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Percussive Arts Society: the 40 rudiments

The Percussive Arts Society (PAS) has taken on and expanded the legacy of NARD (National Association of Rudimental Drummers).

The purpose of this company, according to what can be read on their website, is to “inspire, educate and support percussionists and drummers throughout the world“. An ambitious goal, towards which they work with regular publications and events.

The company was founded in 1961 by 14 industry experts: Remo Belli, Warren Benson, Mervin Britton, Robert Buggert, Don Canedy, Rey Longyear, Charles Lutz, Jack McKenzie, James L. Moore, Verne Reimer, Jim Salmon, Hugh W. Soebbing, Charles Spohn, and Robert Winslow.

The publishing work began in 1961 with the publication of the Percussive Arts Society Bulletins. In 1967 Percussive Notes magazine became the official publication of the PAS.

Almost daily posts are published on the official PAS blog. The Percussive Notes Journal is released every two months (subscription access).
Every year the Percussive Arts Society organizes an event that has now become global, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in Indianapolis (Indiana).
At local level, they organize clinics and workshops.

A crucial year was undoubtedly 1984, when the PAS started working on expanding the list of rudiments.

40 rudiments

Until 1984, the official rudiments were the 26 collected by NARD. After the update, the official rudiments have become 40.

I found the list subdivision criterion very interesting and effective. The rolls are grouped into four categories, based on the composition of the rudiment itself.

We therefore have:

I. Roll rudiments, composed of alternating, double or multiple rolls. They are in turn divided into:
a. Single stroke roll rudiments
b. Multiple bounce roll rudiments (buzz roll)
c. Double stroke roll
II. Diddle rudiments, containing combinations of single and double strokes.
III. Flam rudiments, composed of grace note and main stroke.
IV. Drag rudiments, with a doubled grace note and main stroke.

This is by no means a distortion of the list of 26 NARD rudiments. The added rudiments fill the gaps left by the first list.

Here is the list of the 40 rudiments. Those in bold are those added by the PAS:

1. Single stroke roll
2. Single stroke four
3. Single stroke 7
4. Multiple bounce rolls
5. Triple stroke roll
6. Double stroke roll
7. Five stroke roll
8. Six-stroke roll
9. Seven-stroke roll
10. Nine-stroke roll
11. Ten stroke roll
12. Eleven stroke roll
13. Thirteen stroke roll
14. Fifteen stroke roll
15. Seventeen stroke roll
16. Single paradiddle
17. Double paradiddle
18. Triple paradiddles
19. Single paradiddle-diddle
20. Flam
21. Flam accent
22. Flam tap
23. Flamacue
24. Flam paradiddle
25. Single flammed mill
26. Flam paradiddle-diddle
27. Pataflafla
28. Swiss Army Triplet
29. Inverted flam tap
30. Flam drag
31. Drag
32. Single drag tap
33. Double-drag tap
34. Lesson 25
35. Single dragadiddle
36. Drag paradiddle #1
37. Drag paradiddle #2
38. Single ratamacue
39. Double ratamacue
40. Triple ratamacue

Here you will find the list as reported on the PAS website. You can find it on their website in the resources section in the menu bar. Click then rudiments. The download is free.

lista con i 40 rudimenti40 rudiments PAS listThe list is enriched by a Soundcloud link, where the rudiments are played.



Being aware of why we play certain rudiments in a certain way has helped me tremendously in practicing them. This article is the natural consequence of the research begun with the history of the drum in Europe, continued with the birth of the drumset as a whole instrument.

In this article I write about the National Association of Rudimental Drummers (NARD), you will find useful information to contextualize the information above.

Baby Dodds sitting behing his jazz drumset

Jazz drumming: Birth and evolution

Drumming and Jazz drumming are inextricably linked. In the article “When was the drumset invented, you have already seen how the birth of the drum kit and the development of jazz music go hand in hand.

In this article, we will look together at 3 drummers who have been crucial to the development of (jazz) drumming: Baby Dodds, William Johnson, and Cozy Cole.

Jazz drumming: context

The term “Jazz” entered general vocabulary around 1915 and has been recognized worldwide since 1917 when Tony Sbarbaro and Nick LaRocca’s “Original Dixieland Jazz Band” recorded what is considered the first jazz record in history.

For historical and scientific honesty, it is not possible to determine who the first jazz drummer was, both for the lack of tangible evidence, and because there is no single “inventor” of the jazz language. Such a process is based on different drummers influencing each other in a fairly long time span.

The music of this period was exclusively dance music, for which the drummer had a specific role: keeping the tempo with the utmost regularity with the rhythm marked by the bass drum and accompanying the piece with marches played on the snare drum. There were no drum solos.

However, the role of the drummer implied a complete musical vision. The drummer accompanied the melodies that were presented to him, closing the end of the phrases and introducing the melodies to come with great rhythmic and obvious stylistic pertinence.

The first jazz drummers: Baby Dodds

Warren “Baby” Dodds was born in New Orleans on December 24, 1898, the younger brother of clarinetist Johnny Dodds, hence the nickname “baby”.

He learned to play in marching bands, practicing bass drum, snare drum, and finally the whole drumset. Between 1913 and 1921 he gained a lot of experience by playing in various orchestras.Baby Dodds sitting behing his jazz drumset

With the outbreak of World War I, the Port of New Orleans became military, so the Navy decided to close Storyville’s red light district because it was dangerous to public order.

This was the cause of the first major “exodus” of musicians moving from New Orleans to Chicago.

In 1921, Baby Dodds was hired by King Oliver in his orchestra, giving him his first professional commission. In 1923 between Richmond and Chicago with the “King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band” he recorded fundamental pages in the history of jazz, introducing elements which, although of continuity with that of drumming in New Orleans, showed unprecedented characteristics.

