how does one become a percussionist?

mute

New member
i'm just curious. with set drums, you just buy a set and get going. but with percussions, what do people generally start with? and how do you break into actually doing percussion for bands?
 

ChrisNichols

New member
Well a drummer I suppose is a percussionist. But if you wanted to expand the drumkit I suppose it'd really depend on what kind of music the band was playing and what kind of feel/sound you wanted to bring to it.
 

mute

New member
no, i mean that guy on stage when you go see paul simon or manu chao or something like that. you know, the guy with the bongos and all those hand drums and hand cymbals and shakers and toys? not for a particular band or anything, i'm just wondering how those guys get to where they are. anybody here one of them or know one?
 

break the prism

New member
To get jobs in the studio or on stage, you really need to know what you're doing with percussion, which can be very different from the drums. I play timpani and marimba among other types of percussion and have for several years. To become a professional percussionist you need to establish yourself the way that you would with any other instrument.
 

mute

New member
so are you hoping to do some percussion eventually or do you just randomly play those? do you plan on expanding to other percussions?
 

dwtoast72

New member
you know, just start beating on randow things with your hands or sticks...you'll find that everything has a unique sound characteristic... Go to a drum shop and experiment with what the've got on the floor... most, if not all the drum shops I've ever been in have had hand percussion on the floor...
 

okjohne

New member
The best way to learn all those instruments is to be a part of an organized band or orchestra. I had exposure to a lot of percussion instruments in highschool in college. i new at that time I was a kit player and not a percussionist. Our section leader in college believe it or not was a percussionist. She had an incredible ear
 

christopherabruce

New member
It's no different than establishing oneself as a drum set player. You just need to learn those instruments just well enough to sound like you know what you're doing, and then start to put yourself out there.
With the more formal instuments like tympani or mallets, not only are h.s. and college groups good places to apply your skills, many areas have community orchestras that don't have strict audition requirements or don't have any auditions at all. Although the quality-level isn't too high in many community groups, they provide great opportunities to build-up reading and technical skills.
 

break the prism

New member
mute":35mktdck said:
so are you hoping to do some percussion eventually or do you just randomly play those? do you plan on expanding to other percussions?
I've been playing some sort of percussion since I was about five. In middle and high school I played timpani, marimba, vibes, xylophone, bells, congas, and steel drums. I've done marimba, vibe, and conga work work in a few latin jazz bands as well as timpani and bell work in local orchestras. I haven't had as much fun on anything as I have had on drum kit though.
I don't know what the future will bring in terms of percussion work.
 

Scala

New member
i suggest you to take some congas lessons, i think is the most versatile percussion intruments. you can apply its technique in several musical situation, and learn the basic is not difficult. :)
 

BillRayDrums

New member
You already are a percussionist. You play the drumset.

Latin percussionists play conga, timbales, cowbells, etc. Classical percussionists tend to blend melody within their craft. Either way, learning to read music (rhythm AND melody) will seriously enhance your abilities not matter what instrument you play.
 

wii2525

New member
Percussionist are unique, because they play everything from a vibraslap, to the chimes, to timpani, to gong, to slide whistle. You have to be able to play many parts on many weird instruments.
 

mute

New member
no no no. i don't want to be a percussionist. i'm just curious how people end up there.

for example, i ended up playing drums just because the drummer of our old band stopped showing up so we had to learn to fill in for him. but percussionism isn't the kind of thing you fall into; it seems like you have to plan it out. but then again, i don't know, so i'm just wondering.
 

BillRayDrums

New member
mute":st3f9thx said:
no no no. i don't want to be a percussionist. i'm just curious how people end up there.

for example, i ended up playing drums just because the drummer of our old band stopped showing up so we had to learn to fill in for him. but percussionism isn't the kind of thing you fall into; it seems like you have to plan it out. but then again, i don't know, so i'm just wondering.
No no no you ARE a percussionist. Get over the label thing. You hit things. They make sounds. Therefore, you are a percussionist. It's not like saying you wear a dress or something....but hey if you wanna wear a dress go right ahead. It's ok, really.
;)
 

wii2525

New member
Yeah, go ahead, pull on that dress. It's not as embarrassing as playing the slide whistle and wood block, at the same time.
 

dannydrumperc

New member
wii2525":3seo4cw7 said:
Yeah, go ahead, pull on that dress. It's not as embarrassing as playing the slide whistle and wood block, at the same time.
LOL! - you made my day :D

I started at school band playing snaredrum, maracas, claves, woodblock and bassdrum; whatever the score called for. Eventually I ended on drumkit (which is my favorite), timbales and congas; and then on mallets. My later instruments are djembe, darbuka and cajon.

