Band Director’s Guide to being MacGyver

Let’s go ahead and get one thing out-of-the-way. If you were born before 1990 you should remember the TV show MacGyver. If you have no clue, go educate yourself.  This man could fashion a harness system using only a fork, a napkin and a Swiss Army knife.  If you were stranded on a deserted island, you would want MacGyver with you.

Like MacGyver, band directors rarely have time or materials to make quality repairs.  It also doesn’t help that percussion equipment is notoriously abused.

Here are some quick, cheap tips for band directors to help make your percussion equipment sound great for upcoming performances.

Fix that ringing snare drum!

Sure, you could get fancy and buy some Moongel or spend $12 for a nice dampener, or you could open up your wallet and pull out that store rewards card! Simply place one end of the tape on the rim closest to the player and the other end on the card.

Dampen your bass drum!

Buy a spring clip and a small black hand towel then clip the towel on the top of the bass drum rim. This is a MUCH better solution than just using a hand. You can control how long the drum resonates by using the non-playing hand to move the towel.

Emergency solution: Pick up that t-shirt off of the band room floor and use it!

My percussionists are using a hair scrunchie to hold the triangle!

Remember that spring clip? Go ahead and buy two! Find some fishing line and tie a loop on the spring clip. Problem solved! Next throw away that hair scrunchie…that’s gross.

Create your own timpani tuning gauge!

Your tuning gauges have never worked, the timpani part has multiple pitch changes, and your timpanist is tone deaf. No worries! You can create your own for free or under $10. You may need to go find your tackle box…

Here’s what you need:

  • Fishing Line (or small string)
  • Lead sinker (or other weight)
  • Duct Tape (of course)
  • White masking tape
  • Sharpie

What to do:

  1. First, tape one end of string to the toe of the tuning pedal.
  2. Pull string up towards hoop and through two tension rods.
  3. Attach weight on other end.
  4. Cut and fold triangular piece of duct tape on the fishing line between tension rods.
  5. Place masking tape on bowl.
  6. As you move the pedal up and down, the triangle will act as a pointer. At this time pull out the frequency generator and write in the pitches on the masking tape using a sharpie.

Here’s a diagram:

Timpani Tuning Gauges

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