Mary Poppins pit percussion setup

The interesting thing about the percussion books for MTI’s Mary Poppins production is that book 1 is almost exclusively pitched percussion. Most of the auxiliary percussion is in book 2 with the drum set. So, while there are fewer instruments in this setup, it’s still about the same size since all the large instruments are here. The part even calls for marimba, although there isn’t one in my setup.
80% of the time I’m playing xylophone, bells, or vibes so I crammed those three as close together as possible to maximize line-of-sight with the bars, the music, and the director. I bought two new pieces of equipment for this rig, the washboard and the bass drum piatti mount. The mount came in handy since there are a few combined BD/cymbal moments for Mr. Banks.

Here’s me playing some of my favorite moments from the show:

Here’s my equipment list:
2 timpani (26″ & 29″)
Bass drum/piatti
15″ & 18″ suspended cymbals
Wind chimes
Tambourine (unmounted)
Bird whistle
We only had one bell tree, so Henry got it in the P2 setup.
Pro-mark Haas timpani mallets (general)
Mike Balter blue vibe mallets x3, brass bell mallets, aluminum bell mallets
Malletech BB34, OR42

I love the OR42r’s; they are so versatile. There are many quick switches between xylophone, bells, and crotales, and the old 42s sound great on all 3. I also recommend the aluminum Balters for a nice and light metallic sound on bells, crotales, or even the wind chimes.

About Chris Stroh

Seattle percussionist and music teacher. OAKE Executive Board member.
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