RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • Industry News — August 2022

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Aug 17, 2022

    Drumming Connects Us Community Outreach

    Drumming Connects All

    Drum industry organizations Hit Like a Girl and the Percussion Marketing Council ( have teamed up to create Drumming Connects Us, a community-based outreach program that combines the universal nature of rhythm with the global desire of people to play drums and connect with each other. Announced in conjunction with International “Make Music Day” (June 21, 2022), Drumming Connects Us will facilitate in-person drumming events as well as online connections for existing and new drummers of all ages and interests.

    The in-person element of Drumming Connects Us was developed in collaboration with Mya Cymbaluk, a young drummer and “drum ambassador” who plays drums and promotes drumming in public spaces all over the world. A free, downloadable guide and other marketing tools to help drummers, teachers, retailers, and manufacturers organize outreach activities at parks, schools, and stores will soon be available on the website.

    Also hosted on the website, the project’s online component will help teen and adolescent drummers support each other through social media engagement. Initially, exceptional young drummers and role models including Recker, Lola, Austin, KBG, Lil D, and Kii will share their drumming experiences and offer tips on how to get started on drums, how to connect with other drummers around the world, and how to be safe online.

    Drumming Connects Us participants and community members will be able to register and be featured on By registering, they can receive special offers on drum gear and lessons, as well.

    To learn more, visit

    Past Leaders Honored at NAMM 2022
    The Percussion Marketing Council (PMC) held a open house during the NAMM Show at the Anaheim Hilton on Friday, June 3. It was the first official in-person PMC gathering of the full board, members, and potential members in more than two years.

    This gathering provided a space for those in the drum industry to become better acquainted with other drum industry colleagues and learn more about the PMC and its initiatives. This year’s event honored former PMC Executive Director Karl Dustman, who stepped down last spring, and long-time executive board member David Jewell, who retired from Yamaha Corporation of America in January.

    “Karl devoted over 19 years to steering the PMC to make it what it is today,” said current PMC Executive Director Antoinette Follett. “David served on our executive board for 12 years and worked to create many of the programs that help the PMC promote drumming and percussion. Both are tireless music advocates.”

    “I became Executive Director during the uncertainty of the challenging pandemic years when many of the hands-on, in-school PMC drum programs were abruptly postponed and canceled. We took this unique opportunity to re-invigorate our education and promotional programs,” said Follett. “We’re connecting our programs and facilitators in wider geographic areas and with more diverse populations. This momentum continues through the support and participation of our member organizations.” 

    PMC’s annual initiatives include Experience Drumming! programs across the country, as well as monthly giveaways and the special International Drum Month Lesson with a Master promotion in May.

  • PAS Playlist: Vinny Appice by Eric C. Hughes

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Aug 15, 2022

    Vinny Appice Playlist

    Sometimes, drummers get overlooked because of the band they play in or the style of music they play. Other times they get overlooked because their contemporaries are flashier, or sometimes they are a sibling of another famous drummer. Such is the case of Vinny Appice, younger brother of Carmine Appice, and a member of such bands as Axis, Rick Derringer, Black Sabbath, a founding member of DIO and Last in Line, and the supergroup Heaven & Hell.

    Vinny has carved out a drumming legacy that gets lost in the mainstream; drummers who know Vinny really know who he is and what he is capable of. A thunderous player much in the vein of John Bonham, Vinny has played on some of the most important songs in the hard rock/heavy metal lexicon such as “Mob Rules,” “Holy Diver,” and “Rainbow in the Dark.” The list below is by no means definitive, but it gives you an aural introduction to Vinny’s abilities and how he plays wonderfully inventive fills while grounding the band in any tempo. Put on your blackest T-shirt, crank the music, and throw those horns up!

