March 2015 Posts

Opinion: History Matters

Neil-PeartAt the Indiana Percussion Association State Finals several weeks ago I held a simple trivia contest. Brave volunteers that visited the Allman Drums booth were asked to draw the name of a band or musician from a drum. If they could name a drummer for the group they received a piece of candy. It was for fun, but I hoped it would encourage young percussionists to know history.

A crucial part of the development of young percussionists and drummers is a knowledge and respect for history. The music you play today is built upon decades and centuries of previous musicians. For instance, Neal Peart, legendary drummer for Rush, was influenced by Keith Moon of The Who. Keith Moon’s flamboyant style was inspired by the showmanship of big band drummers Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. Krupa and Rich were both innovators in the relatively new style of jazz, and drew upon the early work of Warren ‘Baby’ Dodds and Zutty Singleton. Considering this context, it’s easy to see the roots of Peart’s creativity, technical mastery, and showmanship.

Steve Houghton, Professor of Music (Percussion and Jazz) at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, has a quote on the door to his office that demonstrates the importance of history. Tony Williams, legendary jazz drummer once said:

“When I was a kid, for about two years I played like Max Roach. Max is my favorite drummer. Art Blakey was my first drum idol, but Max was the biggest. So I would buy every record I could with Max on it and then I would play exactly what was on the record, solos and everything. I also did that with Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Roy Haynes, and all of the drummers I admired. I would even tune my drums just like they were on the record.

People try to get into drums today, and after a year, they’re working on their own style. You must first spend a long time doing everything that the great drummers do. Then you can understand what it means. Not only do you learn how to play something, but you also learn why it was played. That’s the value of playing like someone. You can’t just learn a lick; you’ve got to learn where it came from, what caused the drummer to play that way, and a number of things. Drumming is like an evolutionary pattern.”

Mr. Williams was correct: great musicians respect, understand, and study the history of music. Take time to listen to music, both live and recorded, and be sure to read about it!

About the Author
Glen Allman works part-time at Chops Percussion, mostly on Saturdays. He also builds and restores drums. You can learn more about Allman Drums at

Indiana Percussion Association 2015 State Finals

Chops Percussion was proud to once again be the presenting sponsor of the Indiana Percussion Association.  We would like to congratulate the students, staff and parents of all the participating schools on another exciting year of great performances.  It’s amazing what these young musicians are able to achieve, and the talent level seems to increase every year.  Congratulations to everyone involved with performing and constructing these shows, along with all the support staff who made it possible for the students and staff to do what they do!


State Championship Medalist Results

Concert Classes
Scholastic Concert A (PSCA) – Basic Level

  1. Pike Central
  2. Fairfield
  3. Twin Lakes

Scholastic Concert Open (PSCO) – Intermediate Level

  1. New Castle “Open”
  2. Castle
  3. Pendleton Heights

Scholastic Concert World (PSCW) – Advanced Level

  1. Goshen
  2. Fishers
  3. Lake Central

Marching Classes
Scholastic A (PSA) – Basic Level

  1. Zionsville
  2. Avon “A”
  3. Decatur Central

Independent A (PIA) – Basic Level

  1. Cloverdale-Monrovia Independent

Scholastic Open (PSO) – Intermediate Level

  1. Franklin Central
  2. Lawrence Township
  3. Plainfield

Scholastic World (PSW) – Advanced Level

  1. Avon “World”
  2. Center Grove
  3. Goshen


For a complete list of results, please visit

Snare Drum Maintenance Part 2 – Choosing Replacement Snares

Welcome back to our series on snare drum maintenance. In the previous post we discussed snares and how to tell when they should be replaced. Today we’ll address how to choose an appropriate replacement for worn snares.

The most important criteria when replacing snares is the number of strands, or individual wires in the set. As the number of strands in a snare increases, so does the response and sensitivity of the drum. If you are unhappy with your current snares count the number of strands and select a replacement accordingly. Increasing or reducing the number of snares on your drum is one of the easiest ways to change its sound and character.  

You should also select a set based on the depth of your drum. Deeper drums require more strands, while shallow drums require less. For instance, this piccolo snare is four inches deep and has a snare with sixteen strands.

This snare drum is six and half inches deep and has Puresound Percussion Custom Pro snares. They include twenty strands and a clever cotter pin design that allows the snares to be removed quickly to change heads.

We have many different snare choices available, including Puresound Percussion, Cannon Percussion, and Gibraltar.

