Keyboard Percussion

This series of video lessons will provide students and instructors alike with a comprehensive introduction to the fundamental techniques for the most common percussion instruments. From instrument setup to maintenance to performance techniques, Vic Firth's PERCUSSION 101 will cover the essential skills necessary for today's all-around percussionist.

The curriculum for this series was compiled by members of Vic Firth's Collegiate Educator Program which includes some of the most influential university instructors in the country. Presented by percussionist David Skidmore in a relaxed, approachable atmosphere, this series is sure to become the most widely referenced video guide for percussion education!


To learn the essential fundamentals for keyboard percussion maintenance
and playing techniques, first take some time to watch the following videos.
After you've finished, test your knowledge with our online quiz!


TEACHERS: The online test is the perfect way to use Vic Firth's PERCUSSION 101 in your classroom!
and get ideas for how to implement this valuable resource in YOUR curriculum!

01: Characteristics and Maintenance
Covering the characteristics for all the keyboard instruments, including a discussion of proper beating areas and general maintenance tips for replacing cord, fixing posts and stopping rattle sounds.
Specific instrument characteristics and mallet selection choices for the xylophone.
02: Setup and Playing Position
A discussion of general set up tips for all keyboard instruments, including moving around the instrument and feet positioning.
Specific instrument characteristics and mallet selection choices for the bells.
03: The Grip and Basic Stroke
Instructions for gripping mallets and performing relaxed strokes on all the keyboard instruments. Including mallet positioning on the bars.
Specific instrument characteristics and mallet selection choices for the vibraphone. Including an overview of dampening techniques.
04: Sticking Considerations
General suggestions making sticking choices on all the keyboard instruments. Including when to use double sticking patterns.
Specific instrument characteristics and mallet selection choices for the marimba. Including moving throughout the registers with foot positioning.
05: Rolls
A guide for developing consistent sounding sustained rolls for all the keyboard instruments, as well as how to connect rolls from note to note.
Specific instrument characteristics, setup and playing techniques for the chimes.
Additional Reference:
Gary Burton's Vibraphone Masterclass

Legendary jazz vibist Gary Burton gives a detailed video lesson series on the Vibes, from it's history to all of the common playing techniques: 4 mallet grip, stroke, sticking recommendations, pedaling and mallet dampening.
Additional Reference:
Giff Howarth's 4 Mallet Lesson Series

The most extensive reference available online for learning the Musser/Stevens 4 mallet grip for marimba.
Additional Reference:
Speed Note Reading Tutor

An online video game designed to get students reading notes quickly in a fun format. Excerpted from Mark Wessels' “A Fresh Approach to Mallet Percussion” method book.
Additional Reference:
Ney Rosauro's Extended Cross Grip Lesson Series

Renowned performer and composer Ney Rosauro gives an detailed explanation of the extended cross grip, an easy-to-learn method of gripping 4 mallets that immediately applies to all the instruments.
Additional Reference:
Teaching the Beginning Mallet Player

Noted author Mark Wessels discusses the inherent problems with learning to read on the keyboard percussion instruments. Presenting a list of solutions and strategies for developing the musical percussionist.
Additional Reference:
Vic Firth Concert Podcast

The most extensive collection of video performances from percussion soloists and ensembles. A great resource for exposing students of all ages and ability levels to the wide range of musical genres in percussion.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Each computer station has ONE OPPORTUNITY to take this test and receive a CERTIFICATE OF ACHIEVEMENT
(you may take the test as often as you like – but no certificate will be offered on subsequent attempts). We recommend that if you
taking this test for a grade, YOU USE THE STUDY GUIDE as you watch the videos BEFORE ATTEMPTING THE TEST!

Concert Bass Drum Tambourine
Crash Cymbals Suspended Cymbal
Gong / Tam-Tam Triangle
Keyboard Percussion Instruments Wood Blocks / Temple Blocks
Concert Snare Drum Marching Percussion
Timpani Drumset

About David Skidmore:

David Skidmore is active as both a performer and composer of music for percussion. David is a member of the Ensemble ACJW, Third Coast Percussion, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Lucerne Festival Percussion Group, and Collide. He is a dedicated advocate for the music of our time, having commissioned, premiered, and performed dozens of new works by many of the great composers of the 20th and 21st century.

David has been featured as a soloist with the Royal Academy of Music Orchestra in London, the Pacific Soundings series in Sapporo, Japan, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and the Chicago Civic Orchestra LaSalle Bank Chamber Music Series. As a chamber musician, David has performed for the Music on the Edge series in Pittsburgh, the Cleveland Art Museum Concert Series, June in Buffalo, Klangspuren Schwaz, the Philharmonie Essen, the Ojai Music Festival, the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the Bang On a Can Marathon, the Princeton Composers’ Ensemble, and at three Percussive Arts Society International Conventions.

David’s compositions are performed regularly in concert halls and universities across the country. Two of David’s pieces were performed in November 2007 at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. In May of 2007 his latest piece, “Unknown Kind”, was premiered at Carnegie Hall. He was awarded 1st prize in the 2005 Percussive Arts Society Composition Contest and 2nd prize in the 2004 contest. His piece “Whispers – for 9 Percussionists” was a finalist for an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award in 2005, and has been recorded by the Northwestern University Percussion Ensemble.

David received the Bachelor of Music degree from the Northwestern University School of Music and the Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music. His teachers have included Robert Van Sice, Michael Burritt, James Ross, Paul Wertico, and Michael Hernandez.