SmartMusic: Helping Develop Musical Percussionists, Part 2

In my last blog, I shared some ideas of how SmartMusic can help percussion students practice more musically AND develop mallet keyboard awareness. Today I offer a few more ways that SmartMusic can help develop student percussionists.

Practicing With Accompaniments
With SmartMusic your students get a better understanding of how their part fits in with the rest of the ensemble. Equally important, however, is that they can also hear the quality of the sound that is being demonstrated by the performers on the accompaniments. SmartMusic makes it easy for your students to hear how a tambourine, triangle, or any percussion instrument is played in relation to the ensemble. Because they have been taught with the music in mind, they will have a better understanding of how to approach their parts. This is no different than having any instrumentalist listen to the tone qualities performed by professionals.

Jazz Improvisation
SmartMusic’s jazz ensemble repertoire gives jazz students an opportunity to play with professional musicians. They can hear how professional musicians make stylistic interpretations of the written part. They can also import any audio recording; this allows them to slow down, speed up, and learn correct style with the professional recordings.

Here are a few additional ideas for how your jazz students might leverage SmartMusic’s jazz repertoire:

  • Learn and practice drumset grooves with the correct style (rock, swing, Latin, etc.).
  • See and hear transcriptions of the drumset part.
  • Practice other percussion instruments with the music (maracas, congas, cowbell, etc.).
  • Practice fills and solos with the musical accompaniment.

Instrument – Specific Resources
Finally, let’s look at what resources are available for specific percussion instruments:

Snare Drum
SmartMusic now includes three method books for snare drum. Alfred’s Drum Method, Book 1 offers your drummers sequential instruction including rudimental studies, roll studies, and solos, with each line in SmartMusic performed by a professional musician. Rudimental Etudes for Snare Drum: Easy and Intermediate are based on the 40 rudiments established by the Percussive Arts Society with professional recordings of each etude.

Here are some additional ways to challenge your snare drum students:

• Encourage students to explore concert repertoire for all skill levels.
• Assign rhythms in clap mode and have students practice particular sticking patterns. The exercises are part of the Exercise Wizard in Finale where they can be edited and printed.
• Create your own SmartMusic files with Finale.

Mallet Percussion
SmartMusic includes Standard of Excellence Festival Solos, Book 1, for Snare Drum & Mallet Percussion as well as many additional means to develop mallet technique, including four-mallet skills, scales, intervals, and arpeggios exercises. Need to challenge your mallet students?

• Encourage students to explore concert repertoire for all skill levels.
• Develop improvisation skills with the Jazz improvisation library.
• Discover fun solo titles for extra credit.

Timpani students can develop their ear-training skills with scales, intervals, play-by-ear exercises, and the tuner, and, just as other students, they can be encouraged to explore concert repertoire for all levels.

I hope you found this collection of percussion-related SmartMusic features helpful. I know from experience that they can truly help in the development of well-rounded percussionists who perform musically.

We’d love to hear how you’re using SmartMusic to teach your percussionists. Please share your experiences by clicking on “Comments” below.

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