Canadian researchers have just released details of a huge study, showing that learning a musical instrument is related to gains in many other key academic areas.
The large-scale study shows that students who participate in music-related activities also perform better in subjects like English, math and science.
The study looked at over 110,000 secondary school students in Canada (grades 7-12), and is the largest study of its kind to date.
Specifically, the largest academic gains were found for student taking part in instrument-based music activities (such as playing the drums) compared to vocal-based music studies.
Students that were highly engaged in school-based music studies were, on average, more than one whole year ahead of students who were not studying music. Greater academic achievement was seen across all subjects and topics.
The researchers controlled for factors such as students’ socio-economic status, sex, cultural background, and other variables that have been shown to influence academic achievements (allowing greater clarity when looking at the impact of music).
It’s important to point out that this was a correlational study: From these results alone, it’s unclear whether music causes higher grades, whether high-achieving students decide to take part in music studies, or whether there’s another unknown variable affecting both of those things.
However, other studies have shown academic improvements in students who were randomly allocated into music studies, meaning it’s very possible that learning a musical instrument is one of the key driving factors behind the academic gains shown in the Canadian study.
The findings are helpful in highlighting how music studies, including learning drums, can form an important part of academic life. Looking at music this way, it becomes a key component of learning, rather than a distraction from other subjects.
The fact that highly musically-engaged students were more than one year ahead of their non-musical peers shows the magnitude of the study’s results. Adding musical studies to student life might just have a large and lasting benefit to many other academic areas.
This is a great beginner’s electronic drum kit, and also a top choice for advanced drummers looking for a practice kit.
Some of the stand-out features include all mesh snare and tom drum pads, and a bass drum pad that supports a double pedal. A kit with both of these features is actually very hard to find in this cheaper price range!
In the music community, Hal Blaine is a certified legend. Prolific is a great word to use here. To put things into perspective: If you could achieve just one tenth of his success, you would be a drumming superstar and could retire happy.
Even if you don’t know much about him or his legacy (he’s not a “household” name for many younger drummers), it’s guaranteed that you’ve heard him drumming on something. There’s a story about Bruce Gary, drummer for The Knack, being disappointed to learn that 12 of his favorite drummers were all Hal Blaine.
Hal passed away this month at his home in California of natural causes, age 90.
Much of his most notable work was as a member of session band “The Wrecking Crew”, where he played on over six thousand singles (including hundreds of top 40 hits). He influenced drummers worldwide, and won the respect of some of the world’s biggest musical stars. The Wrecking Crew were the go-to musicians for the biggest producers and songwriters of an entire generation.
In total, Hal Blaine recorded drums on over 35,000 songs. That’s over 85 days of nonstop recorded music… More than one recorded track per day for every day of his life. Along with hundreds of top 40 tracks, he’s played on 150 top ten hits and 40 number one hits.
The most important thing to point out here is that none of this was by accident: He was simply that good. He was called upon by the biggest names in the music industry, and for years he was the go-to drummer who could nail anything and lift a recording from good to amazing. This was well before there were computers to fix off-beats, mis-hits, and mistakes.
So let’s take a look at the carrer of Hal Blaine, to really understand the impact this man has had on drumming (and Western music in general) across his time here.
Hal Blaine started drumming at eight years of age. After spending some time in the army, he moved to Chicago. He honed his skills early in his career by playing in Chicago’s strip clubs, before going on to perform with touring acts like Count Basie, Patti Page, and Tommy Sands. From there, he started as a session drummer in the 1950s.
Older jazz-trained professional drummers weren’t interested in playing rock and roll music, which allowed Hal to get on board with a new musical style that would become huge. The Wrecking Crew started in the early 1960s as Phil Spector’s house band. Considering the huge range of recordings they made, Hal and the Wrecking Crew weren’t well-known in the general public, and were often not even mentioned on the recordings. For example, albums by The Monkees and The Beach Boys would have no indication of the actual recorded musicians, even though it was often Hal Blaine behind the kit in the studio (and other Wrecking Crew members on the other instruments). Fans would simply assume it was the band’s “official” drummer who played on the albums. Hal got paid, the records sounded great, and nobody was any wiser.