According to descriptions from the time, his set consisted of: bass drum with pedal, snare drum, four cowbells, a woodblock, a Chinese cymbal, a Turkish and a Chinese tom.

His style included the kick drum played on all fourths but in a light way (a technique that Kenny Clarke and Max Roach would further develop [feathering]) and the groove played on the snare drum and woodblock with rudiments alternated with intuitions of the young Dodds.

Baby Dodds introduced the accompaniment known as “Shimmy roll”. It consisted of the bass drum on every beat, the left hand on the snaredrum, while the right hand accentuated the weak beats (second and fourth beat) using the press roll.

shimmy roll written drum partUntil then, the strong beats of New Orleans music were the first and third beats. The tendency to accentuate the weak beats (second and fourth beats) was in the air.

Baby Dodds had a highly developed musical intuition. He begins to end the accompaniment of the melodies with a cymbal accent on the fourth beat. This later became known as Big Four and is already present in several examples of New Orleans music.

In Willie the weeper (1927), Dodds is seen using the cymbal to constantly accentuate the second and fourth beats with the choke technique, adding to the confirmation of these as strong beats.

The drum traps were present in Dodds’ setup, and it was with the use of the washboard (consisting of a corrugated iron sheet attached to a wooden table and used to do the laundry) that he experimented with an accompaniment destined to become the emblem to become of Jazz.

basic jazz rhythm

This rhythm was now included in Dodds’ repertoire and is also played with sticks on the snare drum or cymbals.

One of the pillars of jazz drumming had just been established.

The first jazz drummers: Walter Johnson

A second pillar of jazz drumming was founded by Walter Johnson.

 Between 1920 and 1923 he played with all the greats of the time: Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller and Earl Hines. He picked up on many of Baby Dodds’ innovations, such as the accompaniment on the cymbal with the swing pattern, the emphasis of the weak beats, and the use of drum breaks.

Walter Johnsons jazz drummerThe “roaring twenties” represented a period of strong economic development for the United States that led to the collapse of the Wall Street Stock Exchange in 1929. Some social phenomena, including Prohibition (1919-1933) and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan , caused black musicians to gather in nightclubs and dance halls. The staggering rise in unemployment led to an increase in musicians grouped into Big Bands.

Joachim Ernst Berendt writes:

‹‹In Harlem, and even more so in Kansas City, a new way of playing developed in 1928-1929. Swing began with the second great exodus in jazz history: the journey from Chicago to New York››

The era of the great swing orchestras began. Think of Duke Ellington’s, Count Basie’s, Cab Calloway’s and Chick Webb’s orchestras.

In this article we’ll be focusing on Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra. In 1929 Walter Johnson was the drummer.

Unlike Baby Dodds, Johnson had an extra instrument in his set, the Hi Hat, which he will use to definitively play the comping, instead of using the snare drum only.

The effect of this choice is groundbreaking. The sound of entire big band changes and refines, enjoying a timbre that guarantees a well-marked but at the same time lighter accompaniment. At the same time, the left hand was free and began to be used to play free accents on the snare, while the right hand carried the swing pattern on the hi-hat.

The first jazz drummers: Cozy Cole

William Randoph “Cozy” Cole was born in New Jersey on October 17, 1909. In his career he has played with Jelly Roll Morton, Benny Carte, Blanche Calloway and Cab Calloway. In 1947 he joined the CBS Radio orchestra, the first formed by black and white musicians. He was also part of Louis Armstrong’s All Stars.

Cozy Cole sitting behind his jazz drumkit

Cole believed that studying for a drummer was fundamental. He himself spent a lot of time practicing, taking lessons in drums, vibraphone and classical percussion, until he enrolled at the Juillard School of Music.

Cole saw the study of the rudiments as the means by which the drummer became fully aware of his hands, getting familiar with the various stickings and with the concept of “beat”.

In fact, his musical intelligence allowed him to accompany the fast-paced “China Stomp” five choruses with brushes without ever adding a hit, just using the groove of the brushes.

Also in “Groovin’ High“, recorded with the Dizzy Gillespie Sextet in 1945, Cole accompanies the first A with brushes, inserting kicks to emphasize the melody. His tendency to often use the floor tom to accompany brings him close to Gene Krupa, with whom he will open a music school in New York in 1954.

Credit to Cozy Cole is also the use and interpretation of the Shuffle, placing the accents on the second and fourth beats.

The drum kit wasn’t Cozy Cole’s only important musical instrument, after all. According to him, the drummer also had to learn to play the piano, both to improve his musical competence and to better tune his drums. Learning to arrange was also important. According to Cole, the drummer had to be a musician, just like the other band members.


Becoming aware of the history of our instrument has helped me a lot. I started with the history of the drum in Europe. Then we went to America to explore the history of National Association of Rudimental Drummers (NARD). Together we saw how the drum kit was born.

Suddenly the exercises on a sheet were not just exercises, but pieces of a long-standing tradition. An evolution where thousands of women and men – drummers – have played their part in shaping drumming as we know it today. So fascinating!

Do you have any questions? Contact me or comment below!

Drumming and autism

Drumming and autism – What should a drum teacher know?

In the last years, I made a lot of experience with drumming and autism. Right from the first lesson, I could see a different approach, often more methodic and analytical. I strongly believe that a good teacher should find the right way for every single student. Actually, that’s exactly what I love about my job. Every drummer sitting before me is a universe with his own history and life experience. I love the seek for the right key for each one of them.

Psychiater and professor Wouter Staal sees autism as the ‘collective name for behavioral characteristics that indicate a vulnerability in the following areas: social interaction, communication, flexibility in thinking and acting and filtering and integrating information.’

