“The Emperor’s Crown” is not only a piece to develop dexterity and “chops,” but it can also be used to develop good practice habits. If you are having trouble with a section, isolate the pattern. First, make sure you can play the rhythm without any ornamentation such as drags or flams. Then, build things back up by reintroducing the elements that were subtracted. It is important to take your time even if you only add, for example, one sixteenth note at a time.
• Focus on your technique and strive for quality of sound. This includes the correct playing zones, implement control, and developing the proper touch.
• Isolate each rudiment and try your best to perfect each of them.
• Strive to not only play in the pocket, but to play musically. People listening should feel the groove, and so should you. Have fun with this!
Dr. Gregory Jackson is the Associate Professor of Percussion at Alabama State University and a well-recognized percussionist, composer, educator, and author. He has completed over 100 compositions, including four symphonies, and his works have been performed across the world at major conferences.