The United States Association of Rudimental Drummers - Contemporary Drummers

Contemporary Drummers (9)

Wednesday, 27 December 2017 09:50

Dr. Joseph Tompkins

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Joseph Tompkins

Head of Percussion

Assistant Professor

Dr. Joseph Tompkins

Percussionist Joseph Tompkins has performed with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Opera and Ballet Orchestras, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. On Broadway he has played in productions of The King and I, Swan Lake, Oklahoma!, The Lion King, The Producers, Spamalot, The Light in the Piazza, Tarzan, Guys and Dolls, and In the Heights. Tompkins has performed on film soundtracks for The Manchurian Candidate, The Last Holiday, Failure to Launch, and Casanova. For seven years he was a member of the percussion trio Timetable, a group committed to commissioning and performing new works for percussion. He is the head of the percussion program at Rutgers University and a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the Manhattan School.

Saturday, 06 May 2017 00:00

Kevin Donka

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                     Meet Your Instructor

                     Dr. Kevin Donka

Kevin Donka is the 2013 DCA Individual Rudimental Snare Drumming World Champion.  He began playing drums at the age of two when his parents noticed him playing some of the drumbeats he was hearing on the radio on his legs. 

He developed his skills very quickly and received special permission to compete at the Illinois State High School Music Festival and Solo Contest when he was just 5 years old, where he earned the Blue Ribbon, taking home top honors in the solo snare drum contest.  Kevin entered drum and bugle corps at the age of 12 and competed for several years as a snare drummer, section leader and drum captain. He spent his final two years with the Blue Stars from La Crosse, Wisconsin, competing at the highest Drum Corps International (DCI) level.

In addition to his 2013 DCA World Championship, Dr. Donka has received many awards including numerous local, state and national championship titles.  He has performed with many drum & bugle corps including the Fox Valley Raiders, Blue Stars, Cavalier Classics and the Blue Stars All-Star Alumni corps.  He was also the Percussion Caption Head and center snare for the 2014 Blue Stars 50th Anniversary Alumni Corps.  He began giving private drum lessons when he was in 5th grade, and over the years has played with, instructed and written for marching bands and drum corps, including individual and group instruction with members of West Aurora High School, Jacobs High School, Crystal Lake South High School, Prairie Ridge High School, Northern Illinois University, Illinois State University, Georgia Tech University, University of Iowa, Blue Devils, Cavaliers, Blue Stars, Madison Scouts, Phantom Regiment, Guardsmen, Geneseo Knights, & the Imperials.  He has helped drumlines in Columbia and Brazil, and has even provided private rudimental drum instruction to a member of the famous “Blue Man Group.”  Some of Kevin’s students have gone on to achieve significant notoriety in the music field and have even been featured in “Modern Drummer” magazine.  In 2014, he was named an Honorary Lifetime Member of the National Association of Rudimental Drummers (N.A.R.D.).

Kevin is an internationally known, highly respected and sought after instructor. His teaching and performance videos can be found on YouTube and his Facebook page and have been featured on many percussion websites including  He is a frequent contributor of original music charts, exercises, videos and instruction to the DCI Snares & other Percussion Facebook pages.  He is a featured artist and part of the prestigious Dynasty Drums and Vater Percussion Educational Teams, and he has been invited to give clinics and judge solo contests throughout the United States, Canada, the UK, Europe & South America.  His Facebook page is Donka Drums.

Finally, Kevin is also a highly respected chiropractor, author, teacher and speaker who does presentations all around the world at universities and for organizations.  He had his own highly successful family & pediatric practice for 23 years before selling it to take more time to teach in both his health-care field and drumming.  He is also a singer, he plays many other instruments, he taught martial arts for 20 years and has black belts in both Tae kwon do and Hapkido.  His wife of 31 years is the art teacher at a Montessori School and has her own art school as well.  Kevin and his wife have 5 kids of their own.

Dr. Kevin Donka is available for private instruction in person or via SKYPE and can be reached at (847) 708-9182 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Wednesday, 23 September 2015 00:00

Brendan Mason Biography

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Brendan Mason is an active teacher, performer, and clinician in the New England area.  He currently teaches general music at The Saint Mary School in Branford, CT and provides private lessons across Southern Connecticut.  Brendan also instructs several area drumlines, including the DCI Open Class 7th Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps, the Cheshire High School Marching Band, the Connecticut Patriots, and the Col. John Chester Fife and Drum Corps. His most recent endeavor involves the revival of junior fife and drum corps in The Catholic School System, with Saint Mary School being the first of many inside the Connecticut Archdiocese.


Brendan is a student of Paul Cormier, Mike Gagnon, Matt Mayotte and Tim Cecil; and later studied under Ken Green while attending Northwestern State University of Louisiana to pursue a degree in music education and percussion performance. Brendan started playing rudimental snare drum at the age of 6 as a member of the Col. John Chester Drum Corps.  He soon began competing individually through the Corps, winning honors at the Connecticut, Massachusetts, Hudson Valley, and Northeastern States

Championships.  At age 9, Brendan became the youngest drummer to hold The Dan English Trophy as the Connecticut State Junior Snare Drum Champion, a distinction he has won more times than any other individual. 


