Looking Ahead: Making a Plan for Your Upcoming Season (Part II)

Even with all the ups and downs that come with this gig still I enjoy the many challenges of being a lead drummer. As a musician, the playing, rehearsing and music writing are the parts of the job I look forward to the most. The most challenging part, and the one that does NOT come naturally to me, is the administration and organization of the drumming program as a whole. On my bumpy journey to becoming a more effective administrator I have created materials over the years to help me get and stay organized--some have worked well and some haven't but one tool I've had success with this year is the "to do list" for score writing. There are three competition bands in our organization as well as an entry-level parade band. Scores need to be written for all bands and distributed as soon as possible so that each band can begin the process of learning and refining those scores for the upcoming season.

The "to do list" is set up in a simple chart form. The first step is to enter in all the tunes each band will be playing. I communicate with each pipe major and get them to send me a list of tunes. Once I have that list I simply enter the tunes on the chart. When a score has been completed I highlight it in blue (blue is a calming colour). It is amazing how good it feels to highlight a section of the chart! This year I've had some help from the lead drummers of our grade 4 and 5 bands who have each written several scores. I have enjoyed the "back and forth" with each of them as they submit drafts and request suggestions/corrections. It is also a huge benefit to them as, through learning the composing process, their reading and understanding of the notation has improved remarkably!

I have also found it helpful to include a separate chart for tenor and bass. Unfortunately, tenor and bass score composition tends to slip through the cracks sometimes--especially for our grade 4 and 5 band but this year every score should be finished by the end of October (a new record for our organization).

To sum up, here's the process:

  • Set a COMPLETION date!
  • Get a list of tunes from the pipe major
  • Get recordings for all tunes
  • Write the snare scores
  • Write the bass scores
  • Write the tenor scores

This checklist looks quite simple but it can take a while so I suggest beginning the process as early as possible to allow for possible tune changes and difficulty obtaining recordings. It is also a good idea to start early if you are training a new composer as there will be a lot of back and forth and changes throughout the learning process. It is important to remember that any time spent training new score writers saves time in the future so it is totally worth the effort.

Here is my current chart in all its uncompleted glory. Again, the goal is to have it completely highlighted in blue by the end of October (here's hoping). I'll post a Microsoft Word copy of an empty chart in the subscribers section of the site for anyone interested in using it. Best of luck with your preparation for the year ahead and happy drumming!


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