I think it is a matter of: 1) your interest, and 2) your necesities. Those guys who you see playing percussion at big shows (like with Ricky Martin) are probably highly trained congeros, timbaleros, darbuka, tabla or djembe players who had the necesity to add those other sorrounding instruments to get the gig. Can they play them all? Of course they can. But do they have their favorite or main instrument? Probably they do.

How you end up playing ANY instrument? It all depends about how much you like that instrument, and if you really need to learn it. I love playing drumkit, but the gigs that more money I have got from were playing congas & and timbales (compa/zouk band), and snare drum & surdo (batucada); and the only 2 serious recording sessions I've ever done were playing cajon, darbuka, shakers, tambourine, cymbals, etc...

It is always better to know something that you hardly use than really needing it and not knowing it.
 

Homki890

New member
BillRayDrums":8c3um3ep said:
mute":8c3um3ep said:
no no no. i don't want to be a percussionist. i'm just curious how people end up there.

for example, i ended up playing drums just because the drummer of our old band stopped showing up so we had to learn to fill in for him. but percussionism isn't the kind of thing you fall into; it seems like you have to plan it out. but then again, i don't know, so i'm just wondering.
No no no you ARE a percussionist. Get over the label thing. You hit things. They make sounds. Therefore, you are a percussionist. It's not like saying you wear a dress or something....but hey if you wanna wear a dress go right ahead. It's ok, really.
;)
BillRay, I respect you highly, but I'm going to have to disagree with you on this. I can see your point, and I'm not saying it's totally wrong, but calling a player who solely plays drum set a Percussionist, really kind of insults us few who have spent years working with others forms of percussion, such as Snare Drum, Marimba, Jazz Vibes, Djembe, and everything else.

Whether people like it or not, there are going to be ranks in Music. Someone who can play more will get more work, it's just that simple. When one says Drummer, instantly, you can get a feel of what they play, their style, etc. If one says a Percussionist, instantly, you get a feel for the style, how the play, etc. Is it a title? Sure, but where can go to get away from them? I highly doubt the members of the DML Forum can change every Musician's aspect of themselves. It's too deeply rooted in the culture.

So, what can we do. We can embrace it, and alter the definitions slightly. Drummer in itself is degrading, because it portrays a biased view. Percussionist is probably the way to go, you are right BillRay, but for us who consider ourselves Percussionist's, involving all aspects of Drums and Percussion, where's our brand? If a Ph.D and highly respectable member in Engineering had the same rank as someone who just got out of college, still with clean fingernails, how is that fair to the Ph.D? He's put time and work and sweat and blood into his passion, and gets the same treatment as some newbie, what happens to Work Ethic? There shold be something to show for all the Hard Work that they've accomplished.

So, instead of Drummer, call it Drum Set Player, or Marimba Player, or Percussionist if you play all aspects. Percussionist's are expected to know all there is to know even about subjects they themselves do not readily understand. I don't play double-bass, but from my experience, I can surely help someone improve. Percussionist's are the one's you see teaching in college, getting record deals, traveling across the world to play for crowds. The PAS, a society geared towards everything Percussion, is a culmination of what it takes to be a Percussionist.

So, sorry BillRay, but I think someone who can play it all would like to held in higher respect than someone who can only play one thing. Call it selfishness, call it whatever you want, I call it simple Life.

Homki890
 

drumminal

New member
Lighten-up Francis… It's not that big of deal. Personally, I strictly play trap and have for 26+ years. I am not, nor will I ever be, offended by being called a drummer. That’s what I am and what I choose to do. Degrading? I think not. I do distinguish myself from "percussionists" because I only play trap. Also, I have often told people that me calling myself a “percussionist” is an insult to all those who work so hard to master that craft.
 

