PPBSO Drumming Education

Welcome

Welcome to The Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO) Drumming Educational Webpage!

This page has been created by the certified drumming judges of the Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO) to be an accurate source of information for anyone interested in learning to play pipe band drumming including snare, tenor and bass. Our intention is to provide an overview of what you need to know to become a proficient pipe band drummer as well as a list of qualified instructors.

This page was created in 2021 as a response to the need to improve drumming education in Ontario.

Announcing New Massed Band Cadences!

Recently, there has been a decision made by the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations (ANAPBA) to revise the massed band drum scores (snare, tenor and bass) which will now be referred to as "The Massed Band Cadences".

This initiative was started by Jim Sim and Reid Maxwell who, with many others, observed that the massed band drum scores were too difficult for novice drummers playing in grade 5 bands and community bands throughout North America. Many bands have felt obliged to teach the scores to beginner/novice drummers very early in their development so that they could be included in massed bands and parades. Because the scores are beyond the capability of novice players, too many individuals struggle to play them.

The new massed band cadences will allow novice drummers to be included in massed bands by playing simpler scores that are appropriate for their experience level.

It is anticipated that this will facilitate the improvement of massed bands at our highland games and at the same time it will support drummers who are in the earlier stages of development.

The Massed Band Cadences can be found on our Massed Band Page

What You Need to Know

All students beginning pipe band drumming need to learn to read music and understand basic underlying musical concepts as well as foundational movements in order to become proficient. It is very important to have a qualified instructor to guide you through this process

Our Historic Problem - Band Dependent Learning

Over the years, beginner drummers have been recruited by their local pipe bands, typically with promises of free instruction.

They are then taught in the band context by well meaning drummers who often have not had access to good training or good curriculum. In this environment instruction is haphazard. With the advancement of pipe band drumming over several decades it has become essential that beginners be taught basic music theory, good reading skills, good stick control, how to play on time and foundational movements.

It is a common mistake to plunge beginners into the band drum scores with insufficient preparation. This serves to entrench bad habits during early development that are very difficult to overcome in the future.

Unfortunately this process sets up many beginner drummers to become frustrated and demoralized in the future as they face large amounts of remedial work needed to correct problems so that they can advance.

It is very important to have a good teacher when you start pipe band drumming.

Overview for Snare Drummers

The 3 essentials you need to learn from your teacher when you start snare drumming:

1. Stick Control (technique)

  • This involves how you hold your drumsticks and your hand posture.

  • This involves how you move and control your drumsticks.

2. Learning to Read Rhythm

  • This involves learning to read and count note values aloud.

  • This involves learning to play on time with a regular pulse and is crucial when playing action music (marching and dancing).

3. Develop Good Quality Rolls

  • Both open and closed rolls are fundamentally important and the hallmark of good snare drumming.

The fastest and best way to learn is with a qualified teacher

Overview for Bass and Tenor Drummers

The 3 essentials you need to learn from your teacher when you start tenor or bass drumming:

1. Stick Control (technique)

  • This involves how you hold your drumsticks and your hand posture.

  • This involves how you move and control your drumsticks.

2. Learning to Read Rhythm

  • This involves learning to read and count note values aloud.

  • This involves learning to play on time with a regular pulse and is crucial when playing action music (marching and dancing).

3. Develop Fluidity of Movement

  • This includes arm motions for both bass and tenor drummers

  • This includes releasing and catching basic flourishes for tenor drummers

  • It is crucial to develop a skill for transitioning from a visual movement to striking the drum with control and clarity while maintaining accurate time

When you have a good teacher, you become proficient sooner

A video showing a beginner bass drummer how to get started is available here

PPBSO Website

The Pipers and Pipe Bands Society of Ontario Website can be found here: ppbso.org

About The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario:

The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario was instituted in 1947. Objects of the Society includes the uniting of all pipers and drummers in the province to better preserve, promote and encourage participation and proficiency in the music of the pipes, drums and pipe bands.

In addition the PPBSO administers piping, drumming and pipe band contests at many highland games throughout Ontario. Several of these contests have special distinctions attached to them, such as North American Championship, Canadian and Ontario Championship.

As well, Society branches hold many smaller competitions throughout the fall, winter and spring months.

The George Sherriff Invitational, The Agnew-Harrison Invitation, and the Livingstone Invitational are prestigious events for solo competitors that the PPBSO takes pride in presenting each year.

Learning Structures

In Ontario, we have many opportunities available for drumming instruction.

Members of our Teachers List specialize in different types of learning structures:

  1. Individual Lessons

  2. Group Instruction

  3. Band Instruction

  4. Weekend Workshops

  5. Summer Schools

Current Education Opportunities can be found in our Calendar.

Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board (PDQB)

The PDQB training and certification program was developed in the UK and supported by:

  • The Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming,

  • The Tri Service Cadet Centre, The National Piping Centre,

  • The Piobaireachd Society and The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA).

The PDQB program has been adopted by Education Scotland and is taught in the school system by highly professional instructors. This has resulted in Scottish pipe bands having a large population of well trained pipers and drummers to supply their bands. This is a primary reason that the standard of pipe bands in Scotland is at an all time high. This program is simple in nature, designed to promote success and available online.

It is our belief that this program could be very helpful to individuals and pipe bands in Ontario.

PDQB Website: https://www.pdqb.org/pdqb-home

The Teachers Listed on this Webpage

Our List of Recommended Teachers consists of individuals that fall within one or more of the following categories:

1. Certified PPBSO Drumming Judges

2. PPBSO Apprentice Judges

3. Certified PDQB instructors/examiners

4. Department of National Defence Regular Forces Drumming Qualification Level 6 B