Announcing the grooveKSQ Spotify Playlist

There is an overabundance of choice out there when it comes to new music. That makes things tough when you are trying to find music of substance, that rewards each subsequent listen. We started the grooveKSQ Spotify playlist to highlight some historic performances that every percussionist should know about, and hopefully you discover something brand new to you that you love….


The Soloist & The Audience

There is a massive difference between playing in an ensemble, wether it is an orchestra or a rock band, and performing a solo piece in front of a live audience.

The soloist has no safety net whatsoever. There is only him or her and the audience. It is one of the purest forms of communication. Whatever that soloist is thinking, it travels directly through the instrument and into the audience’s ears. No filters. No editors, or managers, or artifice of any kind.

Hello Sunday Morning!

Sundays and Mondays are big days around the studio here…and everyday I teach (and every day in fact), I practice what I preach to my students: GET THE STICKS IN YOUR HANDS EVERYDAY. There simply is no substitute for daily practice. Even if your practice sessions are on the shorter side, i.e. 20 minutes a day, the cumulative effect of practicing every day will become apparent over time.

In other words, practicing everyday yields more growth faster as a player.

Very much looking forward to seeing some of the students perform at Saturday’s recital….

To Master Control, Be Consistent

Anyone can play a ton of notes. The difference between being an apprentice and a master is CONTROL. Control is developed through consistent (i.e. every day) practice. There is no substitute. Playing with control is what separates the elite players from everyone else.

For more info on studying percussion with me, click here.

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What the Super Bowl 41 Halftime Show Tells Us About Greatness

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and I must admit I am a bit ambivalent about the game when neither the Steelers nor Eagles are involved - unless there is some compelling storyline that should be followed. Another reason to tune in is for the halftime show, which for quite awhile was THE marquee live performance event of the year. Only the titans of the music industry get invited to play the halftime show: Bruce Springsteen, U2, Prince, Tom Petty, The Who, Beyonce, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and the list goes on and on.

But of those performances, on the biggest stage in the world, some were pretty good, some were terrible, and occasionally one or two performances were transcendent. Of the dozens of Super Bowls and halftime shows I’ve seen, only one stands out as truly great - Prince’s performance in the driving rain at Dolphin Stadium in Miami at Super Bowl 41 in 2007. That band and that performance - in my humble opinion - will live forever.

I won’t recount all of the circumstances, because those have been ably documented elsewhere (the documentary below does a pretty good job of setting the stage).

What is really notable about Prince’s performance here is that it tells us something significant about live performance. Great performances are few and far between, unless you are at the top of your craft and in complete command of your ensemble, your instrument and the audience. A transcendent performance, like Prince in a driving rainstorm at Super Bowl 41, is a rare thing indeed.

It is the rarity of this level of performance is that makes it special. You can remember standing there looking at the TV, watching it unfold and being transfixed by it all. If this kind of thing happened everyday, you would soon stop appreciating it and move on to the next thing.

There is a trend among concert promoters and bands these days to relive, recreate and repackage the past. You can sell tickets to just about any tribute band performance nowadays, no matter how atrocious the musicianship or presentation is. There are many pretenders out there.

If you have read this far, you do care about these things. If you are a student of mine, current or former, and have read this far, you know by now I want YOU to be a great one in your own way. Be a great one, and be original. Demand that of yourself overtime you pick up the sticks or mallets. This is what propels the art form forward.

Creativity in Decline?

Creativity in Decline?

There can be no reasonable dispute that creativity is an integral part of innovation and of entrepreneurship. One of the problems with thinking about creativity as a life skill is that creativity is difficult to quantify and measure. More on that in a minute.

The “traditional” advice that kids should study hard in school, get good grades so that they can “get a good job” misses a very large point. I use the quotation marks to show some disdain for traditional thinking. Traditional thinking is a good way to get suck in a rut and put yourself far away from your goals if you aren’t careful.

Here is the point that the traditional advice misses: the effort of the students is only one aspect of the development of creativity.