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Risto Skrikberg of Finland

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It was around 1995 when Risto ordered some drumming books from me.

Ha stated he would like private lessons and would travel to the States. 

The real master of execution and style was still active. I suggested travelling to my instructors house - Jay Tuomey.  To Fairfield Connecticut he came, along with the opportunity to meet the great fife and drum players at the Westbrook Muster. Jay could teach technique better than anyone I have ever seen, so it was no surprise to see Risto master the technical form of the Sons of Liberty. He must have stayed a while in the USA. Tuomey was deliberate in advancing any student and Risto was very serious about learning the technique.

The rest is history. Risto took the style and training philosophy back to Finland to innoculate Finnish drummers with the pinky curl, an index finger lead, fulcrum pressure, an eighth inch grace note, strong accents with low interior notes and and timeless arm motion with the control of the master fife and drum corps players. It is scary to watch Risto or his students play because Jay had a few quirks all his students picked up and they are present now in Finland.

Jay Tuomey passed away years ago but he still lives in Finland.


Drummers in the Finnish Army learn the ways of Sons of Liberty technique. The high hand teaches coordination better than a low approach, so it is no surprise this idea transferred across the ocean. The technique was modified to the speed drumming of DCI corps and drum set. The world will always be competitive and has a place for solutions that work.


Risto teaches the form and technique mostly forgotten in the United States. Most high school age bands have sacrificed their performance ability  in the USA for visual design, not having the time to both. The technique the Fins have mastered is superior to where it came from except in the existing fife and drum corps where style and execution integrity will always reign.





Risto At Work

Finland's Mika Saily left home and family to come to the United States in October of 2019 to meet many successful North American percussionists in their respective fields. 

I met Mika at an air bnb just off the beach in Clearwater, Florida.  I find it amazing that people from other countries like Mika ask questions on American technique and history American youth refuses to ask. One has to blame the feeble response to educational institutions and WGI, DCI and the judges associations. In order to make mediocrity accepted, they have to eliminate history and dumb down the competitions so no one wins and no one can be offended by a winner. Mediocrity is non-threatening.

Drummers from Finland have no contact with such defeatism.  They seek to learn and compete in the world with that knowledge. Mika took pages of notes and seemed to never run out of questions. American students simply allow their visual designers to take their points while silently wondering, "Why do our visual design judges have no art degrees? How did they get half of our points? Why did they take the drum judge of the field and put him on the track far away from us?"  Socialists hate measurement.

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Mika Saily of Finland

"I think modern drum corps are in the corner. I understand that music. It's quite similar to modern percussion music for percussionists in western classical music tradition. But I can't find a bunch of rudimental perfection in their execution. The contrast of loud and quiet notes is not audible so I'll get bored after a couple of videos. It's like a desert with no hills, rivers etc. But I think it's scary there because those kids don't demand from themselves the control, they only play that music part and choreography. As a teacher for drum set I don't know how could I use that snare drum technique for drum set of other instruments. I don't know what it is but it is not in the center of the percussion world as Frank Arsenault was. By re-evaluating my technique skills and learning Sons of Liberty basis, my teaching has got its renaissance. And playing from up with stretches has even healed my own tennis elbow."  Mika Saily

Finnish drummers that have come over to the States during the past 25 years improved far faster than anyone expected. It is shocking how serious and curious they have been, especially absorbing our drumming history. Finland knows far more than younger American playersTheir technical skills are better than most DCI corps today. Finland didn't have to sacrifice their students talent to run around for DCI visual designers. The negative influence is not there to slow them down and erase history, just a positive movement full of pertinent questions, akin to American fife & drum instruction that is still available.

One has to wonder what has happened here in the United States when college students can't even do a roll breakdown and have no knowledge of why they are important, even with the advantage of modern media technology. One possible reason is the score sheets that are used in competitions that are deemed "cruel" because there is a loser. The "everyone should be a winner" crowd has decimated contest philosophy and criteria. You are wha you measure. To "measure" is a he Finnish drummers that. sin to the socialist educator for they believe everyone is equal. Don't tell the Finland drummers that. What they have learned from outside sources far away from American educators and the judging systems of WGI, DCI, DCA and all the band circuits here puts them far above "equal".

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