Due to studio recording restrictions in the 1960s, instrumental tracks were almost always recorded live (with the entire band playing all together) rather than one instrument at a time. This required top-class musicians, as a small mistake by anyone meant having to restart the entire song from the beginning (which wasted money on expensive studio time). The instruments were usually mixed to a single mono track, and vocals would be recorded later.
The “Wrecking Crew” name became popularized thanks to Hal Blaine’s memoir in 1990, and comes from a tongue-in-cheek jab at the older professional musicians of the time who believed the Crew would “wreck” the music industry (due to their leanings towards rock and roll music and their sloppy t-shirt-and-jeans dress code). Rock and roll was a dirty word to many old-school musicians of the time. Back when they were playing though, there was no official name for The Wrecking Crew, and it’s hard to get an exact number of members that were involved.
It was not uncommon for Hal to work 14+ hour days, especially at the height of The Wrecking Crew’s career in the mid to late 1960s. This led to some of the crew becoming burnt out. They were paid very well for their time, but they had to neglect family life and everything outside of the music world.
Hal would have two identical drum kits, and they’d constantly be moved from studio to studio. While he was recording with one, the other kit would be set up at the next session waiting for him. Check out one of those kits in Donn Bennett’s Drum Vault video below, which has a great overview of why Hal used concert toms (with no resonant heads), and shows what is probably the world’s first “drum rack” (on wheels!) which was needed to help quickly move the kit around town for recording. You can also see how Hal ensured every single studio got the “best” sounding set of his two identical kits:
The musical landscape was changing by the beginning of the 1970s, which led to a reduced demand for top-level session musicians (and session ensembles who could record all together). Improvements in recording equipment meant that instruments could be recorded separately and in greater detail. Emerging bands also wanted to record all of their own material, leading to less demand for “ghost musicians” to record their parts in the studio. Drum machines would become a more common studio tool towards the late 1970s. Hal Blaine remained quite busy across the 1970s, but by the 1980s he took part in much less studio work and eventually moved into semi-retirement. By this time, he’d arguably achieved more than any other drummer in the world.
There are simply too many achievements to list here, so let’s look at some of the highlights.
Hal played on six consecutive Grammy award records of the year from 1966 to 1971:
A Taste Of Honey by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
Strangers In The Night by Frank Sinatra
Up, Up And Away by The 5th Dimension
Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel
Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In by The 5th Dimension
Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel
Hal was called “the greatest drummer ever” by The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.
He was the drummer on Buddy Rich’s daughter Cathy’s album – when Buddy was asked why he didn’t play on his own daughter’s record, he replied “I wanted the best”.
Here’s a short list of just some of the musicians Hal Blaine has recorded with:
The Beach Boys
The Mamas & the Papas
Simon & Garfunkel
The Partridge Family
Captain & Tennille
Sonny & Cher
For some great insights into Hal Blaine’s career (and some great stories), take a look at his 2017 interview with Dom Famularo:
Hal Blaine used Ludwig calfskin and Remo mylar drumheads across most of his career. Remo Diplomat drumheads were his choice on toms, and his bass drum often featured a calfskin drumhead, or a kevlar head. His main recording drum kits included a Ludwig blue sparkle bass drum with a 16″ floor tom. Along with this, Hal used 7 custom-made fibreglass concert toms (6″, 8″, 10″, 12″, 13″, 14″, 15″), and a Ludwig 400 Supraphonic chrome-on-brass snare.
Hal Blaine was born on February 5th 1929, and passed away March 11th 2019 at the age of 90 years.
His family released a statement upon his passing: “Hal Blaine …. inspiration to countless friends, fans and musicians – has passed on today, March 11th, 2019 at the age of 90. May he rest forever on 2 and 4. The family appreciates your outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Hal from around the world, and respectfully request privacy in this time of great mourning. No further details will be released at this time.”
