The percussion section is the largest instrumental collection in the brass band and includes much more than the drum set commonly seen in rock bands on music videos. Broadly speaking, the percussion are any instrument that makes a sound when it is hit, shaken or scraped. They help the band keep the rhythm, as well as make special sounds and effects that add color and excitement to the performance. BBA students switch to this instrument group following their first 18 months to 2 years in brass class. A percussionist needs to be a very versatile musician; they start with a simple practice pad and drum sticks and soon begin learning all the large variety of different instruments in this family. These instruments fall into three subsections:
- Tuned Percussion, usually played with mallets and includes pitched instruments such as the xylophone, marimba, glockenspiel and tubular bells.
- Auxiliary Percussion such as the common snare drum, bass drum, clash cymbals and bells – but also includes an endless collection of shakers, whistles, triangles and other items.
- Timpani (sometimes called “kettledrums”) are a set of 4-5 different pitched large drums played by a single player using a set of mallets. Their pitch can be quickly adjusted using a foot pedal to suite the music being performed. Often a more advanced percussionist will specialize on this instrument.