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:
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.
We just returned from the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), held this year in Austin, TX. During the 3-day event over 3,000 percussionists gathered for clinics, masterclasses, performances and a exhibits filled with the world’s top percussion products.
This year we celebrated our 30th consecutive appearance at the PASIC show, that’s three decades of showing the world’s finest percussion products! The focus this year was on our new Pro Concert Castanets which feature a micro-tension adjustment and solid granadillo wood castanets. In addition, we unveiled our new line of Grover Custom snare drums, including models with solid rosewood,maple and bubinga wood shells. One of the hot items at the show was our 5.5″x14″ 10-ply maple shell drum with our “toaster” style lugs and wooden hoops.
Percussionists crammed our booths, including top pros from orchestras like Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Boston,Paris, London, Cleveland and many others. Alan Abel from the Philadelphia Orchestra used our tambourine in his clinics and Will James from the St. Louis Philharmonic, used our new G2 and G3 snare drums in his lab. We also met with top studio percussionists who told us that our products are used on top rated tv shows like Dancing With The Stars and American Idol. Taylor Swift’s drummer stopped by to tell us that our tambourines can be heard on all of her top hit records! He said that one of Nashville’s most successful producers requires insists that our tambourines be used in the studio!
Here is a glimpse of the action:
Our line of hammered bronze triangles has been so successful that we’ve added a new model, the TR-BPH-7 triangle.
Grover Pro hammered triangles differ from others in that we hammer each bronze alloy rod extensively before forming. We have discovered that our special alloy needs random repetitive hammering in order to fully distress the crystalline structure of the metal. (Putting a few random hammer marks in the metal just doesn’t cut it!)
Our new model TR-BPH-7 triangle has the same complex harmonic properties of the 6″ & 8″ model, but with a baseline sonic center which falls between the other two models. A perfect choice for high level symphonic & orchestral playing!
Made proudly right here in Massachusetts, USA.
Berklee College Of Music Professor, Dean Anderson, and a few of his students took time out from the end of the school semester to visit the Grover Pro factory. The group was given a personalized tour of our facility and joined the Grover Pro staff for a quick lunch.
Dean Anderson, who has been a Grover Pro endorser for over 30 years, is one of Boston’s premier percussionists. In fact, Dean was the second person in the world to own a Grover Pro Super-Overtone triangle. The year was 1980!
Introduced in 1980, our Super-Overtone triangles were the first pro quality triangles specifically manufactured to emit a large array of overtones. Available in two sizes (6″ & 9″) the TR-6 & TR-9 models have been some of the most sought after symphonic triangles.
Our NEW 5″ model Super-Overtone triangle produces the same wide- harmonic spectrum as the two larger models, but, the frequency band of this model is significantly higher than the 6″ model. In fact, this special triangle bridges the gap between a standard model and a high pitched piccolo triangle.
As George Plimpton once discovered, playing triangle in a symphony orchestra is not as easy as it appears. Producing a musical sonority, striking in the right place – at the right time, stricking at just the right velocity and pressure and enduring the ridicule of jealous musicians around you, are all part of a day’s work!
THE FIVE TIPS TO REMEMBER
Follow these basic rules and you should be off to a good start!
CLICK HERE for more triangle concepts and techniques.
Here’s some general percussive advice geared towards my music educator colleagues. This piece, original written for SB&O magazine, serves to provide insight into the task of acquiring proper basic percussion accessory instruments. The percussion instruments covered include: concert tambourine, piatti or hand cymbals, woodblock, temple blocks and more.
Feel free to download and share!
Click the image to download: “How to Purchase Concert Percussion Accessories”
But the only time Plimpton admitted getting scared was when he played triangle for the New York Philharmonic, facing conductor Leonard Bernstein.
“He would stare at Bernstein over the top of the triangle, metal rods gripped tightly, and look for some cue in the whirlwind of Bernstein’s movements that suggested it was time for him to play. And then: ‘Ping!’”
photo:Richard Nilsen/The Arizona Republic