The Lafayette Percussion section has a long standing tradition of musical excellence. The percussion curriculum offers a comprehensive approach in which students are exposed to a broad range of musical styles, instrumentations, and ensembles. Percussion class meets every other day for 90 minutes and is dedicated to addressing specific needs inherent to percussion technique and musicianship. Students are taught percussion fundamentals including hand technique, mallet technique, rhythm training, ear training, and reading. The four primary areas of study are snare drum, marimba, timpani, and drumset.
Students gain performance experience in a multitude of settings such as solo, chamber, and large ensemble configurations. All percussionists are required to own a stick bag and an assortment of basic percussion implements (see LHS Percussion Stick Bag Requirements). During the Fall Semester, the members of the percussion class form the battery and pit components of the marching band. During the Spring Semester, the class priority shifts to percussion ensemble and concert ensembles.
This segment of the course is divided into two primary components: The Front Ensemble and the Battery. Members of the Front Ensemble emphasize keyboard percussion and timpani, while members of the battery focus on hand technique. Rhythm training, ear training, and reading are also covered by both sections. During the competitive season, the class is dedicated to honing individual and ensemble skills as they pertain to the marching band show. Once the marching season concludes, the class emphasis shifts to preparation for All-State Auditions, the Holiday Concert, and the Holiday Parade for the remainder of the semester.
In the percussion ensemble, students are exposed to a wide variety of literature including: standard repertoire, classical transcriptions, contemporary/jazz works, novelty ensembles, and custom arrangements. Within the percussion ensemble are two chamber groups with specialized repertoire. The Lafayette Novelty Ensemble is dedicated to the style of music made famous by groups such as Stomp and Blue Man Group. This ensemble specializes in contemporary grooves and feels played on non-traditional percussion instruments such as trash cans, water jugs, and buckets. The Lafayette Mallet Choir is an ensemble dedicated to music arranged specifically for keyboard percussion instruments. This ensemble specializes in classical transcriptions, chorales, ragtime, and contemporary works. Master classes are given regularly which cover a variety of topics including orchestral percussion and world percussion. In addition, students must prepare an assigned solo for class performance or Solo and Ensemble Festival evaluation. The Lafayette Percussion Ensemble participates in Solo and Ensemble Festival and co-hosts the Percussion/Jazz Spring Concert.
Lafayette offers three concert ensembles (Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, and Concert Band) as well as orchestra. Percussion students are prepared for performance in a sectional environment. Once the parts are learned in class, the percussion joins the rest of the band in the after-school setting. Students typically have at least four major performances a year including Festival, the Holiday Concert, the Area Concert, and the Spring Concert.
Auditions for concert ensembles are held in May. Students are given etudes to prepare on snare drum and marimba and must demonstrate sight reading skills on both. Placement in percussion ensembles and orchestra is based on student’s band appointment and progress throughout the semester. Auditions for marching band are conducted in a drum corps style. Students are evaluated initially at the May audition. Their progress is evaluated over the summer, and a final audition is held on the first day of Percussion Camp in July.