With Christmas just around the corner and those cantatas and spectaculars looming, you might find yourself looking at a percussion part that was intended to be played by a section and instead…it’s just YOU ! Aside from growing an extra set of arms from your stomach, your next best choice is to figure out what to play and what to delete. You might try to ask the conductor (who is still pre-occupied with that near-mishap with the flying angel at the tech rehearsal). Asking the maestro will sometimes yield a quick, “Just try to play as much as you can.”
Make plans and mark the part before the rehearsal but stay open to any in-the-moment directions from the leader during the rehearsal.
Some parts may be doubled by other instruments.
EX. The timpani line covered by the string bass and /or tuba
EX. Glockenspiel or xylophone playing unison with woodwinds
Those percussion parts are good candidates for deletion.
Certain parts may be providing the driving rhythms.
Try to include these.
Cymbals and triangle give an ensemble sparkle and ring.Look for spots that need that effect.
Some instruments help to set the mood or establish a place.
A tambourine would take precedent over bass drum in an “Eastern European” sounding passage.
If you are playing an arrangement of “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” and there is a part for chimes... Play that before anything else.
Nothing gives a military feel better than the snare drum.
To cover multiple instruments, be ready to make some sacrifices.
Play drums with hard plastic mallets so that you can move quickly to that glock lick.
Substitute suspended cymbal for crash cymbals and you can combine that with the snare drum part.
It only requires one hand to play the MOUNTED tambourine; the other is free to play another instrument.
Take care to devise a set-up that will allow you to move quickly and GRACEFULLY from one instrument to another. Sketch the set-up so that you can recreate it at the performance.