Simple Steps for Successful Beginning Percussion

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Kennan Wylie

General Info

Year: 2004
Edition: c.
Level: Elementary
Publisher: K. Wylie Publications
Cost: $30.99
Page: 83
ISBN: 978-0-9748-3212-8


  • Comprehensive Beginning Percussion Curriculum
  • DVD of Lessons and Examples
  • Covers Snare Drum, Mallets, Drumset, Accessories, World Percussion, and More
  • Clear, Easy to Read Exercises and Etudes
  • Focus on Building Well Rounded Percussionist



Kennan Wylie is one of the authorities on beginning percussion education, with his method books being some of the most popular for beginning students available. Simple Steps to Successful Beginning Percussion is Wylie's most popular and best selling text, providing a comprehensive percussion curriculum for beginning percussion students.Simple Steps starts with basic foundations of grip and technique, and progresses through various skill sets and techniques that build students into well rounded percussionists, instructing students on snare drum, mallets, drum set, bass drum, cymbals, accessories, and world percussion! The book includes many photos, well organized descriptions, easy to read exercises, and lots of musical examples to help students improve. BY Patrick Curry

Organization: Before the Table of Contents, there is a page of acknowledgements from the author and the author’s intentions with the creation of this book, along with how to use the included CDs in this version of the book. The book then starts with fifteen pages of introductory concepts, such as stances, strokes, and grips. The remainder of the book is organized in such a way that snare drum development and “mallet” development, such as keyboards, timpani, and accessory instruments, are split into two different “steps”, with snare drum assigned to ‘Step #1’ and mallets assigned to ‘Step #1a’ for example. Despite being split, students are expected to progress in both steps simultaneously, so their snare drum fundamentals are gradually built up as the students are introduced to other instruments and eventually ensemble playing. Every five or so steps, “checkpoints” are used to allow students to review their progress up to that point. After the final checkpoint, a solo along with several warm-ups and orchestral excerpts for ensemble playing, is presented and then followed with tetrachords/arpeggios, major scales in all twelve keys, and common music vocabulary, ranging from Italian terms to what treble and bass clefs are. The back cover lists features of the book along with a biography of the author.

Content: I felt it was wise to start off the book with pre-playing and non-playing concepts before introducing playing exercises and development so the students are able to set themselves up properly and have all included knowledge about the instruments before having them start playing. It was also interesting to see the snare drum development being put alongside the rest of the common percussion developments on keyboards and timpani and so forth instead of a stand-alone section which would help students keep their chops up on the snare drum. Looking at the earlier keyboard exercises, it was surprising to see that the notes and staffs were much larger than those found on the snare drum pages, allowing students to have better legibility while beginning their keyboard playing. Later on, these enlarged notes become closer to the same size as the notes found on the snare drum pages as to let the students become accustomed to reading smaller notes.

Uses: I may be biased to this criterion since I was taught from this book in middle school, but I could see this book being used both by the teacher and the student in class since the playing examples are curated towards beginner students, and warm-up exercises along with play-along tracks are included with the book. In my experience as a young student learning with this method, I would say it is effective and very accessible to the teacher as they simply have to read from the book and have the students play along with the included tracks. That being said, consideration of the students’ pace of learning does have to be taken into account since the book is listed as a “twenty-five week” process. If some students are not progressing at the same rate as others, the whole class could be deprived of material found at the end of the book. I would say that this book could be used by middle school-level to maybe high school-level students, although it could be a bit too basic for some high school students so maybe only used for true beginners.

Rating: While this book has a good progression system, I feel it lacks heavily on important information for the instructor which would not only broaden their understanding of percussion ensembles, but also give insight into how to introduce these concepts to their students. For these reasons, it may thrive in the hands of the students and be merely glanced at by instructors, with the instructors (hopefully) using a more in-depth method book for their personal guidance. 3/5. User:Hondogracias


Additional Study Materials

Books for Percussion by this Author

Simple Steps for Successful Snare Drumming
Simple Steps for Successful Mallets and More Percussion
Simple Steps for Successful Beginning Percussion
20 Solos for the Young Snare Drummer
20 Solos for the Young Mallet Player
Solo Collection for the Young 4-Mallet Marimbist
Sight Reading Skills for the Mallet Percussionist

Percussion Ensemble

Percussion Construction Series Volume 1
Percussion Construction Series Volume 2: Tropical Beats
Percussion Construction Series Volume 3

Additional Resources