In the collective imagination, autism is seen as a disease or a disturbance. Research shows that 70% of people with autism have normal or higher intelligence. It is another way of processing information, often in combination with a sensory hypo – or hypersensitivity, attention to detail, analytical thinking, and technical insight.

This description matches perfectly with my experience during drum lessons. That’s why I decided to learn more about this fascinating topic.

Vasilios Sliaras is a drummer and music therapist working in Amsterdam. We met during our studies at ArtEZ conservatory in Enschede a couple of years ago.

I had a couple of questions and he was definitely the perfect person to address them.

Here’s the interview:

Drumming and autism – Music therapist speaks:

Who are you and what is your expertise?

I am Vasilios Sliaras, a Music therapist, freelance musician, and drum teacher/ coach.

At the age of 8, I joined my town’s philharmonic orchestra where I learned to play the marching snare drum. Since then, I have been active in numerous bands and projects (rock, funk, jazz, blues, hip-hop, traditional, music-theatrical, parades, etc.).

I’m an alumnus of the music therapy (BA) department of ArtEZ Conservatorium, where I specialized in a psychiatric forensic environment specifically with people with an intellectual impairment.

Currently, I am a music therapist working with kids, teenagers, and young adults (0-23), who are in need of support or psychiatric treatment.

Do you use drums in your music therapy sessions? If yes, how?

In general, the percussion family is used a lot in music therapy sessions. One more reason for me to do so, as a drummer! Drums in general can be used in music therapy sessions as a tool to regulate emotions, to rehabilitate physically and psychologically, or adapt behaviors. These can be accomplished through musical experiences such as improvising, composing, and performing. Coming up with drum games for our little fellows is strongly recommended.

It is not a drum lesson, but an exercise utilizing the drum (percussions, drum set) to achieve the individual’s goals.

Which effects can play drums have on people with autism?

The effects may vary, from overstimulation to hyper-focusing and adapting to new musical information on the spot. Again, this depends on the individual and possibly how you introduce the instrument to a person with ASD. 

Overstimulation can lead to ‘stimming’ [Repetitive or unusual movements or noises] and an overwhelming situation during a drum lesson is something we want to avoid. 

We want a person with ASD to be able to use stimming in positive ways during these times to manage emotions and cope with overwhelming situations. The person with ASD may feel soothed by hitting on the drums hard or playing on the drum skins with their hands, and this can vary for everybody. 

A person with autism can also possess what I call the “superpower” of hyper-focusing. Focusing on one task for a long period of time until it is perfected. In the end, this is what we drummers do right?

Should drum lessons have a specific structure in order to be more effective?

Having structure is indisputably critical, but with the right adaptations based on the student’s needs.

When the lesson is designed and/or adapted based on the student, this results in engagement, and the chances of understanding and retaining information is higher. Thus, we will maintain the students’ motivation, and motivation is the key to consistency. From my point of view, consistency is one of the pillars that makes a drum lesson effective. 

What should a drum teacher know about autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopment condition that includes a wide range of complex developmental disabilities. It can manifest differently in every person because according to both autism symptoms and intelligence level, the severity of the disorder varies from very low to very high. Difficulties with social interaction, understanding verbal and non-verbal communication, and repetitive behavior are some of the characteristics of an autistic person. The person may exhibit some of those characteristics to varying degrees. 

Now, we have to assume that a drum teacher most probably will have to deal with persons with high-functioning autistic spectrum disorder (HFASD). Social communication and interaction are at a high developmental level.

Drum teachers have to remember that, in the beginning, it is better to focus on having fun on the drum set than teaching from day one drum technique and how to hit the drum correctly. Autism can make someone a perfectionist, and [not doing it right] can lead to results we don’t want, such as losing interest in learning the instrument, or “stimming” (repetition of physical movements or any other repetitive behavior). People with HFASD may also have difficulties understanding non-verbal cues and body gestures, something we as musicians, performers, and teachers use a lot. It is therefore essential that drum teachers pay attention to their non-verbal communication and gestures when teaching a student with autism.


Learning is a never-ending process. On one hand, the more you learn about a specific topic, the more you realize that you can always go deeper. On the other hand, if you focus on the process of learning, you realize there are many different ways to achieve and process the same information. I find this extremely fascinating.

The interview with Vasilios gave me new insights about the functionality and effectiveness of my approach.

Do you have experience in this field or do you think we missed some information? Let me know in the comments below or via mail!


Are you interested in drums and drumming? Read this article to know how and when the drumset was invented!

traps kit met snare drum, bekkens, tom en pedaal

When was the drumset invented?

When was the drumset invented? Many people know what a drum set looks like, but few know how we got to the set as we know it today.

Let’s retrace together the salient phases of the formation of our splendid instrument.

When was the drumset invented: Origin and evolution

The birth and development of drums are inextricably linked to the history and evolution of Jazz.

The nerve center of the birth and evolution of Jazz is the city of New Orleans. Founded on November 1, 1718, by French colonists, it became the capital of French Louisiana after 4 years. In 1763 it was ceded to Spain, under whose rule it grew in importance thanks to the development of the sugar industry and above all thanks to an agreement signed with the United States which guaranteed the use of the port of the city to the Americans. In 1803 it was definitively sold to the United States. It was the scene of the Civil War until 1865 when it ended. The end of the war coincided with a dizzying increase in immigration, favoring the birth of a cosmopolitan environment. The presence of Italians, Irish, Germans, French, and English increased, as well as communities of former African slaves.

Music is deeply rooted in this context, as reported by Eileen Southern:

‹‹In the songs of the stevedores, of the rowers, in those that accompany the beating of rice or the husking of corn, the melody was always supported by percussion effects, coordinated with the movements of the body engaged in work. The sounds of the percussion were probably inspired by well-marked noises, such as those of the magician, the machete, or the flail, or by other more subtle ones, such as those of the oars plunging into the water, and for the singer, they constituted an important part of the execution. The slave accompanied his singing by drumming on a plank; the banjo player tapped his foot playing and singing››

For the first time after the end of the Civil War, the administration of New Orleans issued an ordinance granting a part of the city as a social gathering point where people of all ethnic groups could express themselves with music, songs, and dances. Congo Square becomes the meeting place for all the cultures present in the city.

