Avoiding Burnout: Thoughts and Tips to Help Young Musicians

Everyone goes through ups and downs as a musician, and young musicians trying to get better are no strangers to those struggles. It is easy to get lost in the grind of practicing everyday to improve and at times hitting a wall that can be hard to push through. It is easy to find yourself getting “burnt out” when working so hard on something you are passionate about or striving to reach a goal that your are currently struggling with. We wanted to share some tips and thoughts that we hope can help you avoid burnout and reach your goals as a young musician.

Balancing the Schedule

One of the first steps in avoiding burnout is maintaining a balanced schedule. For instance, if you practice violin for three hours straight, it’s important to take regular breaks to rest your mind and body. Integrate non-musical activities into your day, such as reading, walking, or spending time with friends. This balance ensures that you’re not overloading on practice and gives your mind time to relax and rejuvenate.

Prioritizing Physical Health

Good physical health is crucial for musicians. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep are vital. Musicians often face repetitive strain injuries, so incorporating stretches and exercises into your routine can prevent these. For example, yoga or Pilates can enhance flexibility and strength, helping to avoid injuries that come from long practice sessions.

Focusing on Mental Health

Mental well-being is as important as physical health. Engaging in mindfulness practices, meditation, or hobbies unrelated to music can help maintain mental clarity and reduce stress. If you find yourself overwhelmed, consider talking to a counselor or therapist. Many musicians benefit from having a safe space to discuss their challenges and anxieties.

Building a Support Network

Having a robust support network is invaluable. Surround yourself with friends, family, and fellow musicians who understand your journey. For instance, joining a local music group or an online community can provide a platform to share experiences and gain support. Having a sounding board for your thoughts can significantly alleviate stress.

Setting Realistic Goals

Setting realistic and achievable goals is essential. Instead of aiming to master an entire concerto in a week, break it down into smaller, manageable sections. This approach makes goals less daunting and more attainable, providing a sense of accomplishment along the way. Celebrate these small victories to keep motivation high.

Mastering Time Management

Effective time management skills are crucial for balancing practice with other life demands such as homework, time with friends and part time jobs. Prioritize tasks and allocate specific times for practice, rest, and leisure. For instance, you could dedicate mornings to intensive practice sessions and evenings to relaxing activities. This structured approach ensures you don’t neglect any aspect of your life, contributing to overall well-being.

Adding Variety to Practice

Incorporating variety into your practice routines can prevent monotony and keep things interesting. Explore different genres, techniques, and musical challenges. If you usually practice classical music, try jazz or pop to keep your sessions engaging and expand your skills.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Seeking guidance from teachers or mentors can provide constructive feedback and support. They can help identify areas for improvement without overwhelming you. For example, a mentor can suggest specific exercises to enhance your technique or recommend pieces that match your skill level, offering a balanced perspective on your progress.

Creating a Healthy Practice Environment

A conducive practice environment is essential. Ensure your space is comfortable and free from distractions. A well-organized, pleasant space can enhance focus and productivity. For instance, setting up a designated practice area with good lighting and a comfortable chair can make a significant difference.

Taking Regular Breaks

Incorporate regular breaks during practice sessions to rest and recharge. The Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for 25 minutes and taking a 5-minute break, can be particularly effective. These breaks help maintain concentration and prevent burnout.

Managing Performance Pressure

Managing performance anxiety is crucial. Techniques like deep breathing, visualization, and positive self-talk can help. Remember that not every performance has to be perfect. Focus on growth and learning rather than perfection. For instance, view each performance as a step in your musical journey rather than a final judgment.

Staying Connected to Your Passion

Most importantly, remember why you started playing music. Keeping the joy and passion for music alive is key to long-term sustainability. Enjoy the process, celebrate small victories, and stay connected to the love that brought you to music in the first place. For example, revisit your favorite pieces or try composing your own music to reignite your enthusiasm.

By integrating these strategies into your routine, you can navigate the demands of being a young musician while maintaining your well-being and passion for music. Remember, the journey of becoming a musician is a marathon, not a sprint. Embrace the small victories, stay connected to your love for music, and prioritize your mental and physical health. This balanced approach will help ensure that your musical journey is fulfilling, sustainable, and filled with joy.

