Percussion Project, phase 2

We are still developing our percussion section!

Our percussionists have made huge  progress because they have each applied an enormous amount of effort to try to address all requirements of the orchestral sheet music put in front of them!

We already hold very regular sectional rehearsals for Strings and Wind players so we were delighted that Richard Scarff could come along for an afternoon of tuition at our original venue -  'Endeavour', Godstone Scout HQ. (With grateful thanks to 1st Godstone Scouts)

One of our pieces for our 'Sleigh Ride' concert begins with a snare drum roll and then 3 snares playing exciting rhythms in unison throughout the piece.  

There's a lot to learn about playing a snare drum - but significantly less after this very effective session!

Snare drums are so versatile that other effects can be achieved - such as those you may need to mimic horses being driven to pull a Sleigh!

But it wasn't all about playing snare drums as you can see from all the other instruments gathered together.  Richard even brought a proper xylophone to introduce to our glockenspiel player earlier in the afternoon.

Our Fanfare piece, 'From the Realms' requires timpani and suspended cymbal rolls - wow,  what an amazing sound!

If you come along to our next concert, you will be able to judge for yourself how well our percussion section is coming along.  

We are so grateful to Richard; how did he manage to cover so much in so short a time?  We know the answer, it was Richard's  amazing skill and his special preparation for developing our unusual project.  It's unusual because most amateur orchestras just hire in percussionists to play in their concerts.  We really wanted to have members of the community playing in all sections of our Community Orchestra, so, with the help of our Hazelwood School Community Fund grant, we are 'growing' our own!

Richard J Scarff

Richard currently teaches Percussion, Drumkit and Piano at Bennett Memorial School Tunbridge Wells and Bronte School in Gravesend.

He studied at Trinity College of Music London and following a career in the band of the Royal Army Medical Corps he now plays in a variety of musical ensembles ranging from Orchestras to Brass Bands. He plays regularly with the Aveley and Newham Brass Band and has also recently performed in concerts with the Brighouse and Rastrick and Grimethorpe brass bands.  He is a keen organist and plays organ for the parish of Fawkham and Hartley.

Percussion Project, phase 1

Please note that our initial percussion project is finished.  We are entering a new phase where more confident players are playing in our orchestra.  Less confident or less experienced players may still play in our Band - together with those who would prefer to play in the band.

We are developing our orchestral percussion section.  This was started with the kind help of a grant from the Hazelwood School Community Fund which was also being used to buy some percussion instruments.


Our plan was to run some introductory opportunities for interested local adults - in the hope of finding a few people who discover that they would love to join our orchestra and/or band's percussion sections. 

On Wednesday, 25th July 2018, a 'junk percussion' workshop was held for potential percussionists, also for some orchestra and band members and their families.  We were very fortunate that Claire Hasted was able to lead the workshop.  Claire, who is an experienced professional orchestral percussionist,  arrived suitably equipped with wide ranging but clean/safe 'junk' and drumsticks for us to play with.

During the course of the evening we progressed from 'body percussion' (our own) through plastic beaker percussion to 'junk percussion'  (broomsticks, buckets, hard hats and dustbins).  After that we also began to incorporate some real percussion instruments.

Claire Hasted

Claire currently teaches at Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham and Charterhouse.  She has examined for Trinity Guildhall and consulted for the Associated Board Royal School of Music (ABRSM). She coaches the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain and is a member of Albert's Band, the education ensemble at the Royal Albert Hall.

We are the 'funorchestra' and Claire ensured that this workshop was great fun whilst giving us a useful experience of being percussionists for the evening. By the end of the workshop we had a short routine to perform involving an eclectic mix of our instruments and 'junk'.

We're hoping this opportunity and those to follow, will provide hands on experience with different types of percussion instruments together with the basics of rhythm and other aspects of being a percussionist.

The next step, to provide a relatively low stress experience, we invited potential percussionists to come along to some of our North Downs Band rehearsals and this approach works very well.  Band has some fairly straightforward music for well known songs - every part also has the words printed on it to hopefully help with 'reading music'.  Band rehearses on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month and currently meets at the Godstone Scout HQ, Endeavour on the Green from 7:30 - 9:30pm.  Send us a contact form if you would like to give this a try.  

3 of our amazing percussion project percussionists took part in our orchestra's 3rd Birthday Concert!  They did really well and appeared to be having a great time!

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