The recurring theme that I hear from middle and high school percussion students is the lack of time for individual rehearsal. Most young percussionists have multiple interests and talents, and many of them are taking advanced placement courses in school. Add to this family, church and other commitments, and there aren’t many large chunks of time left for rehearsal during the week.

The other problem is motivation. There is nothing like the prospect of public embarrassment (i.e., an upcoming audition or concert) to make us rehearse. Since school groups don’t play that often, keeping up momentum for daily practice is reduced, unless the student has a personal desire to master a certain skill or technique, learn a new piece, or learn a new percussion instrument.

Most of my students play multiple instruments and styles of music, which keeps them busy musically. They don’t always have the time to spend on several instruments, so time management is a real issue. One of the things that I recommend is to use short rehearsal periods and to focus on a small amount of material. Take a few minutes and rehearse a one or two measure passage, drum fill, or even a single scale or rudiment. Start at half or two-thirds of the performance or goal tempo, and slowly move up the tempo as the passage is mastered. (I recommend as little as one click, but no more than 3-5 clicks on the metronome at a time!!)

The student should see results in a fairly short amount of time, and ideally, have a sense of accomplishment. Gradually stretching the rehearsal time will help even more. Taking five, ten or fifteen minutes to do this as a “study break” can help in all kinds of ways. These “micro” rehearsal sessions allow the student to get tangible results in a short amount of time, and help to keep the rehearsal regimen moving forward.

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