Director vs. Tech

by J.D.

Often times band directors hire percussion instructors under the guise of being a “Percussion Technician,” but many of these instructors find themselves doing the work of a Percussion Director. There is a huge difference in technician pay and director pay, and it’s time that we start doing these young, talented individuals more justice. Stop hiring Percussion Directors as Techs, and pay them what they are worth. The unfortunate thing is that many of these young people are so new to the game that they do not know there is a difference between the two. Here is the difference between a Director and a Tech:

Percussion Technician – Takes direction & executes tasks associated with related goals, Teaches ensemble technique, Teaches ensemble material, Maintains the daily regiment, Reports inappropriate actions needing disciplinary attention, Sub-section & full ensemble instruction, Aides in continuing appropriate culture for the ensemble, and Guidance of students.

Percussion Director – Establishes a vision for the ensemble, Defines ensemble technique, Creates & curates ensemble material, Establishes a daily regiment, Establishes & delivers appropriate disciplinary actions, Scheduling, Budgeting, Full ensemble instruction, Establishing an appropriate ensemble culture, and Guidance of technicians & students.

Some bands only have Percussion Technicians, and some bands just have a lone Percussion Director that does it all, and some bands utilize both; but there is definitely a clear separation between these 2 job descriptions. It is entirely up to the Band Director how the overall program is run, and he/she has the final say; but being ‘in the know’ about these differences can certainly be a piece of helpful information for all new percussion instructors. And certainly we want to encourage all Band Directors to do what is right by the individuals that they hire. Teach on, in truth and honesty!

How Do You Build Chops?

by Karl (@karldrumtech)

So what does “chops” mean exactly?

– “Dang that guy has chops!” 

– “The Trumpets have great chops this year”

– “How do you build chops?”

So, what is this term that everyone brings up?  Is there an official definition even though everyone pretty much knows what it means?

To me, I define “chops” as the muscles you need to develop in order to have the dexterity necessary to execute technical skills within your chosen art form (usually in the music field).

For example: In order for a Brass player to play their instrument, they need to develop certain muscles around their mouth.  For percussionists to play their instruments, they need to develop certain muscles in our hands.

If we are to agree that “chops” are muscles, then we need to look at building chops like strength training in the gym!  How do you build strength in the gym?  With resistance training and repetition.

Does this mean that drummers should start practicing with heavier sticks, play underwater and drum on pillows?  Maybe… but I do think the most effective chop builder is repetition for long periods of time without stopping.

In essence, we need to look at chop building for drummers as aerobic training where you do something for 5 minutes straight (or longer) without stopping, rest and then start the process again a few minutes later or the next day (if you plan on practicing other things).

So here’s a few examples of a few things you can do for 5 minutes straight for an intense aerobic workout for your hands:

– Singles

– Accents and taps

– Rolls

– Anything with flams (flam taps, flam drags, flam fives, etc.)

For further reference, check out this VIDEO and then let me know what you think! Do you agree with these techniques for building chops? What ideas do you have for chop building? I would love to hear from you!