It All started At A Memorial Day Parade & Polish Wedding.
I vanished into the large crowd at a parade, a three-year-old following the powerful drum corps drumlines coming down the street, not interested in floats, fire engines, antique cars or marching bands, letting them go by. A year later. a wedding band called me up on stage to play a tambourine, startled that a four-year-old was keeping time. After going through every percussion instrument they had, they shooed me off stage. So, I borrowed some empty chairs and "played drums" all night in front of the band minus dinner and a piece of wedding cake.
My parents were more than curious, but grandpa brought his old practice drum up from the basement- a bushel basket with an inch thick piece of wood and carrying hooks for a strap.
He brought out the sticks and showed me a Five Stroke Roll and Paradiddle, a snare drummer in the PLAV Post No. 1 Drum and Bugle Corps from Hamtramck, Michigan in the 1940s and 50s.
I started drum set lessons a few years later. After seeing an article for a new drum and bugle corps in Centerline, Michigan, I marched 17 years in many different drum & bugle corps.
My first performance was a long parade without a leg rest. The leg soon turned many different shades of black. blue..... and green. My father asked, "are you ok?" Sure. Let's do it again. Soon.
The corps director then bought me a leg rest. No, we weren't very good, but the instructor was a student of a well-known East Coast teacher who taught a senior corps just a few miles away.
It was there I was trained to win championships by a master teacher of technique.
Grandfather's practice snare drum from P.L.A.V. Post No. 1
Some of the Michigan Drum Corps I marched with in competition.
I was an 11 year old member of the Vanguards Senior Drum & Bugle Corps. No - not the mascot.
I made the line and was treated as a member with uniform and drum. They wouldn't let me march competitions but performed in all other events such as parade and standstills.
I had the best instructors from two different percussion worlds at the same time for seven years:
• Jay Tuomey - a master fife and drum corps instructor of technique
Jay came from the famous "Sons of Liberty" (Brooklyn, New York) for technique and line drumming. These were the men who decided to teach the drum & bugle corps in 1951. They changed history using the science of physics for bone mass, bone weight and economical movement based on physics. Their students soon dominated competitions across the country.
Jay stayed after 7 to 10pm rehearsals till 2am for anyone that wanted to learn, amounting to 14 hours of instruction per week.
I never saw anyone who knew how to teach coordination and physiology better than Tuomey. He never made mistakes.
It was all about perfection. If you wanted to play fast, learn to play slow - PERFECTLY.
• Johhny Wallace - a drum set instructor with his own 20 piece big band
Johnny taught the coordination of double bass drum and hi-hat techniques along with sight reading big band charts and phrasing. He wrote the charts for his big band. He had that "in the pocket" sound and couldn't figure out where his young student got his "hands" from. (Drum corps!) John taught me to listen to what was happening in the background, to copy or augment phrasings using the different pitches and instruments of the set, something I use today with Rhythm Architecture.
1970 Michigan State Champion • St Clair Shores Vanguard Jr.
All Tuomey students had to compete in individuals. I won my first contest. High schools and colleges were decades behind the competitive level of drum corps, playing solos from outdated books. Drum corps musicians were expected to have the technical vocabulary to write and memorize their own material. Corps training gave me artistic choices drum set players still do not have, a precursor to the "Rhythm Architecture" competition phrasings I use today - drum corps tonal and arrangement techniques.
This allows the act to do both dinner and dance portions of an event - dinner for a corporate event, wedding, or a sophisticated afternoon brunch.
1976 DCI World Individual Champion • Phantom Regiment
To find better competition, I traveled to the Glassmen Drum & Bugle Corps in Toledo, Ohio, then the Phantom Regiment of Rockford, Illinois.
I ranked 4th 3rd and 4th in international All-American and DCI individual competitions coming closer each year, then won the World Championship representing the Phantom Regiment in 1976. I still use competition training techniques to maintain physical conditioning for Rhythm Architecture performances today.
Phantom won the 1976 US Open Championship in Marion Ohio, taking 4th at the world championships in Philadelphia.
The Phantom Regiment (Rockford, Illinois) thought my knowledge & experience would help them win the DCI World Championship, hiring me as an instructor to teach technique and perfect the concentration of the line.
Regiment won the combined field execution scores in 1977 1978 & 1979, but lost GE (general effect). The corps took 2nd each year at the world championship, by a tenth in 1978. The drumline received a perfect "10" in GE Drums and won Percussion Analysis with a 7.9 of 8.0 (Demand & Musicianship). We played the most difficult music in drum corps.
