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Musical Perspectives with Keith Aleo, Installment One

Musical Perspectives with Keith Aleo, Installment One

Welcome to MUSICAL PERSPECTIVES, a project that we hope will expand your creativity and musical expression. Our first series of lessons is presented by Zildjian's own KEITH ALEO, our Manager of Artist Relations for Concert Percussion and Director of Percussion at the Interlochen Center for the Arts.
In this series of lessons, Keith starts with a simple 16 measure rhythmic etude, then applies several variations that you can use to work on technique, musical phrasing, expression and creativity. We encourage you to take the ZILDJIAN CHALLENGE and try out the variations for yourself, then expand on them to share your interpretation with us!
We want to see what you can come up with! Please film yourself, upload it to Instagram and tag us at #MusicalPerspectives!  We'll be selecting some of our favorite videos to feature on and social media channels - PLUS, we'll be commenting and offering our educational advice on your video submissions!

In this first episode, Keith presents the 16 measure rhythmic etude with the most common "subtractive sticking" (or "right hand lead") method, then offers several sticking variations for you to try. As you work through the variations, notice how it changes the feel and phrasing of the etude.
Watch the video, then try out the etudes below. Some are more difficult than others, so be patient as you work through each one!

•   One goal may be to see how closely you can get the hands to match in evenness and sound quality. 


•   Try various stroke styles with each sticking. Contrast a sharp, staccato stroke style with a relaxed, legato stroke style. Can you use a stroke style to add 'weight' to the sound, or a different technique to create a lighter, thinner sound (all at the same volume level)?


•   Another might be to embrace the subtle differences in sound and feel that each sticking pattern offers. Does one offer a more 'staccato' sound quality than another?  Legato?


•   Can you create musical phrases within the rhythmic patterns - and can you use a combination of sticking variations help that phrasing?


•   Try playing it in different tempi. Do some sticking patterns lend themselves better to a Largo or Adagio tempo to create a bold, weighted sound? Which one is easiest to play at Presto?


•   Are there other variations you want to try?  RRRR / LLLL? Paradiddles? RRRL or LLLR? Maybe mixing variations so that you can hear differences in tonal color from one four bar phrase to the next? Experiment with ANY sticking combination to see how that changes your approach, touch and phrasing!


Remember, we want to see what YOU come up with! Upload your video and hashtag us at #MusicalPerspectives! We're looking for creative, musically expressive performances, so try to expand your creativity beyond just playing through the etude with a new sticking!



– RHYTHMIC ETUDE (No Sticking) –

– RHYTHMIC ETUDE ("Subtractive" / "Right Hand Lead" Sticking) –


– RHYTHMIC ETUDE ("Subtractive" / "Left Hand Lead" Sticking) –


– RHYTHMIC ETUDE ("Double" Sticking, Right Hand) –



– RHYTHMIC ETUDE ("Double" Sticking, Left Hand) –



– RHYTHMIC ETUDE ("Inverted" Sticking, Right Hand) –



– RHYTHMIC ETUDE ("Double" Sticking, Left Hand) –


Keith A. Aleo has a multifaceted career as an performer, educator and administrator. He is the Director of Percussion at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He is also a consultant for the Zildjian, Vic Firth and Balter companies. His playing credits include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra., Music for Multiple Metals and Advanced Etudes for Snare Drum.


Mr. Aleo has given master classes and workshops on percussion instruments at numerous universities and conventions. Highlights have included the Percussive Arts Society State and International Conventions, PAS Journees de la Percussion in Paris France, the Paris Conservatory, the PAS Italian Percussion Festival in Fermo Italy, the Shanghai Conservatory, Tainan National University of the Arts and multiple Music Educator Conferences.