Master Performer and coach Yumiko Watanabe describes the essential role of the percussion section as a “second director” in the ensemble, and the percussionists’ need to have a reliable grasp of time, an appropriate sound product, and above all, a sense of unity with the ensemble and conductor.
First steps to producing a good sound
Ms. Watanabe covers the basics of stick and mallet use, from individual technique to sectional training. Working with high school students, she encourages all members to develop personal strength and flexibility within the context of a strong sense of sectional unity. Numerous warm-ups and exercises reinforce this approach.
Stretches and wrist warm-ups are combined with rhythmic patterns to reinforce a sense of unity and time. These activities can be done alone, in sectionals, and during winds’ warm-ups.
The first step to playing an instrument
The Clinician feels that problems with execution and tone quality are usually caused by improper grip and form. Grip and posture in are explained in detail, and methods for asserting proper stick control without building tension are repeatedly demonstrated.
Daily exercises begin with non-instrumental rhythm exercises. Hand and foot taps and claps are used to internalize a strong sense of time, beat subdivisions, rests, and limb independence. Done as a section, these studies promote reliability, “weak-hand” development, and reading skills. Use of verbalization is explained and demonstrated. Technical training studies focus on consistency of sound between hands as well as between section members.
Bonus Track: Body Percussion
Rock Trap (W. J. Schinstine)