Percussion Articles

These articles contain several in-depth posts ranging from basic ideas, like setup and technique, all the way to advanced formulas incorporating the speed of sound, and its equivalent delay, into field music. If you like an abundance of information then check here often for fairly regular updates about the world of percussion.

Patrick’s articles are added to this page between marching seasons. Several articles have been planned and there is always new and better information to be found in the fast moving activities like field band, drum corps, indoor percussion, as well as in the drumset world too. Please check back regularly for updates and insights from the perspective of a percussionist from New York!

New articles are always in the works! If you have suggestions for a piece, or would like to get paid to write one for this site, please contact me for more information.

Click the headlines below to open each article and learn more.

Or you can view a continuous blog here! Streamline through each article without stopping!

Cost of Timing – Field Graph

Posted by on May 14, 2021 in Instruction | 0 comments

Cost of timing has been described in a previous article, but we both know that it’s a tricky concept to explain in pure text form. Recently I’ve been working with my friend Pat McNeil to design an online field graph to help visually interpret the equivalent sound delay on a football field. First though, a huge thanks to Pat for his help with coding this, please check out his site at to get in touch or check out his content. . Cost of Timing Review: To quickly review this small portion of the Cost of Timing concept,...

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Steering Wheel Rhythms Vol. 1

Posted by on Nov 21, 2020 in Arranging | 0 comments

Animals As Leaders – The Woven Web Breakdown Introducing “Steering Wheel Rhythms” to the percussion articles! Steering wheel rhythms are going to become a regular installment with sheet music representing certain parts of various songs. Usually the songs will involve quite intricate rhythms or phrases and they’ll also tend to be from songs that make us want to pound them out on our steering wheels! Note from our legal department: and its authors shall not be held...

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Terre Hill, Woodard, New York State

Posted by on Oct 24, 2020 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Terre Hill, Woodard, New York State: Surrounding History & ExplorationAn essay by Patrick R. F. Blakley Ok, it’s been a while since I posted anything here, but it’s with good reason! I’ve recently just completed a 17,500+ word research paper focused on the Terre Hill area of Woodard, NY inside the town of Clay. This is not at all drum related, though I did sneak in a marching band fact with historical relevance. I don’t blame you if you just scroll past this one, but if you’re in the area you might feel a...

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Cost of Dynamic

Posted by on Jul 19, 2020 in Drum Corps, Marching Band | 0 comments

Sound pressure level decibel decay over distance calculation This information goes hand-in-hand with Cost of Timing and will help you calculate the sound pressure dampening across different distances! For the below calculations we’re going to use the altitude at sea level, use a scientific pitch of C6, and imagine the playing field is an anechoic chamber, put simply an isolated area without echo. This allows us to simplify the calculation and we can then use that relative information in reference to environments on the...

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Drum Set and Percussion FAQ

Posted by on Jul 17, 2020 in Drumset, General Music | 0 comments

Question & Answer Submissions – Suggestions & Requests too!   Do you have any burning questions about drums? Or even just some random thoughts you’ve never really asked about? Send them here! Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about drumline, drum set, and percussion in general. In a future article any questions received from here will be answered personally and hopefully help you out, along with anyone else that might have similar questions in the future!             So check out the...

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Drumline and Marching FAQ

Posted by on Jul 11, 2020 in Composition, General Music | 0 comments

Question & Answer Submissions – Suggestions & Requests too! Do you have any burning questions about drums? Or even just some random thoughts you’ve never really asked about? Send them here! Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about drumline, drum set, and percussion in general. In a future article any questions received from here will be answered personally and hopefully help you out, along with anyone else that might have similar questions in the future! So check out the FAQ below...

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Tempo & Tachymeters

Posted by on Jul 8, 2020 in General Music | 0 comments

You love tachymeters, I love tachymeters, everyone just can’t enough of tachymeters! In all seriousness though, what the heck is a tachymeter and why is it printed on the frame of every watch I’ve owned? Ok, so far these are all things you could, and should be saying to yourself. A tachymeter is actually really handy if you know how to use it, and there are tons of practical uses for this outside of music, but that’s not why you’re here on this page. I recommend looking for a video online that gives you some fun ways...

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American Sign Language For Drumline

Posted by on Jun 23, 2020 in Instruction | 0 comments

Using ASL to instruct WHILE the drumline is playing! Drums are loud, we all know this. So why do we constantly see staff members trying to yell over top of their drumlines? It’s confusing and distracting at best, and most of the time any verbal indicators will not be conveyed to the percussionist and instead have to be repeated at the end of the rep, if anyone even remembers. This is unprofessional, and it’s time to figure out a better solution. If you’ve ever seen ground crew on construction sites communicate...

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Musical Tempo Change To Note Value Conversions!

Posted by on May 22, 2020 in Arranging, Composition, General Music | 0 comments

A handy calculation to help you convert consistent sounding notes while changing the tempo. Have you ever written anything (DRUMMERS) that started with continuous eighth-notes, for example, and you wanted those eighths to become eighth-note-triplets by only changing the tempo? The most clear cut way to do this would be to change the tempo, and if you know this calculation you can figure it out fast! Both rhythms in the measures above sound the same to the listener. In the above example if you started out with eighth-notes at 180bpm...

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Marching Band & Drum Corps Step Sizes

Posted by on May 18, 2020 in Drum Corps, Instruction, Marching Band | 0 comments

You don’t know your step sizes as well as you thought you did! Hey marching band folks, did you know a step size horizontally is actually a different size than a step size vertically? Horizontal step size is 22.5 inches, but vertically it’s actually 22.857 inches! The proof is simple too! The full width of a football field is 160 feet, which is 84 steps. 84 steps multiplied by 22.857 is 1,919.988 inches. Divide by 12 for feet and you’re at 159.999 feet! Horizontally we’re good at 22.5 inches because 8...