    “Straight Through the Heart”
    Holy Diver, DIO
    Can we talk about this intro for a second? Vinny is a master of the triplet hand-foot patterns much in the vein of Bonham, but he takes it to an extreme level on this intro. The lick was recorded down the drums and then overdubbed up the drums to give it that unique sound. Also, listen for the fills in this track and how each one is more inventive than the last. Check out this link to see and hear Vin discuss how to play the pattern and how they recorded it:

    “The Last in Line”
    The Last in Line, DIO
    This is probably the biggest hit that DIO ever had. One of Vinny’s trademarks is the drag he plays on the snare after beats 2 and 4, and you can hear this in the “quiet” opening. As he’s said in interviews, he likes to start his fills early and sometimes over the vocals. You can hear this in the first and last verses. And Ronnie’s voice on this track? My goodness!

    “King of Rock and Roll”
    Sacred Heart, DIO
    Much in the style of “Straight Through the Heart” this intro highlights Vinny’s foot abilities. The track begins with an overdubbed live audience and then here comes Vinny’s sixteenth-note snare and kick opening. This track may have been recorded in the studio, but the energy has all the earmarks of a live DIO show. Check out the guitar solo played by the amazing Vivian Campbell. For a frantic (no exaggeration) version of this song, check out the live DIO album Finding the Sacred Heart — Live in Philly.

    “The Sign of the Southern Cross”
    Mob Rules, Black Sabbath
    One of the best examples of Vinny playing at “sludge” tempo (roughly 60 BPM), “Sign” is a nearly eight-minute plod through one of the best heavy metal songs ever written. After the quiet intro, you hear Vinny’s first fill going down the drums, and you know something great is about to happen. This is a perfect combination of performances from all four members of the band, and Vinny holds everything down while moving along. Every fill in this song is classic Vin, and during the outro the gloves are off.

    “Master of Insanity”
    Dehumanizer, Black Sabbath
    Released in 1992 at the height of the Grunge era, this album has since become a fan favorite. “Master” starts out with a thundering riff in seven before settling into the main theme. Vinny brings it all in with a hand-foot, sixteenth-note pattern down the drums. The pre-chorus features a half-time feel, and in each of the chorus there is a nice displacement of the snare that mimics the guitar riff. At the end of the last chorus, you’ll hear one of Vinny’s signature herta hand/foot fills. This is a great representation of what time and maturity sound like from the Sabs.

    “Sins of the Father”
    Dehumanizer, Black Sabbath
    Another half time feel/straight feel track, this one starts off slow but quickly picks up steam. Heavy and thudding, Vinny is relatively restrained, but at 2:24 you can feel the change coming. Vinny drives the next section with a four-on-the-floor kick and drives the track to the end. The fills he eventually gets in are pure Vinny.

    “Burn This House Down”
    Heavy Crown, Last in Line
    The great thing about this track is that for most of the verses it is only Vinny and Andrew Freeman’s vocals. This allows us to hear how Vinny takes an ordinary beat and personalizes it. The song becomes a fist pumper for the choruses and solo sections. Another signature Vinny lick starts at 3:33 where he augments sixteenth notes to become thirty-second-note triplets. He’s still got it.

    “I Am Revolution”
    Heavy Crown, Last in Line
    This is a classic Vinny beat, reborn in 2016. This type of beat is reminiscent of such earlier tunes as DIO’s “I Speed at Night,” “Stand Up and Shout,” and “Overlove.” Vinny plays a train beat on the verses along with Jimmy Bain’s driving bass line. He squeezes in a few hertas and his trademark explosively fast triplets down the drums.

    “Shadow of the Wind”
    Heaven & Hell (available on the box set Black Sabbath: The Dio Years)
    What better way to end this list than with one of the heaviest and sludgiest songs from the Vinny catalog? Coming in at a top speed of 51–53 BPM, this song shows the immense control and power Vinny has behind Tony Iommi’s grinding riff and Geezer Butler’s thundering bass. Ronnie James Dio is in full (again, no exaggeration) voice, and the entire band plunders this track for over five and half minutes of aural assault. My key takeaway from this track is Vinny’s unrelenting commitment to the time; it is steady as a rock even when it “quiets” down for the bridge. 

