RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • Tuesday Tips: Setting Up Your Practice Space by Josh Gottry

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jan 19, 2021

    Just like setting up a space to do homework or configuring the recliner and television for ideal movie watching, setting up your practice space in a way that is conducive to focused and successful practice sessions is critical to advancement as a musician. Particularly as more of us—professionals and students—are working and studying from home, taking a little time to review some key priorities in your practice setup is very worthwhile. Even for those who have access to a school practice facility, many of these suggestions still apply.

    First, and most importantly, consider the height of each instrument and music stand. Your body position and posture are key to your physical health, which in turn is key to your ability to practice and perform efficiently and pain free. Make sure each instrument is set at an ideal height for your arm position and good upper-body posture. Make sure the music stand is close enough to you to avoid straining your eyes, at a height that doesn’t require you to lean to misalign your neck, and consistent with the position it would be in for rehearsals or performance.

    Second, as much as is possible, minimize distractions within your line of sight and in terms of background noise. If the pile of work you need to do or the video game console is staring at you from around your music stand, you may be inclined to cut your practice short. If your practice space is in a room immediately adjacent to where roommates or family members are frequently watching television, you may find yourself eavesdropping in an effort to find out the score of the game rather than being focused on your technique exercises. Switch your phone to airplane mode, especially if you are also using it as a metronome, so that incoming texts or messages that quickly add up don’t eat away at little chunks of your practice time.

    Third, keep ear protection handy and use it faithfully. Your hearing is priceless, and most at-home practice areas are not acoustically designed to protect it. Unless you are exclusively using silent heads, low-volume cymbals, and a practice pad, ear plugs are a necessary part of practice.

    Fourth, as financial opportunity allows, gradually add instruments to your at-home space. Unless you are or are planning to be a university professor or school music teacher, you likely won’t have easy access to a full complement of percussion instruments, so investing small amounts over time to expand what you own for practice, recording, and performance is always a good idea.

    Finally, start each practice session with two goals. The first goal should be how much time you intend to practice. Committing consistent and substantial time is necessary to allow the opportunity for musical growth. The second goal should be what you intend to accomplish in your practice time. If you start each session with a specific objective and end each practice by evaluating your success in meeting that objective, the time spent won’t be wasted on just going through the motions.

    Happy Practicing!

  • Five-Question Friday: Brian Graiser

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jan 15, 2021

    Brian GraiserDr. Brian Graiser is a contemporary percussionist, composer, and teacher who serves as the Adjunct Instructor of Percussion at Sam Houston State University, where he directs the University Percussion Ensemble and Bearkat Drumline, and teaches applied lessons and percussion methods. While his musical exploits are highly diverse, he is best known for his work with the vibraphone, highlighted by such efforts as his DMA Project, "Concerto No. 1 [Lulu]: Creating the World’s First Concerto for the Four-Octave Vibraphone," and his service as President of The Vibraphone Project. 

    Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a percussionist and educator, what career could you see yourself having pursued?

    Brian Graiser: I could probably see myself as a writer of some kind. I entered college as a double major in music and journalism, but that didn’t last more than one semester. I really do enjoy writing, but the honest truth is that I can’t envision myself being truly happy and fulfilled in any other field but music. I may never make enough money to live in a mansion or own a yacht, but I’ve also never gotten up in the morning and said to myself, “I wish I didn’t have to go to work,” and that’s pretty fantastic!

    R!S: As a freelance artist, what's one of the weirdest gigs you've taken or oddest jobs you've had outside the industry?

    BG: My wife and I (as the REFLECT harp+percussion duo) went on a national performance tour in the summer of 2019, and one of our concerts was at a Tibetan Buddhist center which, to my amazement, was led by a monk hand-picked by the Dalai Lama! He watched me load in and set up all of my gear for nearly two hours, pleasantly observing and smiling the whole time. I eventually felt pretty awkward and broke the silence by saying to him, “I guess this is sort of like a mindfulness meditation,” to which he responded, “Oh, lots of mindfulness!” To this day, that exchange has helped me feel a bit less frustrated whenever I have to schlep my gear around; maybe I’ll achieve true enlightenment if I set up enough cymbal stands!

    R!S: What's one thing about you that your colleagues or students would unanimously proclaim?

