How to play the triangle - a masterclass with the RLPO's percussion leader

We went backstage at Classic FM Live and asked the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra's lead percussionist to show us what we've been doing wrong on the triangle all these years.

How to play the triangle

The triangle. That’s the easiest instrument to play. Just pick it up and give it a whack, right?

WRONG!

The triangle is in fact a versatile instrument: subtle and mind-blowing by turns - in the hands of an expert. We found just such an expert backstage at the Royal Albert Hall during Classic FM Live.

This is Graham Johns, lead percussionist with the RLPO.

Jane Jones and Graham Johns Classic FM Live 2015 

He gave Classic FM’s Jane Jones (left) a lesson in playing the triangle.

First, some triangle facts:

1. Graham’s triangle was designed by a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra. It was 40 years ago and the guy wasn’t satisfied with what was available on the market. He ended up bending an industrial cotton spindle into shape.

2. This triangle is NOT an equilateral; it’s an isosceles triangle, maths fans.

3. Johns has 12-15 triangles. And here’s how many rods he has:

Triangle and accessories  

Today we’re going to learn about:

Long notes

Complex rhythms

(Note the position of the hand – to take the decibel level down from ‘borderline deafening’ to ‘how lovely’.)

Flams

Grace notes, and much more...

Take it away, Graham:

Play

How to play the triangle

RLPO lead percussionist Graham Johns gives a masterclass in playing the humble triangle backstage at Classic FM Live

04:01

So, was Jane paying attention? Here's her debut on the triangle:

Play

How to play the triangle - Jane Jones gives it a go

RLPO lead percussionist Graham Johns teaches Jane Jones how to play the triangle backstage at Classic FM Live

01:27