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.

Mallet FAQs – Marimba VS Vibraphone

Welcome back to the Chops blog! Today we’re going to continue our series on mallet-related frequently asked questions (FAQ) by explaining the difference between marimba and vibraphone mallets. While they are very similar in appearance, and can sometimes be used for the same purpose, there are significant differences in marimba and vibraphone mallets.

The differences between marimba and vibraphone mallets begin with the materials used in their construction. The head of both style mallets contain a rubber core, but the material wrapped around that core varies. Marimba mallets use a softer yarn than vibraphone mallets, which use cord. The harder cord and rounder shape of the mallet head allows the mallets to produce a clear sound from the metal bars of the vibraphone.

Note the differences in appearance between the Vic Firth marimba and vibraphone mallets below. The M1 on the left is a popular marimba mallet. The M25 vibraphone mallet on the right was designed by Gary Burton, the world’s foremost vibraphonist.


Another important difference between marimba and vibraphone mallets is the material used for their shafts. Both are commonly available in birch or rattan, but marimbists and vibraphonists have different preferences. Marimbists typically prefer the rigidity of birch shafts, while vibraphonists favor rattan. Its flexibility is better suited to vibraphone techniques like mallet dampening.

In addition to their respective instruments, both mallets can also be used to play suspended cymbals. In fact, they are preferred over timpani mallets, whose wood cores can be damaged and destroyed by the vibration of cymbals.

If marimba and vibraphone mallets are very similar, can they be used for the same purpose? Yes, but only in certain circumstances. The soft yarn heads of marimba mallets limit their volume, and therefore effectiveness, on the vibraphone. However, vibraphone mallets can be used on the marimba for a clear, cutting tone. Jazz musicians who play both instruments simultaneously often choose vibraphone mallets for this purpose. In this video, Dave Samuels, with the Caribbean Jazz Project, uses vibraphone mallets while soloing on the marimba and then comping on the vibraphone.

Advanced percussionists, such as high school or collegiate students should own both marimba and vibraphone mallets. Serious soloists will have several sets in varying styles and hardness (see our previous mallet FAQ on marimba mallet hardness) available in their mallet bag.

We hope this guide has helped you understand the difference between marimba and vibraphone mallets. Please contact us for assistance choosing mallets or for recommendations. See you next time!

Opinion: Carriers are uncomfortable!

Welcome back to the Chops blog! Today I’d like to address a concern we frequently hear at this time of year: uncomfortable carriers.


As the marching band season begins, students often suffer through the first several weeks when they are commonly out of shape, and unprepared to carry the weight of a marching drum. Combine that with the intense, all day schedule of a band camp and you quickly have a miserable student. Weak shoulders, backs, and legs are punished by the weight of the drum.

After suffering the shock of a heavy drum, concerned parents often contact us seeking relief for their student. However, before investing in expensive alternatives, I recommend that your student endure the first weeks of the season and develop strength in their back, shoulders, and legs. The more time your student spends marching and wearing their drum, the more their body will be accustomed to the weight. By the end of the season your student will barely notice the weight, and will be able to wear their drum for hours at a time.

However, if your student is still suffering a month into the season, contact us and we’ll discuss options that might work for some relief.

August 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 August edition of the transmission.  If you don’t receive our emails, you can sign up here!

DCI Wrap-Up

Blue Devils - DCI

We had a great time at DCI Championships last week! Thanks to everyone who came by the Vic Firth booth. We had a great time catching up with many of you and hope you had a great time watching the incredible performances throughout the weekend.

Congratulations to all performers, staff members and volunteers on a great drum corps season!
Here are the official scores from the DCI website.

Back-To-School Supply Lists

School Supply Lists

Attention Educators!

We’re gathering school supply lists to make it easier for your students and parents to get what they need for school! Send us your required supply lists for your various classes and ensembles and we’ll post them on our website as a quick reference for your students to find what they need!

Demo Gear/Clearance Items – August Updates

Demo Gear at Chops Percusssion

We have accumulated some more items recenty that fall into the Demo category. 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.

Drum Set and Marimba Rentals

Keyboard rentals at Chops Percussion

Don’t forget that we have a great line-up of percussion instrument rentals to help take your students to the next level. We have drum sets, marimbas, and xylophones available.

Check out the full lineup on our website.

Planet Waves Cables In Stock!

Planet Waves cables always in stock at Chops Percussion

Now’s a good time to take stock of the cables you use and make sure they’re all in good working order. If you need new cables or would just like to have extra cables for backup, let us know. We always have a good variety of Planet Waves cables in stock. Give us a call to see what’s currently here and we’ll get them out to you ASAP!

View all the cables we have in stock.