September 2015 Posts

2015 WGI Independent Percussion Auditions

Welcome back to the Chops blog.  Audition season for indoor percussion is upon us and many of you may be considering marching in an Independent percussion ensemble this winter.  Indoor percussion, although a relatively young activity, has become very popular, both locally and nationally, over the past 10-15 years.  Over this time, many “Independent” ensembles have been started to give percussionists the opportunity to continue performing after they graduate from high school.  It also gives those whose high schools do not have a performing ensemble, an opportunity to join and experience the thrill of performing in an indoor percussion ensemble.  For those of you not familiar with this, there are “Scholastic” and “Independent” classifications in indoor percussion.   Here is the class description from the WGI website:
Scholastic – units whose membership comes from the SAME High School or a school that feeds to that particular High School.
Independent – units whose members are not necessarily associated with a particular school.
Scholastic and Independent units are then further divided into classes:

  • A Class – Beginning programs and performers.
  • Open Class – The intermediate developmental level of performers.
  • World Class – The most advanced programs and performers.

Here also is a link to the WGI 2016 Eligibility Rules:

For performers in and around Indiana, there are a couple ensembles based out of Indiana that you might want to check out, with Legacy Indoor Percussion from Indianapolis, in Independent World Class, and INov8 Percussion from southern Indiana, in Independent Open Class.  But, there are many other ensembles within driving distance that may have spots available for the upcoming season.  It’s best to keep your options open and don’t limit yourself to just one group you’d like to march with.  If you marched in high school, and miss the rush of performing, get out there and audition for some of these groups and find your place to perform again.  You won’t regret it!

Here’s our list of recommended ensembles, with a distance guide to help you find one, two or three places to audition.  We’ve listed them with their home distance from Indianapolis, with approximate mileage and time of travel.  If you’re in northern or southern Indiana, look up some of the ensembles from surrounding states. You might be a lot closer to one than you think!

Recommended Percussion Independent World Ensembles:
Legacy Indoor Percussion (PIW), Indianapolis, IN
Capital City Percussion (PIW), Columbus, OH – 175mi/~2.75hr
Cavaliers Indoor Percussion (PIW), Rosemont, IL – 200mi/~3hr
Tates Creek Indoor (PIW), Lexington, KY – 193mi/~3hr
Gateway Indoor (PIW), St. Louis, MO – 240mi/~3.5hr
Redline (PIW), Canton, MI – 274mi/~4hr
Music City Mystique (PIW), Nashville, TN – 288mi/~4.25hr
Matrix (PIW), Akron, OH – 300mi/~4.5hr
Northcoast Academy (PIW), Saginaw, MI – 328mi/~4.75hr

Recommended Percussion Independent Open Ensembles:
INov8 Percussion (PIO), Floyds Knobs, IN – 115mi/~1.75hr
Matrix Open Percussion (PIO), Columbus, OH – 175mi/~2.75hr
Pioneer Indoor (PIO), Romeoville, IL – 195mi/~3hr
Legends (PIO), Kalamazoo, MI – 244mi/~3.5hr
Freedom Percussion (PIO), St. Louis, MO – 240mi/~3.5hr
Motor City Percussion (PIO), Livonia, MI – 287mi/~4hr
Eastside Fury (PIO), Harrison Township, MI – 310mi/~4.75hr

Percussion Independent A Ensembles:
Shockwave (PIA), Findlay, OH – 200mi/~3hr
Modulation Z (PIA), O Fallon, MO – 240mi/~3.75hr
Lake Effect Percussion (PIA), Gibraltar, MI – 266mi/~4hr
Ferndale Independent Percussion (PIA), Ferndale, MI –297mi/~4.5hr

For more information on ensembles, audition dates, schedues and more visit the WGI website.

If you go to an audition, let us know on our Facebook page! If you wear a Chops Percussion shirt, be sure to post a pic to our Facebook or Twitter page!

What Mallets Does My Student Need? Beginners – FAQs

Welcome back to the Chops blog series on mallet FAQs (frequently asked questions). Today we’re going to answer one of the most common questions we receive: what mallets does my beginning band student need?