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Cost Of Timing

Posted by on May 18, 2020 in Drum Corps, Marching Band | 0 comments

Calculating sound delay in bpm for anywhere on the marching field! This is a project that has taken me awhile to work out the math and create a formula that works for both distance and bpm at the same time, and I’m very excited to begin to write about it! In the future I’ll also be writing about Cost Of Dynamic which is similar to this article, but in terms of volume. But first, let me explain what any of this means since I think I might have lost some of you already. Cost Of Timing is an easy way to say “speed of...

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Diddles App!

Posted by on Feb 11, 2020 in Basses, Drumline, General Music, Practice, Snares, Software, Tenors | 0 comments

Drumline App For iOS iPhones, iPods, and iPads For marching snare, tenor, and bass drummers you’re missing out if you don’t already have this app! This is more than just a metronome app for your phone, this is a fully immersive training program. Get more involved in your warmup routine and maximize your practice time. Pull out your iPad and let this app guide you! The best part about this app is that it has several options to target the exact area you’re interested in working. Much like a workout routine, you can...

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Innovative Percussion Artist & Educator Endorsement

Posted by on Feb 10, 2020 in Drumline, Hardware, Snares, Studio, Tenors | 0 comments

Innovative Percussion Drumsticks, Mallets & Accessories I’m very excited to announce that I’m now officially an endorsed artist and educator with Innovative Percussion! The IP products are instrumental in my success as a percussionist and instructor and I’m proud to have been using their sticks, mallets, and accessories for over 15 years! Check the info below to find my favorite products from IP that I use in my studio and with all of my ensembles… IP-1 Generals are my go-to concert and drum set stick of...

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The Star-Spangled Banner Snare Drum Solo

Posted by on Nov 2, 2018 in Composition, Snares | 0 comments

The United States National Anthem is one of the most iconic pieces of music recognized across the country. The Star-Spangled Banner is performed before most public sporting events and activities, most commonly by a solo vocalist. For special occasions you’ll hear an accompaniment by a small ensemble and sometimes even a snare drum and crash cymbals. I’d like to put forward something a little different that I don’t believe has been performed as of the time of writing – The United States National Anthem: The Star-Spangled...

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Drumline Instructors Step #1 – Drumline Warmups

Posted by on Oct 3, 2018 in Composition, Drumline, Instruction | 0 comments

If you’re brand new to drumline instruction and need a solid place to start you’re ready for step number one – full drumline warmups and technique packet. Step one is deciding how to setup your drumline and create the best environment for their success. In order to complete this step you’ll need a clearly defined technique outline and fundamental drumline warmups or exercises. This is something that every successful ensemble requires, not just in the marching percussion world but across all types of group activities. If...

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Dr. Beat Memory Switch for the Boss DB90 Metronomes

Posted by on Apr 26, 2016 in Hardware | 2 comments

If you’ve been involved with a marching band or drum corps for a while then you’ve probably been handed the metronome and Long Ranger to run during a rehearsal. Now, more importantly, if the show tempo every changed abruptly you’ve had to turn the dial at just the right moment and hope that it only moved one notch over. If it moved two notches over you’d skip a programmed tempo and possibly mess up the ensemble, you might also have switched it too soon and caused a hiccup. Well there is a device that can change all of...

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100 Songs (Hear with Fresh Ears)

Posted by on Apr 11, 2016 in General Music | 0 comments

There are a lot of great ways to listen to music, but have you ever listened to a song so many times that it loses its spark? Or have you ever felt like a song has just gotten dusty and less interesting over time? That doesn’t mean it isn’t good, it just means that you need to find a new way to listen to it! Here is a small solution to hear your all time favorite songs with fresh ears. First, make a playlist of exactly 100 songs. If you do this with friends you could make it in iTunes (or whatever program you use to burn CDs or...

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Awesome Drumline & Marching Band Shirts

Posted by on Apr 2, 2016 in Drum Corps, Drumline, Marching Band, Shop | 0 comments

Drumline and marching band shirts are now available through! These marching t-shirts are designed for marching members of any type, from parade band to drum corps. T-shirts range from drumline specific to general marching shirts so there’s sure to be something just right for you. Browse through and find the one that will turn heads at practice. Apparel is updated and added regularly so check back soon for even more options!   The awesome selection of drumline and marching band shirts:       Water...

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Drumline GoPro & Best Mounts

Posted by on Mar 30, 2016 in Drumline, Hardware | 0 comments

If you’re like a lot of other drummers in a drumline you want to grab as much footage as you can. And rightfully so, as soon as you graduate or age-out you’ll start to miss it and want to look back, you NEED some sort of video at least. If friends or family record from the front you’ll get a great (hopefully) audience perspective on what you did, but if you truly want to re-live the moments you’ll be looking for a first person shot. A lot of activities are really grabbing hold of the GoPro setup because it’s easy...

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Implements of Choice

Posted by on Mar 29, 2016 in Drumline, Hardware, Pit, Shop | 0 comments

If you’re auditioning or have been given a position in one of Mr. Blakley’s percussion sections then this is a list of items you’ll need to have. If you’re not in one of his groups then this is just a list of choice items that are highly recommended through years of experience with them. Since 2003 the sticks and mallets chosen to be used have been the same, as well as the manner in which they are used by the performers. In the next section you’ll see an itemized list by instrumentation that the groups all use....

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