First Things First: Have a Plan

What is the plan for your percussion rehearsal?
What’s the plan for your rehearsal today?

Happy Perc-day Everyone!

This post goes out to all the percussion instructors and staff out there. This weekend I was thinking about a competitive High School program that I was the percussion caption head for, and all of the planning that went into each rehearsal. I was reminded of how important it was to really truly understand what it was that we wanted to try and accomplish each rehearsal. This program was very special to me mostly because of what a great group of young people they were and the tremendous accomplishments they achieved by the end of the season.

Admittedly, some of the planning that happened actually occurred on the drive to the rehearsal. But a mere listing of bullet points of all the accomplishments that I wanted to ensure that we hit for each rehearsal was largely successful. Make no mistake, the success of that percussion program was largely due to the laser-sharp planning that went into each rehearsal and warm-up throughout the season.

What is it that you want your section to accomplish today? What are the big problems that you’re working on for this rehearsal? What are the long-term issues that you are striving to eradicate? Which performers in your section need help with certain skills or technique challenges? Are there music or visual changes the need to be made? What are the larger organizational goals for this rehearsal or for this week? These are some of the questions that can help to create an agenda for each rehearsal.

When you have answers to these questions it sometimes helps make a big difference in the success and accomplishments of the percussion section.


Take some time before each rehearsal to really think about answers to these questions and at the very least create a bullet list of items that you want to attack, preferably in chronological order. Include exercises specific warm-up and technique building items as well as the music and the sections of the music that you particularly want to ensure get quality rehearsal time. Also be sure to include full ensemble time and definitely plan for breaks as well as time to transition from one location to another within the rehearsal facility.

Lastly,  what is a plan without communications? Be sure to review your intentions with your directors and entire staff. As well, take some [planned] time to review with the membership.


Playing Zones! – #PercussionLaw

While we have fun with the #PercussionLaw hashtag, adding in some humor with our basic concepts, this is actually a pretty serious topStaying in those playing zones!ic!  Sparing you all with lengthy tutorial-sounding prose, it truly must be brought up as critical!

Yes, this is a healthy reminder to stay within those playing zones, as directed!  Your technique is held more in check, and equally important — the quality of sound produced is much higher!

For you instructors out there, it is truly something to keep an eye on. Be sure to look across all sections, including the pit to ensure all battery and pit performers are approaching their instruments so as to achieve playing in the proper playing zones and producing a high quality of sound.

Working in A Domed Environment

by DJ Montalbano

Former Percussion Coordinator

Syracuse University Marching Band


It is a cool autumn day, and your entire band is out on the field, along with the rest of your organization. It’s the day before one of your major regional marching band competitions. Here you are with your entire staff working on ensemble balance, projection from the percussion, timing control issues, and anything that may need tweaking. Finally, the rehearsal’s end arrives and you find yourself en route to the task of the evening.

When your band gets on the field, you and your staff decide to head upstairs to witness the show from a judge’s standpoint. Of course you would like to get the full effect! The show begins and things are just not right! You can see the faces of individuals in your ensemble working just as hard as they always do in rehearsals and they seem a bit relaxed yet a bit aggressive. They are working just as normal, but all of the important things including balance, timing, and projection just are not better, in fact they are worse! Then you look up and realize you are in a Domed arena. What went wrong?

Continue reading “Working in A Domed Environment”

Slowly Getting There!

Good afternoon everyone. I hope this finds you all well in your pursuit of marching percussion excellence! This is just a quick update to let you all know that the site is slowly coming along and we are slowly making progress to improve our new site. We hope you will continue to come back to the site as content unfolds here and certainly, having a new blog format like this

Working Hard!

will allow us to continue to generate interesting and useful articles and tips in the field of marching percussion much more quickly than we were able to do so in the past.

Thank you as always for your continued patience and we look forward to continuing to serve the needs of the marching percussion community!

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