The Instigator
SandlasJuagas
Pro (for)
Winning
29 Points
The Contender
nrw
Con (against)
Losing
22 Points

Learning to play percussion well is as hard if not harder than learing to play another instrument.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/17/2007 Category: Arts
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 10,218 times Debate No: 612
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
Votes (14)

 

SandlasJuagas

Pro

I am a percussionist and have recently had someone tell me that percussion is the easiest section in the band to play in. I was very appalled by this and told him that he was dead wrong. For one, percussion covers multiple instruments, including snare, timpani, xylophone, and other auxiliary instruments. Not only do the xylophone and timpani require you to be able to read music in both the treble and base clef, the snare requires you to be able to play complicated rhythms that one would not normally see for another instrument. Also the play a snare well, one must be able to stroke a roll or play with three mallets on the xylophone along with other various techniques needed in certain songs.

I have also learned to play the bass guitar and know from experience that it was much easier to learn and play (3 years) than it was to learn to play the snare well (6 years).
nrw

Con

Of course, learning to do anything "well" is going to be harder than just learning to do something else "not well." However, it is probably harder and takes more time to become really good at another instrument as opposed to becoming really good at percussion.

I realize it takes a lot of effort and time to become good at percussion, but the meticulous detail that is necessary to become good at a lot of other instruments is much more difficult to master. This is why in general, percussionists take lessons to learn how to play, then eventually, they must develop the rest on their own. Also, one can teach him/her self percussion easier than other instruments. Looking at it realistically, it is probably easier for one to sit down and learn how to play the snare and different, "advanced" rythms well, rather than for someone to sit down and teach themselves how to play a wide variety of advanced music on say, the piano, for instance.

The amount of skill needed to learn in order to play more complicated instruments well is higher. (I am going to stick with the example of piano, but other wind/brass/reed instruments probably apply.)
In order to be considered "good," one must posses technical mastery that is more challenging than percussion in general. Being able to read music and play a possible 10 different keys all at once (sometimes more), know chord progressions, melody vs. bass, key signatures, sharps, flats, dynamics, musicality, rythm, etc., is extremely difficult to master, let alone just do. The intricate details and involvement of piano music is just simply more difficult to execute. Also, much more must be acheived to be "good" after this. After technical mastery, a good pianist (or other instrument comparable) has to learn to incorporate feeling, musicality, and tone into his/her music. This is much different than getting louder/softer, or faster/slower, as percussion is pretty limited to. I realize there is some musicality in percussion, however other instuments require much more skill and experience in this area.

Overall, percussion can be learned through memorization - one can copy the rhythm played by another, and then add his/her own dynamics. However, other instruments - it is rare/next to impossible to sit down a piece and play it after hearing it. One must work at it much more vigorously in order to perfect it, and even once this occurs, it is still difficult to produce the same amount of feeling and musicality that a musician would like to achieve.

(I am speaking from experience too. I have played music for over 9 years, and both of my parents are music teachers/directors, and both play instruments themselves.)
Debate Round No. 1
SandlasJuagas

Pro

I would be very interested to know what instruments you can play. I'm going to assume from the way you are talking of percussion as a group of instruments that does not require the ability to "read music and play a possible 10 different keys all at once (sometimes more), know chord progressions, melody vs. bass, key signatures, sharps, flats, dynamics, musicality, rythm, etc.", that you are not a percussionist and have no idea the kind of "meticulous detail" or "technical mastery" that you do need to be a percussionist. I was really hoping to discuss the subject with someone who had an idea of what he was talking about, but since you got yourself into this, I'm going at you full force.

You say more complicated instruments. Like what? I can see how the piano might be harder to be good at, but I was thinking more of instruments that one might find in a symphony or wind ensemble. A trombone player can get just as much feeling out of his instrument as a xylophonist.

Since I was including both xylophone and timpani in the grouping of percussion (did you even READ my opening statement?), I would like to remind you that they do in fact use musical notes. This means that not only does one need to be able to know the key signatures, sharps, flats, dynamics, musicality, and rhythm, but they also need to be able to do things that no other instrument requires. For example, it is widely considered necessary for a timpani player to be able to tune four timpanis to different pitches from one base note by ear. I would also just like to stress the complexity of some of the xylophone pieces I've seen at the HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL. For example, I have had to play a piece where one must use three mallets, play two octaves of interchanging minor scales at the same time, and be able to play five notes per beat in some parts.

