Exercises

Just curious of some different takes on the development of exercise programs. . .

The pros and cons of the full ensemble exercise program. . .

The pros and cons of separate exercises for the front ensemble and battery. . .

I am asking this because I would like to rethink my full ensemble methods.

Anything thoughts would be appreciated! :)
I'd say it depends on a few factors.

When I'm the only guy teaching, then I arrange all my exercises for the full ensemble. If you have some staff, then it doesn't really matter. But here's my two cents.

[b]Full Ensemble[/b]
Pros: Pit feels like they are a part of the drumline. This helps avoid the ";lazy pit"; syndrome. It was also fun and challeging for me to create exercises that make sense. For example, what tempi is my battery going to play bucks at, and what mallet technique is good to practice at those tempi? If you use a met, it really helps develop both sections at the same pace and when you take the met away they really get a good feel for listening.

Cons: If one of the two sections learns much slower than the other, things can get probelmatic. Extra time may be needed just for that section so that they can get it together for ensemble practice.  Also practice space needs to be concidered. Doing full ensemble inside lets the pit get away with more wrong notes/phrasing simply because they may have a hard time hearing. Outside practice is the money.

Overall I found this method to be a blast for the kids and challeging for me. Not to mention time efficent for a lone teacher.
When I first started to teach drumline I was overwhelmed by two things: 1. how to properly teach all of the specific techniques for each instrument (while every other kid in the pit and battery are sitting there doing nothing) and 2. how to manage such a large group of students at the same time.

A summer in a drum corps pit also taught me that, on some level, it's not really that necessary: Very quickly I adopted a ";separate"; approach to my exercises.

I like Ralph's idea of having an ensemble piece to play that hopefully covers ";big picture"; concepts. And, it doesn't hurt that it's a 311 tune... (Yo, Ralph, you gonna send that to me?)
I have worked it both ways and prefer to focus on each section separately. We do play together mostly during warm-up for contests and sometimes during a short full ens block warm up. I don't like the fact that the drumline seems to make the pit less musical when bashing out over top. Ideally, everyone could operate on many levels, but it seems to me that when the battery plays with the pit, the pit loses their sensitivity and sense of musicality due to loud loud exercises go on behind them. 

All things considered, I wrote a few combined exercises that left room for musicality and ensemble expression and also I fudged together a few exercises just for sake of making them work when necessary.
I would imagine if you had the staffing or the scheduling freedom, having separate exercises would be ideal. I know when I marched in the summer we didn't have any exercises that went with the battery.
Then again, high schoolers need more help doing ensemble development so they do need SOME sort of group exercise.

If I had it my way, I would have separate exercises to work on the necessary technique of each section, but then work ensemble development in the form of some kind of cadence or short ensemble (I had a short 311 arrangement that served that purpose). You can do the separate exercises at school, and use the ensemble in the lot.

Then again, I teach 5th and 6th graders now so what do I know:)
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