Glen Allman Posts

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.


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

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!

What Mallets Does My Student Need? – Intermediate

Welcome back to the Chops blog series on mallet FAQs (frequently asked questions). Last month we addressed the mallet needs of the beginning band and orchestra student. Today we’re going to discuss the needs of the intermediate student.

After several years in band or orchestra your student will need to expand their mallet collection as the music they perform requires an expanded selection of instruments. While your student will be able to continue using the mallets they already have, many of these new instruments, such as marimba, vibraphone, timpani, and accessory instruments, will require unique mallets.

For both marimba and vibraphone, the intermediate student can normally get by with one pair of mallets for each instrument. We recommend a “medium” mallet that will work well in most situations. Both styles of mallets can also be used on suspended cymbals.

Our favorite “medium” marimba mallets include:
Innovative Percussion – IP240, Soloist series
Mike Balter – 13B or 13R (B indicates birch shaft, R indicates rattan shaft)
Pro-Mark –DFP730, Dan Fyffe marimba series
Vic Firth – M171, Multi-Application series

Those mallets are pictured here.


Our favorite “medium” vibraphone mallets include:
Innovative Percussion – RS251, Rattan series
Mike Balter – 23R or 23B (R indicates rattan shaft, B indicates birch shaft)
Pro-Mark – DFP920, Dan Fyffe marimba series
Vic Firth – M187, Multi-Application series

Those mallets are pictured here.


To understand the differences between marimba and vibraphone mallets, please read our previous article here.

The intermediate student will also start learning timpani. For an experienced student learning timpani for the first time, a “general” mallet will satisfy most requirements. This style mallet will not be too hard or soft, and will allow the student to perform most music reasonably well.

Our favorite “general” timpani mallets include:
Innovative Percussion – GT3
Mike Balter – T3
Pro-Mark – JH5
Vic Firth – T1

Those mallets are pictured here.


As we’ve said many times, mallet and stick choices are a matter of personal choice, and every student will have a different brand and model preference. Also, be sure to consult with the student’s director, percussion instructor, or private teacher before making a purchase. Please contact us for our recommendations or assistance finding mallets.

As your student progress from an intermediate to advanced percussionist, their mallet collection should continue to grow. Stay tuned, next time we’ll be discussing the mallets an advanced percussionist should own.

What Do You Know About Glenn Kotche?

Welcome back to the Chops blog!

Chops Percussion is proud to be the presenting sponsor for the Indiana Percussion Association. IPA recently announced their annual clinic day, which will take place at Franklin Community High School on December 12th. This annual event includes the IPA Individual and Ensemble contest, organizational meetings, and performances by clinicians. Check it out the details here and make plans to attend!

Amongst this year’s exciting lineup of clinicians is Glenn Kotche, internationally renowned percussionist and composer. As a solo artist and member of Wilco, Kotche is regarded as one of the most creative drummers thanks to his percussion-centric approach to drum set. If you don’t attend the IPA clinic for any other reason than to see his presentation, it will be well worth your time.


Kotche’s creativity has its roots in his education. He began percussion as a student, and continued his studies under Professor Jim Campbell at the University of Kentucky. He also spent a summers in the late eighties as a member of The Cavaliers.

While studying percussion, Kotche also dedicated himself to learning drum set. Rather than approach the drum set like a separate discipline, he found creative ways to enlist the techniques and knowledge he already knew. He discusses this approach in the following video, recorded in Indianapolis at PASIC 2013.

In 2001 Kotche joined Wilco, the critically-acclaimed neo-country, experimental-pop band prior to the release of their album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. His influence is immediately apparent throughout the album, with solid, creative drumming and percussion overdubs. The album opens with “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”, a nonsensical love song surrounded by a cacophony of sound.

Wilco has released five albums since then, including the Grammy-winning A Ghost is Born.

Kotche is also a prolific composer, and has written works for groups such as Kronos Quartet, So Percussion, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Sonic experimentation, and the drum set as a percussion instrument, are central his works, just like his contributions to Wilco.

Glenn Kotche is an innovative musician and composer. Few have successfully merged percussion, drum set, rock and roll, and art music so seamlessly. When he performs at the IPA clinic on December 12th, you won’t want to miss it!

Glenn Kotche recommended listening:

Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Wilco, A Ghost is Born
Wilco, The Whole Love
Glenn Kotche, Mobile
Glenn Kotche, Adventureland
On Fillmore, Extended Vacation
John Luther Fillmore, Ilimaq

Drum Corps and Winter Drumline Audition Tips

Welcome back to the Chops blog! A couple of weeks ago Jeff wrote a great guide to the WGI independent drumlines in the area. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out here. Today I’d like to continue on the subject of drumlines by providing a few tips for auditioning.

In my younger days I spent lots of years marching with several drum corps and winter drumlines. Having successfully, and unsuccessfully auditioned for a number of groups, I’d like to offer the following advice:

1. Have reasonable expectations.

It’s critical that you enter an audition with reasonable expectations. While the world class corps and drumlines are the most impressive, only the best and most experienced candidates will make the cut. In other words, audition for a group that you have a reasonable chance of joining.

If you’re still young, and have a limited amount of experience, you should consider auditioning for an “open”, or “A” class group. Membership in these groups is typically not as competitive, and will help a young student develop crucial skills and gain experience. Many members of the best marching organizations have many years of experience, including seasons spent with scholastic, “A”, and “open” class groups.

The first group I auditioned for as a high school student was a “Division I” (now known as “World” class) drum corps. When I didn’t make the cut, I successfully auditioned for a “Division III” (now known as “Open” class) corps. After marching for two seasons with this smaller, younger corps, I was ready to march in a “Division I” corps and “World” class winter drumline.

2. Have a plan.

After you decided on a group, start planning your audition. Obtain the audition materials, figure out your schedule, and make arrangements to attend the audition. The more time you give yourself to prepare, the better chance you have of making the cut.

3. Be prepared.

This is as simple as knowing the audition material perfectly, from memory. The better prepared you are, the better chance you have of making the cut.

In addition to learning the audition material, be sure to study the group and their playing style. Watch video of their latest performances to study the details of how, and what they’re playing.

4. Be flexible.

Be prepared for the audition to include some kind of surprise. It might include learning a new exercise or show music, or a different way of playing the material you already prepared. The staff will throw you some sort of curveball to see how you handle stress, adapt to stress, and how quickly you can learn.

5. Be friendly.

In addition to your playing and marching ability, you will also be evaluated on your social skills. Drum corps and winter drumline seasons are long, and can be stressful, so your ability to get along with others is crucial. Don’t let the competitive nature of an audition affect you negatively: be friendly to everyone, including the other audition candidates.

6. Don’t miss a learning opportunity.

Regardless of whether you make the cut or not, don’t miss the opportunity to learn. Keep your eyes and ears open. The staff and veteran members are experts at marching music, and great examples of what you should emulate.

Many world class groups also offer the ability to attend and participate in auditions without being considered for membership. If you’re young and inexperienced, this is a great way to learn and prepare yourself to audition in the future.

7. Take any opportunity you’re offered.

While it’s disappointing when you’re not offered a spot or membership with your instrument of choice, don’t decline the opportunity to join the group in another role. For instance, if you are offered a spot in the pit even though you auditioned for snare drum, take it! Don’t decline an opportunity to perform and gain experience just because you’re disappointed. The experience and skills you gain will still benefit you, and prepare you to audition for snare in the future.

With this advice in mind, you should be ready to audition for a winter drumline or drum corps. Remember, there’s no shame in failing! Prepare well, be confident, and chances are you will eventually make that group you admire.

Get to work, auditions are rapidly approaching!

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.