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Percussion 101: Suspended Cymbal

Suspended Cymbal

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 fundamentals for suspended cymbal selection, maintenance and playing techniques, first take some time to watch the following videos.

Video 1: Instrument Selection & Playing Techniques

Selecting a good suspended cymbal, picking a suspended cymbal mallet Including basic stroke, rolls and muffling techniques.

Video 2: Maintenance and Specialty Sounds

Covering a discussion of stand types as well as alternative implements and bowing techniques.


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).

Before  you take the test, CLICK HERE to download the


  • Free

    Becken Cymbal Mallets

    Soft, large yarn wound heads for rolls and long crescendi. For big cymbals where dark, low partials are desired.

  • Free


    Braided heavy gauge stainless-steel wires produce bold percussive sounds. Strike, scrape or let your imagination create a variety of effects. With hickory handles.

    • Diameter: .575" [1.46cm]
    • Spread: 51/2"
  • Free

    Heritage Brush

    A retractable wire brush featuring light gauge wire and a smooth rubber handle. Fast and easy to play.

    • Diameter: .530" [1.35cm]
    • Spread: 5"
  • Free

    SD2 Bolero

    Round tip. Ideal for light orchestral and pit playing.

    • Diameter: .635" [1.61cm]
    • Length: 153/4" [40.01cm]
    • Taper: Short
  • Free

    SD6 Swizzle Bolero

    An SD2 Bolero with a hard, spun felt ball attached to the butt end. Ideal for fast changes on cymbals.

    • Diameter: .635" [1.61cm]
    • Length: 161/4" [41.28cm]
    • Taper: Short


Vic Firth’s PERCUSSION 101 and online tests are a great resource to implement in YOUR curriculum!


What is PERCUSSION 101?

The PERCUSSION 101 project is a series of video lessons that provide students and instructors alike with a comprehensive introduction to the fundamental techniques for the most common percussion instruments. 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. The series covers instrument characteristics, maintenance routines, tuning, mallet selection and general playing techniques on the instruments. In addition, rehearsal techniques & exercises will help you to develop a great fundamental percussion program.

Who was PERCUSSION 101 developed for?

This project was originally developed for use in the college percussion methods class – to serve as instruction for non-percussionists who will be charged with teaching percussion in the schools. It quickly developed into a resource to find quick answers to common questions after these students went in the field. For current band directors, the “BAND DIRECTOR’S PERCUSSION SURVIVAL GUIDE” was the first implementation of this project. Type in your question, find a quick and applicable answer! It’s as easy as that!

After we began to see what a truly valuable resource this was, we began to integrate study guides and online tests so that percussion students could also take advantage of the information. After all, how much time do you REALLY have in your classroom or private lesson studio to cover all of the percussion instruments fully? Generally, we fix the problems with gaps in knowledge as they occur instead of proactively covering all of our basics!

How can I integrate PERCUSSION 101 into my curriculum?

Whether you are a college percussion methods instructor, a band or orchestra director or a private percussion lesson teacher, we’ve made this resource a valuable “HANDS-OFF” teaching resource! The information for all of the instruments is presented in a series of videos which cover all the fundamentals, so student can watch on their own. Here are some recommendations for implementing this in your curriculum:

AS HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT OR CLASSROOM ACTIVITY: On each instrument “module”, there is a STUDY GUIDE that students can download. This study guide will keep them on-task by asking simple questions on information that was included in the video (in sequential order). Simply assign an instrument to the student (giving him or her the appropriate link on our website), hand them a printed study guide, then collect the study guide as proof that they watched the videos!


AS A TEST: At the end of each list of videos there is an embedded ONLINE TEST that can be administered through any web browser. The study guide questions are shuffled, and multiple choice answers are provided. At the end of the test, the student will be given a number grade with a copy of his or her completed test explaining all the correct answers.

If the student passed with a 70% or above, a “CERTIFICATE OF ACHIEVEMENT” is available for printing at the end of the exam (to hand in to you for recording in your grade book).

But what about PRIVACY CONCERNS?

Vic Firth does NOT collect or share any information (name, email address, scores, etc) for any of the test participants. The “NAME” field at the beginning of the test is ONLY used for printing the “Certificate of Achievement” at the end of the test (the name appears on the certificate). Students are allowed to use any info in that text field (nickname, random numbers, student ID, etc). When emailing the test results, the email address IS NOT RECORDED for use by Vic Firth or anyone else.

Can I use the test without being online?

YES! But we obviously would like to avoid letting students download the test itself… Send us a note and we’ll be happy to email you a PDF copy that you can print and use in your classroom.

Any other questions?

If you have other questions, technical problems or simply want to leave us some suggestions on how to make this resource work better for you, please drop us a line!

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