Drum Corps

Highland Drumming:  What is it?

Highland Drumming is a unique style of percussion performance.  The most significant difference is that the percussion section or drum corps does not lay down a groove for the pipers to follow, but is largely responsible for accenting the melody line being played by the pipers.  Due to the unique nature of the pipes, the drum corp is solely responsible for the dynamics of the band.

Snare Drummers in the Circle

The drum corps is responsible for creating the illusion that the entire band is playing dynamics despite the fact that the pipers cannot vary the volume level of their instruments. The stick control, hand speed, and extremely tight unison playing required make Highland Drumming an advanced performance style of percussion. Resign yourself to the fact that it’s going to take some time.  Every instrument does. The key to success is to have a great attitude and enjoy the challenges the instrument and Corps playing have to offer. You will be part of a group of musicians who encourage each other, who depend on each other, and who enjoy each other.  The Corps is only as good as the average of its members, therefore everyone is depending upon each other for overall performance. This isn’t about learning to play a drum.  You will learn to march in step, to respond to verbal and visual cues, march in interesting weather at exciting events, and be an important part of a form of music which as ancient roots.

How long will it take?

Your instructor will start you off with a set of sticks and a drum pad.  You will have a scheduled lesson every week of the school year and are expected to practice for one half hour five or six times per week. If you practice at least this often, and focus on the rudiments that your instructor has shown you, then within eight months to a year, you should be able to join the band on the street. This may sound like a lot of practice, but think of it this way; if you love doing something, then why wouldn’t you want to do it every day?  Enjoy the music you are making right from the start. Don’t wait until you are on a parade.  Even if you practice a half hour every day of the year for ten years, you have put in less than a year of work.

Drum Corps Consists of:

  • One Bass drummer
  • Multiple side drummers (also called snare drummers)
  • Rhythm tenor drummers who play designated scores
  • Flourish Tenors who perform mostly visual routines of swinging and spinning their drumsticks.

Q & A

Is it expensive? You only need sticks and a practice pad to get started. Do I have to read music? No, You will learn as you progress. How often must I practice? Ideally 1/2 hour per day, every day.  Frequent short sessions are the key to success. Do I have to compete? Not if you don’t want to.  Some of the band competes while other members do not. Can girls join? Girls, boys, men and women of all ages are welcome.  Your attitude, not your age or gender, is the key.