OT - Writing for Younger Lines

I have a new gig this upcoming season and with camp on the horizon I'm busy finishing up writing the show. I'm ultra excited about a fresh start with a new group, a group with tons of room to grow, but they are a young line (playing wise). I've put together a (hopefully) strong exercise program to build them, but I'm afraid I may be writing above their capacity.

I'm look for tips on how to write for a young line while still keep it contemporary and interesting not only to the players, but interesting to the crowd with texture and timbre. What do you focus on with a young group? Expanding their technique and pushing their hands or focusing on musicality with precision?

I'm sure most of you have been in this boat at one point or another so I'm looking for anything that may help this great group start off on a strong path.

Thanks! :)
[quote author=Bryan Harmsen link=topic=1861.msg9239#msg9239 date=1184601271]
How big is the line you are talking about?[/quote]

Thanks for the tips. I'm looking at 2-1-4 on the line, possibly 2 cymbal players depending on who shows up at camp. We don't have any extra drums (hopefully next year we can pick up another set of tenors) except an extra snare, so I figured that would the best setup balance and sound wise. I also figured with cymbals we'd have another layer/timbre of sound.

I was curious about tenor mallets, not being a tenor player myself. I was going to go with the Vega mallets as they seem to be a standard and relatively easy to play with, but if you would recommend something that produces a fuller sound I'm all ears. My biggest concern is losing the tenors in the balance.

I was also thinking of tuning the basses solely in 4ths to make the spread bigger and give some weight to the bottom drum, it seems to work well for some lines.

Bored at work,
Josh
How big is the line you are talking about? Tuning will be one thing that can have a major impact on how full of a sound a line is capable of producing. Taking the top heads of your snares down a bit and using clear, plastic bottoms on your snares will give them a thicker and wetter sound which will, in the end, sound louder than having the top headed cranked (which many people still do with small lines for some strange reason).  Also, using a meaty stick like the Innovative Percussion Jim Casella (IP-JC) sticks with stick tape on them will also help you produce a full sound with your new tuning configuration.

Same deal with the bass drums and tenors in terms of tuning.  You just need to experiment. Try using the FT4 from IP on tenors. That mallet has a large disc and heavy shaft that provide tons of mass to produce a huge sound.  In terms on bass drum muffling, they should be muffled to sound good from the box/stands, not standing right in front of them.  Normally this translates into allowing a little more tone than sounds good up close.

I hope some of this helps. Good luck!

Thanks for the replies! I will definitely have to readjust my thinking. Writing simple and building upon that is contrary to what I've done in the past and what I've been taught, but it certainly seems like the better approach. I have some re-writing to do. ;-)

I'd really to find some examples of custom show writing that's catered to younger lines. Being an amateur writer myself, I'd like to learn as much as possible from other writers. There's a library of stuff from Hal Leonard and such but most of that stuff is (no offense meant to the authors) but cheesy and dated to me. I'd like to find examples of show writing and approaches to writing that's both harmonically interesting and contemporary in nature.

Anyways, thanks for any other suggestions you may have. Any tips for making smaller lines sound and feel fuller?
[quote author=TylerDurden link=topic=1861.msg9213#msg9213 date=1184357073]
Hand them a warmup book that is simple, to the point, and that will build a solid foundation of time, groove, and ensemble responsibility.

As for the show beats, hand them something you can build upon as their skill sets improve over the season.�� It's much easier to hand over a great skeleton show, over giving them something that's too over their heads and trying to water later.
[/quote]

I also agree.  Make sure that you are writing the exercises that are going to work on things in the show.  Make sure that you are including some of those same techniques, patterns, etc so that the kids can learn to make the connections.  Also I agree with what what was said about erring on the side of being a bit easier.  It is always easier to add more than to take away, and if they are young and learning, it is always better to add and boost their moral then to take away from them.
[quote author=TylerDurden link=topic=1861.msg9213#msg9213 date=1184357073]
Hand them a warmup book that is simple, to the point, and that will build a solid foundation of time, groove, and ensemble responsibility.

As for the show beats, hand them something you can build upon as their skill sets improve over the season.  It's much easier to hand over a great skeleton show, over giving them something that's too over their heads and trying to water later.
[/quote]

I agree with every single word written above (I have written close to 150 shows now for ALL ranges of difficulty levels).  Good advice here ^^
Hand them a warmup book that is simple, to the point, and that will build a solid foundation of time, groove, and ensemble responsibility.

As for the show beats, hand them something you can build upon as their skill sets improve over the season.  It's much easier to hand over a great skeleton show, over giving them something that's too over their heads and trying to water later.
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