This element takes over an already fertile situation musically. A legacy of French customs, the streets of New Orleans host the Brass Bands, the famous parade fanfares, flanked by the Spasm Bands, made up of Blacks who played instruments built with makeshift materials (banjos built with cheese boxes, double basses obtained with parts of barrels…).

The coexistence of these realities is thus photographed by Eileen Southern:

‹‹On the one hand, the music of the freed slaves and the musically educated and well-trained “Creoles of Color” played at all balls and at all parades of all social strata, and interpreted classical European music with talent [. ..]. And on the opposite side, there was the African music of the black slaves in Congo Square, instinctive and very rhythmic, which after the abolition [1848] of dancing in this square descended into the taverns, cabarets, and other infamous places of the city. The two currents merged after the Civil War [1865]››

Frank Tenòt in his work “Le style New Orleans en Jazz” writes:

‹‹Thus on a rhythmic foundation born from the orgies of the drums of the ancient Congo Square, the most diverse materials amalgamated: military marches, quadrilles, Scottish polkas, mazurkas, Latin American songs, religious songs, operatic arias, ballads Celtic, nursery rhymes of itinerant merchants […].
The white (Western) contribution was that of instrumentation, rhythmic infrastructure, and thematic material. The black (African) contribution consists in the interpretation, in the “vocalized” work of the timbres and sounds, the importance of the percussion, and in the adaptation of the pentatonic modal variations to the traditional Western scale.››

The emblem of the contact of these systems is the music known as Ragtime, a mainly pianistic style that sees the relationship between the left hand of the piano, which bears a marching time in 2/4 representing the European matrix, and the right hand which builds on it syncopated melodies typical of African culture.

When was the drumset invented: the pedal

All mutations are the result of the adaptation of primary characteristics to a new environment. The same goes for the battery. The transition from Fanfare from Parata to bands playing in clubs forced the musicians to adapt instruments and ensembles to the new situations. The drummer starts playing the Drum, the Bass Drum, and the Cymbal at the same time and reports the words of Georges Paczynski:

‹‹By deciding to play seated, the drum player became a Drummer››

The Double Drumming technique was born, which allows the drummer to play the bass drum and the snare exclusively with the hands, consequently limiting its range of action.

The repertoire was that of the Marching Bands, therefore built on strong tempos 1 and 3, with the trend that will later be defined as “in 2”. Technology was quick to make up for this shortcoming.

Edward “Dee Dee” Chandler (1870ca-?) Drummer of the John Robichaux Orchestra is believed to be the first player to include a pedal in his set. In the photo below, in a photo of the Robichaux orchestra (with violin, seated second from right) Dee Dee Chandler poses with his set in which a pedal is recognizable.

foto van een jazz orkest uit de 20e eeuw

Dee Dee Chandler en het Robichaux orkest

The first examples of bass drum pedals were called “Overhanging pedals” [suspended pedals] obtained with a beat suspended on the upper edge of the case and operated by a pedal on the ground. However, their functionality was not appreciated by drummers who often preferred to resort to Double Drumming.

foto van een overhaning pedal

Overhanging pedal

In the first decade of the 1900s, a family proposed itself as a manufacturer of drum pedals, the Ludwig Drum Company. The instrument had to be light, and handy but reliable at the same time. Ludwig proposes his model marking a fundamental stage in the development of the American drumming style. The rod attached to the beater allowed a plate attached to the side edge of the case to be struck when the skin was struck.

oude drumpedaal

Ludwig pedal

oude pocket pedaal

Pocket pedal

The pedal had to be easy to transport and as shown in the photo above, William Ludwig illustrates the solution.

When was the drumset invented: the toms

Originally from China, these drums were used in theatrical performances under the Ch’ing dynasty (1644-1911). With the end of the American War of Independence, many Chinese migrants arrived in New Orleans, bringing with them their customs and traditions, including musical ones. when was the drumset invented chineese tomswhen was the drumset invented woodblocks en toms

Together with the woodblocks and the cymbals (characteristic and still in use today under the name of “china”), they became part of the basic set at the end of the 19th century.

When was the drumset invented: the hi-hat

Introduced in the 1920s, the hi-hat is responsible for another drumming revolution. Until then the groove was played on the snare drum with the kick playing all fourths, and the main accents were played on a cymbal with the “choke” technique, i.e. hitting with one stick and dampening the blow immediately after with the other hand.when was the drumset invented old hihat

The ancestor of the modern Hi Hat was called the “Snow Shoe”, due to its resemblance to it. It consisted of two wooden surfaces to the ends of which two small cymbals were attached which were played by pushing the foot on the ground.

when was the drumset invented old hihat

Low boy

when was the drumset invented eerste hihat


A direct emanation of the Snow Shoe was the “Low Boy”, which provided the same mechanism as today’s Hi Hat but was placed 20 cm from the ground and used to play offbeats with the left foot. More and more drummers began to feel the need to lighten the accompaniment; the Low Boy was raised thus becoming “Hi-Hat”, giving the possibility to the musicians to play the cymbals with both the left foot and with both sticks. The first pairs of cymbals used both for the low boy and for the hi-hat included a 10″ cymbal at the bottom and a smaller cymbal equipped with an average 5″ bell as the top, giving the shape of a real own hat, hence the name Hat.