Summer Learning: Snare Solo Resources

Fieldstar Marching Snare Drum MS1409 / MS1412 | Fieldstar | TAMA |  BERGERAULT MARCHING PERCUSSION | PRODUCTS | TAMA Drums

While summer is a great time to take a break, it is also one of the best times to work on your technique and take some time to learn some new solos. One of the best things you can do as a young rudimental drummer is challenge yourself by learning solos, even when you aren’t preparing something for a solo and ensemble type of event. We thought we could share some of the best solo compilation books out there that we think can fit any drummers needs no matter that level of experience. We are sure you can find a few solos in there that will challenge you over the summer months!


14 Modern Contest Solos' For Snare Drum by John Pratt

14 Modern Contest Solos for Snare Drum by John S Pratt

This is one of the classic and well-known rudimental snare solo books. If you have gone through any music program, you will have surely played at least one solo from this book and if not it is well worth buying and learning the solos in here. The books does have varying levels of difficulty with the solos but most are on the medium to advanced side and will offer a challenge. This book is an excellent resource for students and educators alike with solos like “Drum Corps on Parade” being on of the most played solos ever. Excellent attention is paid in this book to highlighting the various rudiments used in each solo and is a staple for work on your roll, flam, and ratamacue rudiments. A must have!

The Rudimental Cookbook : A Collection of 25 State of the Art Rudimental  Snare Drum Solos and Developmental Exercises From Easy to Extremely  Advanced: Edward Freytag: 9781933001012: Amazon.com: Books

The Rudimental Cookbook by Edward Freytag

The definitive snare drum solo-method book. Includes the 26 American Standard Rudiments, the Percussive Arts Society Rudiments, an extensive list of Drum Corps Hybrid Rudiments and 25 rudimental contest solos. A must for anyone that’s serious about playing the snare drum. You can also get a downloadable version of each solo on the Rowloff website.  Available for purchase directly from Rowloff.

Just Desserts - Absolute Companion to the Rudimental Cookbook: Edward  Freytag: 9781933001289: Amazon.com: Books

Just Desserts by Edward Freytag

This follow-up compilation of solos to the original Rudimental Cookbook, expands on the vast array of technique and musicality you can gain from working through all these solos. One of the best aspects of this compilation is that it is fun to use some of the easier solos as sight reading practice if you are a more advanced player. This collection of 25 rudimental snare drum solos ranging from easy to extremely advanced. Includes exercises and an up-to-date, extensive hybrid rudiment list. Available directly from Rowloff.

Various-Ziggadabuzz (Book with CD) | Steve Weiss Music

Ziggadabuzz by Promark Artists

This compilation of solos from various Promark drumstick artists, will be challenging for students of all levels. Each solo also has some accompanying exercises that will help you master some of the more challenging sections throughout the solo. There is also a CD/DVD available with some of the artists performing the various solos for even more help on how to play and approach certain parts of each solo. The advanced level solos in this compilation will be a challenge for even the very best performers! This book can be purchased directly from Rowloff.

ProMark Scott Johnson Hickory Signature Marching Snare Drum Sticks -  FireGrain For Playing Harder, Longer - No Excess Vibration - Lacquer  Finish, ...


While there are many other solo options, we think these are great as they allow for progression from easier to advanced solos as well as some more focused attention on techniques you may need to be working on. While we don’t normally sale these books, you can find these online and order everything directly from Row-Loff productions (www.rowloff.com), with the exception of the John Pratt book which you can find at many other online sheet music retailers like JW Pepper.

We hope this will inspire you to start learning something new this summer and keep you motivated as the next school year and marching season approaches. If you have a private teacher, talk with them about learning a solo for fun and improve a little bit everyday!

And of course if you need a new pair of sticks or a new practice pad give us a call and we can give you some recommendations based on what you are working on and the school you attend. Happy practicing!

Marching Tenor Head Comparison: Which head is right for you?

