Posts Tagged ‘drum studio Boulder CO’

The Lasting Benefits of Percussion Study

May 4, 2017

by Chris Eagles

Drum and Percussion Instructor at The Lesson Studio

As a music educator, it is unreasonable for me to expect each of my students to pursue music as a career. However, through regular drum lessons and a good practice routine, I fully expect to equip each student with a skill set desirable in every industry. Music serves as a practical means to learn these skills in a fun, and challenging environment.

Each of my students will learn music fundamentals, rudiments and practical knowledge when it comes to percussion, this goes without saying. However, problem solving is inherent to each of these topics. It is the single most valuable aspect of percussion study, and maybe of music studies in general. Students who learn to flex their problem solving muscle will inherently  have a great deal of perseverance. In an age where “googling” can solve most any problem, it is easy for students to get discouraged when faced with a difficult issue. In music study, there is no easy solution. It seems strange to say, but the study of music is a great way of realizing just how much of an effect hard work, and persistence, with this comes a boost in confidence.


Playing percussion is a physical endeavor, possibly the most physically demanding of any instrument (of course this could be debated). Percussion forces students to be mindful of their physicality, many lessons will start with light stretching, or simply by checking in to see if the student (or the teacher) is holding any unwanted tension. This often forces the student to be aware how they are using their bodies in their daily routine, not just while playing percussion. Bad physical habits that arise while playing, can often be traced to something that is non music related giving further insight into a better, more effective use of our bodies.

Compiling a full list of extra musical benefits to taking private lessons (with any instructor on any instrument) is a task far too great for a short blog post, these were only a couple. I encourage you all to ponder them and consider enrolling your child, or yourselves in lessons to reap the lifetime of benefits. You won’t regret it.


Accented notes versus unaccented notes

October 25, 2014

By Ryan Sapp – Drum Set Instructor at The Lesson Studio.

Ryan Sapp

Ryan Sapp, Percussion Instructor at the Lesson Studio

In drumming, there should be a major difference in volume between accented notes and unaccented notes. Unaccented notes can be thought of as “the normal notes at the normal volume” or “just cruising along”. Accented notes are much louder and should really stick out and be discernable by even the casual music listener. Accented notes are frequently used as the backbeat (2 and 4) in rock music. They are also used to highlight accents in songs and other instruments. Accented notes are frequently used in fills and can also create a counter rhythm within a flow of notes.

Creating solid accents within the flow of the music and in a stream of notes is a worthwhile pursuit. It requires consistent practice over the course of time. The rewards of this practice are numerous and include superior hand and muscular control, increased dynamic awareness, and a musical sophistication that is noticeable amongst musicians and listeners alike. A qualified instructor will help you use the correct technique and guide you in your pursuit of musical excellence.

To begin with unaccented notes, you must place the sticks just above the drum in the “neutral position”. The tips of the drumsticks must be very near each other and be approximately 1/2 inch over the drumhead. Both sticks must be at the same height. This position allows you to drop each tip onto the drumhead at a lower volume. After either hand strikes the drum, remember to return it to the “neutral position” of 1/2 inch above the drumhead. Using a metronome and playing a steady stream of either 8th or 16th notes is highly recommended to help achieve evenness.

To play an accented note, you must also begin at the “neutral position”. This position allows for the easy use of playing either an unaccented note (which you just drop the stick to the head) or an accented note (which you simply lift the stick approximately 6 – 12 inches above the drumhead). Lift the stick with the wrist using a good pivot. When playing an accented note, do not lift the stick past a 90-degree angle or the straight up and down position. Using your wrist with a good pivot, bring the stick back toward the drumhead. After bringing the stick down and striking the drumhead, return your hand and the tip of the stick to the neutral position.

When bringing the stick down from the high, accented position, you only have to use enough power to bring the stick in motion while letting gravity take care of the rest. Think of it like dribbling a basketball: Once the ball is in motion, you just have to lightly flick it with your wrist to keep it going. The ball is doing the work for you. Thus, you do not have to be heavy handed while doing accents.

Stick height controls volume. Thus, the softer unaccented notes are only a 1/2 inch above the drumhead while the louder accented notes are approximately 6 – 12 inches above the drumhead. This significant difference in height between unaccented notes and accented notes should be at noticeably different volumes. In written dynamics, the unaccented notes should sound piano (soft) and the accented notes should sound fortissimo (very loud).

There are several drum method books that feature exercises and usable patterns to practice. There are also hundreds of songs that feature excellent use of accented versus unaccented notes. Notable famous beats within songs include The Red Hot Chili Peppers “Under The Bridge”, Tower Of Power’s “Soul Vaccination”, Toto’s “Rosanna”, and “Funky Drummer” by James Brown.

