QUOTE(bassmadmatt @ Nov 6 2006, 12:06 PM)
Finally another tuned percussionist.
That's an overstatement as far as I'm concerned. I'm a musician whose professional qualifications are entirely academic (Music degree). I'm only an amateur performer on the instruments I list. However, I'm interested in all the orchestral instruments and how they can be used.
I'm bored so I'm gonna write lots.
My interest in tuned percussion began a few years ago when I was hoping to join the Royal Marines band service as a bugler/drummer. I decided to take some grade exams in percussion with ABRSM, but didn't realise that tuned percussion was involved until I looked at the syllabus. This was a problem for me because I was experienced on general percussion but had never played any tuned percussion. So, I bought a very cheap xylophone and started to learn. I really enjoyed it and passed my Grade 1 with Merit, but things went downhill after that. I started learning the Grade 2 pieces and then realised that my small cheap xylophone didn't have a wide enough range! I looked into buying a bigger instrument but all the prices were at least Â£200 or more. Anyway, I took the Grade 2 exam and had to skip sections of the tuned percussion pieces. Needless to say that I failed it miserably. Since then I've resigned myself to the fact that I can't afford a bigger instrument, so my tuned percussion playing will have to wait until I'm out of uni and have a full time job; another 4 years.
Don't your University Music or Education Departments own any tuned percussion instruments? If so, you may find that they would let you practise on them. If that is not possible, I suggest you learn piano, for two reasons:
1) Orchestral piano parts are often covered by members of the percussion section. (Less likely with a fiendish one like "Petroushka".)
2) To play both piano and tuned percussion to a high standard (kit too, I should think; can anyone comment on this?), you have to be able to find the notes without looking. This takes lots of practice, and I would expect what you learn by practising it on the piano to give you a start in acquiring the kinaesthetic judgment you will need for the percussion.