Klangspuren Schwaz, the Philharmonie Essen, the Ojai Music Festival, the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the Bang On a Can Marathon, the Princeton Composers’ Ensemble, and at three Percussive Arts Society International Conventions.

David’s compositions are performed regularly in concert halls and universities across the country. Two of David’s pieces were performed in November 2007 at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. In May of 2007 his latest piece, “Unknown Kind”, was premiered at Carnegie Hall. He was awarded 1st prize in the 2005 Percussive Arts Society Composition Contest and 2nd prize in the 2004 contest. His piece “Whispers – for 9 Percussionists” was a finalist for an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award in 2005, and has been recorded by the Northwestern University Percussion Ensemble.

David received the Bachelor of Music degree from the Northwestern University School of Music and the Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music. His teachers have included Robert Van Sice, Michael Burritt, James Ross, Paul Wertico, and Michael Hernandez.