What music have you available for percussion ensemble?


World Premiere at The Joseph Bramah

A friend and colleague rang the other day to ask what music I had for percussion ensemble. ‘Too much’ was the reply and when he explained what players and resources he had available it made it easier to put together a list of titles.

Other percussion teachers might want to know what I have available so here is an edited list of titles to give you some ideas.  The music to order comes printed and bound, where appropriate, and is post free. Most of the downloads are available instantly from the Payhip site.

Percussion Ensembles To Order

Email peter.birkby@talk21.com 

Festive Music ISMN 978 57007 009 1 £20

Eight concert pieces (or can be played as a concert suite with an approximate duration of 24 minutes) for quartet with optional quintet and sextet parts. Intermediate standard with instrumental parts;- 1, xylophone, glockenspiel 2, vibraphone, congas, tubular bells 3, timpani (2 or 3 no pedals) claves, congas 4, drum kit 5, tubular bells, glock, hand percussion 6, hand percussion, tam-tam. Titles are;- Festive Music I, “In House”, Sixteen Plus, Jingleby Ho., Welcome To Spring, Street Music, Autumn Waltz, Exit Music.

The Drum ISMN 978 57007 033 6  £20

The story of the making of a drum in words and music, approximate duration 10 minutes, for intermediate percussion ensemble of 4,5,6 or 7 players and narrator. Instruments required;- snare drum, xylophone, suspended cymbals, vibraphone,timpani (4, some pedals), drum kit, tubular bells, bass drum, mugs, chains, whistles, horn, hand percussion.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice ISMN 978 57007 172 2 £24

Arrangement of the orchestral piece for 10 percussion, advanced standard with instrumentation of:- Glock, Vibes, Xylo, Marimba, Timpani, drum kit, wood & temple blocks, cymbals, bass drum, hand percussion. 

The Traveller ISMN 978 57007 130 2  £18

For an ensemble of 8 players with optional 9,10,11 and 12 player parts. Commissioned by the Garnock Academy in Scotland the piece was composed for an intermediate standard ensemble with the optional parts being elementary standard. Main instruments are xylophone, vibraphone, marimba, timpani (4), drum kit, congas, bongos, bass drum, snare drum, whistles, cymbals, hand percussion.(glock. and bells) 

Tango Toledo ISMN 978 57007 126 5  £15

This dramatic tango (elementary/ intermediate standard, 6 or 7 players) starts in the minor developing to a happy, uplifting major finale. Instrumentation is:- xylophone, vibraphone, castanets, timpani (1 pedal), drum kit, glockenspiel with optional extra tambourine part.

Sextet Collection

Some of the pieces include improvised passages which have a guide solo as well as chord symbols.

Colloquial Calypso ISMN 978 57007 022 0  £18

Happy, toe tapping calypso with a challenging melodic timpani part (5 drums with pedals). Other instruments required are:- glockenspiel/bass drum/ganza, vibraphone/timbales, xylophone, marimba/ganza and drum kit.

Hugger-Mugger ISMN 978 57007 042 8  £15

16’s driving rock with 6 timpani bass riff and big building finale. Other instrumentation is:- xylophone, vibraphone, tubular bells/ago go bells/ timbales/cowbell, marimba and drum kit.

More………More ISMN 978 57007 032 9 £15

Happy Ska groove performed by:- glockenspiel/xylophone, vibraphone, tubular bells/wood block/ tambourine, marimba, timpani (4 pedals), drum kit with optional extra parts for clash cymbals/tambourine/triangle and bass drum/cabasa/guiro.

Red ISMN 978 57007 043 5 £15

Fast and funky, inspired by Chris Baron’s Jazz Percussion Quintet. Solos for congas, drum kit, marimba and vibraphone (written and with chord symbol options). Other instruments required are:- tubular bells, timpani (4, low pedal) and bongos

Two Spanish Dances ISMN 978 57007 041 1  £15

Exciting dramatic/melodic and fast intermediate xylophone solo feature with accompaniment of:- vibraphone, glockenspiel/castanets, marimba, timpani (1 pedal) and drum kit. (Also available as a xylophone solo with piano, wind band or brass band accompaniment.)

