Photo by Scott Pickering

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tambourine Timbres

Plastic shell with nickel jingles or brass…or maybe wooden shell with German silver?

Sometimes I bring 4 or 5 tambourines to a rehearsal so that I can fit the tone of the instrument to the texture of the music that I am playing and /or to give some variety. Different shell materials influence the sound as well as the makeup of the jingles. Brass jingles tend toward a darker sound and seem to give off more of the “Rock” sound while nickel jingles are brighter and might be a good choice to give some sparkle and drive to a ballad. I have even set up a tambourine with a combination of jingles and washers to get a tight “dry” sound. During a rehearsal, play along for a few measures with one tambourine and then switch to a different one. You will probably hear the sound of one of the instruments fit better into the overall texture of the surrounding music.

One of my tricks is to switch tambourines as a song modulates. Moving from a darker to a brighter sounding instrument gives the impression that the tambourine is changing key along with the band!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gateway Training Videos for God Be Praised CD

Worship Team Director is a complete training and presentation tool for worship teams that instructs team members how to play and sing songs at home, in rehearsal, and performance.   For more info

Check out  the percussion video for O The Blood...played by Headless Percussionist and Blogger, Mark Shelton.

Go to for a full screen.

More videos at

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Balancing Act

While subbing in the North Carolina Symphony, I noticed another percussionist's unorthodox method of suspending a cymbal.  Instead of using a conventional stand to hold the instrument while playing, my colleague balanced the cymbal on his finger and performed both rolls and single strikes using his other hand (holding two mallets).  I quickly put this technique into my bag of tricks and have used it many times.
  • The cymbal can resonate more freely (no felt pads or plastic sleeve to inhibit vibrations).
  • In acoustic settings, you can lift the cymbal higher for better projection (over the heads of those violinists seated in front of you).
  • In amplified situations, you can "work the mike"  (bringing the cymbal farther or closer with ease).
  • This method allows the audience to "see" the sound better.
  • It might mean one less stand in your set-up.