Introducing ‘Bluefingers’ – A duo with a difference.

Bluefingers are an acoustic duo that perform instrumental music in arrangements for classical guitar and percussion. The duo consists of Mladen Veličković, classical guitar and Aleksandar Jakšić, percussion.

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“Classical Gas” is an instrumental musical piece composed and originally performed by Mason Williams. “Bluefingers” played one of many versions of this composition, which was used as a soundtrack in the movie “The Story of Us”.

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Product Review – Pearl e/MERGE Traditional Electronic Drum Kit, Powered By Korg

The Pearl e/Merge Traditional Electronic Drum Kit, Powered By Korg is a brand new electronic drum kit that takes a huge step forward in the progression towards an electronic kit that feels and responds like an acoustic kit. Pearl have worked with Korg, taking features from their legendary Wave Drum to provide pads that feel and respond in the same manner that acoustic kits do.
Wave Trigger Technology allows the e/Merge Electronic Drum kit to respond to your touch and the vibrations you create when playing. This is complemented by Pearl’s new PUREtouch Electronic Pad System that feature six layers of material that combine to provide the most natural feeling electronic drum pad available on the market today. All of the incredibly advanced features on the kit require an equally advanced drum module.
The module features a huge array of 700 high definition voices, 35 high definition preset drum kits and 36 different effects. Pearl have created an entirely new sound library, recorded in one of the world’s most respected and renowned recording studios, Music City USA in Nashville, Tennessee

PUREtouch Electronic Pad System

The PUREtouch Electronic Pad System is a new creation, developed by Pearl and Korg to provide drummers with a pad surface that sits perfectly between being too bouncy and soaking up the force of the stick. The PUREtouch electronic pads are constructed from six layers of material that work together to create the most natural feeling electronic pad available today. Every area of the snare head acts and responds the same way that an acoustic snare does, from the center to the edge. The head tension can be made tighter or looser to vary the feel and the tone, allowing you to adapt the kit to your play style, and not the other way around as you had to with the majority of other electronic drum kits. The snare pad features two separate rim triggers that are perfectly positioned to offer cross stick and rim shot effects, all fitted to a 14” pad to provide the most authentic playing experience possible.

Wave Trigger Technology

Pearl have worked alongside Korg, taking features from their legendary Wave Drum, to provide electric pads that respond and feel like an acoustic drum kit. This has long been the aim of all electric drums and has also been the request of drummers since electric kits were first introduced. The features of Korg’s Wave Drum allowed your touch, your feel and the vibrations you create when played to influence the tone and character of the sounds produced. Pearl have implemented this technology across all of the pads on the e/MERGE Electronic Kit. This technology has been named Wave Trigger Technology and allows every nuance of your playing style, and even your stick choice, to influence how the sounds are produced.

e/MERGE MDL-1 Module

All of the incredibly advanced features on the e/Merge Traditional Electronic Drum Kit require an equally advanced drum module. Pearl have created the e/Merge MDL-1 Module to power the kit, providing all the power and performance required housed in a simplistic, easy to use interface. The module features a pair of multi-core processors and is filled with a large array of 700 different high definition voices, 35 high definition preset drum kits and 36 different effects. Pearl have recorded an entirely new library for the e/MERGE in the most respected and renowned recording studios, Music City USA in Nashville, Tennessee, ensuring that they match the incredibly advanced technology featured in the e/Merge kit. Pearl have also combined a selection of sounds from Korg’s renowned high definition library, ranging from electronic, orchestral, world and other sounds.

PUREtouch Electronic Cymbal Pack

Each e/Merge Electronic Drum Kit includes a PUREtouch Electronic Cymbal pack. Consisting of an 18” three zone ride, a 15” two zone crash and 14” two zone hi-hats. The PUREtouch ride and crash cymbals feature a natural, authentic playing action with a slightly softer feel due to the rubber casing to control the volume. The cymbals all feature frequency based zone blending consistent with where you strike the cymbal. The PUREtouch cymbals also feature a natural cymbal choke function where choking the cymbals eliminates the sound and instantaneously triggers the natural ring inherent to choking natural cymbals, providing the most authentic electronic cymbals yet.


  • Incredibly advanced features provide authentic and responsive playing experience
  • Uses features from Korg’s Wave Drum for a powerfully natural feel
  • PUREtouch cymbals ride and crash cymbals feature zone blending and choking
  • Features 700 different HD sounds, 35 preset kits & 36 effects recorded in Music City, Nashville
  • Play your own WAV samples via USB-A
  • Electronic bass pad swivel legs provide complete customisation
  • Icon e-Rack provides complete flexibility, security and the option to expand your kit