Stop by or give us a call for help finding replacement snares! All of our contact information is right here.

Snare Drum Maintenance Part 1 – Snare Wires

Welcome to part one of our series on snare drum maintenance. In this series we’ll be discussing the common maintenance and upkeep that should be done to care for concert and drum set snares.

We’ll begin by discussing one of the most frequently overlooked aspects of snare drums: the snare wires. Much like drum heads, snare wires have a significant influence on the sound and performance of a drum, but unfortunately, they are often neglected.

How do you know when wires are worn and need replaced? There are two easy ways to spot a bad set of snare wires.

First, look for damage, including broken or warped strands. Individual strands that are not straight have more room to move and will vibrate longer than desired. The wires of this snare are warped, and caused excessive buzz.

Worn snare wires.

Compare that with the wires of this snare, which are straight and undamaged.

Good snare wires.

If you have one or two strands that are warped you can easily remove them with a pair of pliers. If more than two strands are damaged it is probably time to replace the wires.

Second, listen for excessive buzz and sympathetic vibration. If your snares ring too much look for damaged and worn wires.

Fortunately, there are many choices for replacement snare wires. We will cover some of our favorite options, how to choose appropriate wires, and how to set up snare wires in an upcoming feature.

Stay tuned!

Ten Chances To See Great Music and Drummers in Indianapolis


1. Gov’t Mule with John Scofield, February 28th, The Egyptian Room at the Murat Theatre.

Drummer: Matt Abts

Gov’t Mule will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their eponymous, debut release with guitarist John Scofield on February 28th at The Egyptian Room at the Murat Theatre. Drummer Matt Abts

2. Sarah McLachlan, March 10th, Murat Theatre.

Drummer: Kurt Bisquera

Although often associated with depressing commercials for animal rights organizations, there’s much more to McLachlan. The Canadian pop singer and Lilith Fair cofounder will revisit many of her hits when she visits the Murat Theatre on March 10th. She will be backed by veteran session drummer Kurt Bisquera.

3. Farrelly Markiewicz Quartet, March 14th, The Jazz Kitchen.

Drummer: Gene Markiewicz

Our good friend, and Indianapolis Jazz Foundation Hall of Famer, Gene Markiewicz will appear with the Farrelly Markiewicz Quartet at the Jazz Kitchen on March 14th to pay tribute to Michael Brecker.

4. Stewart Copeland, March 27th, Clowes Hall.

The well-known drummer for The Police will visit Indianapolis with pianist Jon Kimura to perform chamber music. Their program will include Copeland’s original compositions and Parker’s adaptation of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”.

5. The Wayne Shorter Quarter, March 21st, The Palladium.

Drummer: Brian Blade

Legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter will appear in Carmel with his quarter on March 21st. He will be backed by Brian Blade, a versatile jazz drummer who has worked with artists as diverse as Chick Corea, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joshua Redman, and Norah Jones.

6. Primus and The Chocolate Factory, April 12th, The Murat Theatre.

Drummer: Tim Alexander

Primus will return to Indianapolis on April 12th to perform their rendition of the soundtrack to “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory” with backing from The Fungi Ensemble. Joining them will be original Primus drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander, who recently survived a heart attack.

7. Billy Cobham, April 17th, The Jazz Kitchen.

Legendary jazz drummer Billy Cobham is remembered as the first drummer of Mahavishnu Orchestra and for his extensive solo career. When he performs at the Jazz Kitchen on April 17th he will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Spectrum, his classic solo album.

8. Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, April 18th, The Palladium.

When jazz legends Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea visit Carmel on April 18th neither will play drums or percussion, but that’s no reason to miss them. Both debuted with Miles Davis in the late 1960s and early 1970s and have remained at the forefront of music ever since.

9. Wilco, May 7th, Murat Theatre.

Drummer: Glenn Kotche

Since joining Wilco before their 2002 release Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Glenn Kotche has become an integral part of the Chicago based band. Part drummer, part percussionist, Kotche’s creativity is unparalleled.

10. Funkadelic, May 14th, The Vogue.

Funkadelic, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer George Clinton’s band, will visit Indianapolis to promote their 2014 release First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate. Expect all the psychedelic funkiness you can handle. The show is 21+ only.

About the Author
Glen Allman works part-time at Chops Percussion, mostly on Saturdays. He also builds and restores drums. You can learn more about Allman Drums at