Sound Conditioning ISMN 978 57007 141 8   £13.50p

Atmospheric sounds of the city created by:- vibraphone, timpani (2 or 3 pedals), tubular bells, cabasa/claves/triangle, suspended cymbal (bowed), 3 pieces of metal/3 temple blocks. “Just try and listen to the silence”.


Percussion Ensembles To Download

All downloads include the complete score and parts as a PDF

Free For All                                             https://payhip.com/b/XxLN

12 drummers, written and improvised sections, score, individual parts and improvisation worksheet

The onset of rain                                                https://payhip.com/b/1Vil

is a journey in sound as the rain arrives and then increases in intensity.  Instrumentation is thumb pianos (5 if possible of different sizes) with hand drums with 3 separate hand drum parts (8 parts that can be doubled up). 

Action for 4 to 12 players                                      https://payhip.com/b/FsIz

Easy percussion quartet with eight optional extra parts to be added in any order as resources and/or players are available and will work as a quartet, quintet, sextet… up to duodecet or twelvetet.  Instrumentation is xylophone, clash cymbals, timpani (2, no pedals required), drum kit, bass drum, glockenspiel, congas, suspended cymbal, tom tom, wood block, vibra-slap and triangle.

Percussion Now and Then 2                    https://payhip.com/b/mQhd

Two rail themed quartets: Travels 2 which starts with an energetic express waltz before slowing down to a branch line pace and Concrete Bob Through Moorthorpe with an easy tempo 4/4 groove.  Each quartet can be performed as a separate entity and they have been arranged with the option of being performed one after the other although some time for timpani re-tuning is required after Travels 2.  The total duration for the two would be approximately 5 minutes and the instruments required are: vibraphone and xylophone, timpani (3), drum kit (set), tubular bells (chimes) or other keyboard percussion instrument.

Percussion Trios To Download

Seven adaptations from movements of Deranged Drums on Digital Vistas (a concerto for drums and percussion ensembles). During the full work these percussion trios contrast with sections for a percussion quintet of drums, timpani, marimba, vibraphone and bells.  Most of these trios use limited instrumentation (some could even count as pocket percussion trios).

Blocks and tocks                                              https://payhip.com/b/w9qm

uses wood block, temple blocks and claves

Bells and brash                                       https://payhip.com/b/ITK8

only uses 6 cowbells 

Bowls and tings                                      https://payhip.com/b/ZWIS

is scored for 3 brass bowls, finger cymbals, triangle and brass rod 

Sand and scrape                                      https://payhip.com/b/8jMd

just uses sandpaper blocks 

Beat your heart out                                https://payhip.com/b/03yb

has more substantial instrumentation of bass drum and snare drum with Mexican bean and pop gun

Weaving, burling and mending               https://payhip.com/b/zHaW

is scored for brake drum, claves/temple blocks and surdo

Cymbiotic                                               https://payhip.com/b/Z3Ws

is all cymbals: ride, hi-hats, china, crash, splash, with rivets/draped chain and clash


All the links at http://prbpnews.wordpress.com

(c) P.R.Birkby 2019

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Now Available In Print

Special announcement for the musicians and teachers that prefer print to the on screen version. All the Dozens of Duets books are now available to order in print in the United Kingdom.


The £4.00 cost includes first class post to anywhere in the UK

Email peter.birkby@talk21.com with your order, payment is made through PayPal using the music@prbp.co.uk account.

Keyboard Percussion Book 1, Keyboard Percussion Book 2,Keyboard Percussion Book 3

Timpani and Drum Book 1

Brass (Treble clef) Book 1

Flute Book 1

Clarinet Book 1

Alto Saxophone Book 1

Alto and Tenor Saxophone Book 1

Bassoon Book 1

Recorder Book 1

Drum Book 1, Drum with Percussion Book 2

Every Dozens of Duets book has the two parts on the same page and each part is the same standard making twenty four reading and performing opportunities for your students.  The example of the format is from the Dozens of Duets for Clarinet Book 1.