BillRayDrums

New member
Homki890":gd48btx8 said:
BillRayDrums":gd48btx8 said:
mute":gd48btx8 said:
no no no. i don't want to be a percussionist. i'm just curious how people end up there.

for example, i ended up playing drums just because the drummer of our old band stopped showing up so we had to learn to fill in for him. but percussionism isn't the kind of thing you fall into; it seems like you have to plan it out. but then again, i don't know, so i'm just wondering.
No no no you ARE a percussionist. Get over the label thing. You hit things. They make sounds. Therefore, you are a percussionist. It's not like saying you wear a dress or something....but hey if you wanna wear a dress go right ahead. It's ok, really.
;)
BillRay, I respect you highly, but I'm going to have to disagree with you on this. I can see your point, and I'm not saying it's totally wrong, but calling a player who solely plays drum set a Percussionist, really kind of insults us few who have spent years working with others forms of percussion, such as Snare Drum, Marimba, Jazz Vibes, Djembe, and everything else.

Whether people like it or not, there are going to be ranks in Music. Someone who can play more will get more work, it's just that simple. When one says Drummer, instantly, you can get a feel of what they play, their style, etc. If one says a Percussionist, instantly, you get a feel for the style, how the play, etc. Is it a title? Sure, but where can go to get away from them? I highly doubt the members of the DML Forum can change every Musician's aspect of themselves. It's too deeply rooted in the culture.

So, what can we do. We can embrace it, and alter the definitions slightly. Drummer in itself is degrading, because it portrays a biased view. Percussionist is probably the way to go, you are right BillRay, but for us who consider ourselves Percussionist's, involving all aspects of Drums and Percussion, where's our brand? If a Ph.D and highly respectable member in Engineering had the same rank as someone who just got out of college, still with clean fingernails, how is that fair to the Ph.D? He's put time and work and sweat and blood into his passion, and gets the same treatment as some newbie, what happens to Work Ethic? There shold be something to show for all the Hard Work that they've accomplished.

So, instead of Drummer, call it Drum Set Player, or Marimba Player, or Percussionist if you play all aspects. Percussionist's are expected to know all there is to know even about subjects they themselves do not readily understand. I don't play double-bass, but from my experience, I can surely help someone improve. Percussionist's are the one's you see teaching in college, getting record deals, traveling across the world to play for crowds. The PAS, a society geared towards everything Percussion, is a culmination of what it takes to be a Percussionist.

So, sorry BillRay, but I think someone who can play it all would like to held in higher respect than someone who can only play one thing. Call it selfishness, call it whatever you want, I call it simple Life.

Homki890
Surrender your ego over the titles and labels, and you will really begin your learning process. Lose the barriers. They are merely guides to set you in a direction. When you shed those constraints then you can see things as all one concept.

My friend is into the fine art of UFC (Ultimate Fighting). He says that "the best style is every style". The best fighters in the sport have a broad knowledge of styles; grappling, karate, boxing, and judo all come into play to create a deadly end result.

When you play percussion, you are essentially striking an instrument with some sort of device. When you play drums, you are essentially striking an instrument with some sort of device. The message and approaches are completely different, but the conveyance of the message is same.

I don't seek to cheapen the art of classical percussion or drumset or latin percussion by lumping it all into one bowl. I've spent a lifetime learning this instrument, and while I've kept close to it as my main pursuit, I've paid homage to most every style of music at some point because that was "the gig". It's been a monstrous learning experience.

As to the question of "what is fair" in the music business (referring to the PhD Engineer guy -vs- the newbie)....I cannot tell you how many times I've seen polished players get passed over for a gig in favor of a younger, less-experienced player. Hey, I've been on both sides of that coin. This business is not fair. If you are going to be an artist, you have to exist upon your uniqueness and vibe. Playing skills are good to have, but really it's all in how you deal with people. That's the part that most people don't get.

Have yerselves a merry little christmas :)
 
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