Glen Allman Posts

New Year’s Resolutions For The High School Percussionist

Welcome back to the Chops blog! We’re already a week into 2016, but I’d like to suggest some New Year’s resolutions for the high school percussionist.

As a young and developing percussionist, you’ve got lots of room for growth and improvement. However, it can be easy to follow bad advice or spend time on the wrong things. The following suggestions are applicable to all young percussionists:

Learn more percussion instruments

A well-rounded high school percussionist is equally comfortable on mallets, timpani, drums, and accessory instruments. If you are unfamiliar with any instrument used regularly in your band, address those weaknesses this year.

Don’t know where to start? You can easily find guidance by asking your band director or percussion instruction. Chances are they have some experience, or can help you find someone who does. If you’re serious about percussion, and learning new instruments, you’ll need to find a private teacher. Private lessons will help you grow as a musician faster than anything else

Improve your music reading skills

The ability to read music separates the truly excellent and mediocre musicians. A strong reader spends less time figuring out what to play, which allows them to focus on how to play. They look at a piece of music and quickly identify each symbol on the page, and instantly understand how to perform it. Weak readers must spend time deciphering the melodies, rhythms, symbols, and words on the page before they attempt to perform the music.

How do you get better at reading music? Do these simple things while practicing:

  1. Practice SLOWLY.
  2. Count out the rhythms.
  3. Use a metronome while practicing and counting.
  4. To improve rhythmic reading, practice basic rhythmic patterns, such as sixteenth note check patterns.
  5. To improve melodic reading, practice scales, both major and minor.

Listen to more music

Great percussionists and musicians listen to new music regularly. Thanks to the internet, discovering new music has never been easier. Simply google an artist and listen to their music through a streaming service, or on YouTube.

Practice more

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.

We’re already a week and a half into 2016, but you should make a late New Year’s Resolution to learn more percussion instruments, improve your reading skills, listen to more music, and practice more. The best percussionists and musicians have already made these four acts into habit. Join them, and you’ll have a productive 2016!

Gift Ideas – Part 3

Welcome back to the Chops blogs! Today we’re going to finish our series on holiday gifts by discussing some last minute ideas.

#1 – Sticks and mallets

As we’ve already discussed, drummers and percussionists can never have too many sticks or mallets. See our previous entry here. If you are purchasing a gift for a drummer, consider purchasing them several pairs of their favorite stick. If you are purchasing a gift for a percussionist, consider replacing mallets they use regularly, or expanding their collection with a type of mallet they need.

Again, be sure to know which brand and model your drummer or percussionist prefers before making a purchase.

#2 – Metronome

A metronome is a crucial tool for the rhythmic and time development of all drummers and percussionists. We carry many metronomes, ranging from the $31 Seiko DM50 to the $159 Boss Dr. Beat. We prefer the features and price of $69 Boss DB-60.

#3 – Accessories

All drummers and percussionists also need accessories!

For the drummer, consider drum keys, dampening products (MoonGel, etc.), replacement tension rods or cymbal felts, or cleaning products. For the percussionist, consider drum keys, replacement parts, or small instruments such as triangles or tambourines. For the marching drummer, consider stick tape, or stick bags.

If you’ve waited until the last minute to purchase gifts for a drummer or percussionist, don’t worry, they’re easy to purchase gifts for. Please contact us for advice or help finding a product.

Chops Percussion will be open the following hours this week:
Monday – Wednesday: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Thursday: 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Friday-Sunday: Closed

Gift Ideas – Part 2

Welcome back to the Chops blog! Today we’re going to continue our series on holiday gift ideas.

As you’re well aware, drums and percussion can be very loud. Fortunately, there are many products available that limit or reduce their volume during practice. For family, friends, and neighbors, these products are essential for maintaining sanity. Today we’re going to highlight some of our favorite volume-reducing practice tools.

#1 – Practice Pads

A practice pad is a device that replicates the feel and sound of a drum, but is much quieter. They make practice easy, quiet, and most importantly, bearable for others. Every drummer and percussionist should own a practice pad.

01-pads

Many styles of practice pads are available, but they normally fit into two categories: general use, and marching.

General use pads work well for concert, drumset, and marching use. They normally feature a gum rubber surface, but might include a plastic rim and real drum head. For more information on our favorite general use practice pads, please see our previous blog entry here.

If you are purchasing a practice pad for a student that participates in a marching activity, such as band or winter drumline, you should consider a marching pad. These pads feature playing surfaces that replicate the feel of a high tension marching drum. For more information, please see our previous comparison here.

Price:
General use pad – $18-35
Marching pad – $35-160

#2 – Practice Sticks and Tips

Practice sticks and tips are recent inventions that are similar to practice pads.

Practice sticks are normal drum sticks that have soft rubber tips. They allow the drummer or percussionist to practice quietly on any hard surface, such as a table, countertop, or the floor. Pictured here are the ProMark TXXB3 (Scott Johnson), Vic Firth Ralph Hardimon Chopout, Vic Firth MS5 Chopout, and 5B Chopout.

02-sticks 

You can also purchase practice tips, which can be used with any stick. Pictured here are the Vic Firth Practice Tips, Innovative Percussion Practice Tips, and B. Rad Percussion Uglytips.