Along with their statement, his family released a recent email Hal had sent, discussing his limited time left and how he feels about his life – it’s definitely worth reading:
Welch Tuning System (WTS) Drums allow you to tune the whole drum at once, simply by turning a single key attached to the drum. Yep, both batter and resonant heads, all at once, and without needing to do anything else!
How do Welch Tuning System drums work?
These easy-tune drums feature a cable that runs through the batter and resonant drum hoops. The cable is connected at a single point, and turning the built-in key at this point will quickly tune the drum up or down in pitch.
The idea here is that you’ll never need to spend time moving your drum key around each lug, trying to match the pitch across the drumhead. It’s a really cool concept, and it got a great reception at NAAM.
They currently have two different drum kit sizes listed:
A full size kit, with 9″x12″ and 12″x14″ rack toms, a 14″x16″ floor tom, and a 14″ or 16″ x 22″ bass drum.
A “portable” kit with smaller shells, including an 8″x12″ rack tom, a 12″x14″ floor tom, and a 14″x18″ bass drum.
All drums are hand-crafted, with 8-ply shells made entirely of maple. Hoops are 2.3mm triple-flanged, and bearing edges on all drums are cut to a single 45 degree angle. There’s also a deep 8×14″ 10-ply maple snare drum available, which comes with die-cast hoops.
Along with quick and accurate tuning, there’s almost no hardware bolted on to the drum shell. Instead, the pulley system is attached to the drum’s hoops. The “worm gear” tuning key is the only piece of hardware drilled into the shell for tuning, meaning drums can resonate more without being “choked” by the extra weight of the hardware.
Wondering about batter vs. resonant head tunings with WTS drums?
This can make it difficult to get really specific tuning styles.
However, using different thickness drumheads can overcome this. Why? Because thicker heads will create a lower pitch, when compared to thinner heads tuned to the same tension.
For drummers who are extremely picky with their drumhead thickness, this might be a problem. If you’ve read a few of our other articles on DrumheadAuthority.com, you’ll know that there are a lot of other things that head thickness can affect in your drum sound, besides just the pitch at a particular tension. WTS drums do sound great overall though, and they sound great as you move through different tuning tensions (take a listen below). In most cases, the ease of tuning makes these drums worthwhile, especially if you need to constantly change your drum tuning throughout a set.
Alesis have just announced a brand new all-in-one electronic drum pad: The Alesis Strike MultiPad. This is a powerful full-featured electronic drum multipad, allowing drummers to add electronics to their live performances, record and edit samples, or build a fully functional mini electronic drum kit for gigs, parties, and practicing.
Alesis Strike MultiPad’s Key Features
Alesis give you nine velocity-sensitive drum pads on the unit, each with its own customizable RGB light (to help you see it on a dark stage).
There are five built-in effects processors (see the specs section below for the full list). Effects include three kit effects, one master effect, plus compressor and EQ controls.
Independent and mappable control knobs, allowing you to assign your controls to the effects you want to access for live tweaking (plus dedicated headphone and master controls).
Two headphone outputs: One 3.5mm and one 6.35mm, so you don’t have to worry about carrying adapters for your headphones.
A built-in metronome that can be sent to either the headphones, the main output, or both.
A built-in looper letting you record and loop long and short performances, and create complex tracks to use when performing or practicing.
The Strike MultiPad features a large 4.3″ colour display, to help you navigate the features, record and edit sounds, and create loops.
Alesis have included both Pro Tools First and Ableton Live Lite, to open up the recording potential of the Strike MultiPad.
The Strike MultiPad: Looking Deeper
One of the coolest features is the powerful on-board sampling. You can record sounds directly to the Strike MultiPad, and then edit them directly on the unit to ensure they sound exactly as intended. Alesis have made it as easy as possible to get sounds into the MultiPad: You can record samples by plugging in your phone, via USB, microphone, or any other audio device. The recording input can be set to either mic or line-level and includes a gain control, to ensure your samples are captured properly. You can also load WAV file samples via USB.
