Drum!‘s most read articles of 2020 are a pretty solid reflection of the year that was (but that we wish wasn’t). Drummers lost a loved one when Neil Peart passed away. We discussed the merits of blending old and new technology with a hybrid drum set. Kenny Aronoff told a story of failure and redemption. An piece from the archives saw Travis Barker giving us his top drumming album recommendations. The debate of heel-up vs. heel-down bass drum technique wages on (hint: they’re both right). And what 2020 list would be complete without something about connecting virtually, in this case with drum lessons.

1. Dropping the Beat: When Kenny Aronoff Got Fired by John Mellencamp but Earned Back the Job

Before his road was paved with gold (records), Kenny Aronoff certainly had his struggles. He was gracious enough to sit down with DRUM! (at a safe distance—via phone, actually) and share one of the most difficult situations he’s ever found himself in.

2. Lesson: Heel-Up Vs. Heel-Down Bass Drum Foot Technique

Bass drum technique is one of the most widely overlooked aspects in effectively playing and studying the drums. Just as we explore and develop various stick techniques to gain the freedom that allow us to express ourselves, we should also have a fundamental understanding of how to control our feet. Basic bass drum technique generally falls into two categories: heel-down and heel-up.

3. Why You Need a Hybrid Acoustic-Electronic Drum Kit

No matter how rational the arguments you have against playing a hybrid acoustic-electronic drum set, we’re going to challenge them, and we’ll do it without diminishing the integrity of the acoustic kit. Think of hybridization as an electronic makeover more than a remodel—no sledgehammer required.

4. Remembering Neil Peart, 1952-2020

As a drummer, Peart was more than a basher—he was a real student of the instrument. Funny, considering his nickname amongst drummers as The Professor. But the best professors are those who never stop learning, themselves.

5. Virtual Music Lessons? Here’s 22 Video Lesson Tips For Teachers & Students

What do you do when you’ve got to stay home but need to keep learning, or teaching, drums? Virtual lessons, of course. Since drums are a loud, large, and loud instrument—did we mention they’re loud?—it’s not as easy as taking, say, violin lessons via webcam. Early on in the pandemic we published a guide for teachers and students to get a handle on remote lessons.

6. Seven Albums Every Drummer Should Own (According to Travis Barker)

In this archive article from 2004, Travis Barker gave us insight on what albums are his go-to drumming records. He had obviously taken considerable time to compile a list of recordings, which he based not only on his own tastes, but on the musical value he felt each recording had to offer his fellow drummers.