When was the drumset invented: the cymbals

The use of dishes has ancient traces in the history of man. Bronze, the oldest metal alloy, has been present since 5000 BC. in Asia. Descriptions of instruments built with this material are present in the Old Testament, as well as in Greek and Roman culture (Ceremonies of Bacchus and Cybele). The English term Cymbal derives from the Greek kymbos with the Latin equivalent cymbalum which means “cup, container” given the concave shape of the first specimens.

In addition to the Chinese cymbals already discussed, the other counterparts included in the drumset were of Turkish origin. The Zildjian Cymbal Company of Istanbul was born in the 17th century under the Ottoman Empire. Avedis Zildjian I, in an attempt to obtain gold by mixing simple metals, obtained an alloy with very great sonic properties. The use of music was not even imagined, so much so that the company sold its productions to the Turkish army. Avedis Zildjian II changed the intended use of the products, opening up to the classical music and opera market, which grew rapidly in the 19th century.

In the 20th century, Avedis Zildjian III imported the factory to America and Zildjian cymbals became an integral part of the drumset.

foto van Zildjian buiten de winkel met bekkens aan de muur

Avedis Zildjian III

When was the drumset invented: professional equipment

In light of the above, the Set considered “professional” at the beginning of the 20th century is shown in figure 22, where all the aforementioned instruments are visible, except for the Hi-Hat, which, as mentioned, will take over in the 1920s. The instruments attached to the upper edge of the bass drum are called “Traps” and represent an expansion of the sound range available to the drummer.

The exploit of the Traps will come with the advent of Cinema when films without sound were set to live music. In this circumstance, the drummer was almost obliged to have a wide choice of accessory instruments available in addition to the Drumset.

From the 1920s onwards, the process reversed, leading to a stabilization of instrumentation consisting of a bass drum, snare drum, hi-hat, cymbals, and the first examples of toms with tunable heads, which would definitively replace the Chinese ones.

The traps disappear from the set and contextually the Drummer is identified as the player of the aforementioned set.

foto van een traps drumkit met snaredrum, bassdrum, tom en pedalen

Professionele set


Another long journey in the history of our instrument. But how beautiful it is to know how and why our instrument came into existence as we know it today.

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5 cose che ho imparato nel 2022

My first bike trip in the Netherlands: the Elfstedentocht

After months of research and training, the time has finally come for my first bike trip in the Netherlands: I will ride the Elfstedentocht!

The Elfstedentocht is the longest ice skating competition in the world. The route is about 200 km and touches 11 cities (hence the name).

For this time I will not be skating on ice (who knows, maybe in the future …), but with my beloved racebike. I decided to divide the route into 2 stages, covering 100 km per day.

I can’t say exactly when I got infected. It was a sweet, slow poisoning. Cycling has become a cornerstone of my new life.

I’m talking about new life, because alas that’s how I feel. On May 5 this year my mother, Giovanna Di Giuseppe, surrendered to pleural mesothelioma. She left me, my father, my sister, and all our loved ones just 5 months after the diagnosis.

Cancer disrupts the life of the patient, but also that of family members. The pain I felt in those moments pushed me to write. I wrote everything I felt, everything that happened. I wrote in the hope of being able to help those like us who have found themselves or will find themselves living this nightmare. If you can speak or read Italian, you can find the stories of those days here.

Why I have chosen to travel the Elfstedentocht by bicycle

Writing and sharing have certainly helped me to process what happened. The pain, however, remains and hits hard. Sometimes so strong that it makes me fear that I will no longer be able to stand up.

We stayed 4 days and 3 nights next to mum, accompanying her in her passage. Verbal communication was no longer possible, yet we talked a lot. I told her a lot and made some promises.

For example, I promised her that I will do many things. I promised her that I would honor the time I have left by researching and nourishing myself with Beauty.

I remember distinctly perceiving, sitting next to my dying mother, a very strong push to Life. I felt as if my mother herself, not needing it anymore, was giving it to me and our loved ones. I remember almost feeling guilty then.

Then after a while, I understood. As if someone had finally opened my eyes. I will die. The time I have available is limited and I don’t know how much is left.

From that moment everything changed. I finally understood, I finally felt that everything is a Gift. Everything. I understood that the only reason for living can and must be Love. Love as compassion, and understanding.

From that moment all fears melted like snow in the sun. I am hungry for life, for experiences, faces, smells, and sensations. I want to create memories with and for the people I love, and give love to the people I will meet.

Mom taught me this when she left. This will be the motivation that will support me when I need it.

What is the Elfstedentocht

As already mentioned, the Elfstedentocht is the longest ice skating competition in the world. The route runs clockwise along 11 cities. These are: Leeuwarden, Sneek, Ijlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Workum, Bolsward, Harlingen, Hindeloopen, Franeker and Dokkum.

Ice skating is a very popular sport for the Dutch. Many cyclists do it during the winter months when cycling would be too risky.

In 19th and 20th century Friesland, reaching different cities by skating on frozen canals was a very effective and widespread practice. Poems and writings tell of groups of people who spontaneously organized and completed the tour of the eleven cities.

On January 2, 1909, the Frisian Ice Skating Association organized the first regulated competition. Twenty-two skaters took part. On January 15 of the same year, the Association of Eleven Cities of Friesland was founded (, which has been organizing this event ever since.

This race cannot be regular, given the dependence on uncontrollable natural factors. To avoid endangering the participants’ lives, the ice must be 15 centimeters thick all along the course. This situation is reached with at least one consecutive week of sub-zero temperatures (around -10ºC). Snowfall and wind also play an important role.

The last race held dates back to 1997. Below you will find the report of what a national event is in all respects.

My plan for the Elfstedentocht

I decided to divide my first bike trip into two stages of more or less 100km each. On Monday 1st August I will reach Leeuwarden by train from Deventer. From there I will start the tour clockwise, as tradition dictates. On the first day I will then visit Leeuwarden, Sneek, Ijlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Workum and Bolsward. Here I will spend the night and then leave again the next day.

