Percussion Clinic Adelaide
Some Tips for the Stage
by Jim McCarthy

The following performance tips are mainly for the performer of a solo snare drum work, but are generally applicable to all musicians. For a great deal more information like this check out Stick Technique - New 2nd Edition!

Try to set the drum up against a solid background colour (black is best) and have the stage clear of all other objects. Go for the simple look. Remember, you have done many hours work for just a few minutes worth of music so you want all the attention focussed on you!

Try to have sticks that are contrasting to the background colour, and that of whatever you are wearing. This makes it much easier for the audience to see the sticks move. (And that is part of the excitement of watching a drummer!). It may of course be easier to select your clothing to contrast your sticks, rather than the other way round.

Try to wear clothes that allow you to move, but don't have too much extra material to get in your way. My preference is for a close fitting polo shirt. If you must wear a tie, a bow tie is better, and long ties should be clipped firmly to the shirt, so they can't flap about and get in your way.

Make sure if you are using music stands, that they are not between your hands or face, and the audience. Much of the performance is what the audience sees, so have music stands flat and low, or try standing side on.

I have found the best way of lighting a snare drum solo, is with a single follow spot from the front (if it is available. Most theatres have these. They provide a strong, simple light, that draws the audience's focus right to you. Just remember that you need to be able to see! A powerful spotlight can be blinding if you look directly at it suddenly. This can be a disaster if you come to a section where you throw the sticks in the air (for example). In that split second that you look up because you really need to see the stick, you are usually looking right into the light. This problem can often be solved by having the light at fifty percent intensity. This actually often looks better from the audiences point of view anyway.

Just remember........ you've put in the work - you can do it - you've done it before - so have fun!

Stick Technique - All the skills you will ever need!

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