All beginner Percussion students will learn both the Snare Drum and the Mallets (Bells)

The percussion section is full of instruments! As a percussionist, you'll be in charge of learning a whole FAMILY of instruments. You might start with a bell kit or a snare drum (or both!), but by high school, you'll be playing all sorts of instruments including mallets, timpani, and cymbals. Professional percussionists can play over 300 types of instruments! Check out the links and videos below to learn more about this section and the different types of instruments found in it.

Pitched Percussion

Pitched percussion means that the instrument that you're playing will be able to play specific pitches or notes, like a C or an F sharp or a B flat. You will need to know how to read music on the staff, and then be able to match what the music says to the bars on the instrument that you play.

When you start playing pitched percussion, you'll probably start out on a Bell Kit, which will look something like this:

Non-Pitched Percussion

Non-pitched percussion means that the instrument doesn't play specific notes, like A flat or C natural. Instead, you'll read music like the example below, and focus on playing rhythms.

When you first start playing non-pitched percussion, you'll start off on a snare drum or a practice pad, which look like this:

There are two different main categories of non-pitched percussion: Battery and Auxilliary. Learn more about each group below!

Battery Percussion

The two main instruments in Battery percussion are the snare drum and bass drum.

Andrea Venet plays "Kibo for Solo Snare Drum"

Andrea Venet is a percussionist and composer. She wrote this piece, called "Kibo for Solo Snare Drum." You'll hear her playing the solo snare drum part with 4 instruments behind her: 2 vibraphones and 2 marimbas. Listen as she makes different sounds on the snare drum and uses different parts of the drums to create an interesting sound world.

Bass drum - "Dies Irae" in Verdi's Requiem

Playing the bass drum in Requiem, by Giuseppe Verdi, is one of a percussionists favorite things to do! There's a part of the piece called the "Dies Irae" which calls for a LOUD bass drum. Take a listen!

Drumline in South Korea

A drumline is a group of people that play percussion instruments together. Typically, drumlines use instruments like snare drums, bass drums, cymbals, and quads. Check out this fun drumline that plays in South Korea!

Southern University drumline

Watch this drumline from Southern University in Louisiana. You'll notice that they're doing motions with their sticks at the same time, and that their stick height (how high they hold their sticks off the drum) is all the same!

Auxilliary Percussion

Auxilliary Percussion (sometimes shortened to Aux Percussion) includes things like the triangle, tambourine, shakers, and MANY other percussion instruments that are struck, scraped, or shook. Click each video to learn more about the instrument!

Crash cymbals