Percussion Axiom TV: Episode #100 – Addendum

Earlier this week I posted PATV #100, which featured a discussion (and video from a GoPro camera mounted on my forehead) about Bach four mallet stickings as they relate to articulation. The video below is a full run through of the entire 3/8 section so you can see the concepts as they permeate the entire movement. Later this week I’m going to sit and do more careful study of my head movement as I play. Lots to learn there! As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback about the concepts presented. Please leave them below the post.

WGI 2014 Percussion Recap

Another year has come and gone and yesterday, WGI awarded Pulse Percussion the 2014 World Indoor Championship. If you haven’t seen their show, check out the video below. (Please note, this is not the final show they presented. You won’t see the hanging snare drummers in this video. I am looking forward to that video when it becomes available). The activity has continued to grow and the competition is fierce. Congrats to all of the groups who participated.

In the Scholastic Marching World division, Dartmouth High School placed first with a 98.238. For more information about this year’s final competition, visit

Independent Marching World
1 – Pulse Percussion (Westminster, California): 96.812
2 – Music City Mystique (Nashville, Tennessee): 96.588
3 – Rhythm X (Columbus, Ohio): 96.113

Scholastic Marching World
1 – Dartmouth HS (Dartmouth, Massachusetts): 98.238
2 – Chino Hills HS (Chino Hills, California): 97.225
3 – Ayala HS (Chino Hills, California): 96.125

Update (4/14/14): Here’s the upside down drumming video. Thanks Vic Firth.

Why Teach Percussion?

I’ve written in the past about things that I think are important in percussion education, things that make great educators and some lessons I’ve learned spending time teaching different percussion mediums.

I think every educator should constantly be asking themselves what exactly they are trying to teach their students. There are many different lessons and ideas that can be learned in the percussion classroom and they don’t all necessarily have to do specifically with percussion. Things can easily slip away from even the best educators when they stop keeping the main thing the main thing.

The ideas in the manifesto below can sometimes generate more questions than answers for music educators. However, I hope this will get some of you thinking about what is important to you and your percussion programs. Enjoy.

Stop Stealing Dreams

Percussion Axiom TV Episode #100 Bach – Articulation and Stickings (I GoPro)

Episode #100 is here and what better way to to commemorate than adopting a new technology. Using a handy GoPro wearable camera I give you a birds eye view of my sticking and articulation choices in Bach’s prelude to his fifth cello suite. Stay tuned to the end of the video for a larger chunk of music to see the concepts in context. For the first installment watch Episode #97, and read my review of LHS’s imporant book.

What are your reactions to the topics discussed? What ideas do you have about Bach stickings and articulation control? Any thoughts about the GoPro? Leave them below the post!


Once you leave the safety of academia and break into the professional world things get a lot scarier, and the stakes get a lot higher.  You forgot to practice?  Forget the potential stern lecture from your teacher.  You could (and very well may) get fired from a gig, which means you won’t get paid, keeping you from being able to afford groceries, gas, rent, and other necessities.  We could talk at length about the musical skills, as well as the entrepreneurial skills, that you need to learn in school in order to succeed in the highly competitive field of music.  However, I think it’s more important to give a few pieces of advice that don’t have anything to do with that stuff.  Here are a few simple habits that you should get into while you’re a student which will pay dividends long after you leave school.

1) Get a planner.  Use your planner. – It doesn’t matter if it’s on your phone, tablet, computer, or just an old-fashioned paper planner that you keep in your… [Continue Reading...]

Pius Cheung plays Oblivion

It has been a while since we last featured Pius Cheung. Since then, he has become the Director of Percussion at the University of Oregon and continued producing high quality videos of amazing works for marimba. Today’s video is no exception. Enjoy!

Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla

Recorded by Aaron Jester at the University of Oregon’s Beall Hall.
Mallets: Innovative Percussion Pius Cheung Series #1, 3, 3, 4

Archway: Eli Keszler & So Percussion

As part of the free summer concert series Make Music New York, NPR Music commissioned installation artist Eli Keszler and So Percussion for a collaboration called “Archway” which was premiered on June 21, 2013. As an instrumental partner, they brought a New York landmark: the Manhattan Bridge.

Keszler’s installation featured piano wires, motors and processors, fastened to lampposts and the bridge itself. For the evening performance, once the installation was completed, Keszler joined So Percussion to complete the work. Be sure to listen with some good cans or speakers. The video does a really nice job of trying to capture the aura and mood of the performance. What are your reactions to this kind of collaboration? Leave those, or any other thoughts below the post.

NPR is making some interesting, high quality content on their NPR Music channel on YouTube. Follow the link above to subscribe.

A Manifesto of the Percussive Artist – John Lane

jlphotoThis year at PASIC, I attended a session called “Four Manifestos of the Percussive Artist.” The session was part of the Focus Day Panel with panelists Ben Wahlund, John Lane, Doug Perkins, Ron Coulter and Kevin Lewis as the moderator. I was happily surprised of the discussion that came out of this session and this was one of the highlights of PAS (IMHO).

Today, I would like to share John Lane’s manifesto on DrumChattr. John is the Director of Percussion Studies and Associate Professor of Percussion at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. He hosts the Sam Houston Summer Percussion Adacemy and his duo, Lungta,
is currently in residence at Sam Houston State University. I am glad to present his manifesto. Please let us know what think. Leave comments below.

If you missed it, be sure to check out Ben Wahlund’s manifesto which I posted in January.

A Manifesto of the Percussive Artist
By: John Lane

The Current State of… [Continue Reading...]


If there is one thing that separates successful people and unsuccessful ones, it’s one thing. Grit.

Successful people have failed in the past. Somewhere along the line, things didn’t work out the way they had hoped they were going to. But, these individuals learned from the experience and moved on with their careers. Ask any percussionist out there that has a good job and/or a following that has a lot of respect for them. From what I’ve found, they will laughingly fill you in on occasions where they have failed.

At the end of this video, Angela shares the growth-mindset principle to teach grit. This is great, but I have another idea to add to it. Teach grit by example. Be the instructor who shows up every single day. Be the instructor who takes extra gigs. Be the teacher who continues to practice. Be the teacher who relentlessly pursues the next level for themselves and their program.

In short, show up.

Thoughts from Very Good Musicians – Russell Hartenberger

It has been a while since we have featured a post by Adam Sliwinski. In Adam’s previous post he wrote about his collaboration on Steve Mackey’s It Is Time. In today’s post, Adam interviews Russell Hartenberger about his career as a percussionist. This is a great read and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thoughts from Very Good Musicians – Russell Hartenberger
By: Adam Sliwinski

I thought it would be fun to ask some musicians whom I admire to write about some aspect of their work. My first email was to Russell Hartenberger.

Russell is one of the prominent figures in percussion history.  He is a founding member of the percussion group NEXUS, one of the most important influences on So Percussion or any other percussion group.  He is also a longtime core member of Steve Reich and Musicians, and a professor at the University of Toronto. I asked Russell to talk about the role improvisation has played in his work.

There are other great interviews with Russell here:… [Continue Reading...]