Brass Players and Conductors views on Percussionist

Percussion, a DIY excersise or an essential part of brass bands??

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I would like to hear from all brass players, conductors and I suppose
percussionists with their views on the roll of the percussion section within brass bands!!

How are you treated in your band, percussionist??

Lee Downie
Ex-Flowers Percussionist


Active Member
Don't have a view of our percussion section, normally their behind me in rehearsals.

Though I do wish they didn't have so much stuff!, take me ages lugging all that lot around (I get used as the percussion section roadie a lot).

Still I guess the end justifies the means and if a piece has been written correctly then a good percussion section makes it SO much more exciting.


Active Member
Percussion contributes so much to a complete performance. We had to play in a band without percussion for about 6 months and it was somewhat lacking.

My son now plays percussion in a youth band and we find it very frustrating that although once nagged, some kids will help in packing away at the end, there is very little help in setting up the kit at the beginning of rehearals meaning that the band has sometimes being playing for about 15 minutes before the entire kit is set up and he can join in. :(


From the very few posts here already I can see another topic arising about loading and unloading kit, also taking kit to concerts and contests.

My Nephew has just started playing with Chalford Band, he is on 9 and he has to set it all up by himself.

I know that alot of contests these days provide most of the percussion but why don't people want to help, after all they are part of the band!!!

Lee Downie
Ex-Flowers Percussionist

Dave Payn

Active Member
As well as adding an extra dimension to my own ears, most brass band compositions and arrangements require the use of percussion in whatever form, up to the point where it becomes a nightmare selecting say, a summer park job programme if you know you're not getting any percussion. Sure, I'm biased 'cos I double up on tuned percussion from time to time, but it's amust for me, all the same.



Active Member
aarrgghhh the banging!!!

...sorry, too many memories of sitting very close to timps during star wars!

Anyway, percussion is essential to a full band sound, and to cover up minor splits (not that i make any). I think the problem with people not helping to set up is that many (including me :oops: ) don't really know how it all goes together and there's nothing worse than watching an annoyed drummer taking your work apart to put it back together properly!


Staff member
A good percussion section can add tremendously to the effectiveness of a band programme, and more and more of the current arrangements are greatly enhanced by the increased employment of tuned percussion, vibes etc. I've recently reviewed the cd re-issues of the Virtuosi Brass Band of Great Britain recordings and the sparsity of glock, xylophone etc makes them sound very old-fashioned at times.

As for help with humping gear, I have always been used to everyone mucking in and giving a hand - the percussionists can go straight in and start setting up their kit as other people bring it to them. In the forces, of course, we had two kit parties every time we went out, one for general equipment and one for the percussion, but it shouldn't have to be as formal as that if everyone does their bit.


brass players and conductors views on percussionists

Nice to see you on here Mr. Downie. Well, I can tell you now, and I'm sure a lot of percussionists will feel the same, it's a great help when the rest of the band help to put the kit away. It certainly saves a lot of time and energy especially when everyone want's to get away for a pint or two.

But the worst thing anyone can do is to try and talk to a percussionist (especially the drummer) when he/she is taking the kit up or down. As for percussion being essential to brass bands...... absolutely! Although down this way there seems to be a lack of percussionists of late which is pretty worrying. Of course, most drummers who start off in brass bands end up playing in local rock or pop bands where there's a lot more to do. (That's if you don't play for Flowers that is!!!)


Weener, Good to see you putting your bit in for us percussionist!!!

As you know when I was in Flowers all the help we got was you, me, Jammer and Karin but she only supervised!!!!

How many late nights did we have putting the kit back in the bandroom whilst everyone else was down the pub or in the curry house?!?!?!?

Has anything changed at Flowers or it is still you and Jammer

See you soon mate!!!



Na, it's all change..................I supervise now!! Come on percussionists... lets have your points of views, we're a dying breed!!!


Active Member
I'm a flugel-playing concussionist so I reckon the noisy crew should be used more! Mind you, I do have issues with one timp player in Verdi Requiem who was right behind me making large amounts of noise!!

