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Learn to Play the Timpani
Here are five steps to learn to play the timpani.
First, you will have to know how to read bass clef music. The spaces on the staff, going from bottom to top are: A, C, E, G (acronym- All Cars Eat Gas). The lines going from bottom to top are: G, B, D, F, A (Glad Bags Don't Fall Apart).
Sit on a spinning stool in front of however many timpani you need to play. They should be arranged in a semi circle around you so that they are easy to reach.
Make sure you have timpani mallets. There are different ones for the different sound you want to get out of the timpani. Some people use a French grip which is like matched grip for snare, except the wrists are turned so that the thumbs are pointed upward. You can also grip the mallets like you would with matched grip. Either is correct.
To tune a timpani, you will need a pitch pipe, or if there is a vibraphone nearby, it will work just as well because it's keys will not go out of tune. Move the pedal up for a higher pitch or down for a lower pitch. Make sure that, when checking the music to see what notes you will be playing, the higher note will go on the smaller drum and the lower note will go on the bigger drum. The drums should also be arranged largest to smallest because this makes the music much more easier to read.
Read the music just as you would any other music, making sure that you are playing the right drums at the right time, depending on where they are located in front of you and where the notes are located on the staff.