With a lot of recording and sampling, you’ll need a lot of storage, and Alesis have put a huge amount of space on the unit for samples and backing tracks. The Strike MultiPad comes with 32GB of storage (which works out to be well over 24 hours of sounds). 6GB of space is dedicated to the built-in sounds – you get over 8,000 samples and loops to use right out of the box. The built-in sounds cover drums, percussion, and melodic instruments, along with loops to help inspire some creativity.
Alesis have made the Strike MultiPad very expandable, with plenty of inputs either for triggers or for creating a powerful mini electronic drum kit. Alesis give you 3 cymbal/drum pad inputs, a hi-hat pedal input, and 2 foot controls. The pad can be used as a brain for controlling a fully-featured electronic drum kit, for triggering samples on your acoustic kit, or for anything in between.
Interestingly, the unit can also be used as a basic audio interface – it has a 2-in and 2-out USB audio feature. There’s also the usual MIDI in, out, and thru. Put together, this means you can use the Alesis Strike MultiPad to record direct to your computer, or use it to trigger samples using drum software like EZDrummer or BFD. It’s nice to see Alesis have included some lite versions of Pro Tool and Ableton to help with this: Drummers will have everything they need to get recording right away.
Alesis Strike MultiPad Specs List
Alesis Strike MultiPad Audio features
The Strike MultiPad supports 16bit mono and stereo WAV files (with a sample rate of 44.1KHz).
127 separate MIDI notes.
Audio output routing for pads, triggers, and footswitch (routing options include main+headphones, effects 1-3, aux+headphones, or headphones only).
Metronome with BPM control for beat playback.
Two layers of samples per pad, trigger, and footswitch.
Mono & poly sample playback options.
Volume, pan, fade in/out, velocity, and priority controls for each sample.
Sample editing: Trim start/end of sample, change tempo, zoom while editing, normalize sample, pitch adjust, reverse sample.
A “Panic” control instantly stops all sounds on the device (helpful if you trigger the wrong backing track live!).
Control mode function for pads to allow tap-tempo, toggling effects, and loop control all by hitting a pad.
Retrigger, crosstalk, mask time, and scan time settings for all pads, and head/rim control for dual-zone pads.
Alesis Strike MultiPad Built-In Effects
Basic Hall / Ballad Hall
Echo / Delay
Alesis Strike MultiPad Inputs
(2) 1/4” (6.35 mm) TRS audio inputs
(1) 1/4” (6.35 mm) TS trigger input (for adding one single-zone drum pad or kick drum pad)
(2) 1/4” (6.35 mm) TRS trigger inputs (for adding two dual-zone drum pads, or four single-zone pads)
In this month’s roundup we’ve got mid-drumming backflips, top drummers talking about their favourite drum sounds, getting unexpectedly hired by AC/DC, and a lot more!
“Drummer wanted. If you don’t hit hard, don’t apply”
Former AC/DC drummer Simon Wright tells how he was hired by the band after a blind audition in 1983, right before a huge concert. Listen to the full interview below, where Wright talks about how he first attended an audition hosted by a drum tech. The drum tech called him back soon after, and Wright learned who the band was after seeing AC/DC printed on flight cases as he walked down the corridor to meet them for the first time.
Sabian have announced a beautiful limited edition David Garibaldi ride cymbal, to mark Tower of Power’s 50th anniversary, and the release of their 16th studio album. The 21″ double-hammered HH Ride is dubbed “The Soul Side” Ride, and features a buffed raw top and fully-lathed bottom. Only 250 of these cymbals will be made – read more at Sabian’s website.
Some huge names in drumming have united to beat (yes beat) hunger. There’s Stewart Copeland, Sheila E., and Kenny Aronoff, just to name a few. Check out all of the videos here, and (more importantly) donate to Hunger Relief International here. HRI is a worldwide organization that partners with local communities. Their aim is to reduce the impact of hunger on the lives of malnourished children, and to enable families and communities to become self-sufficient.
Sonic Youth are currently selling off a lot of their old equipment. In the mix are some of Steve Shelley‘s lovely Gretsch drums, a Ludwig Speedking, some assorted hand drums, and other nice gear. See the auction on Reverb here.