The second stage will see me pass through Harlingen, Hindeloopen, Franeker, Dokkun, and finally Leeuwarden, where I will finish the tour.

How I organized my first bike trip

I have been using the Komoot app ( with pleasure for months. Here I can plan each route based on the sport I intend to do. I can choose between mountain bikes, racing bikes, gravel, enduro, mountaineering, cycling and walking. Depending on the specialty selected, the algorithm proposes the most suitable route for the circumstances. In addition, there are suggestions from cyclists who have already traveled certain routes. In this way it is possible to plan the exit in detail, including for example monuments or restaurants, and perhaps avoiding areas where the terrain is not ideal.


Follow my adventure!

This will be the first of many adventures. I’m going to document it with articles in this blog, videos on YouTube and live on Instagram and Facebook.

Keep an eye on social media and don’t forget to send me an encouraging message during this challenge.

I will need it!







Would you like to know more about me? Visit the English home page here.

The Eisenhower Matrix


In this article, you will learn what the Eisenhower Matrix is ​​and how you can use it to increase your productivity by managing your time better.


One of the biggest challenges is undoubtedly that of using time in the most functional and effective way. Working life absorbs a large part of our time, often invading the space of our personal life. The 24/7 internet connection often results in a bombardment of external impulses, with the power to distract us to the point of undermining our psychological and spiritual stability.


The risk is the triggering of a vicious circle that will end up lowering the quality of our life. The most common mistake we all make is believing that by dedicating more time to a task, we will be able to achieve more results. Unfortunately, nothing could be more wrong. To get more results we must learn to organize the tasks to be done according to the time they require.


The Eisenhower matrix (taken up later by Covey in the book 7 habits of highly effective people) is a perfect means to work in this direction.


Let’s see how it works together.


Time management and procrastination

How many times do we have the feeling of “not having time”? How many times do we find ourselves close to a deadline having done little or nothing? The causes can be the most varied, from the lack of organization to the tendency to procrastination. Unexpected events and distractions also play their part. The negative news can be seen in one of these four factors. The positive is that the Eisenhower matrix is ​​based exactly on these four variables and uses them to optimize process and results.


We often tend to identify the concept of productivity with that of stress and continuous work. This definition resonates more with an outdated idea. The truth is that each of us can and must establish our own productivity paradigm. This is based on the type of activity or goal you want to achieve, be it the management of a company or the organization of the week. The type of business for which it is used has no influence on the way the Eisenhower matrix is ​​used and operated.


How the Eisenhower matrix works

As mentioned, the Eisenhower matrix is ​​based on four variables:


  1. Urgent
  2. Not Urgent
  3. Important
  4. Not Important


In literature and on the internet, this matrix is ​​often depicted in quadrants. The y-axis shows the urgency, the x-axis the importance. The quadrants that arise from the intersection of these factors are, therefore:

Q1 – Important and urgent

The activities that fall into this quadrant are often unplanned, the result of problems and unforeseen events. These require deep and immediate attention. Activities of this type in most cases do not take too long to complete. The resolution in the shortest time possible defuses the feeling of urgency which, if we postpone the activity, would pollute the quality of the time and attention for the rest of the objectives. It is therefore good to try to examine and liquidate these tasks first during our day.

Q2 – Important and not urgent

These activities are certainly the most important we have. The importance lies in the fact that these activities, if well thought out and planned, are the ones that lead us to achieve our weekly, then monthly and then annual goals. I am preparing an article on 1-, 3- and 5-year planning. When it is ready a link will appear here.

Unlike the previous ones, these activities are (and should be) schedulable. This means reserving slots in the daily agenda to examine and process them. We tend to think that we should plan a moment of the day only for practical activities. Nothing could be more wrong: practical tasks are often the result of decisions and / or planning. Setting aside a part of the day to make these decisions and plan them in the best possible way will reduce the time needed for the practical task (all the variables have already been resolved), guaranteeing a higher quality of the final product. Nonetheless, dedicating time to decision and planning could also lead to evidence that the practical task is not actually necessary, or perhaps it can be delegated.

Q3 – Not important and urgent

Two types of activities fall into this quadrant, both of which usually require little time. The first concerns tasks that, after careful analysis and planning, turn out to be urgent but not important. This, therefore, makes them delegable.


The other type of activity instead comes from the outside, from distractions and interruptions. These can be calls, messages, e-mails. It is important to judge clearly

when a call represents a priority (and therefore falls within Q1) and when instead just a distraction. This choice is made difficult by several variables, on all the dopamine shots we receive when we complete a simple but not important activity. The challenge, also according to Brian Tracy, is to resist the temptation to work on these activities first during our day. “The little things multiply,” says Tracy, “and end up taking up a lot of time and consuming a lot of energy.”


Q4 – Not important and not urgent

As the name suggests, these activities have the lowest priority. This quadrant can include both distractions (internet, social media, etc.), as well as practical activities but which do not directly help to achieve the set goals. I do not believe in absolutism. I believe this type of activity is useful for balancing the workload of a day or a certain period. It goes without saying that to use it in this way, a good deal of intellectual honesty and self-discipline are required. It’s so easy to fall into the dopamine and procrastination trap again.


How to establish your priority list

Around 1895 Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923), an Italian sociologist and economist, managed to isolate a constant: in Italy, 80% of the possessions were owned by 20% of the population. Similarly, 80% of the wealth was in the hands of 20% of the population.


This concept has been taken up in several moments by different disciplines, with the words 80/20. How does it help us in time management? Simple, by ensuring that 80% of the results we want comes from 20% of the time dedicated to them.