I will now move onto the snare drum, which you seem to greatly underestimate.
"one can copy the rhythm played by another, and then add his/her own dynamics.
"- wrong -"However, other instruments - it is rare/next to impossible to sit down a piece and play it after hearing it. One must work at it much more vigorously in order to perfect it". Okay...good lord. With this comparison you are comparing having to play something easy, with something hard. Only with the easy patterns is one able to copy a rhythm heard by ear. Alright, let's say that there is a pattern in which a drummer strokes out a nine-stroke roll. Not many beginners can come remotely close to stroking a roll. It took me five years to become fast enough to double strokes eight notes per beat at a fast tempo (not bouncing). In comparison, it took me about a year to get a good tone on my bass guitar and it only took my friend two years to get a good tone from his OBOE. You say that "it is rare/next to impossible to sit down a piece and play it after hearing it", but I can play tunes off of the radio on my bass or piano with no problems. Only in the difficult pieces am I forced to sit down with a piece of music and practice a part.

(You're lucky I didn't bring the drum set into this because that would be a completely different debate)
nrw

Con

First of all, I do play percussion as well. This is why I brought up the example of the snare drum as I did later in the debate, for this is what I am most familiar with. Besides percussion, I mainly play piano, and I have learned a little bit of other various instruments such as string bass, guitar, etc. (This is why I used piano as my example - I am just more familiar with it.) I'm sorry I'm not the type of person you were looking for - I feel I am qualified enough in music to argue this topic. Perhaps you were looking for someone who agreed with you?

"I can see how the piano might be harder to be good at."
Well then, this debate is rather simple to decide. We have found an instrument that is harder to be good at than percussion. Thank you. Extend all my previous arguments about the skills involved with becoming an excellent piano player and how it is harder to be good at it, as you have agreed. (I do not wish to bore anyone any longer about this, as you have agreed.)

Your topic claims percussion is either as hard or harder than another instrument. This means, if we find another instrument to be harder to be good at, a "Con" vote is automatic. And, because you have agreed with me on at least the piano example, (see above), then this is true and the vote must go "Con".

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Now, with all that technical stuff out of the way, even though I do not necessarily have to debate any further, I will anyways because I find this topic interesting.

You say xylophone and timpani also use music tones (notes) to even the field.
However, with these two instruments, piano is clearly still more difficult. The most simple reason being that when playing xylophone or timpani, usually only one or two notes are being played at a time. At most, there are cases for the xylophone that would use 4 at a time, if one was holding two mallets in each hand, however, this is rare, and still falls in comparison to my piano example, which uses 10 notes at a time (sometimes more!). This increased difficulty requires more technical mastery that we discussed before, and the complexity of musicianship also in turn becomes greater due to the increased amount of complexity in the music.
Also, no percussion instrument can fully capture the difficulty and execution of chord progression, etc., that exists in piano playing - it just doesn't exist on the same level.

You discuss tuning timpani. Tuning piano is harder because there are 88 keys on the keyboard. This means 88 separate tones. This is more than exists for timpani.

You discuss difficulty of the xlophone in some cases. I addressed this a little bit above - there are still more notes on a piano and more have to be played at the same time - even if you are carrying 3 in each hand, piano is still more notes. Just think about it at base level for a second: you have to use all ten of your fingers independently!

Next, the snare drum arguments...
I am comparing both at the advanced level. If one is good at the snare, he/she can copy rhythms by ear, because it is only one tone (the beat of the drum). The listener only has to focus on rhythm. This is impossible for other instruments because, (using piano as my example again, because that is where I am most educated), the listener of a piece also would have to focus on every tone, as well as rhythm and musicality. Even an excellent pianist would have a difficult time playing a Chopin polonaise by ear, because it is simply more difficult.
You say you can play tunes off the radio on your piano - fine, anyone can memorize a melody, but we are talking about advanced play here, as you isolated in the first argument: "playing WELL." Even if you copy something from the radio - you would have to add more than just the "tune" from the radio in order to make it sound as if you are actually a good pianist.

In general, the aspects involved in order to become an excellent player of another instrument are more difficult (in this debate the example happened to be piano). If there is ANY RISK that any instrument is more difficult to become great at, the vote must go Con.

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(Haha, you're right, the drum set is a separate debate, maybe we can talk about that topic some other time?)
Debate Round No. 2
SandlasJuagas

Pro

Well! If we're going to go into the "technical stuff", then didn't I "technically" say that "I CAN" -not DO- "see how the piano MIGHT BE" -not IS- "harder to be good at."?

And hey, since we're being "technical", isn't the piano classified as a PERCUSSIVE instrument (hammers HITTING strings), meaning that every example you have given using the piano has only "technically" been further proving my point?

I mean, I wasn't going to bring that up; but as we're being "technical".