Brendan is a member of the Connecticut Patriots and the Grand Republic Drum Corps.  He has also performed with the Middlesex County Volunteers and The Top Secret Drum Corps of Basel, Switzerland.  Through these groups, Brendan has toured both nationally and internationally, performing in Switzerland,

France, Germany, and Australia.  He has individually performed with notable musicians, such as Shania

Twain, and was featured on an ESPN recording. Brendan is a proud member of P.A.S, USARD and NARD.  He currently serves on the Marching Percussion Committee for the Percussive Arts Society. He is also an endorsee of Innovative Percussion, Reamer’s Drummer Service, Cooperman Rope Drums and Loyal Drums.  



Monday, 21 September 2015 00:00

Brendan Mason Selected for PAS Committee

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The USARD would like to congratulate our many time convention performer, Brandan Mason, for being chosen as a member of The Percussive Arts Society Marching Percussion Committee. I know we will all be well served with Brendan on this prestigious board. -Joe

USARD's photo.


Saturday, 08 February 2014 08:28

Jerome Mershon - Biography

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Jerome Mershon: Rudimental Drumming Biography - (January 15, 2014)




My initial teacher in was, Don Mahon, NARD, and a student of Louis Swikert. This was in Cincinnati OH, 1954.

I also Studied Concert Percussion with Martin McConnell at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH in 1963-4.

I studied music theory at Bradley University, Peoria, IL in 1990-91


Playing History:

I played with a junior drum corps, the Gailley Jr. Grenadiers in 1955-6. We won the VFW Junior state championship in 1955.

 I joined a senior corps in 1957, the Forestville, OH Spitfires.

I moved to another corps in 1959, the Men of Ohio in Mt. Healthy, OH & played with them for three years.

I played in the Roger Bacon High School Band 1957-60 and Xavier University Band 1969-64 in Cincinnati, OH.

I played drum set for 20 years, performing at private parties and gatherings primarily beginning in 1978.

I have played with the Los Angeles Fifes and Drums, since 2009.



I taught privately starting in 1960, then later, at Buddy Rogers Music Studio, North College Hill, OH during college 1960-64,

I taught percussion at the Men of Ohio Senior Drum Corps, Mt Healthy, OH, for 3 years 1964-67. The corps won the Ohio American Legion state title in 1965 & 66.

I taught high school band percussion at Roger Bacon High School, St Bernard, OH, 1965 and Miamisburg, OH High School in 1975-76. 

I taught several junior drum corps in the Cincinnati area during the period 1965 – 69. These included the Dayton, KY Buccaneers, The El dorados, Cheviot, OH and the Tegionaires of Ludlow, KY.

I taught the Queen City Cadets for 13 years, 1964 – 77. I handled the drum section most years and was also Corps Director for five years, then Staff Coordinator and President. 

I taught Percussion for the Washington, IL High School Band for 6 years, 1991-96. We took High Percussion at the Illinois State Band Championship in 1992 and received the highest rating for Indoor Percussion Ensemble in 1993.

Most teaching assignments included writing or re-arranging the percussion scores.


I trained with the Central States Judging Association, & judged Drum Corps Percussion with them for three years. 1974-77.

I also judged Drums Corps Percussion with the Massachusetts Judging Association 1978 - 80.

I judged Drum Corps Midwest Percussion for six years 1991-96.

The judging duties included Drum Corps, Band and Individual contests.


Sunday, 17 March 2013 17:27

John Roche - Biography

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John is a December, 2012 graduate of Northwestern State University, Natchitoches,La. where he was a percussion major under the direction of Ken Green.  He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

John was a member of his college marching band for four years.  He was also a member of NSULA Wind Symphony for three years under the direction of Bill Brent.


At the age of 7, John decided that he wanted to become a Civil War Drummer Boy.  His love of history and his passion for music was a force that led him to lessons with Peter Hubert, percussion instructor with the Colonial Musketeers.   At the age of 8, John joined the CM snare line, playing rope tension drum and remained a member until his graduation from high school in 2008.  When John was 12, he began private lessons with Nick Attanasio with whom he studied well into his college years. During his teen years, John became a member of The Civil War Troopers.  At the young age of 15, John was inducted into the International Association of Traditional Drummers.  John spent most of his years as a Jr. in individual competitions on bass and snare and won the Northeastern Championship in 2008 on rudimental snare.


John marched during the summer of his sophomore year with The Raiders, a drum a bugle corps from Wayne, NJ and during his junior year of college, John marched with The Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps from San Antonio, Tx.  In each corps, John was a member of the snare line.


