No Season? No Problem. 5 Ways to Progress without Performance

A Monster Drumming Article
by Michael Eagle

The 2020 competition season is officially over. Covid-19 is real, and at the moment we must all play our new part of physical distancing as to not further spread this new and unknown virus. While many of our beloved summer events are canceled as a result, how are we to continue playing and progressing our ensembles? With so much uncertainty, is it even possible or responsible to worry about piping or drumming? Not only is the immediate answer, “Yes”, but doing what we love to do is much more critical to sustaining our personal health and well-being during this period then we might realize.  

We’re all searching for a new balance in our new lives, so here are 5 ways to keep progressing your music without the luxury of live performance. Let’s count-down in order of importance. Number 1 is a game changer.  

5. Music Bombs

Well before quarantines, lots of folks struggled with making time...

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Preparing for the World Solo Drumming Championships

Preparing for the World Solo Drumming Championships 

A Monster Blog by Kerr McQuillan

The World Solo Drumming is the biggest event of its kind and attracts people from all over the globe. For us drummers, The World Solo Drumming Championships is an opportunity to present our hard work and it can be a tense and nerve-racking experience. That said, preparation is key and builds your confidence to ensure you give yourself the best possible chance of making the prize list. 

I prepared for the competition in a number of different ways, both psychologically and physically. You wouldn’t think for one second that psychology and the way you think would come into a drumming competition, but for me it is a big part. 

Talking with drummers is always enjoyable and we can hear ourselves asking each other “Who am I up against?”  “Where have they placed before?”  “What might excite and attract the judges’ ear?”...

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Bryan's Blog #8 | Practicing Through The Storm

Practicing Through The Storm

A Monster Blog by Bryan Lowe

As I write this, Seattle is recovering from the Snowpocalypse of 2019. 

Nine inches of snow shut down schools, churches and just about any driving.  Now, before those of you in snowy areas get all “oh my god how silly”, just know that Seattle is nothing but hills and bridges, and snow is rather rare. This isn’t the flatlands of Nebraska. Look for videos of buses sliding and crashing through guardrails, then hanging precariously over the precipe.   

I just mention this, as both lessons and practicing came to a halt.  We lost electricity three times, for a total of about 34 hours. No heat, no lights, no drumming.

But the snow is gone and my lessons on Rhythm-Monster and with the Keith Highlanders have resumed.  Lessons are lining up pretty well, as I was just getting into buzz strokes online, and the teacher at my in-person classes is also introducing them. ...

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Gary Potter's PadLab Demo of Gareth McLees', "The Madonna's Triangle"

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Bryan's Blog #7 | What Difference A Day Makes

What a Difference a Day Makes

A Monster Blog Series By Bryan Lowe

I feel good about my Buzz Stroke progress!  I’d been feeling rather clumsy and slow for a bit,  and ending up taking a couple of days off. That cold wasn’t helping either.

About five minutes into my return it all fell into place.

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Both hands!

For some reason, a drum roll or buzz roll seems like real progress, more than the tap, tap, tap of previous exercises.  I do understand progress on those “taps” lead to progress on the buzz roll, but this feels like a big step forward, emotionally. This is starting to feel like “real” drumming.  

Need a break down on the Buzz Rolls? Check out this class to get your basics rock'n. 

ST2006 - The Buzz Stroke

For any future challenges on this journey I need to remember that progress isn’t a steady line. Recognizable progress can come in fits and starts sometimes.

Online Lessons

Life is...

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From Percussion to Pipe Band Drumming
by Mike Garcia

From Percussion to Pipe Band Drumming

A Blog By Mike Garcia

The world of music is a beautiful thing. So many different styles and approaches within so many different cultures all over the world. Pick a genre, go down the rabbit hole, and you will discover invaluable experiences of how impactful a single or combination of sounds can truly be and how they bring people together.  

Pick a world, let’s say: percussion, and for you Pipe Band people, drum corps - and there are various journeys you can embark on to explore the many wonders of the style.  Personally, I have experience in American rudimental drumming (i.e. Drum Corps International, aka “DCI” experience) and classical percussion (either a “percussion ensemble” or concert band/orchestral percussion). I am fortunate to say I have had the opportunity to experience performing in these groups at some of the highest levels possible! However, I have always been a lifelong learner and have...

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Taking Technique to New Levels | Haydn Halsted

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...

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Bryan's Blog | #6:
When Drum'n Gets Ruff...


When Drum'n Gets Ruff...

A Monster Blog Series by Bryan Lowe



Learning something new always seems to include plateaus and/or periods of sagging enthusiasm. For the past week plus I've been knocked down by a bad cold, and with it, my general energy and enthusiasm has lagged.



At first, I was seeing rapid and steady improvement. I was excited. I think that is normal.  


Then, your improvement slows or stops, and it's easy to think you’ve hit some impossible wall, or even begin to wonder if you can really do this thing.


That is sometimes a trigger to stop altogether, to give up. “This just isn’t fun anymore.” I had a touch of drumming doldrums.   


Getting beyond that is crucial in getting to my longer-term goal, learning how to play drums in a Pipe Band. My minimum goal is to experience that for long enough that I can really decide if pipe bands are really my “thing” in...

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Dave's Blog | #5: The Uncomfortable Truth about Pipe Band Drumming

The Uncomfortable Truth about Pipe Band Drumming 

A Monster Blog Series by Dave Bullard


Missed Dave's last Blog? Oh. You'd want to read it first. 

 Check it out HERE. 



Let’s get an uncomfortable truth out of the way here.

When I first saw a pipe band drum corps, I was thrown off by how ‘disorderly’ it seemed. I was blown away by what I was hearing, but there was this little voice nagging at me saying things like:


“What’s the deal with all of them shaking their sticks to the beat?”

and :

“What the hell is wrong with their hands?”


"Why are they all looking down at someone else's drum?”


“Why do they start their strokes like marimba players? ”


You see uh… Well... I mean….


Look, I think get it now, but (and not to belabor this point) a HUGE part of my musical training as a DCI-style American Drummer was concerned with...

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Bryan's Blog | #5: Doubling Down on Double Strokes


Doubling Down on Double Strokes

A Monster Blog Series by Bryan Lowe



I hit a challenge today that felt tougher than others so far. 


From class ST2003- The Double Stroke (From the Scottish Pipe Band Snare Drum Tutor Volume 2: The Drummer's Alphabet),  

we learn the Double Stroke, which is,


“one motion that produces two notes.”



Think to "drop the stick, then let it bounce twice”… but with both taps being equal in sound. Once again, my right hand wasn’t too hard, but my left hand fell into the pattern and then out again… repeatedly.  

Practice makes perfect, they say, unless you are practicing incorrectly.


I watched the video again but did everything this time with just the left hand.


I am making progress, but this feels less natural than the other skills learned so far. More practice. It will come. It will. 

This doesn’t LOOK...

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