Percussion: A Course of Study for the Future Band and Orchestra Director

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Thomas Siwe

General Info

Year: 2007
Edition: 2nd Edition
Publisher: Media Press Inc.
Cost: Instructor Book Cost - $34.50   |   Student Workbook Cost - $37.00

Source: Siwe, Thomas. Percussion: A Course of Study for the Future Band and Orchestra Director, Second Edition. Chicago, Media Press Inc., 2007.


The contents of this book start out with a large section about snare drum. It discusses the history of the snare drum and includes etudes and exercises that work on different rolls, flams, drags, ruffs, and rim shots. There are also sections on bass drum, cymbals, timpani, triangle, tambourine, castanets, small wood instruments, metal instruments, keyboard instruments (which breaks down into marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, chimes, and vibraphone), and drum set. It teaches one how to hold the stick, where the playing area is, how to hold the instrument, how to tune, and the different strokes that are used. There are also pictures to show how to hold or where to play instruments, which sticks to use, and performance techniques. Then, it discusses world percussion and marching percussion displaying the different instruments and techniques. Afterward, there is a section for instrument care and repair, a helpful list of references, a list of resources, methods, and finally the PAS rudiment chart as the books conclusion.


Chapter I:
Chapter II:
Chapter III:
Chapter IV:
Chapter V: Cymbals

A short history of cymbals is given to begin the chapter, along with the nomenclature of a cymbal, and a brief how-to on selecting cymbals. Weights and sizes of cymbals are discussed, as well as gripping crash cymbals, and an approach to keeping time with the bass drum, such as in a march. Suspended cymbals are briefly covered, explaining rolls, single notes and dampening technique. A solo cymbal etude closes the chapter.

Chapter VI: Timpani

Starting out with a brief history of the instrument, the author delves into detail over the models, construction, drum sizes, and nomenclature of the instrument. Mallet choices are discussed accompanied by a picture of ten different kinds of timpani mallets. Holding the mallets and playing styles are covered along with visual examples, as well as dampening and muting the drums. Notation is also illustrated, explaining the identification for rolls, single notes, forte-piano rolls, and sticking. There are several etudes following the chapter, most involving development of technique on the instrument.

Chapter VII: Triangle

The history of the triangle is given, and then immediately begins discussing triangle beater options, ranging from the effects of loud to soft beaters. It then goes on to discuss holders for the triangles, and how to mount it right side up for level playing, or on its side for double beater playing. Performance technique is then discussed, explaining how to hold the triangle in an upright playing position. Two triangle exercises close the chapter.

Chapter VIII: Tambourine

The tambourine begins with a brief history of the instrument, same as the others in the book. Sizes and models of tambourines are then discussed and identified as to looking for a particular sound with the 'jingles'. Gripping the tambourine is discussed next, and that launches us into four different styles for playing four different dynamic levels: 1. Loud/slow passages 2. Soft/slow passages 3. Loud/fast passages 4. Soft/fast passages. The text finishes out the how-to-play section with two types of roll description: shake, and thumb. The chapter ends with a few etudes for tambourine as well as a duet for tambourine and triangle.

Chapter IX: Castanets

Provides images and steps to proper technique and gives the reader exercises and etudes to practice castanets.

Chapter X: Small Wood Instrument

Includes claves, ratchet, slapstick, slit drum, temple blocks, and wood blocks. Lists the playing techniques of each instrument, as well as a brief history behind each instrument.

Chapter XI: Resonant Mental Instruments

Including anvil, cowbell, crotales, gong, and tam-tam. Lists the playing techniques of each instrument, as well as a brief history behind each instrument.

Chapter XII: Mallet Keyboard Instruments

Including marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, chimes, and vibraphone.

Chapter XIII: is about the drum set. It discusses the history and how people were wanting to play more instruments with less people, so they created foot mechanisms to achieve this. They break down the history of the snare, bass, hi-hats, cymbals, and tom-toms. There are simple exercises for rock, latin, swing, funk and other types of grooves too.

Chapter XIV: is the world music section which discusses shakers, scrapers, bongos, and congas. Pictures demonstrate how playing techniques. There are also exercises which use one to two instruments at a time.

Chapter XV is about marching percussion. There is a historic section and then it states how the concept in drum line is uniformity and to keep the band together. It separates each section of the drum line and talks about the size of the drums and their role in the line. The exercises consist of warm-ups for each drum section and examples of simple cadences.

Chapter XVI:Care and repair is the title of chapter 16. It through multiple basic percussion instruments and explains how to maintain them and provides tips to repair them.

Chapter XVII: is a reference page and chapter 18 provides percussion resources which include: PAS website, Steve Weiss for retail, and some percussion magazines one could be interested in. There is also a list of pedagogical material for snare, mallets, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, tambourine and other small instruments, and drum set. Suggestions of ensemble pieces to play are listed as well and are categorized by skill level. The last chapter of this book is filled with rudiments for rolls, diddles, flams, and drags.


Student Reviews

Overall, I think this text is very helpful because it not only shows how to hold the triangle, but also shows where the playing spot is, how to suspend it and use two beater to play faster passages, and how to play in the corner for a tremolo sound. This is one example of a simple percussion instrument that most people (even percussionist if they weren’t properly taught) don’t know how to play correctly. This book also has pictures which expand the words into a visual element. This is helpful because trying to explain how to hold a triangle could be difficult if there wasn’t a picture right beside it. I think this book is a great and simple way to begin learning and teaching percussion. A weakness of this method book is that the exercises are fairly easy, so if one is looking to teach further than the beginner’s level I would suggest finding more books on the subject.

There are two versions of this book: a student work book and an instructor’s manual. They are both filled with mostly the same material, but the student workbook is what students would purchase for class and the instructor’s manual has suggestions for lesson plans, a class schedule, a syllabus, and even a final exam. In a way, you could teach a class from this book because it spells every single detail out for you to follow. User:Afeist

“Percussion: A Course of Study for the Future Band and Orchestra Director” provides a path for students and instructors alike to start a beginning percussionist’s development through the instruction of several instruments and etudes to determine mastery of them. Instruments range from snare and bass drum to various world instruments and even drum set and marching instruments. Chapters 1-9 detail general information about percussion such as notation, history, and terminology, as well as information about care and maintenance, equipment, playing techniques, and solos and exercises specifically for snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, timpani, triangle, tambourine, and castanets. The instructor version differs from the student version only with the inclusion of “Instructor” sections and headings which give the instructor guidance and options for lesson plans, exams and schedules, using and customizing provided solos for the students, and weighing certain assignments.

This method book seems to include a vast variety of other books as well as non-performance topics, but for a book designed for a future band/orchestra director it lacks any information about brands, pricing, or the sourcing of percussion instruments. It would be nice to see what options a band director would have in terms of what they require from their ensemble, such as whether or not an elementary band should use a synthetic batter head for a snare drum as opposed to a calfskin head. With this being said, this book does offer lots of options for providing solo work for students as well as guiding instructors on how to introduce certain topics to their students and how to evaluate their knowledge. I liked how the background of each instrument was provided at the beginning of its respective section, as well as the names of the different parts of the instrument, listed as the “nomenclature.” User:Hondogracias


Additional Study Materials

Works for Percussion by this Author

Siwe, Thomas. Percussion: A Course of Study for the Future Band and Orchestra Director Second Edition. Chicago, IL.: Media Press Inc., 2007. - Method Book
Siwe, Thomas. Percussion Ensemble Literature. Champaign, IL.: Media Press, Inc., 1998.
Siwe, Thomas. Percussion Solo Literature. Champaign, IL.: Media Press, Inc., 1995.

Additional Resources