Gareth McLees - Taking Technique to New Levels

A Monster Blog by Haydn Halsted


Over the years, I’ve been observing and imitating the great American Drum Corps including their closed hand technique, rhythmic virtuosity and rigid intensity to their uniformity, clarity and overall production level. The Drum Corp style and the Marching Arts have kept my fire burning for some time now and to me, the DCI shows are some of the most impressive works of art put out each year.


Until recently, I was unfamiliar with the world of Scottish Pipe Band drumming (we can go over my story another time), and when I was introduced to the Gareth McLees Monster Drumming Series on Rhythm Monster, I immediately saw the true artistry and musicality that can be produced on the snare drum. In this seven-part video class series, McLees demonstrates what the Snare Drum is capable of by presenting an incredibly relaxed and fluid approach to this instrument. His series certainly challenged my preconceived idea of what “Drum Corp” style playing means. (Fun sidebar for other American percussionists: “Drum Corps” is Pipe Band terminology for “Drum Line.”)


This series has something to offer for people who dig chops, accent shifts (me!), and musicality while also creating a special place for those lefty drummers out there. From years of drooling over the likes of American Drum Set artists like Carter Beauford (Dave Matthews Band, left), Robert Seawright (Snoop Dogg, Snarky Puppy, Justin Timberlake, middle), and Jonathan Barber (Pat Metheny, New York based Jazz Drummer, right), watching lefty or “backwards” drummers play with the same set-up as right handed players is undoubtedly impressive.

McLees has a similar grip to many drum set players and his finger-style technique is very free and allows for the music to breath as it should. It’s amazing how much technique matters between styles of music and the similarities Pipe Band drummers and American drummers share even though they come from completely different backgrounds.


Backwards Technique

After watching this series, I had plenty to go into the shed and practice from technique and licks like the “Trizlet” (which many Pipe Band Drummers refer to as “Triplet Rolls” for which Rhythm Monster has several instructional classes), identifying new ways to improve my (still in progress) Scottish Pipe Band Technique, and some slick tricks to spice up my playing. In this course you will have access to seven amazing instructional videos:

Each video is loaded with information including exercises and transcriptions so you can play right along with the video and, you'll have them for endless practicing. 


Like what you see here? Check out one of our Monster Subscription Options to see some Rock'n Drum'n from Gareth McLees and so many more Monster Drummers!



Additionally, there is a Beastly Score Breakdown where McLees plays through his Grade 1 (professional-grade for Scottish Pipe Bands) score to Scott Wallace’s (bagpiper extraordinaire) tune, “The Madonna’s Triangle.”


McLees’ unique finger technique, speed and fluidity, and complete musical approach to the drum will inspire you to pick up your sticks and challenge yourself in a new way. I’ve found myself becoming more intrigued with Scottish Pipe Band drumming, and now I’m putting in the time in the Scottish Snare Drum Tutor (look out for another blog on this) so I can better understand this style of music. As McLees puts it,


“It’s all about the music and making sure the musicality comes through.”


Right on, Gareth, and this begins with having amazing technique. Head on over and check out this Monster Instructor Series, and challenge yourself to become a true Monster Drummer!




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