Beginning Percussion

Want to practice with some fun background tracks?

Find a link to the songs in the red method book as mp3 files for free to download and practice with at home here: Beginning Band Practice Files

Or play them on youtube:

Since I was sick on Wednesday, watch this short lesson video:

Week One Percussion

Dear Parents and Students-


I’m excited that you are starting an instrument here at Fairmount Park! This is our first week of lessons and I want you to understand the following principles that will help you progress on your instrument:

  1. Plan time this week when you will practice by using the sheet I gave you in class. By scheduling a daily practice time, just like you do for your homework, sports events and other activities, you can prepare yourself to actually do it!
  2. Find a practice space that is free of distractions, is well lit and use a chair that will give you the correct posture for your instrument.
  3. Practice for brief periods of time (10-15 minutes) every day. This will get you into a routine and avoid tired muscles, especially in the beginning.
  4. Be patient with yourself if you don’t get a certain skill right the first time.
  5. Record your practice time on the sheet I gave you in class. Have your parents initial the column when you are done and return the sheet to Mr. Pendergrass at your next lesson.

*If you practice twice in one day, put a / in the box with a new time, minutes and skills practiced.


Percussion Practice. Put the number of the skill you practiced in the column above labeled “SKILL PRACTICED.” Do skills 1-7 each time you practice and and at least two of the exercises numbered 9-11 at each daily practice session. Remember to try and imitate what we did in class by listening and paying attention to the angle and bounce of your sticks. Repetition is the key to success. You should be able to show me the skills on the back of this page you have practiced at our next lesson on October 4.

*means you must do this every time you practice

  1. *Warm up Right Hand (from now on referred to as RH, get used to this abbreviation): while holding both sticks in your RH, put your right arm in front of you at a 90 degree angle to your body and parallel to the floor. Slowly twist or shaker your wrist with the sticks in your hand for 30 seconds. Rest. Repeat.
  2. *Warm up Left Hand: Repeat number 1 but use your LH and left arm. Rest. Repeat
  3. *Air Stick Warm-up Step 1: Stand up and “Shake hands” with your drumsticks, keeping your thumb on top and your 4 fingers wrapped gently around the stick. Make sure the fat end of the stick sticks out about an inch past your wrist pointing toward your elbow. Make sure your hands are at waist level.
  4. *Air Stick Warm-up Step 2: While shaking hands with both sticks in the proper position, turn your hands so your wrist points to the floor and your thumbnails on each hand are right across from each other. This should create the “pizza pie” shape or 60 degree angle with your sticks.
  5. *Air Stick Warm-up Step 3: While standing in the open angle of your pizza pie shape, move your wrist so the back end of the drum stick smacks the back part of your hand. Your curved fingers should help to get a slapping sound against the back of your hand.
  6. *Air Stick Warm-up Step 4: Do 4 of these “air smacks” on each hand: 4 RH, then 4LH 10-20 times. Then alternate RH, LH many times until this feels automatic. Always stay in the pizza pie position as you are looking down on your sticks. Your dominant hand will find this easier.
  7. *Practice Pad set-up: find a table, stool or chair that where you can place your practice pad. IMPORTANT- when standing in front of your practice pad, it should be at waist height for you like the air stick warm-up. If the chair or object is too short, get some books to make it the proper height.
  8. *Now stand in front of the practice pad and make sure your pizza pie shape you did above is on your practice pad with your hands at waist height. GET THIS POSITION RIGHT. Take your time and set it up before you play a single exercise below on your practice pad. WE START WITH GOOD HABITS RIGHT AWAY. Every percussion instrument you play at Fairmount Park will require you to stand and start with this position. Percussion players have the best posture of all the players!

Do at least 2 of the following at your practice session:

Start playing the exercises on pages 4 and 5 “For Snare Drums & Percussion Only.” Remember, there are Drums pages and Mallets pages in this book. Start playing the exercises on the Drums pages only (look in the upper left and right hand corner of the pages to make sure you are on the correct page.)



Some great percussion instruction videos you should check out:

Play along with “Street Beat”

All parts: STREET BEAT all parts

Snare only (there will be a 4 beat count off before you play):
STREET BEAT snare only

Tenor Trios only (there will be a 4 beat count off before you play):
STREET BEAT tenor trios only

Bass Drum only (there will be a 4 beat count off before you play):
STREET BEAT bass drum only