Quality and quantity of relevant information for a percussionist: these are the key features that turn a website into an EXCEPTIONAL resource for percussion instruments.
Therefore, in this third episode of the series “Percussionist 2.0”, I will talk about the best websites which are entirely dedicated to percussion instruments. Blogs will not be considered as they will be the specific topic of my next post.
The most interesting websites for percussionists are often websites of companies that produce percussion instruments and aim to promote their products. However, these websites also provide free learning resources of a certain interest. For this reason you will find websites of famous percussion instruments brands in the list that follows.
There are also websites that are specifically designed for teaching and websites of magazines which gather online teaching resources of great interest.
The websites that I will specifically talk about will be:
Vic Firth includes the section -Education- which is specifically designed for didactics. Here a series of free resources are collected and organized according to each percussion instrument: drums, drum, marching band, ethnic instruments, classical percussion and others.
The teaching resources consist of a series of video lessons, text articles, images and other downloadable multimedia files. The part dedicated to the didactic posts, available both in a textual and graphic format is very interesting too. These are clearly explained and rich of information. You will also find an interesting video section which, other than the didactic videos, also includes the performances of internationally renowned drummers and percussionists.
Have you ever experienced some problems with orchestral excerpts for cymbals? I did, almost every time to be honest. This is because during the years of the Conservatory I have never studied enough these orchestral instruments which are, to me, the most difficult to play together with the glockenspiel and the gong.
Perhaps, one of the key points which have influenced my poor studying was, besides the lack of will, the fact that I could’t find enough learning material other than Al Payson‘s classic book .
The Zildjian website partly fills this gap in the section “Educate”, which provides a number of free online videos, posts and exercises of undoubted value.
The videos of the “Educational Guidebook” series by Keith Aleo are among my favourite resources. These are useful both to beginners and teachers who can use them as teaching references.
Finally note the part of the website that has other videos and written tutorials, where you can also find pearls such as Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” cymbals excerpt explanation. In the same section you can also find a video in which a percussionist of the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra gives you his own version of the passage from Romeo and Juliet, of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, of Rachmaninoff’s second Concerto for Piano and of Dvorak’s Scherzo Capriccioso (honestly, I had never heard of this last one before).
The didactic resources for the orchestral cymbals were not enough? With the Zildjian website you’ll have no more excuses.
Freedrumlesson.com is a collection of useful and free resources for drummers. The website stocks a series of tutorials in video, audio and text format from internationally renowned drummers who give some classes in a masterclass format. Some of these classes last over two hours.
The Youtube channel associated to this website has published 541 videos so far, all with a quality which is very close to the one of a film studio. This free material is mainly distributed via Youtube but inside the website you can also find additional resources, downloadable exercises, and follow-up posts regarding the topics of the videos.
All these resources are available for free and used as a “showcase” for other paid contents proposed on the same website.
Pas.org collects all the resources published and produced by the Percussion Arts Society, the world largest international organization in the field of percussion. Once you sign in you can have access to different sections like “learn” and “teach” which contain posts and multimedia resources for students and teachers.
Note the section related to the collection of posts regarding an eventual career development in the percussion field, “Career Development Resources”. If you subscribe to the “Percussive Notes” magazine, a PAS production, you also gain access to the digital format of the magazine and to every back-issue since the first one of 1963; a real Eldorado for every percussionist. You can also use the search function within the website where you can specify keywords and topics of interest.
Pas.org gathers also a sort of virtual community within the section “Pas Network”, which allows you to stay in touch with those international percussionists who decide to sign up (always online) within the PAS centres of their countries.
Finally, pas.org tries to encourage its members to submit posts, concert, news and all kind of useful material to be published on their website and shared within the rest of PAS community.
I still remember when I was “just” a drummer. Drummerworld.com was one of the websites that I used to visit most. I used to spend literally hours watching famous drummers and I used to dream that one day I would become like them. Things worked out slightly differently in the end and this was better for me.
Beside my personal life, which may not interest you, the drummerworld.com website is still one of the most interesting web resources for drummers. It is essentially a great database which contains multimedia resources of any kind (audio, video, text) and it’s related to each drummer present on the database. Tutorials, masterclasses, complete clinics, everything.
If you have no idea which is the artist to start with, you can browse in the list of tutorials divided per genre – rock, funck, jazz, latin, gospel, metal – or topic – specific technique for hands, feet, brushes, solos, transcriptions, etc etc. It’s really a gold mine of never-ending resources.
Here is another historical website (since 1996) for drummers and percussionists. The main feature of drummercafe.com – what makes this website different from those I was talking about- is that the idea here is creating an online community.
How? Through different channels, such as:
- a web tv, with very interesting interviews to every sort of artists, conducted by Bart Elliot, the website creator;
- a forum, which at a first glance doesn’t look like having many followers. However, it’s interesting that this is one of the few forums with a section specifically related to classic pepercussion;
- a list of teachers, who advertise their own teaching activity in a specific section;
- a series of premium resources – play along, transcriptions, pdf tutorials, videos- dedicated to those who decide to make a yearly subscription to the website;
- a “news” sections, which collects all the most “percussively” significant events on the world stage.
Moreover, also drummercafe offers the opportunity to find different types of free content such as tutorials, videos but also reviews of books, CDs, DVDs, instruments and much more.
Perhaps, from this point of view, drummercafe is the richest online platform of the web. At the same time, all this content makes the surfing within the website rather messy.
I ran across this site while I was searching for percussion blogs (the topic of my next episode). I found in this way “thepercussionroom”. Even if it isn’t updated since 2013, it’s still an interesting experiment conducted by its founder, Steven Wassmandorf, a freelance percussionist in the Toronto area.
The main website is a great resource for all percussionists because it includes, besides the blog itself:
- a section about the analysis of some pieces of orchestral repertoire;
- a section dedicated to the specific percussion lexicon;
- a section dedicated to the amount of times in which a particular percussion instrument is used in the various compositions;
- a section about the audition programs for timpani and percussion of the main American and international orchestras.
For a more detailed review of “thepercussionroom” website don’t miss to have a look at Andrew Proctor’s post (I’ll talk about his blog in the next episode). Enjoy the reading!
To finish off with this list, I would like to talk about a unique resource: vibesworkshop.com, the Eldorado of the vibraphonists…. and of many others.
The website is designed by Tony Miceli, a great jazz vibraphonist who has gathered the world biggest virtual community of vibraphone’s fans. Marimba and other musical genres are not excluded therefore all the percussionists are welcome there.
If you subscribe, and this is for free, you also have access to posts, forums and other useful online resources. If you then decide to pay (at the moment, the price is $20 per month), you can also see other tutorials and specific material.
I have to admit that I just subscribed – I didn’t know it before – to this great community thanks to the tip of a friend of mine, the great vibraphonist Giovanni Perin.
How do I think I can give my own contribution? For example recording a piece of David Friedman and asking his own feedback on the vibesworkshop forum which is also followed by these MASTER names of the vibraphone.
NEXT – BLOGS
This post closes the third episode of the “Percussionist 2.0” series which is dedicated to the best Tech resources useful for our job.
In the next post I will talk more specifically about blogs, a topic that I want to take particular care of. I leave you with the usual request of collaboration.
See you soon!
Question: what are the 3 percussion websites which you follow most? What do you think about the reviews of the websites above? Leave a comment!