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High School Percussion Ensemble Impact Project

Improving​ ​Instrument Knowledge and Rhythmic Accuracy in ​Quintology ​by Gary D. Ziek

Unit Objectives:
● Students will have a greater understanding of the instruments used in ​Quintology.
○ Increased knowledge of instrument origin, playing techniques, instrument
accessories, solo works, and other interesting facts about each instrument.
● Students will utilize public speaking skills to present to the class about their assigned
instrument.
● Students will verbally count rhythms extracted from ​Quintology​, play the rhythms on
their assigned instrument, and perform them in the context of a rhythmic etude.
● Students will transfer their knowledge of the ​Quintology ​rhythms from the exercise/etude
to performing the piece itself.

Pre-Test:
The pre-test for this unit consisted of a written exam that asked questions about
instrument origin, playing techniques, instrument maintenance, etc. for six of the instruments
found in ​Quintology,​ timpani, vibraphone, temple blocks, tom-toms, snare drum, and
tambourine. The second part of the pre-test was a playing exam in which students were given a
rhythm exercise that used rhythms found in ​Quintology​ and asked to sight read the
exercise/etude. The students performed on their assigned instrument for the project (one of the
six from the written exam). The format of the rhythm exercise and etude was based on the format
of the ​Basics In Rhythm ​book that the students are accustomed to using in class. The students
were then asked to perform a run through of ​Quintology ​to assess their ability to play the
rhythms in the context of the piece. The students were graded individually for the written test
and as a group for the playing portion. Below, you will find the written exam, written test scores,
and the playing test rubric used for the pre-test. The rhythm exercise and etude can also be found
attached to this post.
Quintology Pre-Test:

Timpani:

What are the most common sizes of timpani?

How do you change the pitch of a timpani?

Why should a timpanist have a wide range of mallets?

Vibraphone:

What types of mallets should you use on the vibes?

How do you sustain notes on the vibes?

What is the best place on the bar to play?

Temple Blocks:

What materials can temple blocks be made from?

Circle the correct answer: A smaller temple block will produce a ​higher ​or ​lower ​pitch than a
larger temple block.

What types of mallets should be used to play temple blocks?


Tom-toms:

How many stands are typically used to hold concert tom-toms?

What do you use to play tom-toms? (hands, drumsticks, mallets, etc.?)

Circle the correct answer: A larger tom-tom will produce a ​higher ​or ​lower ​pitch than a smaller
tom-tom.

Snare Drum:

Shade in the general playing area of the snare drum:

What are some ways to keep up the maintenance of your snare drum?

What two types of grips can be used for playing the snare drum?

Tambourine:

Where was the tambourine first made/used?

What are the parts of a tambourine?


What can you apply to the head to facilitate the playing of rolls?

Written Pre-Test Scores

Student Pre-Test Score Post-Test Score

A 13/30

B 12/30

C 17/30

D 15/30

E 21/30

F 22/30

Pre Test Class Average: 16/30

Playing Pre-Test Scores

Always Frequently Sometimes Almost Never Never


(5) (few (at least (correct less (1)
mistakes) half was than half of
(4) correct) (3) the time) (2)

Able to 3
verbalize the
rhythms in the
rhythm key

Able to 4
perform each
isolated rhythm
in the rhythm
key

Able to transfer 3
rhythms from
key to exercise
Maintained a 3
consistent pulse

Showed clear 3
understanding
of the 5/4 time
signature

Able to transfer 2
rhythms to
Quintology

Total: 18/30

Lesson Plans:

Lesson One
Isolating Rhythms to Verbalize and Perform

Objectives: The students will,


1. Maintain a steady pulse.
2. Be able to perform rhythms in a 5/4 time signature.
3. Verbalize rhythms.
4. Transfer rhythms into ​Quintology.
5. Perform with accurate technique on their assigned instrument.

