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Drumming Pareto - 80/20 Rule

The question to ask is how can I use Pareto’s Principle in my drumming life?


The 80/20 rule is called the Pareto Principle. The general idea is that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This principle can be easily googled and seen in all facets of life like your diet, wardrobe, TV channels, friends, etc. For example: if you have 80 TV channels, the Pareto Principle states that 16 of those channels (20%) account for 80% of your viewing time on  the TV.  This hit home to me when I realized I used the same 10 channels on Dish Network (ESPN, TNT, USA, ABC, FOX, FS1, CNN, NBC, HIST, and CNBC), but paid for over 200 channels.


One of the best ways to apply this principle is towards your drumming weaknesses. EVERY drummer in the world has issues, even at the elite level in your favorite Drum Corps. What we have seen from our years of teaching is universal principles will never be as effective as individual evaluation to improve individual deficiencies.


For example, a 5 person snareline may be struggling with their opener in the show. After a dirty repetition of the music at practice, the instructor shares they keep playing slow and are not putting enough effort into the music. The next repetition is just as dirty as the first and everybody is frustrated. But if each student was analyzed at a higher level, each student’s patterns of issues will be more evident.


Snare 1 - Cannot play any left hand diddle phrase as open as the right hand.
Snare 2 - All triplet rhythms rush compared to their feet
Snare 3 - Great tempo and rhythms, but plays taps 6” higher than everybody else so is overbalancing from the end of the snareline
Snare 4 - Strongest player in the line, but plays taps on paradiddles lower and tighter than all other diddle rudiments
Snare 5 - Mathematical accuracy on tap roll phrases slurred, distorting the rhythms

Each of these students may have 5 issues on the opener. But the 1 critical issue listed above (1 / 5 = 20%) for each student can be causing 80% of their problems in the chart. The moral of the story is, not all problems are equal.


One of the purposes of the IQ Test is to identify and remedy problems that are showing up multiple times in your performance. This is “low hanging fruit” you can fix immediately and get better; FASTER.


The best DCI and WGI drummers in the world do this, now it’s your turn. Let’s Drum SMART.


Author: Matthew Regua

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