#38 Elastic

If you want the on screen version they are all available to download, priced £1.08p, from https://Payhip.com/prbpnews.

(c) Peter R. Birkby 2019

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Only four left in the world

via Only four left in the world

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Sticks for Starters


Participation in music is life changing. Regular singing and/or playing an instrument have many benefits especially where health and social interaction are concerned.

For the first time in my music teaching experience, forty years and counting, I am meeting drum students in schools that have the spark of enthusiasm for music but there are barriers in their way.  The main one is having the money to buy some drum sticks.  Many have ingenious ways of creating drums at home, the bucket, armchair and pillow kits being a few, and their own proper pair of sticks would be a great help for their progress.

After a Facebook post about this situation, earlier this week, I have been offered new and part-worn sticks from drummers and shops in the UK and Australia.  I have always found the community of musicians very supportive of people needing help and thank you for the offers. Keep those sticks coming.

This GoFundMe campaign is to raise money to get the sticks to those that need them.  Sticks cost £3.50 per pair to send in the post and the target figure of £500 would get around 150 pairs of sticks out.  I do not intend to stop when the first batch of sticks have gone and hope to work with shops, manufacturers and associations to make this an on-going campaign.

If you know, or suspect, any students are struggling please get in touch.

Please pass this information on to any other drum/percussion teacher you know.

Thank you for reading, any donations will be gratefully received, sticks or money, and just think; for a small amount we can do a great deal of good through music.

The link to the GoFundMe page:


© P. R Birkby 2018

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On My Trolley

Using the Music (or Percussion) Trolley in Schools

Teaching at a number of schools in different areas of the North of England has given me an insight into the use of the trolley of instruments. This resource is often to be found gathering dust at the back of a storeroom with a collection of instruments in various states from pristine to beyond repair.

Perhaps I visit schools in areas where there have been some difficult dealings with the music trolley. Looking at the instruments on the trolleys and the collections of beaters, mallets and sticks that are supplied to strike the instruments I am not surprised there is damage and perhaps some caution in the use of the trolley in class creativity.

I understand this and setting some ground rules at the start of the session could help. Find the loudest or most piercing sounding instrument and make a signal for everyone to stop playing. Make sure everyone understands what to do when they hear your signal.

The following picture shows some of the variety of materials and shapes of striking surface for playing percussion instruments. In general:

Wood, metal and plastic headed sticks are loud

Wool, rubber and felt can often bring out tone in the instrument at a medium and quiet dynamic

Brushes and rutes are soft

All sticks

If you are working on specific rhythms with beginner students sometimes a mnemonic, word or phrase, is useful to help pupils remember. I ask the students what their favourite book, film or interest is and then ask them to work out the word or phrase that will help remember the rhythm.

As an example the following rhythm that has been named: unicorn, lemonade, cherryade, butterfly, J2O, BB-8, theropod, elephant and Viktor Krum by my students. These are the ones I can remember.Plus 2:16_1:8

To help with using the percussion instruments on the trolley in some traditional ways I have published a book of duets that pair up many of the most commonly found instruments. It is available as an instant download in PDF format from https://payhip.com/b/gQzR

I am interested to hear from users of the book if other resources are needed. A collection of mnemonics, tips on what each instrument can do and how to play them (short films) or any other ideas that might be useful. Please tell me if you think of any from your experience(s) with the trolley.

© P.R. Birkby 2018

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Starting Percussion

Four Session

Four sessions for the beginner percussionist, listen to the complete tracks at https://urbanskyline.bandcamp.com/album/four-sessions-for-drums-and-percussion

Download the sheet music from https://payhip.com/b/adWR

Free play a long tracks available at https://urbanskyline.bandcamp.com/album/four-sessions-for-hand-percussion

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April 1st

Decoys and whistles

Toot Tango 2 for some April first fun https://urbanskyline.bandcamp.com/album/toot-tango-2

Download the sheet music from https://payhip.com/b/qVPn

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