03-tips

Before purchasing practice tips, be sure to know the type of stick on which they will be used. Most practice tips will not fit on marching sticks.

Price:
Practice sticks – $10-25
Practice tips – $5-10

#3 – Mutes

For the concert percussionist and drum set drummer, mutes are available for quiet practice. They are thin foam disks that set on top of drums and cymbals to limit their volume.

Mutes are available in sets and individually. The sets include a complete set of mutes for a drum set, including drums and cymbals. Pictured here are the Evans Soundoff mutes, and Vic Firth Vic Drum Mutes.

04-drum-mutes

Mute sets are available in several different sizes, so be sure to know the sizes you need before making a purchase.

Price:
Individual – $12
Set – $65-120

Like we discussed last time, giving a gift to a drummer or percussionist doesn’t have to be expensive. Practice pads, sticks, tips, and mutes will allow your drummer or percussionist to practice quietly for a modest price. Please contact us to purchase any of these items or help finding another gift!

Gift Ideas – Part 1

Welcome back to the Chops blogs! Today we’re going to begin a brief series on holiday gift ideas. With the holidays rapidly approaching it’s time to think about a gift for the percussionist or drummer in your life.

Today we’re going to look at some of our favorite accessories that are cheap and practical.

#1 – Sticks and mallets

Believe it or not, a drummer and percussionist can never have too many sticks or mallets!

As we’ve discussed here many times, every drummer and percussionist will have their own stick and mallet preferences, so ask them before making a purchase. Different brands often use the same or similar model names, so be sure to ask for a specific brand and model. For instance, while every drum stick manufacturer makes a “5A” model stick, your drummer might prefer brand X’s model over Y.

If you are purchasing mallets for a percussionist, consider expanding their collection. Consult our guides for the beginner and intermediate percussionist.

Price:
Drum sticks – $5-$20 per pair
Mallets – $10-$50 per pair

#2 – Drum keys

Drum keys are a crucial tool for drummers and percussionists, regardless of their experience or area of specialty. We carry many different models, including standard, ratcheting, and marching keys.

Pictured here are (left to right):
Pearl marching key
Gibraltar drill bit key
Ludwig ratcheting key
Pearl standard key

keys

Price: $2-$20

#3 – Stick or mallet bags

Every drummer and percussionist also needs a bag to carry their sticks and mallets. We carry bags that are small and simple, to bags with many pockets that can carry dozens of mallets.

Pictured here are (left to right):
Chops stick bag (small, for drummers and beginning percussionists)
Innovative Percussion mallet bag
Vic Firth stick bag and backpack combo (stick bag attaches to the backpack)

bags

Price: $10-$80

#4 – Drum heads

Just like drum sticks or mallets, every drummer and percussionist will appreciate new drum heads. Even the best, most durable head will eventually wear out and need replaced.

Unfamiliar with drum heads? Here are couple terms you should know:

Batter – top head, struck by the stick or mallet
Resonant – bottom head, not struck by the stick or mallet
Size – the diameter of the head, measured in inches (14”).

Like we discussed with drum sticks and mallets, be sure to know the specific brand, model, and size of drum head. If you are unsure of the size of the drum, measure it with a tape measure, or bring it with you to the store.

Price: $15-50 per head

Giving a gift to a drummer or percussionist doesn’t have to be expensive! Drum sticks, mallets, drum keys, bags, and heads are important, but inexpensive items that every drummer and percussionist will appreciate. Please contact us to purchase any of these items or help finding another gift!

Bands Of America 2015

Welcome back to the Chops blog!

Over the weekend marching bands from across the nation gathered at Lucas Oil Stadium to participate in Music For All’s Bands of America Grand National Championships.

Lucas-Oil-Stadium

On Wednesday evening the competition began with the Indianapolis Marching Band Tournament. The following schools from across the city participated:

Arlington Community H.S.
John Marshall Community H.S.
Northwest Community H.S.
Crispus Attacks Community H.S.
Broad Ripple Magnet H.S.
Shortridge H.S.
Emmerich Manual
George Washington Community H.S.
Key Learning Community H.S.
Arsenal Technical H.S.

The Marian University Marching band also performed the national anthem, and closed the evening with an exhibition performance.

The championship competition began on Thursday morning and continued through Saturday evening. Indiana was well represented with the following schools participating, in order of Prelims performance:

Monrovia H.S.
Homestead H.S.
Southwestern H.S.
New Palestine H.S.
Avon H.S.
Ben Davis H.S.
Carmel H.S.
Triton Central H.S.
Lawrence Township H.S.
Center Grove H.S.
Lake Central H.S.
Goshen H.S.

Congratulations to the following bands who made Semi-Finals:
Ben Davis H.S.
Lawrence Township H.S.
Homestead H.S.
Center Grove H.S.
Lake Central H.S.
Avon H.S.
Carmel H.S.
Goshen H.S.

Congratulations the following bands who made Grand National Finals:
Avon H.S. (2nd)
Carmel H.S. (5th)
Homestead H.S. (12th)

For full results, please visit www.musicforall.org.

We’d like to congratulate all the schools that participated. We enjoyed your performances and look forward to seeing you again next year! Enjoy some well-deserved time off!