Photo by Scott Pickering

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sleigh Bells Tutorial

Christmas is almost here!
Here I am rehearsing for the
Gateway Candlelight services
on December 20 and 21  
  Look closely on the trap table and you can see that the sleigh bells are ready to go. Just in case you want the quick refresher, here's my Sleigh Bells Tutorial

Monday, December 15, 2014

PercussionHowTo: Farfadiddle

Here's a short tutorial on a hybrid rudiment.  Percussionist Richard Farvour showed me this little lick last month in Indianapolis.  Learn and enjoy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014



You get that new pair of sticks that are matched and you try to be consistent with keeping them together with the cardboard sleeve or a rubber band but after a while...  

Here's a great little device that allows you to snap a matched pair together.  Check out the StickMan at

Monday, December 1, 2014

PercussionHowTo:Six Stroke Roll

Check out this short video tutorial on one of my favorite rudiments--the Six Stroke Roll

Monday, November 24, 2014

PASIC 2014

The 2014 version of the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) has come and gone. It is always inspiring to experience state-of-the-art performances and clinics.  Shawn Pelton's clinic, The Hybrid Drummer: Achieving Synergy between Acoustic and Digital Gear and Marimba Now from She-e Wu were among the highlights for me. The Thursday evening concert from Amadinda Percussion Group rates as one of the best percussion ensemble concerts I have ever experienced. The quartet is celebrating thirty years performing WITH THE SAME FOUR GUYS!

There was plenty of great gear and sheet music on display. 

  • The great folks with J.W. Pepper had copies of my books, Give Me A Groove and Give Me A Bucket for sale at the convention.  

  • When I dropped by the Grover Pro Percussion booth, I was happy to see that the Studio Pro Tambourine is now available with Phosphor Bronze jingles and a combination of Silver and Bronze--along with the German Silver which I currently use.

  • The Percussive Arts Society's website has a new look.  Check it out at and consider attending PASIC 2015 next November in San Antonio, TX.

Friday, October 31, 2014

All That Is Me (Worship Song)

Jonathan Malone, Anna Harris, and I composed this worship song recently.  It is a bare-bones demo.  If you have interest in playing, arranging, recording, etc., contact me at 800-272-2249 or

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Art of Not Playing

Read my magazine article, "The Art of Not Playing" in Worship Musician!    Page 37

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Finger Cymbals

The finger cymbals have a different tone quality than the triangle.  Check out my short tutorial video for a couple of methods.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

GT Worship - Live Acoustic Sessions EP Promo

Check out this video from GT Worship. 

I dig how the percussionist is workin' that glock!  It's a nice touch to the song. The whole video sampler has such a good vibe.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Stuff That Lives In My Mallet Case

Timpani sticks might stay on a shelf until I get a "kettle call" and the general bass drum mallet only goes into my case when Gran Cassa is on the menu.
There are some items that are used so frequently that they have made my mallet case their permanent residence.
Here is a baker's dozen of those occupants:
  • Concert snare sticks
  • Drumset sticks
  • Yarn marimba mallets (for suspended cymbal)
  • Brushes
  • Triangle beaters
  • Drum key
  • Pencil(s)
  • Glockenspiel mallets
  • Xylophone mallets
  • 1/2 inch wrench (for tuning congas, bongos, and timbales)
  • Staff paper
  • Notebook
  • Djembe tuning wrench

Monday, June 23, 2014

Setup Info in Worship Musician magazine

Head on over to page 50 in Worship Musician! and read my recent article, "Setup Strategy."
Lots of info about grouping instruments in an ergonomic and visually appealing setup

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shake Tambourine Accents

It is possible to catch the "weak subdivisions" on the shake tambourine. 
 Check out this short tutorial to learn the technique.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Which Backbeat Should I Play?

...2 or 4?

Doubling the snare drum back beat with a single strike on the tambourine is quite common and can give some variety to the groove. I usually choose one backbeat or the other; seldom do I play both 2 and 4. Less tedium and greater variety occurs when the snare drum is heard alone on one of the beats and the doubled sound on the other. Sometimes my choice is arbitrary but often I make a studied decision based on the lyrics of the song.

Listen to the phrasing of the lyrics and you will often find less vocal activity around either beat 2 or beat 4. Playing on that back beat allows the tambourine’s tone color to do its job without competing with the vocals.