Practicing on a Regular Basis

March 18, 2010

By Hollie Bennett, Intern at The Lesson Studio

As busy as I’m sure most of you are (I know I sure am) fitting in consistent practice times can be such a pain. I definitely can sympathize with other practice procrastinators. All throughout high school I’d come home from a two hour swim practice or a six hour shift at work and think “Do I really want to practice now?” And even now, I’ll come home from a night of working at The Lesson Studio and think to myself, “Do I want to walk to the practice rooms or crawl into bed and watch an episode of American Dad?” Especially when it’s snowing, the motivation to walk outside in the cold dwindles even more than usual.

Though this may be true, you have to rise above and really when you practice procrastinate, you end up practicing in bigger chunks than normal. Maybe even needing more time to practice than if you had just practiced all week instead. If you plan out a consistent practice routine, that may mean only twenty minutes a day, depending on how much you’re working on. Sometimes you have to approach practicing like going to the gym. You’re not going to get anywhere working out to your complete max three days in a row. You’d accomplish more going every other day, allowing time for your muscles to rebuild and relax. Practicing is the same way. If you practice two hour for three days in a row and then don’t practice for four days, once you return to what you’re working on, it may be familiar in the way you and your second cousin who lives in a different state and you only see every other year at the good ol’ family reunion are familiar (that might be a slight exaggeration) but definitely not familiar the way you and your best friend are familiar.

Finding time during the day can be easier than you think, but sticking to it can be harder than you think. The most effective way, in my opinion, is scheduling it into your planner. Literally writing down exactly when you’re going to practice makes it harder to get out of doing it. Now with little kids, they don’t exactly have that trusty iPhone that they keep all their play dates and snack times scheduled, but consistency can help them get used to practicing routinely. Practicing right after a food event like lunch or an afternoon snack can be a great time. Practicing right after eating can help them to focus longer. Also sitting down and making it a team effort can help a lot. It helps them stay focused and thinking about what they’re doing and it can also make it more fun.

So now, get out that pen and find some practice times that you can really STICK to whether it’ll be twenty minutes twice a day or an hour every afternoon. If you do it could maximize your lesson time and help your musical growth develop at an even greater rate than before!

Can You See What You’re Playing? And I’m not talking about the notes on the page.

March 9, 2010

By Hollie Bennett, Intern at The Lesson Studio

You know you’re a true music nerd when you start finding all the similarities between everything you do or see and how it could relate to music. And you know you’re especially bad when you just see something and bam! Now that you watched that special on the Discovery channel about outer space, you know how you can explain vibrato to the twelve year old. But really, finding those parallels between, let’s just call it this for fun, the “real world” and the “music world” can help you understand exactly what you’re doing even more than before.

Imagery is such a staple part in music, at least for me. Hearing a piece of music that really attaches itself to me makes me feel in colors, imagine stories and truly understand the emotion that the composer or performer was trying to convey. Part of me thinks that as a musician that is your true purpose in life is to tell the story, show the audience what is happening, even if you don’t know, you need to show that you do. Sometimes doing crazy things like pulling out your box of 64 Crayola crayons that you haven’t used since the fourth grade and literally coloring your music the color that you thinks conveys each part of your piece can do wonders. Even making up words to go along with what you’re playing or seeing a story that can play out in your head can get the emotional and expressive side to connect with the technical of your playing.

One of my favorite topics to bring up to students is the Olympics. I’ve probably been driving my students crazy trying to convince them to watch everything from figure skating to the super-g to curling. The parallels between musicians and athletes are really interesting to me. How much work each party puts into perfecting their own craft is mind blowing: hours in practice versus hours on the ice or snow. You can find so many similarities. Figure skating spins and trills is one of my own teacher’s favorite analogies. You can also think of the idea of balancing between technique and musicality as the way a speed skater like Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski balance around their turns with speed skating. So go out and try to find those parallels and start imagining them will you play. It might just help even more than you’d think!

Drum Practice vs. Rehearsal

October 21, 2009

Our drum studio is headed up by drum instructor Brian Loftus. Brian comes to The Lesson Studio with an education from Berklee College of Music.  Brian has toured nationally and internationally and has performed with many different artists in various genres, such as:  John Lee Hooker, Babatunde Olatunji, Huey Lewis, Glen Frey, Nicollette Larson, Jojo Herman, Eric Lindell and many others.

Tonight, Brian and I had a discussion about the difference between practicing drums and having a band rehearsal. Practicing drums involves working on your sticking patterns and independence skills.  While doing that on your own, Brian advises to start at slow tempos and then work up to comfortable speeds.  Rehearsal, on the other hand, is putting all of these ideas together in a musical sense that works with what other folks around you are playing. When you are practicing, break it up and do stickings for ten minutes, phrases for ten minutes, and then put them together for ten minutes. Your half hour is up before you know it! Concentrating on dynamics is critical in the practice routine especially. Bottom line is:  Practice at home, and bring your skills to rehearsal. Want to know more? E-mail Brian at

To learn more about Brian’s teaching methods and philosophies, visit his bio at