Though we all know the incredible value of doing warm-up and ensemble development exercises with our ensembles, when I ask teachers why they don’t spend more time doing them, the answer is most often one word: percussion. The recurring question is, “What do I do with all of those percussionists in the back of the room?” Time and again, in rehearsals, I hear directors say things like, “Winds, let’s do this tuning exercise. Percussionists, while we do that, please get ready for the first piece and then sit quietly. Oh, and please be model citizens with perfect behavior.” Okay, I made that last part up, but it is often implied! We all know we must involve our percussionists in those warm-up exercises. If we don’t, we run the risk of our band sounding like a wind group and a percussion ensemble sharing a stage rather than the two unified into one cohesive sound. So, whether you are writing those exercises, or buying a warm-up and ensemble development book, make certain to have percussion parts (snare, bass drum, auxiliary, mallets, and timpani) integrated into the fabric of every exercise.
Peter Loel Boonshaft, Director of Education
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