I’ve heard it called many things: the warm up, the technique packet, the system, and more. What we’re really talking about here is a systematic skill building routine that your group uses on a regular basis. It serves as a warm up, but it also develops skills, develops chops, and gives you an opportunity to refine technique on a daily basis.
How to develop a technique program
1. Borrow from your mentors (with their permission!)
I started out by using the same or a very similar packet to that of my mentors and teachers (with their permission, of course). Before I really understood why each exercise was vital, this was a solid strategy to get started as it allowed me to just jump in and get started while leaning on those around me that were more experienced.
2. Purchase a packet or program
Another option is to look for an entire packet or technique program in the form of a book or purchasable content from a publisher. While there is a lot of great content out there, for your battery section, I’ll just throw a quick link to Eric Shriver’s The Build Up Method. If you’re interested in a comprehensive technique packet that includes play along tracks for at home practice, this is a great starting point for the young instructor that wants to take his ensemble to the next level quickly.
3. Create your own from scratch
In order to develop your own program, first identify all the skills that you want your program to be able to achieve in your season. After you’ve done that, write an exercise that targets one or more of those skills. Repeat until you have a natural progression of exercises for use at every rehearsal and for practice at home. Focus on one or two skills at a time in each exercise for targeted efficiency.
- Don’t forget to also develop a comprehensive visual technique program for your marching members, including physical conditioning. Stick to it just as religiously as you do for the musical development.
- Less talk, more rock: Every young instructor wants to wax poetic about the amazing philosophies they have discovered on their path to greatness, but the reality is kids learn best by doing. Using short, targeted, quick fix type comments in between reps or while playing usually does a lot more good than going deep and philosophical for every little issue. Not to mention it completely blows up the momentum and pace of rehearsal.
- Use an amplified Metronome and take notes on the tempos you use in order to push them throughout the season.
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Thanks for reading!