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A Challenge To Instructors: STOP BLAMING "OLD MAN HANDS"

I want to challenge an expression I’ve heard since I joined the marching percussion activity 19 years ago. I understand those who have moved on in their lives and haven’t played with drumsticks in 6+ months, this blog is not for you. This is specific to teachers who still actively teach. My challenge: fight the urge to immediately blame “old man hands” when you poorly drum a part or exercise in front of your students and/or peers.

I get it, after you age out you may have less time to perfect your craft. But too many times I have personally witnessed poor performances or demonstrations that weren’t always attributed to lack of rehearsal. It could be you never had the correct muscle control in the first place and you’re embarrassed to own up to your own deficiencies. If we don’t give our students excuses, then why are you giving yourself an excuse? That’s a question you may want to meditate on.


A lot of the best instruction I ever received was by my instructor drumming on my drum and killing it. When I was in Blue Devils, Scott Johnson would (and still can) play all the exercises and music just as good, if not better, than all the students. When I was in Pacific Crest, Tim Tintari would drum the full opener to exemplify hand balance, calculated rhythms, and stroke velocity. They did not need words to convey what was needed to make the part better; they showed it through their performance.

I personally want to say thank you for all the instructors I had who maintained their own discipline as they invested in the next generation. It motivates me every year to be AT LEAST the same level as the snares in RCC’s drumline. If I am going to mentor and instruct these strong players, another layer of respect is gained by my own performance and capabilities.


We all continue to grow. We as instructors need to as well if we truly want to develop the next generation of world class drummers.


Accept the challenge.


Author: Matthew Regua

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