Every band director I have worked with keeps some kind of music library. They all have a system of cataloging music. What a vast majority of them do not have are instrument inventories, specifically for percussion instruments (which in general are not rented/borrowed from semester to semester). I’m going to describe how to create these inventories, using several examples of my own. Inventories will assist with equipment repair, new product budgets, and the artistic needs of your ensemble. This extra step in organization can really help you out whether you are just building your program or looking to tighten your efficiency.  

I use several inventories, all of which are stored on my computer. I have one for mallets and concert sticks, cymbals, instruments, and hardware; one for bags, towels, and covers; one for music I own (my personal music library for solo/percussion ensemble works); and a list of pieces I plan to purchase in the future. All of these, as you might imagine, are very useful for a gigging percussionist who needs to know what he owns before agreeing to a gig, but these contain much more specific information.  

Each inventory has space at the end of the line showing location. I have a bass guitar and an amp I’m loaning to a fellow musician at church, so in the ‘location’ columns I listed “Alex/Church.” I know where it is if I need it for another gig. I know who has it, so I know who is responsible for its upkeep. I know exactly where every one of my five triangles are, and can pull them out of storage within five minutes and be on my way to the triangle gig.  

Another thing I keep track of through these inventories is instrument condition. I make note of which sticks are worn and which mallets are starting to fray. I know what I need to replace, and what I can substitute for it until my budget is good. Along those lines, I have a “uses” column for mallets and cymbals (for cymbals, it’s listed as “sound”). If I need to find a medium hard marimba mallet for a part, I can look it up and see the color of the yarn, the color of the permanent marker signature (I label all my concert sticks and mallets so I can identify them from a distance when playing with anywhere from one to 40 other percussionists who are swapping mallets across the isle to get just the right sound), how many I have, and if they are on the rack at home or at school.

All of those were practical, but I also use these inventories to create art. I currently own – thirty-five cymbals, each one different from the others. I use three descriptive words for each cymbal. Trashy, airy, refined, focused, punchy, sustained, dark, and shimmering are a few of my favorite descriptors. Suppose I don’t like the sound of the bright concert 18” cymbal, that has “suspended” stamped on it, for a dark, heavy musical piece? I can pull any of the “dark” or “dry” cymbals in the inventory. If my 18” dark medium thin crash is too high-pitched despite its dark nature, my 22” dark crash/ride will do nicely in adding a massive wall of night-time German Forest fairy tale sound. Adding a description of how the instruments sound and “feel” brings personality and a new function to any inventory.

About the Author

EVAN ROMACK is an independent percussionist and instructor based in Decatur, IL. He teaches private lessons (classical percussion and drum set), summer music camps, band camps, and drum line. He is available for performances and drum maintenance. Evan received his Bachelor’s degree at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in Music Business with a minor in marketing, and his Master’s degree in Performance Percussion from Jacksonville State University in Alabama. Evan strives to bring the exciting world of percussion to musicians and non-musicians alike through performance, lessons, and clinics. Search “Evan Romack” on Youtube for videos, or send emails to: romack66@gmail.com.

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