My students and proteges' have won 17 DCI and DCA World Individual Titles with many other high placings because they do not practice for competitions, but train like Olympic athletes.
(Interestingly, DCI later changed its marketing to incorporate the moniker, "Summer Music Games.") We were there first.
In 1981, the corps director of the Golden Garrison Drum & Bugle from Michigan told me in she wanted to win. The corps was voted most improved drum corps for the Great Lakes and Drum Corps Midwest circuits. The drumline won the Great Lakes Circuit championship and defeated a few DCI associate member corps at the Drum Corps Midwest Championships that year, receiving a very high 43 out of 50 demand score that tied a top echelon world-class corps. We then tied for best drumline in class-A competition at DCI prelims. I practiced them like Regiment going through run-throughs trying to get an "egg" - "0" - no mistakes. Golden Garrison did it on the field right off the line on the way to the DCI World Championships in Montreal, Quebec. Quite an achievement for a no-name corps with many rookies. Everyone was excited to see the sheet then signed it. (It's framed on my office wall.) We won the show. Drum corps is about perfection. They liked the taste.
We started winning in June and made the newspapers.
Here is a portion of the 6 snares, 3 tenors, 4 bass and 4 cymbals (with timpanist and 4 keyboards) that stepped into the world of competition to win the percussion trophy at the GLDCA Association Circuit Championships in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, take 4th place in drums at DCI Midwest in DeKalb, Illinois, then win drums at DCI Class-A prelims in Montreal, Quebec.
My Southgate High School drumline won the state percussion championship in 1991 & 1992.
The 31 member ensemble performed my arrangements to a variety of music genres and a drum solo, undefeated in 8 or more contests each year. The line was run with drum corps discipline and technical training.
I became involved in judging corps and band contests while still marching in junior corps, later acting as Percussion Caption Head, rewriting percussion score sheets for more objectivity, then was elected president of the Great Lakes Judges Association, acting as the liason to the corps and band directors we serviced. I judged the state championships many times and always believed - especially with high school competitions - that our purpose was to adjudicate the students, not the staffs show designs. My score sheet criticisms were tough but the placements were fair. The idea was to see a young drumline improve their technique and musicianship throughout the season and build a base for future years.
My other lives involve the world of architecture in which I have a college degree and marathon running where I was just happy to finish in places like Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Key West and many others.
One of my fiercest competitors was two-time DCI World Champion Steve Chorazy.
He said to go electronic 18 years ago, already using similar equipment for big band work in New York. After cornering the Vice Presidents of Roland and Yamaha Corporations at a major percussion symposium, I purchased the equipment in July of 2006 and began building the 1500 tune repertoire Rhythm Architecture carries today.
Bring Rhythm Architecture - Electronic Percussion Artist & DJ To Your Special Event
• Corporate • Festivals • Weddings • Restaurants • Hotels • Fine Art Fairs • Municipal Festivals • State & Regional Fairs
• Private Parties • Galleries & Grand Openings • Museums • Wine Bars & Brunch • Night Club Beats • Holiday Celebrations
Rhythm Architecture is a unique solo percussion/DJ "signature act" unique in the music industry. It can perform both the dinner and dance portions of an evening, advantageous for corporate functions, weddings, fundraisers and private parties. Electronics allow performances in wine bars, upscale restaurants, juried fine art fairs, country clubs, museums, black tie events and municipal festivals. I replace other solo acts that repeat the same material such as a guitar or piano - sometimes duos - because unlike a singer with one instrument, my music contains horns (trumpet, trombone, saxophone, French horn), strings (violin, cello, guitar, bass guitar) and winds (oboe, flute and clarinet) not to mention vocals and a plethora of percussion (including piano).
Rhythm Architecture uses 11 different snare drums, 7 sets of tenor voices, pitched bass drums, 15 timpani, a 40 inch gong and other accompaniment not possible with acoustic instruments. Drumline marching arrangement techniques such as implied melodic line, accent pattern counterpoint and the rudimental textures are used for more interest and originality, especially for the dance floor. My equipment was designed for "house music" having jazz roots in phrasing and arrangement, a genre similar to Electronic Dance Music so prevalent on radio and in dance clubs today using pleasant melodies and active percussion.
First Drum Set - Age 10
A 4-Piece Slingerland Gold Satin Flame
World Champion At 21
First Electronic Solo Performance
Summer 2007 Bellaire, Michigan
Rhythm Architecture as it appears today