When your student enrolls in band as a percussionist, their director will have a requirement for the sticks and mallets they will need. These requirements normally include synthetic mallets for bells and xylophone, drum sticks and a stick bag. They may also include yarn mallets for marimba and vibraphone.

Mallets for bells (also known as glockenspiel) have a birch or rattan shaft and a synthetic head, usually made of plastic or rubber. For beginners, birch shaft mallets would be recommended. Many brands and models are available, but we recommend the following choices. These are also the standard mallets available in beginner stick/mallet prepacks.

Plastic and Rubber Models for Bells and Xylophone:
• Vic Firth M14 (plastic), M5 (rubber)
• Innovative Percussion F12 (plastic), F8 (rubber)
• Mike Balter BB11 (plastic), BB8 (rubber)
• Pro-Mark DFP640 (plastic), DFP230 (rubber)


Mallets for marimba and vibraphone have a birch or rattan shaft and a yarn or cord head. In addition to the marimba and vibraphone, these mallets can be used on other instruments such as suspended cymbals. Again, many brands and models are available, but we recommend the following yarn models for beginners.

Yarn Models for Marimba and Vibes:
• Vic Firth M2, M3
• Innovative Percussion F1.5, F2
• Mike Balter BB2, BB22
• Pro-Mark DFP730


In addition to mallets, your student’s director will require a set of drum sticks. Our most popular choices for beginners include:

• Innovative Percussion Lalo Davilla
• Vic Firth SD1
• Pro-Mark SD1

Those models are pictured here.


Mallet and stick choices are a matter of personal choice, and every director will have a different brand and model preference. Always check with them first before making a purchase. Please contact us for our recommendations or assistance finding mallets.

As your student progresses from a beginner to an intermediate and advanced percussionist their mallet collection should grow as well. Stay tuned, next time we’ll be discussing the mallets an intermediate percussionist should have.

September News at Chops

If you aren’t signed up for our Chops Transmission emails, you may be missing out on the most update happenings around the store.  Below is the September edition of the transmission.  If you don’t receive our emails, you can sign up here!

Demo Gear/Clearance Items – September Updates

Demo Gear at Chops Percusssion

September brings a couple of new items to the list, as well as a couple of items with lower prices. There are some fantastic deals on this list. Make sure you check it out ASAP. First-come, first-served!

View the entire list on our website.

Marching Season Is Here

ISSMA State Marching Finals


Fall is here and it’s already week 2 of marching season! Head on over to to see results from last week and to pick out which show you’re going to see this week!


College Marching Band Preview

College Marching Preview

If you are a fan of the marching arts, it’s hard to beat Indiana. Between drum corps during the summer, marching band in the fall, and winter guard and percussion during the winter and spring, there’s rarely a break between marching seasons. However, it’s easy to forget that there are many great college marching bands in the state. Read more >>

Read the entire article on our blog.

Kenny Aronoff In Indy at the JCC

Kenny Aronoff in Indy

There will be 2 opportunities to see a legend at the Jewish Community Center here in Indy. On Wednesday , October 28th, Kenny Aronoff will be performing a master class from 4-5pm and appearing that evening as a speaker in a session about his career at 7:30pm.

Head on over to the JCC website for more information.

College Marching Band Preview

Welcome back to the Chops blog! Today we’d like to take the chance to preview the new college football season and several of our local collegiate marching bands.

If you are a fan of the marching arts, it’s hard to beat Indiana. Between drum corps during the summer, marching band in the fall, and winter guard and percussion during the winter and spring, there’s rarely a break between marching seasons. However, it’s easy to forget that there are many great college marching bands in the state.

Butler, Purdue, Indiana, Indiana State, and Marian University are all located in, or within a short drive from Indianapolis, and have excellent marching bands. These bands will perform before, during, and after their school’s home football games throughout the fall and winter. For the relatively inexpensive price of a ticket you can see an exciting college football game and performances from the band.  Be sure to get there early for some tailgating, as most of the bands will perform outside the stadium before everyone heads inside!