It’s that time of year when you may start reflecting and considering a change in your head selection for the upcoming marching band season. While there is some variety in marching snare and bass drum heads, there is a large variety of tenor head options available for you to choose from. Hopefully this product breakdown will give you more insight into the most popular options, as well as how each option might work for you and the overall sound of your band. We have listed some of the more popular models from both Remo and Evans below with the characteristics of each listed.

remo-drumheads-logo | Pacific Crest Youth Arts Organization

Remo Marching Tenor Heads

  1. Remo Pinstripe Clear:**popular model**
    • Sound: Clear and controlled sound with internal dampening process.
    • Projection: Outstanding attack, clear projection.
    • Durability: Very durable, suitable for high-tension tuning.
    • Materials: Made from two 7-mil Mylar plies with a dampening agent. 14 mil total
  2. Remo Emperor Clear:**popular model**
    • Sound: Provides bright and open tones with plenty of sustain.
    • Projection: Increased volume and overall projection
    • Durability: Good durability, although not as robust as the Pinstripe.
    • Materials: 2-ply 7.5mil clear film, 15mil total.
  3. Remo Emperor Renaissance:**popular model**
    • Sound: Warm tone with controlled sustain
    • Projection: Clear articulation yet controlled and refined.
    • Durability: Durable, but does require more frequent tuning.
    • Materials: 2-ply of 7.5mil proprietary texture coating, 15mil total
  4. Remo Emperor Suede:
    • Sound: Warm tone and big sound.
    • Projection: Maximum articulation.
    • Usage: Durable and useful outdoors.
    • Materials: 2-ply of 7.5 mil proprietary Suede textured film, 15mil total
  5. Remo Emperor Smooth White:
    • Sound: Bright tone and clear attack.
    • Projection: One of the more articulate and highest projecting models.
    • Usage: Preferred for outdoor performances due to its projection.
    • Materials: 2-ply of 7.5 Smooth White Film, 15mil total

EVANS DRUMHEADS Logo Vinyl Die Cut Decal Window Color & Size Choice

Evans Marching Tenor Heads

  1. Evans TCX:**popular model**
    • Sound: Full, Rich tonal spectrum with enhanced volume and clarity.
    • Projection: Increased projection and articulation.
    • Durability: Highly durable, suitable for high-tension tuning.
    • Material: 2-ply 7mil clear film, 14mil total
  2. Evans Marching EC2S:**popular model**
    • Sound: Focused Sound
    • Projection: Controlled overtones that help give clear articulation
    • Durability: Highly durable with the extra SST controls, similar to Remo Pinstripe.
    • Materials: 2-ply 7mil clear film with SST tone control, 14mil total
  3. Evans MX Frost:
    • Sound: Warm Resonance and Tone
    • Projection: Highest Projection amongst Evans heads
    • Durability: Highly durable, suitable for high-tension tuning.
    • Materials: 2-ply 7mil clear frosted film, 14mil total
  4. Evans MX White:
    • Sound: Warm Tone with Focused Sustain
    • Projection: Firm Projection and Defined Attack
    • Durability: Highly durable, suitable for high-tension tuning.
    • Materials: 2-ply 7.5mil White film, 15mil total
  5. Evans MX Black:
    • Sound: Bright Attack with very open sound
    • Projection: Higher Level of Projection than the MX White with more resonance than an EC2S.
    • Durability: Highly durable, suitable for high-tension tuning.
    • Materials: 2ply 7.5mil black film, 15mil total.

The abuse of question marks — #67 | by Jon Jackson | 100 Naked Words |  Medium

Which one is right for me?

Ultimately, you will need to consider the type of music you are using in your show, strength of players, number of musicians on the field, performance venues, amongst other things, when picking out the head you want to use in marching band on your tenors. In general if you have a larger line and a larger band you may need to consider something that will give you the fullest sounds and maximum projection or something like the Remo Emperor Suede, Remo Emperor Clear or the Evans TCX. If you are still unsure and durability is more important to you for budgetary reasons then either the Remo Pinstripe or Evans Marching EC2S would be the top choice and two of the most popular models for marching tenors.

If you have specific questions or need advice in finding the right sound for you, give us a call at (317) 813-2070, or email us at chops@chopspercussion.com!


IPA State Finals: Tips for Warming Up Outside

Terre Haute, Indiana is Ready to Host Your Next Sporting Event

The IPA (Indiana Percussion Association) State Finals at The Hulman Center (Indiana State University) will require an outside warm-up next weekend. Those groups who have performed in Dayton for WGI Championships or participate in circuits in warmer regions of the country know this is a normal process. The outside extended warm-up can be very beneficial to preparing for the large arena environment. But for those who have not gone through that process before, here are some tips to make sure the experience is smooth and beneficial for everyone.