------

Alright, now that we can be a little more sophisticated, I will discuss and argue the points made in your last statement.

First of all, you say in your first paragraph that piano is more difficult than timpani and xylophone when talking about the number of notes being played at a time. This does not account for the complexity of rhythms played on the snare. Of course piano is going to have more complex chords and will use more notes at the same time. That is because it isn't possible to play as many notes on a xylophone or timpani. Any percussion instrument can have musicality and feeling; it just takes more effort and is harder to do in percussion.

You discuss tuning the piano. "Tuning piano is harder because there are 88 keys on the keyboard. This means 88 separate tones. This is more than exists for timpani." It is also not necessary for a pianist to tune his piano before every song, using only a base note and his ear.

Your main point thus far has been that the piano can be played using ten fingers. Hardly a satisfactory argument. You seem to have yourself under the impression that the piano uses ten notes all the time. This is not the case. In most piano pieces there will be times in which many fingers will be used, but there is also a larger section where there are runs or melodies using multiple fingers but at different times. This is not just in piano; other instruments including the flute, saxophone, or string instruments like the bass guitar, have many fingers being used in the process of playing. This doesn't mean it is harder to play this instrument; in fact quite the opposite. This just means that the player has easy access to the notes on these instruments, while it takes more effort to play the same thing on a xylophone or marimba.

You repeated your statement that it is easy to play something from ear on a percussive instrument, so I will repeat my response. It might be easy to figure out what someone is playing, but it might be harder to actually play it. For example, "stroking a nine-stroke roll" is very hard to do; harder than, say, figuring out chords on a piano and then adding the melody. You can train yourself to notice melodies and chords in order to play any instrument. However, it takes tedious practice to get your hands to move as fast as a roll.

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(You seem very intent on winning the debate, but don't show much interest in learning from it. Maybe if your mind frame was more open, you would see that things are never as limited as they first appear.)
nrw

Con

Well, if you are going to take me on the "technical" thing that you called me out on - saying that "you can see" how piano "might be harder", technically, is a concession, as your topic calls for me to provide any other instrument that is probably harder to be good at.

Next, ok, in your argument you referred to snares, drums, xylophones, cymbals, etc. If you had a problem with the piano example, you should have addressed that earlier, not AFTER I proved it was harder than the percussion instruments you alluded to.

Furthermore, piano is different than percussion instruments. You say it is "hitting strings" - well, by that same logic, can't I say the strings make it not percussion? No other percussion instrument produces different tones via vibration of strings - that sounds more like a string instrument to me.

This is kind of beside the point - you are avoiding the fact that I have identified that there is an instrument that is harder to get good at, and you agreed that piano was harder.

------

You say my analysis about piano being harder than comparable percussion instruments is bad because the "more notes" thing doesn't take into account rhythms on things like the snare. However, this argument wasn't comparing the notes to the snare - it was comparing it to your argument about timpani and the xlophone. Advanced piano playing DOES have complex rhythm, this is why getting good at piano is much harder because you have to take into account that plus many notes (snare only has one note, unless you count hitting the side or something a different note).
Again, think about this logically: all the chord progressions, advanced harmonizing and mastery of playing many notes. This is much more difficult to become good at.
Also, I said musicality and feeling is in every instrument, I know it is possible in percussion too, however, my argument was that in piano it is harder because you have to achieve that same feeling and musicality WHILE acheiving mastery of the detailed skills (notes, chords, everything mentioned before).

You say you don't have to tune a piano before every song. This is irrelevant. If tuning is really a part of this debate - tuning is still harder on the piano, regardless of how often it happens. Furthermore, people often higher professionals to tune their pianos when it needs to be done - this proves it is harder than something like timpani where people do it on their own with no big hassle.

You say ten notes are not used all the time at the same time. First of all, that's fine, I said that ten fingers are used maximum; no matter what - it is always going to be more tones than similar percussion instruments. Furthermore, I would argue that this "melody vs. more notes" thing creates an added aspect of difficulty. It is difficult to transfer between these two kind of "types" of tone play. This doesn't exist in the instruments you name.

You say these instruments have easier access to notes.
How easy is the access to hitting the side of a bass drum?

