Monday, August 17, 2009

Private Lessons

NOW is the time to sign up for private lessons.

Private lessons are a must for any serious musician. It is simply not possible to receive individualized attention during a band class. Private lessons are an opportunity to work on YOUR weaknesses while also building on YOUR strengths. Lessons should also be an opportunity to discover new and exciting music and instruments from around the world.

PRIVATE LESSONS ARE AN INVESTMENT, so be sure to spend your money wisely. Seek a fundamentals-based teacher with real experience (playing and teaching) on ALL percussion instruments. Percussion students enrolled in band are expected to excel on 3 main instruments: snare drum, mallets (xylophone, marimba, etc.) and timpani. Drumset, while one of my personal favorites, is rarely used in band class. Because of the wide-range of instruments and material involved in studying percussion, full, 1-hr lessons are essential.

You have options when choosing a teacher—make an informed decision.

Before choosing a teacher, do a little background checking:

What kind of performing experience does this teacher have?
Is (s)he still playing, and which instruments?
Does the teacher hold a degree in music?
What kind of teaching experience and track record does this teacher have?
Many experienced teachers will have web pages, myspace or facebook pages containing the answers to most of these questions. If not, ask.

People study for different reasons—Be upfront with your goals:
Are you looking for an introduction to music/percussion/drumming?
Do you want to focus on one instrument/area in particular?
Are you preparing to audition for All-State, College, etc?
Or, are you just looking to have fun playing drums each week?
Each of these situations is a great reason to study, but you’ll want to be sure you and your teacher are on the same page and share the same goals.

Once you find a god match, challenge your teacher! Each week, make it your goal to impress your teacher by going above and beyond what you were assigned. While having a private teacher offers a huge advantage, it's like anything else: You get out what YOU put in. Finally, be sure to take advantage of all the FREE resources available online (like my Youtube video collection :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I have created a Youtube channel for [mostly] percussion videos.
This channel is meant to be a collection of videos geared towards music & percussion students and fans. Hopefully this collection of videos will inspire you to explore new music, instruments, instruction, etc. Videos are sorted by category (playlists) which contain several videos each. This site is a constant work in progress- I can think of at least 1,000 other videos to add, and will continue as fast as possible. Feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Percussion Gear

Whether playing marimba, snare drum, timpani, cymbals or one of the hundreds of other instruments, percussionists always need the right tools for the job.

The following is a basic set of sticks, mallets and other must-haves to get you started. There are hundreds of options out there, but this list will give you the finest equipment for the money.

Students are required to have at least one item from each category and ALL items listed under "additional gear". I have included approximate prices so you don’t run into any surprises when shopping. Local stores will most likely NOT carry these items— do not accept substitutions (see below for a list of recommended dealers who specialize in percussion).

Snare Drum:
Vic Firth SD-1 $6
Cooperman - Nick Petrella # 5 $16-37
Cooperman - Fastick #24 $16

Vic-Firth General T1 $20
Vic-Firth Staccato T3 $20
Or similar model General or Staccato mallet

Xylophone/ Bells:
Innovative James Ross IP-902 Med-Soft Xylo/Bell, Orange $30
Malletech OR 45R Orchestral Medium-Bright, White $30
Malletech BB 34 Bob Becker, Blue $30
Or similar model Medium-Hard mallet

Marimba/ Vibes/ Suspended Cymbals/ Aux.:
Mike Balter Pro-Vibe 23B Medium, Blue $25
Mike Balter Pro-Vibe 24B Medium-Soft, Red $25
Or similar model Medium yarn or chord mallet

Additional Gear:
Korg MA-30 Digital Metronome $30
Chromatic Pitch Pipe (either C or F) $15
Stick Bag $10-30
Pack of Mechanical Pencils $4
Journal: Small spiral-bound notebook $1-3

I recommend the following percussion specialists:

Steve Weiss Music 215-659-0100
Explorers Percussion 816-361-1195
The Percussion Source 866-849-4387