RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • In Memoriam: Butch Miles

    by Hillary Henry | Feb 04, 2023

    Butch MilesJazz drummer Butch Miles died on Feb. 2, 2023. He was best known as the drummer for the Count Basie Orchestra from 1975–79 and again from 1997–2007. He also performed with 

    Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dave Brubeck, Mel Torme, Lena Horne, Joe Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Benny Goodman, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Dick Hyman, Willie Nelson, Eddie Condon, and others. Known primarily as a big band drummer, whose style was influenced by Buddy Rich, he was also comfortable in small group and Dixieland band settings.

    Born Charles J. Thornton Jr. on July 4, 1944, Miles studied music at West Virginia State College before beginning his professional playing career in the late 1960s. Butch played on over 100 albums, including three that won Grammy awards. He also appeared in three motion pictures: The Australian Jazz Fest filmed while Butch was touring with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, The Last of the Blue Devils filmed while he was touring with the Count Basie Orchestra, and briefly in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors. Butch also played on the soundtrack of the 2003 film The Alamo. For many years he gave clinics for the Ludwig Drum Company and was a faculty member in jazz studies at Texas State University in San Marcos.

    In 2011, Miles was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. Butch was also honored by the Senate of the State of West Virginia in 2013 and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Conn Selmer Institute in 2016 among other awards from the Zildjian Cymbal Company, the Ludwig Drum Company, the International Association of Jazz Educators, the United States Air Force Band – the Airmen of Note, The Elkhart Jazz Festival, and the Austin, Texas Jazz Society.

  • Product Showcase — February 2023

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Feb 02, 2023

    Eric P. SwansonRoland
    TD-02 Drum Series  
    The Roland TD-02K and TD-02KV V-Drums kits provide a premium musical experience for first-time drummers, practicing students, and adults looking to start playing drums again. The kits are based around the TD-02 module, which includes 16 ready-to-play kits and onboard Coach functions to help build and maintain skills. Drummers can use headphones for quiet home playing sessions and connect a smartphone to play along with favorite songs. An optional Bluetooth adaptor adds wireless capabilities for streaming music from mobile devices and communicating with MIDI production apps. The TD-02K and TD-02KV offer a full array of drum and cymbal pads with sensitive playing surfaces to develop proper techniques. The upgraded TD-02KV kit includes a Roland mesh-head snare pad with a natural acoustic stick feel and rebound. The hi-hat and kick trigger pedals in both kits feature noise-reducing designs to minimize sound transfer in living spaces.

    Eric P. SwansonClem Burke Drumming Project
    Roland is also excited to share their involvement in the Clem Burke Drumming Project. Inspired by the drumming of legendary Blondie artist Clem Burke, scientists have explored the physical demands of "live" drumming and uncovered health benefits. Results found that drummers can exert the same level of energy during a concert as a professional soccer player in a 90-minute match. Groundbreaking cognitive benefits were discovered as well. To learn more about these scientific discoveries, please visit Roland at CES to watch a video on project.

    To learn more, visit

  • What to Practice Before You Practice: Part 1 by Michael Compitello

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jan 30, 2023

    Practicing is only part of the work that musicians do. The learning we do outside the practice room is not difficult, but it is powerful. Purposeful pre-practice work saves time, increases your efficiency within the practice room, heightens your impact as an interpreter, and diminishes performance anxiety. At the same time, working on the overall skills of learning in addition to developing as a practitioner of your instrument supports passionate advocacy for your work in a variety of mediums. Below are some of my tips for making the most of your time inside the practice room by developing your skills outside the practice room.

    Life Cycle of Learning 
    Practicing occurs within a dynamic learning cycle of framing, planning, playing, reflecting, and sharing. Here’s my outline:

    Compitello Life cycle of Learning


    Research and analyze the piece at hand to set the stage for efficient practicing. Contextualize the work historically, culturally, and musically in order to characterize the composer’s style. Then, dig into details, listening intuitively to find important moments in the music and finding support in the musical text for that intuition. Develop a sense of what the piece might feel like when it’s “right.” This multi-sensory structure is what psychologist Anders Ericsson calls a “mental representation.” Your goal when researching and practicing will be to hone and refine these mental representations, which help you set a range of interpretations you might pursue, diagnose issues, and make hypotheses about what kind of practicing will help you best progress.

    Prepare yourself to learn the piece with the goal of making your time in the practice room as efficient and dynamic as possible. With a strong sense of what you want the work to sound like in mind, make a plan for how to effectively craft your interpretation. This plan will include long-term markers, session-by-session goals, and a strategy to handle multiple pieces in various stages of development. 

    In the practice room, play with the musical material. Address both physical and mental challenges. Work towards goals, but be informed by creativity and inspiration. As you refine the piece, shift between different projects to allow your work time to incubate.

    Review your progress, articulating what worked and what didn’t, and incorporate these ideas into your next work sessions.

    Our role as musicians is intrinsically tied with sharing. All of these practices — framing, curating, situating, engaging, performing, and advocating — are so much easier when you have a deep, multisensory knowledge.

    At this stage, you can frame your work in relation to the world around you, curate a space for the piece to live, situate the piece in that spot with regards to how you are going to share it, and engage with communities about it. Then, recast “performance” more broadly: it could be a concert, an article, a recording, or a conversation. 

    Devote time to connect with the world around you. You’re training to develop connections between people through music. You’ll do this more effectively if you are engaged beyond the practice room. Read, listen, eat, see: participate with the world around you and you’ll find inspiration for your interpretations and be inspired about where your music-making can do the most good. At the same time, cultural fluency helps to connect with others around shared experiences, generating social capital that can help take on the big problems we face as a society and species. 

    These processes occur in a dynamic loop, constantly feeding one another as learning inspires learning. This strategy is effective because it incorporates research into how our bodies learn and refine new tasks, leverages the power of humanities methodologies to link learning and advocacy, and uses powerful goal setting to save time. If you invest time and energy into each of these ideas, your practicing will be more effective, efficient, purposeful, and interesting.

    Part 2 of this article will provide additional strategies to get you going more tangibly with this process.

    Michael CompitelloMichael Compitello is dedicated to exploring the expressive possibilities of percussion through collaboration and community-building. His project Unsnared Drum, released 2021 on New Focus Recordings, seeks to reinvent the snare drum with “superb performances” (Classical Voice of North Carolina) of new works by composers Nina C. Young, Hannah Lash, Amy Beth Kirsten, and Tonia Ko. With cellist Hannah Collins as the New Morse Code, Michael has created a singular, personal, and impactful repertoire through collaboration with some of America’s most esteemed young composers. His current project is a book about musical learning. Michael is Associate Professor of Percussion at Arizona State University. He holds degrees from The Yale School of Music and the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. For more information, visit

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