  • Drum Module: e/Merge MDL-1
  • Snare Pad: PUREtouch EM-14S 14” Snare Drum Pad
  • Tom Pad 1: PUREtouch EM-10T 10” Tom Pad
  • Tom Pad 2: PUREtouch EM-12T 12” Tom Pad
  • Tom Pad 3: PUREtouch EM-14T 14” Tom Pad
  • Bass Drum Pad: PUREtouch EM-KCPC Kick Pad
  • Hi-Hat: PUREtouch EM-14HH 14” Hi-Hat Cymbal Pad Set
  • Crash: EM-15C 15” Crash Cymbal Pad
  • Ride: EM-18R 18” Ride Cymbal Pad
  • Rack: Icon e-Rack


  • Sounds: 700
  • Drum Kits: 35
  • Effects: 36
  • Song Recording Type: 44.1kHz, 16bit WAV
  • Connectors:
    • Master Out L/Mono & R
    • Direct Out x 8
    • Headphones Out
    • AUX In TRS Mini
    • Main Trigger Inputs (DB-25 Connector)
    • Accessory Inputs x 3
    • USB to PC Port
    • USB-A
    • MIDI Out
  • Power Supply: 120V – 240V, 50-60Hz


Septem Juncta In Uno – Seven Joined As One


The band was formed in 1981 and is made up of former musicians from the seven regiments of Her Majesty’s Household Division Bands namely:- The Life Guards, Blues and Royals (now the Household Cavalry Band), Grenadiers, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards Bands. The present Household Division Musicians Association Band follows a long tradition of music making by musicians from these famous regiments.

Most of the members are still playing in leading London Orchestras, London Theatres, or teaching in music colleges and schools throughout the country.

The Band performs at numerous public and private engagements, most notably The Chelsea Flower Show, Eastbourne Bandstand, and at The Royal Hospital Chelsea. The Band rehearses at The Royal Hospital Chelsea, with which it is proud to be associated.

The band rehearses once a month on a Sunday morning from 10.30am  – 12.30pm at The Band Room at The Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Royal Hospital, Chelsea

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Director of Music: David Vaninetti-Smart FLCM

Image result for david vaninetti smart

David began his musical career at the age of 13 as a trombonist for Barnstaple Town Military Band and Bideford Town Brass Band. In 1987, he joined the Army and was posted to the Band of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment. During his two years at the Royal Military School of Music, David took a change of course, studying flute and classical piano under Graham Mayger and Veronica Clayton respectively. It was while he was at Kneller Hall that David discovered his passion for writing band arrangements.

After postings to Northern Ireland and Cyprus in the early nineties, David successfully passed an audition for the Life Guards Band of the Household Cavalry. During a series of summer concerts for the Household Cavalry band, David was persuaded by the Director of Music to take yet another musical change: he became the principal oboist of the Band, a position that he held until he left the army in 1998. During his military service he has performed all around the world, playing for all the members of the Royal Family, The Lord Mayor of London, as well as countless Ambassadors and diplomats.

More About The Household Division

Our Young Percussionists Are Not Being Trained to Be Musicians

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In South Florida, where I was raised, most kids don’t experience percussion until they’re in the 6th grade (11 years old). Typically, this experience is not in a space comprised of other percussionists, but rather in a wind ensemble or orchestra setting. A bright-eyed percussionist, likely with his or her beginner stick bag, rented beginner bell kit, snare drum, and pad are prepared to do what every instrumentalist is there to do — learn to make music.

Or so they think.

The typical band director is equipped with many of the tools and training needed to make their wind players sound good. They instruct them on proper posture and spends time working on breathing in preparation for playing together as an ensemble. Then they all begin working on their sound. Well, except for the percussionists. Percussionists may learn a scale pattern created for wind players, and maybe a snare rhythm to pair with it. Band directors often focus their energy on helping wind players listen to the sound they’re creating and blending that sound with their section, then honing in further on good posture and breath control. If percussionists are lucky enough to be involved in these parts of rehearsal, the sounds they are creating are often ignored.

Take this common situation:

The beginning band is tasked with playing a Bb scale in half notes. The percussionists get on their nearest xylophone, grab a pair of mallets from their beginner set, and begin playing half note rolls on each note up the scale. The rolls don’t sound good. The mallets don’t match. They may or may not be striking all over the bar with no regard to proper playing areas. Maybe they receive some feedback on dynamics (meaning they are playing too loud), but more often than not, they’re told to stop playing while work is being done creating solid sounds with the wind players.

To an extent, I understand why this situation occurs. Common percussion instruments produce immediate feedback. If you ask a student to play a Bb, the desired pitch sounds immediately upon striking it. With wind players, a lot more goes into basic sound production so a lot more time is spent focused on them and that trend often continues throughout their middle school band experience. The snare may not be tuned, the head may be dead, the sticks may not match each other, and the bells mallets may switch with each run. However, more immediate concerns of wind issues cause the majority of band directors to marginalize percussionists and ignore key parts of their training, putting them at a serious disadvantage.

The problem doesn’t stop there. Percussionists entering high school will finally be exposed to larger keyboard instruments, and getting specialized instruction for the first time. This could be a wonderful opportunity to build a really solid musical foundation, but unfortunately the first half of the year is marching band. This stinks because I love marching band! But the harsh reality is that the standard keyboard education for marching band can be very damaging and often leads to students becoming technically proficient, but musically deficient.