John’s dream however, was to march with The Garfield Cadets.  He accomplished this during his senior year, not on snare, but playing Tuba.  John was so determined to finish out his last year marching with The Cadets that he undertook an instrument that he had no experience with.  In a very short time John learned enough of this foreign instrument to be selected to be part of The Cadets Tuba line. See the link:


In the fall of 2014, John will be attending the Steinhardt School @ NYU for his Masters in Music Performance.


John is a member of:



The Honor Society of: Phi Kappa Phi

Kappa Delta Pi

Percussive Arts Society

International  Association of Traditional Drummers

U.S.A.R.D.: Life Member

The Company of Fifers and Drummers: Life Member



Sunday, 17 February 2013 00:00

Rick Beckham - Biography

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Rick Beckham is an active rudimental advocate, writer, teacher, and performer. Rick marched snare with the 1980 Garfield Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps, and the 1981 27th Lancers Drum & Bugle Corps. He was also the drum line instructor for the University of Southern Mississippi's Pride marching drum line for the years 1981 and 1982. He instructed Princeton High Schools drum line in Princeton TX between the years 1993-97, beginning James Christian's incredible journey towards an unprecedented 7 time National Drum Corps Associates (DCA) Tenor Individual Championship. Additionally, Rick has taught or consulted with various drum corps and marching band drum lines throughout the years, including the Nighthawks junior corps, the Bayou City Blues and Gulf Coast Sound senior corps, all three from Houston, TX, and the Corpsvets senior corps located near Atlanta, Ga. He is a 4-time DCA National Individual Snare Drum Champion for the years 1999-2001 & 2003. Rick has two published books; The Beckham Book is a book of 20 competitive progressive rudimental solos plus 3 challenging duets, and The Rudimental Drummer is an advanced book that explores the usage of rudiments and rudimental hybrids in etude form. Rick has been a member of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) and the International Association of Rudimental Percussionists (IARP). He became a member of the National Association of Rudimental Drummers (NARD) at the young age of 15, and claims membership to the International Association of Traditional Drummers (IATD), the United States Association of Rudimental Drummers (USARD), and formed the Drummers for Rudimental Mastery (DRUM), an organization dedicated to restoring the importance of rudimental drumming to the consciousness of all percussionists. Rick conceived and created in 1995, a popular website devoted to rudimental drumming that contains historical reference, solos, exercises, audio, and video clips. Rick is currently applying rudimental training techniques to double bass drum set in order to develop 4-limb rudimental coordination, he played drum set with the rock cover band Second Shift in the Dallas area, and is currently playing drum set with a contemporary praise band for the First Christian Church of McKinney, TX. Rick is a member of the Highpointers club, an organization with the stated goal of attempting to reach the summit of as many state highpoints as possible. To date, Rick has acquired the summit of 38 US state highpoints.

Rick received his BS in computer science from the University of Southern Mississippi, and an MS in computer science from the University of Texas at Dallas, and has been employed in the telecommunications industry, working for Nortel and then Ericsson, for the last 23 years. 

Friday, 07 August 2009 14:41

About Dominick Cuccia

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About Dominick Cuccia


Dominick Cuccia, a member of the U.S.A.R.D., will posting articles regarding rudimental drumming and unique applications of rudiments on the U.S.A.R.D. website.

Dominick is an important asset for us as a rudimentalist to the world of percussion and is one of the creative engines at the leading edge of "progressive", traditional! rudimental drumming.

Dom can be seen with his wife, Therese, perfoming on the DVD of the 2002 The Historic Drummer's Heritage Concert held in Columbus, Ohio.

They also perform on the Percussive Arts Society instructional DVD, The Rudiment Project.


Below is quoted a mini-bio for Dominick used for his various presentations and performances:

"Known by many as “the fife & drum guy” the career of Dominick Cuccia is diverse.  By day he is a highly respected instrumental music teacher for the Paul Effman Music Service.  By night he is one of the leading authorities of “not-so-traditional” rudimental drumming!  As a performer he was a member of the Hellcats stationed at West Point, New York, as well as group leader of Walt Disney Worlds Founders of Freedom.  He is the author of The Beat of a Different Drummer, co-author of The Favorite Solo’s of Campbell, Cuccia & Pratt, (both published by Meredith Music Publications), and he has penned two snare drum method books for LJ Hutchen band instruments.  He performed on the PASIC 2002 DVD of the historic “Drummers Heritage Concert,” is a featured artist on the PAS rudiment project and a member of the marching percussion committee.  In addition, he is the chairman of the music committee for The Company of Fifers & Drummers and music editor for the Ancient Times, the premier publication of the fife & drum world.  In past performances he has shared the stage with NEXUS, Nick Attanasio, Alfonse Grieder, Marty Hurley, Jim Kilpatrick, Jack Pratt and Jeff Queen."


Julie Angelis Sodee, a native of Worcester, MA, joined the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" in 1997.