  • KEEP A VERY CLOSE EYE ON THE WEATHER. Be prepared for cold, rain, wind and heat.
  • Take jackets and coats to warm-up. Have a parent push around a large plastic trash can for the kids to ditch their jackets as they enter the arena. They might not need them, but it’s better to be prepared. Standing in a parking lot freezing before your final performance isn’t going to help you have a relaxed, confident performance.
  • Be prepared to change on the bus. If you aren’t showing up in uniform, don’t plan to go inside to change. This may be a possibility, but it is usually much easier and quicker to take turns changing on the bus.
  • Have plenty of plastic tarps. We all hope for perfect weather conditions on contest days, especially when the warm-up is outside, but that isn’t always the case and it’s best to prepare for inclement weather. Don’t just bring a couple huge tarps to park the equipment under. Bring smaller tarps that can stay over the electronics carts while rolling from warm-up to the arena.
  • Have plenty of bungee cords. You’ll need those tarps strapped down if it’s windy!
  • If it looks to be sunny and warm, make sure to bring water. An hour in the sun, on asphalt, can wear the students down quickly.
  • If having your electronics on during warm-up is important to you, TAKE A GENERATOR. There might be power available in the warm-up lot, but don’t plan for it.
  • Keep electronics dry at all costs!
  • Be aware of the Inclement Weather/Tent Schedule and use your time in the tent if you have any concerns about the weather. This includes very cold and/or windy conditions.
  • Finally, directors and staff – Since this is only the time for everyone at this venue, get there early and take the time to walk the flow in and out of the arena so you’re familiar with it. Also, allow enough time for your student performers to go in and watch a couple groups so they can get the feel for the arena, along with the on-and-off-the-floor flow.

Good luck to everyone performing in the IPA State Championships this weekend!

Updated: Common Concert Snare Drum Maintenance Issues

Time to rehash another blog post that is very relevant this time of year! With concert season in full swing, we thought this would be a quick reminder on things you can check out on your snare drum if you are having issues. There are some common maintenance issues that will arise over time with relation to your concert snare drum. While most of these are fairly simple we have tried to highlight issues that can be taken care of by you with little knowledge of percussion repair.

Cleaning: Wipe down each drum with a soft cloth, including the hardware and the shell. If there is extreme dirt or grime, you can use denatured alcohol diluted in water. If you have anything that is extremely sticky use a small amount of valve oil. In both cases, put the product on the cloth instead of spraying directly on the drum.

Parts Inspection: Do a visual inspection for any missing or broken parts that may need replaced. Some common parts missing or broken include the following:

  • Bent Tension Rods
  • Damaged Tension Posts or Tubes
  • Bent Strainer from overtightening snare strands
  • Bent or out of Round Rims
  • Inspect the bearing edges when heads are off for any damage

Head Replacement: Changing the heads on a concert snare drum that is used regularly should happen about once a year. Over time the head will get stretched so far that it will not hold tuning for long even if tuned daily. If the head is dented, ripped, or severely scratched consider replacing the heads. While changing a drum head is a fairly easy task, when you have to do it quickly and on your own there are a few things to consider.

  • Use two drum keys in a cross pattern to quickly remove the head.
  • Keep the tension rods attached to the rim.
  • Quickly remove any debris from the rim.
  • Take your time to make sure the head is seated properly on the bearing edge.
  • Finger tighten in a cross pattern and then using a drum key in the cross pattern.
  • Placing a finger in the center of the head can help you determine when the head is ready to tune.

Drum Tuning Patterns - DRUMDIAL

Suggested Heads : For a clear and crisp sound we recommended using the following on most concert specific snare drums.

Batter Heads – Remo Ambassador Renaissance/Remo Diplomat Renaissance/Evans Strata 1000/Evans Strata 1000 Staccato
Resonant Heads – Remo Diplomat Hazy/Remo Renaissance Snare Side/Evans Orchestral 200/Evans Orchestral 300

Snare Strand (Wires) Detach: A common issue on a snare drum is for the snare strand to become detached or become loose even with the strainer working properly.

  • Remove any old string or nylon strip and attach new ones.
  • Let some tension out of the strainer knob to allow for adjusting later on.
  • Attach the butt-side first being sure to center the strands from side to side.
  • Attach the throw-off side with it in the “ON” position. Make sure it is tight but leave some room for adjustment.

Damaged or Bent Shell: Inspect the shell for and damage. Metallic shells with dents can often be put back into round by a repair technician.

If you continue to find issue with the way your concert snare drum is performing or sounding after going through these common tips, feel free to give us a call and we talk help diagnose the problem.