So many instruments to hit… timpani, xylophone, glockenspiel, snare drum, cymbals… what is that wooden thing? With lots of hand held percussion for schools, no two pieces are the same. But from a perspective of inclusion. Brilliant fun! More students can get involved, learning a wide variety of skills, but most importantly, you hear a wonderful and eclectic variation of sounds.

As a percussionist, you’re not playing all the time, but you have to be alert and concentrate. Everyone’s relying on you for that cymbal crash!  And, if you are in charge of the ‘horsewhip’ at Christmas in Leroy Anderson’s ‘Sleigh Ride’…. well good luck!!

Percussion is also a great ‘all inclusive’ option for those who are not so keen on the theory of music. You can easily produce a rhythmic GCSE performance with an African Drumming group on Djembe’s.

In this Blog I will introduce percussive options for both primary schools and Senior School orchestras. I will concentrate on the most popular, and most effective percussion found in school bands and orchestras.

Boots and Cats

Drum Kit; Not traditionally classed as ‘orchestral’, but we all know the majority of schools use a drum kit, usually with a selection of ‘willing’ students striving to have a go!

For the younger players, you will be hard pressed to find a better value for money drum kit than the Rocket 5 Piece Junior Drum Kit. This complete kit consists of 3 Toms, 16” Bass Drum, Snare Drum, 8” Hi-Hats, 10” Crash Cymbal, and even the stool (throne?). Which in my reckoning, is a lot more than ‘5-Piece’!!

In Secondary and Senior schools, a full sized kit is a necessity. Generally, a great quality kit will last for many years, and be utilised by all musical bands and combinations.  From Orchestras to Big Bands. Indie to Heavy Rock! The Tama 22” Rhythm Mate Kit is ideal for all of your needs. Solid, reliable, robust, and great sounding. The 22” Kick Drum, 3 full-size toms and Snare, and top-range Ziljian Planet Z Cymbals produce an imposing and quality sound, no matter what genre is performed.

school-drum

Musical Ting

Glockenspiel; Oh, the wonderful sound of a Glockenspiel. Personally, my two favourite instrumental textures that can never be ‘over-done’ in an Orchestra or Band is the Glockenspiel and… I’ll keep you in suspense (hint!). The Glockenspiel I think really is the musical ‘icing on the cake’.

By far our most popular school Glock, is the A-Star 25 Note model. Ranging from G5 to G7 (all keys named), this perfectly pitched model will improve any piece of music. Supplied in a hard-plastic case and with 2 beaters, these have sold in their 1000’s to schools all around the UK and Europe. Why? Sound perfect. Cost under £22! Often bought in class sets for group teaching, as well as orchestras and performances.

For those requiring more octaves, we have the professional standard A-Star Glockenspiel Kit.  The two-and-a half Octaves of pure tone are a must for and senior orchestra, plus this kit comes with a dedicated, adjustable support stand, practice pad, beaters and sticks, and all neatly stored in a carry bag.

Wooden it be Lovely

Xylophone; Some may say a luxury. I say, if you can persuade the ‘bean counter’ to fund one, you will not be disappointed. From the entry level A-Star and Percussion Plus models, all the way up to the majestic Adams Academy 3.5 Octave ‘King’ of Xylophones, we have one to improve your concert performances.

school-percussion-xylophone

Boom Boom

Timpani; Hard to play well, with lots of quick pedal work, but very, very effective. Think ‘Captain Scarlet… for those over the age of 45! Or for those more classically suited, Beethoven 9.

Unlike all other percussion instruments, there is no ‘cheap’ affordable option when it comes to Timpani. The entry level Adams Universal Fibreglass models are available in the standard 23” and 29” versions, which is actually sufficient for most schools and repertoire.

Crash Course

Auxiliary Percussion; you know, all the small, hand-held bits and pieces that students and percussionists try and get their hands on first!

I’m quite certain that in every school there will be a box of percussion and normally with lots of parts missing. You know what I mean. One castanet, no beater. Cabasa with a loose handle Triangle with no holder. One clave. Tambourine with jingles missing. Samba beaters for drums that no longer exist! You know I’m right!

Let me solve your woes! Here at Normans, we have everything you need, from individual items, to ‘all-in-one’ boxed solutions. Far too many to mention here, but let give you some ideas.

Mallets & Beaters for all percussion, Bells for all ages… and Christmas, Castanets and Chimes & Triangles. There’s still much, much more! Claves & Woodblocks, Maracas & Guiros (you know, that wooden ridged scraped instrument that no-one knows how to pronounce!), and the staple Tambourines & Tambours.

Package of Perfection

One of our most popular offerings of recent times is our Percussion Packs. We know how much a teacher likes tidiness! SO, why not simply have a case or boxed selection of percussion instruments, that can easily be allocated, and put back for safe storage. Just look at the ‘lost’ list previously mentioned. You know I’m right!

Here you can find Percussion Sets and Storage, from 9 percussion instruments, all the way up to 30 player packs, all perfectly stored in their dedicated case/box.

And if you are looking for a really excellent child-pleasing and developmental set (Ofsted love this!) we have just introduced the A-Star 30-Player Multicultural Basket. Not only does this set promote musical learning and development, it also raises topics of geographical content and ethical and ecological production. Trust me, it is Outstanding, just like your lesson will be judged!

school-percussion

Suspended Simple (Cymbal)

As a conductor, I could never get enough suspended cymbal. What better way to enhance a key change or an exposition into a new phrase! Plus, it can help cover up any small imperfections (“change of key students”!) or uncertainty of navigation!

Crash Bang Wallop What a Picture

When it comes to the array of school percussion that is on offer, it can be a difficult choice.

However, with the majority of our percussion only costing a few pounds, and producing accurate and traditional tones, you can have your (drum) fill of choice. The more the merrier, with more students being able to participate and augment your performances. Every percussive hit and effect you can think of, plus, sets that provide you with an instant package of instruments and tidiness! Drum Roll…

Normans is here for you.

About the author

Nick joined the Normans Sales Team after a musical career spanning 35 years; firstly as a principal trombonist in Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Service for 24 years, performing around the UK and worldwide, including on the Royal Yacht Britannia, and then within the education sector teaching GCSE and A Level Music and Music Technology. He is a keen Big Band, Jazz performer and Hi-Fi enthusiast.

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