Brian Tracy proposes a very simple and effective way to apply the 80/20 rule in writing our goals: First, make a list of 10 goals you want to achieve at the end of the day. Then choose only one, in your opinion the most important, cross it off that list and write it on another sheet. From the nine remainings, choose another goal that you think is important. Delete it from that list and write it on the sheet where you wrote down the other. In total, you have 2 goals out of 10, or 20%. Those are the objectives that must surely be in quadrants 1 or 2. The choice will be dictated by urgency. The other eight can be divided into the quadrants you think are most appropriate. You will work on these only after solving the first two.


How to apply the Eisenhower matrix in your daily life

To get to have a list of 10 goals to achieve, we need to be clear about our medium and long-term goals. This requires a good deal of self-awareness as well as inquiry. Personally, I benefited greatly from the help of journaling (read this article to find out what I’m talking about). That way, once my medium and long-term goals were set, I was able to track my progress and failures. I was able to highlight positive habits and trends and especially negative ones. The next step was therefore to be able to formulate realistic and crucial goals, useful for actually reaching them.

So, my first piece of advice is: get into the habit of recording everything you do as part of the projects you choose to complete.

The next step, once the long-term goals have been set, will be to draw up monthly goals. From there we will derive the weekly goals and consequently the daily ones. Here it will be easier to choose goals that are useful and realistically achievable.

Once this is done, you can apply Tracy’s suggestion, choosing the most important goal first, then the second most important.

At this point, it will be only a logical continuation to divide the remaining objectives of the list into the quadrants of the Eisenhower matrix.


It is the management of commitments that define how long it will take us to complete them. The idea that spending more time means achieving more goals is a false myth that we must remove from our mentality. Our productivity, the sense of satisfaction, and above all the health of our business, company, or project will certainly gain.

Try applying these tips in your daily life and let me know in the comments how you found yourself. Does it work? Did you have to revolutionize your way of doing things?




Did you like this article? You will also like this:


yt poster


Swiss Army Triplet is a double stroke with a flam on the first note, followed by a single stroke with the other. As the name suggests, it is often played in triplets, but you can use different subdivisions (for example 16th notes or 16th note triplets).

It sounds like a flam accent, the only difference is the double stroke instead of the single stroke.

The challenge of this warm-up is permutating the accents by moving the entire rhythmic cell forwards. After 3 bars we would be repeating the whole sequence with the opposite hand.

Check out how it sounds here:


Download the full score here!

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Savador Dalí


Salvador Dalí has been one of the most famous and influential artists of the XXth century. With his long and controversial life, he contributed to broaden the borders of artistic expression by exploring and representing the subconscious. 

Here is a short biography of Salvador Dalí and a selection of 5 artworks that I particularly love.

The 11th of May 1904 was a special day for Figueres, a small town in Catalonia close to the French border. After that day, the world wouldn’t have been the same anymore. At 8:45 am one of the most influential, brilliant, peculiar, and polyhedric artists would come to life: Salvador Dalí.

He was always encouraged to practice his art and eventually he ended up studying at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. This was a period of solitary and intensive studies. He would go every Sunday to the Prado museum to study the work of the great masters.

Besides his talent, his eccentricity would grow up exponentially as well. He would dress up in the style of English Aesthetes of the late 19th century, with long hair and sideburns.

On the artistic side, it was a prolific time. He was influenced and fascinated by Metaphysics and Cubism and became a good friend with the poet Federico García Lorca. These influences lighted up his personality and Dalí ended up being suspended from the academy in 1923 for criticizing his teachers. That same year, he was arrested and (briefly) imprisoned for suspected relations with the Separatist movement. In 1926 he could come back to the academy, but shortly before his final exams, he was permanently expelled for assuming in public that no professor of the faculty was competent enough to examine him.

1926 was a crucial year in Dalí’s life. He went for the first time to Paris, where he met Picasso. By this time, Dalí was influenced by Impressionism, Futurism, and Cubism. Through Joan Miró and René Magritte, who also lived in Paris, Dalí was introduced to Surrealism.

Including the subconscious in his works was a logical step for him. Even before this period, Dalí was a big supporter and avid reader of Freud’s psychoanalytic theories.

By now, only one thing was missing in Dalí’s life: love. It came in the vest of Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova, a Russian immigrant also known as Gala. She became soon his muse and inspiration and counterbalanced Dalí’s eccentricity, taking care of his legal and financial matters.

Although Dalí was one of the most famous Surrealists, he got expelled from the movement in 1934. Officially, the expulsion was due to “counter-revolutionary activity involving the celebration of fascism under Adolf Hitler”. Unlike other members, including Picasso, Magritte and Miró, he didn’t take a stance against Francisco Franco.

From 1940 to 1948 Dalí and Gala moved to the United States, before going back to Catalonia. The next 15 years would be full of artistic inspiration and production. From 1960 to 1974 he began working at the Dalí Theatre-Museum.

His final years were destroyed by 3 events: due to a motor disorder, which would impede him to hold a paintbrush, Dalí had to retire from painting. In 1982 his beloved Gala died, dragging him into a deep depression. In 1984 he was severely burned in a fire and he was confined to a wheelchair.

On the 23 of January 1989, Salvador Dalí died in his hometown Figueres.


Dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate a second before awakening

Oil on wood.

Dalí used to call his paintings “hand-painted dream photographs”, the perfect definition for this artwork.

As the creator said, this painting was created to depict the consequence of the instantaneousness of a chance event which causes the sleeper to wake up. […] Thus, as a bar might fall on the neck of a sleeping person, causing them to wake up and for a long dream to end with the guillotine blade falling on them, the noise of the bee here provokes the sensation of the sting which will awaken Gala.”

