I am a strong believer that we can and should all try to compose music. Composing is a skill that can be learned. Over time you continue to develop this skill with regular practice. (Sound familiar?) There are a lot of great resources on the internet, including The Art of Composing which includes articles, blog posts and a podcast about composing.

So how can you get started? The first place I recommend is to start with the snare drum rudiments. I have used this process with my middle school students as well as my college students in my percussion methods course. Here’s a step-by-step process to help you compose a new piece for snare drum.

Step 1 – To start with, you will need to download the 40 PAS Standard American Rudiments: Page 1 and Page 2. Over the past 25 episodes, I have introduced some of the rudiments as well as snare drum techniques. If you need to review any of the rudiments, use these videos to help.

Step 2 – In the video above, I introduced the first 3 measures of a new piece. You can download the piece here: Etude 1.

Step 3 – Watch the video and start composing. I wrote out the first three measures on the PDF. There are 19 measures left for you to fill out.

Don’t worry about sounding good. Just write. You can always edit (as long as you use a pencil). Write out a couple of measures and then play it back. Listen to what you have just played. You can even record yourself.

Do you like what you wrote? If not, erase and write something else. If so, keep going. “Do or Do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

When you have written something, send me a PDF. I would love to check out your pieces.

Dave Gerhart

Dave Gerhart

Dr. Dave Gerhart, Product Manager, Percussion for Yamaha Corporation of America and Lecturer of Percussion at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSU, Long Beach, is a nationally recognized performer, composer, and educator. Dr. Gerhart, originally from Fairfield, California, holds a D.M.A. from the University of Southern California, M.M. in Percussion Performance and Instrumental Conducting and a B.M. in Music Education from California State University, Long Beach.
Dave Gerhart

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