Percussion for the Non-percussionist

One of the topics that frequently comes up in talking to educators at trade shows, on Twitter, Facebook, etc is ‘percussion for the non-percussionist’ – for all of the educators out there with brass, woodwind and string expertise that might have questions on what to teach as the “laws of percussion” to your students, here you go! From Dave Black, percussionist extraordinaire and co-author of Sound Innovations.


1.  Correct posture and the even distribution of weight between the feet will help produce a more relaxed performance.

2.  It is important for students to practice without favoring either hand so they develop the necessary technique to be able to play evenly between both hands.

3.  When playing the bass drum, students should position themselves so they can see the instrument, music and conductor at the same time.  


1. Avoid striking the nodal point of the bar (the point where the cord passes through the bar), as it will produce a dead tone that will lack both pitch and projection.

2. Double sticking (as opposed to alternate sticking) may be used to avoid awkward sticking patterns, and can produce a smoother, more legato effect.

3. The speed of the strokes will vary depending on the register of the instrument.  Faster roll speeds will be required in the upper register, while slower roll speeds will be required in the lower register.

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