    BG: I took a risk and actually passed this question along to my students, and the one common word that they shared in describing me was “understanding.” I’m pretty happy with that; it’s important for teachers to remember that our students are real people. It wasn’t that long ago that I was on the outside looking in, working a warehouse job while preparing for graduate-school auditions. It makes me appreciate the diverse backgrounds and tenacity of my students; we all have obstacles we need to overcome, and theirs are just as valid as mine.

    R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?

    BG: Without question, my favorite instrument is the vibraphone—especially the extended-range, 4-octave vibraphone. For one thing, the instrument’s cool, pure sound has always resonated with me. For another, and I know this is going to rile some people up, when you objectively consider all of the additional possibilities and responsibilities created by pedaling and mallet dampening, the vibraphone is more technically demanding and has greater potential for expressivity than any other keyboard instrument, including the marimba! I used to be shy about making that statement, but it’s proven to be true time and again. I’m absolutely willing to publicly debate this point!

    R!S: Where did you grow up, and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?

    BG: I grew up in Marietta, Georgia, a northwest suburb of Atlanta, and was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome when I was five years old, which led to a boatload of social problems. One of the biggest reasons I chose to pursue a career in music was that being a percussionist in high school had an enormously positive impact on my life. Not only did it help me to find my footing socially, but the physical act of hitting instruments was literally therapeutic and helped to reduce my symptoms. I have since learned that playing percussion is a form of “proprioceptive therapy,” but all I knew at that age was that it felt good and calmed me down. That’s powerful stuff!

  • Industry News — January 2021

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jan 13, 2021

    Gru Gear MaskGRUV GEAR
    KarbonZero Mask
    Premium lifestyle brand Gruv Gear launched its new Karbon Series face masks to help protect people during travel or in public places, especially during the COVID pandemic. The lightweight KarbonZero reusable mask has a stylish and luxurious design. The breathable, multi-layered face mask is fully compatible with optional, disposable PM2.5 activated carbon filters. The five-layer antibacterial filters are designed to block droplets, pollen, and pollution also. KarbonZero masks come with a pinch-seal nose bridge and easy-to-adjust straps for a custom comfort fit.

    The new masks feature satin-brushed side panels with an air mesh ventilated center panel for comfort. The mask can be purchased with or without a pack of 10 filters. Guidelines recommend that the filter be replaced every one to two weeks. Owners may also keep their KarbonZero masks looking fresh by occasionally hand washing with warm water and gentle soap, and allowing it to air-dry.

    To learn more about Gruv Gear and its products, visit gruvgear.com.

    HOSHINO U.S.A.
    Assumes Distribution of Tama and Other Associated Brands in Canada
    Beginning in 2021, Hoshino U.S.A. Inc. will be the distributor of Tama Drums, Tama and Bergerault Marching and Concert Percussion, and Hardcase Drum cases in Canada. For inquiries, dealers may contact the Hoshino U.S.A. sales dept. directly at customerservice@hoshinousa.com.

    TRX International ArtistsTRX CYMBALS
    Additions to International Artist Roster
    The TRX Cymbal Company has announced the addition of several outstanding, young drummers from around the world to its international artist roster. From North America, that includes Faith Benson (Crimson Apple, Bea Miller), Antoine Fadavi (King Princess), Gary “Smash” Foster (The Bad Dreamers), Jamie Leigh Schultz (independent), Jack Mudd (Emblem3, Tegan Marie, Kid Politics), and Lindsey Raye Ward (independent). From Central and South America, additions include Ricardo “Oso” Cortez (Ha*Ash) and Pauline Roberts (Cinema). From Europe, the TRX roster has added Georgia Challinor (Luke Rainsford), Šimon Bílý (Mirai), and Dominik Smutný (Sebastian). From Asia, the roster now includes Victoria Gridzhan (independent), Victor Han (independent), Subin (independent), Noriko Terada (Tap Dogs), and Jinwoo Yeo (independent).

    To learn more, visit the TRX website at trxcymbals.com.

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Percussive Arts Society
110 W. Washington Street Suite A 
Indianapolis, IN 46204
T: (317) 974-4488
F: (317) 974-4499
E: percarts@pas.org