This month, we feature a team of Tapspace artists. Both based in the Lone Star state of Texas, both Ralph Hicks and Eric Rath have a rich background as working percussionists and music educators, and are currently doing great things in the world of composition. While creating an impact in each of their individual musical pursuits, together Hicks and Rath have created some of the most effective, entertaining, and creative percussion teaching resources for young percussion students with the books Beyond Basic Percussion and Five Minute Drill.
This month, we had some time to get to know Eric and Ralph a bit better when we learned about their Netflix viewing habits, financial planning tips (the hard way), and 80's Spotify playlists!
What has been your biggest challenge in life?
Ralph Hicks: Recognizing, accepting, and trying my best to control a rabid Type A personality. Apologies to all my friends and coworkers over the years that I have repeatedly interrupted and talked over, because Iâ€™m an idiot (smiley-winky face) and canâ€™t stop myself.
Eric Rath: Balance, by far. Being a husband, being a dad, a teacher, composer, arranger, church member, performer, etc. That, and coping with being constantly interrupted by Ralph in conversations.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
RH: Netflix binging, from House of Cards all the way down to Vampire Diaries. I mean, sure, Stefan and Elena are great together the first few seasons, but it quickly becomes obvious she was meant to be with Damon. Am I right?
ER: I have a sweet Spotify playlist called "Growing up in the 80's and 90's." It's a mix of what you might expect of me - things like Toto, Weezer, and The Police - to what I'd consider pretty "guilty" like Seal, Sheryl Crow, The B-52's, Fine Young Cannibals. I'm so ashamed!
Star Wars or Star Trek?
RH: Jar Jar notwithstanding, there is no right answer to this question. Be it a galaxy far, far away or the final frontier, thereâ€™s plenty of room for both, and everyone speaks English anyway.
ER: Dude. Star Wars. Hands Down. Han shot first.
Of all the pieces you've written or arranged, which one is your favorite, and why?
RH: As my first genuinely â€œinspiredâ€ tune, Mi Milagro from "Beyond Basic Percussion" is my favorite. I wrote it for my daughter. I wanted her to know her Mexican roots even though she looks like Snow White. My son came second, he got a samba cadence.
ER: I don't know if it's my absolute favorite, but Escape Artist from "Beyond Basic Percussion" ranks right at the top. It was a "fast" composition -- written in basically a morning. When I sent it to Ralph, he wrote back to say, "I hate you." That's when I knew I must've gotten it right!
Do you play with traditional or matched grip. Why?
RH: I was never a drumset player, and I'm never carrying a marching drum again. I really only use traditional grip now when Iâ€™m feeling lazy. By now the kids know that if I turn my hand over, that normally means Iâ€™m about to sit down and tell a story.
ER: Yes. Really, it depends on the style or context. Mostly, matched grip for me, but I prefer traditional on snare lines. Why? because it LOOKS cool, that's why.
What is the one thing that should be taught in school that isnâ€™t already?
Without a doubt, personal financial planning. Understanding what to do with your money should be right up there with driving and calculating a tip in your head. Itâ€™s definitely a special kind of regret when youâ€™re 25 years old and driving a Camaro, yet still paying for those nice dinners you bought back in college.
Money management. Really, when it comes down to it, high school and college students need to be sat down and told how much credit card companies are literally banking on them being completely irresponsible with credit. It's sickening.
Learn more about Ralph and Eric on the Tapspace website
, or by checking out their two wildly popular educational resources, Beyond Basic Percussion
and Five Minute Drill