Procedure: The students will,


1. Set up the room in their concert arc for ​Quintology.​
2. Be given time to individually warm up on their assigned instrument.
3. Verbalize each isolated rhythm (rhythms A-E from their rhythm sheet).
a. Using numbers (1 e and a) to ensure accurate rhythms.
b. Then using a neutral syllable (ta, ti, da, etc.) to focus on accents.
4. Play each rhythm on their assigned instrument after verbalizing it.
a. Focus on keeping a steady pulse.
b. Address accents.
5. Perform multiple rhythms back to back.
a. Ex: A and B with no pause in between, A, B, and C with no pause, etc. until
playing all 5 rhythms with no pause.
6. Perform rhythms in different orders.
a. Ex: A, D, E or B, E, C
7. Rehearse m. 1-10 and m. 16-29.
a. Discuss which rhythms from the rhythm exercise are found in these measures.
b. Work on alignment of different parts.
8. Rehearse m. 10- 15.
a. Discuss the transition between the 5/4 and 6/8 time signatures.
i. The 8th note pulse remains the same.
b. Perform measures 1-29.
i. Focus on the transition between the time signatures.
9. Rehearse m.29- 41.
a. Focus on lining up accents.
10. Perform run through of m. 1-41.

Assessment: The students will,


1. Perform a rhythmic exercise in isolation.
2. Perform the exercises as a full group, in smaller groups, or alone.
3. Perform m. 1-41 of ​Quintology.
4. Be called on to answer questions or will volunteer to answer when prompted.
5. Actively participate in the lesson.

Lesson Two
Inserting Rhythms Into Etude and Piece, Presentations Pt. 1

Objectives: The students will,


1. Maintain a steady pulse
2. Be able to perform rhythms in a 5/4 time signature.
3. Perform with accurate technique on their assigned instrument.
4. Transfer rhythms into an etude.
5. Transfer rhythms into ​Quintology.
6. Present to the class about their assigned instrument.
7. Take notes on presentations by other students.

Procedure: The students will,


1. Set up the room in their concert arc for ​Quintology.​
2. Warm up as a group (using rhythm sheet).
a. Play through individual rhythms on loop.
b. Play through rhythms A-E continuously.
i. Address accents.
3. Transfer these rhythms into their etude.
a. Play lines 1-2.
i. Address any concerns.
b. Play lines 3-4.
i. Address any concerns.
c. Play last line.
i. Address any concerns.
d. Perform entire etude.
i. Discuss what went well and what needs improvement.
ii. Perform again with these critiques in mind.
4. Review m.1-41 of ​Quintology.
a. Address accents, 5/4 to 6/8 transition, and discuss which wind players each
percussionist lines up with.
5. Rehearse m. 41-63
a. Discuss how similar the parts are to the first portion of the piece and what parts
are different.
6. Rehearse m. 63-85
a. Have each student play their individual part.
b. Work on layering each part together.
c. Discuss how accents do not line up at times.
7. Listen to student presentation about timpani.
a. Take notes.
8. Listen to student presentation about tom toms.
a. Take notes.
9. Listen to student presentation about vibraphone.
a. Take notes.

Assessment: The students will,


1. Perform the rhythmic exercises as a full group, in smaller groups, or alone.
2. Perform a rhythmic etude.
3. Review measures 1-41 of ​Quintology.
4. Perform measures 41-85 of ​Quintology.
5. Be called on to answer questions or will volunteer to answer when prompted.
6. Actively participate in the lesson.
Lesson Three
Rhythm Review and Quintology Preparation, Presentations Pt. 2

Objectives: The students will,


1. Maintain a steady pulse
2. Be able to perform in a 5/4 time signature.
3. Perform with accurate technique on their assigned instrument.
4. Review a rhythmic etude
5. Transfer rhythms into ​Quintology.
6. Present to the class about their assigned instrument.
7. Take notes on presentations by other students.

Procedure: The students will,


1. Set up the room in their concert arc for ​Quintology.​
2. Warm up as a group (using rhythm sheet).
a. Read through rhythm etude together.
b. Address any issues.
3. Review m. 41-85.
a. Address any concerns.
4. Run through m.1-85.
a. Continue to play past m. 85 until it is needed to stop.
b. Address any concerns.
5. Rehearse m. 85-100 of ​Quintology.
a. Discuss similarities between this section and previous sections.
6. Rehearse m. 101-114.
a. Address role of auxiliary instruments in this section.
7. Rehearse m. 114-end.
a. Work on dynamic contrast and gradual build to end of piece.
8. Perform full run through of ​Quintology.
9. Listen to student presentation about tambourine.
a. Take notes.
10. Listen to student presentation about temple blocks.
a. Take notes.
11. Listen to student presentation about snare drum.
a. Take notes.
Assessment: The students will,
1. Perform the rhythmic exercises as a full group, in smaller groups, or alone.
2. Perform a rhythmic etude.
3. Perform a run through of ​Quintology.
4. Be called on to answer questions or will volunteer to answer when prompted.
5. Actively participate in the lesson.

