One of the biggest lessons I learned out of school was that subbing in professional orchestras did not mean playing snare drum, xylophone, or bells–or timpani. It meant being really, really good at the stuff I never played in lessons (other than for audition preparation)–triangle, tambourine, castanets, etc. In fact, almost 85% of what I played in my first ten years of professional playing was bass drum and cymbals. And a lot of tambourine.
So do yourself a favor–if you’re in school, especially with symphony orchestras and wind groups, take a few tambourine parts and work them up. There’s no better place to experiment with instruments, new techniques, and colors than ensemble rehearsals. And take five minutes out of every day to play some hand-knee exercises (something like the Trepak from Nutcracker or Mother Ginger from the complete ballet), and spend a minute or two on your shake rolls and finger rolls. And never be afraid to bring some excerpts or parts into your lessons–you’d be surprised at what’s possible with these instruments, and many students never get around to it because they’re so busy playing everything else.
Here is a short list of suggested excerpts:
- Carmen Suites 1 and 2 – tambourine/triangle
- Nutcracker (complete ballet and suite) – tambourine/triangle/castanets
- Dvorak Carnival Overture – tambourine/triangle/cymbals
- Berlioz Roman Carnival Overture – tambourine/triangle/cymbals
- Chabrier Espana – tambourine
- Borodin Polovtsian Dances – tambourine
- Stravinsky Petrouchka – tambourine/cymbals
- Britten Four Sea Interludes – tambourine
- Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade – tambourine/triangle
- Rimsky-Korsakov Capriccio Espagnol – tambourine/triangle
John W. Parks IV, Assistant Professor of Percussion at The Florida State University since Fall of 2003, earned the Doctor of Musical Arts in Percussion Performance degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He holds two Master’s degrees from Northwestern University, one each in Percussion Performance and Jazz Pedagogy, and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Furman University. Parks has performed with diverse performing organizations ranging from the Eastman Wind Ensemble on their 2000 tour of Japan and Taiwan and the Schlossfestspiele Orchestra of Heidelberg, Germany to the Kansas City, Alabama, Key West, Jacksonville, and Tallahassee Symphony Orchestras.
John is currently President-Elect of the Percussive Arts Society.