Rach x
Ahem. Dont even get me started!!
Apart from anything else, i like being a shed builder! but shed builders are an essential part of a brass band, of course!!!
If we couldnt be in the band we'd just have to be 'groupies' and that would just not be as much fun!
On a more serious note (ting/bash, whatever), percussion provides colour and effects (and of course musicality) that should not be missed out!
At my band, we're treated with the greatest respect, and the conductor is always great, its so nice to have a conductor that actually listens to the percussion and always comments (whether good or bad) on our playing. It makes us feel wanted!
In some bands i've played in the percussionists have been left to get on with it... speaking for myself here- i get so bored when we're ignored i start putting extra bits in, generally messing around and not putting anywhere near as much effort in as i would when i know people will be listening!
Its like in a contest, when you play your heart out and dont even get a mention.... :cry:
One of the best feelings ive had was at the seniors cup last year when, after playing paganini (we had a great section... :oops: ), the conductor of the band i was in at the time stood us up first on stage. was great to be appreciated!


Active Member
Our drummer is brilliant! We'd be lost without him! Everyone helps with the kit but I don't understand drums so I just carry them about. I leave the guys to set them up! :wink:

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
This is where I think my education system is so totally flawed. I think it sucks that every time I get a new percussionist into the band, I have to TEACH auxillary and tuned percussion to, because all they can play is kit!!!!!!!!!!

I have the utmost of respect for percussionists (I dated one once), but a lot of the mistreatment they get, they do bring upon themselves.


New Member
Well I've read all of what has been said and here are my thoughts.

Most brass players think they know how to play percussion but actually know nothing about how you play percussion the right way. Most think you hit things very hard and make as much noise as possible. Wrong!!!!! As I once heard my all time drumming hero Buddy Rich say, you play a drum like you would any other musical instrument. You can be as subtle or ar brutal as you want. But experience should tell you just what is required. It takes a lot of skill to play percussion, as it does any instrument, and it is all about technique and getting the best sound out of the instrument.

From my point of view from behind the kit, I like to drive the band and I always have done so for whichever band I played for. In my experience there is nothing worse than a weak kit player when the music needs more. That doesn't mean that I play loud all of the time: I give 100% and give the music what is needed. Too many people are quick to point the finger and moan about the percussion section being too loud when actually that is what the music wants. But what I have found is by taking this approach it is appreciated by conductors, players and audiances alike but when I'm not there they realise exactly what is missing.

As for lugging gear arround I am one of those rare breeds of percussionists who carries his own gear. Whilst at Leyland I would always arrive at the Bandroom much earlier and prepare what has to be going for a concert etc. by getting everything out to be loaded. I took that responsibility as part of my job of being Principal of the section.

At the jobs I would always put up the kit, as I always played on my own gear anyway, whilst the rest of the band brought the gear in and the other two members of the section put it up. The one thing is that timps, xylo's, bass drums etc. (i.e. the big stuff) could always be carried out by the members of the band whilst we get the smaller stuff packed. And yes it can be frustrating to have people in your way whilst trying to pack down a kit.

However I was always grateful for the help of the band members for carting stuff to the bus etc. but ultimately a brass band is about a team of 28 players, whether brass or percussionists, and it is a team effort. 8)


Active Member
I think the problem with people not helping to set up is that many (including me :oops: ) don't really know how it all goes together and there's nothing worse than watching an annoyed drummer taking your work apart to put it back together properly!

The problem is my lad is fairly new to his band and we're not familiar with their kit either. His own kit, I can have up or down in five minutes, but the band one seems to be a bunch of mismatched stands and bits and pieces, but there are people in the bandroom who do know how to work it and its very annoying when they just sit and watch with the "i've done it for the last god know how many years, its your turn now" attitude instead of helping. My aim is going to be to get them to organise all the bits and pieces, get rid of any that are not needed and hopefully it will make our job easier and quicker and he can join in playing sooner.
One of the bands that I play for does not have a regular percussion player for rehearsals although we do have a chap who comes along for our main concerts.

Although percussion helps improve a piece I feel it can also cause problems. :!:

During the summer I helped out a band who normally have a percusisonist at every rehearsal and every job. However on this particular occassion there was no percussion. A lot of the band were lost and almost couldn't cope as they were too used to relying on the percussion to keep the beat rather than watching the conductor.

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