Post Test
This post test included the same components as the pre-test. The performance post test
was given informally as they performed these activities in class. The students then took the
written portion and were allowed to use the notes they had taken during each presentation.

Written Post-Test Scores

Student Pre-Test Score Post-Test Score

A 13/30 26/30

B 12/30 16/30

C 17/30 24/30

D 15/30 28/30

E 21/30 30/30

F 22/30 28/30

Post Test Class Average: 25/30

Playing Post-Test Scores

Always Frequently Sometimes Almost Never Never


(5) (few (at least (correct less (1)
mistakes) half was than half of
(4) correct) (3) the time) (2)

Able to 5
verbalize the
rhythms in the
rhythm key

Able to 5
perform each
isolated rhythm
in the rhythm
key

Able to transfer 4
rhythms from
key to exercise

Maintained a 4
consistent pulse

Showed clear 4
understanding
of the 5/4 time
signature

Able to transfer 4
rhythms to
Quintology

Total: 26/30

Reflection

As I discussed the requirements of the impact project with my cooperating teacher, we


decided that the Percussion Ensemble class would be a great fit. There were many factors that
led to this conclusion. One was that this was a small class with only six students so I would be
able to give more individualized attention to each student as we moved through the unit. Another
reason was that this group had many beginner musicians in it so they were still needing help with
basic understanding of their instruments. Because there were so few percussionists, this group
was also responsible for performing with both the Concert and Symphonic Bands at assessment
along with having their own Percussion Ensemble music. This meant that these beginner
musicians were having to learn much more music than many of their peers and at a much higher
level than most beginners are playing at. I noticed that the piece this group seemed to struggle
with the most was ​Quintology, a​ piece they were playing with the Symphonic Band. This piece
was in 5/4 which was new and difficult for them and had many difficult rhythms. I decided that
this piece would be the basis for my project.
I noticed that students were lacking fundamental knowledge of percussion instruments, so
I created a written test that would help me assess what they already knew and what I needed to
specifically help them with. One of the most shocking revelations was that many of them still
were unsure of how to play the instruments they were assigned to play for ​Quintology.​ For
example, one of the vibraphone questions was, “What is the best place on the bar to play?” The
student that was actually playing vibraphone for the piece wrote “I don’t know” as their answer
to that question. This raised a lot of questions for me to ponder about why this student did not yet
know how to play the instrument correctly even though they had been playing this music for
several weeks already. Through this and many other revelations that were made through the
pre-test, I was able to create a focus for my individualized instruction.
When I gave the playing pre-test, I found that while they were able to play many of the
rhythms in isolation, they were struggling with transferring them into the rhythm etude. They
struggled even more with playing them in the context of the actual piece. I found that one of their
main issue with transferring them into the piece was that they had difficulties keeping count of
both rests and repeated figures. For example, in one of the parts, the student must repeat the same
rhythmic figure 22 times. They would simply lose count and end up stopping too early or playing
for too long. Another issue was that when they had layered parts that incorporated multiple
rhythms, they were unsure of what was supposed to line up together and what was not. This
information gave me a lot to work with for the lessons.
When they students gave their presentations, I was very impressed with all of the
information they brought. Many went above and beyond and found much more than I expected
or required of them. I was glad to see that they were genuinely interested in learning more about
these instruments and sharing this information with their peers. While I did not require any sort
of powerpoint or visual presentation, most did create visuals. I was pleasantly surprised by how
much effort they all put into this project. I was also not expecting them to be so comfortable with
presenting. This class was made up of such quiet and shy students so I expected them to be very
timid during the presentations. They once again surprised me with great public speaking skills. I
am glad I had them do these presentations because it allowed me to see this different side of
them that I did not previously know existed.
I felt that this unit was very successful. The students knowledge increased significantly
and it transferred to their performance of ​Quintology​. If I were to complete this unit again, there
are a few things I would want to change in order to be even more effective. One thing that I
would change would be to require a powerpoint or some other type of visual. While most did
creste powerpoints anyways, I noticed that the students were not as engaged when there was no
visual involved. Something else I would change is to have them play along with a recording of
the wind players. I found that the reason many of them struggled with counting rests was because
they were just counting through silence without knowing what kind of musical cues they could
listen to in the wind parts. Having them play along with a recording may have made the rests
much easier for them to get through. Overall, I was very pleased with this unit and feel it could
be implemented with many other instruments or pieces as well.