    Eric C HughesEric C Hughes is chair advisor for the PAS Drum Set Committee. He lives in Houston, Texas where he is an active percussion teacher for in-person and online lessons. A full-time musician, Eric drums for Blaggards and The Allen Oldies Band. You can find his schedule at


  • R!Solo: Marching Down the Street for Rudimental Snare Drum by Michael Varner

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Aug 13, 2022

    Drum and Bugle Corps have changed a lot since the traditional Corps of the 1950 and ‘60s. Before DCI and WGI, the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and the American Legion sponsored Drum and Bugle Corps. Current DCI performers will be jealous to know that, in those days, there was a Veterans “Post” in every town and neighborhood so, instead of driving miles to corps rehearsal, back then, you might be literally able to walk to the Veterans Post rehearsal on your street corner! Many Posts had a Senior Corps, made up of World War II Veterans and often a Junior Corps for Sons (and Daughters) 21 and below. The first corps I ever marched with was literally called “the Sons of the Demons.” The Maumee (Ohio) Demons were the Post’s Seniors named from World War II exploits and the “Sons” eventually became the DCI Toledo Glassmen.

    The Veterans would congregate every Friday night at the post to reminisce, listen to music, and socialize. Our Junior Corps would rehearse those nights and between drumming we would cook food for the veterans. My usual assignment was a Maumee delicacy: frogs’ legs. When I dropped the legs into the boiling pot of water they would wiggle and “swim” as if they didn’t know they had already been separated from the rest of the frog!

    None of the young players (or even the instructors) knew how to read music, so the drum parts would be taught by first using “onomatopoeic” syllables to represent the rudiments and rhythms. The instructor would first rhythmically “say” the syllables and each youngster would repeat it until they got it right. Then the instructor would drum each phrase and each player would be expected to listen and repeat it. Everything had to be quickly memorized. On a Friday night this became a fun game when the young players would tease and gibe anyone who messed up memory or saying/playing the tongue-twisting syllables. For example, the rudiment “flamacue” was “mar-CHING down the street” (try saying it with the emphasis and you will “hear” a flamacue)! I remember a particular rhythm my corps used lots was “watermelon” because its rhythm came from the popular song “Watermelon Man.” Entire drum parts were endlessly “chanted” while riding the bus to competitions. Our young players rarely won first place in contests, but we loved sharing the comradery of drumming and representing our neighborhood “Post.”

    My R!Solo is based on the rudimental drumming of those times. It contains the original 26 rudiments, which were the standard before the current PAS 40 rudiments, notated pretty much exactly as they would have been. Listen to how I say the first phrase on the video until you can repeat it exactly. Then say it while you are playing it to get the phrasing perfect. Try to identify each of the 26 rudiments (they are all there). Think about which rudiments have been added to make the current 40 and where they might come from.

    After you have learned “Marching Down the Street,” you and your teacher should search and find out more about the many drum composers over the years who wrote pieces to showcase these original 26 rudiments, including Charley Wilcoxon, William Schinstine, Fred Hoey, and John S. Pratt. Explore their solos and see how they chose to combine traditional rudimental rhythms, and make sure to investigate what “NARD” is. I hope you enjoy!

    videography by Jesus Martinez
    R!Solo Marching Down The Street by Michael Varner


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    Michael VarnerDr. Michael Varner
    recently retired after 36 years as Director of Percussion at the University of Texas at Arlington. Previously he was Director of Percussion at Western Michigan University. He holds a degree in Music Education from Bowling Green State University, a Master’s in Performance degree from the University of Michigan, and a Doctorate in Performance from the University of North Texas. With a long history as a performer, he presents new and time-honored repertoire to the highest standards, having presented percussion clinics in every state, Europe, and Japan. He has written for nationally recognized DCI and WGI marching groups including the Chicago Cavaliers and the Toledo Glassmen. Under his leadership the University of Texas at Arlington Drumline performed with consistently top rankings at many PAS events. His interest in world music led to research in Nigeria and Ghana. His article “Skin That Speaks” was published in Percussive Notes. His interest in composing has led to many commissions with over 20 published works, and he is a member of the PAS Composition Committee. For more information visit

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