Marching Percussion 101
Exercise #1: "8-8-16"
In order to have a successful marching percussion section, you must first establish a solid drumline fundamentals program. Vic Firth's Marching Percussion 101 covers every exercise you need, including basic strokes, timing, two height control, paradiddles, rolls and flams. The exercises included here are specifically designed to provide the beginning to intermediate drumline with a solid foundation for building individual and ensemble technique.
Be sure to watch the instructional video from Vic Firth Educator Eric Shriver to learn about this exercise and play along with our All-Star batter percussion section as they demonstrate the proper techniques in 5 graduated tempos!
PRACTICE THIS EXERCISE WITH VIC FIRTH'S ALL-STAR DRUMLINE!
MARCHING PERCUSSION 101: EXERCISE 1 - "8-8-16"
This exercise works on full rebound strokes, making it a perfect way to begin each practice session. Not only will you properly stretch out your arm, wrist and finger muscles, but starting with this exercise is a great way to focus your attention, develop concentration on playing in perfect tempo with a metronome and create a performance atmosphere for the entire percussion section.
Here are a few things to look for during your daily rehearsal.
• Work for a full, relaxed stroke (stick height = 12”). Develop a consistent amount of velocity to each stroke so that you're producing a full resonant sound out of the drum - but without too much tension in the wrists and fingers. Stay relaxed, but play with a full stroke!
• Practice with the Play-Along videos or audio tracks, starting at the slowest tempo (Level 1) and progress through each level until you reach the maximum speed that you can play with a relaxed stroke. As you speed up, the stick height should naturally decrease, moving from a full wrist stroke with a slight arm motion to “dribbling” the stick with the back fingers. Be sure to watch the video to see the stick heights of the members in the all-star drumline!
• There should be no “stopping points” in the path of the stick as it travels up and down. The motion of the stick should be smooth on each stroke. Especially pay attention to the bottom of the stroke so that you're allowing the stick to REBOUND naturally off the drum… NO DOWNSTROKES!
• Keep the hand that’s not playing (the free hand) in the proper playing position.
• Also rehearse at a piano dynamic level or "tap height" (3 inches). At this height, the wrist will direct the stroke because of the decrease in the stick’s natural rebound. Strive for a full sound even at a low height, always keeping the wrist relaxed.
ALTERNATE EXERCISES FOR TENORS AND BASS DRUMS
• As you move between the drums, always play in the correct zone on each drum. Allow the wrists to relax side-to-side as you move between the drums and eliminate as much forearm motion as possible (without allowing the hands to turn past the french grip position).
• The 2nd measure of the "16 hand pattern" is written for quints. If you only have quads (with no 'spock' drum), repeat the previous measure.
• The 8th note split in m3-4 & m7-8 can be played with 3, 4 or 5 drums. At Level 1-3, play the split 8ths on a single hand. As you move to Level 4 & 5, you may wish to alternate the splits.
• If the tempo becomes too fast for more inexperienced players, you may wish to play quarter notes instead of eights on the "8 hand pattern."
Eric Shriver's "Technique Tips" Instructional Video:
Ready to take your fundamentals to the next level?
Eric Shriver is a composer, arranger, and educator for percussion based out of Southern California.
He is currently the Percussion Director and Battery Arranger at Gold Indoor Percussion, Sunny Hills High School, and West High School. Some of his Indoor related experience includes roles as snare tech, ensemble coordinator, and consultant with Pulse Percussion, Battery Arranger for Élan Percussion, and Percussion Director for Rowland High School. Eric is also very active in DCI.
He is currently the Percussion Director and Battery Arranger for Gold Drum & Bugle Corps as well as a snare tech for The Cavaliers. His past experience includes being the Percussion Caption Head and Battery Arranger for the Blue Stars, and snare tech for the Bluecoats.
Eric has a Bachelor of Arts in Music (Industry Studies) from California Polytechnic University (Pomona, CA). Eric has performed with the Bluecoats, Pulse Percussion, Black Knights, Pacific Crest, and RCC Marching Band.
He is a respected authority in his home indoor circuit, SCPA, as he resides on the SCPA Classification Committee.
Eric is also the creator and owner of the “The Build-Up Method,” which is a set of rudimental percussion practice methods using logical skill building exercises and audio tracks.
Eric is a member of the Zildjian, Remo, Yamaha, and Vic Firth educational teams and lives in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, with his Wife Amanda, Daughter Charlotte, Dog Sammy, and Cat Luna.