The Blue Devils win 2014 DCI World Championships

The Concord Blue Devils won their 16th DCI World Championship on Saturday night in Indianapolis. The Blue Devils scored a 99.65 (the highest score ever in DCI) in their final performance. The Bluecoats (97.175) won 2nd place and The Cadets (96.875) placed 3rd. The Blue Devils had an amazing year, winning every competition leading up to finals. The Santa Clara Vanguard placed first in percussion for their final performance.

For complete results and recap analysis, check out Congratulations to The Blue Devils.

Were you there or did you watch it live? What were your favorite moments of the season? Leave a comment and let us know what you thought of the 2014 DCI season.

Here’s the Blue Devils show from Salem, VA on 07/29/2014.


WGI 2014 Percussion Recap

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


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.


What happened to my PMG?

patmethenyunitygroup_kinEver since the early 90’s when I first heard a live recording of the classic “First Circle” I’ve eagerly awaited every new Pat Metheny Group release. In 1995 while at Northwestern I was fortunate to study with PMG’s drummer Paul Wertico about the same time “We Live Here” was born. With “Imaginary Day” (1997) the group expanded their tune length and included some harder almost heavy metal elements to their style. In 2002 we saw the debut of Antonio Sanchez who replaced long time drummer Wertico (a move that frankly was a tough one for me). Then, in 2005, with “The Way Up”, it all changed for me. It blew away everything that came before it. One full album, with only 4 continuous tracks, featuring a heavy minimalistic/Steve Reich influence, that left you changed after listening to it in one sitting. While many saw it as alienating I was completely obsessed with it. Even keyboardist Lyle Mays, who I was fortunate enough to play with at ZMF ’09, spoke to me of his initial uneasiness of the project. Since 2005, we’ve had nothing from PMG.

But since then we’ve had some great collaborations with Mehldau, Grenadier, Sanchez and McBride but no new PMG. In 2010 there was all that “Orchestrion” (see video below) stuff which I wasn’t really sure what to think about. Unity Band (2012) featured Chris Potter on Sax and was, in some ways, a move back toward PMG, but still had mostly a more acoustic be-bop style (although I vaguely remember seeing spare parts of “Orchestrion” spattered to the far reaches of the stage. Surely, I kept thinking that sooner rather than later we’d see the band back together again.

The Unity Band’s newest release entitled “Pat Metheny Unity Group: Kin (< ->)” is all about the multi-instrumentalist. Leading they way is Giuilio Carmassi who reportedly plays 11 instruments. Carmassi brings back the vocal element that many will remember from the decade before. Even Antonio Sanchez leaves the kit a bit for the cajon. Is the PMG dead? Maybe, but Kin (< ->) is the closest thing yet to a return, not in personnel, but in structure. Back are the long structures, the huge builds of energy releasing in ecstatic arrivals. It seems to me that while we have some shout outs to earlier PMG stylings, this release is about combining the key elements of acoustic be-bop style, with the best of PMG, and even more Orchestrion sounds. A melting pot of sorts.

No matter what your preference you have to admire an artist who seems to never duplicate, clearly following his own muse. Watch the curated related videos below, check out the recording and leave your thoughts below the post.



Woodbridge HS

The Indoor season is back in full swing. It’s a great time of year for percussion ensembles as groups get ready for WGI and regional circuit shows.

One of the great things about the indoor scene is the passion and dedication that the community has for their activity. This dedication is on full display in the video below. It take s a lot of people working together to create a world  class ensemble, and the students, instructors and parents at Woodbridge High School do it extremely well.

There is the obvious display of excellent musicianship from this ensemble. But, what I’ve always loved about this program is the class in which the group carries themselves. The students are humble, respectful and really enjoy what they do. I feel very strongly that teaching the concepts of an intense work ethic, cooperation and leadership skills are at least as important as teaching the musical skills. This is especially true at the high school level. The Woodbridge students definitely absorbed all of these ideas and many more, and I’m sure they walked away from the experience with a plethora of ideas and skills that they will continue to use no matter what path they take in life.

Keep a couple of things in mind as you start your 2014 Indoor season. Work really hard. Make the most of whatever opportunity you may have. And, of course, enjoy your experience.

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