Wanna see someone do a backflip between two drum kits while drumming? We do!
Check out MusicRadar’s interview with Aric Improta, drummer for Night Verses and The Fever 333. Aric covers the importance of showmanship, something a lot of drummers have put a big focus on before him (for example, Buddy Rich and Keith Moon).
Reverb has a great article featuring drum legends like Stewart Copeland, Cindy Blackman, and Patrick Carney talking about their favourite recorded drum sounds. Some more obvious choices are in there (like When The Levee Breaks), along with a lot of other great tracks (many you wouldn’t expect). Read the full article here, and listen to each of the tracks below for some drum sound inspiration.
Attack drumheads has undergone a change of ownership, becoming part of new wholesale company Cardinal Percussion. The new company has been launched by industry veterans Jim Bickley (former VP of Universal Percussion), Robbie McFarland (GM of Hubbard Music retail stores) and Mark Tirabassi (President of Mavi Inc.). Attack drumheads are used by some top names in the industry, including Eric Singer of Kiss. Read more at Cardinal Percussion’s website. We’d love to get our hands on some of the new heads to test out!
If you’ve got any other great news-worthy drum stories, feel free to let us know.
We’ve just released a massive new article, covering everything you’ve every wanted to know about resonant drumheads for toms and bass drums.
You’ll find all of the essential stuff, including what resonant heads actually do, how they work, and why they’re important.
Beyond that though, the entire article is written to give you all the information you need to take full control of your drum sound:
You’ll find helpful tips, advice, and information on how to get the best out of your resonant drumheads.
We’ve got resonant head tuning tips, critical information on how to pair resonant heads with batter heads, details on when you should change them, and whether you actually need them.
If that’s not enough, we’ve also listed every single resonant tom drumhead option available from Aquarian, Evans, and Remo. All of them! We’ve got the more common options, and a few that you probably haven’t considered.
Here it is – the latest drum news from around the web!
There’s Chis Adler‘s broken-drumstick-in-the-eye story, a super groovy drums-only album by Nate Smith, TWO cool things for drummers in the United Kingdom to check out, a video dissecting a great drum groove by Ilan Rubin, and more.
First up, Lamb of God’s Chris Adler talks about his biggest nightmare on stage: breaking a drumstick mid-song, and having the sharp end bounce up and stick into his right eye.
Nate Smith has released the jaw-dropping Pocket Change album, featuring 11 songs of absolutely nothing but drums.
It’s groovy as hell, and it’s something you’re going to be playing on repeat (so prepare your headphones). Listen to it directly below via Bandcamp, or find it on any streaming service or online music store.
The London Drum Show kicks off next month, from November 10 to 11 at Olympia London. They’ve released their lineup, full of world-class drummers and some really cool events (like a tribute to Keith Moon!).
Here are just some of the legends playing at the event:
David ‘Pick’ Withers – drummer on legendary albums from Dire Straits.
Next, some more cool stuff for UK drummers… Sky Arts has launched “The Art Of Drumming” TV series, featuring some of the biggest names in the industry.
If you’re in the UK, you can watch it online here. If not, well, you’ll have to wait? There are four one-hour-long episodes with a big focus on rock drumming. Here’s a short clip:
Roland recently announced a brand new electronic drum kit for beginners, the Roland TD-1DMK. This electronic drum set contains 15 built-in preset kits, a huge range of skill building tools, and access to their Melodics training software.
The best feature, however, is the inclusion of mesh pads for all drums. This is a big step up from the standard rubber pads on many entry-level kits, making the Roland TD-1DMK stand out from the pack. The TD-1DMK is available for preorder; we’ll add an update once they’re released in stores.
Reverb has an interesting piece on the rise and fall of Trixon drums. Known for their very weird drum shell shapes, Trixon folded in 1971 after moving from Germany to Ireland.
Read the article here, and check out some of the weird and wonderful drums they created across their 24-year life.
Next, check out this excellent video of Ilan Rubin dissecting The Crunge… He does an amazing job with this simple-yet-complex beat. Watch the video, then go and play it!