Indoor percussion, a breakdown


By Jonathan Bender

A percussion ensemble is a group that performs musical percussion. But this idea leaves out the true scope of what the ensemble brings. 

According to the Methacton Indoor Percussion Ensemble (MIPE) director Sean Slattery, “Percussion is a mix of music, performance athleticism and a whole lot more.” 

The Methacton Indoor Ensemble is a continuation of the Methacton Marching Band, also known as the Methacton Outdoor Percussion Ensemble, and takes place between the months of December and April. MIPE competes in many regional competitions for school percussion ensembles and is intended to compete in the Mid-Atlantic Championships.

Students who join can opt into either the front ensemble or the drumline.

The front ensemble is the stationary unit of the group, using large instruments such as a synthesizer, marimba, vibraphone and drum set.

The drumline is the mobile section that, as the name implies, uses drums. The drumlines use a combination of bass, snare and quad, as well as other kinds of drums, to create a bombastic sound quality while marching drill for a performance. 

Both groups must perform the show, the front ensemble by using correct tempo and volume with posturing, and the drumline by performing correct movements in step with the music. 

The front ensemble must physically push the instruments into position and the drumline carries their drums while marching. It is a respectable amount of effort for both sections.

The ensemble practices three days a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Competitions take place on Saturday as well. 

One keynote before joining is the time commitment. On a normal week, the total amount of time is about 12 hours, excluding any additional practice members may engage in at home. The practices are regarded as fun as strong bonds develop among all of the players.

Between reps at practice, before practice and after practice, the players are a never-ending source of fun for each other. Even the instructors join in, telling stories and activities during downtime. It’s truly a joyous experience in the ensemble.

Students interested in joining can contact either Tana Jones [email protected] or Sean Slattery [email protected].