General Posts

The Music For All National Festival Is This Week In Indianapolis

Music For All National Festival
March 10-12, 2016
Indianapolis, IN

There’s a fantastic opportunity to hear some great concert bands and percussion ensembles from all over the country this week, but we find many people don’t even know its happening right here in our backyard!  It’s the Music For All National Festival, featuring high school percussion ensembles, concert bands and orchestras from across the US.  The festival also includes a middle school concert band festival, along with Honor Ensembles for concert band, jazz band, and orchestra.  This is a non-competitive festival, meaning its all about just creating and listening to great music, created by some of the best high school and middle school music programs in the nation.

Here’s a general schedule for the event:

Thursday, March 10
National Concert Band Festival 5:00pm-9:00pm
Friday, March 11
National Concert Band Festival 8:00am-6:00pm
National Percussion Festival 9:00am-5:30pm
Chamber Music National Festival 9:00am-3:30pm
Honor Orchestra with the ISO 7:00pm (Hilbert Circle Theatre)
Honor Jazz Band of America 8:30pm (Clowes Hall)
Saturday, March 12
National Concert Band Festival 8:00am-2:00pm
National Percussion Festival 8:30am-12:30pm
Middle School Concert Band Festival 8:30am-12:30pm
Honor Orchestra of America 8:00pm (Hilbert Circle Theatre)
Honor Band of America 8:00pm (Clowes Hall)

If you’re taking in some of the festival, be sure to support our Indiana ensembles performing at the times and locations below:

Carmel High School Wind Symphony – Michael Pote, Director
Friday, March 11
Clowes Memorial Hall, Butler University

Franklin Central High School Wind Ensemble – Audrey Torres, Director
Friday, March 11
Schrott Center for the Performing Arts, Butler University

For full details and ticket info, visit the Music for All National Festival website.

Danny Carey’s solo on ‘Forty Six & 2’

Welcome back to the Chops Blog! Here at Chops we love a good drum solo, and today we’re going to take a closer look at a classic.

In 1996 Tool released their classic album Aenima. The aggressive and conceptually innovative music was the perfect showcase for drummer Danny Carey. His powerful, but cerebral drumming helped him quickly become one of the most respected drummers to emerge in the 1990s.


One of the radio signals from the album was the brooding “Forty Six & 2”. In the bridge, which is primarily in seven, Carey plays a powerful solo. It is a perfect showcase of his and his bandmate’s rhythmic prowess. Check out the pdf HERE , and listen to the solo with the tempo reduced by one third HERE.

Take time to study the music, and listen to the reduced version many times. Then practice the solo by breaking it down into small pieces. After you are comfortable performing it slowly, gradually speed it up until you can perform it at the original tempo.

Get to work, it isn’t easy!

Protect Your Ears This Indoor Season

Note: We posted this about this time last year, but thought it was important enough to bring up again.  Make sure you’re protecting your ears whenever you play music live, and that goes double for indoor season.

Have you ever gone to bed at night after your indoor percussion rehearsal and had an incessant ringing in your ears? If you have, that is your body telling you that you’ve done some damage to your hearing. Please know that hearing loss is irreversible, so you need to start protecting your ears NOW! How, you ask? There are a couple of great ways to do so.

  • Earplugs – These should be essential to your playing and performing. Many of the percussion instruments used in an indoor show are played at a high volume for long periods of time, so you need to be protecting your ears. Do yourself a favor and start using earplugs now. Tell yourself that ear protection is just as essential as the sticks and mallets you use to play. If you’re a cymbal player and execute many loud crashes at ear level, this advice applies to you as well.
  • Headphones – Not so great if you’re trying to make a fashion statement while playing, but hearing is way more important than looking cool! These are great if you have hypersensitive ears and they allow you to hear the music you’re playing while cutting out all of the dangerous frequencies. A great option if earplugs are uncomfortable for you to wear.


A gym is a very tough listening environment for percussionists, so hearing protection not only safeguards your hearing, but it may allow you to hear more of what you need (the music that you and your group perform) and less of what you don’t (the unwanted high frequencies associated with loud music).

You can buy your earplugs here:
Feel free to e-mail us at or call 877-900-DRUM if you have more specific questions regarding hearing protection.

You only get one good set of ears in your life, so take care of them!!!

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Five Ways To Play Like Dave Grohl

The following originally appeared at (hyperlink here)


Here at Chops Percussion we’re big fans of Dave Grohl. Ever since emerging as the hard-hitting drummer of Nirvana, Grohl has been at the forefront of music. Even though he’s known today as the guitarist and leader of the Foo Fighters, he’s still an outstanding drummer and has played with many artists including Queens of The Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, and Tenacious D.

In honor of Dave’s birthday last week we put together a quick lesson on five ways to emulate his playing. Check out the PDF here.

Check out the lesson then listen to the artists and albums we recommended on the PDF, we guarantee you’ll enjoy it!

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!