Over the "playing from memory" thing.
My point was that it is more difficult to memorize difficult things on the piano as opposed to drums, etc.
Sure, melodies can be learned and chords can be taught and you can add them at the basic level pretty easily; but we're talking about advanced work here. This isn't just progression from C-G-G7-C here. Think about my example of copying a Chopin Polonaise by ear - next to impossible - and if someone could do that? They'd be considered a genius. However, drum rolls are copied by ear with less difficulty.
Haha, this may be a crude example, but I just thought of it so I'm going to share: look at the movie "Drumline," Nick Cannon seems pretty good at copying advanced rolls, yet it isn't that big of a deal. Haha

----

"I seem very intent on winning the debate." We'll, yes, sure, I'd like to win because my argumentation is better - isn't that the point of a debate?
And as far as educational purpose goes - this is how education occurs through debate.org - via competing arguments. I wouldn't just want to agree and have you lecture me. I wouldn't learn much. Two-sided argumentation is a priceless form of education that cannot be taught in a classroom. Maybe YOU should have a "more open mind frame."
Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by AwesomeSauce01 7 months ago
AwesomeSauce01
Haha I hope you realize that the piano is actually a percussion instrument. Lol.
Posted by AwesomeSauce01 7 months ago
AwesomeSauce01
Haha I hope you realize that the piano is actually a percussion instrument. Lol.
Posted by Mharman 7 months ago
Mharman
I play percussion. It's hard m8.
Posted by Hypnodoc 9 years ago
Hypnodoc
First I must say a great job was done.

Employing Melodic percussion the peices can be far more complex than a piano concerto. I have played vibraphones and marimba with a far grander scale of notes than a Piano.

Percussion in its entirety does not imply mastery of a single instrument.
Comparing the learning of percussion to learning any single instrument, Percussion will always be more difficult as it encompasses hundreds of instruments.
Posted by jumpin4jesus 9 years ago
jumpin4jesus
What's easiest depends on the person. All instruments have their own difficult points that you must master and be good at. For instance, you're right an instrument like an oboe probably wouldn't have to play quite so complicated a rhythm as you would find in a snare part, or tenors or whatever you're playing at that moment, because like you said percussionists have to know a lot of stuff. But a percussionist doesn't have to deal with stuff like breathing or fingering or vibrato and all that stuff wind/string instruments have to deal with. They're all different, embrace them. :)
Posted by BarbieGirl 9 years ago
BarbieGirl
how difficult or easier learning an instrument - or spor or whatever - is depends on the person themselves.
For example, I can play wind instruments, brass instruments stringed instruments and piano/keyboard.
But i can't play the drums, simply because i cant coordinate my hands and feet at the same time
Posted by shelbih 9 years ago
shelbih
i have played the percussion.
and now i play the piano.
they were both not easy to learn.

i really dont understand how you can debate over whether different instruments are more difficult or easier than one or the other.

instruments are so different.

look at the piano. 88 keys.

then look at the trumpet..
3 thingies that you push down(im sorry i dont know what they are called) :]

that doesnt make the trumpet any easier.
or the piano any harder.
they are completely different and play their notes in different ways.
Posted by nrw 9 years ago
nrw
its ok,

most of the debaters, if not all, on this site want people to read their debates, and vote for who did the better debating, rather than vote for the side they personally think

but, you can comment on the topic if you want, and say whatever you want - but we would prefer you vote based on argumentation...

comments like..

"I disagree with the con - I think the piano is the easiest instrument to play, however he did the better debating, so I must vote con anyway"

... are very much appreciated

also, try talking about what made you decide one side did the better debating, its very helpfull for those who want to learn to get better.

thank you
Posted by jesse32 9 years ago
jesse32
I am sorry. This is my first day at this website and I love it. Please provide me with more information on the ediquette of posting debates. I would appreciate it. Thanks again.
Posted by nrw 9 years ago
nrw
So you voted the wrong way.

Guitar would be on the other side of the debate - not typical percussion. You should have voted con. ugh.

Furthermore, guitar wasn't brought up in this debate. Let's try to vote on the arguments in the debate, not personal opinion.
14 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Mharman 7 months ago
Mharman
SandlasJuagasnrwTied
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Vote Placed by Walrus101 4 years ago
Walrus101
SandlasJuagasnrwTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had an overall better argument. If you are trying to say that percussion is easier than an instrument, maybe con shouldn't use another percussion instrument as an example. Towards the end Con started to insult the pro, which is unnecessary. Piano is basically a condensed marimba. Has the con seen how much larger it really is? Lets not even start on four mallet technique (or six). Much harder than piano. I myself play a woodwind instrument. Learning to play a keyboard has been less than easy. So if the con was going to have a valid argument, at least get something that wasn't percussion.
Vote Placed by KingAwesome 4 years ago
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SandlasJuagasnrwTied
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Vote Placed by Anon_Y_Mous 4 years ago
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Vote Placed by Hypnodoc 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by BarbieGirl 9 years ago
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