I am thrilled to announce the upcoming release of my new book, Drumline Gold: Innovative Systems for Marching Percussion Excellence, published by Meredith Music Publications, a division of GIA Publications, Inc. due out in late September/early October.
Written for drumline instructors, arrangers, and performers at all levels, Drumline Gold reveals the philosophies, lessons, and mindsets of over 20 of the most brilliant, creative, and successful game-changers in the marching percussion activity. Top educators in DCI, WGI, PAS, college, and high school share their systems on leading, practicing, rehearsing, listening, cleaning, performing, arranging, competing, auditioning, reading, marching, tuning, recruiting, staffing, and building an excellent culture. There is even a system on self-care and the importance of wearing earplugs, preventing injury, and managing stress.
I tip my hat to all the drumline instructors and members out there right now who are rehearsing and doing what we do in this very challenging time. It is my hope that this book will help bring back the joy, excitement, and anticipation we have all been craving, similarly to what ESPN’s The Last Dance did for sports fans back in May.
In Chapter 4 on Rehearsing, legendary football coach Lou Holtz points out that, “Everyone wants to win on Saturday when the game is played. It’s what you do the other six days that decides the outcome.”
Here is an excerpt from Drumline Gold on the system of Rehearsing:
In the marching percussion activity, the secret to success on the field or in the gym is how you rehearse. To master their craft, excellent drumlines value rehearsals and never take them for granted. They show up every day with the mindset, “it’s an opportunity to improve.” In contrast, low performing drumlines go through the motions and have the mindset, “it’s just rehearsal,” slowly deflating the group’s commitment, productivity, and progress.
Observe any high performing drumline rehearse and you will notice ten common attributes responsible for their success.
The Ten Attributes of Quality Rehearsals
- Punctuality. As a percussionist, punctuality means being early. When you are late, regardless of the reason, a drumline cannot function effectively. Excellent drumlines are punctual.
- Hunger. Hunger is the desire and passion to achieve excellence. Your drumline has to want excellence, be willing to work for it, and be eager to do whatever it takes. Excellent drumlines are hungry.
- Discipline. Discipline means doing what needs to be done even when you don’t feel like doing it. To have productive rehearsals and grow as a drumline, discipline is required. Excellent drumlines are disciplined.
- Effort. Effort is synonymous with hard work.To achieve excellence, a strong work ethic is non-negotiable because the best drumlines know that success is earned, not given. Excellent drumlines give effort.
- Focus. Focus is the ability to concentrate on the task at hand. A great drumline demonstrates focus through listening, attentiveness, awareness, and a high degree of learning and improvement. Excellent drumlines are focused.
- Consistency. Consistency refers to embracing repetition, developing habits, and making smart choices and decisions. A drumline’s performance is always the result of rehearsals that add up over time. Excellent drumlines are consistent.
- Confidence. Confidence is an earned feeling of self-assurance, trust, and readiness based on preparation. Confident drumlines play with an edge and a vibe. Excellent drumlines are confident.
- Accountability. Accountability means taking responsibility for and ownership of your actions. Accountable drumlines put the group first and avoid blaming others or making excuses. Excellent drumlines are accountable.
- Respect. Respect is a deep admiration and kindness toward how we treat other people. Drumlines show respect by being punctual, listening, and valuing each person’s role on the team. Excellent drumlines are respectful.
- Standards. Standards are the expectations and bar you set for your program. A drumline’s standards can range from attitude to behavior to a low tolerance for mediocrity. Excellent drumlines have high standards.
These ten attributes work together to become the rehearsal process excellent drumlines use to excel. Some attributes are easier to witness such as discipline, focus, and confidence. Others, such as hunger, accountability, and standards lie under the surface, and are just as critical for success. In my book, Working Toward Excellence, I wrote, “Most of the time, the process is hidden from view. Excellence is created slowly, one day at a time, behind closed doors, when no one is looking. It happens gradually—even though we can’t see it yet…and if that process continues on the same trajectory, excellence will be the result.”
This chapter features interviews with Amanda Muse, Matt Henley, and Jon Weber. I am grateful to all the elite contributors who supported this project by sharing their time, wisdom, and expertise. Their words, philosophies, and mindsets are uplifting and inspiring and I am forever grateful they are part of this book.