The Butler University Marching Band will perform five times this fall at upcoming games.
9/12 – vs. Franklin (Band Day)
9/26 – vs. Campbell (Homecoming)
10/17 – vs. Davidson
11/7 – vs. Valparaiso
11/14 – vs. Drake
More information can be found at

The Indiana State University Marching Sycamores will perform six times this fall at upcoming games.
9/5 – vs. Butler
9/19 – vs. Southeast Missouri
10/17 – vs. Southern Illinois (Homecoming)
10/24 – vs. North Dakota State
11/14 – vs. Western Illinois
11/21 – vs. Youngstown State
More information can be found at


The Indiana University Marching Hundred will perform eight times at IU games this fall.
9/12 – vs. Florida International
9/19 – vs. Western Kentucky (Band Day)
10/3 – vs. Ohio State
10/17 – vs. Rutgers
10/24 – at Michigan State
11/7 – vs. Iowa
11/14 – vs. Michigan
11/28 – at Purdue (Old Oaken Bucket)
More information can be found at


The Marian University Marching Band will perform five times this fall at upcoming games, along with many exhibition performances at local marching band shows.
9/12 – vs. University of Indianapolis
9/26 – vs. Missouri Baptist (Homecoming)
10/3 – vs. University of St. Francis, Indiana
11/7 – vs. University of St. Francis, Illinois
11/14 – vs. Siena Heights University
More information can be found at


The famous Purdue “All-American” Marching Band will perform at eight upcoming games this fall.
9/12 – vs. Indiana State (Band Day)
9/19 – vs. Virginia Tech
9/26 – vs. Bowling Green
10/10 – vs. Minnesota
10/31 – vs. Nebraska
11/7 – vs. Illinois (Homecoming)
11/14 – at Northwestern
11/28 – vs. Indiana (Old Oaken Bucket)
More information can be found at

Not sure which game to attend? We’d recommend the classic Indiana-Purdue rivalry game, the Old Oaken Bucket. Both school’s bands will be in attendance, and the in-state rivalry is an atmosphere you have to experience.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see an exciting football game and marching band performance this fall!

Opinion: Are Drum Covers Beneficial?


Welcome back to the Chops blog! Today I’d like to address a topic that I feel has needed attention for some time: drum covers.

Over the past five to six years a type of video called a “drum cover” has become popular on the internet, especially on YouTube. If you’re not familiar, a drum cover is a video of a drummer playing along to a prerecorded track. However, rather than playing an authentic, straight-forward version of the track, the drummer plays their own version of the song. This often involves unique beats, fills, and solos. There are many drum cover videos available on YouTube that showcase some incredibly creative and technical playing.

Despite their prevalence, and the impressive musicianship often on display, drum covers are often a negative influence on young or otherwise impressionable drummers. When a naïve musician watches a drum cover, they are easily impressed by the complex techniques on display. They then think that these things are important, and should be emulated in their own playing. This idea is then reinforced by the number of times the video has been viewed.

Unfortunately, drum covers are unrealistic and impractical for drummers in the real world. For every YouTube drummer that uploads an exciting drum cover, there are thousands of drummers and percussionists that survive as professional musicians and hobbyists without the flashy skills needed for their own video. These musicians are successful because they understand a few fundamental truths that you may not find in a drum covers:

  1. Drummers and percussionists play a supporting role approximately 99% of the time.
  2. In the real world, drum solos are rare. If you are given the opportunity to play a solo it will probably occur in the context of a song. Instead of spending time developing your chops for an “open” solo, learn how to solo over a vamp, or trade fours and eights.
  3. Simple is always better, and more effective than complex. The flashy licks and beats from the drum cover will not work when you play with other musicians. In other words, play the song.

Instead of watching drum covers, try these few tips instead. First, listen to, watch, and study great drummers. A five-minute video of Steve Gadd will teach you more than any drum cover ever can. Second, get out and play with other humans. Listen to what they’re playing, and match it as simply as you can.  Third, find a great teacher who can explain and demonstrate what it means to be a great musician, not just a drummer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that drum covers have no purpose or value. What you need to understand about drum covers, however, is that they’re just for entertainment and self promotion. They have little to no value in the real world.