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Banh 1 Jennifer Banh Ms. Eller and Mr. Williams Senior Project Rough Draft 30 September 2016 Forming a Percussion Ensemble Altenmuller once said, ”Performing music, be it as student, teacher or as concert virtuoso, is probably one of the most challenging human accomplishments." There are numerous components, ranging from creating a piece for the ensemble to performing the piece for an audience, that are necessary when attempting to create a virtually perfect percussion ensemble. Those components include choosing the right piece of music, utilizing correct technique, having basic music theory knowledge, and deploying proper performance etiquette. Along with those main elements, constructing a successful percussion ensemble also requires an impressive deal of patience, focus, and skill. During this construction, it is important to carefully build the foundation as to promote success in the future of the ensemble. Of all the essential components in creating an excellent ensemble, demonstrating mastery over devices such as chords and scales is of the utmost importance. Music is "like art, it's constantly evolving" (Sole). The vivid colors that a beautiful composition is capable of painting are only achievable through different melodies derived from a scale. When deployed properly, these devices are utilized by the composer to paint the masterpiece that they have created in their mind. More precisely, scales can be applied to the literature in the form of runs, or rapid combinations of notes in the same key, in order to provide the piece with small amounts of spice Banh 2 and flair that can captivate the listener. Chords often have a similar effect on the music in the sense that they aid the composer in igniting the music because "chord quality and harmonic function can be practical cornerstones in real life songwriting" (Linderman). With chords, the composer is able to create harmonies, or simultaneous arrangements of notes. There are a plethora of various chords, triads, and inversions, therefore providing a multitude of options when composing a piece. After developing a full understanding of how to compose the music itself, the next most important element is learning proper technique. In order to become a truly successful percussionist, one must possess superb technique. Technique is one of the most crucial concepts to percussionists, as it is the basis of their music career. Utilizing correct mallet and/or stick technique will not only help the player be viewed by his or her audience as a skilled percussionist, but it will also ensure that the player is playing in the most efficient and safe manner. The most common mallet technique taught to beginning percussionists on the east coast is widely known as the Piston Stroke. With this stroke, the player should begin with mallets pointed at an upward angle, strike the mallets onto the board, and then return them to their original position as quickly as possible while still achieving good sound quality. Typically, the Piston Stroke is first introduced to new percussionists using the simple two-mallet technique, as opposed to four-mallet technique. When using two mallets, a player should hold one mallet in each hand with their knuckles facing up and a small gap between the index and middle finger, and the fulcrum of the grip should be located in the back three fingers. Conversely, four-mallet technique is produced by gripping two mallets in each hand with one mallet in between the middle and ring finger and the other mallet in the center of the palm. The Banh 3 technical name for this certain grip is called the Steven’s Grip. This grip “allows for incredible mallet independence” (Rucker). Once pristine technique is achieved, the next step in creating a successful percussion ensemble is ensuring that all players have the ability to comprehend their written music. In order to read and learn music individually, the student must have a clear understanding of basic music theory, including how to read notes, rhythms, time signatures, and key signatures. When teaching new percussionists how to read notes on written music, the following information is typically given. Music is written on a staff which has five lines and four spaces. These lines and spaces are given letter names depending on whether the music is in treble clef or bass clef. In order to aid beginning players in memorizing these letter names, pneumonic devices are commonly used. For instance, the order of the lines in treble clef is E, G, B, D, F so one can use the term 'Every Good Boy Does Fine' to remember the order. Eventually, the players will be able to learn their music fairly quickly and without the help of the devices. Note reading is not the only crucial component of reading music; understanding rhythms is arguably of equal importance. Students must be able to recognize the exact length of time each note receives based on the given time signature, otherwise the timing of the whole piece will be incorrectly altered. The time signature of a piece is listed at the start of a piece and is shown as a fraction. The top number represents the number of beats in a single measure, and the bottom represents what type of note gets the beat. The most common time signature is 4/4, where there are four beats per measure and the quarter note gets one beat. Time signatures aid students in learning complicated Banh 4 rhythms and patterns. Key signatures are also an essential part of reading music. One can tell the key signature of a piece by determining how many sharps or flats are shown at the beginning of a piece of music. If a song has no sharps or flats, the song is in the key of C major or its relative minor, A minor. Because many composers “create melodies from various kinds of scales” (Linderman), key signatures are advantageous to the player. When he or she reach runs or melodies in the music, it becomes much easier to determine where the rest of the notes are in terms of the key. It is of vast importance that students learn how to read their music on their own rather than simply being “spoon-fed” the