Both lyric and tambourine get their space.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Shaker Savvy Article / Jan-Feb Worship Musician!

Hey...get some shaker tips from me by going to Worship Musician!  You can read online--just click below and head over to page 50 and you will find my article, "Shaker Savvy."     Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Grover Studio Pro Tambourine

The Studio Pro Tambourine from Grover Pro Percussion has the same quality and attention to detail that goes into other great Grover products.   Here's a short video overview of the instrument.

More info at

Monday, March 3, 2014

Melodic Drumming

Your drumming brain will be stretched (along with your technique) after working on Raul Valdes book Melodic Drumming.  The recent release from Transition Music Center is full of exercises to stimulate  musicality and creativity as well as technical facility. Dozens and dozens of exercises incorporating melodically designed accented and unaccented notes are available to help with your fluidity around the set and serve as a catalyst to stimulate your creative juices.

More info at

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Worship Training eBook and Articles

Praise Charts/Worship Training just made several articles and an eBook by Percussion For Worship editor-in-chief, Mark Shelton available as part of its course work.

Click on this link to get more info:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Shekere Like A Shaker

There are a number of ways to play the shekere.   Here's a short tutorial on playing the shekere with some shaker technique.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Sound of Sprinkles

One of Percussion For Worship's loyal followers sent me a link to a posting on his blog a while back.
John Homan allowed me to re-post it but you can click the link below and check out more of his writing.  

I am diggin' the sprinkles analogy!

Casa de Juanito-John Homan's Personal Blog: The Sound of Sprinkles:

Sitting in on congas with the jazz group Vibenation at the 2013 Elkhart Jazz Festival

There are things in this life that you keep forgetting easily, important things that you need to keep in mind. Its like how time and time again the Apostle Paul comes back to justification by faith to the church because they forget it so easily and legalism is such an easy trap to fall into.

I have a similar experience regarding being a percussionist. I have to make a real effort to not forget the value of playing sparingly, not always trying to fill the whole musical space available with sound. It's as if I went to some audio garage sale and came back with awesome bargains. There is just not that much room for all I have but I still try to stuff it in all the closets until all the available musical space is bursting with too much sound. This is especially true of playing with a band, but it also happens when I go out and play as part of a duet or trio. I have to remind myself that people like to hear things that don't always overwhelm them. All day long you can listen to music that is the equivalent of a pizza with everything, but then you don't even taste all of the subtle flavors in the cheese or the tomatoes and basil in the sauce.

The same with music, sometimes to hear just an acoustic guitar and conga drums or just a shaker is kind of a rare experience because so much of the music that we listen to is a wall of sound. Think of the difference between Coldplay's "Hurts Like Heaven" and Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" and you will get the idea.

Sometimes I have gotten down on myself in the past that I am not able to play more instruments at once, not able to produce the big sound that the kit drummer can, but then I remember that regardless of where I am at as a musician, there is nothing wrong with the addition of simple rhythms, they are accessible to more people, and they don't distract from the other instruments in the band. Even before I started playing myself I always loved those small accents, like triangles, shakers and bongos when I heard them in music around me.

When I first started playing percussion, my music leader told me that I was the sprinkles on the cake. I wasn't the frosting or the cake itself, I was something that added a nice touch to what was already good on it's own. This saying comes back to me over and over. I'm there to support others and not to promote myself. It's a hard lesson, but it's worth learning over and over.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Playing My iPhone In Worship Service

The sample pad would not come to life.  I had been asked to play a "electronic toms/909" part on a song.  Using an old-school sample on the electronic pad was going to be the answer but the machine had a problem.  As the rehearsal moved along, I suddenly thought about an app on my phone that might do the trick.  I plugged my earphones into my iPhone 5C and brought up the iKaossilator app from Korg.   It took several minutes of experimenting before I settled on the SynToms2 patch.  The electric 80's tom sounds really fit the bill for the song and I tapped my way through two services that Saturday using my iPhone.  Back at home later that night, I decided that using my iPad would give me a bigger striking target than the phone so the iPad became a part of my set up on Sunday.

The iKaossilator app has lots of sounds and is relatively inexpensive (compared to the self-contained Kaossilator).   If you use this app on the phone or iPad, make sure to turn on both "Airplane Mode" and the "Do Not Disturb" features so that you will not send any text tones or calendar reminder tones over the P.A. system.