Here are a few of the causes:

  • Because of the nature of the marching band activity, priority is given to the visual before the aural.
  • Hours are spent “chopping out” — focusing on building muscle strength by using aggressive methods to gain speed and height while micromanaging the smallest details of each persons fingers with little regard to musical nuances.
  • Using primarily pattern based unison exercises that work singular facets of technique with minimal listening responsibility.
  • Dynamic nuances are replaced with contrasting extremes for effect.
  • Hard and fast rules are created to help players appear visually aligned (ex. play only in the center of the bar).
  • Instructors that are there solely to compete without any thought given to how their approach will affect the overall development of percussionists as musicians.
  • Aggressive, and often times unhealthy techniques are used despite the progressive use of amplification in the marching idiom.
  • The first time a high school percussionist picks up an instrument outside of marching band is months later.
  • The demand to memorize only an average of 15 minutes of music per year drastically diminishes their reading skills.
  • The pressure to learn that music quickly leads to rote memorization and heavily impedes on their ability to learn high quantities of music proficiently.

The bottom line is this. While students are in one of the most critical points in their musical development, we tend to marginalize the player’s ears, strip away their musical choices, handicap them from being able to curate their own sound, and harden their touch.

As a result, most young adult players experience these challenges:

  • They have very little touch or control on the instrument.
  • They determine the quality of pieces and parts by the technical demands as opposed to the musical demands.
  • They’re unable to curate their own sound.
  • They’re unaware of the multitude of choices they have and how these choices can add value to their ensemble (ex. what type of cymbal to use for a piece, or what beater to use on a triangle).
  • They’re unappreciative or unaware of different approaches to the instruments.
  • Often, expressing themselves visually becomes mutually exclusive to expressing themselves musically. This detracts from the music as opposed to adorning it.

For many students, this changes when they enter into college. Their worldview is widened. Ear training becomes part of their course curriculum, different types of ensembles are introduced, new peers from varying backgrounds are met, and the caliber/perspective of educators they encounter is significantly raised. The “introductory” levels, however, need to be better. So what can we do?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • There is no substitute for a quality private teacher. Encourage ALL of your students to seek one out from day one, and keep the encouragement going in perpetuity. If student’s cannot afford it, encourage them to practice with more experienced students and make yourself available when you can.
  • Bring in specialists as much as possible.
  • At the start of their development, keep percussionists inclusive in band activities. These include breathing techniques, posture, blending, and balance within the ensemble. These are essential to creating a great sound on all instruments.
  • Make sure that percussionists have a strong awareness about the music or exercises being played and not just their individual parts. They should know what is going on throughout the ensemble.
  • Encourage your students to buy or rent quality instruments and implements from quality companies. Stock them if need be and provide payment arrangements or rental plans like you do for other instruments so that students can access the tools they need for creating quality sound.
  • Invest in the whole percussion section. Have a few high quality mallets for timpani, bass drum, gong, chimes, and mallet instruments. Provide matched sticks for snare drum and toms so that your young musicians can hear quality sounds from the start. Have a few different triangles and beaters, and have an array of cymbal sleeves and felts on hand.
  • Encourage young percussionists to make choices from the beginning. How does that cymbal sound? Why would you choose it as opposed to the other available options? How does that mallet choice sound? What wind instrument articulation do you think it most resembles? What sound are you trying to get out of that drum? Do you think there is a better approach or implement to achieve it? Continue this throughout all levels of development.
  • When they enter high school, continue helping them curate their sound by always relating what you are asking them to do visually, with how it sounds to them.
  • Make the effort to play exercises that not only work the fundamental hand techniques, but also work the ears. Exercises with melodies and harmonic development. “Etudes” that do this can work well in theory, but a majority of these pieces rarely get played. In addition, the idea of separating the physical technique from ear/musicality training seems to be an idea unique to mallet percussion. This is largely due to the fact that much of mallet percussion pedagogy in the marching arts is reflective of developmental approach more beneficial to drumlines.
  • If personnel allows for it, create exercises unique to your front ensemble and their musical needs/development as opposed to ones that fit with the battery.
  • Stop using inches to measure dynamics on melodic instruments.
  • INVEST IN AND CONTINUE TO UPGRADE YOUR OWN SKILLS AND YOUR OWN EAR! If you don’t know the difference between triangle approaches, how do you expect your students to know? If you don’t care about which cymbal is used on a part, how do you expect your students to care? Continue your education past the classroom through seminars and clinics put on by wonderful organizations such as PASIC or your state chapters of Music Educator Associations.

What was your experience?

If you were fortunate enough to have solid musical training in grade school, what were some of the techniques that your educators used to help you become a musician as opposed to a technician during your primary years?

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Drew Tucker is a musician, social entrepreneur, and cultural iconoclast who lives to help people take massive action towards their artistic goals. He also likes coffee.

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