notes; this ensures that they are doing their role in the ensemble and not holding the rest of the group back from excelling. Once all the members of the ensemble have learned the proper methods of reading music along with technique, it is time to put the finishing touches on the music. When it comes to perfecting the piece used in the percussion ensemble, there are a few main details that are typically focused on. One of those details is the type of mallet being used. Mallet choice is “crucial in the sound a player produces” (Walker), as the sound will essentially define the mood of the piece. To illustrate, if a particular piece being played is meant to be a somber ballad, one would not choose a hard, plastic mallet, as those provide a loud, quick attack sound; rather, one would choose a yarn mallet, as those would give a warmer and more resonant sound. It should be fairly clear based upon the piece which type of mallet should be used. Another element that should be inspected when polishing off a percussion ensemble piece is whether or not every member of the ensemble is playing together. All players must be in time with one another, and they need to be sure they are connecting with each other. It is important Banh 5 that every player is paying close attention to what is happening around them. They cannot be focused on solely what they are doing; they need to be aware of the other parts to ensure that everyone is in time with each other. However, perhaps even more important than connecting with their fellow ensemble members is connecting with the audience. To be able to truly connect with one's audience, players must perform their piece as dramatically as possible. In order to achieve a connection with the audience, the performer must "search for personal expression and artistry" (This & That: How Do You Inspire Personal Expression and Artistry in Your Students?). Through one's emotion and mood through the piece, the performer can convey their emotions to the audience. Although, emotion is hard to deliver due to "various dynamics, articulations, and technique markings in percussion parts that can be interpreted in a myriad of different ways" (Laney). When the performers agree and play with the same dynamic, the performers must maintain constant eye contact with the spectators, as well as move their bodies to the beat of the music in order to keep the audience interested. If players are simply looking down and standing still while playing their piece, the audience members are more likely to become disinterested and stop paying attention. On the other hand, if players engage their audience by creating a lively mood through performance, the audience will most likely remain entertained and want to continue watching. Basically, it is the goal of the ensemble to captivate those surrounding them. In short, constructing a percussion ensemble is not a task that comes easily; it is consistent of a multitude of crucial components. First, one must have well-arranged music. Without good music, there is no chance of having a successful ensemble. Members of the Banh 6 ensemble must also use proper mallet technique when playing in order to not only prove their abilities, but also to remain efficient. One must ensure that the players of their ensemble are knowledgeable in basic music theory and can be held responsible for learning their part. Finally, players must be able to perform well and be able to connect with their audience. The utilization of all of these tools in combination with one another will, without a doubt, result in a successful percussion ensemble. Banh 7 Work Cited Altenmuller, Eckart. "Empowering musicians: teaching, transforming, living: promoting health and wellbeing when making music: a holistic approach in music education." American Music Teacher June-July 2016: 50+. Student Resources in Context. Web. 29 Sept. 2016 Laney, Ryan R. "10 Ways to Better Manage and Direct Your Percussionists."Banddirector.com. N.p., 2008. Web. 23 Aug. 2016. Linderman, James. "Melodies from scales." Canadian Musician Mar.-Apr. 2004: 13. Student Resources in Context. Web. 23 Aug. 2016. Linderman, James. "Harmonic quality and function." Canadian Musician May-June 2005: 58.Student Resources in Context. Web. 23 Aug. 2016. Rucker, Eric. "A Guide to 4 Mallet Technique for Non-Percussionists." The Total Percussionist. N.p., 24 Nov. 2013. Web. 29 Sept. 2016. "This & That: How Do You Inspire Personal Expression and Artistry in Your Students?" American Music Teacher Feb.-Mar. 2016: 49+. Student Resources in Context. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. Sole, Doug. "Passion of percussion: diverse resonant universal mystical synergetic: a world view." Canadian Musician Dec. 1996: 52-6. Student Resources in Context. Web. 29 Sept. 2016. Walker, James. "Mallet Selection." Mallet Selection. N.p., 2001. Web. 29 Sept. 2016. se a yarn mallet, as those would give a warmer and more resonant sound. It should be fairly clear based upon the piece which type of mallet should be used. Another element that should be inspected when polishing off a percussion ensemble piece is whether or not every member of the ensemble is playing together. All players must be in time with one another, and they need to be sure they are connecting with each other. It is important Banh 5 that every player is paying close attention to what is happening around them. They cannot be focused on solely what they are doing; they need to be aware of the other parts to ensure that everyone is in time with each other. However, perhaps even more important than connecting with their fellow ensemble members is connecting with the audience. To be able to truly connect with one's audience, players must perform their piece as dramatically as possible. In order to achieve a connection with the audience, the performer must "search for personal expression and artistry" (This & That: How Do You Inspire Personal Expression and Artistry in Your Students?). Through one's emotion and mood through the piece, the performer can convey their emotions to the audience. Although, emotion is hard to deliver due to "vari