The subject of the scene is Dalí’s wife Gala, lying naked on a flat rock that floats above the sea. Next to her, there are two drops of water, a flying bee, and a small pomegranate, used as a Christian symbol for fertility and resurrection. On the upper left of the canvas, a pomegranate releases a giant redfish, who in turn releases two ferocious tigers, which together with a bayonet would soon awake Gala from her rest.

In the background, Dalí’s first use of the famous elephant with flamingo legs.

Soft construction with boiled beans (Premonition of Civil War)

Oil on canvas.

This artwork was finished six months before the beginning of the Spanish Civil War when Francisco Franco took the power.

It depicts a colossus who aggressively destroys himself, contorting his limbs into an outline of a map of Spain. There is no victor, the colossus will destroy himself as well as a country destroys itself in a civil war.

Despite the meaning of this artwork, Dali never took a stance against fascism and Francisco Franco.

Swans reflecting elephants

Oil on canvas.

A perfect example of the paranoid critical method, used by Dali to get new impressions of reality. The painting depicts swans on a placid lake. In water though, they form together with the trees behind them three elephants, their necks being the trunks of the elephants and the trees being the legs. On the left side, a thinking man gives his back to the scene.

As for many of Dali’s paintings, giving a unique interpretation is hard. What we know is that elephants are sympathetic and clever and represent strength and unity. Swans represent love, music, poetry, and art. Maybe the mesmerizing of the two reproduce the swing between logos and pathos.

The persistence of memory

Oil on canvas.

This is maybe the most famous painting of Dali. The artist never explained the meaning behind it, so what we have – as well as with other works of his – are just interpretations.

Many commentators suggested that the melted watches are an internalization of Einstein’s theory of relativity. The artist himself replied that he got the idea while watching Camembert cheese melting in the sun. Some see the ants (on the orange pocket-watch on the left side) as a representation of decay. The deformed face in the center could be a sort of hidden self-portrait.

The explanation that resonates the most with me assumes that the aim of this painting was to depict the relation between actual time and remembered time.


The singular approach of Dalí made him one of the most popular artists of the XXth century. He literally lived an artistic life, as eccentric and unconventional as he could be.
His political positions were never clear. Even though colleagues and experts point at him as a fascist, he never took openly a position.
The artworks he left behind leave room for personal interpretation, offering the chance to personalize his art.

5 inspiring TED Talks for musicians

One of the hardest tasks nowadays is carefully selecting which inputs we should accept.

The TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) platform is the happy secret place I go to when I want to learn something new or get inspired.
Since 1984 they summon ideas, speeches, lessons from great thinkers, professionals, teachers, or common people with uncommon stories, everything available in more than 100 languages!

I collected 5 TED talks as a must-see for musicians to enrich your creativity and sensibility, and to boost your productivity.

Forget about your mobile for a while and give yourself some quality time!

I. The transformative power of classical music

This is certainly one of my favorites. Benjamin Zander (if you don’t know him, go check him out!) explains with irony, tons of knowledge and experience, why we got away from listening to classical music.
He analyzes the wonderful Prelude in E minor by Chopin, translating the technical aspects into elements that take the listener into the composer’s world.

I strongly recommend you watch this. It really changed my approach to classical music. Often our “I don’t like it”, is just a simplification of “I don’t recognize what I hear, I’m not used to it”. Once you get to know what you should be listening to, your approach might change. Or not!

II. How I started writing songs again

What happens when the writer’s block hits one of the biggest artists of our time?

In this Ted Talk Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, a.k.a. Sting, shares what happened to him when he couldn’t write new music anymore. I admired Sting already for his ability to reinvent himself as a man and as an artist. After this talk, I admire him even more.

III. The difference between winning and succeding

How much do you struggle to get what you really want? What is that you’re searching for? Are you really giving everything you have to reach that?

With this classic, John Wooden – basketball coach with an undefeated victory record with the team of the University of California – talks about the difference between winning and succeeding. Too often we’re just focused on the wrong goal, delighted from the outcome, and not caring about what we actually do to get it. A must if you are struggling with motivation and need a fresh start.

IV. Do schools kill creativity?

There are three parameters I use to determine how much I like someone: the knowledge someone has, the ability to share it, and the use he or she makes of (self) irony.
Sir Ken Robinson hits the jackpot with no doubts. He was an author, educator, speaker, and international advisor on education in the arts. In 2003 he was made Knight Bachelor for his service. He passed away on the 21st of August 2020.

In this talk (70 million views!) Sir Robinson explains the importance of creativity in the growth of children and analyzes the use of it in the modern school system.

A must if you work in Education, but also if you are looking for another approach to learning.

V. The surprising habit of original thinkers

Adam Grant is an American psychologist and author.
In this talk, he examines the common traits of the so-called innovators. With a fluid ironic approach, he describes three characteristics of the most original thinkers.

I found it really useful to reframe my approach to creativity and productivity, and I’m sure it can help you as well.


I really love the TED platform, it’s a neverending source of inspiration where you can find anything you need. Every talk has an interactive transcript with up to 100 languages available. 

I chose these 5 stories because they give tons of points of view, or shooting angles, that we could have been ignoring so far.

In the end, it’s always been like this: we learn by listening to others. Preferably listening to others who know more than we do.

P.S. If you want to know more about productivity hacks, check out this article!

Poster for YT video

Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance

Michael Flatley is an Irish-American dancer who revolutionized the Irish traditional dance by adding more rhythms and syncopation.

This hit me like a truck when I first watched this performance from Lord of the dance. I could clearly hear rudiments, rolls, syncopation, call and response, and tons of rhythmic knowledge.

Just imagine what it takes for the dancers to perform with that precision at that level. Outstanding!

I transcribed a piece of that performance (from min. 1:41) and played along with the video. If you play the transcription alone, you’ll hear a rudimental snare drum solo. I find it very fascinating.

Check out the video, download the transcription, and play along!

You can download the score here!

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