The 17 worst things about being a percussionist

15 September 2017, 14:34

percussion montage

Percussionists are the misunderstood creatures of the classical music world. Here is what we have to deal with.

1. What people think you do

neil peart

vs. how you feel

vs. what you actually look like

child drummer

2. Transporting your instrument

A single timpano drum can weigh as much as 65kg.


3. People expect you to be able to play anywhere, anytime, on anything. 

4. No, you don't just play the drums.

Also no, you don't do scales on the triangle.

(See more of the worst things about playing the drums.)

5. Your hands are constantly blistered from your sticks


6. Everyone thinks you don't understand dynamics

Apparently sensitivity isn't your thing.


7. No, it's not just for boys.


8. You've got to learn from the far end of one clef to another

From the bass drum to the triangle

percussion range

9. Theory of Music

Rhythm: yes. Harmonic progressions: nope.

Music theory

10. Complicated rhythmic patterns

Usually followed by intense anger and/or throwing your mallets across the room


11. If you play in an orchestra, you'll mostly likely spent 118 bars waiting for your big moment, but then you miss it because you've gone for a quick nap

Alternatively, you use your sticks to hold your eyes open while you count, but end up miscounting so you come in three bars early...and there's no hiding it.

multibar rest

12. Because of example no. 11, the rest of the orchestra hate you

You: *waits patiently to play your part for ten minutes then get it wrong*

Conductor: "Let's just run that section again for the percussionists" 

Rest of the orchestra: *sigh* *eye-roll* *tut*


13. When you do have parts to play, you are constantly running around


14. Almost all of the well-known repertoire isn't actually written for percussion

The majority of your sheet music is famous flute, violin or piano music arranged for marimba or xylophone, so everyone expects you to be able to play it straight away, not realising that number of fingers is the same as the number of mallets. 


15. Nobody thinks you actually have to practice 

And they laugh when you say you do.



16. Once everyone runs out of viola jokes - you're next in the firing line

Watch out!

drummer jokes

17. The worst part of all, you'll never be as cool as this drumming doggo

But when you can smash out a magical marimba duet like this, you wouldn't have it any other way...