The “Soft Diddle Regiment” is a series of simple and effective exercises that can be used to help percussionists with their soft volume control, especially in regards to diddles and ornaments. Each day, use a metronome (or phone app) at a soft volume so you continue playing as softly as desired. Then, set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes on your phone and turn it to “Do Not Disturb.” Play through each exercise as indicated for each day. The mindful aspect of this exercise comes from mentally focusing on only your playing without negative judgment or wandering thoughts. If you should have a negative thought about something you did, refocus yourself on simply playing better the next time through the exercise. If you have wandering thoughts that are about anything other than the playing of the exercises, simply refocus your ears and brain on the quality of your playing.
You may find that refocusing from negative/wandering thoughts is challenging, but that is the point. The more you do this, the easier it will become. After a short while, you will notice you are able to stay focused for longer periods of time and re-focus quickly after wandering thoughts. This ability to focus/re-focus is one of the cornerstones of mindfulness. If you are interested in other non-musical mindfulness activities, please contact a certified therapist/counselor.
Dr. Brad Meyer is a percussion educator, artist, and composer with an extensive and diverse background. Dr. Meyer is the Associate Professor of Percussion at Stephen F. Austin State University (Nacogdoches, Texas), where he is the private lesson teacher and director of the percussion ensemble. He is also the Chair for PAS’s Health & Wellness Committee. Meyer frequently tours to universities and high schools both nationally and internationally to present recitals, workshops, masterclasses, and clinics on various topics, including electro-acoustic percussion, contemporary marimba, concert snare drum, marching percussion, percussion ensemble, steel band, and world music. Meyer is a composer with several compositions for snare drum, multi-percussion, and percussion ensemble published through Bachovich Publications. More information is available at Brad-Meyer.com.