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Sound Percussion Overview

Dave Black, one of the best-selling percussion authors in the world, has teamed up with composer, clinician, and instrumental music teacher Chris Bernotas to write Sound Percussion for Individual or Group Instruction, a complete and comprehensive resource for teaching intermediate to advanced percussion students.

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Sound Percussion Book Cover

Student Books

This resource is comprised of four books plus a Teacher’s Score: Snare Drum / Bass Drum • Mallet Percussion • Timpani • Accessory Instruments. Each book can be used independently to focus on a particular instrument or in any combination as a full percussion ensemble. Lessons are presented in a fun and interesting way so that all members of the percussion section are engaged.

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Teacher Score

Sound Percussion is perfect for the director who is a non-percussion specialist as it provides a clear progression of notes, rhythms, and skills. In addition to the teacher-focused Sound Advice sections provided for many of the exercises, Sound Percussion will help build confidence in teachers and support their delivery of meaningful and appropriate content for their percussion students.

Intermediate or Beginner

Sound Percussion begins with an introduction of notation, the instruments, and grips. This series is considered intermediate because, while it starts with the basic fundamentals, students are quickly introduced to intermediate-level skills. Our goal was to ensure that teachers had the opportunity to help students, even beginners, by starting with the basics. With Sound Percussion, the pacing is up to you! As soon as students begin playing independent rhythms in Sound Combination exercises they have made it to the intermediate level!


Sound Percussion contains six sections covering everything from setting up the instruments to percussion ensemble performance. Sections include: Sound Rhythm • Sound Meter • Sound Rudiments • Sound Rolls • Sound Effects • Sound Performance. Directors can work through the book(s) progressively, or jump from section-to-section in order to address the specific educational needs of their students. The mallet book, however is more sequential by nature of note introduction.

Sound Percussion Organization

Skill Introduction and Reinforcement

The progression of rhythms, skills and note introduction, as well as the pacing of each, has been carefully considered to promote true comprehension and development. Skills are introduced with a backward-by-design approach. Learning goals are first identified, and then exercises are logically designed with obtainable steps that lead you toward achieving that goal. This is particularly helpful for mallet note recognition and snare drum rolls.

Sound Concepts introduce the concept/skill in unison (when appropriate.) Sound Reinforcement exercises follow with the addition of dynamics and accents still in unison. Then Sound Combinations focus on performance skills with more independent parts. Each skill or concept is systematically introduced and exercises are designed to reinforce and lead students to be able to accurately perform with confidence and excitement.

Sound Percussion Skill Intro & Reinforcement

Mallet Note Introduction

Mallet note reading and performance are approached in a unique and revolutionary way that won’t overwhelm students with too much, too soon. Students will be introduced to 2–3 notes at a time using interesting rhythm patterns that will excite students and build their confidence. Students will genuinely learn to read their music and perform on mallet instruments feeling confident.

Sound Percussion Mallet Note Intro

SI Online

Comprehensive videos help demonstrate techniques, allowing for better comprehension and fostering at-home practice. Videos include:

  • Sound combinations with full percussion ensemble
  • Sound combinations with only mallets and timpani in order to build independence
  • Roll demonstrations including how to perform buzz rolls and open rolls, as well as applying duple and triplet rolls to make the most musical sound
  • Four mallet grip and demonstration
  • Sound effects instruction and demonstrations
  • Rolls on timpani, cymbals, bass drum, and other accessory percussion instruments
  • Full recordings of “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and “Engage”—an original percussion ensemble piece

MasterClass Teachers: Caleb Conner, Amy Ksandr, and Wesley Sumpter.

Additional exercises and worksheets are available for download on to help reinforce note reading and other concepts used in modern percussion music.

Sound Percussion Ensembles Book Cover

Sound Percussion Ensembles

Arrangements and Original Selections in a Variety of Styles

Sound Percussion Ensembles contains 11 arrangements and two original pieces at the intermediate level designed to give your percussion students a valuable group performance experience. It synthesizes skills taught in Sound Percussion and can be used as a supplement to any percussion method, or independently as stand-alone performance music.

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