I'm thinking about learning percussion in the conservatory and I want to know what I'll need to have in my house to practice. Percussion covers a lot of different instruments and objects.

Does it need the student to move somewhere to practice the instrument? Does it need the student to buy some basic ones? How does it work?

EDIT: The question is simply about the needs in order to start learning percussion (from the beginning) in a official way.

  • If you're planning to study percussion at a conservatory, I presume you have a percussion teacher, right? If so, ask them which instruments you need to have access to every day. If not, I really think you need a teacher, if you are planning to study at that level. Jun 17, 2014 at 13:31
  • @BobBroadley If I'm asking this is because (obviously) I don't have a teacher yet. The course starts on september and I'm just planning my options
    – SysDragon
    Jun 17, 2014 at 13:33
  • Right, sounds good that you are planning now! If you have already taken percussion lessons, I would suggest that you get some advice from your previous teacher. Your new teacher will also have advice. I would imagine you will be doing most of your practice at the conservatory. But most percussionists I know have at least one piece of tuned percussion at home (eg. marimba) and would also practise rudiments on a practice-pad. Jun 17, 2014 at 13:37
  • @BobBroadley I never had any lesson, that's why I'm saying "start studying percussion"
    – SysDragon
    Jun 17, 2014 at 13:39
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    @SysDragon - that's great then, you have lots of prior knowledge. This will help tremendously.Sounds like you may need to build a 'conservatory' onto your house to put all the percussion instruments in !! I'd make a list of the common percussion instruments, and start collecting the smaller and cheaper ones now. Any percussion instrument will be useful. Guitarists collect guitars, harp players have a selection of harmonicas, etc.The tuned ones in particular will be good - xylophone, marimba, and as a piano player how could you not have a set of vibes ?
    – Tim
    Jun 17, 2014 at 14:49

3 Answers 3


TL;DR: If you are a beginner, your teacher will probably ask you to get a practice-pad and some drum sticks.

If you are just starting as a percussionist, you will first need to learn basic rudiments, which will allow you to play a range of percussion instruments, and then specialise at some instruments if you wish to (unless you are starting to learn a very specific type of music, see below). To do this, you can just get started with a practice-pad and some drum-sticks. Although this site is specifically aimed at beginner drummers, the advice would be good for any beginner percussionist.

However, if you already know that you may be specialising in one particular area of percussion playing, you could get the necessary instrument(s). For instance, if you know that you want to become a drummer (i.e. using drum-kit), you can start with just the equipment above, but you might want to get a simple drum kit quite soon. Or, if you know that you want to specialise as a tuned percussionist, you could get a tuned percussion instrument, but I would imagine that you would still need to learn basic percussion skills first.

On the other hand, if you know that you are going to focus upon learning percussion instruments related to a specific type of music, you might instead get the associated instrument(s) quite soon. For instance, if you are studying Indian Classical music, or a specific kind of Latin, African or other world music, the basic skills that need to be developed as a beginner may require a specific instrument (for example, tabla, cajon etc…)

If you are just starting to study percussion part-time, you probably won't need much equipment to get you started; as you become more advanced and maybe more specialised you will need the necessary equipment to practice at home. Hopefully, you will be able to use your conservatory as a place to practice between lessons; this will mean you can use their equipment.

Finally, as you become more advanced, you may find that although you specialise in some areas, you will gain experience of a wide variety of percussion instruments, that you will want to have regular access to, either for practice or for performances. But even then, it is common for percussionists to borrow or hire less common instruments when needed, there are very few percussionists that will own every instrument that they are likely to play. (Although I do know percussionists with garages full of marimbas, vibraphones, drums of all sizes…) Realistically, you are most likely to gradually gather a collection of smaller percussion instruments: shakers, triangle, cowbell, tambourine, cabasa etc., and a variety of sticks, alongside your "main" instrument(s).

Note for other readers: the OP is starting a conservatory course as a beginner, having not had percussion lessons before. This is not the same as my usual understanding of a music-college, university or conservatoire course, where a certain level of previous study is expected before starting the course. (Hopefully this should save you reading through our extended comments discussion...!)

  • Is necessary to specialize? in the end, will I need all the instruments that I'm going to play later (as a part of a orquestra, for example)?
    – SysDragon
    Jun 17, 2014 at 15:28
  • Most percussionists I know have experience of a wide variety of percussion instruments, but are more specialised in some (especially with kit drummers or tuned players, for instance). If you are playing in an orchestra you would probably use their instruments for rehearsals and performances. You wouldn't be expected to have every instrument at home to practise with. I updated my answer... Jun 17, 2014 at 15:32
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    @SysDragon, good luck with starting your course in September! As a pianist and oboist already, you should make a flying start to percussion studies. I've often thought about starting a new instrument, that I have not played before (would love to play the harmonica…), but have never had the courage to start, so I have a lot of respect for you... Jun 18, 2014 at 22:16
  • Start, then! Life is for doing what you like! (at least, in the free time)
    – SysDragon
    Jun 19, 2014 at 6:16

Just to add something to the above answers.

Since percussive instruments are rhythmic, you should really really focus on rhythmic exercises.

Something that really helped me when I began studying drums were the rhythm solfege books. There many of them and they start from the very basics of the rhythms.

I suggest getting the first one and start practicing -- A teacher is most likely to tell you to get one.


The best person to enquire to is the Director of the particular Conservatory you wish to go to. There must be a syllabus to peruse, and a list of appropriate equipment needed, as well as a synopsis of the course you wish to follow and hopefully complete.This sounds similar to the Greek tutor courses which take, I believe, about 15 yrs to complete.

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