Roland RMP-12 PhotoAbout five years ago Roland began producing a product known as the RMP-1, an electronic percussion practice pad that had a built in rhythm training function. Today, Roland is distributing the RMP-12, a much more advanced and larger form of the RMP-3 with many added features that are of great interest to those that play in marching bands. The RMP-12 is still a great way to practice rhythmic skills, but it also offers a multitude of percussion sounds that are very realistic and useful both on and off the field.

Physical and Audible Improvements Of The RMP-12

The first thing that separates the RMP-12 from its predecessors is the size and layout of the pad. In previous models the controls were placed at the top of the pad and the pad was about the size of a standard practice pad. In the RMP-12 the head looks and feels like a real drum head and measures twelve inches across. In addition to the larger head the rim is also a playable area and when struck it triggers a different sound than the head. Each of these playing areas can be set to any voice the user chooses, and the user is able to select from hundreds of percussion and special effects voices. A set of four quick select buttons allows the player to instantly switch between different sound setups.

Perhaps what makes the RMP-12 most revolutionary is that it is designed to be an actual marching instrument. The unit attaches to a standard marching snare drum harness (using separately purchased hardware) and can be connected to an amplification system either through a standard audio cable or by connecting a wireless transmitter. The unit can be powered by six double A batteries for outdoor use but in testing the unit seems to go through batteries quite quickly. Users will probably want to invest in rechargeable batteries and/or an AC/DC adaptor to power the unit while indoors.

Built For Use On and Off The Field

This instrument is obviously a result of organizations such as Drum Corps International beginning to allow the use of electronic instruments and amplification on the field. One can only imagine the flexibility and opportunities that an entire drum line fitted with RMP-12 Rhythm Coaches could offer to an ensemble. A music director could also easily use the RMP-12 as a realistic sounding substitute for almost any percussion instrument that the ensemble does not have available.

While not appropriate for every situation, the RMP-12 is a very useful and realistic feeling electronic drum. Although best suited for high school and collegiate percussion programs, even younger students enjoy practicing with the RMP-12, and the various Rhythm Coach programs help the students develop steady tempo skills that are so vital to the success of any ensemble. The RMP-12 retails for around $600 per unit but school prices are likely much less. Check the Roland RMP-12 page for more information.

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