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Percussionist 2.0 – Part 1: Top 3 video about percussion on Youtube

Percussion on Youtube

If you’re that kind of percussionist so passionate about technology and internet then you must read this post.

New technologies and the web give percussionists lots of resources: from videos that explain how to build a handmade marimba, to iPad apps that read scores, to drummers’ forums where you can talk about the last double-ply half coated drum head with a laminated center dot with a a 3-mil polyester film, etc. etc. No sarcasm at all, I belong to those forums too.

Hence the idea to review some of these materials that I find most interesting and of a certain value.

And here’s how I’m going to proceed.



First of all, it must be made clear that with digital media we can make music and we can teach music. I don’t have to give you any explanation about this. We live in 2014 so this is a fact.

But what digital media am I referring to? I’m exactly talking about:

  • Video resources contained in video-sharing websites, that’s to say the videos that you can find on YouTube;
  • apps for mobile devices;
  • websites in whole or in part dedicated to percussion (and in this category I also include forums);
  • blogs, as this one you are reading right now;
  • podcast;
  • lms, or learning management system.

Today I want to talk about the top 3 videos about percussion on YouTube:

  • “The complete percussionist” from the United States Army Field Band channel.
  • “Instruments: Percussion” from the Philharmonia Orchestra in London channel.
  • “LSO: Masterclass – Timpani and Percussion” from the Youtube Symphony Orchestra 2011 channel.



This is perhaps the most complete video on YouTube where all the major percussion instruments are presented. The video is produced by the United States Army Field Band which is the American Army official band.

In these two hours and twenty minutes of video, the percussionists show the various percussion instruments which are used in the orchestra and the main performance techniques. The topics they present are the following:

  • Keyboard percussion: marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, glockenspiel and tubular bells. Manufacturing features, the choice of mallets, specific techniques on all instruments like the concept of bouncing, scales, height of the mallets from the keyboard, roll, Stevens Technique and grip.
  • Timpani: timpani positioning, posture, grip, choice of drumsticks, basic technique (strokes, dynamics, rolls), intonation, pedals technique, sticking, dampening, muffling.
  • Snare drum: grip, wrist movement, accents, rolls, flams, ruffs.
  • Accessories: triangle techniques, tambourine, snare drum, orchestral cymbals, suspended cymbal, bass drum and attached cymbal played simultaneously.

For each instrument the percussionists show some useful exercises for the development of the various techniques, with the score that scrolls from left to right in the video while the percussionist plays. Moreover they present some of the most famous excerpts for orchestral auditions.

The video, as explained in the description, is part of “a series designed to share knowledge with America’s young musicians and to aid teachers by focusing on specific musical areas.” and it’s definitely one of the most important resources as a showcase for percussion instruments.

However, it could be optimized by choosing, for example, to collect the exercises in a separate pdf file. Then the presentation order of the instruments and the techniques could be organized in a more functional way.

Anyway this video is a good attempt to promote to the public the variety of our instruments. Food for thought!



In this video David Corkhill, former percussionist of the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, introduces some of the instruments of the orchestral percussion section. As the previous one, this resource is mainly thought as a showcase of the instruments themselves. It’s different from the video of the United States Army Field Band because of its shorter duration and for the lack of specific exercises.

For each percussion instrument, Corkhill explains the most characteristic sounds and some of the most famous orchestral excerpts.

The percussion shown are, in order, the following:

  • Vibraphone – 00:07
  • Xylophone- 02:29
  • Marimba – 03:31
  • Glockenspiel – 04:53
  • Orchestral bass drum – 05:54
  • Tam -Tam – 07:19
  • Snare Drum – 08:57
  • Orchestral Cymbals -10:49
  • Triangle – 13:14
  • Crotales -14:17
  • Tambourine – 15:16

Unlike the previous example, however, in the video description there’s a link that leads to the Philharmonia Orchestra website where the contents are proposed again and partially deepened with other information.

My opinion on this video is the same as before: a good attempt to make “popular” our instruments. In this case, however, the shorter duration than the previous video makes this resource more suited to the average audience of YouTube. Much appreciated!



Both these videos were produced for a project that took place in 2011 (it was the second edition after the first of 2009) which was intended to create a symphony orchestra whose auditions were held on YouTube. Once the orchestra was virtually set up, it began its rehearsals (in the real world in real spaces) that culminated in a concert at the Sydney Opera House.

Both videos are in form of Masterclass that are respectively held by the first timpanist and the first percussionist of the London Symphony Orchestra. The two musicians present the orchestral excerpts required for the audition of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.

The videos, from an educational point of view, are very interesting for the competence of both teachers and because these excerpts are required in auditions all over the world. The excerpts presented are:


  • Beethoven, Symphony 9
  • Elgar, Enigma Variations
  • Brahms, Symphony 1


  • Rimsky Korsakov, Scheherazade (on snare drum)
  • Tchaikovsky, Suite from “Sleeping Beauty” (on glockenspiel)
  • Stravinsky, The Firebird (on xylophone)

How these excerpts are played and explained could be a good cause for reflection, but I prefer to “move” this debate to the comments section…

The videos are still interesting if only for the undeniable professionalism of the two masters and for the specificity of the selected repertoire.



Well, what you have read are just 3 of the most interesting video I found on YouTube but as you know the list could be extended for at least another thirty resources, a very large number certainly, but not huge. That’s why I ask your help in listing what YOU find interesting for the whole community of percussionists around the world.

With the biggest humility I’d like to remind you also what I try to do on my YouTube channel and I hope in the future to offer you even better content both on the teaching and on the educational side.

In the next post of the series I will focus on the best apps for mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) that I daily use on the stage or in my classroom.

Thanks again for the collaboration and see you soon!


Question: if you were asked to choose 3 videos to recommend to your best percussionist colleague, what would you recommend? Leave a comment!